Dubai: The UAE passport now offers citizens more travel freedom than ever, as it is now ranked 27th globally in the latest passport power ranking released on Monday.
The latest edition of the ranking by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and planning firm, showed that Emiratis now have ease of travel to 140 destinations, up from 134 countries in January.
Overall, Japan and Singapore now share the top position, knocking Germany off after holding the crown for five years. Both Asian nations now enjoy visa-free access to a record 180 destinations worldwide, while the German passport provides its citizens with access to 179, making it the second most powerful globally.
For a long time, the top positions had been held mostly by European nations.
Henley's index is just one of the few indices that track the power of passports from approximately 200 countries, based on the number of destinations holders can travel to with ease. The index is revised several times in a year, to reflect the changes in travel restrictions.
As for the holders of the UAE passport, they can now explore the world with less restrictions, even compared to those who are from certain states in Europe and the Caribbean.
The UAE’s global ranking has climbed a few places from the 32nd position in the beginning of the year to the 27th position in March, edging out Vatican, Taiwan, Mauritius and Costa Rica, among several others.
The country does not only offer the most powerful passport in the Arab world, it is also ahead of the Russian Federation and other places that grant citizenships to foreigners via investment, such as the Caribbean states of Saint Lucia and Grenada.
The UAE had earlier gained entry to China and Ireland earlier this year and signed a visa-waiver agreement with Burkina Faso, which is set to come into effect in the coming months.
“The UAE’s meteoric rise [on the index] is indicative of the country’s growing soft power and its visibility as a global commercial, economic and travel hub,” noted Marco Gantenbein, managing parter of Henley & Partners.
“The nation has been making steady progress with strengthening its diplomatic ties with other countries across the globe, because of which the UAE passport continues to demonstrate its agility and raise the benchmark for other countries in the Middle East.”
He noted that since 1999, visa restrictions on Emirati citizens have been lifted by some 45 different countries.
The most powerful passports in the world as of March 2018:
Number of countries passport holders can travel to freely: 179
3. France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, South Korea
4. Portugal, Austria, United Kingdom, Norway, Luxembourg, Netherlands
Number of countries passport holders can travel to freely: 177
5. Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, United States
Number of countries passport holders can travel to freely: 176