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Sun 4 Mar 2012 04:35 PM

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Relax US visa curbs for UAE citizens - Dubai official

Dubai Chamber’s Hamad Buamim calls for UAE to be added to US visa waiver programme

Relax US visa curbs for UAE citizens - Dubai official
No Gulf countries are currently included on the US visa waiver programme (Getty Images)

Citizens of the UAE should be allowed easier entry into the US, a leading Dubai official has claimed, emphasising enhanced relations between the two countries.

“It is about time the US recognises the UAE as part of the visa waiver programme, which will give UAE citizens a preferential treatment like many other friendly nations,” said Hamad Buamim, the director general of the Dubai Chamber, who was speaking during a visit to Seattle.

“By positively addressing such issues, we will be able to take US-UAE business ties to the next level.”

America’s visa waiver programme (VWP) allows citizens from 36 countries to travel to the US for either tourism or business for up to 90 days without the need to apply for a visa.

However, nationals of countries that are not on the VWP - like the UAE - face a more complicated and time-consuming process in order to secure visas to enter the US. 

Of the 36 countries, 30 are European, alongside Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

No Gulf nations are included either on the current programme, or on a list of countries - “the road map” - that are seeking to gain access to the scheme.

Officials from the UAE have in the past demanded that the US put in place reciprocal arrangements for Emiratis travelling to America, but those requests have so far been refused.

In 2010, Qatar decided to remove visas on arrival for the citizens of 33 countries, including the US and the UK. However, that move was swiftly shelved after an outcry from local businesses.

The UAE currently offers visas on arrival for citizens from 32 countries, including the US. 

Buamim said that Dubai Chamber members’ exports and re-exports to the US had increased by 9.2 percent in 2011 to $164m. The US was Dubai’s third-largest trade partner during the first five months last year. 

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jake 8 years ago

wishful thinking

irfan 8 years ago

anything positive to increase trade should be done by the us at this time. economic conditions are still not very good there and uae is a business major in the region. seems like a no brainer to me.

John Harte 8 years ago

The reasons why the visa restrictions are there in the first place have to be addressed.

Rob 8 years ago

I don't see this happening at all. Even the closest US ally in the middle east has been on the list of road map countries since 2005.

Derek 8 years ago

Qatar indeed grants visa on arrival facilities to people from 33 nationalities including Western European and the US nationals. Your article is inaccurate insofar as it says these plans were shelved in the past.

procan 8 years ago

In a perfect world yes, perhaps a good idea. The current world political drama, zero chance, if anything more restrictions.

Emarati 8 years ago

Its time we revisit and devolop/ agree a trade agreement with US and many mattes such as visa immigration matters can be negociated and resolved. without trade agreement i feel is will be very difficult.

lastman 8 years ago

the article clearly points out that Qatar said it was going to remove visas on arrival for those countries, and then didn't. So the country still issues them. How is that inaccurate?

abdallah al mehza 7 years ago

uae nationals should be granted visa waiver with out even a question,