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Unified GCC tourist visa approved: Schengen-style details

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The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are getting closer to releasing a Schengen-style pass that will change the game and bring more tourists to the area.

Schengen-styled Unified GCC tourist visa

Salim bin Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Oman’s Minister of Heritage and Tourism, stated last week at a meeting of GCC ministers in Muscat that all ministers had approved the unified visa.

A tourist can visit all six countries in the Gulf bloc with just one visa. These are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. Several ministers and top officials in the Gulf, including those in the UAE, have said in the last few months that the uniform visa will go into effect “soon.”

The long-awaited visa will not only make area economies better, but it will also create more jobs. This is what we know about the new tourist visa:

What is a single GCC visa?

In the same way that a Schengen visa lets tourists visit several European countries, the GCC wants to create a visa similar to Schengen visa that would let tourists move freely between Gulf bloc countries.

Unified gcc tourist visa approved: schengen-style details

At the moment, tourists need to get visas for each of the six Gulf countries individually, even though they are all connected by road and air.

What good does the plan do?

An important person in the UAE said in May of this year that tourists, especially long-haul tourists, would gain from a single package that lets them visit several GCC countries similar to Europe for Schengen visa. Along with making tourists spend more money, the plan will also make them stay longer.

When does the visa start?

The media in Oman said that Minister Mahrouqi said the plan would start “very soon.” A date wasn’t given, but the Oman Observer said it would be shown at a meeting of regional interior ministers in Muscat in November.

What would be part of the plan?

Once the plan is put into action, it is possible for GCC countries to work together on publicity efforts to similar outcome as Schengen countries. Officials had talked about having a shared platform for booking and a tourist website.

Can people who live in GCC countries apply for the visa?

At the moment, people from GCC countries can move freely between member states without a visa. It’s not clear yet if expats living in these countries will need to or can apply for the combined visa once it’s in place. Last month, however, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, the Minister of Economy for the UAE, said that the GCC is thinking about a single visa system that would let its citizens move freely between member states.

With the visa, how many places can you go to?

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait are the six GCC countries that people with visas would be able to visit.

How much will the ticket cost, and how long will it last?

The cost of the ticket and how long it is good for have not been made public yet. By the end of the year, more information should be made public.

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