DUBAI: The UAE government is drawing up plans that will allow transit passengers “a day out in the city,” state news agency WAM reported.
The UAE Cabinet has created a working group, led by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, to formulate the new policy.
When implemented, transit passengers will be encouraged to stay in the Emirates longer and have a chance to explore the country’s tourist attractions, and boost the country’s tourism sector.
“The local aviation industry is one of the most successful international models, having achieved world records and topped many international indicators in a relatively short period,” state news agency WAM reported.
“Transit passengers in the UAE made up 70 percent of the total passengers last year, and an enhanced entry-visa system would have a huge potential to benefit local tourism and economy.”
Travelers from a number of countries need prior approval for transit visas before they are allowed entry in the UAE, while those provided a 96-hour transit visas must fulfil certain criteria including a hotel booking for the duration of their stay as well as the time between their arrival and departure from the country is not less than eight hours.
The general policy being worked on would include visa fees and mechanisms to increase the number of visitors.
JEDDAH, 3 October — The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing visas to Pakistani and Afghanistan nationals the world over in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, said Muhammad Nadeem Khan, head of chancery at the Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai.
Speaking to Arab News by telephone, Khan said that though the consulate has not yet received any official communication in this regard from UAE officials, it has been confirmed from other sources.
The Gulf emirate stopped giving visas to Pakistanis and Afghans for the last 10 days, but there was no official confirmation from any side.
Khan said that a letter was sent by DNATA — the UAE’s civil aviation body — to all airline managers informing them about the government’s decision to stop issuing visas to Pakistanis and Afghans until further notice.
Pakistan International Airlines’ General Manager in Dubai Shahid Latif had forwarded that letter to the consulate, Khan said. “Until today that is the only official communication we have received, and on that basis we have already written to UAE authorities.”
It is also reported that UAE visas of all categories have been stopped for nationals of the two countries. Even transit visas have also been stopped, Khan said. He further said that a lot of Pakistanis are facing hardship due to this decision and have approached them to solve it at the earliest.
Khan said that this precautionary step has been taken by the UAE due to the fear of an impending US attack on Afghanistan, which has refused to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, to the US.
If visas were being denied only to tourists and others who can wait until the present crisis is resolved, there would not have been much trouble. But according to reports, a blanket ban has been imposed for all the categories. Even those who had gone on vacation and whose visas expired are being denied re-entry to UAE, which may cause them their jobs.
“We are trying our best with UAE authorities to avoid a blanket ban on all Pakistanis,” said Khan. “Businessmen will suffer greatly if denied entry and others cleared by us should at least be given visas.” Khan was, however, optimistic that “the issue would be resolved favorably within a week.”
Pakistani businessmen in the Kingdom, worried by the development, made a representation to their embassy in Riyadh and urged the officials to raise the issue with the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to resolve the issue immediately.