A traveler walks through immigration through a ‘smart tunnel’ at Dubai International Airport.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates is ranked the world’s number one passport holder in terms of mobility and freedom from travel restrictions, according to the latest release from the Passport Index, a global ranking of citizenship financial advice based to Montreal. Arton Capital company.
The United Arab Emirates, a small oil-rich Gulf sheikhdom of around 10 million people – about 90% of whom are foreign expats – beat Germany, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg in the latest rankings, although these countries are all in the Top five.
Basically, if you hold an Emirati passport, you can travel to a large number of countries without a visa, and in many others you can obtain a visa upon arrival. Emirati passport holders can enter 121 countries visa-free and obtain a visa upon arrival in another 59 states. They only need a visa for 19 countries, which means they can access 91% of the countries in the world without having to apply for a visa before travelling.
Compare that to the United States, whose passport allows visa-free travel to 109 countries and visa-on-arrival to 56, while 26 countries require Americans to apply for a visa to enter. The “global reach” of the US passport is calculated at 83% of countries in the world, compared to 91% for the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates, a desert hub for business and travel that is home to the most multinational corporate headquarters of any country in the Middle East, received a top-listed “mobility score” of 180. The methodology behind this score takes into account visa waiver and visa on arrival privileges in other countries, and “the higher the mobility score, the better the global mobility enjoyed by its passport holder”, according to the report.
“What particularly sets the United Arab Emirates passport apart is its ability for holders to enter the countries with a visa on arrival,” Armand Arton, president and CEO of UAE, told CNBC. ‘Arton Capital. “While the passport’s power to enter countries without a visa is comparable to that of its competitors, those with a UAE passport can enter 13 more countries with a visa on arrival than those with a German passport, the second ranked passport.”
The UAE has benefited from many reforms in recent years that have brought many more people to live in the country, including the normalization of relations with Israel and the introduction of a visa for remote workers. Its leaders have reopened or improved diplomatic relations and entered into major investment and trade agreements with several different countries.
Many mobility reforms have been carried out so quickly compared to EU countries because of the differences between their governments, says Arton.
“The European Union controls the most power to change the global mobility ranking because it represents all member states,” he said. “As a result, a new visa-free agreement with Europe can instantly improve a country’s ranking. This is a double-edged sword, however, as the EU is a heavy machine that requires the consensus of all Member States before acting.”
“Therefore,” Arton added, “he cannot act as quickly and decisively as the UAE has done and continues to do.”
The UAE also refrained from cutting travel ties with Russia and Belarus during the war in Ukraine, unlike many Western governments, making it a popular destination for nationals of these countries, especially those trying to evade sanctions. The resulting influx of people has led to a real estate boom, especially for the glitzy commercial and tourist capital of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai.
People walk on the Bluewaters Island pedestrian bridge in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on December 08, 2021.
Satish Kumar | Reuters
Dubai itself was recently ranked by the InterNations networking platform as one of the top five cities in the world for expats. Allowing easy entry to more nationalities usually means that these countries reciprocate.
“The UAE has become a unique crossroads,” said Taufiq Rahim, a researcher at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government in Dubai. “It’s between East and West, advanced and developing economies, and open to all. It’s hard for any country to compete with this diversity of access and so it’s no surprise that it tops any passport index.”
Emirati passport holders number around 1.5 million, according to local media. The UAE is also consistently named as one of the safest countries in the world, with an extremely low crime rate.
“Europe remains a particularly strong cohort, but the rise of Gulf state passports is undeniable,” a statement from Arton Capital said. The results also showed, he added, “how some passports, such as the UK’s, are stagnating due to national policy choices”.
Despite war breaking out in Europe and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on travel being halted, countries overall have become more welcoming and global mobility has increased, according to the report. Changing work structures, including the rise of remote working, have helped drive this trend forward.
“Many consider trading the commute to the office for a ‘digital nomad’ life,” Arton Capital wrote. “The investment that these workers bring to host countries is very attractive to many states. As a result, the world has witnessed an increase in the implementation of ‘digital nomad’ visas in countries around the world, from Thailand to Estonia”.
“While the world continues to feel the impact of the pandemic, amazingly, traveling has never been easier, with the power of passports steadily growing across the board, a trend we believe will continue into 2023.” , the firm wrote, adding that according to its methodology, almost all passports in the world have become more powerful in terms of mobility.