Visa on arrival for 2.5bn people

Bahrain’s new visa on arrival policy would benefit more than 2.5 billion people from over 100 countries around the world, the Economic Development Board said in a statement yesterday. According the EDB statement, the new visa policy allows people from 60 more countries to avail the visa on arrival policy, bringing the total number of countries availing his option to around 100.

The policy which will be implemented in 2015 also allows people who are using this option to extended the visa period to up to another three months.

The move, is expected to benefit expatriates who do business in Bahrain to travel in and out of the Kingdom with ease, as well as to boost the tourism industry.

The new policy was presented by Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa earlier this week during a Cabinet meeting. Prince Salman emphasised that reforms such as this, which support the business environment in the Kingdom, will help to continue to attract inward investment and drive forward economic growth and job creation.

Commenting on the move, Transport Minister and acting Chief Executive of Economic Development Board Kamal Ahmed said, “The new visa policy – one of the most flexible visa policies in the region would enable citizens from more than 100 countries to enjoy easier and quicker access to the Middle East’s most open economy, as ranked by the Heritage Foundation’s 2014 Index of Economic Freedom.”

The decision to revise the visa policy was taken based on key trends in the investor base in the Kingdom, including a 58% increase in international investors who own businesses in Bahrain between 2005 and 2012, and 50% increase in Arab investors with 17% in non-residence equity owners.

The UNCTAD World Investment Report 2014, released last month, confirmed that total foreign direct investment (FDI) into Bahrain in 2013 was $989 million, an increase of 11% on 2012, outpacing global average growth of 9%.

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