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Thu 11 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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Kuwait takes visa on arrival route

Speculation that a GCC Schengen-type visa may be back in the offing is rife after the oil rich emirate became the latest Gulf state to offer visas on arrival.

Nationals from 34 countries will now have the opportunity to acquire their visas on entering Kuwait according to a statement released by the Ministry of Interior.

According to officials from the Department of Immigration the move comes after recent studies highlighted how important issuing on the spot visas would be to developing opportunities in Kuwait’s business, trade and tourism sectors.

Although no decision was taken on the duration of visas, the statement claimed there would be no restrictions on how many times the nationalities would be able to visit.

The following countries will benefit from the new procedures; United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Finland, Spain, Monaco, the Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea and China.

At present GCC nationals are also able to enter GCC nations without visas. Nationalities not listed above will be able to apply for visas through Kuwait Airways, which claims to have online facilities connnected directly to the Ministry of Interior.

However, in recent weeks, Arab nationals have found it difficult to enter the emirate. According to several Arab journalists, visas for Syrians and Egyptians were increasingly hard to come by. Moreover, at a recent Rebuild Iraq conference, held in Kuwait, the Iraqi delegation was also denied visas.

Nevertheless, the move will be seen as a step in the right direction. Kuwait joins Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in offering visas on arrival, a sign that a much talked about regionwide Schengen-type visa could finally be in the offing.

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