Kuwait, UAE top travel freedom Arab list

September 6, 2012

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have overwhelmingly dominated the list of Arab countries whose citizens enjoy the most freedom of travel, taking six of the seven top places.

Kuwait was first on the 2012 Visa Restriction Index prepared by Henley & Partners (H&P), with holders of Kuwaiti passports able to travel to 72 countries without visa requirements.

The UAE was second on the global ranking with its nationals who can visit 70 countries visa-free.

Qatar and Bahrain, two other GCC countries, followed with 67 and 66 countries respectively.

Tunisia is the first non-GCC country on the list with its citizens allowed to visit 62 countries without applying for visas, the report prepared by the legal firm that deals with immigration said.

Oman followed next with 61 countries not requiring visas from its citizens and Saudi Arabia was seventh with 59 countries.

Mauritania and Morocco were the other two Arab states whose citizens are allowed to travel to more than 50 countries worldwide without visas.

Trailing at the bottom, according to the travel freedom index, are passports from Lebanon (35 countries), Palestine (32 countries), Iraq (30 countries) and Somalia (28 countries).

However, the Arab states did not fare so impressively on the global list with Kuwait, the top Arab country, ranking 62nd, UAE 64th, Qatar 67th, Bahrain 68th, Tunisia 71st, Oman 72nd and Saudi Arabia 74th.

Denmark topped the global list with 169 countries, closely followed by Sweden (168), Finland (168), Germany (1680, UK (167), Netherlands (167), France (167), Belgium (167), Luxembourg (166), Italy (166), the United States (166), Spain (165), Japan (165), Norway (165), Portugal (165), Ireland (165) and New Zealand (165).

Henley & Partners said that it analysed the visa regulations of all the countries and territories in the world and created an index that ranked countries according to the visa-free access its citizens enjoyed to other countries.

“This is the first time that a global ranking shows the international travel freedom of the citizens of the various countries as well as the international relations and status of individual countries relative to others,” it said.

According to the firm, “in today’s globalised world, visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory. Visa requirements are also an expression of the relationships between individual nations, and generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community of nations.”

List of Arab countries – Name, global rank, number of visa-free countries

Kuwait (62) – 72 countries

United Arab Emirates (64) – 70 countries

Qatar (67) – 67 countries

Bahrain (68) – 66 countries

Tunisia (71) – 62 countries

Oman (72) – 61 countries

Saudi Arabia (74) – 59 countries

Mauritania (79) – 54 countries

Morocco (82) – 51 countries

Algeria (88) – 45 countries

Egypt (89) – 44 countries

Jordan (90) – 43 countries

Yemen (92) – 41 countries

Libya (94) – 39 countries

Djibouti (96) – 37 countries

Syria (96) – 37 countries

Sudan (97) – 36 countries

Lebanon (98) – 35 countries

Palestine (100) – 32 countries

Iraq (101) – 30 countries

Somalia (102) – 28 countries

(Henley & Partners 2012 Visa Restriction Index)



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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