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UAE continues to lead MENA as the region's most powerful passport

posted on 26/02/2016: 1883 views

According to Henley & Partners' annual Visa Restrictions Index for 2016, the UAE continues to lead as the most powerful passport in the MENA region with visa-free access to 122 countries.

Henley & Partners has launched the 11th edition of the Visa Restrictions Index. This year's index, along with the unique cumulative data from the last 11 years, provides a global ranking of countries based on the freedom of travel for their citizens.

The UAE led the MENA region for the 2nd year in a row, increasing by two spots to 38, 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."

Marco Gantenbein, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners in Dubai, said, "The world is becoming increasingly globalised, 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."

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.

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 closely behind, with visa-free access to 73, 71 and 69 countries respectively.

Germany retained its position in the top spot, with visa-free access to 177 countries out of a total of 218, and Sweden remained in 2nd place with a ranking of 176. A larger group of countries sit in 3rd place, with Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the UK all having visa-free access to 175 countries.

Four countries in particular made huge gains, with 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. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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