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UAE launches tourist visas for Israelis as waiver deal lags

Measure is a stopgap to open doors to visitors from Jewish state until mutual visa waiver agreement is finalized

An Israeli passenger from a flydubai flight from Tel Aviv waves her Israeli passport on arrival at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, November 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
An Israeli passenger from a flydubai flight from Tel Aviv waves her Israeli passport on arrival at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, November 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates launched tourist visas for Israeli citizens on Thursday, official media said, in the latest move following the normalization of ties between the two countries.

Abu Dhabi’s foreign ministry “announced the activation of tourist entry visas through airlines and travel and tourism offices for Israeli passport holders,” the WAM news agency reported.

The measure is a stopgap until a mutual visa waiver agreement is put in place, meaning Israelis visiting the UAE will be eligible for visas on arrival. The same will apply to Emiratis visiting the Jewish state.

“The move falls within bilateral cooperation between the UAE and the State of Israel following the signing of the Abraham Accords and aims to facilitate travel to the UAE for the time being,” the report added.

A passenger in a full disposable hazmat suit arrives at the baggage claim area of Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

With their economies hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the US-brokered normalization deal signed in September.

They have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

The UAE was only the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

However, its move was quickly followed by Bahrain and in October Sudan also announced it would normalize relations with Israel.

The agreements have been roundly condemned by the Palestinians.

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