UAE Ratifies Visa-Free Travel with Israel

The flags of the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain seen on a roadside in Netanya. (Flash90)

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday ratified a visa exemption agreement with Israel, the first such arrangement between Israel and an Arab country.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hailed it as “a central part of the full and rapid realization of the many agreements that are being formed with the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.”

Israel has already approved the deal, which will go into effect in 30 days, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Tourists have not waited for ratification, and tens of thousands of Israelis have already been to the UAE, using tourist visas issued last month as a temporary measure.

The UAE was originally expected to authorize the agreement in late December or early January, but an Israeli diplomatic source explained that the delay was due to large numbers of Israelis arriving in the UAE without visas in December, leaving the Emiratis to handle their cases upon arrival, The Jerusalem Post said.

Israel and the UAE have signed treaties on direct flights along with accords on investment, science and technology.