Qatar recently granted visa waivers to eighty (80) nations around the world in what could be viewed as a move to ward off the impact of severe restrictions from its diplomatic standoff with four Middle East nations; Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.
The announcement, which was jointly made by Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways, takes immediate effect.
Of the 80 nations announced however, citizens of 33 of them, majorly from Europe, can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and entitles its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips.
The other 46 nations, drawn from the rest of the world, will have their visas valid for 30 days from the date of issuance and entitles its holder to spend up to 30 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips. This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.
It is worthy of note however that only two nations from the whole of Africa made it on the list. These are Seychelles qualifying for the first category of 180 days; and South Africa eligible for the second category of 30days.
Citizens of the listed countries wishing to visit Qatar no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Today’s announcement places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region. This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in region, which is something that we are very proud of.
These developments come as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. Last month, Qatar launched an e-visa platform, www.qatarvisaservice.com, through which travellers of all nationalities can apply for tourist and visitor visas with more efficiency and ease.
The country is also considering further enhancements to its visa policy, such as waiving visa requirements for holders of a residence permit or a valid visa from the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the Schengen countries. This waiver would allow eligible visitors to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization by completing a simple online application at least 48 hours prior to travel.