הטיסה המסחרית הראשונה מישראל לדובאי
Israelis checking in at Ben-Gurion Airport for their flight to Dubai
Photo: Moti Kimchi
Israelis wait at Dubai airport after they were denied entry due to a lack of a visa

UAE delays visa waiver for Israelis over COVID infections

Abu Dhabi dismisses claim that move is connected to Israeli decision to quarantine all nationals returning from UAE; exemptions had been heavily criticized by Israeli defense officials for restricting security checks

Itamar Eichner, Itay Blumenthal |
Published: 01.18.21, 11:00
The United Arab Emirates has suspended a visa exemption agreement for Israelis, which was supposed to come into effect in February, until July 1 due to Israel's high coronavirus infection rates.
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  • The UAE announcement came a few hours after Israel announced that all returnees from the UAE and Brazil will have to enter isolation in government-commandeered hotels.
    Even so, the UAE said the decision to delay the waiver is unrelated to this move and actually stems from the high infection rate.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Israelis denied entry wait at Dubai airport
    Israelis denied entry wait at Dubai airport
    Israelis wait at Dubai airport after they were denied entry due to a lack of a visa
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    "In accordance with the visa waiver agreement signed and ratified by the two countries, and in view of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the visa waiver agreement will be suspended until July 1," the Emirates said in a statement.
    "The suspension of the agreement was made in accordance with section 12 (2) of the agreement, according to which, each party may suspend the implementation of the agreement, among others for reasons of public health."
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    הטיסה המסחרית הראשונה מישראל לדובאי
    הטיסה המסחרית הראשונה מישראל לדובאי
    Israelis checking in at Ben-Gurion Airport for their flight to Dubai
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Under the current agreement, Israelis planning to make the trip to the UAE will have to get an entry visa to the Gulf State, as will Emiratis intending to visit Israel.
    Israel's visa exemption for Emirati citizens has been heavily criticized by defense officials as an entry visa facilitates a thorough background check and the option of denying entry to the country upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport if necessary.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    אילוסטרציה דובאי איחוד האמירויות
    אילוסטרציה דובאי איחוד האמירויות
    Dubai
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    In closed-door discussions held prior to the signing of the visa agreement, the Shin Bet security service expressed its concerns over the exemptions, pointing out that an entry visa for UAE residents was vital to state security.
    But these fears were met by opposition by supporters of the agreement present at the discussions, who said security checks at Ben-Gurion Airport would harm the Emiratis' experience of visiting Israel.
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