x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ireland changes visa laws to attract UAE visitors

Ireland adjusts rules to allow Emiratis with UK visas to enter freely.

ABU DHABI // It will be easier for Emiratis to visit the Emerald Isle with new visa laws the Irish government has introduced.

Under the Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, which began at the start of July, Emiratis who travel to the UK for tourism or business on a valid visa can now travel to Ireland without an Irish visa.

Ireland hopes to benefit from the thousands of visitors expected to attend the 2012 London Olympics. The visa programme ends in October 2012.

Ciarán Madden, Ireland's ambassador to the UAE, said the new rules would make it easier for Emiratis to visit Ireland, which had 6.7 million overseas visitors last year.

"Ireland is continually being named among the best places in the world to visit," Mr Madden said. The travel guidebook Lonely Planet has called Ireland "the world's friendliest country".

Horse racing and trade are just two of the strong links that bind the two countries. The city of Cork and Abu Dhabi were both listed by Lonely Planet in 2010 as among the top 10 cities in the world to visit. In 2012, Dublin will be the European City of Science and last year was designated a Unesco City of Literature.

eharnan@thenational.ae