In a major update for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) GCC countries, a unified visa for tourists is in the works to simplify travel across the region. This means tourists can seamlessly explore the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait with a single visa. It’s a significant step towards making travel in the Gulf more straightforward and convenient. Approved during a recent meeting of GCC ministers in Muscat, this Schengen-style visa will allow tourists to explore the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait with ease.
Expected to roll out in 2024 or 2025, the visa aims to simplify travel procedures, pending finalization of implementation rules in the coming months. Additionally, a unified tourist route is being explored for those with stays exceeding 30 days, connecting all six countries. The Emirates Tourism Council is actively preparing a dedicated route encompassing all seven emirates within the UAE.
Aligned with the GCC’s 2030 strategy, this initiative seeks to catalyze the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP by targeting over 220% growth in foreign tourist numbers by 2030. Notably, tourism currently accounts for 14% of the UAE’s GDP, and authorities aim to increase this to 18%.
Dubai, a key tourist destination, has already witnessed a resurgence, welcoming 8.55 million international visitors in the first half of 2023, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.