Bahrain’s new visa policy, allowing nationals from 100 countries to obtain an online visa either ahead of travel or upon arrival, will be implemented from October 1 2014, according to Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
The new visa policy, which was initially expected to be implemented from January 2015, is aimed to ease the travel process for expatriates travelling to and from Bahrain. It is also expected to boost the island kingdom’s tourism industry.
As per the new policy, citizens from 66 countries- including India and Pakistan- will be able to receive visas upon arrival in Bahrain while being eligible to apply for an online visa ahead of their visit.
Visitors from another 36 countries will be able to obtain electronic visas, bringing the overall number of countries eligible to receive e-visas to 102.
The new policy also allows visitors to stay in Bahrain for a longer period of time, with the ability to renew new visas for up to three months from the initial month long validity EDB said. Multiple entry visas will also be issued.
“This policy will provide easier and quicker access for businesses with operations in Bahrain and will also help to attract more tourists to the Kingdom,” said Shaikh Ahmed bin Isa Al Khalifa, assistant undersecretary for Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs at Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior.
“During the build-up phase, we have worked closely with a range of stakeholders in the public and private sectors to ensure the new policy provides immediate benefits to visitors, and are pleased to be in a position to launch the new policy from October 1, 2014.
“The changes are being implemented as part of wider efforts to continually develop the passport and immigration processes and systems.”
Bahrain’s economy has been recovering steadily following the protests in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2011.
The Gulf state attracted around $114 million of foreign direct investment in 2013, up 12 per cent from 2012, according to EDB.