Picture for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: The UAE passport has climbed one more spot in the global ranking of travel documents, making it the eighth most powerful in the world.

The latest update of the Passport Index showed that Emirati citizens can now fly to 158 countries without securing a visa prior to departure, further strengthening the UAE’s position in the world’s top 10 strongest passports.

That's a huge leap from just a little over 130 countries about one year ago and further testament to the fact that the UAE is now nearing its goal of becoming one of the five most powerful passports globally.

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“When the UAE announced a year ago that it would make its passport among the most powerful in the world by 2021, few believed it could happen, but the Passport Index did,” noted Armand Arton, founder and president of Arton Capital.

“We have been collaborating with [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] to improve the country’s passport ranking. Thanks to a shared vision, focus and determination, we are thrilled to predict that their mission will come to fruition earlier than planned, possibly by the end of this year.”

The index ranks countries around the world according to the number of destinations their citizens can travel to visa-free. It was only last July 9 this year when the UAE entered the top ten rankings and in September 13, it moved higher to secure the ninth position.

The UAE signed a visa waiver agreement with Paraguay last September 24, which consequently pushed up the Emirati passport’s power in the index. The signing was announced by the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash on Twitter.

The real-time global ranking also showed that the UAE’s eighth position  is currently shared by Romania and Bulgaria.

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The UAE is now ahead of European states like Monaco, Croatia, Liechtenstein and Vatican City, as well as other countries that offer second passports to foreigners in exchange for an investment, such as Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Over the last few years, the UAE has entered a number of visa waiver agreements with various states, providing more ease of travel for its citizens.

In the Henley & Partners Passport Index, which also ranks travel documents around the world, the UAE has been the fastest gainer of visa-free entry points, rising 38 places since 2008.

Overall, Singapore and Germany remain the most powerful passports as of September 30, 2018, according to Arton Capital’s Passport Index.

In 2017,the UAE announced an ambitious goal of becoming one of the five most powerful passports in the world by 2021. Back then, the UAE passport provided Emiratis visa-free or visa-on-arrival benefits in 132 countries.

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By the end of May 2017, the UAE secured more ease of access, with the number of visa-free or visa-on arrival countries jumping to  147, making the country’s passport one of the world’s top 20 most powerful.

“Only two years away from their self-imposed deadline, they have joined the top ten and have not lost focus on the target,” Arton Capital said in a statement.

“Over the last decade, the UAE has seen immense growth in multiple sectors, including technology, education, finance and infrastructure. Having gained the trust and respect of over 35 countries, the UAE’s passport power has also mirrored that growth.”

How far the UAE passport can go:

Source: Passport Index/ Arton Capital