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Giving Gulf citizens Schengen visas for 5 years when applying for the first time

This update aims to standardize visa regulations for all GCC countries whose citizens require visas to access the Schengen Area.

The EU announced on Monday the relaxation of visa rules for citizens of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.

The European Commission has adopted three implementing decisions updating the rules on issuing multi-entry visas for the three Gulf countries.

The announcement was made at the EU-GCC High-Level Forum on Regional Security and Cooperation in Luxembourg, where the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan is heading the Saudi delegation, which also includes ambassador to the EU Haifa Al-Jedea and the foreign ministry’s adviser Manal Radwan.

The meeting discussed enhancing security and strategic cooperation between the Gulf states and the EU, and touched upon developments in the Gaza Strip and its surrounding area and the importance of reaching an immediate ceasefire.

Under the new visa rules, nationals living in Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia will be eligible for multiple-entry visas, allowing them to visit the EU multiple times over a period of five years with the same visa.

The updated visa code is part of a concept known as the “cascade,” a “harmonized approach” to issuing multiple-entry visas with long validity for all eligible applicants, including first-time travelers.

During the validity period of these visas, holders enjoy travel rights equivalent to visa-free nationals.

This update aims to standardize visa regulations for all GCC countries whose citizens require visas to access the Schengen Area.

The implementation of the five-year visa rule marks a significant step forward in strengthening people-to-people relations between the EU and the GCC.

It also comes in the context of the EU’s Joint Communication on a “Strategic Partnership with the Gulf,” which also covers EU relations with the Kingdom, Oman and Bahrain.

Experts also view it as a preliminary move toward a Schengen waiver.

The Schengen Area, which includes 29 European countries and is the largest free-travel zone globally, expanded last February to include Bulgaria and Romania, eliminating all air and maritime border controls. A decision on the removal of land controls will be made later.

In November, Gulf countries announced plans for a unified tourist visa similar to Schengen, aiming to streamline logistical efforts for both residents and tourists.

Source: Arab News



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