A streamlined visa process that would allow expats in the Gulf to travel easily between the six GCC countries could go online by the middle of next year, a Kuwaiti newspaper has reported.
Citing unnamed security officials, Al Rai said in a report today that the goal is to “reinvigorate tourism, business, shopping travel and economic activities in the member countries.”
The newspaper added that the process would match Europe’s Schengen system, which allows travelers to visit multiple member countries with a single visa, without having to apply and pay for permission to enter each nation.
Currently, nationals of Gulf countries can travel across the GCC, which is comprised of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Oman, by presenting their ID cards. But non-Khaleejis typically must apply for visas before visiting, depending on their origins and the country they are visiting.
Under the new system, visas would be available for a yet-to-be-determined fee at embassies in the GCC and in foreign countries.
Expats could apply for multiple-entry visas that last up to one year, the report states. But applicants will be screened on the basis of their financial status and expats who have previously been deported from a GCC country or run into legal trouble would not be granted the visa.
Al Rai states that the idea, which has been discussed for at least a decade, would be “the largest and most comprehensive in the field of security cooperation between the countries Gulf Cooperation Council.”
Gulf News adds that “technical issues” that have been holding up the process are being addressed so that the system can go online next year.