ABU DHABI // A committee of the European Parliament has unanimously endorsed a proposal to allow UAE citizens visa-free entry to most of Europe.
The Civil Liberties Committee’s endorsement comes after it received a report last month recommending the UAE be added to the list of countries exempt from Schengen visa requirements.
“The UAE would be the first Arab country whose citizens are exempt from Schengen visa,” Sulaiman Al Mazrouei, the UAE’s ambassador to the European Union, told the state news agency Wam.
“Today’s vote is a huge step towards finalising legislative requirements and moving to negotiations and subsequent waiver implementation.”
Mr Al Mazrouei said the approval was an achievement for UAE diplomacy and a reflection of the country’s strong ties with the European Union.
Next, the full European Parliament and Council of Ministers will vote on approval by the middle of next year.
“There is no risk of illegal immigration,” the report author Mariya Gabriel told a meeting of the committee.
“Trips made by UAE nationals to Europe are mainly for business, tourism, studies or health care.”
In May, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told the FNC the UAE had increased its efforts to win visa-free entry to the Schengen area – a group of 26 countries in western Europe.
“We hope in the next 12 months the EU parliament looks [positively] on lifting Schengen requirements from UAE nationals,” Sheikh Abdullah said.