For the first time, citizens of Russia, China, South Africa, Lebanon, Indonesia and dozens of other countries will be able to purchase visas on arrival in Qatar.
The move comes as Qatar seeks to boost tourism amid a boycott from some of its most frequent visitors. They hail from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
According to a circular from Qatar Airways issued to employees this week, the Ministry of Interior has approved the entry of more than 30 new nationalities with immediate effect, based on the following conditions:
- Their passports are valid for six months or more;
- Visitors have a return/onward ticket; and
- They have a hotel booking and $1,500 in cash or credit card.
Previously, Qatar had an agreement with only around three dozen nations and territories to provide visa on arrival services. A one-month stay costs QR100 (roughly $30).
These include the US, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia, as well as European and East Asian countries.
Last year, Qatar authorities said they were working to add China and Russia to the list, as well as Indians.
But according to the recent Qatar Airways circular, only Indians who meet certain conditions are eligible for visa on arrival, such as those with a permanent UK address or US green card.
Other nationalities that can now enter Qatar without applying in advance for a one-month visa include several South American countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Chile and eastern European nations like Croatia, Latvia and Estonia.
The loosened restrictions come after Qatar has already made four-day transit visas free and available to Qatar Airways passengers transiting through the country, regardless of nationality.
Online visa service
The airline in conjunction with the Qatar Tourism Authority said residents from any country can now apply for tourist visas though the portal, which is currently in a pilot phase.
This saves time as the process no longer has to go through hotels or tour operators.
Passengers will need passport scans, personal photographs, their airline ticket information and the address they will be staying at when in Qatar to submit their applications.
It usually take about 48 hours to obtain visas via email. And the application can be tracked by visitors online, authorities said.
Applications will be submitted automatically for those who book with Qatar Airways.
The tourist visas cost $42 (which includes a credit card booking fee).