Dubai: Dubai has updated its entry requirements for inbound travelers, with tourists now allowed to apply for their visas in advance, or get their visas stamped on arrival if they hold a passport from a list of 70 countries, as per the entry and immigration regulations that were in place pre-pandemic.
Even as Emirates airline outlined the procedure, Amer centres and travel agents confirmed to Gulf News on Wednesday that the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai started issuing new visit visas for Indians outside the country.
Tourists can easily apply for visas in advance, or get their visa stamped on arrival if they hold a passport from one of 70 countries and territories, as per the entry and immigration regulations that were in place pre-pandemic, the airline said.
“As travellers mull over their summer vacation plans, Emirates and Dubai [are] sending out the clear message that tourists are welcome to enjoy the city's many attractions, with various measures put in place for safe visits and smooth travels,” it added.
The UAE had suspended the issuance of new visit visas in March as part of the restrictions introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Expats rejoice resumption of visas
Families, especially those with children outside the UAE who could not fly back as they could not get visit visas to enter the country, have welcomed the move.
Gulf News had earlier highlighted the plea from Indian expats, whose children are stranded back home in India, to UAE authorities to issue them visit visas to facilitate the reunion of the children with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parents with sons aged above 18 years studying overseas were particularly aggrieved because they could not secure residence visas for them.
GDRFA in Dubai on Tuesday started accepting visit visa applications from Indians outside the country since Tuesday night and visas were issued from Wednesday morning, confirmed Amer Centres and travel agents.
They said applications from applicants of various other nationalities are also being accepted.
Hoping for Eid reunion
Dr. Mubarack Valiyakath’s son Nihal Mubarack, a medical student stuck in Kerala, is one of the first Indians to get a long-term (three-month) visit visa on Wednesday.
“He is my second child. My other two children are here. We were planning to bring Nihal here in March. We have been trying to get a visit visa for him for long. We were eagerly waiting for the day the immigration accepts the application and issues the visa,” Dr. Valiyakath told Gulf News on Wednesday.
He said the family has been extremely happy about Nihal receiving a visit visa.
They hoped that they would not face hurdles of securing new entry-approval from GDRFA since the special approval was meant for re-entry of Dubai residents currently stuck in India.
However, the family is now waiting for India-UAE flights to resume. “We hope the flights will start again immediately and he can join us for Eid. We are eagerly waiting for his arrival,” said Dr. Valiyakath.
Flight services to allow UAE residents to return from India stopped since Monday after the special flight agreement between the two countries for 15 days ended on Sunday.
Sources told Gulf News that discussions are on between the authorities of both the countries to find a solution to bring UAE residents back from India.
When contacted, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told Gulf News that he was hopeful that the India-UAE flight service would resume soon.
“It will happen soon. Just be patient,” he said.
Now, Indians who secured new visit visas from Dubai hope that they would also be allowed to fly to the UAE along with the returning residents.
Increase in bookings
Adel Al Redha, Emirates' Chief Operating Officer, said: "Dubai remains a highly attractive destination to international visitors. In the three weeks since Dubai re-opened for tourists, we saw more than 1.6 million searches for destination Dubai on emirates.com, and an increase in bookings with travellers coming from more than 30 countries including France, Germany, Malaysia, UK, and US. Emirates is working with Dubai Tourism and our other partners on even more attractive travel offers and packages, and we look forward to announcing these offers soon."