The UAE, a small, oil-rich Gulf sheikhdom of about 10 million people — some 90% of whom are foreign expats — has beaten the likes of Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Luxembourg in the latest ranking, though those countries are all in the top five.
Essentially, if you’re an Emirati passport holder, you can travel to a huge number of countries visa-free, and in many others, you can get a visa right when you arrive. Emirati passport holders can enter 121 countries without a visa, and get a visa on arrival in a further 59 states. They need a visa for just 19 countries, meaning they’re able to access 91% of the world’s countries without having to apply for a visa before traveling.
Compare that to the United States, whose passport allows visa-free travel to 109 countries and visa-on-arrival to 56, while 26 countries require Americans to apply for visas in order to enter. The U.S. passport’s “world reach” is calculated at 83% of the world’s countries, compared to the UAE’s 91%.
The UAE, a desert hub for business and travel that’s home to the most multinational company headquarters of any Middle Eastern country, received a list-topping “mobility score” of 180. The methodology behind that score takes into account visa-free and visa-on-arrival privileges in other countries, and “the higher the mobility score, the better global mobility its passport bearer enjoys,” according to the report.
“Whilst the passport’s power to enter countries visa-free is comparable to its competitors, those with a UAE passport can enter 13 more countries with a visa on arrival than those with a German passport, the second-ranked passport.”
The UAE has benefitted from numerous reforms in recent years that have brought many more people into the country to live, including normalizing relations with Israel and introducing a remote workers visa. Its leaders have reopened or improved diplomatic links and made major investments and trade agreements with several different countries.
Dubai itself was recently ranked by the networking platform InterNations as one of the world’s top five cities for expats to live. Allowing easy entry for more nationalities typically means that those countries reciprocate.
Emirati passport holders count at roughly 1.5 million, according to local media reports. The UAE is also regularly named one of the world’s safest countries, with an extremely low crime rate.
According to CNBC