The passports of seven Arab or Muslim states are among the 10 worst in the world in terms of free access to other countries, according to a recently published Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Eritrea, Nepal, Sudan, Sri lanka and Lebanon, remain in the bottom 10 places of the ranking. This means that the 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 respectivley.
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 United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain are ranked 56, 57 and 59 respectively in the freedom of travel index.
Saudi Arabia, Oman, Tunisia are ranked 64, 65, and 65 respectively. Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt are ranked 75, 79, and 79 respectively.
News about the Arab passports ranking spawned 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 non-nationals who wish to enter their territory.”
“Visa requirements are also an expression of the relationships between individual nations, and generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community of nations,” the statement added.
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.