Visa requirement lifted for UAE citizens visiting Ireland

Tourism Ireland plans to launch a campaign to highlight the change

Visa requirement lifted for UAE citizens visiting Ireland

A view of the skyline in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2012 | Image: Jens Büttner/DPA/PA Images

Citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will no longer need a visa to visit Ireland.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced the change with UAE Ambassador Al Shamsi in Dublin.

The new order will come into effect from January 31st.

Minister Flanagan said the removal of visa requirements is "a very significant step" which will facilitate Ireland’s growing trade, tourism and business relationships with the UAE.

"Excellent air-links between our two countries are facilitating growing partnerships in trade, education and tourism in particular.

"A large number of Irish citizens now live in the Emirates and many Irish companies are active on the ground where we have a busy embassy promoting Irish interests.

"The UAE is a key economic partner for Ireland and one of our priority markets.

"I am very pleased we have been able to lift the visa requirement for citizens of the UAE who wish to travel to Ireland and we look forward to welcoming increased numbers of Emirati business people, students and tourists who will travel to Ireland following the lifting of the visa requirement."

Total trade between the UAE and Ireland was valued at €1.6bn in 2015.

Trade in goods has expanded by about €300m over the past decade.

Irish-Emirati relations

Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said: "The Government has worked hard with the United Arab Emirates to introduce visa-free travel for UAE nationals who wish to visit Ireland.

"This is really good news for Irish tourism. It is an historic step for Irish-Emirati relations and one which we hope will encourage more Emiratis to visit Ireland.

"We realise it is important to expand our focus beyond our traditional tourism markets to the longer-term opportunities presented by emerging and developing markets like the Middle East.

"Over the coming months, we will roll out a special campaign to highlight the lifting of the visa requirements in our promotions in the UAE, reminding prospective visitors there that it is now easier than ever before to visit Ireland."

Tourism Ireland estimates that in 2016, there were almost 80,000 visitors to Ireland from the Gulf region.

Some 50,000 of these were from UAE, making it by far the largest tourism market there.

Irish citizens travelling to the UAE number approximately 40,000 per year.

While the Department of Foreign Affairs says there are around 10,000 Irish citizens registered with the UAE authorities as residing there - making it the largest Irish community in the Middle East.