UAE pass­port most pow­er­ful in re­gion

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

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."

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