Lifting of visa requirement likely to benefit trade and tourism
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan T.D., today announced the lifting of the visa requirement for citizens of the UAE travelling to Ireland with effect from the 31st January and has signed an Order to give effect to this decision.
Minister Flanagan, who led a trade mission to United Arab Emirates as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the removal of visa requirements is a very significant step which will facilitate Ireland’s growing trade, tourism and business relationships with the UAE. It represents a further strengthening of the strategically important relationship between the two countries and will foster increased cooperation across a wide variety of areas including innovation, trade, investment, financial services, food, education, healthcare, aviation and technology.
Announcing the decision to lift the visa requirement the Minister said
As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I led a trade mission to UAE, made an official visit there and welcomed Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Dublin. Excellent air-links between our two countries are facilitating growing partnerships in trade, education and tourism in particular. A large number of Irish citizens now live in the Emirates and many Irish companies are active on the ground where we have a busy Embassy promoting Irish interests. The UAE is a key economic partner for Ireland and one of our priority markets. I am very pleased we have been able to lift the visa requirement for citizens of the UAE who wish to travel to Ireland and we look forward to welcoming increased numbers of Emirati business people, students and tourists who will travel to Ireland following the lifting of the visa requirement.
Notes to Editors
The Order - Immigration Act 2004 (Visas)(Amendment) Order 2018 – will come into effect on the 31st January. From this date citizens of UAE, who are holders of a regular UAE passport and who are travelling to Ireland, will no longer have to obtain a visa prior to travel (the visa requirement for diplomatic and special passport holders was previously lifted in 2015).
The UAE is an important trading partner for Ireland. Total trade in 2015 (the most recent year for which full figures are available) was valued at €1.6 billion, and Ireland has a very favourable trade balance. The long-term trend is very positive; trade in goods has expanded by about €300 million (160%) over the past decade.
The UAE is a key market for Irish services exports in construction, consultancy and training, and there are a number of Irish companies active in the UAE, and the Gulf region more widely.
Dublin Airport has developed as a major international hub. Ireland and the United Arab Emirates are well connected, with almost 30 flights operating per week, allowing Irish and Emirati business people, tourists and students travel easily between the two countries.
The Department of Justice and Equality opened a regional Visa Office in the Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2010, as a hub for visa applications from 15 countries. UAE residents are the second largest group of Middle East-based recipients of Irish visas – behind those resident in Saudi.
Tourism Ireland states that in 2016 there were almost 80,000 visitors to Ireland from the GCC region. 50,000 of these were from UAE, making it by far our largest tourism market in the region. Irish citizens travelling to the UAE number approximately 40,000 per year. In addition, there are approximately 10,000 Irish citizens registered with the UAE authorities as residing there. It is by some distance the largest Irish community in the Middle East.