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Cairo: The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is making efforts to get citizens of its state members exempted from the Schengen visa, the bloc’s secretary general has disclosed.

Jasem Albudaiwi said he will travel next week to Brussels to raise the issue, contending that the GCC countries deserve to get the Schengen visa exemption and have a “strong file” on the issue.

“Our presence, as Gulf citizens, in Europe is positive in terms of education, tourism, medical treatment, purchases or trade exchange,” Albudaiwi told Saudiah TV Channel.

“We are stable countries and export whatever is positive. We don’t export anything negative,” he added.

“It is odd we have not been exempted from this visa… We deserve to be exempted from this visa.”

The official cited the “positive effect” of GCC investment spread in Europe and sounded upbeat about the waiver.

“God willing, in a certain phase, all the GCC countries, will be able to celebrate exempting their citizens from the Schengen visa,” he said.

Created in 1981, the GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

Last December, a GCC summit held in Doha approved a unified Gulf visa system allowing the holder to travel across the grouping’s six countries.

“This approval is an important step illustrating that we, the six GCC countries, can grant a visitor a visa whereby he can enter the six countries,” the official said.

“Technical committees are studying this theme before presenting it in its final form to the member countries for approval.” Albudaiwi added.

He expected the first unified Gulf visa will be issued this year.

In November, the GCC interior ministers, meeting in Oman, approved the Schengen-like unified tourist visa among their countries in a milestone move set to boost their tourism and economy.