Tourists from Asian countries will no longer be able to apply for tourist visas to thwart an influx of illegal immigrants.
Electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines are now banned from obtaining a tourist visa, Gulf News daily said citing a senior immigration official.
The new measure sets a university degree as a prerequisite to obtain a visa, the official said.
“The Federal Residency Department… has decided to adopt stricter regimes for tourist, visit and conference visas to curb the influx of blue-collar workers from many labour exporting countries,” said the official.
“This would help significantly reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organised crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to the country,” he said.
Tourist visas are usually arranged through hotels or airlines and travel agents.
Tourism grew rapidly in the UAE, especially in the glitzy emirate of Dubai, where the number of tourists increased to 9.3 million in 2011, up 10 per cent from the previous year.
The UAE has millions of foreign workers, mostly from South Asian countries.
The expat-dominated population is estimated to have grown to around 8.2 million by the end of 2010, with UAE nationals making up only 11.47 per cent.