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Qatar mandates visa before arrival 1, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The Qatari Ministry of Interior is changing its rules regarding visitors’ visas. Previously, citizens from richer Western nations could obtain a visa on arrival at Doha airport. Now, however, it appears that Qatari officials are forcing many more nationalities to get visas at Embassies in their home countries. I only say that ‘it appears’ that Qatar are changing their visa requirements as Qatari authorities are making a spectacular mess of informing people.

The Gulf Times article is written (as usual) in spectacularly unclear and poor English, though they do state that things will change on May 1st. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that nothing has changed and the Ministry of Interior’s website is broken and they’re (as usual) not answering their phones.

This is a poorly thought-out decision by Qatar.

Firstly it will hit Qatar’s nascent tourist industry. The extra hassle of obtaining a visa from one’s host country may well be all that is needed to put anyone off holidaying in Qatar or taking a long stop-over here. After all, ‘touristically speaking’ Qatar is hardly a draw in the first place.

Secondly, Qatar has invested heavily recently in promoting itself world-wide as a conference and expo mecca. They host hundreds of conferences pers year including the world stamp collectors annual something-or-other last week. I expect that this will impact on their attractiveness in this field.

Thirdly, considering Abu Dhabi next door is competing with Qatar in many if not all these areas, this, once again, makes Qatar just that little less attractive in the face of clear opposition.

Fourthly, this extra hassle will not at all be appreciated by businesses who want to deal with Qatar. Considering that dealing with Gulf States is already a pickle of personalised relationships, opaque management structures and frequent cultural misunderstandings, Qatar really ought not create extra barriers.

Fifthly, Qatar wants to be a center for sport in the region. Yet, they do not at all, in any way shape or form, have the regimented bureaucratic and efficient manner that China, for example, had when they went about issuing visas of the Olympics. I wouldn’t be that surprised if Qatar’s Embassies around the world hadn’t been told of this latest development. And I’d put money on the fact that they really have no idea and have made no preparations whatsoever for the staggering extra work-load that they will be under come the 1st May. Expect complaints. Lots of them.

Hat tip: Abstract JK