The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an economic and political alliance, consisting of six Middle Eastern countries, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. The GCC charter was established in Riyadh in May 1981. The aim of the council is to promote unity among these Middle Eastern nations, based on their common objectives and similar political and cultural identities, based upon Islamic and Arabic cultures.
The Supreme Council is the highest decision making entity, consisting of the heads of the GCC states. A defence planning council promotes military cooperation between the nations. The policy decisions of the Supreme Council are implemented by the Ministerial Council, consisting of foreign ministers and government officials. The office of the Secretariat General is the administrative arm of the alliance, which arranges meetings and monitors policy implementation.
GCC agreements mainly focus on economic and military coordination between the countries. The region consists of some of the fastest growing economies in the world, due to their vast reserves of oil and natural gas, combined with wide focus on investments and trade with other countries. In 2001, the GCC Supreme Council set three goals:
- Formation of a common market
- Formation of a common customs union
- Formation of a common currency.
If realised, the Gulf Cooperation Council monetary union would be the second largest supranational monetary union in the world, in terms of GDP.
Strategic Diplomatic and Cultural Ties between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the UK
Britain has a 200-year history of diplomatic and military cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The UK has signed several treaties with the sheikhs and current leaders of the GCC nations, including the 1798 treaty with Oman, 1915 British-Saudi Treaty and 1916 Anglo-Qatari treaty, among several others.
In 2016, the UK's trade volume with the GCC countries stood at $44.5 billion. The UAE is the largest trade partner of the UK in the region. Trade between the two nations amounted to £17.5 billion in 2017. In 2018, the UK signed a £65 billion deal with Saudi Arabia, regarding trade and investment. Apart from bilateral trade, the UK also has strategic cultural and scientific ties with the GCC nations. Many students from the Gulf region study in UK universities and research programs.
The six countries of the council have established diplomatic missions in London, which facilitate travel between the UK and the Gulf countries, as well as organise festivals, conferences, seminars and meetings, promoting Middle Eastern arts and culture in Great Britain.
Travel from the UK to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries
To travel from the UK to any of the countries in the GCC region, citizens need a visa issued by the respective embassies situated in London. These embassies include:
- The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London
- The Bahrain Embassy in London
- The Embassy of Oman in London
- The Kuwait Embassy in London
- The Embassy of United Arab Emirates in London
- The Embassy of State of Qatar in London
Applicants need to have a passport valid for 6 months from arrival into the countries. The common types of visas issued to UK citizens are:
- Tourism e-Visa
- Employment Visa
- Saudi Business Visa
- Saudi Work Visa
- Family Visit Visa
- Diplomatic Visa
- Student Visa
Visa policies are similar across the GCC nations to a large extent. The rules differ according to the type of visa, in terms of rules of entry and stay period. Some are offered for single-entry purposes and some for multiple entries. Visa stay periods depend on the letters of invitation issued by the respective country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), given to the sponsor. These letters are sent to their respective diplomatic missions in London, which grants a visa to the applicant accordingly. The visa validity can be anywhere between 30 to 180 days.
UK passport holders can enter some countries for longer durations of stay, or even enter the country on a “visa on arrival” premise. For instance, the Bahrain Visit e-Visa is a multiple entry visa that offers a stay of up to 3 months in the country, only for UK and Irish citizens. For other nationalities, the Bahrain e-Visa allows stay only of up to 1 month.
Apart from that, citizens of GCC countries (except Qatar) have visa exemptions to travel to other GCC countries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia allows travellers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and UAE to travel into the Kingdom without a visa, with only their national ID cards. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates allows citizens of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain to enter its borders without a visa.
Documents issued by UK-based authorities and companies will need to be attested, legalised or certified by the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), and the respective Embassies, to be used in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. These may include business documents, investment and trade agreements or educational certificates.
Contact Saudi Able Link for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Visas
Our visa agents are well versed in the visa policies of all GCC countries. We have extensive contacts with the officials in the respective Embassies in London, to not only help with visa processing but also in document legalisation and attestation procedures, which might be needed by the Embassy to grant a visa. To fulfil these requirements, we have also fostered long-lasting relationships with government officials in various UK government bodies, such as the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC).
Applicants can trust us to handle their documents carefully and submit them to the respective Embassies for further processing. Our consultants are qualified to answer all your queries and keep you updated through the entire process. Retrieval of passport with the visa stamp is our responsibility as well. After collection, we will dispatch the passport to you through courier, at the earliest.
Contact us at 02070961985 or send us an email at email@example.com if you have any questions.