As the UAE opens its doors to the world for the start of EXPO Dubai 2020, the Passport Index Q4 report revealed the UAE passport’s triumph back up to 1st place in addition to a 14.8% cumulative increase in the World Openness Score (WOS).
While the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect travel and mobility worldwide, the increasing WOS is testament to many countries pushing the boundaries and taking the lead to see the world open once again. The last quarter alone measured an impressive 5% increase in WOS, with an 89 average global Mobility Score (MS) across all 199 states, based on a total of visa-free or visa-on-arrival access.
2020 was the year of lost travel plans, prompting many to think that 2021 would be the year that makes up for it. Through the magnitude of global participants and spectators attending the EXPO 2020, the UAE has broken the ice to reignite safe tourism and travel for the next era of mobility. In July 2021, Bloomberg’s COVID-19 tracking data reported that the UAE was the most vaccinated country in the world, with over 73.8% of its population fully vaccinated.
And remarkably, this year the UAE has not one — but two powerful passports. Providing access to 191 countries, the new yellow EXPO 2020 Passport gives viewers and guests a look into a borderless world. Dubbed ‘the World’s Greatest Show’, the UAE opened its doors on October 1st, 2021 and is expected to welcome 25 million people to Dubai over the next six months.
The Passport Index has become the ultimate tool in benchmarking the state of global mobility moving forward from the pandemic. Basing its Mobility Scores on the number of visa-free and visa-on-arrival, it also notes all COVID-related restrictions that change day-to-day. This real-time resource has become essential in allowing travelers and governments to access the most up to date information on global mobility.
Q4’s Top Performers Revealed
While European passports continue to lead in the global rankings, Australia and South Korea (MS 144) both improved their mobility score going into Q4, moving into joint second place, along with Germany and Spain. The UK, Canada, and the US, (MS 142) rank in joint 5th place, and Singapore (MS 141) in 6th place were the only other non-European passports in the Passport Index’s Top 10 Global Ranking Passports.
“Starting Q4 with a 14.8% increase in global mobility shows that the world is slowly opening up once again, but it is also important to note that we are still only at mobility levels that were first achieved six years ago, so the aftermath of the global shutdown is still very much in play,” comments Armand Arton, President of Arton Capital and the creator of the Passport Index.
More than just a simple ranking tool, the Passport Index’s data can reflect the temporary and often disruptive geo-political or pandemic-related travel restrictions in real-time. In addition, the Index’s ability to offer insights across a number of socio-political influencers means that many foreign ministries around the world are able to use the platform to analyze and compare their policies with others.
“Thinking global has become the foundation for growth and sustainability for many nations across the world and it is fascinating to witness the global shift of human mobility and migration translated into numbers with the Passport Index. This is only the start of what we can share with the world in the coming years,” said Hrant Boghossian, VP of Marketing for Arton Capital, the inventors of the Passport Index.
GCC: The UAE was the biggest climber across Q3 2021, moving up four places to the number one spot. However, over the last quarter, other GCC nations have seen a decrease in numbers. Bahrain down seven places to 52nd (MS 80), Kuwait down eight to 50th (MS 85), Oman down seven to 56th (MS 75), Qatar down seven to 47th (MS 91), and Saudi Arabia down five in 55th place (MS 76).
Europe: Within the EU —Germany, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Spain, and Italy were the highest ranked on mobility (MS 144), all in joint 3rd place alongside non-EU countries like South Korea, Australia, and Switzerland. The most improved EU passport over the first three quarters was Malta (+12 places/ranked 5th) with Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, among others, each climbing 11 places in their respective rankings, since January 2021.
Outside of the EU, the biggest moves in passport rankings since the beginning of the year were for Ukraine, up 37 places (MS 124/Ranked 19th), Moldova up 34 places (MS 103/Ranked 36th) and Albania, up 15 places to (MS 100/Ranked 39th). The UK (MS 142) and Norway (MS 139) – remain in joint 5th and joint 6th place over Q3, but down one and three places respectively from the start of 2021.
The Americas: While the US and Canada (MS 142/ranked 5th) continue to climb the rankings after last year’s drop, Mexico dropped four spots to 24th over the last three months. In South America, Brazil is currently the highest ranked globally (MS 127/16th), having climbed 5 places in the first three quarters, the highest climber on the continent was Colombia, up 18 places into 38th position.
Africa: With many travel restrictions still in play across the African continent, movement and mobility either remain stagnant or have dropped several places since the start of the year. The only improved MS isn’t even on continental mainland; the Seychelles (MS 111) in 29th position who has maintained its improved ranking since the start of last quarter.
Asia: Maintaining their positions from last quarter, South Korea was the highest ranked Asian country in 3rd place (MS 144), while Japan held in 6th place (MS 141). China, the world’s second largest economy, has dropped 11 places (63rd) with a below world average MS of 65. India is up 11 places since the start of year (72nd) with an MS of 56, but one of the biggest gainers in Asia, for 2021, remains the Kingdom of Brunei, up 94 places over the first three quarters in 22nd place.