Abu Dhabi: India has started issuing five-year multiple entry business and tourist visas for UAE citizens, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri announced on Thursday.
Speaking at the 73rd Indian Independence Day celebrations held at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Suri said the embassy has also started implementing a new biometric system for facilitating the five-year multiple entry visa applications.
“The new biometric system for visa applicants and the introduction of five years’ multiple entry tourist and business visas for the UAE citizens are aimed at further strengthening trade and investment and people-to-people links between the two countries,” he said during his speech after hoisting the Indian national flag at the mission.
Speaking to Gulf News later, the ambassador further said that the infrastructure to issue five-year multiple-entry business and tourist visas for Emiratis had been recently installed at all centres of the service provider in the UAE [BLS International].
Though the embassy had announced plans to implement the five-year multiple-entry business visa scheme for Emiratis in 2017, he explained that the scheme could not be comprehensively implemented due to the lack of infrastructure facilities for recording biometric details of the applicants.
“Now it is easier as it is all done over the biometric system. Any Emirati who is willing to provide biometrics for the first time for these two visas can apply. This will further boost the trade, investment and tourism links between the two countries.”
Bilateral trade between the UAE and India recently crossed $60 billion. The two nations have set $100 billion trade target by 2020.
Earlier, Suri thanked the UAE government for their continued support and their good wishes on India’s Independence Day.
He also sent out his wishes to Indian expats on Rakshabandhan Day, and stressed upon the mission’s unwavering efforts in ensuring the welfare of the Indian community in the UAE.
In this regard, he informed the community members about the ‘Open House’ policy of the mission in which any Indian national can meet any official of the Embassy without appointment between 9am to 12:30pm every working day.
Gandhi statue unveiled
Earlier, the ambassador unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the mission’s premises.
The statue has been installed as India commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation who was the leader of India’s independence movement to free the country from the British rule.
The celebration of Gandhian values also highlights India’s strong commitment to peace, tolerance and nonviolence, Suri said.
The unveiling of the statue was followed by a cultural programme at the Embassy
The Ambassador thanked the community in Abu Dhabi for commemorating the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a befitting way by arranging blood donations by 550 people in coordination with Abu Dhabi Blood Bank.
He also invited everyone to join the celebrations at Indian Social Centre Abu Dhabi on August 23.
The flag hoisting ceremony was witnessed by more than 800 people including members of Indian community and friends of India. Children dressed in traditional Indian attires reflecting the diversity of India sang the National Anthem.
The Ambassador later celebrated Independence Day by ringing the market-opening bell at the Nasdaq Dubai stock exchange.
“The initiative taken by Nasdaq Dubai is a reflection of the increasingly close strategic partnership between India and the UAE. It also demonstrates recognition of India’s position as a driver of regional economc growth and the enormous possibilities that this opens up for Dubai to create a dynamic, mutually beneficial pathway for capital flows,” he stated.
Hamed Ali, Chief Executive of Nasdaq Dubai, said: “It is a great pleasure to be celebrating India’s Independence Day at the exchange and we look forward to further strengthening bilateral capital markets ties. Indian companies and nationals continue to make an outstanding contribution to the economic success of the UAE and Nasdaq Dubai is ready to support the growing development of a broad range of markets activities.”
UAE companies including Nasdaq Dubai-listed DP World are major investors in India in sectors including ports, transport infrastructure, energy and housing.
On Wednesday night, the ambassador also inaugurated the “Celebrating India Festival” of the Lulu Hypermarket chain.
The Abu Dhabi International Airport also hosted a celebration of the Indian Independence Day on Thursday. Videos shared by social media users showed Indian passengers being received with Indian national flag, garlands and balloons in tricolour. Passengers were also treated with a cup of tea.
“This is really remarkable on the occasion of Independence Day. This is a wonderful gesture by the UAE authorities,” said an Indian man who recorded a video of the celebrations while waiting to receive his son at the airport. He also appreciated the current Indian government for boosting Indo-UAE relations.