UAE awarded for having most powerful passport in GCC

Emiratis have seen significant growth in visa-free travel

14-March-2012, Al Shamkah, Abu Dhabi

Eman, Student in Zayed University

Eman is a student in Zayed University who has just received an Emirati passport. She was waiting for years to get it because her mother was Emirati but her father wasn't. Fatima Al Marzooqi/ The National

The UAE was named the most powerful passport in the GCC on Thursday, a product of the significant growth in the number of countries that Emiratis are able to visit without a visa.

The government accepted a certificate bestowed by the passport index during a ceremony.

Developed by Arton Capital, the advisor for residence and citizenship, the index ranks national passports by the cross-border access they bring, assigning a “visa-free score” according to the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.

UAE passport holders enjoy a visa-free score of 128, which places them in the top 25 passports globally.


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In recent months, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation started to further enhance the power of the UAE passport to allow Emiratis visa-free travel in as many countries as possible, with agreements signed with Brazil and Argentina and plans for another 18 countries this year alone.

"These great accomplishments reflect the strategic, political, economic, social and cultural dimensions being enjoyed by the UAE at an international level," said Ahmed Al Dhaheri, the ministry's assistant under-secretary for consular affairs. "The higher ranking of the UAE passport is one of the most important achievements of the UAE diplomacy led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation."

The ministry recently launched the UAE Passport Force initiative, with the aim to place the country's passport on the list of the five most important passports in the world by 2021.

"We are thrilled to announce that the Passport Index serves as the official benchmark and service partner of the UAE Passport Force initiative to monitor and reflect in real time the accession of the UAE passport within the world’s most powerful,” said John Hanafin, chief executive of Arton Capital.

The ministry stepped up the diplomatic move towards greater openness to the world including strengthening relations with a number of countries.

The government's strategy aims to provide services to citizens, including exemption from pre-entry visa requirements to countries around the world.

The UAE’s recent diplomacy efforts have centred around strengthening ties with South and Central American countries, with official visits by Sheikh Abdullah and the opening of embassies and consulates in Brazil, Argentina and Cuba.

Brazil has recently strengthened its economic ties with the UAE and other Arab countries.

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Brazil was US$2.5 billion (Dh9.181bn) last year, while exports of Brazilian textiles to the region surged by 87.5 per cent during the first two months of this year, compared with the same period last year, according to the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.