Move Over Singapore – The United Arab Emirates Has Become The World’s Most Powerful Passport

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Dec 05 2018
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Singapore shot to first place last year (2017) when Paraguay decided to remove visa requirements for those carrying Singapore’s passports. Armed with 159 countries that Singaporeans can visit “visa-free” or visa-on-arrival, the tiny nation located in the Southeast Asia became the first Asian nation to head the rankings as the most powerful passport in the world.


Previously tied with Germany with a score of 158, the Paraguay’s decision pushed Singapore one point up to the top. That bumped Germany into second place, with third place shared by Sweden and South Korea (157). But it was a short victory for Singapore as there’s now a new champion on the chart. Surprisingly the new winner comes from the Middle East.


Meet United Arab Emirates (UAE), the new world’s most powerful passport for the year 2018. Yes, the blue passport of the rich Gulf state allows access to a staggering 167 number of countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. Singapore has been bumped to second spot and shares with Germany as the second most powerful passport with easy access to 166 countries.

United Arab Emirates - UAE Balloon Flag

The UAE’s rise to the top of the prestigious and powerful list has come as a surprise for obvious reason. Last year the blue, eagle-emblazoned passports didn’t even make it to the top-10. It is indeed worth celebrating as the achievement came just as the kingdom celebrates its 47th National Day and its achievements since 1971.


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the news, saying in a tweet that the “world opens its doors to the people of the UAE” and congratulating Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Sheikh Abdullah said the achievement was “a true reflection of the legacy of Sheikh Zayed – the ‘Founding Father’ of the UAE.”


Interestingly, the UAE passport was in 27th position on the index in December 2016 and had risen to 4th place at the end of October. The UAE foreign ministry launched the UAE Passport Force initiative to place the Emirati passport within the list of top-5 most powerful passports in the world by 2021, but achieved this goal three years early.

United Arab Emirates - UAE - World Most Powerful Passport

The Passport Index, compiled by Arton Capital, said UAE added four new countries to its easy entry destinations at the beginning of the month. Armand Arton, founder and president of Arton Capital, congratulates UAE – “We congratulate the UAE on this great achievement, and are pleased to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation since the launch of the UAE Passport Force initiative.”


The third place was won by mostly European countries – Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Norway – allowing their passport holders access to 165 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. Also on the third spot are South Korea and the United States of America. The U.S. was at 6th place in the 2017 rankings, sharing the trophy with Malaysia, Ireland and Canada.


Belgium, Austria, Japan, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada and United Kingdom are the countries with the fourth most powerful passport. Besides Singapore, the only country in Southeast Asia that is on top-10 rankings is Malaysia. On 7th spot, Malaysia shares with Slovenia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia and Australia on the chart.

United Arab Emirates - UAE Travel - Keyboard

At the very bottom of the list, the least-powerful passports are Somalia (easy access to 38 countries), Syria (36), Pakistan (35), Iraq (32) and Afghanistan (29). The pariah state of North Korea isn’t doing very badly at 83rd spot, with its passport being able to gain easy access to 46 countries worldwide (11 countries visa-free and 35 visa-on-arrival).


However, according to another ranking – the Henley & Partners rankings – which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Japan possesses the most powerful passport, while the second spot goes to Singapore. Japanese citizens can travel to a record 190 out of a possible 218, having recently gained visa-free access to Myanmar.


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