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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 18:14 GMT
Dubai relaxes worker visa rules
By Julia Wheeler
BBC correspondent in Dubai

Wreckage of Kish Air plane crash
The plane crash killed 43 workers
The Dubai government has changed rules which required guest workers to leave the Emirate in order to renew their visas.

The move follows a plane crash on Tuesday which killed 43 people, most of them making a so-called visa run journey.

The Iranian Kish Air flight from Kish Island in the Gulf crashed just before it was due to land in the neighbouring Emirate of Sharjah.

The change in visa rules comes on the direct orders of the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin-Rashid Al-Maktoum.

He says they are to take effect immediately.

In the past, most of Dubai's guest workers have had to physically leave the United Arab Emirates in order to convert their visit visas into resident visas when granted a work permit.

Now rather than going to Oman, Bahrain, Qatar or Iran, they should be able just to pay an as yet undisclosed fee to the government over the counter.

Rule 'to be extended'

The change will affect thousands of migrant workers in the Emirate each year and a senior source expects it may soon include the whole of the UAE.

Most of those aboard the ill-fated Kish air flight, the majority from India and Iran, were returning from a visa change trip to Kish Island.

Three survivors are still in hospital; two of them remain in a critical condition.

Kish Air was one of the cheaper options for a visa run, used particularly by low-income workers.

The search for clues is continuing at the crash site in Sharjah.

Iranian investigators are working alongside the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority and the in-flight recorder, or black box, is expected to go to Europe to be analysed.

Terrorism has been ruled out as a cause of the crash by officials here, although they say it will be some time before the reason is finally known.

Eyewitnesses tell of Emirates crash
10 Feb 04  |  Middle East
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08 Jan 03  |  Business
Iranian plane crashes in Emirates
10 Feb 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
23 Dec 03  |  Country profiles

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