x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Decision on visa-free UK travel for Emiratis 'in months'

The issue will be discussed during the state visit to the UK next week by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, the UK ambassador Dominic Jermey said.

ABU DHABI // The British government is expected to reach a decision on visa-free travel for Emiratis in the "next few months".

The issue will be discussed during the state visit to the UK next week by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, the UK ambassador Dominic Jermey said yesterday.

"It is a very important issue," he said. "The negotiations between the UAE and British governments are ongoing and this is a work in progress and a very constructive debate is going on about this.

"I can say that no announcements will be made now but we surely expect so in the next few months."

Mr Jermey said the British government was clear on the importance of the matter but he did not believe it would be resolved during Sheikh Khalifa's visit.

While in the UAE last November, the British prime minister, David Cameron, spoke of his country's commitment to opening diplomatic doors in both directions.

"Emirati investment in the UK across a range of sectors, including real estate, banking, sport and infrastructure, is vital to our economy back in Britain," Mr Cameron said.

"We will continue to do all we can to make the UK an attractive and accessible investment destination, reducing corporation tax to among the lowest in the G20, generous new tax breaks for early stage investment and entrepreneur visas, so the brightest can come to the UK and set up a business."

Simon Fraser, a senior policy adviser to the British foreign secretary William Hague, said after the prime minister's visit that his government's review process was under way.

"There is a process going on in looking at the arrangements for the visa requirements we have in place but I don't think we have reached a decision on that," he said.

"The prime minister gave a very positive indication that we will have progress in that area. I am not sure when the decision is going to be reached but we are expecting it in the near future."

Mr Jermey said there was no hold-up from the UK side, it merely took time.

"The UK views border security issues from a global perspective and it is not a fast-moving process," he said.

"The negotiations and diplomacy conducted by the UAE have been superb and I take my hat off to them with regards to this issue."

amustafa@thenational.ae