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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Visa Change

IMPORTANT: This information has changed - please see our more recent Visa Update.

If you are planning to visit Qatar after 1st May please be aware that the current visa policy may be changing.

According to the Gulf Times at least some nationalities who used to be granted visa on arrival will now have to apply for a visa prior to arrival. These nationalities include France, America and the UK, which has a warning on its website.

I'm assuming that the report, which appeared in the Gulf Times and not the Peninsula on the 1st April, is not an April Fool's joke!

The sudden change in policy is likely to catch out thousands of visitors, many of whom come to Qatar to visit relatives.

If you are not sure whether the changes will apply to you, telephone your airline or travel agent to make sure.

Is Qatar ready?

This seems very short notice, and it is possible that Qatar will change its mind.

If not, hopefully the country is setting up the systems and personnel needed to deal with a massive increase in visa applications.

My own father telephoned the Qatar embassy in Britain (formerly very helpful) 14 times last year in an attempt to get an extended visa to Qatar. On the one occasion the phone was answered the person answering was neither polite nor helpful.

I also notice that there is yet to be any mention of the policy on the Qatar embassy page in America!


It also seems a shame to take a move which will obviously seriously hamper tourism after the government has put so much effort into developing it.

Obviously the country doesn't need the money tourism generates, but it seems to want tourism nevertheless.

The city has built a brilliant souk and an arts museum which many visitors will enjoy, while the number of hotels in the country has exploded. It also holds numerous sporting events which attracts visitors from all over the world. But applying for a visa, especially if combined with unresponsive embassies, will soon put a dent in visitor numbers.

Read more: Gulf Times | Global Voices | Qatar Living

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