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MENAFN - The Peninsula - 12/04/2010

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(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatar plans to do away with the visa-on-arrival facility for expatriates resident in other GCC countries from May 1.

Expatriates holding valid residency permit of other GCC states would instead need to apply for an entry visa for Qatar in advance. 'Arabian Business' website reported yesterday that entry visa rules which have been in place for expatriates resident in other GCC states were being revised by Qatar.

The website quoted a Qatari diplomat at the country's consulate in Dubai as saying that the processing of visa applications would take two to three days.

Qatar, like many of its neighbours in the GCC, introduced visa-on-arrival system for expatriates resident in other GCC countries several years ago.

Visitors were required to provide details of contacts in Qatar and where they would be staying and were issued an entry visa upon arrival at the Doha International Airport.

A visa-on-arrival normally attracted a fee of QR105 for 14 days. The visa was renewable for another 14 days. The 'Arabian Business' website, however, said the fee for processing visa applications under the new regime was not known.

The diplomat said he was not even aware if any particular profession or professions were to be exempted from the new regulations.

Only recently Qatar announced it was revising from May 1 the visa-on-arrival system for the citizens of 33 'affluent' countries.

British and American citizens will be among the nationals of these 33 countries who will have to apply for a visa prior to arrival in Qatar from May 1.

The 'Arabian Business' website said the new regulations mean that all passengers wishing to travel to Qatar for business purposes will need to have their visas arranged by a local sponsor, via the Ministry of Interior.

"Qatar's Interior Ministry had no comment to offer when approached by Arabian Business yesterday. It is still unclear as to why the changes are being introduced," the website report said.

There has been, though, no official confirmation so far from Qatar about the changes being made to visa-on-arrival regulations.

It is, however, learnt by this newspaper that Qatar plans to issue visas on arrival to citizens of only those countries who provide similar facility to its nationals.

The 'Arabian Business' website, meanwhile, said fears that other GCC states, including the UAE, might follow Qatar's lead appear to be unfounded.


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