In stark contrast to most of its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc that have implemented policies aimed at attracting people from around the world, Kuwait has steadfastly remained reluctant to welcome visitors. While many of the other GCC states are facilitating the procedures for obtaining entry visas to their lands, Kuwait appears determined to remain the outlier and swim against the current.
Besides reluctance to enact laws that welcome international travelers, recently the government announced that it would implement measures to stop all kinds of tourist and commercial visas, even visas to join a family, so as to develop a comprehensive mechanism related to visit visas.
Obtaining a tourist entry visa to Kuwait entails long and complicated procedures, and obtaining it online is limited to only a few specific nationalities. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia. following the recent opening up of the travel and tourism sector to attract visitors from around the world, the authorities announced the launch of what it refers to as a ‘digital embassy’, which is specialized in granting the visa online, without the need for the applicant to personally visit the Saudi embassies in their country. In addition, the kingdom now grants a one-year visa for multiple trips, unlike Kuwait, which limits the duration of the visa to three months.
While expatriates in Kuwait are currently unable to obtain visas for their children who were born outside the country and enable them to return with their mothers, the new procedures in Saudi Arabia allow obtaining a visa within minutes, whether for tourism or Umrah purposes.
The same applies to tourist visas, which are very few in Kuwait for a variety of reasons, including the absence of any efforts to attract tourists through any coherent or cohesive strategies or plan of actions. On the other hand in Saudi Arabia it is now possible to visit the Kingdom for tourism and perform Umrah at the same time.
The new procedures in Saudi Arabia allow the applicant to request for a visa online through the official visa platform approved on the website of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the digital embassy).
In the UAE, which has been long known to attract visitors worldwide, steps are being taken to further facilitate visa and residency procedures. The authorities recently allowed foreigners of all nationalities to apply for a multi-entry tourist visa valid for five years from the date of issuance, without requiring a guarantor or host in the state, provided that he or she stays in the state for a period not exceeding 90 days in one year.