OPENING THE GATES

Qatar is introducing a visa-waiver programme for citizens of 80 countries.

The announcement was made on August 9 by Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar Airways today announced that Qatar will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries .

Announcing the move, Hassan Al Ibrahim Chief Tourism Development Officer, QTA stated, “The circumstances the country is passing through have acted as a catalyst, giving us the impetus to accelerate the process of opening Qatar up to the world, a process we understand is indispensable to the sustainable development of our State.”

Depending on the nationality of the visitor, the date of issue and entitle the visitor to spend up to 30 days in Qatar with the possibility of applying for an extension of the waiver for an additional 30 days (multiple- entry waiver).

Nationals of the following 33 countries will not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar. The waiver will be valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips.

1.     Austria

2.    Bahamas

3.    Belgium

4.    Bulgaria

5.     Croatia

6.    Cyprus

7.     Czech Republic

8.    Denmark

9.    Estonia

10.  Finland

11.   France

12.  Germany

13.  Greece

14.  Hungary

15.  Iceland

16.  Italy

17.  Latvia

18.  Liechtenstein

19.  Lithuania

20. Luxembourg

21.  Malta

22. Netherlands

23. Norway

24. Poland

25. Portugal

26. Romania

27.    Seychelles

28.   Slovakia

29.   Slovenia

30.   Spain

31.    Sweden

32.   Switzerland

33.   Turkey

Nationals of the following 47 countries will not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar. The waiver will be valid for 30 days from the date of issuance and entitle 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.

1.     Andorra

2.    Argentina

3.    Australia

4.    Belarus

5.     Bolivia

6.    Brazil

7.     Brunei

8.    Canada

9.    Chile

10.  China

11.   Colombia

12.  Ecuador

13.  Panama

14.  Costa Rica

15.  Georgia

16.  Guyana

17.  Hong Kong

18.  India

19.  Indonesia

20. Ireland

21.  Japan

22. Kazakhstan

23. Lebanon 

24. Azerbaijan  

25. Macedonia

26. Malaysia

27. Maldives

28. Mexico

29. Moldova

30. Monaco

31.  New Zealand

32. Paraguay

33. Peru

34. Russia

35. San Marino

36. Singapore

37. South Africa

38. South Korea

39. Suriname

40. Cuba

41.  Thailand

42. Ukraine

43. United Kingdom

44. United States

45. Uruguay

46. Vatican City

47. Venezuela   

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 Authorisation by completing a simple online application at least 48 hours prior to travel.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Mr Akbar Al Baker

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Mr Akbar Al Baker

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency 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.

“Qatar Airways is the patriotic flag carrier for the State of Qatar and as such we are extremely honoured to bring millions of people each year to our beautiful, welcoming and historic country. This important initiative from the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Tourism Authority will provide an opportunity to welcome even more visitors, from even more countries, to experience the many exciting attractions that await them.”

According to Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at QTA, visa facilitation is a critical component of the national tourism sector strategy, which QTA is currently reviewing in partnership with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. With renewed focus by the country’s leadership on diversifying the national economy, a revised strategy which empowers various players to boost the growth of tourism is set to be launched on 27 September 2017, when Qatar hosts the official celebrations of World Tourism Day.

“Easing entry to Qatar is a key enabler for the growth of Qatar’s tourism industry. With this announcement we are already turning the pages of the Next Chapter of Qatar’s journey towards 2030,” commented Al Ibrahim. “Together with our partners in the public and private sectors, we have examined all of the elements needed to create a smooth and enticing experience that can attract visitors from around the world. There is no doubt that facilitating and streamlining access at all ports of entry are key factors in creating a positive first and lasting impression of Qatar.”

Al Ibrahim added, “With 80 countries eligible for a visa waiver, Qatar is now the most open country in the region and we are delighted to invite visitors to discover our renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.”

Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq, Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs at MoI, commented, “We are very pleased to announce that nationals of 80 countries are now eligible for a visa waiver and can enter Qatar without requiring any prior visa arrangements. Together with our partners at QTA and Qatar Airways, we have been working to enhance our country’s visa policies and implement solutions to better facilitate travel to Qatar. Further enhancements are being studied and we look forward to announcing them in due course.”

In November 2016, Qatar introduced a free transit visa, which allows passengers of all nationalities transiting in Qatar for a minimum of five hours to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days). In May 2017, QTA launched +Qatar, an initiative to promote the country as a stopover destination, with the national carrier, Qatar Airways. These measures, along with intensified international marketing, have resulted in a 39% increase in the number of stopover visitors during the first six months of 2017, compared with the same period last year.


PHOTO – TOP OF PAGE – Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker