The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plans to launch a unified visa for tourists visiting the region by mid-2014, aimed at simplifying travel formalities for visitors.

“The plan to have a GCC tourism visa, similar to the Schengen visa in Europe, is about to be implemented after obstacles have been cleared,” media reports quoted security sources as saying.

With the help of a new visa, Arab and foreign tourists could visit all GCC member countries which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A single-entry visa should be valid for one month while multiple-entry visas could be issued for one year, reports said, adding that the conditions for obtaining the GCC visa include presenting evidence of sufficient financial resources.

“There are some technical issues that are being addressed now and the GCC visa could be issued in mid-2014,” reports said.

Foreigners who are not allowed to enter a GCC country for legal reasons and those who had been deported will not be issued the unified visa.

However, sources said that the unified GCC visa would not cancel the existing system of a single GCC country visa.

“The GCC visa is expected to reinvigorate tourism, business, shopping travel and economic activities in the member countries,” they said.

Gulf nationals can travel to any of the GCC countries without visas and upon presenting an identity card while most foreigners need to apply for visas ahead of their travel.

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