Germany maintained its top spot and Gulf Cooperation Council countries held their positions in this year’s passport ranking by Henley & Partners.
The second citizenship firm’s Visa Restrictions Index, which ranks 199 passports, placed the UAE in 38th with visa-free travel to 121 countries noting it had increased 23 positions over the last decade.
In the wider GCC, all countries ranked within the top 70 with Kuwait in 60th with visa-free access to 80 countries, Qatar in 62nd with access to 78, Bahrain in 66th with access to 73, Oman in 68th with access to 69 and Saudi Arabia in 69th with access to 68.
Bata Racic, manager of Henley & Partners in the Middle East, said make-up of the top ten remained the same as last year but the changing geopolitical climate was expected to heavily impact the rankings over the next 12 months.
“In recent months, we have witnessed several major events that have had a negative impact on global mobility. This includes Brexit, the election of US President Donald Trump, and most recently the European Parliament’s vote to end visa-free travel for Americans,” he said.
“The impact of some of these events has already been felt and is reflective of the shift in rankings we see in this year’s Visa Restrictions Index.”
Globally, 48 countries decreased ranking in the last year, dropping between one and three ranks, and 42 showed no movement at all.
Major movers on the list included Peru and Ghana, which gained 15 places and lost four places respectively.
The Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Micronesia, Kiribati and Tuvalu also all gained more than nine places.
This year’s bottom four were Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan with visa free access to less than 30 countries globally.
This followed Somalia’s slight rise in the rankings with access to 30 countries and Syria’s decline with access to only 29.
“There still exists a huge gap in the levels of travel freedom between countries, despite the world becoming seemingly more mobile and interconnected,” said Racic.
TOP 10 BEST PASSPORTS FOR VISA-FREE TRAVEL
(Score reveals countries and territories citizens can visit without a visa)
3: Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, United States
4: Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, United Kingdom
5: Ireland, Japan, New Zealand
6: Canada, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland
7: Australia, South Korea
9: Czech Republic
10: Hungary, Malta
TOP 10 WORST PASSPORTS FOR VISA-FREE TRAVEL
7. Eritrea, Yemen
8. Nepal, Palestine, Sudan
9. Ethiopia, Kozovo, Lebanon, South sudan
10. Bangladesh, Iran, Sri Lanka