Revealed: the power of holding a UAE passport

New report says UAE passport is best one to have in MENA region, with visa-free access to 122 countries
Revealed: the power of holding a UAE passport
By Staff writer
Fri 26 Feb 2016 01:09 AM

The importance attached to having a UAE passport has continued to increase in the past year, according to the annual Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index.

The index, which gives an insight into the development of visa policies over the past year and decade, said the UAE rose two places to 38th globally after soaring 15 places the previous year.

The 11th edition of the Visa Restrictions Index said that the UAE passport retained its title of the most powerful passport to own in the Middle East and North Africa.

It said the UAE led the MENA region with visa-free access to 122 countries. This increase follows last year's agreement with the EU which gave the UAE visa-free travel to 36 countries, including the 26 Schengen area states, making the UAE the first Arab country to be granted a European visa waiver.

In the wider GCC, all member countries saw increases in this year's index by at least five spots.

Kuwait (57) and Qatar (60) both increased by six places, with visa-free access to 82 and 79 countries respectively.

Bahrain (65), Oman (67) and Saudi Arabia (69) followed with visa-free access to 73, 71 and 69 countries respectively.

Marco Gantenbein, managing partner of Henley & Partners in Dubai said: "The world is becoming increasingly globalized, mobile and interdependent, however, there continues to be a huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom between countries.

"Visa requirements reflect strongly on each country's relationships with others and take into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations."

Globally, there was significant movement in this year's index, with only 21 of the 199 countries listed remaining in the same rank. No country however, dropped more than three positions, indicating that overall visa-free access is improving around the world.

Germany was named the top passport to own, with visa-free access to 177 countries out of a total of 218, while Sweden remained in second place with a ranking of 176.

The United Kingdom dropped from first to third place this year alongside Finland, France, Italy, and Spain - all having visa-free access to 175 countries.

Four countries in particular made huge gains - Tonga rising 16 spots, Palau by 20, Colombia by 25 and Timor Leste, a Southeast Asian nation, being the highest climber with an increase of 33 ranks.

Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan continued to hold the bottom four positions on the index.

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