GCC's unified visa to be rolled out soon: Here's what you should know

The visa permits to stay in the GCC countries for more than 30 days. Photo: Shutterstock/Nick N A

Dubai: In a significant move to make travelling to the GCC countries simple and hassle-free, a unified visa system that allows the visa holder to stay up to 30 days in these countries, is likely to be launched by the end of this year. The GCC council has permitted to proceed with the unified visa that enables the visitor to enter the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Oman. Currently, separate visas are required to visit each country. The tourism ministers of the GCC countries hoped that the unified visa system would provide an impetus to the tourism sector of the region.

The ministerial-level seminar that was conducted as part of the Arabian Travel Market opined that creating a corridor by linking the major tourist attractions in the Gulf countries would pave the way for healthy competition and cooperation. This would then enable the GCC countries to highlight their incredible tourism potential to the world. The ministers said that the unified visa system would be a significant milestone in initiating developmental activities based on tourism. The meeting was of the opinion that a common visa would be helpful in projecting the Gulf countries as fabulous tourist destinations that are interconnected. Moreover, the GCC countries would be turned into a single tourism unit when the GCC railways too get materialised. Besides, the unified visa system could attract more investment to the airports and cruise terminals in the GCC countries.

Features of the visa
The new visa will make travel in the GCC area more affordable and convenient for tourists. It will also improve and increase the activities offered to tourists. At the same time, unlike the Schengen visa, the GCC visa is meant for travellers who have a diverse business portfolio. The visa will also be beneficial to those travelling to the Gulf for Haj and Umra as well as those on short trips. In the first stage, the aim is to maximise cooperation between the GCC countries, which will facilitate the exchange of skilled labour in the second stage. The proposed rail link connecting the Gulf countries also necessitates the implementation of the unified visa regime.

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