Performers during the celebration of 73rd Independence Day of India at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today
Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent
India has taken a major step in easing travel formalities for Emirati citizens by introducing multiple entry visas for the UAE.
Now Emirati businessmen, as well as tourists, can avail the facility of five-year multiple entry visas issued by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General of India in Dubai.
The announcement was made by Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri during the celebration of 73rd Independence Day of India on Thursday at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The occasion was commemorated with traditional enthusiasm and fervour as Ambassador Suri unfurled the Indian Tricolour at the Embassy premises in the presence of over 800 people including members of Indian community and friends of India.
Addressing the gathering at the mission, the ambassador said that the introduction of the five-year multiple entry Tourist and Business visas for UAE citizens is aimed at further strengthening trade and investment and people-to-people links between the two countries.
India and the UAE have been seeking to improve bilateral ties in recent years.
The decision reflects the rapid growth of the already extremely close financial and economic ties between the UAE and India as well as their strong social and political links.
Bilateral trade has increased from $52 billion in 2017 to $60 billion in 2018. The two nations have set $100 billion trade target by 2020.
Suri also stated that the Indian mission has also started implementing a new biometric system for facilitating the five-year multiple entry visa applications.
Later, talking to the Gulf Today, Deputy Chief of Mission at the India Embassy in Abu Dhabi Smita Pant said that the required infrastructure to issue five-year multiple-entry business and tourist visas for Emiratis has been recently installed at all centres of the service provider in the UAE. Currently, visa application services are provided by the BLS International across the UAE. Emiratis can visit any centre to avail the facility.
Earlier, Ambassador Suri unfurled the Indian Tricolor at the Embassy premises, followed by singing of the national anthem by several hundred members of Indian community dressed in traditional Indian attires reflecting the diversity of India. They had gathered early morning to celebrate the occasion.
Ambassador Suri read out the Address to the Nation by the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, delivered on the eve of the Independence Day.
Ambassador Suri thanked the UAE government for their continued support and their good wishes on India’s Independence Day.
He sent out his wishes on “Rakshabandhan” to everyone, and stressed upon the mission’s unwavering efforts in ensuring the welfare of the Indian community in the UAE.
In this regard, he informed of the “Open House” policy of the Embassy in which any Indian national can meet any official of the Embassy without appointment between 9am and 12.30pm every working day.
The ambassador thanked the Community in Abu Dhabi for commemorating the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in a befitting way by getting 550 blood donations in coordination with Abu Dhabi Blood Bank.
He also invited everyone to join the celebrations at the Indian Social Centre Abu Dhabi on Aug.23.
On this occasion, the ambassador also unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Embassy premises.
The statue has been installed as India commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in a befitting manner.
The celebration of Gandhian values also highlights India’s strong commitment to peace, tolerance and nonviolence.
The unveiling of the statue was followed by a cultural programme at the Embassy.
The 73rd Independence Day of India celebration was also held in other emirates with great fervour and joy as members of the India community remembered the day of an extraordinary accomplishment, of when India won its freedom with unparalleled fortitude and unique means.
In Dubai, the main function was held at the Consulate General of India in Dubai, where Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul unfurled the national flag.
Over 1,000 members of the Indian community from all walks of life – students, teachers, businessmen, professionals, workers and others – thronged the consulate early on Thursday to participate in the celebration.
Reading out excerpts from the President of India Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day, Vipul stated that contemporary India is very different from the India in which Mahatma Gandhi lived and worked. Even so, Gandhiji remains extremely relevant.
In his advocacy of sustainability, ecological sensitivity and living in harmony with nature, he anticipated pressing challenges of our times.
Flag hoisting and cultural programmes were also hosted by several Indian community centres in other emirates.
The new flights were celebrated with a cake cutting ceremony on Wednesday and was attended by key representatives from Abu Dhabi International Airport and IndiGo.
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