GCC member countries have considered introducing a Schengen-style GCC visa for tourists. This visa would allow foreign visitors to enter any of the six GCC member states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and travel freely between them without the need for an additional visa for each country. This measure is aimed at promoting tourism and facilitating travel between GCC member countries.
The Schengen-style GCC visa in the UAE
The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) has chosen a Schengen-style GCC visa for its residents and tourists in order to strengthen their economy, this strategy will facilitate travel within the Gulf countries because, within Europe, tourists and residents will be free to visit the six member countries of this union. This decision is more than beneficial, as visitors will be able to spend more time in the Gulf territories, increase revenues and visit many places.
The reputation of countries such as the UAE and Qatar will encourage other countries in the cooperation to develop and maximize the number of tourists, as the Minister of Tourism of Bahrain said, “We were aiming for 8.3 million tourists by 2022, but we have reached 9.9 million visitors because we have promoted Bahrain with the UAE and other GCC markets.
The unification of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries has resulted in a unified tourism strategy to facilitate growth in this sector. The GCC countries want to provide a pleasant experience for visitors and offer them programs to maximize their visits to several countries in the region. The ministers reached an agreement to promote the GCC as a single destination for tourists through a new app and website that promotes all destinations within the GCC, as well as unique events. Saudi Arabia benefited from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar through joint promoted and mutually beneficial offers. Multi-destination travel is becoming a trend for tomorrow’s travelers.
“We think this will happen very soon, as people flying from abroad to Europe typically spend their time in multiple countries rather than just one. We have really seen the value that this can bring not to each country but to all of us,” said Fatima Al Sairafi, Bahrain’s minister of tourism.
What is the GCC?
The GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council, an organization of six member states located in the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.
It was established in 1981 with the aim of strengthening cooperation and economic integration among its representative countries. Since its inception, the GCC has established cooperation agreements to promote economic, energy, defense, security, health, and education issues.
The GCC is led by a Supreme Council, which is governed by the leaders of each state, who meet annually to strengthen the integration and cooperation of each member state.