Two years ago, the United Arab Emirates said it hopes to see the country's passport rank among the top five most powerful passports globally by 2021. The Arab country saw that ambition materialize a couple of years before the start of a new decade. In doing so, it ended the current decade with its passport held high.
According to the latest report published by the Global Passport Index, the UAE has been described as the "best passport of the decade." The Gulf nation gained visa waivers to 111 countries; the majority of those waivers were granted in the past three years. Its climb up the passport ladder is the reason why it's been dubbed "The Unicorn" in the report. After all, it has witnessed a 161-percent increase in passport power in just a few years.
It is the only Arab country to make it to the Top 10.
The efforts of the UAE have given citizens the freedom of global movement with a record-breaking Mobility Score of 179 over the decade.
"Triumphing and maintaining the lead for over a year to date, the UAE's meteoric rise became one of the most intriguing examples of a successfully accomplished national goal," a statement of the UAE's achievement reads.
The Emirati passport marked its power in 2018 when it became the most powerful in the world - according to the aforementioned index - after outranking Singapore and Germany.
The rise in power hasn't come by chance. The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has actively extended its global diplomatic efforts in a bid to strengthen the country's passport in recent years.
The Emirati passport did not only outrank all others over the decade but also proved to be the most improved travel document in the stated period.
The index looks at the passports of 198 destinations around the world. As of 2019, the UAE passport permits visa-free and visa-on-arrival entries to 118 and 61 countries, respectively. That leaves only 19 countries requiring visa approvals prior to travel.
This year alone saw several visa-waivers signed by the UAE and eight countries around the world. These include South Africa, Mongolia, Peru, and Colombia among others.
Other Arab passport winners
Other Arab passports that witnessed improvement over the past decade are Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The former gained 12 visa waivers throughout 2019 alone; the latter was among the "fastest growing passports" of the year.
Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 isn't just about diversifying the kingdom's oil-reliant economy, but also about global relations and improved mobility of its citizens. The Gulf country seems to be on the right track and has a whole decade to reach its goals.
Seeing what the UAE achieved in 10 years is proof that much can be attained in a decade. We'll have to wait and see what Saudi Arabia has in store from now till 2030.