Saudis Need Only IDs To Enter The UAE

Saudi citizens need only show their new identity cards at the airport to enter the United Arab Emirates from Jan. 12, 2005, according to a report carried by an authoritative website.

The UAE’s move, which seeks to ease travel restrictions among the Gulf states, comes in line with the recommendations of last week’s Gulf Cooperation Council summit, amid renewed calls for ensuring free movement of Gulf nationals in all six member countries.

“Passports may also be used for entering the UAE but they will not be stamped,” said a report published on AME Info website, quoting unnamed officials. AME Info is a leading provider of business information in and about the Middle East region.

To verify the information, Arab News spoke to Hassan Al-Hussaini, a senior official at the GCC General Secretariat here yesterday, but Al-Hussaini could neither confirm nor deny the report. Local travel industry sources, however, said that they are aware of the decision taken by the UAE.

Asked about the UAE’s announcement allowing Saudis free entry into the country, Rashid Al-Mugaid, chief of the United Saudi Travel Agents (USTA) said: “It is a very bold and welcome move. It will further ease the procedure currently in place.

“Once implemented from Jan. 12, Saudis will not be required to show their passports and get them stamped”, said Al-Mugaid. However, he said the travel industry was still to get any official communication in this regard.

Dubai, the commercial hub of the UAE, alone expects over 3.2 million people including a large number of Saudis to visit the annual Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which also opens on Jan. 12.

According to DSF Chief Operations Officer Ibrahim Saleh, DSF 2005 is scheduled from Jan. 12 to Feb. 12 next year. He said that “DSF hopes for a bigger turnout of visitors from Saudi Arabia as the festival coincides with the Haj holidays. “This is a major step in achieving the target of attracting 10 million visitors annually by 2010 under the directives of Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defense Minister Sheikh Mohammed ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum,” he added.

UAE officials have also been quoted as saying that efforts are under way to extend the same facility to other Gulf nationals and allow them free entry into the UAE.

Inter-GCC travel restrictions imposed on foreigners are also expected to be eased.

Plans are also under way to issue a smart card which will be a unified GCC identity card. The new electronic card will use the smart card technology with common security features, applications and accessing devices. The main feature of the card, which will have both the GCC and the member country’s logos, is the “inter-operability”, making its features readable in all Gulf states.

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