Qatar moving to grant expats residency and privileges

Qatar moving to grant expats residency and privileges

Qatar moving to grant expats residency and privileges

Almost a year after Qatar’s diplomatic blockade by seven Gulf States, is the emirate cozying up to its expats?

Crisis and boycott notwithstanding, Qatar’s response to the big boys’ bullying has surprised many in the West and irritated Saudi Arabia and its hangers-on. The latest announcement from its Shura Council seems to indicate the country is still going its own way in spite of the distractions. The approval of a draft law under which qualifying expatriates can get permanent residency was the first step, with the proposal now needing to be passed by the cabinet and finally by the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.

Should approval be granted, the move will open up services formerly given only to Qatari nationals, including admission to educational institutions, free medical services and full property ownership. However, expats will still be the second choice for jobs in civilian government positions and the military. The proposal itself was first mooted just days after the bad news of the boycott hit the emirate along with the accusation the small state is funding Islamic terrorism. Whilst the move is welcome, as with most good things, there’s a catch. The residency permit will only be available to expats who fulfil three sets of exacting criteria – being children of Qutari women with foreign husbands, experts with specific talents needed by the country and expats who’ve rendered notable services to the state.

The general feeling in the expat community seems to be it’s small but it’s a start, with no-one expecting to be killed in the rush to register. Qatar and its neighbours rely heavily on foreign expertise as well as less exalted workers, with the new law perhaps a good way to let them know they’re appreciated. Doha’s reputation as a hub for foreign labour isn’t exactly lily-white as it’s been pulled up many times for its ill-treatment of certain sectors of expats. Rebuilding its national image by projecting a policy of inclusiveness, openness and tolerance unlike others in the region is as good a way as any to improve others’ perception of the state.

Unfortunately, a new row is under way concerning the treatment of workers on the stadiums to be used for the 2022 World Cup. According to reports, the 132 contracted construction workers at the Khalifa International Stadium and 102 landscapers at the Aspire Zone sports complex are unhappy with their working conditions and hours.

Related Stories:

Latest News: