Qatar becomes one of the most open countries in the region after allowing the citizens of 80 countries to enter the Gulf state without the need to apply or pay for a visa.

Qatar Airways chief Akbar al Baker said his carrier, which this year plans to extend its network to 62 new destinations, would be a primary beneficiary.
Qatar Airways chief Akbar al Baker said his carrier, which this year plans to extend its network to 62 new destinations, would be a primary beneficiary.

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:

Wednesday, August 9

Qatar allows visa-free entry to nationals of 80 countries

Qatar will allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, with immediate effect, Qatari officials announced on Wednesday.

Nationals from dozens of countries in Europe and elsewhere including India, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States only need present a valid passport to enter the gas-rich country which hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022.

Nationals of 33 countries will be allowed to stay for 180 days and the other 47 for up to 30 days.

Citizens of those countries wishing to visit Qatar will not need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.

Hassan al Ibrahim, Acting Chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority said, "With 80 nationalities eligible for a free visa waiver upon arrival, 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."

For more on earlier developments click here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies