181108 UAE Passport
The UAE passport has become the world's most powerful, where 111 countries granted visa waivers to Emiratis in the last 10 years. Image Credit: Gulf News File

Dubai: The UAE has been officially named as the best passport of the decade, according to the latest report published by the Global Passport Index.

In the last decade, the UAE gained visa waivers to 111 countries, most of which have taken place in the last three years with an outstanding 161 per cent increase in passport power.

These record-breaking numbers led the UAE to shine in first place with a record-breaking 179 Mobility Score from 2010-2019.

“Since the inception of the Passport Force Initiative in 2017, the Passport Index closely followed and documented the progress of the UAE passport. As their goal to rise within the Top 5 was achieved three years ahead of time, their momentum and mission grew stronger as they strived to reach first place before the end of 2018,” read the report.

In the meantime, Qatar also gained 12 visa waivers throughout 2019, making its way up the ranks with Rwanda closely behind with 11. Ukraine, Macao, and Indonesia all added 10 countries to their passport power, and Brunei ended the year with nine visa waivers.

Another country amongst the list of The Fastest-Growing Passports of 2019 was Saudi Arabia, which appeared with nine visa waivers, suggesting that the leading passport may have inspired some successors.

Cyprus and St. Kitts and Nevis are amongst the ones who made the biggest leap forward, gaining nine visa waivers in 2019.

"Championing in sixth place with a nearly 110 per cent increase in ranking after gaining 63 visa waivers, is another ambitious duo, Moldova and Georgia – two former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe."

The boost in passport power has also benefited Malta (8), Antigua and Barbuda, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Portugal (7), as well as Dominica and Saint Lucia (6). Grenada came last but nevertheless showed improvement with four visa waivers.

The announcement was made merely a few days before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) announced that UAE residents can enter Uzbekistan for a period not exceeding 30 days without a pre-entry visa.

“Uzbekistan allows the entry of UAE citizens for 30 days without a visa,” said the UAE Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The decision will come into effect on January 1, 2020, which means that UAE citizens holding diplomatic, private, and ordinary passports will be able to get a visa upon arrival.

Over the last ten years, the Passport Index identified a common trend in island nations surfing slowly higher in the ranks as the fastest-growing passports, African nations swiftly escaping the lowest-ranking bottom, and many countries within the European Union remaining stagnant and comfortable at the top.

Open borders

Contrary to popular perception, in an era of building walls and closing borders, the world has considerably opened up in the past decade.

According to Passport Index’ World Openness Score, “the world has never been more open than today”, shared Armand Arton, Founder and President of Arton Capital.

The current real-time World Openness Score is valued at 21,360. If every single country were to travel freely one to another, the absolute openness score would equate to 39,601, suggesting that 54 per cent of our world is in fact, open in 2019 and keeps growing year after year.

“At an average increase of four per cent year-over-year, it would be incredible to assume that by 2035 the entire world be open for travel,” said Arton.