Emiratis looking to visit South Africa do not need to apply for a visa before their trip if they hold a diplomatic, mission, special or ordinary UAE passport. The change came into force yesterday after the South Africa Department of Home Affairs added the UAE to its visa waiver list, which means that Emirati visitors can stay for as long as 90 days.

The news comes after the UAE passport was recently named as one of the biggest climbers in terms of the most powerful passports in the world – having risen 41 places in the rankings recently issued by the Henley Passport Index. The list is based on data taken from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and analyses the number of countries that a passport holder is allowed to gain access to either without a visa or on the basis of “visa on arrival.” Japan and Singapore share the top spot, with both countries providing visa-free access to as many as 189 destinations. 

However, having skyrocketed from 61stplace to 20thsince 2009, the UAE passport is now one of the most powerful in the world and is easily the most powerful within the region. Another index, known as the Passport Index, has actually listed the UAE passport as being the most powerful in the entire world with no less than 175 points, followed in second place by Finland, Spain and Luxembourg, all of which scored 168 points. Eleven countries come in joint third on the Passport Index, including the likes of Denmark, South Korea, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Germany and the US. Arton Capital created the Passport Index, where passports are ranked based on the number of countries that the passport holder is allowed to visit without already having a visa or having to apply for one upon entry. 

In just the subcontinent nations, the Indian passport comes in at number 86, scoring 58 points, with the next local position going to Bhutan with 52 points at number 92. Next up at 99 is Sri Lanka with 42 points, and with 30 points at 106 is Pakistan. Afghanistan comes at the bottom of this list with 25 points, ranked at number 109. 

There are a number of countries that citizens of the United Arab Emirates can go to either without a visa or if they get a visa upon arrival. Earlier this year, Russia and Uzbekistan lifted their visa requirements for travelling Emiratis, with Russia allowing free access and Uzbekistan joining a handful of other countries which require an eVisa. The passport can now grant entry to all of Europe, with the exception of the UK which also requires an eVisa, as well as most of Asia and South America. However, citizens will still need a full visa if they’re looking to travel to the United States, Australia, most countries in Northern and Central Africa.

Emiratis who choose to visit any and all of these countries with or without a visa are still advised to take out travel insurance before taking any such trips to protect themselves from mishaps such as illness, accident and theft or personal property during these visits.



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