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- Qatar announced on Wednesday that it will allow visa-free entry into Qatar for citizens of 80 countries, effective immediately.
- Citizens of 33 of the 80 countries, mostly European, “do not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar.” The waiver is valid for 180 days.
- Citizens of the other 47 countries, including the US, “do not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar,” and the waiver is valid for 30 days.
- Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates) and Turkey are already allowed to enter Qatar without a visa.
- Qatar Tourism Authority’s chief tourism development officer said in a statement:
“With 80 countries eligible for a visa waiver, Qatar is now the most open country in the region and we are delighted to invite visitors to discover our renowned hospitality, cultural heritage and natural treasures.”
- In early June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the Maldives accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood — a religious and political group that opposes secularism. The Saudi-led bloc barred Qatar Airways from entering the airspace of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE.
- Qatar asked the the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to assess the flight restrictions imposed by the Saudi-led boycott in June, Reuters reported.
- In July, Qatar formed the Compensation Claims Committee to pursue compensation for damages due to the Saudi-led blockade, according to Qatar’s state-funded news network Al Jazeera.
- On 8 August, Al Jazeera reported that the UAE and Bahrain agreed to open some existing air routes to Qatar Airways, and also agreed to develop new ones.
- The spokesman for the ICAO, Anthony Philbin, told AFP news agency that “some existing air route availability has been assured [to Qatar], and some new temporary or contingency routes have also been developed.”
- However, on 9 August, the Associated Press reported that the UAE and Bahrain responded to the opening of air routes to Qatar Airways via their state-run news agencies. They said they had not agreed to the plan and only planned to allow Qatari aircraft to use their airspace above international waters.
Jinghong Chen contributed to this report.