Qatar Airways - Reuters
CAIRO – 11 August 2017: In another attempt to face the economic consequences of the Arab boycott, Qatar has decided to lift visa requirements for 80 countries on Thursday.
During a press conference of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior, the Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar Airways, the new measures were announced for what was justified as “facilitating visitors’ access to the country.”
This, however, was not the first decision taken by Doha’s government aiming to revive its economic sources and promote its image internationally after the four Arab countries’ (Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia) decision to cut its diplomatic relations with the tiny emirate on June 5. On August 4, Qatar approved a new law allowing permanent residency for some of the foreign residents within its borders.
“This residency will be granted to the sons of Qatari women who were married to foreign men, and also for some people who gave the country ‘huge favors and services’, and those who have ‘special competencies’ the state may need,” the newly approved law stated.
This law, however, raised some fears that the gas-rich country may use the new law to grant permanent residency for some wanted people, labeled as terrorists by other governments.
On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspace were cut off to Qatari vessels.
On June 6, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Sabah started a tour, which included Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, in an attempt to mediate between the three countries.
A list of 13 demands was given to Doha’s government by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for reconciliation, which includes the closing of Al Jazeera; however, Qatar’s response was described as “negative” by the four countries’ foreign ministers in a joint statement released after holding a summit in Cairo on July 5.
On July 7, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said in another joint statement that the ultimatum that had been given to Qatar is now void, leading to further legal, political and economic measures against the government of Qatar.
“The Qatari government has purposely thwarted all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis and has rejected any settlements, reflecting its intention to continue with its destabilizing policies against the interests of the Qatari people,” the Arab quartet said in the statement.
They also condemned Qatar’s “lack of tact and respect” towards the Kuwaiti mediation, as it leaked the list of demands in an attempt to condemn the initiative to failure.