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19 September 2018 02:00 pm

8 reasons why Qatar deserves to be the '8th Most Open Country in the World!'

Sonkie
Sonkie
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The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently updated and disclosed its visa openness rankings and out of 195 countries, only one GCC country made it to the Top 10 which also ranked 1st—in terms of VISA facilitation—in the MENA region which is Qatar.

The apparently high ranking reflects a string of VISA facilitation measures introduced by Qatar, including allowing nationals of 88 countries to enter VISA-free and with not a single Riyal. This has lead to Qatar’s openness score which has leapt by an epic 71.3 points since 2014, when it ranked 177th out of 195.

Take note of the above-mentioned figures, guys.

Rank 177th...

...in 2014...

...and now we're on the 8th place!

This brand-new recognition needs no further validation but because we love showing our LOVE for the country (pun intended) in a laborious and comprehensive way, we bring you the 8 reasons why Qatar deserves to be named the 8th Most Open County in the World!

1. It's made up of more than 180 nationalities!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: British International Dental Centre)

In a September 10 update by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, population in Qatar towards the end of August has hit a total of 2,562,000, with an increase of 4.5% from last July, and 4.7% from the same period last year.

Plus, the country's headcount has doubled in size in the past five decades by about 25 times; from 111,000 in 1970 to 2,731,910 by May 31, 2018. And with Indians, Nepalis, and Bangladeshis unbeaten as the top 3 expatriate communities for many years now, Qatar is still the most diverse country in the MENA region with more than 180 nationalities making up its steadfast and dedicated workforce—that's like having a representative for each and every world country!

Some residents are even calling Doha the "Little Earth" for this reason alone. Great job, little D-Town!

To know the ten updated statistical figures regarding Qatar's sharply-rising population, click HERE.

2. It offers FREE 96-hour transit VISA to almost every nationality who wants to explore Doha's exqusiteness!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: Metro)

Qatar, during the last quarter of 2017, had launched a free 96-hour transit visa, doubling the amount of time stopover passengers could remain in the country and enjoy its offerings. 

"Qatar is now visa-free for over 80 countries around the world," says Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker of state-owned Qatar Airways, as the small nation announced that it will issue waivers rather than visas—and won't be charging for the service.

The change means that people from the US and other countries are now able to enter Qatar "with no paperwork, no payment and no visas," Baker said. Visitors from 33 countries would be able to stay for up to 90 days.

To know if your passport is eligible for the 90-day or 30-day free transit VISA rule, click HERE.

With this development, Qatar’s increased openness is showing in the growing number of visitors from markets which can now access the country VISA-free. Notable increases in arrival volumes in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017 came from India (18%), China (43%) and Russia, which grew most significantly with a 366% increase. 

For travel tips you need to know before visiting Qatar on a transit, click HERE.

3. It's NOW a breeze to travel out of Qatar!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: MOI Facebook)

Thanks to the newly-amended Qatar Labour Law, Qatar's mostly-migrant workforce is now allowed to leave the country without having to obtain a travel document called Exit Permit—an exit rule that only the state of Qatar has implemented among its GCC neighbours and the whole MENA region.

The new legislation, which was adopted on 4 September 2018, marks a significant step changing one of the most controversial point in the Labour Law and it upholds the rights of workers in Qatar. 

Hassan Al Ibrahim, Qatar Tourism Authority’s (QTA) Assistant Chairman, commented, “Openness and ease of access are crucial elements of the visitor experience. That is why, in addition to the accelerated development of our tourism offering, we have committed to providing a seamless experience to our visitors even as they are planning for their journey. We will continue to work with our partners on further facilitating entry to Qatar through additional streamlining of the immigration process at Qatar’s ports of entry, as well as ensuring that all visitor visas and visa procedures are electronic.” 

To know more about the new NO EXIT PERMIT law, click HERE.

4. Even after the blockade, Qatar Airways keeps on introducing new destinations!

One unexpected consequence of the dispute is that Qatar has become one of the most open countries in the world to visitors. Soon after the boycott was launched, Qatar began to reform its VISA rules, expanding the number of countries it offered VISA-free entry to and extending the time period of transit visas for passengers wanting to take a look around between flights.

The changes were an effort to fill more seats on the expensively-assembled fleet of Qatar Airways and to ensure passengers kept using the country’s vast new airport, Hamad International (HIA). As a result, Qatar has now become the easiest country in the region to visit.

Moreover in September 2016, an agreement was signed between QTA, Qatar Airways, Qatar’s MOI, and VFS Global to create an online platform for processing VISA applications and issuing E-VISAS. The new service, launched in 2017, has significantly eased visitor access to Qatar, offering a more efficient and transparent VISA application system, with standardised fees.  

To know the 8 new Qatar Airways destinations that we can't wait to visit, click HERE.

5. Demand for budget hotel rooms and serviced apartments on the rise in Qatar despite the siege!

Statistics say that Qatar is expected to have over 65,000 hotel rooms required by FIFA at the end of 2021—this is apart from outdoor accommodation, cruise ships, etc. thus the demand for budget hotel rooms and serviced apartments in Qatar which has witnessed a significant growth in June 2018 compared to the corresponding month last year.

The average occupancy rate for hotel apartments saw a double-digit growth. The demand for hotel apartment in June 2018 increased by a remarkable 11 points to 73% in June 2018 compared to 62 percent in the same month last year.

The occupancy for the deluxe apartments on the other hand surged to 73% in June this year against 59 percent a year ago. While the demand for standard category apartments remained unchanged at 69 percent in June this year.

Read more HERE.

6. Situation is improving for Qatari passport holders!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: Reuters)

Qatar is only 49th in the world in the Passport Index, which ranks countries based on how easily their citizens can enter other countries. Qataris can enter 49 other countries without a VISA and gain entry to 37 others via a visa-on-arrival, but they require a VISA before travelling for 112 other territories. However, the situation is improving. The WTO says 20 of the countries that now benefit from Qatar’s visa waiver policy have reciprocated with similar measures for Qatari nationals.

In a 6-month-old report, the Qatari passport is the 3rd most powerful in the Arab world next to the UAE and Kuwait. Globally, it's ranked 61st with VISA-free access to 81 countries.

7. It hosted the 2017 World Tourism Day and did a great job!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: Max Impact Blog)

Unknown to many, it was Qatar who hosted World Tourism Day (WTD) 2017 almost the same time last year—a first for the country considering that the blockade was merely 3-month-old during that time.

Held under the patronage of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, hundreds of tourism industry stakeholders from around the world flew to Doha to explore the significant role sustainable tourism plays in Qatar and worldwide. 

The well-attended event increased awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value, and make tourism a positive change for good.

Right after the programme, Qatar proudly bestowed the hosting rights to Portugal for the 2018 edition of the WTD—a momentous sight that reminds us of the two countries' dedication to sustainable tourism and improving ties.

8. Qatar is on its way to hosting the epic 2022 World Cup!

Qatar 8th Most Open Country in the World
(Source: Kuna.net)

There is no doubt that the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the premiere reason why Qatar is slowly opening its doors to the rest of the world. 

After approximately 2 billion people watched and celebrated the biggest sports event in the world in Russia June this year, the state of Qatar is almost ready to make history as the first Middle Eastern country to host the much-anticipated World Cup four years from now—in 2022!

With 65 matches and a maximum of 12 stadiums all planned for the epic 2022, there's not a single thing that could stop Qatar from getting itself more well-known globally and sports-wise!

For the 10 World Cup facts that will make you want to see Qatar in 2022, click HERE.

According to the UNWTO, 60% of the world’s population is required to obtain a traditional visa prior to departure to destinations in the Middle East. Europe continues to be among the most restrictive destinations, requesting on average the highest proportion of the world’s population to obtain a traditional visa prior to departure (66%).

Do you think the above-mentioned reasons are enough for Qatar to keep and be proud of its latest tourism acknowledgement? If you have more to add, let us know by dropping a line in the comments and also, don't forget to like and share this article—it keeps us going!