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Thu 14 May 2015 11:19 AM

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Bahrain seeks European visa exemption

Currently Bahrainis must apply for the EU-set Schengen visa, which MPs claim can take up to 3 months to be processed

Bahrain seeks European visa exemption

MPs this week have called on Brussels to allow Bahrainis to travel to Europe without visas.

They approved a last-ditch proposal on Tuesday, Gulf Daily News reported, and the plans will now be passed to government to negotiate with the European Union (EU).

Currently Bahrainis must apply for the EU-set Schengen visa to travel to Europe. But MPs claim that it can take up to three months for Schengen visa applications to be approved.

First vice-chairman MP Ali Al Aradi told the newspaper: “The summer is close and families and couples are forced to wait for long periods to get visas to Europe, which takes up to three months, while we give their nationals a visa on arrival as our officials smile.”

He added that the application process was complex and arduous. “We apply for a Schengen visa and an appointment is set, but we are not asked questions – rather interrogated, as if we are criminals.”

The proposals emerged following a meeting last week between Bahrain MPs and MEPs in Brussels. The MPs believe that Bahrainis should be granted the same exemptions as UAE nationals now have when travelling to Europe.

“UAE nationals are now exempt from visas and if they (European countries) don't want us to treat them similarly, then an agreement has to be signed with Bahrain for an exclusive deal,” Al Aradi was quoted as saying.

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