UAE proposes a new visa system similar to the Schengen visa

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A new visa system is being planned for tourists visiting the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, similar to the Schengen visa used in Europe.

Fatima Al Sairafi, the Minister of Tourism in Bahrain, revealed that talks have been ongoing among GCC ministers about implementing a unified visa system. The goal is to increase revenue and tourism across all GCC countries. This was discussed during the Arabian Travel Market event.

During a panel discussion on “The Future of Travel for the GCC” at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Al Sairafi stated that individuals traveling from abroad to Europe tend to spend their time in multiple countries rather than just one. It is anticipated that this trend will soon be observed since it offers benefits not only to individual countries but also to the entire region.

In a professional tone, Al Sairafi highlighted that Bahrain had experienced advantages by collaborating with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in promoting the country. This approach resulted in a rise in the number of tourists. The goal was to attract 8.  million visitors by 2022; however, the actual number of visitors reached 9.  million due to the joint promotion activities. She further explained that when Bahrain was promoted as a unified destination through over 100 tour operators, the number of visitors increased, and the variety of nationalities of tourists also expanded.

As well, Abdullah Al Saleh, an undersecretary for the Ministry of Economy, expressed that the tourism sector plays a critical role in developing the economies of all GCC countries. He further elaborated that the GCC countries can benefit from the tourism sector by having common regulations, policies, and procedures that promote growth, given that they have a single market and unified policies. Al Saleh stated that the GCC countries aim to offer an excellent experience to long-distance visitors and encourage them to visit more than one country in the region. As more people travel between the GCC countries, it is becoming easier for them to do so. This will be facilitated by creating a unified package that allows visitors to travel freely across borders and visit different countries in the GCC without restrictions.

It’s worth mentioning the Ministers of the GCC have created a unified plan for tourism to increase its contribution to the GCC GDP, support the employment of nationals, improve competitiveness, and ensure a sustainable tourism sector. This plan promotes the GCC as a unique tourist destination by creating a comprehensive regional vision. This plan includes launching a new application and website that promotes all destinations within the GCC and unique events and participating in events in other countries under one umbrella. According to Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, travelers now view regions as destinations. Promoting joint offerings can benefit all, as seen during the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, greatly benefiting Saudi Arabia.

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