GCC States to Facilitate Movement of Nationals

RIYADH– The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has stepped up efforts to facilitate employment and movement of their nationals among member states. There are also plans to ease travel restrictions for the hundreds of thousands of expatriates currently living in GCC countries.

Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have now agreed to ease border restrictions and have approved regulations which will allow Bahraini and Saudi nationals to use the King Fahd Causeway without having their passports stamped.

Referring to the free movement and employment of GCC nationals, Maj.-Gen. Abdul Aziz Sajini, Saudi Director General of Passports, said, “The Kingdom will soon approve the use of civil ID cards to replace passports for Gulf nationals entering the country. There are still some technical procedures to be completed before this is approved and put into practice;” he added.

The new regulations are part of efforts to boost commercial links as well as travel and tourism.”Gulf nationals and businessmen should be allowed to move resources and manpower freely among Gulf states just as European Union members do in Europe,” commented a senior consultant at the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDE). The GCC is also considering a plan to issue a unified tourist visa for non-Gulf nationals which would allow the visa holder to travel to any or all Gulf countries.

Fahd Al-Atawi. A Saudi businessman and general manager of Al-Atawi Group of Companies, said that the plan to allow non-GCC nationals to visit any or all Gulf countries on a single visa would be a great boon to business and trade. He continued, “Allowing the entry of GCC nationals into Saudi Arabia by simply showing an ID may not be possible for a while.

It has not been approved so far and there are both negative and positive sides to the idea.”

A publication entitled “Acquired Advantages of Gulf Citizenship” released by the GCC General Secretariat, gives an overview of the new measures which will facilitate movement and business operations.

All Gulf nationals are allowed to work or engage in all professions including industry, agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry and construction as well as hotel and restaurant management.

The states also allow their citizens to seek loans from financial institutions and banks of any member state.

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