Abu Dhabi: The UAE was voted on the Schengen visa-free list by EU’s Security and Policy Committee, but awaits final approval by the European Parliament within weeks, a senior official said.

Sulaiman Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to the European Union, said the latest EU move was a fruit of the relentless efforts made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the directives of Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, WAM reported.

“The endorsement represents the last legal procedure before the final formal approval by the European Parliament, whose Committee on Civil Liberties, has already approved the visa waiver,” he said.

He explained that the committee had given its green light following a thorough evaluation of security, economic, trade, and tourist aspects.

Al Mazroui added that visa waiver would take effect after all formalities were completed, expecting the European Parliament to vote on the visa-free resolution within the next few weeks.

Committee on Civil Liberties has added the UAE to a list of 15 countries whose citizens will receive the visa-waiver.

The ambassador said he hoped an UAE-EU agreement would be finalised in the next few weeks, whereby Emiratis would no longer require a visa for short stays (up to 90 days) in the Schengen area, whether for business, tourist or family visit purposes.

Continued efforts of UAE diplomats have resulted in a unanimous vote in favour of marking the country on a list of countries exempt from Schengen visa requirements.

If endorsed, the UAE would be the first Arab country, second in the Middle East and third among Islamic countries whose citizens receive the visa waiver, said Al Mazroui, a diplomat who has been hard at work towards abolishing the travel restrictions imposed on UAE citizens.

The trade between the 28 members of the EU and the UAE rose in 2012 by 9.7 per cent year-on-year and hit $62 billion, according to the EU data.

Britain, which is not a member of the Schengen accord, granted Emirati tourists and businessmen a visa-free status for visits less than six months to its country.

Emiratis facing delays in obtaining Schengen visas as well as those of other countries have demanded that the UAE government stop granting visas-on-arrival to citizens of countries that fail to apply equal treatment to UAE citizens.

Shaikh Abdullah said countries that were granted a visa-free status softened their stance when the UAE imposed a visa on their diplomats. “That was an indication that the nation would impose a visa on citizens of countries which failed to grant the UAE equal treatment,” Shaikh Abdullah said in May last year.