Granting Emiratis visa on arrival to India will boost business travel and assist patients travelling there for medical tourism.
The UAE is only third country to be granted double entry visas on arrival — after Japan and South Korea — the Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi said.
Issuance of the new visas began last week, allowing Emiratis to stay in India for up to 60 days after arriving in airports in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
Previously, Emiratis could apply for an e-visa that would give them up to 30 days in the country.
Tourism companies said the move would be an advantage to the business community and families with relatives undergoing medical treatment in India, who found the previous visa limiting.
“This will increase opportunities for businessmen going to India and gives sufficient time for people to check on and set up collaborations with partners in India,” said Premjit Bangara, general manager of Sharaf Travel in Dubai.
“It gives them the flexibility of travel since it’s multi-entry so they have the option of leaving when they want to. It will also support families who travel to India to take care of relatives when they are admitted for medical procedures.”
Chennai, New Delhi and Bangalore have emerged as the most popular among Emiratis who go to India for specialised surgery.
Other cities like Mumbai, Nagpur in Central India and Coimbatore in southern India are also popular for business travel from the UAE.
“Relations between the two countries are already very strong so this is a step in the right direction because it fosters people to people interaction,” Mr Bangara said.
About 1,500 visas, of all categories, were issued to Emiratis each month from July to September, according to the Indian embassy.
The decision to facilitate travel for Emiratis was taken due to the “strategic ties” between the UAE and India and is aimed at “further strengthening people to people and trade links,” an Indian embassy official said.
“This facility will make it more convenient for those UAE nationals who need to travel to India at short notice.”
Links between the two countries have drawn closer over the past few years with leaders making bilateral visits and announcing trade deals.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described previously ties with the UAE as the “best they have ever been.”
He has said the UAE would play a key role in helping India reach a $5 trillion economy by 2025 with a key focus on areas covering ports, airports, defence, energy and food.
The UAE is India’s third largest trade partner with about $60 billion bilateral trade last year.
The new visa on arrival facility is available to UAE nationals who have previously obtained an e-visa or a regular paper visa even if they did not travel on that visa.
Other UAE nationals must apply for an e-visa or a regular visa for their first visit and the visa on arrival will be opened up for them on subsequent visits.-The National