The UAE has the top-ranked passport in the region, according to a new global index on the most powerful passports, with the country’s global rank rising from 47 last year to 27 this year.
According to immigration advisory firm Arton Capital’s Passport Index, the UAE passport now offers visa-free travel to 121 countries compared to 72 countries last year.
Germany ranks the most powerful passport in the world, with a visa-free score of 157, followed by Sweden, Finland, Italy and Switzerland.
The UAE’s passport ranks at the top of the most powerful in the GCC, 27th in the world and 60th on the individual ranking; mainly boosted from its Schengen visa waiver obtained in 2015.
The Passport Index compares passports from 199 countries including the 193 United Nations member countries as well as the Republic of China, Kosovo, Palestine, and The Vatican.
An online interactive tool, the index collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world based on the number of countries that passport-holders are allowed to travel visa-free.
Last year, the UAE became the first Arab nation whose citizens enjoy a visa waiver to the 26 Schengen countries, which make up the bulk of Europe. This made the UAE passport much stronger than its regional peers in the passport power list.
In the region, Kuwait follows the UAE and is ranked No.49 globally. Kuwaiti passport-holders are allowed visa-free access to 80 countries.
Qatar is ranked at third place regionally and at No. 51 globally (visa-free access to 75 countries), followed by Bahrain, ranked at No 55 globally (visa-free access to 71 countries).
Saudi Arabia, ranked at No. 58 globally, is next, whose passport-holders can travel visa-free to 68 countries. Oman is ranked No. 59 globally, with Omani nationals enjoying visa-free access to 67 countries.
The highest ranked European country with an available Citizenship by Investment program is that of Malta, ranked 7th, followed by Cyprus (11th) and Bulgaria (14th).
The highest ranked non-European passport is that of South Korea, ranked 3rd, with a visa-free score of 155; followed by Singapore, Japan and Malaysia.
The highest ranked Caribbean country with an available Citizenship by Investment program is Antigua and Barbuda, ranked 25th in the world and 2nd in the region, followed by St Kitts and Nevis (26th) and Saint Lucia (29th).
Although the world’s top 10 passports this year are all European, it is relatively difficult to obtain visa-free mobility to its member states, says Arton capital in its report.
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, on average 76 per cent of the world’s population are required to obtain a visa prior to departure to Europe. The highest ranked non-European passports are South Korea, ranked 12th, with a visa-free score of 155, followed by Singapore, ranked 14th.
Armand Arton, President of Arton Capital, said: “Many people around the world consider their passports a barrier to their opportunities in life and choose to empower their identity and global footprint by obtaining a second citizenship through investment.
“In an age of increasing mobility, becoming a Global Citizen has never been more desirable. Investing in a second residency or citizenship is a liberating and empowering privilege, which comes with a responsibility to the world.”