Expats in Qatar set for easier travel plans with GCC visa
Expats working in Qatar may soon be able to travel easily around the six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) nations, if a new Schengen-style visa is launched.
According to timesofoman.com, the GCC visa is likely to be unveiled midway through 2014. It would allow foreigners to travel around Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE with just one document.
At this time, travellers from the UK do not need visas to visit four of the six GCC nations, but Saudi Arabia and Kuwait still require a separate application. There are currently around 15 million foreign workers in Gulf countries, which makes up around 31 per cent of the region’s population.
Abdul Rahman Al Zamil, president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry said: “The move is significant, keeping in mind the growing number of foreigners visiting the Gulf states for business and tourism.”
The issue this project seeks to overcome is how long it can take for people to get permission to travel in the area. The aforementioned Schengen system is the ideal being strived for, although bhatkallys.com notes that an automated system linking the GCC nations’ data is going to be important to get the project moving.
The Schengen Agreement was established in 1995 and has 26 members currently – the UK and Ireland are not involved – who share a visa policy. It covers more than 400 million people.