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Gulf countries announce plans for a Schengen-like unified tourist visa
iVisa | 2 min read | Updated on Nov 14, 2023

Tourists wanting to explore the enchanting landscapes and vibrant cultures of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will be delighted to learn that plans for a unified tourist visa have been proposed.

The upcoming unified tourist visa is expected to revolutionize travel in the Gulf in the near future and simplify travel across Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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When will the unified visa policy for GCC countries be implemented?

The new visa system is expected to launch between 2024 and 2025, if all plans are approved timely by the different authorities, enhancing travel across the six member countries.

UAE Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq, highlighted that this initiative targets a significant rise in visitor numbers to 128.7 million by 2030, a 137 percent increase from last year's 39.8 million. This ambition underscores a strong commitment to advancing the GCC's tourism sector.

Despite global economic headwinds, the Middle East's tourism industry has impressively rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 90 percent of its pre-pandemic travel levels last year. Notably, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have fully recovered in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of this year.

Boosting communication and security across the Gulf region

The move to one tourist visa for the entire GCC region is anticipated to boost both the economy and the tourism industry. GCC Secretary General, Jassim Al Budaiwi, highlighted that this initiative goes beyond administrative action, showing a dedication to enhancing collaboration among member states:

“The unified Gulf tourist visa is a project that will contribute to facilitating and streamlining the movement of residents and tourists between the six GCC countries and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the economic and tourist sectors.”

The GCC countries have not only announced plans for a unified tourist visa but also agreed to link trafficking offenses across states electronically. This assists with a robust strategy to combat illegal drugs, intensifying efforts against this social issue.

These collaborative initiatives are set to make the Gulf region more appealing to tourists and boost cooperation and connectivity among member states.

Do I need a visa to visit the Gulf region?

Currently, residents of GCC countries can enjoy visa-free travel between member states. Most travelers from other countries, however, are still required to apply for separate visas to enter each of the six countries.

We will share more news about the unified visa plans once the initiative has been launched. To learn more about your current visa needs for Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), use our Visa Checker Tool!

  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. For government source information, please visit our product pages.

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