Interior ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have unanimously endorsed the introduction of a unified Gulf tourist visa during their 40th meeting in Muscat, Oman. Jasem Albudaiwi, GCC Secretary-General, confirmed that this significant development, scheduled to be implemented within a specified timeframe, signifies an elevated level of cooperation among the Gulf states.
The unified Gulf tourist visa will allow travelers to explore all six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait – using a single visa.
Travel experts believe that this Schengen-style tourist visa will have a transformative impact, not only on the tourism sector but also on the overall economies of the GCC countries, creating numerous job opportunities for both citizens and residents.
In addition to this, the ministers have granted their approval for the establishment of an electronic system aimed at tracking traffic violations. Concurrently, the ministers have redirected their efforts towards the formulation of a comprehensive strategy to address drug-related concerns and have reviewed the progress of ongoing security awareness campaigns.
The Schengen zone, which serves as the inspiration for the GCC’s visa regime, was established in 1985 and enables the free movement of people and goods, typically without the need for travel or customs documentation. This model promises to generate substantial tourism-related revenue for the participating countries while presenting minimal obstacles to travelers.
It’s worth noting that while no official timeline has been announced, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, previously stated that the unified visa is anticipated to be introduced early next year.
News of the Schengen-style visa first emerged in May, when Fatima Al Sairafi, Bahrain’s Minister of Tourism, disclosed that discussions among GCC nations at the ministerial level were ongoing to realize a unified single visa. This initiative seeks to simplify the process for tourists, who currently must obtain separate visas for each of the six Gulf countries.