‘Single’ GCC visa targets frequent travelers

In this October 27, 2013 file photo, a local employee sits at the passport control at the newly opened Al-Maktoum International airport, the emirate's second airport in Dubai.

In this October 27, 2013 file photo, a local employee sits at the passport control at the newly opened Al-Maktoum International airport, the emirate’s second airport in Dubai.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will soon introduce a Schengen-style, unified visa for tourists and businessmen from 35 foreign and Arab countries, according to a high-ranking Kuwaiti official.

Samira Al-Gharib, assistant undersecretary for tourism at the Kuwaiti Ministry of Trade, told a local daily that plans for a “unified tourism visa” are being considered by GCC Interior ministries, which will be responsible for visa-related formalities.

Nationals from these countries would be able to visit the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman under a single visa once the system is finalized.

“The unified visa targets frequent visitors to the GCC,” she said.

Al-Gharib denied, however, that the new visa system would be implemented by next year, saying that there are many hurdles to be overcome ahead of the new proposal.

Al-Gharib said that seven recommendations, including the visa system, will be filed amid efforts to promote regional tourism.

Modifications to the recommendations are expected to be completed by Oct. 22.

Al-Gharib confirmed that the new visa system would garner huge revenues within the regional tourism sector, saying visas would mostly be sought for leisure and not work-related purposes.

She explained that more details would be announced in the aftermath of the GCC tourism ministers’ meeting in Kuwait this week.

“The new system would also help facilitate financial and administrative procedures,” she said.

“Security concerns had previously forced GCC states to limit visas to residents only. Under the new system, states will, nevertheless, have their own individual systems to ensure their own security.”

 
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