Tourists could explore the whole GCC region on one visa by end 2024

Tourists could explore the whole GCC region on one visa by end 2024
A new visa system allowing expatriates and tourists to visit all six Gulf Cooperation Council countries will be in place by the end of the year.
2 min read
07 May, 2024
Tourists and expatriates will be able to visit all Gulf countries with the same visa [Getty]

A new visa system allowing tourists and expatriates to visit all six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries on the same visa will be introduced by the end of 2024, Gulf officials taking part in the Arabian Travel Market announced on Monday.

Currently, tourists need a separate visa for each Gulf nation they visit but the new scheme will allow for free travel between all GCC countries, in a boost for regional tourism.

“By the end of this year, the whole system will be in place. [We] are working day and night and e-service is a vital part of it. We don’t want to complicate things for people and also maintain the same security level,” Khalid Jasim Al-Midfa, an official from the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority in the UAE said.

The system will be called GCC Grand Tours and will allow expatriates living in the region to visit the six GCC countries - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, and Oman – all with the same multi-entry visa.

Citizens of the six countries are already able to travel visa-free in the region.

"This will make travel to our region more convenient and affordable for tourists," Abdullah bin Touq al Marri said.

"Once it comes into effect, it will contribute to highlighting the diverse tourism destinations in GCC countries, attracting and retaining tourists for longer periods."

The Oman Observer reported that the GCC countries are working with tourism operators to develop packages allowing tourists to visit the whole region.

"Visitors can come to Bahrain and stay three nights, then go to Oman and Saudi. We are promoting the entire region as one package," Sarah Buhijji, the CEO for Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority said.

After fraught relations in recent years, Gulf nations are looking to integrate their economies, in particular with a push toward diversification away from oil and gas with tourism viewed as a key avenue for this.

There has been progress on a inter-Gulf railway system and other transport projects for the GCC.