What makes the UAE passport the most powerful in the Gulf?

New report ranks UAE passport 38th globally with visa-free travel to total of 121 countries

The UAE passport has retained its position as the most powerful in the GCC for the third consecutive year, according to a new report.

The latest edition of the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, a travel freedom ranking published annually, showed that the UAE ranked 38th globally with visa-free travel to 121 countries, including Europe’s Schengen area.

The UAE has increased in ranking on the HVRI by 23 positions over the past decade, the report showed.

It added that in the wider GCC, all member countries maintained their positions and ranked within the top 70 of the Index.

Kuwait was placed in 60th position, with access to 80 countries and Qatar, at 62, has visa-free access to 78 countries.

Bahrain (66), Oman (68) and Saudi Arabia (69) followed closely behind, with visa-free access to 73, 69 and 68 countries respectively.

Germany held on to its top spot globally for the second year running with access to 176 countries in total, followed by Sweden, while Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and the US were jointly ranked third with 174 countries.

The UK slipped down yet another position this year to fourth place, having held the top position on the Index with Germany for three consecutive years from 2013–2015.

Bata Racic, manager of Henley & Partners in the Middle East, said: “In recent months, we have witnessed several major events that have had a negative impact on global mobility. This includes Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, and most recently the European Parliament’s vote to end visa-free travel for Americans.

"Although the changing regulations and the magnitude if its impact is still unknown, it is expected to curb international movement and create barrier across borders. The impact of some of these events has already been felt and is reflective of the shift in rankings we see in this year’s Visa Restrictions Index.”

In total, 48 countries lost ground over the past year, dropping between one and three ranks, and only 42 countries showed no movement at all.

Racic added: “There still exists a huge gap in the levels of travel freedom between countries, despite the world becoming seemingly more mobile and interconnected. As we have seen recently, visa requirements reflect strongly on a country’s relationships with others, and will take into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations.”

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