Single Gulf Passport and other thoughts

GCC interior ministers have recommended that a single passport be adopted at the next summit, secretary-general Abdulrahman Al Attiyah said.

The ministers “have recommended that the next summit, scheduled for December in Kuwait, adopts a single passport” for citizens of the GCC states, he said.

Source: Bahrain Economic Development Board

Oh no.. that means that Bahrainis will have trouble getting into Europe, the Far East and the States should that happen! But hang on, more important than that, does that mean they’re actually doing something useful for a change? They’ve been talking about monetary union since the 70’s and we’re still waiting..

Why the hell bother? What would this single passport and monetary union bring us? We hardly have any inter-gulf trade in any case, and if we are so bold as to even try we get a good lesson on speedy processes… a snail is an F1 super-car in comparison.

As far as I am concerned, the ONLY thing that the GCC brought it in all of its history is that Gulf Nationals (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman) is having a separate queue at Gulf airports and we don’t need visas to visit each of the GCC countries. But the feeling you get as you cross borders, especially Saudi, Gulf nationals feel like criminals daring to go into/out of Saudi. Our leaders should take lessons from Europe and especially the Benelux countries to see what is really possible. But that’s another subject… let’s get back to the unified passport business.

Saudis at the moment are barred from going to Thailand for instance, and their government might have a very good reason for this, but as the biggest and richest country in this union, does that mean that when we do get a unified passport, we will be barred from visiting certain countries, because one of the member states has issues with it? Wouldn’t it be better just to keep our passports as is and concentrate on doing a EU-like region where every country keeps its sovereignty and identity?

What’s the big deal about having a single passport anyway? Wouldn’t easing the procedures at the various crossing points be sufficient? A European now just has to show his/her passport at the control point and away they go! No stamping, no double checking, no stupid little slips to give to a police officer at the airport before being allowed in the baggage reclaim area… nothing. So having a single passport will do away with these totalitarian procedures?

Not a chance! We LIVE for red-tape.

Governments in the Gulf should get their priorities right. For instance: joining the WTO will benefit every other country we deal with except ours, doesn’t that merit discussion? Free Trade Pacts with the USA as evidenced in both Canada and Mexico benefits the USA more than their so called partners, doesn’t that warrant caution?

Ok, I’m a simpleton. Explain to me this: how is the unified passport, monetary union, and the customs union going to benefit us as citizens of the Gulf?

  • Customs Union doesn’t work. I’ve experienced this first hand.
  • Montetary Union doesn’t have a hope of succeeding if even the Eastern Province vendors in Saudi (which is 30 minutes away from Bahrain by car across the causeway) refuse to accept the Bahraini Dinars although it is as near as humanly possible to the Saudi Riyal (10 Saudi Riyals = 1.0055 Bahraini Dinars and they count it as equal to SR9 if you’re lucky)?
  • Unified passports? TBD
  • So we don’t have inter-gulf trade to talk about… how about foreign direct investments (FDI) coming into our countries? Of the USD823.82bn in FDI generated worldwide, the vast West Asia and North Africa stretch of 21 countries accounted for a meager 1.29 per cent with just USD10.68bn. Pathetic.

    Personal experience coming up: I have a friend who’s been in Bahrain for about 8 or 9 years. Owns a factory employing some 50 or more Bahrainis, invested in his factory (hence directly in Bahrain) more than a million Bahraini Dinars in capital and multiples of that in turn-over the majority of which has been re-invested in the factory and staff. The kind of problems he’s continuously experiencing from the various government departments surpass Steven King’s horror stories by far! He’s a Jordanian/Palestinian and as he is an investor in the country he applied for a Bahraini passport. He’s eligible for it, but did he get it? No bloody chance! Yet, an Egyptian waiter who’s been on the island for a few months did! Huh? Yeah it’s true and I’m not making this up.

    So what would an Egyptian waiter bring to the island in capital, development and jobs? How about the thousands of Yemeni, Indian, Jordanian, Syrian, Pakistani, Sudanese and goodness knows how many other illiterate nationalities who’s been brought to the island to join the police or defence forces and given along with their underwear and toothbrushes (accompanied with demonstrations of use) Bahraini passports? What do they contribute?

    Shouldn’t the government encourage entrepreneurs who directly bring money, knowledge and jobs to the island? Shouldn’t we concentrate on these issues before discussing hair-brained ideas like unified passports and monetary unions which will not benefit anyone?

    Time to go home… maybe after eating something I’ll find the answers!

    • anonymous
      21 November 2003

      Re:Single Gulf Passport and other thoughts

      Indians illiterate nationality? Ugh.. The only thing you guys have is oil, it would take hundred years before Arab states even match the technical institutes, space research, IT knowledge,medical expertise & technical skills of Indians. Its the blood & sweat and sincere hardwork of these south asians that built the empty sand dunes of the Gulf to high rise buildings, trade zones, super planned cities etc etc Man there is your average arab racist attitude & gratitude..

    • mahmood
      22 November 2003

      Re(1):Single Gulf Passport and other thoughts

      I can see how my post could be mis-read. It wasn’t meant to generalise and for that I am sorry. I have the highest respect for India and Indians, as I have for all the countries of the world.

      The intention with this post was to demonstrate the higgledy-piggeldy way that they have naturalised various people with the absolute minimum qualifications and knowledge just because it wants to bolster its security – by non-nationals.

    • anonymous
      27 February 2005

      Single Gulf Passport and other thoughts

      HILARIOUSSSSSSSSSSS!!! i was researching the unification of the gcc currency and got a lot of bullshit..i must say ur article is extremely funny…i was on the floor was such a nice way to end my long and useless search…if all else fails u must consider stand up comedy..its so refreshing to find some truth in this region..all we get is the polished fake deal from one person or the other trying to suck-up and kiss ass….u tell them!!

    A’ali Potteries