x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Border crossing to get Dh15.5m overhaul

The UAE-Oman border crossing will receive a Dh15.5 million overhaul, which is expected to cut waiting times.

About 155,000 people pass through the Hatta crossing every month, making it one of the busiest in the UAE.
About 155,000 people pass through the Hatta crossing every month, making it one of the busiest in the UAE.

HATTA // The UAE-Oman border crossing at Hatta is to receive a Dh15.5 million overhaul, which is expected to cut down waiting times at what is one of the country's busiest land transit points. Five new lanes and booths fitted with the latest technology are to be built for drivers crossing from Oman, who will not have to get out of their cars to have their passports stamped. Lorries and other large vehicles will use separate lanes, although a decision has yet to be made on facilities for buses. The news came as Gen Saif Abdullah al Sha'afar, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, signed the list of geographical co-ordinates delineating the final border between the UAE and Oman at Oqaidat and Al Dara on the Arabian Gulf. The border line extends for 272km and has been marked with major and minor border posts. The agreement means that the UAE has now agreed all its land borders with Oman. Maj Gen Mohammed Ahmad al Marri, director of the Department of Naturalisation and Residency in Dubai (DNRD), said that additional facilities for buses were also planned for the new crossing. "We are working on that at the moment. Tour buses and also buses carrying students to the UAE are very important to us and we hope to have a solution to that soon." About 155,000 people pass through the crossing every month, making it one of the busiest in the UAE. In April, an average of 3,400 cars passed through every day from Thursday to Saturday. From Sunday to Wednesday, the daily average was 2,600. As part of a trial that was launched in May, travellers from the UAE to Oman have not needed an exit stamp, which has helped to speed up the process of crossing the border. In the past, it could take hours to pass through at peak times. Now, the DNRD is informed that a passport holder has left the country via an electronic system installed at the Omani checkpoint. Businesses welcomed today's announcement and said it would make life easier. Peter Payet, the vice president of Arabian Adventures, said his staff and clients crossed the border regularly. "I think once it is set up, it will enhance the current situation for us because one of the primary things we do are round trips from Oman to the UAE," he said. "We encourage clients to drive themselves and ... We want our clients to have an experience that seems quite seamless. It will help improve the service they have there." Rowley Brown, the head of finance for Adpico, a steel manufacturer and trader, expected the new crossing to enhance business for his and other companies in the UAE. "There has being a tremendous improvement over the last year and they have managed to man the border with more people," he said. "We expected things to be a lot easier and the time that has been saved since the exit visa was scrapped is significant. Hauling rates have been reduced for us. This will make trade even easier and we welcome it." Work on expanding the border crossing, which will include the construction of four buildings, will begin next month and is expected to be completed next year. The main building will include a rest area, a mosque and other services. In the meantime, a temporary facility will be in place. @Email:eharnan@thenational.ae