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The United Arab Emirates and The European Union Sign Schengen Visa Waiver Agreement

World Affairs

Open Eyes Opinion {source: Emirates News Agency}

 

UAE, EU sign historic Schengen visa waiver agreement

BRUSSELS, 6th May, 2015 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the European Union (EU) have signed a reciprocal bilateral short-stay visa waiver agreement exempting the UAE citizens from Schengen visa and making the UAE the first Arab country to receive such a visa waiver for its nationals.

From today, citizens of the United Arab Emirates who hold diplomatic, special, service and ordinary passports will be able to travel without a visa to 34 EU countries which make up the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days (within any 180-day period of one year).

The UAE Ambassador to the EU, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg and Belgium, Sulaiman Hamid Al Mazroui, and the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the EU, Ilze Juhansone, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, signed the reciprocal bilateral short-stay visa waiver agreement in Brussels.

Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, Abdul Rahim Yousef Al Awadhi; Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Mohammed Mir Al Raissi; Director of Consular Services at MoFA, Ambassador Ahmed Elham Al Dhaheri; Director of the Communications Department at MoFA Mariam Al Falasi; and members of the UAE Embassy in Brussels attended the signing ceremony.

Al Raissi extended greetings to the leadership and people of the UAE on “this historic achievement which demonstrates the respect the UAE enjoys in the international community and the close cooperation with the EU.”

He added that the exemption came as a success for the UAE diplomacy and as a result of the close follow up by Foreign Minister H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

On the factors that accelerated the decision to exempt UAE citizens from Schengen visa requirement, Al Raissi said: “The UAE doesn’t have illegal immigrants seeking jobs in Europe. Moreover, the UAE is considered an oasis of security and safety. He also attributed it to the growing trade exchange, mutual interests and increasing number of flights between the UAE and EU.”

In a speech delivered after the signing, Ambassador Sulaiman Hamid Al Mazroui said waiving off the Schengen visa will provide the privilege to the UAE citizens to travel to 34 member states and principalities in the European Union.

He indicated that the waiver will include travelling with any of the UAE valid passports without having to undertake any online procedures or file any applications. The Schengen visa allows the UAE citizen multiple entries and a stay up to 90 days within a period of 6 months or 180 days in the Schengen zone.

“This achievement puts the icing on the cake and complements the already strong and growing bonds between the UAE and the European Union. It will no doubt improve many fields such as trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchanges. It also recognizes the leading role of the UAE in all aspects in the region. Today, I would like to extend a warm congratulation to the leadership of the UAE and its people who aspire to always enjoy the best.

“I would also like to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, for his leadership. Thanks to him, this initiative places the UAE in a unique position in the Arab World. A sincere thanks and appreciation go also to His Excellency Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, for his continuous help and understanding. I am also indebted to all of those who contributed to this unique achievement in the European Union, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. The same goes for the UAE friendship group in the European Parliament.”

He also said, “This achievement would not have been realized without the support of my colleagues in the Foreign Ministry and UAE Ambassadors in the EU, as well as my colleagues in the UAE Embassy in Brussels and our consultants.”

Consultants Ambassador Ahmed Elham Al Dhaheri said the achievement of obtaining exemption for UAE nationals from Schengen visa requirements involves many significant values and connotations as it reflects the impact that the UAE has in the international arena.

“There is no doubt that the respect and confidence of European countries and the nations of the whole world for the UAE makes various Schengen countries keen to be open to and promote their common interests with the UAE in all areas, as well as to open their border ports for visa-free entry of the UAE nationals,” he added.

He also said the strategy of the federal government, represented in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), aims to providing the UAE nationals with excellent services, including the Schengen visa exemption, and was a strategic objective for the UAE.

“The UAE diplomacy has played a vital role in convincing the European Parliament to approve the UAE nationals’ exemption from Schengen Visa requirement. A positive image is portrayed by the UAE nationals abroad, as they are considered examples of the UAE’s openness, committed to coexistence, and to integration with various cultures of different civilizations of Schengen countries. This, of course, deepens the European confidence in the UAE national with his civilized conduct, wherever he goes. This positive image is also reflected in the modern and civilized treatment the UAE national receives wherever he goes.”

Al Dhaheri noted that the UAE national is placed in the utmost priority of the UAE honourable leadership’s concerns, and it always seeks to provide the UAE citizen with a decent life and well-being.

“There is no doubt that allowing UAE nationals to enter the 34 countries of the European Union (Schengen) without prior visa involves several positive outcomes on more than one level; tourism, investment and treatment. This, in turn, deepens the value of belonging to the UAE state, and increases loyalty to the leadership. Because they are convinced that the UAE development efforts and gains are meant for their welfare. The UAE passport is now reflecting the civilized face of the UAE, and is respected at both regional and international levels. The hardworking wise leadership and good governance policy were the bases on which this bright image abroad was built. Hence, the UAE has become a source of wisdom, moderation, coexistence, peace, and a symbol of achievement, success and excellence at the international level, according to the UAE government vision and aspirations for 2021,” he added.

He also urged the UAE citizens travelling to the Schengen countries to cooperate with local authorities by disclosing important information if requested such as duration of stay, place of stay, air ticket, date of return and the cash amounts they carry.

He also called on them to register their travel data on the Tawajdi (my whereabouts) service through the ministry’s website www.mofa.gov.ae or through the smart app. uaemofa and to keep contact details of the UAE mission in the destination country.

He said the UAE citizens travelling to the countries where there is no UAE diplomatic representation, can seek emergency help by calling the assistance line: 00971600599991.

Representative of Latvia to the EU, Ilze Juhansone, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said the agreement would contribute towards enhancing relations in all domains.

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