Picture for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The UAE has consolidated its position as one of the world’s most powerful passports, now ranked 23rd globally and offering more ease of travel to its citizens.

The latest update to the Henley & Partners Passport Index released on Tuesday showed that the UAE is the fastest gainer of visa-free entry points, jumping from the 27th place on the passport power table in a few months and ascending 38 places since 2008.

UAE nationals can now enjoy visa-free access to 154 destinations around the world, up from 140 countries in March 2018.

Overall, Japan has held on to the top spot as the most powerful travel document, now offering its citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations, while Singapore has slipped to the second position. The two countries had jointly held the first place in the previous ranking.

Just this year, UAE citizens have seen an improvement in terms of ease of travel to foreign countries, having gained access to eight new places since the beginning of the year alone: China, Ireland, Burkina Faso, Uruguay, Guinea, Tonga and Honduras.

Starting January 2018, UAE citizens have been able to travel to China without obtaining pre-entry visas. The UAE and China signed recently a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to exempt UAE citizens from obtaining pre-entry visas or stays of up to 30 days.

Barely a month ago, the UAE gained visa-on-arrival or visa-free privileges from three more countries, Guinea, Uruguay  and Paraguay.

The UAE passport is still the most powerful in the Arab world. Kuwait is ranked 53rd globally, while Qatar trails behind in the 57th place. Bahrain occupies the 60th spot, followed by Oman (63rd) and Saudi Arabia (65th).

The index is compiled by global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.

It is updated several times a year, or as and when visa-policy changes come into effect. A new index is launched in the beginning of the year and usually followed by three updates in the succeeding three quarters.