The UAE has climbed 11 positions on the Henley Passport Index last year, marking 34 positions over the past decade, with the country now sitting on the 27th place after gaining entry to China and Ireland earlier this year, providing its citizens visa-free access to a total of 140 global destinations.
The UAE also signed a visa-waiver agreement with Burkina Faso, which is set to come into effect in the coming months.
“The UAE’s meteoric rise in the Henley Passport Index is indicative of the country’s growing soft power and its viability as a global commercial, economic and travel hub,” said Marco Gantenbein, managing partner of Henley & Partners Middle East.
“The nation has been making steady progress with strengthening its diplomatic ties with other countries across the globe, because of which the UAE passport continues to demonstrate its agility and raise the benchmark for other countries in the Middle East,” he said.
Gantenbein said visa restrictions on Emiratis have been lifted by around 45 countries since 1999.
Overall, Germany was knocked off its position by Japan and Singapore, which now share first place thanks their citizens now being able to enjoy visa-free access to a record 180 destinations worldwide, as opposed to German citizens who have access to 179 destinations.
As a result of the changes, the UK dropped down one rank to fourth place, but still provides its citizens with visa-free access to 177 destinations. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation has climbed three places to the claim 45th position.
In addition, China and Indonesia have each gained access to 13 additional destinations and climbed 11 and 10 positions on the index, respectively.
South Korea has also edged ahead of Australia and New Zealand, while Malaysia gained ground on most EU members.
The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can travel to visa-free.
It is based on information from the travel database International Air Transport Association (IATA), and takes into account 219 different countries and territories. It is believed to be one of the most robust and accurate rankings available.
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