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GCC unified tourist visa named ‘GCC Grand Tours’ to launch by end of 2024

It will enable smooth travel across the six Gulf states...

GCC unified tourist visa

The new GCC Unified Tourist Visa, called “GCC Grand Tours,” will let people move freely between six countries: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait.

Since citizens of GCC countries can travel without a visa, it’s expected that this visa will also be available to the many non-nationals living in the area. It will allow tourists to stay longer than 30 days in the GCC.

Speaking on the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market, UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, stated that the unified visa would make travel to the region more convenient and affordable for tourists.

The six GCC countries unanimously approved the unified visa system in November last year.

When will the GCC Unified Tourist Visa be available?

This  Schengen-style GCC tourism visa will be officially launched by the end of 2024 or at the beginning of 2025. Delays are currently attributed to the readiness of each government’s internal systems for implementing the new visa.

GCC Grand Tours GCC unified tourist visa

“By the end of this year, the whole system should be in place. Many people and teams, led by the Ministry of Economy in the UAE and other ministries in other countries, are working on it tirelessly to make it happen in the best possible way, emphasizing digital transformation,” said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority (SCTDA).

“E-services are also vital to this effort because we want to make it easy, avoiding unnecessary complications. Simultaneously, we aim to maintain all the security measures. We share many common security measures (with Saudi Arabia) that will facilitate obtaining a UAE or GCC visa for all GCC countries,” he added. Al Midfa said the region has huge tourism potential and each countries’ tourism boards are working hard to convert it into ‘materialistic economic value’.

What will the ‘GCC Grand Tours’ mean for UAE?

While the UAE may be the most prepared among the six GCC nations to accommodate large numbers of tourists, the country is planning some adjustments to enhance travel convenience. According to the Emirates Tourism Council, they are developing a tourist route within the UAE that will connect all seven emirates for visitors.

GCC unified tourist visa named 'GCC Grand Tours' to launch by end of 2024

The upcoming commencement of operations for the new Etihad Rail passenger train, scheduled to connect Abu Dhabi and Dubai later this year, is expected to significantly improve travel across the country. Additionally, the development of new major roads around Dubai, the UAE’s most populous city, will eventually contribute to enhanced accessibility as well.