Everything Else You Need to Know About Tourist Visas in the UAE

Published January 8th, 2020 - 11:35 GMT
Everything Else You Need to Know About Tourist Visas in the UAE
The UAE is expecting a growing tourism revenue of 167.5 Billion AED by 2021 (Shutterstock)

During the cabinet's first meeting in 2020, the UAE government announced plans to issue 5-year multiple-entry tourist visas to all nationalities. The decision is expected to go in effect within the next four months.

In its efforts to bolster the tourism sector, the Emirati government has proposed new tourist visa regulations that aim to allow a larger number of travelers to visit the country. The new tourist visa will be available to all nationalities and will enable visitors to have a multi-entry visa that is valid for five years. The proposal also suggests that visitors are given the chance to stay in the country for six months at a stretch on every entry.

The new tourist visas must abide by the same terms and conditions as other types of visas issued by the Emirati government.

Through its latest tourist regulations that are expected to take effect by April, the UAE is hoping to gain more popularity as one of the main tourism centers in the Middle East.

The new tourist visa proposal coincides with the country's preparations for the Expo 2020 event, which is considered one of the world's biggest trade fairs. 

Until the new rules come into effect, travelers will have to abide by existing tourist visa regulations.

This includes the option of obtaining visas on arrival for periods of either 30, 90 or 180 days but this only applies to visitors from certain countries. Citizens of the US, EU, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and China are granted free-of-charge visas upon arrival. 

Indian citizens are also able to obtain visas on arrival but only under strict conditions that they be in possession of a visa or residence permit in the US, UK or EU.

Nationals of many Arab countries will have to pre-approve their visas with UAE immigration ahead of traveling. Many travel agents and airlines are able to arrange this for their UAE-bound clients.

Exceptions are made for GCC citizens who do not require a visa at all but residents of the GCC still need to issue online visas before arrival.

The proposal for the new five-year visa comes at a time when the Gulf country is trying to diversify its economic resources, ending decades of being oil-dependent. Current plans are intended to boost the tourism sector by easing tourists' travel procedures.

In 2019, Dubai alone reported receiving more than 16.3 million people. According to a recent tweet by the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE attracts 21 million tourists a year.

Translation: "Today we approved the change of the tourist visa system in the country. The duration of the tourist visa will be five years with multi-entry for all nationalities. We welcome more than 21 million tourists every year and we aim to establish the country as a major global tourist destination."

As the country prepares for a big year ahead of hosting Expo 2020 (Oct 2020 through March 2021), it is anticipating to have 10 more million visitors by 2021. The UAE is also expecting a growing tourism revenue that could reach 167.5 Billion AED by the end of 2020.

Being one of the world's leading business hubs, the UAE has a population of more than 9 million, most of whom are expatriates with 200 different nationalities.

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