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Deal struck for Emiratis to have visa-free travel to Japan

ABU DHABI // Emiratis travelling to Japan will soon be able to visit the country visa-free once pre-registered, according to the country’s embassy in the UAE.

The announcement comes shortly after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said it would sign visa-free travel deals with 18 countries this year alone, including with Brazil and Argentina.

Japan announced the visa waiver at the Japan-UAE Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Monday. Emiratis will be able to stay for 30 days in the country from July 1 once pre-registered.

“Obtaining a visa for short-term stay will be waived for UAE nationals who possess valid ordinary e-passports issued by the Government of the UAE after the pre-registration at diplomatic missions of Japan,” the Japanese embassy in Abu Dhabi said.

“Although an e-passport needs to be submitted to a consulate or a diplomatic mission of Japan for pre-registration, the procedure has been much simplified and accelerated.”

The waiver will be valid for three years, free of charge, with the passport returned the next working day.

“This is great news for us,” said Ameera Mohammed, a 28-year-old Emirati from Abu Dhabi. “I have always wanted to go visit Japan and this will make my trip there a lot more convenient.”

According to a global ranking of the world’s passports, the UAE passport is currently the most valuable in the GCC, ranking 28th worldwide.

Experts said the growing strength of the UAE passport did not come as a surprise.

“The UAE’s progress over the past couple of decades has propelled its international image,” said Sabahat Khan, senior analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis. “The economy in the UAE has grown at a remarkable pace but there’s also great purchasing power here among Emiratis and other countries are keen to cement ties and keep an open-door policy for this reason.”

Others said the power of the UAE passport was not only the reflection of UAE diplomacy but its soft power too.

“The UAE [image] as a model of development and an island of stability in a sea of chaos is what gives its passport exceeding value,” said Dr Albadr Al Shateri, politics professor at the National Defence College. “Soft power is not like other means of power that countries have to project but it is a power of persuasion and attraction that draws people and countries to it.”

Bernardino Leon, of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, said: “Visa-free travel agreements reflect a number of tangible and intangible values, a combination of good foreign policy and trust and reliability in international affairs, being considered a responsible global actor, which leads to increasingly friendly relations and diplomatic coordination among different countries.”

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The National