Qatar suspends new visa plan

Qatar has suspended plans to make visitors from many countries obtain visas before they travel, Qatari media and an airline industry source told Reuters.

Qatar suspends new visa plan

Qatar, which sees itself as a diplomatic and cultural hub in the Gulf Arab region, has suspended plans to make visitors from many countries obtain visas before they travel, Qatari media and an airline industry source told Reuters.

The plan would have required citizens of 33 countries, including the United Kingdom, United States and several Asian nations, to obtain tourist and business visas before travelling to Qatar. Those citizens can now get visas on arrival.

The new rules had been due to go into effect on May 1, the airline industry source close to the matter told Reuters.

Though the government gave no reason for the initial plan to scrap the visa-on-arrival facility, analysts say it appeared motivated by a desire for quid-pro-quo treatment for Qatari citizens abroad.

"The idea behind it seemed to be reciprocity: The countries exempt would have been those that allow Qataris to enter without a visa..." said Gary Wasserman, a government professor at Georgetown University in Qatar.

Qatar, which hosts Arab news network Al Jazeera that has often riled Doha's Arab neighbours and Western allies alike, has not hesitated to break political ranks or assert its diplomatic independence when necessary.

That boldness has contributed to its success as a regional mediator -- Qatar has developed an ability to engage almost everyone from the United States to Hezbollah, and even its old Gulf rival Saudi Arabia.

In January, however, the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, blamed on Israel, in which suspects appear to have entered the emirate on fraudulent European passports, raised hackles throughout, and beyond, the region.


Agencies

Last Mod: 20 Nisan 2010, 16:08
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