BY IMRAN MOJIB
Tourism is set to get a boost in Dubai as the emirate has lifted restrictions imposed on 79 nationalities from getting tourist visas.
Making the announcement in Dubai on Wednesday, Department of Naturalisation and Residency in Dubai (DNRD) Director Major General Mohammed Ahmad Al Marri said that tourist visas will now be issued to people of every country.
"Now you can get tourist visas for all nationalities," he told a gathering of tour operators.
"We have been planning to allow everyone to visit our country for a long time. Now, as we have got enough number of hotels and a number of entertainment events and activities, it is the right time to implement it," he added.
The facility would be part of the new visa rules to be implemented by the DNRD from Aug.1.
Starting from Aug.1, the usual visit visas will not be issued to tour operators or companies. Instead, companies and tour operators can obtain visas for specific purposes, duration of which would vary to suit the purpose the visa holder is visiting the country.
The department will now issue visas for tourism, education, medical treatment, exhibition, festival, conference, service and transit visa for 96 hours.
Tourist visas will allow the holder to stay in the country for 30 days. However, there will be another category of tourist visa, which can be extended for 30 days.
The education visa will be issued for 60 days, which can be extended twice. Similarly, visa for medical treatment will be issued for 90 days with an option to get it renewed twice.
However, visas for exhibition, festival and conferences will be issued for only 30 days, which won't be extended further.
The department introduced a new category Service Visa, which will allow the holder to stay and work in the country for 16 days.
Although non-renewable, this type of visa is expected to help companies bring experts for particular job which can be accomplished during the said period.
The DNRD will also issue non-renewable Multiple Entry Visa for a fee of Dhs2120, which will be valid for six months. However, duration of each stay should not exceed 14 days.
Visit visas will only be issued to the residents who want to invite their family and friends for a visit. The department will issue non-renewable Short Term and Long Term visas, which will be valid for 30 days and 90 days, respectively.
Brigadier Obaid Mehayer Bin Suroor, deputy director of DNRD, refuted news reports in a section of the local media (not The Gulf Today) that expatriates would not be allowed to sponsor friends.
"There is no change in the rule. If some one fulfils the criteria, he can certainly bring his relatives and friends," he said.
Mohammed Ahmad Al Marri said that the department will not increase fee for issuing visas. However, the amount usually charged for urgent visa will now be applicable for all visas. Thus there now will only be one category, instead of the previous fee categorisation on the basis of "normal" and "urgent."
The new rule has raised fears among the common people as well as the tour operators that it would hit them hard. The new rule makes it mandatory for the applicants to deposit Dhs1,000 per application, and get medical insurance of the person he is intended to bring on visit.
A number of tour operators raised their resentment over this arrangement saying millions of dirhams will be blocked for an unlimited period.
Source: Gulf Today