Manama: A unified visa for the six member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could become a reality in mid-2014, security sources have said.
“The plan to have a GCC tourism visa, similar to the Schengen visa in Europe, is about to be implemented after obstacles have been cleared,” the sources told Kuwaiti daily Al Rai on Sunday.
Under the visa, Arab and foreign tourists could visit the GCC countries. The single-entry visa should be valid for one month, but multiple-entry visas could be issued for one year, the sources said.
Conditions for obtaining the GCC visa include presenting evidence of sufficient financial resources. “There are some technical issues that are being addressed now and the GCC visa could be issued in mid-2014,” the sources that the newspaper did not name said. Foreigners who are not allowed to enter a GCC country for legal reasons and those who had been deported will not be issued the unified visa.
However, the sources added that the unified GCC visa would not cancel the existing system of a single GCC country visa. “The GCC visa is expected to reinvigorate tourism, business, shopping travel and economic activities in the member countries,” the sources said.
The GCC, established in May 1981 in Abu Dhabi, groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Gulf nationals can travel to any of the GCC countries without visas and upon presenting an ID.
Most foreigners need to apply for visas ahead of their travel to the GCC while some GCC countries give entry visas to the nationals of some countries at the entry points.