The United Arab Emirates have the best passport in the world

A traveler passes through immigration control by going through a “smart tunnel” at Dubai International Airport.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates is ranked as the world’s leading passport in terms of mobility and freedom from travel restrictions, according to the latest release of the Passport Index, a global ranking by Montreal-based Citizenship Financial Advisory company Arton Capital.

The United Arab Emirates, a small, oil-rich Gulf sheikdom of about 10 million people — about 90% of whom are foreign expats — beat Germany, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg in the latest ranking, though those countries are all in the top five.

If you are an Emirati passport holder, you can travel to a large number of countries essentially visa-free, and many others allow you to obtain a visa directly upon arrival. Emirati passport holders can enter 121 countries without a visa and receive a visa on arrival in a further 59 countries. You only need a visa for 19 countries, which means you can access 91% of the countries in the world without having to apply for a visa before you travel.

Compare that to the United States, whose passport allows visa-free travel to 109 countries and visa-on-arrival travel to 56, while 26 countries require Americans to apply for a visa to enter the country. The “world reach” of the US passport is calculated to cover 83% of the world’s countries, compared to 91% of the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates, a desert hub for business and travel that is home to the headquarters of the most multinational companies of every country in the Middle East, received a Mobility Score of 180, topping the list. The methodology behind this score accounts for visa-free and visa-required arrival privileges in other countries, and “the higher the mobility score, the better the passport holder’s global mobility,” the report states.

“The Mobility Score measures a passport’s power in the Passport Index,” he added. “Passports earn points for each country their holders can visit visa-free, with a visa on arrival, an e-Visa (if used within three days), or an electronic travel authorization.”

The UAE has benefited from numerous reforms in recent years that have brought many more people to live in the country, including normalizing relations with Israel and introducing a visa for long-distance workers. Its leaders have resumed or improved diplomatic relations and made major investments and trade deals with several different countries.

Unlike many Western governments, it has also refrained from cutting travel ties to Russia and Belarus because of the war in Ukraine, making it a highly desirable destination for people from those countries, especially those trying to evade sanctions . The resulting influx of people has fueled a real estate boom, particularly in Dubai, the UAE’s glittering commercial and tourism capital.

People walk on the pedestrian bridge at Bluewaters Island in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2021.

Satish Kumar | Reuters

Dubai itself was recently ranked as one of the top five cities in the world for expats by networking platform InterNations. Facilitating entry for more nationalities usually means those countries retaliate.

“The UAE has emerged as a unique crossroads,” Taufiq Rahim, a research fellow at Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, told CNBC. “It lies between East and West, advanced economies and developing countries and is open to all. It is difficult for any country to compete with this diversity of access, so it is not surprising that it would top every passport index.”

According to local media reports, there are around 1.5 million Emirates passport holders. The UAE is also regularly cited as one of the safest countries in the world with an extremely low crime rate.

“Europe remains a particularly strong cohort, but the increase in passports from the Gulf countries is undeniable,” Arton Capital said in a statement. The results also showed “how some passports are stagnating, like the UK’s, because of domestic political decisions”.

Despite a war breaking out in Europe and the travel ban resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, countries as a whole have indeed become more welcoming and global mobility has increased, the report says. Changing work patterns, including the advent of telecommuting, have helped drive this.

“Many are considering trading the commute to the office for a life of ‘digital nomad,'” wrote Arton Capital. “The investment such workers bring to host countries is extremely attractive to many states. As a result, the world has seen a surge in the adoption of ‘digital nomad’ visas in countries around the world, from Thailand to Estonia.”

“Though the world continues to feel the aftershocks of the pandemic, surprisingly, travel has never been easier, with steady growth in passport power across the board, a trend we predict will continue into 2023,” das wrote Company and added that its methodology has made almost every passport in the world more powerful in terms of mobility.

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