Skift Take

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the region's tourism powerhouses. A new unified visa looks to spread that success, but will mean the other countries have some developing to do.

Gulf countries are forming a new “bloc” dedicated to furthering the region’s tourism sector. The much-anticipated ‘GCC zone’ unified visa should be announced by December to tie together the GCC states: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

The news came out of the seventh meeting of GCC ministers of tourism, held in Oman – the countries will be “transformed into a tourism bloc par excellence” said Oman’s minister of heritage and tourism, Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi. This decision received unanimous approval.

This visa was first mentioned in May 2023 at a conference in Dubai, where the countries’ ministers shared their hopes to unite the GCC so tourists would consider cross-country travel like they do in Europe.

Just last month, UAE Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri gave updates on this development during a conference in Abu Dhabi. “What’s good for Saudi is good for the GCC,” he said at the conference. “If the tide comes up, it pulls up all the boats.”

This new visa comes under the banner of the “Gulf Strategy for Tourism 2023-2030,” which ministers also said is in the works. The meeting also looked into the establishment of a GCC Tourism Statistics Platform.


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Tags: Tourism news, travel news

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