The British Home Office is to launch a new visa waiver scheme early next year to make it cheaper and easier for business travellers and tourists to visit the UK from the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait, according to the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The new electronic visa waiver (EVW) will be free of charge and is a quick and simple alternative to a visa application.
Its introduction is expected to increase the number of visits from Emiratis, Qataris, Omanis and Kuwaitis and reflects the strong ties between the UK and these countries.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the new scheme at the Lord Mayor of London’s annual dinner last night.
It is expected to launch in the UAE, Oman and Qatar in early 2014 and similar arrangements will be extended to Kuwaiti passport holders later on in the year, the British Embassy said in a press release.
Applicants will need to submit an EVW online at least 48 hours before they are due to travel and it will do away with the need to provide bio-metric information, attend an appointment at a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel.
The EVW will be available for visits of up to six months, however, those arriving to the UK to work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way.
The British Ambassador to the UAE, Dominic Jermey, said, "I am very pleased that the British Government is enabling easier access to the UK for Emiratis.”
The British Embassy said further details on the scheme will be announced in due course, and until then current visa rules will apply and visitors can check the UKBA website for the latest information.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, has welcomed the announcement made by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, of a decision to waive entry visa requirements for Emiratis who hold regular passports with effect from early 2014.
Sheikh Abdullah said that the step would ease travel by Emiratis to the United Kingdom and would strengthen the relations between the two friendly countries, especially in the areas of economy, health, tourism and culture.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and the British Embassy in the UAE are examining the mechanisms to implement the visa waiver scheme. The MoFA will later announce the procedures.