(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Citizens of the Arab world still have the hardest time of anyone on earth getting visas for international travel, a new survey has found.
A report by global consulting firm Henley and Partners, which specializes in international business travel and relocation, placed the Arab world at the bottom of the global list, despite a 25 percent increase in the number of countries that Arab citizens can enter without a visa.
Based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), each country is given one point per country that its citizens can enter without applying for a visa beforehand.
“[The] global ranking reflects 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,” the report
said. “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.”
Afghanistan, for example, was at the bottom of the list with only 26
points, as Afghan citizens can only enter 26 countries without
arranging a visa beforehand. Afghanistan is closely followed by Iraq at
27. The top ranking Arab country is Bahrain with 67 followed by Qatar at
66 and the United Arab Emirates at 64.
The top spot in the list was handed to the United Kingdom, with 166
points, ahead of Denmark with 164 and Sweden with 163. The United States
The study began in 2006 and has been published every two years since.
Most Gulf states registered an 25 percent increase in the number of
countries that they can travel to visa-free since the latest 2008
Daniel Eid, General Manager of the Eid Travel agency in Lebanon, which
scored 32, said that the strict visa requirements affect his clients
“When people come to me they want to make it easy,” he told The Media
Line, adding that country’s without visa requirements inevitably got
more Lebanese visitors. “90 percent of Lebanese like to go to Turkey
because they don’t have to go to the embassy to stand in line and get a
Eid said that other popular destinations included neighboring Jordan and
Syria and countries such as Malaysia and Cuba, all of which don’t
require Lebanese citizens to arrange a visa ahead of time.
In March during a meeting in Alexandria, Egypt the member states of the
Arab Tourism Organization decided to initiate the implementation of a
card containing the holder’s biometric information, set to replace
traditional passports for Arab tourists traveling across the region.
In 2008 Kuwait started accepting the so-called Gulf Smart Card, a common
passport for citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council which is made up
of Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and The United Arab