Emiratis will soon get Europe visa waivers

Emiratis will soon get Europe visa waivers

It should be a reality by the beginning of summer, says Italian ambassador.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015, 12:50 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:21 PM

Dubai — Emiratis will soon be able to travel without a visa to the 26 European countries covered by the Schengen agreement, according to the Italian ambassador to the UAE.

Giorgio Starace, speaking at a conference on Italian-UAE relations on Tuesday, referred to a visa waiver scheme that was approved by the European Parliament last year and is in the final stage of implementation.

“Politically speaking, everything has been done,” Starace said. “The latest we know is that it should be a reality by the beginning of summer.”

He added that Italy had been one of the major proponents of the visa waiver programme “because we are the bridge of Europe in the Gulf.”

Even before the visa waiver, the number of Emiratis visiting Italy has been steadily increasing, he said. In 2014 alone, 47,000 visas were issued in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The European Arabic Strategic Partnership” event at the Burj Khalifa’s Armani Hotel was organised by the Dubai Press Club and ANSA, Italy’s leading wire service. It covered topics ranging from the economy and investments to the activities of Italian companies in the UAE, experiences in planning Expo Milan 2015 and Dubai 2020, and cooperation on space programmes. 

“Italy is one of the most important hubs of technology for space,” he said. “We have already encouraged ASI (the Italian Space Agency) to partner with the UAE’s new space agency ... and this will be a reality very soon, we are ready to sign an agreement.”

Speakers at the event stressed the complementary relationship of the two countries — Italy as a gateway to Europe and the UAE as a springboard to the Gulf.

The President of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Hamad Buamim, said: “What’s important when you look at the UAE, and Dubai in particular, is that we are also a gateway,” he said. “A lot of whatever we import from Europe and Italy, we take it to Jebel Ali and we export almost 70 per cent of that.”

In 2014, bilateral trade between the UAE and Italy totaled to over €6 billion, which represents over half of Italian exports to the entire GCC region.

Starace also noted that Expo Milan 2015 and Expo Dubai signed a first-of-its kind agreement linking the two events, with the Milan event being the “platform of launching Dubai.”

On the subject of investments in Europe, Starace mentioned the weakness of the Euro and its effect on the European market.

“There is a recovery in the Eurozone, but the prices of the companies and of some technology in some sectors are still very cheap. So it is the right moment to enter in European partnerships and invest in some areas where you know you have a recovery, but at good prices.” 

He added: “The Eurozone is coming out now from a recession. If you see the trend of the Eurozone countries, all of them are showing now for the year 2015 the “plus” sign which means that the recession is over.”



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