UAE positioned 16th in Henley Passport Index; Shows APAC dominance

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
  • Follow author on
UAE Passport
Representational Image

The UAE’s efforts to attain its goal to become a global hub is evidently visible from its position in the Henley Passport Index (HPI), a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom for their citizens.

As per the HPI, the UAE now has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 173 and it holds the 16th position in the ranking. It is a remarkable achievement for the country when compared to its 62nd position at the Index’s inception in 2006.

The UAE has signed various mutually reciprocated visa-waiver agreements in 2020, including the agreement establishing formal ties with Israel and granting citizens of each country visa-free access.

Dr. Robert Mogielnicki, the Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said, “A strong technology focus weaves together the economic agreements and memorandums of understanding that emerged in the wake of the UAE–Israel normalization agreement.”

The UAE’s cutting-edge technologies and social infrastructure helped it to control the COVID-19 crisis successfully. Advanced technology and its ability to control the pandemic meant UAE was open for business when the world was facing rigorous restrictions, said Bal Krishen, chairman, Century Financial.

“The UAE’s recent efforts to normalize relations with neighboring countries and its recent reforms, including permission for 100 percent investment in almost sectors should make its passport one of the most sought after ones in the world,” added Mr. Krishen.

The latest report from HPI, the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can visit without a prior visa, gives an interesting insight into the future of travel freedom in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin
Henley & Partners

“Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase. The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic.”

For the third consecutive year, Japan continues to hold the number one position on the index, with passport holders able to access 191 destinations around the world visa-free. Singapore is positioned second, with access to 190 destinations, and South Korea sits in 3rd place alongside Germany, with both having a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 189.

The dominance of Asia-Pacific countries (APAC) in the Henley Passport Index rankings is a new phenomenon. Over the index’s 16-year history, the top spots were held by European Union countries, the UK or the US.

Over the past seven years, the US passport has fallen from its first position to 7th place, which it currently shares with the UK. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, travelers from the UK and the US currently face major constraints from more than 105 countries, with US passport holders able to travel to less than 75 destinations, while UK passport holders to fewer than 70.