Qatar has eased its visa policies and allowed 80 countries, including the Maldives, to enter the country visa-free.
According to the country’s Chief Tourism Development officer at the Qatar Tourism Authority, Akbar Al Baker, the visa-on-arrival countries are divided in to two groups.
The first consists of 33 countries whose nationals are eligible for a waiver that is valid for 180 days that entitles the visa-holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar on a single trip, or on multiple entries. Countries in this category include the Schengen nations.
The second category consists of 47 countries, including the Maldives, whose nationals are eligible for a waiver that is valid for 30 days. The visa-holder is eligible for multiple entries, however, they have to apply for a renewal of the wavier for an additional 30 days in Qatar after the initial visa expires.
Qatar is now the country in the Gulf region that allows the highest number of nationalities to enter the country visa-free, making it the most open country in the region.
“Today’s announcement places the State of Qatar as the most open country in the region. This is a momentous occasion for Qatar, making the number of nationalities eligible to enter our country without a visa the highest in the region, which is something that we are very proud of,” Al Baker said.
While Qatar is allowing visa-free entrance to Maldivian citizens, the Maldivian government in June, 2017 severed diplomatic ties with the country along with six other Gulf nations, in a move that was led by Saudi Arabia.
The Gulf nations had accused Qatar of destabilising the region and supporting terrorist organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Maldivian government had cited a “firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism” as a reason for severing ties with the country.