UAE: GCC residents to get single visa for travel within member states
Currently, citizens of the GCC member countries are free to travel within the GCC bloc without a visa. However, it's important to keep in mind that most foreign nationals residing in these GCC countries typically require permits or visas in order to access any of the six GCC countries.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) considers a single visa system.
As stated by UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprising six member states, is investigating the possibility of instituting a single visa system that would enable citizens to travel freely amongst the council's member nations. Anticipated to be put into effect shortly, this potential system aims to streamline travel procedures across the GCC.
Current Visa Situation in the GCC
Presently, only citizens of GCC nations have the privilege of visa-free travel among the GCC countries, which include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. Expatriates living in these states often need to apply for separate visas when traveling to other member countries. While some nationalities do enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival privileges, the current process can be cumbersome for many.
The Vision for a Pan-GCC Single Visa
Minister Al Marri discussed the concept of a unified GCC visa during his address at the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi. This initiative aims to streamline and simplify the travel experience for both residents and tourists within the GCC.
Similar Ideas in the Region
Earlier this year, Bahrain's Minister of Tourism, Fatima Al Sairafi, revealed plans for a GCC-wide "Schengen-style" visa system designed for tourists. During the Arabian Travel Market, she announced that ministerial-level discussions were already underway to bring this unified visa system to fruition. She expressed optimism that the new system would be launched in the very near future.
Additionally, a representative from the UAE Ministry of Economy emphasized that this system would enable tourists to explore multiple countries within the GCC without facing unnecessary travel restrictions. The proposed unified package would create a seamless travel experience, encouraging tourism and economic collaboration across member states.
As the GCC explores the feasibility of this single visa system, it is seen as a significant step toward enhancing regional integration and making travel more convenient and accessible for residents and tourists alike. The hope is that this initiative will strengthen the bonds among member countries and further promote the region as a desirable destination for travelers.