UAE in talks to ease visa requirements to Australia

Aim is to increase bilateral trade and encourage UAE students to study in Australia
UAE in talks to ease visa requirements to Australia
(Getty Images)
By Shane McGinley
Mon 20 May 2013 12:38 PM

Australia is considering relaxing visa requirements for UAE citizens in a bid to boost trade between the two countries and encourage more Emirati students to study at Australian universities, the UAE Foreign Minister has said.

“We have the opportunity to discuss this issue and we have received positive indicators from the Australian foreign minister. The process requires more time and consultations between the two countries,” UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said when asked about the possibility of a waiver of visa requirements for UAE citizens wishing to visit Australia.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, speaking at a press conference to mark his visit to the emirates, said UAE-Australia ties were “strong and firm” and noted trade between the two countries had reached $6bn.

Nearly 16,000 Australians are living and working in the UAE and more than 125 flights per week are scheduled between the two countries.

Sheikh Abdullah added that Australia is encouraging UAE students to visit it and join its universities and the processing of a UAE student visa to Australia now only takes 14 days.

“Thousands of Emirati students have graduated from universities in Australia and other thousands are still studying there," Sheikh Abdullah said.

"Thousands of Emirati tourists are visiting Australia every year,'' he added, praising the efforts made by Carr and his government to enhance relations with the UAE.

Links between the two countries increased recently with the announcement of a strategic partnership between Dubai’s Emirates Airline and Qantas.

Emirates president Tim Clark recently revealed that its Qantas alliance, which launched on March 31, had seen the number of Emirates passengers booking tickets to regional Australia using the Qantas codeshare arrangement increase by five times.

At the same time, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said his airline has seen European bookings increase six-fold under the Emirates codeshare arrangement, compared to its previous alliance with British Airways.

In another aviation link, Etihad Airways owns a stake in Virgin Australia and the Abu Dhabi carrier earlier this year signed a three-year, multi-million dollar partnership with the Sydney Opera House, one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks.

Under the agreement, the Abu Dhabi carrier became an exclusive international airline partner and will develop a range of joint initiatives to promote tourism to Sydney and increase visitors to the Opera House.

The airline also has partnerships with Melbourne Recital Centre, Biennale of Sydney, Arab Film Festival Australia, Islamic Museum of Australia and Melbourne's Etihad Stadium.

Besides tourism and aviation, Sheikh Abdullah said Australia was also an important political ally on the global stage, especially in relation to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

“Australia plays an important role in the UN Security Council through backing resolutions that serve the interests of the Syrian people and confront the tyrant regime which represses its people.''

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