The European Union (EU) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday signed an agreement which enables Emiratis through Europe without applying for visas.
Under the agreement, Emiratis can now stay in Schengen zone countries for 90 days in any 180-day period.
The diplomatic breakthrough coincided with the first week of Expo Milan 2015, where the UAE has a national pavilion designed by Foster + Partners. Dubai is to host the next such “universal” World Expo in 2020.
The UAE is the first Arab country to be granted free entry to the Schengen zone, which includes 26 European countries.
“Our UAE citizens have the full right to feel proud of their leadership, which exerts every possible effort to take care of their welfare internally, as well as anywhere else in the world,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed the agreement. “Our UAE citizens have the full right to feel proud of their leadership, which exerts every possible effort to take care of their welfare internally, as well as anywhere else in the world,” he said.
The agreement will be a boost to business tourism from the UAE.
“It will also allow our students more opportunity to know European universities better and choose whichever suits them best in the pursuit of their education,” said Sheikh Abdullah.
UAE citizens now have visa-free access to travel without a visa to Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
They will also be able to travel to eight non-Schengen countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, the Vatican, Andorra, San Marino and Monaco.
Emiratis have since the start of 2014 been able to apply online for a visa waiver for travel to the UK.
Sheikh Abdullah also praised the UAE’s successful bid to host the 2019 International Energy Conference and Dubai winning the right to host the World Expo 2020.