UAE nationals can travel to the UK without a visa from January 1 next year if they possess an electronic visa waiver document.
The online application for the document must be made at least 48 hours before they embark on their journey.
A printed version of the document must be presented to immigration officers upon request on arrival and is valid for six months for single entry.
‘‘The simple online form means there is no fee, there will be no requirement to give biometrics or attend a visa application centre. Guidance will be published at the Home Office website. Some visitors may still prefer a long-term multi-entry visit visa and the facility to obtain these visas will remain,’’ said British Home Secretary Theresa May in a statement on Monday.
Oman and Qatar nationals will also be able to travel to the UK under the new facility, which will be extended to Kuwaitis by next year.
‘‘Britain is open for business and genuine visitors and tourists coming here to enjoy our world-class attractions, study or do business are always welcome,’’ said the Home Secretary.
However, those coming to the UK for full-time work or study will still need to apply for visas in the normal way, the Home Office said.
“The government keeps visa regimes under constant review to ensure that the UK has the right visa requirements set in the right places, aligned to risk,” May said.
With the easing of the visa scheme for Gulf nationals, more UAE visitors are expected to visit the UK. Government statistics show the UK is the second most visited destination by UAE nationals and residents. Figures show the numbers have doubled over the last decade.
“Last year saw a record 37pc increase in the value of Gulf residents’ spending in Britain — that’s a record average of £3,555 per visitor,” said Sandie Dawe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain, according to the Daily Telegraph.