With more Egyptians hoping to travel abroad, be it for a honeymoon, study, work, or tourism, Egyptians will be disheartened to know that the country ranks 94th place out of 112 countries on Henley and Partners’ (H&P) 2022 passport global ranking – sharing the position with Algeria, Jordan, Guinea-Bissau, Turkmenistan, and the Central African Republic.
H&P, a world-renowned consultancy firm in residence and citizenship by investment, bases its index on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA), in-house research, and open-source online data. It is the longest-standing passport power ranking, updating on a quarterly basis, featuring Egypt on its list as far back as 2008.
“The total score for each passport is equal to the number of destinations for which no visa is required,” reads the consultancy’s methodology.
Despite ranking at 78th place in 2008, 16 places above its current standing, Egypt’s visa-free score is at its highest ever.
A decade ago in 2012, the country’s visa-free score was 44, compared to 53 a today.
Egypt’s lowest ever ranking came during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing the country to stumble to 97th place in 2021.
Some of the visa-free countries Egyptians can explore are Albania in Europe, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Maldives in Asia, Samoa in Oceania, Jordan and Iran in the Middle East, Bolivia and Ecuador in South America, and Tanzania and Madagascar in Africa.
THE QUESTION OF PASSPORT PRIVILEGE
The nationality of a passport dictates one’s ability to freely and easily travel to several countries. In the context of visa-free access, a Ukrainian passport, for instance, holds far more value than a Lebanese passport, thus indirectly reflecting a country’s global status.
The question of ‘passport privilege’ has been a controversial conversation in recent political discourse, as recent as United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ statement in 2021 that COVID-19-related travel bans on third world countries are “deeply unfair, punitive, and ineffective.”
“We have the instruments to have safe travel. Let’s use those instruments to avoid this kind of, allow me to say, travel apartheid, which I think is unacceptable,” Guterres expressed.
Currently, Egypt finds itself below conflict-affected Mozambique, Ukraine, and Chad, and a few numbers above of Ethiopia, Iran, and Lebanon – states suffering from political instability and civil unrest.
Following the 2013 mass protests, Egypt experienced a period of stability, and a struggling-yet-surviving economy.
Still, the country’s visa-free opportunities for citizens looking to travel abroad remain relatively low.
In comparison, certain countries suffering from similar economic and political instability continue to enjoy visa-free access to far more countries.
Nevertheless, Egypt continues to work on improving its travel access and supporting the diaspora network. The country’s Ministry of Emigration launched an insurance coverage program for citizens abroad in December 2021. In March 2022, the Ministry also assisted Egyptian migrants in Ukraine to safely evacuate the war-torn country.
Egypt witnessed a 21 percent increase in Schengen visa applications from the years 2014 to 2019, according to Schengen Visa Info. In 2019, specifically, that number stood at 203 thousand applications. Coming off the COVID-19 lockdown, that number has since decreased to 59 thousand applications in 2021.
Yet, as proven through the years prior to COVID-19, the number of applications will only continue to rise once more – while visa access for many Egyptians remains restrictive.
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