Qatar relaxes visa policy for Pakistan amid Gulf boycott

07:33 PM | 30 Aug, 2017
Qatar relaxes visa policy for Pakistan amid Gulf boycott
DOHA/ISLAMABAD - Relaxing the policies for brother Muslim nation, Qatar has introduced visa on arrival for Pakistani nationals to attract more tourists and business people to the tiny emirate.

Nationals of Pakistan can now obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days. They must have a passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from the arrival date; and a return/onward ticket.

They can apply to extend their stay for an additional 30 days.

Earlier this month, Qatar introduced visa-free entry to the residents of 80 countries and surprisingly Pakistan was not in the list. The decision came into effect after Qatar faced diplomatic isolation by its Arab neighbours.

The nationals of following 33 countries will be authorized to stay in Qatar for 180 days:

Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

However, the residents of the following 47 nations can stay for up to 30 days:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Gerogia, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Cuba, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.

Qatar's action drew protests from Islamabad, but Doha has remained unmoved. Kuwait, another GCC favourite, has placed visa restrictions on Pakistanis since 2011.

While they don't call it a visa ban, since now Pakistanis have to go through much stricter scrutiny than other countries' citizens. Former PM Nawaz Sharif personally intervened in March 2017 with the Kuwaiti leadership, but despite promises of review, Pakistanis continue to stay on the restricted list.