SCHENGEN visa allows you to enter all European Union member-states, apart from the United Kingdom. Recently, a member of the current Parliament gave Kuwaitis good tidings through a television interview about the Schengen visa exemption for Kuwaitis which will be implemented soon.
This came due to tremendous efforts exerted by members of diplomatic corps in the respective countries, in addition to the Parliament members’ meeting with their counterparts in Schengen-member countries.
We have heard of similar statements from senior officials in Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ministers, undersecretary and assistant undersecretary for European desk, but none of their promises have materialized.
Such achievement does not need a miracle. Some members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) managed to obtain Schengen visa exemption for their citizens in a simple and easy manner.
Personally, I do not see the difference between a UAE citizen and a Kuwaiti citizen. I cannot even imagine different interests, that is, if interests determine relations between countries … I do not think Kuwait, with its political, financial and economic status, is not qualified to have better relations with the European Union.
However, I believe the whole issue is in the hands of our officials in both the executive and legislative authorities, who are not persistent in achieving this goal and are reluctant in using all legal and convincing methods such as demanding for similar treatment when it comes to visa matters.
Recently, I was forced to go to the company that provides this visa (Schengen) instead of embassies as it was in the past. I also do not remember going to a foreign embassy to obtain visa apart from the US Embassy whose government has imposed very strict regulations on acquiring visa or entry visa to the US which necessitates personal appearance.
Nonetheless, the US, as a great country and one that incurred a lot suffering from Arabs and Muslims internally and externally, perhaps, we bear some of the blame in terms of the stringent regulations. But when it comes to Europe, tough regulations on the issuance of Schengen visa to Kuwaitis will be difficult to justify.
I witnessed scores of families, with the elderly, youths and children crowded in the complex, being served in a civilized manner — truth be told — by our brothers in humanity from Asia. The company is authorized by more than one country to issue the visa, hence, appointments differ and the number of clients increases. Employees in this center (company) totally abide by the regulations set by the embassies, some of which seem irrational and unattainable.
When I was there, I met a friend who occupies a high position in society. He had Schengen visa in his old passport that had no empty pages for new entries, thus, the old passport was attached to the new one and all he wanted was for the country he intended to go to certify the validity of his visa. My friend was told to apply for another visa for it to be stamped on the new passport because the visa in the old passport with full pages is no longer valid.
Because of this, I once again call upon our brethren in the executive and legislative authorities to exert more effort to ensure Kuwaitis are exempted from the Schengen visa. Subsequently, this will exempt us from humiliation of acquiring this visa — the Schengen.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil