The Secretary-General of the Federation of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FGCC Chambers) has referred a study to the alliance interior ministers supporting the introduction of a common GCC tourism visa, a Saudi-based Arabic daily reported.
“The study includes all details pertaining to the common visa,” Abdul Rahim Hassan Naqi, the Secretary-General of the FGCC Chambers, said.
“The aim of the Schengen-like visa is mainly to attract tourists from either the GCC countries or other nations and allow them to move among the member states,” he said in remarks quoted in Al Eqtisadiya.
“The introduction of the visa will yield impressive benefits for the Gulf economy and will boost the income of their citizens, while preserving the sovereignty of each state,” the official said, adding that a unified visa system for the UAE, Oman and Qatar has proved the success of such an experience, adding that it could be expanded to encompass all the GCC states. The official stressed that the GCC countries — the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — need to first set up what he described as electronic linkages to keep track of all the visitors. This would facilitate the enforcement of a “GCC Schengen”, the official noted.
In the European Union, the Schengen area is a group of 26 members that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders.
It functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
“The unified visa will help boost the tourism activities in the region. Oman will especially benefit from the unified and simplified visa procedures. People from other GCC countries are keen to visit Oman because it’s quite different from others. Oman never fails to satisfy a tourist’s quest to see more,” Renny Johnson, executive manager at Mezoon Travels, told the Times of Oman.
The system will enable a visitor with a GCC visit visa to enter all the GCC countries.
Moreover, the database will be connected to the blacklists that contain the names and fingerprints of those banned from entering every member country. With the help of the new visa, Arab and foreign tourists would be able to visit all the GCC member countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — simplifying travel formalities for visitors.
According to reports, a single-entry visa would be valid for one month while multiple-entry visas could be issued for one year, reports said, adding that the conditions for obtaining the GCC visa will include presenting evidence of sufficient financial resources.