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Wed 30 Jul 2008 07:29 AM

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Confusion on day 1 over new visa changes

Airport officials 'apply regulations inconsistently during first day'.

Claims have been made that the new visa system in the UAE was inconsistently applied on day one, with some officials saying they had been left in the dark about the new rules.

The changes, which mainly affect non-exempt people from countries such as India, Pakistan and the Philippines, came into effect on Tuesday, but staff at Abu Dhabi International Airport said they had not received official notification of the new regulations, according to a report in UAE daily The National on Wednesday.

At Dubai International Airport officials told the paper the rules were applied, although some requirements – such as compulsory health insurance – were waived because the necessary infrastructure was not in place.

People entering the UAE now must apply for a tourist visa, through a registered tourist company or hotel, a visit visa sponsored by a direct relative living in the UAE, or one of 14 other visa types, such as a conference or a medical visit visa.

The rules, from which 33 nations are exempted, are intended to give officials better information about people entering the country, including the specific reason they are here.

On Monday, a Ministry of Interior official said the new rules would help to stamp out illegals in the UAE by the end of the year.

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