Starting next year, citizens of the U.A.E will be granted visa free entries to all 28 countries of the European Union.

The Schengen visa free waiver, set to take effect for the UAE by mid-2014 will be an invaluable Customer Service & Comfort measure for the Emirati people.  Delays and hassles at EU state embassies and consulates will no longer be a cause of stress and headache.

Beginning with Britain, not an EU member, taking the initiative in granting Emiratis visa free travel to the UK, for up to a 6 month visit, the vote for a Schengen visa waiver was unanimously approved by the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Friday Nov 13th.  Final approval by the European Parliament will take place in January 2014 making the UAE the first Arab country, 2nd in the Middle East and the 3rd in Islamic states to receive the EU visa waiver.

The move came forward after continuous efforts by UAE foreign policy diplomats backed by UAE’s Foreign Minister of H.H Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahya, pressing for equal treatment of Emirati citizens by the 34 countries that  enjoy ‘visa free status’ or ‘on arrival visas’ to the UAE, calling on them to do the same.

The Schengen visa waiver program will boost bilateral relations, cultural exchange, trade and tourism between the UAE and EU states. With a current travel frequency of 500 weekly flights between the 2 regions, the number of airline trips is significantly set to increase as will trade.  It’s a well- known fact that European countries are popular choices for Emirati shopping sprees and holiday getaways while the UAE is the famed entertainment and shopping capital of the world.  With trade between the 2 regions currently at a €500 billion pound tipping point, the trade figures are significantly set to rise.

Increased tourism and trade will encourage healthy cultural exchange as well as improved hospitality and customer services across all industry domains. Quality customer service will play key in boosting bilateral relations between the two regions.