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Thu 6 Sep 2012 03:24 PM

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GCC citizens get more visa-free travel - study

Visa restrictions for GCC citizens relaxed in the last 12 months, research has shown

GCC citizens get more visa-free travel - study
UAE MOVE: The UAE president says he will continue to uphold the countrys travel agreement with Saudi Arabia. (Getty Images)

Visa restrictions for GCC citizens relaxed in the last 12 months with each of the Gulf states receiving visa-free travel to one more country, according to a new report.

The six Gulf states all moved up one position in the Henley & Partners visa restriction index with Kuwaiti passport holders topping the list of GCC countries with citizens about to travel to 72 countries and territories freely.

Globally, Kuwait ranked joint 62nd alongside Marshall Islands and Papua New Guinea, up from 61st the previous year. UAE passport holders are the second freest Gulf state with access to 70 countries followed by Qatar (67), Bahrain (66), Oman (61) and Saudi Arabia (59).

Other Arab countries continue to lag behind with Iraqi passport holders the most restricted with access to just 30 countries, just behind Somalia and Afghanistan.

Global travel restrictions tightened for citizens in many Arab countries with Jordan losing free access to three countries (43), Lebanon two (35) and Libya (39) and the Palestinian Territory (32) losing one a piece, according to the report.

“In today’s globalised world, visa restrictions are an important tool for governments to control the movement of foreign nationals across borders. Visas are a standard requirement for most countries as certain non-nationals wish to enter their territory,” Henley & Partners said in its report.

“At the same time, visa requirements or the lack thereof, are also an indication of the relationship between individual nations and the status of a country within the international community of nations,” it added.

Denmark topped this year’s index for a second year running with its citizens able to travel to 169 countries and territories freely followed by Finland, Germany and Sweden in joint second place (168) and Belgium, France, Netherlands and the UK in third with access to 167 countries.

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