The UAE passport has been ranked as the 15th most powerful in the world with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 176, according to the latest ranking released by Henley & Partners, a global investment migration consultancy.

It remains the strongest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and even in the wider Arab world.

Declaring the UAE a pandemic winner, the research report said the UAE has made unprecedented achievements as it emerged as the biggest gainer on the index.

“Throughout the turmoil of the past two years, one thing has remained constant: the growing strength of the UAE passport, which now sits at 15th place on the ranking, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 176. Over the past decade, the country has made unparalleled gains as the biggest climber on the index — in 2012, it sat at 64th place on the rankings, with a score of just 106,” the report said.

It revealed that the UAE has also become the focus of intense interest among affluent investors (HNWIs) and high-net-worth individuals. The nation is expected to see the highest net influx of HNWIs globally in 2022, with a forecast net increase of 4,000, a massive increase of 208 per cent versus 2019’s net inflow of 1,300 and one of its largest on record.

Interestingly, the Global Passport Index released by Arton Capital last year ranked the UAE first globally for achieving the highest mobility score.

Dr Robert Mogielnicki, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute and member of the Advisory Committee of Henley & Partners, said the GCC countries continue to roll out ambitious initiatives and schemes to attract high-net-worth individuals and skilled expatriate professionals.

“These investment migration efforts and new labour market policies reflect part of a broader strategy to position GCC countries as hubs for global capital and talent. The visa requirements for GCC citizens visiting major travel and commercial hubs are likewise being eased. The UK announced that GCC state nationals will be the first to benefit from the UK’s new electronic travel authorization scheme beginning in 2023, ensuring that these visitors can enjoy visa-free travel across the UK,” said Dr Mogielnicki.

Most powerful passports

RankingCountries
1Japan
2Singapore, South Korea
3Germany, Spain
4Finland, Italy Luxembourg
5Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden
6France, Iceland, Portugal, UK
7Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, US
8Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta
9Hungary
10Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia

Least powerful passports

RankingCountries
1Afghanistan
2Iraq
3Syria
4Pakistan
5Yemen
6Somalia
7Nepal, Palestinian Territory
8North Korea
9Bangladesh, Kosovo, Libya
10Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Sudan

Source: Henley & Partners, KT Research

Japan holds the number one spot on the index released by Henley & Partners with a record-high visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 193, while Singapore and South Korea come in joint-second place, with a score of 192.

According to research by Henley & Partners, top-ranking passports have bounced back almost to pre-pandemic levels in terms of access.

By comparing the current level of travel freedom with the most severe Covid-related restrictions imposed over the past few years, the results show that UK and US passport holders now have unrestricted access to 158 destinations around the world as opposed to just 74 and 56 destinations, respectively, at the height of the pandemic in 2020, while Japanese passport holders enjoy unrestricted access to 161 destinations as opposed to only 76 in 2020.

Russian passport holders are more cut off from the rest of the world than ever before. The Russian passport currently sits at 50th place on the index, with a visa-free or visa-free on arrival score of 119.

The Ukrainian passport is currently ranked at 35th place, with access to 144 destinations around the world without needing a visa in advance.

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