Published — Thursday 3 October 2013
Last update 8 November 2013 4:28 am
LONDON: The passports of seven Arab or Muslim countries are among the 10 worst in the world in terms of free access to other countries, according to a recent Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Eritrea, Nepal, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Lebanon, take the bottom 10 places of the ranking.
Citizens of these countries enjoy the least freedom of international travel, according to the index.
The passports of Syria and Libya are ranked as the 12th and the 14th worst in the world respectively, according to Al Arabiya website. Some Arab Gulf states enjoy the best freedom of travel among Arab countries, but on a global scale, their freedom still appears very restricted.
The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain are ranked 56, 57 and 59 respectively in the freedom of travel index.
Oman and Tunisia are ranked 65 respectively. Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt are ranked 75, 79, and 79 respectively.
News about the Arab passports ranking generated a mixture of jokes and complaints among Arabs on Twitter.
“Today I heard the Palestinian passport is the 5th worst to have in the entire world. I was shocked! We have passports?!?” Twitter user @AmerZahr said in a comment.
Abdi Aynte @Aynte, from Somalia, tweeted: “Finally a list that #Somalia doesn’t top: its passport is 3rd worst worldwide.”
Many Lebanese users tweeted that their passport was ranked among the 10 worst. @patrickgaley, who identifies himself as a journalist, said the Lebanese passport is also “among the heaviest.”
Henley & Partners said in a statement on its website that “almost all countries now require visas from certain nonnationals who wish to enter their territory.”
Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom topped the 2013 freedom of travel index with a score of 173.
Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the United States jointly held the second rank with free access to 172 countries.
Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands hold a joint third rank (171) and Canada rose to rank number 4, from rank 6 it occupied last year, of the passports with the most freedom.