Join Noora Lori to understand how mobility diplomacy and EU influence impact passport rankings globally. Learn from the UAE’s success
Passport rankings show that access to visa-free travel is highly stratified globally. How do developing states change their positions in these rankings? This talk will introduce the concept of mobility diplomacy and argue that neither wealth nor political stability are sufficient conditions for unlocking visa-free travel. To be successful, developing states must persuade highly developed countries—especially the European Union—that their citizens will not become migrants. The paper examines the most successful case of mobility diplomacy—the United Arab Emirates—which became the world’s most powerful passport in 2018. In 2006, UAE citizens could visit only 35 countries without a visa, in a decade this number increased fivefold. This case-based evidence will be supported by a quantitative assessment of alternative explanations, and mini-case studies that confirm the EU’s key role in changing passport rankings. The discussion will address the important role that visas and passports play in international negotiations.