Tourism Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries unanimously approved, at a meeting in Muscat on 5 October, a proposal to introduce a Schengen-style unified visa to boost tourism across the region.
The unified visa would allow tourists single-visa access to all the GCC member states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Currently, citizens of GCC countries enjoy visa-free travel between the member states but tourists are required to obtain separate visas to access each of the six countries.
“The common tourism visa for the GCC is coming very soon,” said Omani Minister of Heritage and Tourism Salim Mohammed al Mahrouqi, who chaired the meeting. “There is unanimous agreement, in terms of the importance of this matter. There will be a number of follow-up meetings to see how we can proceed on this to reach a full agreement on it.”
The ministers are seeking feedback on the visa proposal by December and said implementation would commence as soon as all necessary mechanisms were in place.
“The GCC Schengen-style visa, anticipated to fully come into effect in 2024-25, will undoubtedly encourage business as well as tourism within the region by allowing ease of entry and travel throughout the Gulf member states,” said Matthew Boyd, Business Development Manager at Sovereign Middle East.
For further information, please contact Matthew Boyd