In a bid to make it more convenient for travellers and boost tourism, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is soon going to introduce a unified tourist visa allowing travel across all member nations. With the unified visa, the travellers can visit countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with single permit.
During the 40th meeting of the Interior Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the President of the current GCC session, Sayyed Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi declared the same saying that people will now be able to travel across various Gulf countries on just one tourist visa.
GCC states have unanimously agreed to a unified tourist visa which is expected to come into effect in 2024-25 across the six nations. The decision will also contribute to the modernisation of travel logistics. Budaiwi said, “The decision will underpin the continuous communication and coordination between the GCC states. The unified Gulf tourist visa is a project that will contribute to facilitating and streamlining the movement of residents and tourists between the six GCC countries and will, undoubtedly, have a positive on the economic and tourist sectors.”
He also added that the council approved the electronic linking of traffic offences between GCC states and the preparation to decide on a comprehensive strategy to fight illegal drugs aiming at a “contribution to the fight against its scourge” is also underway.
To understand better, the unified tourist visa for Gulf countries will be similar to the Schengen visa in Europe. For those unversed, the Schengen visa allows tourists to visit 27 member countries on one visa. These 27 countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
As of now, those who wish to travel to different Gulf countries, need to apply for separate visas for each country in case they want to club multiple places to visit. However, Oman and Qatar are the only Gulf countries that do not require visas for Indian passport holders.