The Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unveiled its first multi-entry five-year tourist visa.
However, the long-term multi-entry visas would be the latest major change to the visa system.
This includes five-year visas for the brightest graduates and 10-year visas for business owners with significant assets in the country.
The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced the new visa after his first cabinet meeting of the year on Monday.
He said the visa would allow tourists multiple entries into the country over five years. It is not clear if there will be a visa application fee and no other details have yet been released.
At present, tourists can visit the UAE with a free multiple entry visa for up to 90 days, from the date of entry.
Sheikh Mohammed said the move aimed to establish the UAE as a “major global tourism destination” and was part of wider plans to prepare the country for the next 50 years of development.
He said the Emirates currently welcomes about 21 million visitors each year.
“The year 2020 will be different because it is the year of preparation for the next 50, the year in which we design the future of the Emirates,” he said on Twitter.
During the meeting, the country’s ministers reviewed last year’s achievements and approved the new tourist visa. Sheikh Mohammed said the visa would be available to all nationalities.
The move is expected to provide a boost to the tourism industry and make it easier for residents to bring relatives to the country for visits.
Dubai did not hit its target to attract 20 million visitors by 2020, despite a strong performance in boosting the number of Chinese, Omani and Filipino visitors recently. The most recent figures showed it was on course for about 16 million, having hit 12 million in the first nine months, after recording a fall in Indian, British and Russian visitors.
Already, Dubai has made it possible for visitors from some countries to secure a 30-day visa on arrival at the airport with the advantage of a 10-day grace period.
This includes travellers from Britain, Ireland, Australia, China and Hong Kong, among others.
Others including European citizens from the Schengen Area can secure a 90-day visa. This includes many of the EU members, Russia, South Korea and Argentina and Brazil, among others.
Other nationalities require paid-for visas, costing, for example, $10 for 48-hours or $30 for 96-hours and $90 for 30 days. This includes Pakistan, India and the Philippines and others.