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Will the GCC follow the Schengen way?
The six Gulf States are planning to get a single visa entry system similar to the one adopted in Europe. Will it work?
June 3, 2009 12:45 by kippreport
Immigration chiefs from the GCC are planning to approve a single visa application system for the region, says a report from Kuwait’s official news agency, Kuna, quoting Kamel Al Awadhi, the director general of the Kuwaiti General Administration for Immigration. The visa will allow visitors to tour all six Gulf member countries, he told Kuna during a meeting of GCC immigration chiefs in Abu Dhabi.
The single Gulf visa system was suggested and approved during a recent meeting of undersecretaries of GCC interior ministries in Riyadh, he added.
If approved, the visa system may be based on the European Schengen visa system. The Schengen visa system has been in use since 1995 and has been considered successful.
In Europe, visa holders can travel freely to all the countries part of the Schengen visa Agreement for three months; internal air, road and train travel are handled as domestic trips.
However, there are some disadvantages to the system.
Firstly, refusal of entry by one country automatically disqualifies a visitor from entering all the other Schengen countries. For example, in 1998, Stephanie Mills, a Greenpeace activist from New Zealand, was denied access to the whole Schengen area because the French government had entered her name into the Schengen Information System, a governmental database that contains information related to border security and law enforcement.
It also means that all the individual countries now have to rely on each other for satisfactorily carrying out all the necessary border controls.
Furthermore, reports also say that because of the borderless zone, some EU countries, such as Germany and Austria have complained that there has been an increased flow of migrants into their territories.
A single visa system for all GCC states may help attract tourists to the region. But with the Gulf financial union reduced to just four members, it is likely the six nations will need a lot of cooperation for any joint project to succeed.