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Eid holiday plans: Oman residents can explore GCC as visa rules ease

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Muscat: With the holy month of Ramadhan now at its halfway mark, the focus shifts to making preparations for the upcoming Eid holidays. With the specific dates for holidays yet to be announced, citizens and residents will be vying to travel to destinations that are affordable and easy to manage at a short notice.

While there are few options within the four-hour range like Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkiye and Sri Lanka, travelling to a GCC country from the Sultanate of Oman can be also a viable option for both citizens and residents.

Travelling within the GCC has always been visa-free for citizens and now the process has been simplified for expatriates with valid residency. With travel and sites offering hotel rooms of choice, planning a trip to neighbouring countries is just a matter of mouse clicks and few seconds.

Anwar Suhail, an Indian expatriate in the Sultanate of Oman for 15 years, said, “I always wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia and some other GCC countries like Kuwait and Qatar, but held back my decision due to visa rules. It is now an opportunity that I would not like to miss.”

Saudi Arabia, a diverse country with a vast coastline, holy pilgrimage cities of Makkah and Madinah, and naturally blessed places such as Hail and Tabuk, now allows GCC expatriates to apply for an e-visa irrespective of their professions, provided their residency has a minimum validity of three months. The passport must be valid for a minimum of six months and the age of the applicant must be 18 years and above if travelling without parents.

"I suggest all expatriates and citizens not to ignore GCC as a tourist destination, which is one of the safest places to travel in the world," said a Saudi citizen based in the Sultanate.

The same rules apply while travelling to the United Arab Emirates as GCC residents can apply for e-visa while some nationalities get visas on arrival. With well-connected road connectivity between Oman and the UAE, the country offers the cheapest option for residents and citizens of Oman.

UAE also allows entry permits for residents of neighbouring border areas at land checkpoints. The permit holder is allowed to enter the country through the official ports for a period of 90 days from the date of the first entry.

It allows the holder to enter and exit on a daily basis and stay in the country for a period not exceeding 48 hours and is limited to the higher professions. The traveller must have a passport, the original residence card and a personal photo.

The fees are non-refundable and include AED 200 (approx RO 20) for the request, AED 300 (RO 30) for issuance, and AED 50 (approx RO 5) as an e-service fee.

And for those who want to explore Bahrain, it offers skilled GCC residents visas on arrival and a stay in the country for up to two weeks. Oman's residency permit must be valid for at least three months and the passport valid for six months.

Kuwait is also an option as it offers e-visa or tourist visas for GCC residents if the residency permit and passport are valid for six months. Residents must provide details of hotel bookings along with a return ticket.

As for Qatar, it offers a visa on arrival for a one-month stay for GCC residents, but the residency validity must be a minimum of six months.

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