EU announces five-year Schengen visas for Saudi, Omani and Bahraini citizens

Multiple-entry permits announced by bloc's foreign policy chief at forum in Luxembourg

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, left, and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during the EU-GCC Forum on Regional Security and Co-operation in Luxembourg, on Monday. EPA
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The EU has announced five-year Schengen visas for citizens of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain that allow them to visit the bloc several times during the period.

The announcement was made by EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, during the opening session of the first high-level Forum on Regional Security and Co-operation between the bloc and the GCC in Luxembourg.

“I welcome a decision adopted by the European Commission this morning to harmonise the rules for granting multiple-entry visas for the citizens of the GCC countries,” he said.

The visa regulations have been standardised for all GCC countries whose citizens require permits to visit the Schengen Area.

The changes are a significant step forward in strengthening relations between the EU and Gulf countries.

UAE citizens do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area and are allowed to stay for up to three months at a time. However, Qataris are required to apply for the visa.

In 2022, EU announced plans to offer visa-free travel to Kuwaitis and Qataris.

However, a new visa “cascade” regime was unveiled for Kuwaiti only last September, allowing eligible applicants, including first-time travellers, to obtain five-year permits.

The Schengen Area, which includes 29 European countries, was expanded last February to include Bulgaria and Romania, eliminating all air and maritime border controls.

Citizens from the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia have been exempted from the UK's pre-entry visa requirements.

In November, Gulf countries announced plans for a unified tourist visa similar to the Schengen permit in a move to ease travel for residents and tourists.

Updated: April 23, 2024, 7:34 AM