European flags fly outside the European Commission building, in Brussels, in this May 8 2015 photo. (AFP).

Saudi Arabia: The European Union hopes to reach an agreement with the Kingdom on visa relief for Saudi nationals, an official has said.

According to a deal, reached recently, UAE nationals are exempt from Schengen visas and are granted a 90-day stay in European countries, Michael Ohnmacht, the chargé d’affaires and minister counselor at the German Embassy, said.

“Something should be worked out soon on these lines,” he added.

The current exchange of views between the Kingdom and the EU will take time to fructify, as was the case with the agreement with the UAE, Ohnmacht said.

Visas were issued last year to Saudi tourists, students, businessmen and patients by European embassies in the Kingdom, he said.

The German Embassy in Riyadh is expected to issue 60,000 Schengen visas to tourists, businessmen and medical tourists this year, said Ohnmacht. “About 50% of these visas are likely to be issued between April and August. So far, 16,243 visas have been issued, with 2,602 visas in the past week alone, while 200,702 visas were issued over the past five years.”

The Ambassadors of Germany, France and Spain have previously said that an average 600 visas are issued to Saudi nationals per day and that often up to 60,000 visas per month.

According to Ounmacht, the EU has also made great strides in negotiations with Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar about allowing their citizens to enter EU territory without visas. He said negotiations with the Kingdom have not advanced as yet, but confirmed that the EU is open to the idea of establishing a visa system agreement that will help serve objectives of various types of visits.

 

It is noteworthy that the European Parliament passed a resolution exempting UAE nationals from the Schengen visa, according to the announcement at EU Council headquarters in Brussels last Wednesday. The agreement will allow UAE nationals to travel to any Schengen member state for up to 90 days without interruption. Source: arabnews