Why do most of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (ultra-rich) have lower Passport power as compared to Russian Federation (antagonistic to the West)?

What factors drive the higher power of passports? I.e What factors drive the power of passports?

Note: higher the power of passport, higher the number of countries they can travel without a visa.

  • You might explain GCC
    – mikado
    Oct 27, 2018 at 7:02
  • Btw: your dichotomy is problematic. Russia and the West, while very much competing on a global level, are much more similar culturally than the West and the Gulf Emirates, and have a much longer history together. I'm not seeing the "strong relationship" you describe, it looks more like a commercial and realpolitik alliance.
    – janh
    Oct 27, 2018 at 10:06
  • @janh, it looks more like a commercial and realpolitik alliance. - isn't that enough to term as strong? and have a much longer history together - yeah, who can argue that! Like when Germans bashed USSR and vice versa, Vietnam, Korean War, Finland invasion, Cuban missile crisis, Russians getti f...ed in Afghanistan with the aid of the USA, present day Syria and so on... They have a long history of f...ing the hell out of each other.
    – user23270
    Oct 27, 2018 at 10:34
  • @anonymous The relationship between the West and the Gulf states hinges on a) Israel-Arab conflict, b) Oil-consumption. Change either or both substantially, or and there's no need for the West to appeal to Gulf states, and it's gone in an instant - strong isn't the word I'd use for that - it's there as long as both kinda profit, it's unrealiable and problematic in PR (at least for the West). The history of Russia and Europe I was talking about wasn't 1940 and onwards, but the centuries before that ;)
    – janh
    Oct 28, 2018 at 5:52
  • @janh, The relationship between the West and the Gulf states hinges on a) Israel-Arab conflict, b) Oil-consumption. --- and what about defense product sell and infrastructure construction? Western defense industry literally survives on selling arms to GCC.
    – user23270
    Oct 28, 2018 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


I think there are three main reasons to agree to visa-free travel or visa-on-arrival, and two of them are not quite rational.

  • Perceived probability of overstay or other abuses.
  • Reciprocal agreements.
  • Historical inertia.

Also, just comparing numbers is quite pointless. What do I care if, say, Congo would let me in visa-free if I haven't been there and don't plan to go there. What matters are interesting business or holiday destinations. And technically I don't need a visa to visit the US, just an ESTA -- but nobody could explain to me how that is different from an e-Visa ...

Regarding the Gulf states compared to Russia, note that the Schengen area suspended talks about visa-free travel with Russia in 2014.

  • There are other factors in determining visa exemptions, such as the economic importance of tourism in the destination country and the political relationship between the destination country and the country of citizenship.
    – phoog
    Oct 27, 2018 at 17:57

I would assume that the following reasons contribute to explaining why most GCC countries did not pursue reciprocal visa agreements with other countries in the past:

  • They don't need to maximize the additional income from tourism or even business, since they happily live off oil (until recently at least).
  • They probably want to avoid scrutiny and influence from the outside world, especially from the western world, in order to maintain cultural and religious homogeneity in the population... and prevent liberal and democratic ideas to spread as well.
  • Most people from the GCC countries who travel are rich enough to make the cost of any visa negligible.

Incidentally, Mohammad Bin Salman is trying to make Saudi Arabia more open to tourism and business, but his international PR campaign seems to have taken a hit recently.

You must log in to answer this question.