By Edwin Kis'sanya
Tourists visiting the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) will be able to extend their stay for up to five years as part of new visa regulations announced by the UAE cabinet on Monday, UAE media is reporting.
The new multi-entry visa, the first of its kind in the UAE, will be available to all nationalities.
Gulfnews.com, an Emirates news website quoted Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, saying that in its first meeting this year, the cabinet had changed the system of issuing tourist visas in the country, increasing the duration of the tourist visa to five-years, for all nationalities.
Sheikh Mohammed further noted that The UAE receives more than 21 million tourists every year, adding that the five-year visa would increase the number of arrivals to the county and position the UAE as a top international destination.
Current tourist visa
According to the UAE government website, tourists who are not eligible to travel to the Emirates without a visa or from acquiring a visa upon arrival to the country are required to apply - online for a visa before leaving their home countries.
The validity of the tourist visa currently lasts for 30 days and can be extended up to 90 days. This means that tourists can apply to extend their 30-day stay for another 30 days - twice without leaving the country.
UAE Visa requirements for Kenyans
Kenyans intending to travel to the UAE on a tourist visa are required to apply for a 30-day visa through the UAE embassy in Nairobi. According to the UAE government, portal, Kenyan tourists going to the UAE are required to provide a Kenyan passport that is valid for at least six months at the time of entry and provide proof of pre-arranged sponsorship from a hotel or tour operator. The visa lasts for 60 days from the day it is issued. However, this is going to change if Sheikh Mohammed's new announcement is anything to go by.
Who is eligible for the five-year visa?
According to UAE media reports the terms and conditions for getting the five-year visa will remain the same as those in place for all other types of tourist visas. It is, however, not clear if there will be a visa application fee and no other details have yet been released.