Gulf nations, including the UAE, are exploring introducing a unified visa system, which would facilitate effortless travel for residents and tourists across member states.
Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE Minister of Economy, shared that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – consisting of six countries – is mulling over a visa system reminiscent of the Schengen area for its member countries.
This proposed system might see daylight soon.
Presently, visa-free intra-GCC travel is exclusive to citizens of the member countries, encompassing the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. Expatriates in these countries must secure individual visas for travels to neighbouring member states, though certain nationalities might benefit from visa-on-arrival or visa-free provisions.
Earlier in the year, a Bahraini minister had hinted at the inception of a GCC-wide visa system that mirrors the Schengen model for tourists.
Fatima Al Sairafi, speaking at the Arabian Travel Market, indicated that discussions at the ministerial level were in progress about this cohesive visa approach, projected to debut soon.
Echoing this sentiment, a spokesperson from the UAE Ministry of Economy emphasized during a panel that this consolidated visa initiative aims to provide tourists with the flexibility to traverse multiple GCC countries without hurdles under a unified framework.