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In the first half of 2023, Dubai Airports surpassed pre-pandemic numbers and welcomed 41.6 million travellers. Image Credit: Dubai Airports

The United Arab Emirates is weighing plans for a visa system that would simplify travel for residents to neighboring Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia.

The new visa system would allow residents in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to travel freely within countries that make up the bloc, including Saudi Arabia, UAE Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri said at a conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The regime could be introduced "very soon," he said.

The GCC group includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. Citizens of the six-nation bloc are free to travel across borders without applying for visas. Foreign residents - which make up the bulk of their populations and come from around the world - still need visas to cross GCC borders.

Visa-free travel among the countries' residents makes the region attractive by boosting tourism, Al Marri added.