Since this October, Bahrain became one of the few Gulf countries to offer an extremely flexible visa scheme to visitors. This new visa policy is expected to boost the tourism sector and attract more investment to the local economy.

The new visa policy, originally scheduled to start in January 2015, aims to ease the travel process for expatriates traveling to and from Bahrain by allowing nationals from almost 100 countries to obtain an on-line visa either ahead of travel or on arrival.

The reformed policy also allows visitors to extend their month visa for up to three months, according to the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), the public agency in charge of attracting investments to the country.

The new visa policy is part of Bahrain’s attempts to recover from the aftermath of Arab Spring protests in 2011 while the flexible entry requirements are expected to make the country more business friendly and help it reduce the impact of political disturbances that have ravaged its economy. The new visa rules should also impact the country’s tourism sector.

The new policy coincides with an improvement in business activity: the Kingdom experienced economic year-on-year growth of 5.6 per cent in Q2 2014. Meanwhile, total GDP growth for this year is expected to reach about 3.7 per cent.