The UAE passport has been named as the most improved in terms of growing influence around the world over the past 10 years.
The new 2018 edition of the Henley Passport Index showed that the Emirati passport has climbed 28 places to 33rd in the last decade, the biggest ascent of any country.
The UAE passport now offers visa-free travel to 133 countries — up from 121 countries in 2017, gaining access to 12 new destinations in just one year.
Henley said the UAE’s success is linked to the fact that, between 1999 and 2018, visa restrictions on Emirati citizens have been lifted by countries such as New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Ukraine, and China, as well as those in the Schengen area.
It added that in the wider GCC region, all member countries significantly improved their positions and ranked within the top 70 positions on the index. Kuwait moved up to 58th position, with access to 83 countries visa-free and Bahrain ranked 63rd, offering its citizens visa-free access to 75 countries. Oman (65th) and Saudi Arabia (67th) followed closely behind, with visa-free access to 71 and 69 countries, respectively.
Globally, Germany retained top place for the fifth year running, with its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 177 countries in total, up from 176 countries in 2017.
Singapore ranked second globally with visa-free access to 176 countries, while eight countries — Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the UK — shared third place, offering passport-holders access to 175 countries.
The Henley Passport Index is the only one of its kind that is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information.
For the second year in a row, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, each able to access 30 or fewer countries visa-free.
Marco Gantenbein, director at Henley & Partners Middle East, added: “With the exception of the GCC countries, the remaining countries in the region have lost ground on the index over time. The UAE has performed exceptionally well and has been instrumental in leading the MENA region’s overall ranking in the index.
“In the region, we continue to witness an increase in demand for investment migration programs, which are driven by key factors including the need for improved global mobility, better security, enhanced quality of life and most often also for the purpose of generational wealth planning and portfolio diversification. And in that context, the MENA region is an important market for the investment migration industry.”