Gulf states mull Schengen-like visa

2013-10-28 13:52

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Muscat - In the hopes of encouraging free travel between its members, the Federation Gulf Cooperation Council is considering the introduction of a common GCC tourism visa. 

Times of Oman reports that Abdul Rahim Hassan Naqi, the Secretary-General of the GCC's Chambers of Commerce and Industry, referred a study to the alliance of interior ministers, saying that the Schengen-like visa's main purpose would be to attract tourists from either the GCC countries or other nations and allow them to move freely among the member states.

The GCC comprises the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. 

He added that the introduction of the visa will benefit the Gulf economy and boost the income of their citizens, while preserving the sovereignty of each state, citing the highly successful unified visa system currently in use for the UAE, Oman and Qatar. 

The official stressed that the GCC countries need to first set up what he described as electronic linkages to keep track of all the visitors, which would facilitate the enforcement of a "GCC Schengen."

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.

Apart from boosting tourism, the visa will also increase security, as the database will be connected to the blacklists that contain the names and fingerprints of those banned from entering every member country.

According to reports, a single-entry visa would be valid for one month while multiple-entry visas could be issued for one year. The conditions for obtaining the GCC visa will include presenting evidence of sufficient financial resources.

Read more on:    visa  |  travel  |  travel tips  |  lifestyle  |  travel international

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