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Sat 28 Aug 2010 09:22 PM

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Arab countries languish at bottom of visa-free rankings

A ranking of countries shows the visa requirements on Arabs is quite high.

Arab countries languish at bottom of visa-free rankings
LOW NUMBERS: The number of countries Arabs do not need visas to enter is quite limited. (Getty Images)

A global list of countries, ranked according to the visa restrictions imposed on their citizens, revealed that the number of countries Arabs do not need visas to enter is quite limited and the Gulf countries are generally languishing towards the bottom of the rankings.

Compiled by Henley and Partners (H&P), a global firm specializing in international immigration and citizenship law, and using data from the The Air Transport Association (IATA), the list looked the visa requirements of citizens from 194 countries.

The score assigned to each country reflected how many countries various nationalities could enter without a visa. For example, the top ranking Arab country was Kuwait wiith a score of 71, meaning Kuwaitis can enter 71 countries and territories without a visa.

The next highest ranking Arabic country was Bahrain with a score of 67, followed by Qatar (66), the UAE (64), Oman (61), Saudi Arabia (57), Egypt (43), Jordan (39), Syria (39), Yemen (38), Iran (34), Lebanon (32) and Ira (27).

Iraq was the second last country on the rankings, listed just above Afghanistan and below Sudan and Somalia.

The H&P report determined that the “global ranking reflects the international travel freedom of the citizens of the various countries as well as the international relations and status of individual countries relative to others.”

British citizens enjoyed the most travel freedom, being able to enter 166 countries without a visa. The rest of the top five was top heavy with Scandinavian countries, with Denmark (164) second, followed by Sweden (163), Finland (162) and then Luxembourg (162).

The list has been published since 2006 and a comparison with the 2008 shows that the number of countries Arab countries can enter visa-free has increased over the last two years by an average of around 25 percent.

HENLEY & PARTNERS VISA RESTRICTIONS INDEX: Top Arab Countries on the list:

       Country          Score '10   Score '09

 1     Kuwait            71            56
 2     Bahrain           67            53
 3     Qatar              66            53
 4     UAE                 64            52
 5     Oman              61            49
 6     Saudi Arabia    57            42
 7     Egypt              43            34
 8     Jordan             39            30
 9     Syria               39            30
10   Yemen              38            30
11   Iran                  34            25
12   Lebanon           32             27
13   Iraq                  27            23

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Freedom Fighter 9 years ago

I think this also reflects the archaic visa system in force in most Arab countries that certainly does not encourage freedom of travel or encourage employee movement. Lets get our own little house here in order then go to the rest of the world with suggestions and or comments.

Mike 9 years ago

As a comparison to this, how about a survey of the same countries, but looking at how many different nationalities are allowed visa free entry. I think the rankings would look very different, how many nationalities are allowed in say, the UK or Saudi, or any EU country without a visa ??

Markus 9 years ago

If Iraq is ranked "Iraq was the second last country on the rankings, listed just above Afghanistan and below Sudan and Somalia." according to your article then the list is incorrect..since Sudan and Somalia are Arab countries and they are ranked on the "top arab countries list". If 194 countries were listed then for sure the other Arab countries not shown here are somewere on the list above Iraq as well.

H 9 years ago

I guess you meant Middle Eastern countries! FYI - Arab Countries also include: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia, Mauritania, Sudan.. would have been good to see their ranking as well.

some light at last 9 years ago

Why do we think this is ? and will our comments be published ?

Jon 9 years ago

The reality of your comment is that sadly, a vast number of your citizens enter countries, then never leave - and therefore, the visa restictions and immigration laws get tougher for citizens of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in particular. It is certainly the case in the UK at the moment where there has been a backlash against the UK Government from the sub-continent communities following the requirement to be able to speak English to have a British passport.

Gordon 9 years ago

The ability to speak English fluently has been a requirement for citizenship in the US also -- when one goes for the citizenship interview they chat with you about the US constitution etc. mainly to gauge your English-speaking ability. This requirement is waived for really old people.

AMERICAN IN KUWAIT 9 years ago

Rubbsih, speaking English fluently is not a requriement for US Citizenship. The USA is so worried about offending anyone that you can take the test in Spanish, Udru or Swahiili.

kuwaiti 9 years ago

I'm Kuwaiti & the countries we could enter without visa is just middle east countries + Asia except Japan & china & Korea , so it's much much less than 71 , so it's just rubbish !!

Zake 9 years ago

Iran is not an Arab country. Funny a global firm can't even get this right.