The European Parliament (EP) voted on Thursday to allow visa-free travel for UAE citizens to countries in the Schengen Area in Europe.
This came during a meeting held on Thursday in Strasbourg with a majority vote of 523 out of 577 EU representatives. The EU's endorsement of the visa waiver status for UAE citizens traveling to Schengen Area is deemed as crucial stage which will be followed by setting up of a mechanism to implement the decision.
The procedural arrangements to put the decision in to effect will start by setting up of a joint working team of the UAE and EU, who will implement the decision as soon as possible.
The team will intensifying its efforts to speed up the procedure of the implementation of decision as a prelude to the final announcement to allow UAE citizens visa free travel to Schengen Area.
Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from Strasbourg congratulated the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for this great achievement saying that this historic vote is the result of two years of organised and relentless work which was diligently led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, who followed all its stages from the beginning.
Thursday's vote is a reflection of the good reputation enjoyed by the UAE and its achievements on the regional and global levels, Gargash stated and added that the UAE will be the first Arab country which got visa waiver for Schengen countries.
He remarked that concrete achievement of the citizens will make it easier for them to travel freely and move in 27 European countries in implementation to the UAE approach that put Emirati citizens as a priority for its efforts and activities.
He added that what has been achieved today came through comprehensive and collective efforts led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its diplomatic missions abroad in addition to the country's concerned institutions, particularly the Ministry of Interior.
He concluded by hailing the important role played by Sulaiman Hamed Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to Belgium and embassy staff there.
The decision affirms UAE's strong and strategic political and economic relations with EU, where the trade and investment between the parties have exceeded to 50 billion Euros.
The number of return flights between the UAE and Europe have reached 508 weekly and there are more than 160,000 EU citizens living in the UAE, in addition to over 1.64 million visitors who come to the UAE annually according to 2012 figures.
Meanwhile, Mariya Gabriel, European Parliament MP, has expressed her pleasure about the ratification of European Parliament to exempt Emiratis from Schengen visa to enter EU countries.
Gabriel said the ball is now in the court of the UAE and EU technicians to iron out the details to implement the decision at the earliest.
She told Emirates News Agency (WAM) that the decision would be implemented soon, especially that the UAE has provided all the necessary technical support.
The European Parliament has voted by majority to exempt Emirati nationals from the requirement of a Schengen visa during a vote session held today at Strasbourg. According to early news reports, 523 votes support the Schengen visa waiver out of 577 EU representatives.