NEWS FROM THE UAE
Sealable bags to pack duty free goods at DIA
DUBAI — JUN 3: Sealable bags will be used to pack goods sold at duty free shops from July 1 in order to ensure the products acceptance in various airports and address concerns over quantities of liquids, according to a statement released by Dubai Duty Free.
Since the introduction of restrictions over the quantity of liquids, aersols and gels (LAGs) that can be carried in hand baggage, duty free shops have reported a drop in sales because of confusion in passengers’ minds over what duty free items are permissible.
Tracey Reid recently travelled to Egypt and Australia and said she remained unclear about how the rules affected duty free products.
“Maybe it’s not that clear. I’m not going to waste $150 if I’m going to lose it,” she said.
Reid did carry two moisturisers but was careful she observed the LAGs rules and each moisturiser was under 100ml.
However, travel agents maintain passengers can buy LAG quantities of any amount from duty free.
An International Travel Service (ITS) spokesperson said a passenger could, for example, buy a two litre bottle of shampoo. “There is no restriction on amount,” he said.
An Al Tayer Travel Agency spokesperson said duty free products of any quantity could be bought and taken on board. “It is sealed and they can take it on board. But, it can’t be opened,” he said.
However, both travel agents said there were some differences between airlines and countries.
Travellers who buy duty free products must clear a series of questions, including their destination and airline, by sales assistants or risk having the products confiscated.
A Dubai Duty Free spokesperson was not available for comment but a Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DDCA) spokesperson said DDF had issued a directive to assist passengers with as much clarity as possible.
“Dubai Duty Free sales assistants in all outlets selling liquids, aerosols or gels (LAGs) will ask passengers their destination, and whether they will be transiting to another destination at the end of their flight from Dubai,” he said.
“For all other non-transit passengers, there are no restrictions regarding LAGs and they will be given the LAGs in the Dubai Duty Free plastic bags,” he added.
Different airlines have different methods for dealing with duty free products.
“Passengers whose final destination is reached on their outbound flight from Dubai (non-transit passengers) will be further asked if they are going to the United States, India on Air India or to Australia,” he said. “For Air India passengers going to India, the sales assistant will arrange for gate delivery of LAGs at the boarding gate, and the passenger can take it on board.”
A British Airways spokesperson confirmed non-transit passengers could purchase any liquid item at duty free shop after clearing security. “The limit of duty free allowance for individual passengers is determined not by British Airways (or indeed any airline) but by the relevant airport authority in the country of origin,” he pointed out.
An Emirates spokesperson said from July 1, liquids and gels in any volume, purchased at airport retail outlets or on board the aircraft must be carried in a security tamper-evident bag (STEB) and protected from interference.
The DDCA spokesperson said all countries had different restrictions on duty free LAGs again. “For EU and Australia, they will be advised not to purchase LAGs as these will be confiscated at the transit airport,” he said, adding, “For Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong, passengers will be advised not to purchase until the STEBs are available at Dubai Duty Free.”
Once sealed, the bags, which are yet to be introduced at all airports, cannot be opened and then re-sealed without obvious signs of tampering.
Two run over by cab in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI — JUN 30: Two persons were killed on the spot and a third was injured when a taxi steered on to a footpath in Abu Dhabi after colliding with another car on Thursday night.
According to police, an Indian man N.B. and a Pakistani woman F.H. died while her husband R.S. received injuries when they were run over by a cab driven by a Pakistani F.A., after it collided with another car on Al Salam-Zayed 1 (Electra) junction.
The bodies of the two deceased were taken to a hospital morgue, while the injured man was admitted to the hospital.
The taxi driver was arrested for allegedly causing the accident. He was remanded in police custody pending further investigations, police sources said.
US missions in UAE gear up for summer visa rush
DUBAI — JUN 30: The American Consulate in Dubai and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi are gearing up to handle the summer rush of student and business visas.
As American universities have started admissions, the embassy and the consulate are expecting more than 1,600 applications from students this year.
American Ambassador to the UAE Michele J. Sison said, “We will give students priority and will try and expedite their visas. In the Abu Dhabi Emirate Consular district, students applying for visas do not require appointments. It is always advisable for students to apply at least 90 days in advance before their travel date.”
She added that student visas would be processed in less than a week from the time of appointment. Even though the processing time is pretty much the same for tourist and other visas, students do not need to take appointments, unlike other visa applicants.
American Embassy spokesperson Wes Robertson said, “Summer months are our busy season, in which we probably handle about 30 per cent of all visa applications each year. So I suspect we will likely handle about 15,000 visa applications. While student visas are difficult to predict we would hope to see more than 1,600 applications this year, from both Emirati students and from long-term residents in the UAE.”
Last year, more than 1,500 students had applied, of which more than 500 were Emiratis.
To apply, students can visit the embassy in Abu Dhabi on any visa workday in the morning to submit their applications. However, in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, they must take an appointment, as the visa workload is much greater.
According to Robertson, precedence is given to student visa applications and businesspersons with deadline-driven travel needs.