Abu Dhabi is already a popular weekend and holiday destination for residents of Muscat and it could soon become easier to reach thanks to the development of a new ferry service linking the two cities. The service has become a possibility following the announcement of new visa regulations that include an AED200 (RO20.9) multi-entry cruise visa for the UAE.
Although The Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) does not have any immediate plans, it is in talks with a shipping line to perhaps operate such a ferry service in the future.
“ADPC is supportive of any plans and is working with the shipping line in question, to provide information as they examine whether such a service would be possible and viable,” a senior official from the ADPC told a local newspaper recently. If the ferry service is launched, it’s expected to reduce the burden on road and air traffic that currently exists between Muscat and Abu Dhabi due to large numbers of people wanting to travel between the two cities for tourist and business purposes.
“We have to drive around 600 kilometres or fly. The passenger ferry will especially help those people travelling with families and children,” said Ravi Kumar, an Indian expat who lives in Oman.
When considering the ferry link between Muscat and Abu Dhabi, tourism experts believe that it will bring in huge revenues and boost tourism in Oman and the UAE. “The new visa fee makes it much more affordable for operators to promote Arabian itineraries, of which Abu Dhabi is a key stopover,” an official was quoted as saying in the local press.
Experts also believe that the ferry link will help to reduce time spent at the Oman-UAE border, where travellers often have to queue for hours to have their visas processed, especially during national holidays and weekends.
The 2013-2014 cruise season from November to April has been the busiest to date for Abu Dhabi, with a record 10 maiden calls (first-time visits) and 189,709 passengers visiting the UAE capital on 75 calls into Zayed Port over the course of the season.