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The consolidated efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries towards boosting tourism and improving diplomatic relations have proven fruitful, as the countries have demonstrated their global standing as passport powerhouses.

According to Wego‘s reports, the latest passport index for 2024 was released by Henley & Partners on 11 January. It reveals advancements for each of the GCC countries, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Oman gaining significantly from the previous year.

Henley Passport Index 2024

The Henley Passport Index, compiled by the firm Henley & Partners, in association with IATA, is one of the most trustworthy passport ranking systems in the world. Its studies and rankings are based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), making it an extremely reliable source of information.

The Henley Passport Index compares the visa-free access of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations.

 

In 2024, for the first time, as many as six countries share the numero uno position. France, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Italy and Spain have all achieved the pole position with visa-free access to 194 destinations around the world.

UAE emerges as the top gainer in the GCC

The UAE has not only secured its position as a regional leader but has also made substantial strides on the global stage. In just one year, the UAE’s passport ranking has taken a leap from 15th in 2023 to 11th in 2024. This consistent upward trajectory in recent years has made the UAE the highest ranking amongst its GCC counterparts.

What sets the UAE apart is not just its current standing but its extraordinary decade-long journey on the passport index. Over the past ten years, the UAE has consistently climbed the ranks, adding an astounding 106 destinations to its visa-free score since 2014, leading to a total number of 183 visa-free destinations as of 2024.

The exceptional feat has resulted in a substantial leap of 44 places, propelling the UAE from the 55th position in 2014 to its current 11th place, making it the biggest climber on the index over the past decade.

Saudi Arabia and Oman follow suit

Joining the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman have also made significant progress in the passport rankings. Saudi Arabia, with a jump from 65th to 61st place, showcases its commitment to fostering international relationships. With 89 visa-free destinations, the nation is making strides towards its Vision 2030 goal of becoming a global tourist hub. 

Similarly, Oman has seen notable improvement, moving from the 65th position to the 60th in 2024, an impressive leap of five places. With 90 visa-free destinations, Oman has seen an exceptional rise from its position in 2021, when it ranked 71st.

The collective advancement of GCC countries in the passport rankings underscores the region’s commitment to global collaboration and diplomacy. With Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait also making strides, it marks a period of diplomatic strengthening for the GCC as a whole.

The performance of the other GCC countries is as follows:

  • Bahrain moved from 63rd place in 2023 to 59th in 2024.
  • Qatar progressed from the 55th position in 2023 to 53rd in 2024.
  • Kuwait saw a positive shift in its passport ranking as well, improving from 57th place in 2023 to 55th in 2024.

The 2024 passport rankings affirm the growing influence of GCC nations in global diplomacy. The rankings stand as a testament to the region’s commitment to openness and collaboration, setting the stage for continued success in the years to come.