UAE passport is 'biggest climber' in Middle East, occupies 33rd place
UAE passport saw the biggest climb of any country in the world over 10 years
The UAE passport has emerged as the biggest climber in the Middle East, offering visa-free travel to 133 countries, according to latest rankings released on Tuesday.
Germany held on to the 1st place on the Henley Passport Index for the fifth year running, with its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 177 countries in total, up from 176 countries in 2017.
Singapore stood 2nd globally on the 2018 edition of the index, with visa-free access to 176 countries, while eight countries - Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the UK - sharing the 3rd place, offering passport-holders access to 175 countries.
In the Middle East region, the UAE has climbed an impressive 28 places on the index - the biggest climb of any country in the world over a decade.
The UAE passport ranked 33rd in the 2018 edition, offers visa-free travel to 133 countries - up from 121 countries in 2017, gaining access to 12 new destinations in just one year.
Check the entire list of 2018 global ranking
The UAE's success is linked to the fact that, between 1999 and 2018, visa restrictions on Emirati citizens have been lifted by countries such as New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Ukraine, and China, as well as those in the Schengen area. In the wider GCC region, all member countries significantly improved their positions and ranked within the top 70 positions on the index. Kuwait moved up to 58th position, with access to 83 countries visa-free and Bahrain ranked 63rd, offering its citizens visa-free access to 75 countries. Oman (65th) and Saudi Arabia (67th) followed closely behind, with visa-free access to 71 and 69 countries, respectively.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Iraq has lost 15 places on the index over the past 10 years, Yemen 17 places, and Syria 20 places. Syria and Iraq, ranked 102nd and 103rd in the world, respectively, are the poorest performers in the region, and they also both fall in the bottom five globally. Syria dropped one place from 2017, now offering its citizens visa-free travel access to just 28 countries. However, Iran has managed to improve its rank over the past decade, escaping the bottom four rankings in the 2018 edition.
For the second year in a row, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, each able to access 30 or fewer countries visa-free.