UAE passport ranks first among Mena countries

After the UAE became eligible for visa-free travel to the Schengen zone, its passport became the most valuable in the region.

ABU DHABI // The UAE passport has risen in the ranks of a global passport index following the announcement of visa-free travel for Emiratis to Europe last week.

The passport jumped from 47th place to 31st in Arton Capital’s Passport Index, placing it first among countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Last week, UAE nationals became eligible for visa-free travel to the Schengen area, including countries such as Denmark, France, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

“This puts the stamp on the economic importance we play and the partnerships we have with all these countries,” said Khalid Al Ameri, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi.

Mr Al Ameri said there would be no reason an Emirati would want to overstay in another country. “When UAE nationals travel, there is no social, economic or political reason to leave the country, which is the reason barriers are placed in the first place. But this puts the stamp on what UAE nationals are and what the UAE is.”

He said he felt proud as the ranking showed how the rest of the world perceived the UAE.

“Having all these countries open their borders to us shows how much confidence they have in us, as people and human beings,” he said. “The European Union, one of the global powerhouses, is saying we can come in for good.”

As a result, the UAE's visa-free score in the index reached 104, up 32 points from its previous score.

“The UAE is a safe country and it always has been,” said Mona Al Ali, a Fujairah-born Emirati. “Maybe now people will know more about the UAE and this will help the country in its development, especially with Dubai Expo 2020 coming up. Generally, it’s a relief for us to be able to plan in terms of travel. There won’t be any more difficulty and we won’t hesitate. So this will probably increase tourism in Europe.”

The index collects, displays and ranks the utility of global passports. The ranking is based on points accumulated for each country that the passport holder can travel to visa-free.

“This was a decision the UAE has been waiting to hear for some time and it has given the Gulf country’s passport an instant boost within the Passport Index,” said Armand Arton, Arton Capital’s president and chief executive. “It is a testament to the high regard the international community now holds for the UAE and awards those travelling on its passport with increased freedom of global mobility.”

The country list is based on 193 United Nations member countries and six territories.