unified tourist visa

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have jointly made a groundbreaking plan to launch a unified visa system akin to Europe’s Schengen Zone.

The news came out when the UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, declared it after the 40th Meeting of GCC Interior Ministers in Oman. This ambitious GCC unified tourist visa aims to redefine travel within the Middle East, thus allowing for seamless economic integration and unraveling the region’s potential.

Background and Vision

The GCC consists of six member states, including Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar. The intent behind this GCC unified tourist visa announcement aligns with the much-anticipated GCC Vision 2030, an innovative strategy that is expected to draw about 130 million visitors to the GCC region annually. It boosts the GDP and elevates the GCC’s tourism growth by over 200%.

As Al Marri told WAM (Emirates News Agency), “This initiative is an integral part of the GCC 2030 tourism strategy, designed to elevate the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP through increased inter-GCC travel and elevated hotel occupancy rates, transforming the GCC into a pre-eminent global destination for both regional and international tourists.”

The Middle East, especially the UAE, is credited to the first region to bounce back and return to its pre-pandemic tourism levels. The UAE hosts about 50% of over 800 tourist attractions and about 33% of 220-plus events across the GCC region. The new unified visa system will increase the UAE’s growth from 14% to 18%.

Unified Visa System: Top Benefits

  • Citizens of GCC member countries already enjoy visa-free travel within the region. But the new visa system will now make travel in the region a breeze for both GCC residents and tourists.
  • With barriers broken down, it promotes freedom of movement for travelers, as they can easily journey back and forth in the area without any intricate formalities to comply with.
  • It makes the GCC region an international tourist hub and enhances the economic and trade activities among the six GCC nations.
  • Besides allowing visitors to travel without any complicated check at each GCC country’s border, it will establish more investment and employment opportunities.

Visa Validity and Duration

The new visa system will become operational by 2024–2025. However, the exact GCC unified tourist visa launching date is yet to be announced, along with its other significant details, including its visa type, validity, duration, etc.

Final Thoughts

As the GCC region is set to mark a new milestone in the trade and tourism sectors, the world now looks forward to the enactment of this momentous initiative. It is definite to have a positive impact by reshaping the Middle East’s travel landscape with more reinforced cooperation, convenience, and stability.

Image Credit: arabianbusiness.com

Rezmin is passionate about traveling and curating content about history, traditions and other intriguing aspects that make a place attractive. In her spare time, she enjoys reading fictional books sprinkled with inspiration, humor and enthusiasm.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us