Qatar has a population of 2.7 million including some 300,000 citizens and has been reluctant to extend residency rights out of concern for the demographic balance.
Qatar has a population of 2.7 million including some 300,000 citizens and has been reluctant to extend residency rights out of concern for the demographic balance.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and several other Sunni-majority countries have severed relations with Qatar since June 5, accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism based on its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban.

Another point of departure is Qatar's ties with Iran, with whom it shares one of the world's biggest gas fields.

Qatar has denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified." Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their airspace to Qataris and blocking import routes.

The dispute began in May when Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani was reported to have made statements on the state news agency supporting Iran. Doha said the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

August 3, Thursday

Qatar creates new residency status for foreigners

Qatar created a new permanent resident status for certain groups of foreigners, including those who have worked for the benefit of the emirate.

In a first for the Gulf, Qatar's cabinet ministers approved the measures, the official QNA press agency reported, in a move that will likely affect tens of thousands of resident foreigners.

Under the new rules, children with a Qatari mother and a foreign father can benefit from the new status along with foreign residents who have "given service to Qatar" or have "skills that can benefit the country," the agency said.

A specially created interior ministry commission will decide individual cases, according to the Qatar News Agency.

Those deemed eligible for the new status will be afforded the same access as Qataris to free public services, such as health and education.

They will also receive preferable treatment for jobs in the administration and armed services as well as being able to own properties and exercise some commercial activities without the need for a Qatari partner.

For more on earlier developments click here.

Source: AFP