Earlier this year, Qatar faced a land and air embargo imposed by some of its powerful neighbors like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. In response to this embargo, this past August Qatar introduced a visa-free entry programme to 80 nationalities to encourage travel to the country. Citizens of one of these countries who wish to visit Qatar are not required to apply for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be granted free-of-charge upon arrival.
Qatar’s Ministry of Interior and Qatar’s Tourism Authority have now declared that Moroccans and Algerians who hold valid residence permits or visas from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Schengen countries and Gulf Cooperation Council countries will be issued a visa-on-arrival in Qatar.
Eligible visitors from Morocco and Algeria will be expected to obtain an ETA, an Electronic Travel Authorization, as of September 17, 2017. Candidates should complete the online application at least 48 hours before departure to Qatar. The Moroccan and Algerian citizens that qualify for this electronic system should provide details of their accommodation and information of their return date. The passport should have a validity of a minimum of 6 months. If the requirements are accurate and the steps completed, travelers from Morocco and Algeria will receive a visa-on-arrival at Qatar. This visa allows travellers a stay of maximum 30 days. The visa can be extended for an additional 30 days.
The ETA registration can be used for a single trip. If the visitor leaves Qatar and wishes to return, a new ETA should be completed. It should be noted that visitors who do not qualify for the ETA can apply for a regular tourist visa. Qatar’s officials have been vocal about their desire to attract more visitors and open up new business opportunities. Regardless of their embargo, Qatar has taken some measures to improve travel conditions. Director General of the Department of Passport and Expatriates Affairs at MoI Brigadier Mohammed Al Ateeq commented, "We are continuously reviewing Qatars visa policies and seek to update them in line with economic and international developments".
Measures taken by other regions to improve travel
Travel authorization programs are becoming important migratory requirements in different regions. The U.S. requests the ESTA from travelers from specific countries, while Europe has created the ETIAS which will be active as of 2020. These are measures to facilitate entry to a country or region, but they're also programs created to improve overall security. Data provided by travelers will be compared against immigration databases.
Qatar Chief Tourism Development Officer Hassan Al Ibrahim has said that the ETA is one of many other steps that are being taken and implemented to attract visitors. In July, Qtar also launched an e-visa program in which people from all nationalities can apply for a tourist visa. The process appears to be straightforward and transparent. Besides, on November of 2016, the country also established a free transit visa that allows people who are in transit in Qtar for over five hours to stop over for 96 hours. As a result, the number of stopover visitors increased by forty percent during the first half of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016.