SINCE the time Allah created the universe, people have been wandering on Earth for thousands of years in line with the word of the Almighty: “And Allah has made for you the earth an expanse, that you may follow therein roads of passage.” There were no obstacles among humans who were created by the Almighty for acquaintance: “O mankind! Surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes, that you may get acquainted with one another (your lineage). Surely the most honorable of you in the Presence of Allah is he who is the most pious of you (not by your race or lineage).”
This meeting among people strengthens human behavior and raises human awareness, so countries should not close doors on themselves to avoid isolation from contemporary activities and becoming a pariah State or backward; such that it will be difficult to catch up with scientific and human developments, while the economy that relies on tourism will not shrink.
According to Quranic verses, any country striving to be the frontline in economy and knowledge must work. On this basis, it is important to consider the courageous and crucial decision taken by UAE’s Vice- President Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid concerning change in tourist visa, through which all nationalities will be granted five-year multiple entries.
The UAE receives over 21 million tourists every year. He said the goal is “to consolidate the country as the main tourist destination globally.” In this step, the UAE did not succumb to any population structure obstacle; knowing well that its population is around nine million and out of which about one million are citizens while the rest are from 200 nationalities. Despite this, it did not convert such structure into a problem, because everybody is working hard for self improvement.
They contribute to the renaissance of the country which, for many years, has become among the world’s best in many fields like education, health and economy. It is now preparing to enter the space invasion club through the UAE Space Agency to Mars. In the same vein, Saudi Arabia is not far from that.
The decisions announced by His Highness the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman with the nod from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz concerning tourist visa made it possible to obtain the visa online within minutes. It has translated into massive financial and economic gains as numerous tourists trooped there lately in thousands and even millions, which increased the growth rate.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not alone in this aspect among the GCC countries as Oman, Qatar and Bahrain have become favorite tourist destinations. The European experience should be taken into consideration. Despite a multitude of disputes among countries of the union, the Schengen visa gives a tourist the opportunity to move around 30 countries.
Kuwait, which declared its determination to become a global financial and trade hub, has not benefited from these moves to diversify resources and openness. How is that possible in the prevailing situation whereby visas are full of complications such that a tourist should be a bachelor’s degree holder or that a woman should be over 50 years old? This is in addition to procedures which can bring about other massive transformations we have been hearing such as the Northern Economic Zone project, Silk City and development of the islands, which are only slogans without any fruit.
The current procedures will increase the rate of contraction from which Kuwait has been suffering due to the security obstacle and diwaniya talks concerning population structure, which are all talks that can distort its image outside and repel investors.
We hope that the concerned institutions and decision makers will work on rescuing Kuwait from the cocoon of illusions and misgivings to move on the same path with the rest of the GCC countries.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times