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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Qatar Immigration: Turned Away at the Gates

British residents who have previously worked in Qatar are being turned away from the formerly hospitable country.

I first heard about this when a friend of a friend arrived at Doha airport. He had worked here before, and had visited his friends in the country on two occasions.

After queueing at immigration he was ordered to sit to the side. After a two hour wait, he was told he would be refused entrance as two years had not passed since his resident permit had expired.

It turned out that a little known law had just been introduced, and even his airline, Qatar Airways, had not known about this law. Typically enough, the law was introduced just before Eid.

Although details of the law are still not clear, according to the Peninsula former residents who have worked in Qatar may not be allowed into the country until two years after their work permit has expired. We have been told that residents who have a letter of no-objection from their employer will probably be able to enter the country.

The law is applicable to all residents, although those nationalities who get a tourist visa on arrival are those who will be most affected. It is not clear if the law is being applied to everyone, and some people may still be getting through without a problem.

The law itself represents a dramatic change in policy. Previously, former residents could not return to work within two years without the approval of their former employees.

This disturbing change in policy could affect Qatar's developing tourist industry, as many so called tourists are in fact Westerners coming to visit friends and familes. These 'tourists' include a sizable 40,000 Brits.

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