UAE passport most powerful in region
The UAE passport has been declared as the most powerful in the region for the second year in a row in the Visa Restrictions Index 2016 released by Henley & Partners, the global leader in residence and citizenship planning.
The UAE ranking advanced two spots to 38, with visa-free access to 122 countries. This increase follows last year's agreement with the EU which gave the UAE visa-free travel to 36 countries, including the 26 Schengen area states, making the UAE the first Arab country to be granted a European visa waiver. The index, along with the unique cumulative data from the last 11 years, provides a global ranking of countries based on the freedom of travel for their citizens.
There was significant movement in this year's Index, with only 21 of the 199 countries listed remaining in the same rank. No country however, dropped more than three positions, indicating that overall, visa-free access is improving around the world. Germany retained its position in the top spot, with visa-free access to 177 countries out of a total of 218, while Sweden remained in 2nd place with a ranking of 176. The United Kingdom (UK) meanwhile, dropped from 1st to 3rd place this year, after three consecutive years in 1st place. A larger group of countries sit in 3rd place, with Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the UK all having visa-free access to 175 countries.
The number of countries in the ' Top 10' remained static in this year's Index at 28 countries, with Hungary joining the category after one year of being pushed out, and Malaysia dropping to 12th position after three years in the premier group. Marco Gantenbein, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners in Dubai said: "The world is becoming increasingly globalized, mobile and interdependent, however, there continues to be a huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom between countries. Visa requirements reflect strongly on each country's relationships with others and take into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations."