Passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport can get tourist visas within 15 to 30 minutes, authorities have announced on Monday.
A new visa counter has been launched at the airport to facilitate the visa application process for both transit and arriving passengers to the UAE capital.
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The new service, located at the Terminal 3 transit area at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), includes activation of the new four-day, or 96-hour, transit visa for all nationalities travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The announcement was jointly made by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, along with Abu Dhabi Airports, Etihad Airways and General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi.
The launch of the new visa counter is part of the Life in Abu Dhabi initiative, in support of the Enriching Tourist Experience. Established in May 2017 as part of the Government Services Office at Abu Dhabi Executive Office, Life in Abu Dhabi is an annual gathering aimed at developing a number of public sector services for the government of Abu Dhabi.
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The new counter will issue several types of mission and tourist visas available to travellers who do not fall under the current 'visa upon arrival' scheme. Passengers can now approach the visa counter in T3 to apply for, and obtain the relevant visa within a maximum 30 minutes.
In addition, the visa counter is now issuing the new 96-hour transit visa, which is a key part of Abu Dhabi's ongoing efforts to attract more visitors to the capital.
The Dh300 visa can be used by passengers with planned trips from Abu Dhabi, or with intermediate flights through Abu Dhabi en route to their destination if their layover exceeds four hours. The transit visa can be applied for both at the new visa counter on arrival, or through the online designated portal, provided passengers meet the application criteria. Travellers can also request to change their transit visa to a tourist visa at the airport if they are planning to extend their stay in the capital.
Previously, the transit visa was only available for citizens of certain countries while other passengers had to apply through the official channels prior to their arrival to the capital.
Brigadier Mansour Ahmed Ali Al Dhaheri, Director-General of Residency and Foreigners Affairs - Abu Dhabi, said, "The launch of the new entry visa system strengthens the country's efforts to maintain its regional leadership and position on the global map in the fields of tourism, economy and education.
The new system offers several benefits including the unification of work standards and procedures, as well as equipping health, education and tourism sectors with advanced, modern laws and regulations," said Al Dhaheri.
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Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, Acting Chief Executive Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, commented: "We are very excited to cooperate with our stakeholders and launch this new offer to our travellers. The 96-hour visa will be instrumental to attract the large number of transfer passengers to experience Abu Dhabi and its vast offerings during their stopover."
Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi: said: "This initiative will enhance Abu Dhabi's accessibility to more passengers from around the world and invite them to discover the Emirate, which has quickly become a destination of distinction for its rich cultural experiences and exciting family-friendly activities."
The move is expected to drive an increase in the number of hotel guests from around the world to all three regions of Abu Dhabi. October 2017 figures revealed an 18 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared to the same month last year, with 418,883 domestic and international visitors checking in to one of the Emirate's 163 hotels or hotel apartments. October's rise has maintained the Emirate's eight per cent increase over the year in terms of the numbers of hotel guests, and this number is on track to surpass the 2016 total of 4.4 million guests.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways Executive Vice President - Commercial, said: "The new transit visa is a great initiative for the emirate and for visitors, as now everyone is able to take advantage of Etihad Airways' unique stopover offers, which feature a range of benefits including at least one night's accommodation for any guest transiting through Abu Dhabi. This is a great way for visitors to create a 'holiday within a holiday', or simply break a long trip with a relaxing city break and enjoy the many attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer."
Guests who wish to take advantage of the stopover programme can book a two-night stay from a choice of over 60 participating hotels in Abu Dhabi, and will receive the second night free. Business Class guests receive a complimentary night's stay, while First Class guests receive two free nights. Etihad Airways' guests flying in The Residence cabin onboard the airline's flagship Airbus A380 will be treated to two complimentary nights at the luxurious Emirates Palace hotel during their stopover.
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