UAE passport remains strong despite COVID-19 pandemic

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Gulf Today Report

In the turmoil of the past two years, one thing has remained constant: the growing strength of the UAE passport, which now ranks 15th in the world rankings, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 176.

Over the past decade, the country has made unprecedented gains as the index’s biggest climber. In 2012, it was in 64th place in the ranking, with a score of only 106.

As the latest Henley Private Wealth Migration Dashboard shows, the UAE has also become the focus of intense interest among affluent investors and expected to see the highest net inflow of HNWIs in the world in 2022, with an expected net increase of 4,000 — a dramatic increase of 208% from the net influx of 1,300 in 2019 and one of the largest on record.

EU member states dominate the rest of the top ten in the latest ranking, with Germany and Spain in third place, with access to 190 visa-free destinations.

Finland, Italy and Luxembourg follow closely in fourth place with 189 destinations, and Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden share 5th place with its passport holders who can travel to 188 destinations around the world without a visa.

The United Kingdom and the United States fell one place, ranking 6th and 7th respectively, and Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with its nationals only able to access 27 destinations worldwide visa-free.

Dr Robert Mogielnicki, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute and Advisory Board Member of Henley & Partner, says the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) continue to roll out ambitious initiatives and schemes to attract high-net-worth individuals and skilled expatriate professionals.

“These investment migration efforts and new labor market policies are part of a broader strategy to position GCC countries as hubs for global capital and talent.

Visa requirements for GCC citizens visiting major travel and business hubs are also being eased.

The UK has announced that citizens of GCC states will be the first to benefit from the new UK electronic travel authorisation system from 2023, ensuring that these visitors can travel visa-free across the UK.

The UAE and Oman have signed sovereign investment partnerships with the United Kingdom.

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