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 Tourist inflow from India into the UAE is expected to soar following a decision by the UAE cabinet earlier this month to exempt transit passengers through airports in the country from all entry fees for the first 48 hours of their stay.

"This transit visa can be extended for up to 96 hours for a fee of only AED 50. Obtaining transit visa will be facilitated by a number of express counters at the passport-control hall across UAE airports," according to a cabinet announcement which has now been transmitted to public domains in India by the UAE Embassy in New Delhi to widespread happiness.

UAE Ambassador to India, Dr Ahmed Al Banna, told Indian media this week that "this has been done to encourage people from abroad to come to the UAE and experience the development and the tremendous changes that took place in UAE in the last 36 years. Relaxed rules for Indians carrying Green Cards or have a US visa or residency in Europe and UK have already been in force. They can come directly and get a visa upon arrival. The 48-hour visa fee waiver was created to further enhance tourism".

Following the Ambassador’s explanation, Indian media have quoted from the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index to emphasise that Dubai is already the fourth most visited city destination in the world after Bangkok, London, and Paris.

India’s leading business daily, 'The Economic Times' wrote following the cabinet decision that "Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the top tourist destinations for Indians". These cities are very popular among Indians for leisure travel and jewellery shopping, the newspaper said. 'The Times of India' said India’s travel industry considers the cabinet decision as a "game changer".

Karan Anand, an executive with travel agency Cox and Kings, said "the move by the UAE to exempt transit passengers from all entry fees for the first 48 hours is significant. Many new attractions are opening up in these destinations, and as Dubai gears up for the Expo Dubai 2020, these measures will boost tourism inflows."