While rise in visa fee might be a little steep for weekend travellers to the sultanate, the thriving ‘visa run’ business in Dubai still holds Oman as the best and cheapest option.
In April, the ROP had issued a decision (No 77/2017), which discontinued the ten-day visa (for RO5) and made the month-long visa (RO20) the only alternative, paving the way for a four-fold increase in fee for short stay visitors.
An official from GoTours, one of the companies offering visa run transport in the UAE, said, “It’s not that the price has increased. The ten-day visa was cancelled which means the cheapest option is the RO20, monthly visa. Our rates start at AED89. We provide transport from Dubai Marina Mall to the Omani border and back. Oman is still the most stress-free way to do a visa change despite the additional cost. The alternative options involve flights and all the hassle and stress that comes with air travel.”
Mohammed Munir, manager, Time Run Dubai, which also offers visa run transportation, said, “Oman is still, by far, the preferred destination. We arrange transport, and we have a PRO on board who helps with the formalities. Our clients just sit back and enjoy the rural scenery, renew their UAE visas, and return to Dubai after a few hours. The Oman visa run is also the cheaper option.”
An official from the UAE-based Jashan Tourism, said, “Visa changes are stressful, especially for people who aren’t familiar with the proceedings. We assist our clients by providing a PRO along with transport. We have daily trips from Sundays to Wednesdays.
“Our pick up location is Dubai Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai. While our customers have to pay more for their Omani visas, they take it on the chin as they know it’s still the cheapest option.”
While it is business as usual for visa run firms, adventure trippers, say, there could be a mild affect initially. Abdul Rafey, from Let’s Drive Adventure and Recreation in Dubai, who used to organise three to four trips a year to Oman before the visa change rule, said he hasn’t planned anything since. “Even though the cost per person has increased substantially, people still want to travel to Oman. I assume it will not have great affect on people’s plans to visit Oman.”
A Dubai resident said, “GCC residents will have to shell out more to visit Oman on short breaks. It used to cost me RO20 for a family of four. Now, I have to pay RO80. The price has quadrupled. It has kept me from visiting Oman over the Eid holidays.”