UAE denies tougher visa rules on Asians
DUBAI - A top UAE official denied Wednesday reports that the Gulf state had toughened visa rules for tourists from labor-exporting South Asians nations banning low-income visitors.
General Nasser al-Menhali, assistant undersecretary for Nationality and Residency at the interior ministry said no changes have been made to the existing law for visas, WAM state news agency reported.
"Any amendments or measures would be announced in advance," he said.
The Gulf News daily had reported Tuesday that tourists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines would need to have a university degree to get a visa to the UAE.
It cited a senior immigration official saying that electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners from those countries would not qualify.
"This would help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country," the official told Gulf News.
Tourist visas are usually arranged through hotels or airlines and travel agents.
Tourism grew rapidly in the UAE, especially in the glitzy emirate of Dubai, where the number of holidaymakers increased to 9.3 million in 2011, up 10 percent from the previous year.
The UAE has millions of foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries.
The expat-dominated population is estimated to have grown to around 8.2 million by the end of 2010, with UAE nationals making up only 11.47 percent.