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9 May 2019 10:09 am

Akbar Al Baker: Doha welcomes all nationalities; previous remarks were taken out of context by media

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His Excellency Secretary-General of Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that some of the remarks he made last week were taken out of context by the media, and what he was trying to say was ignored by them, reported QNA.

H.E. Al Baker was referring to some of the remarks he made during a press conference at Sharq Village and Spa on Saturday 4 May that was held to promote a summer campaign in Qatar on not welcoming certain nationalities to visit Qatar during the campaign that will be held in the summer months from 4 June to 16 August and will allow visitors from around the world to gain 'visa-free entry' to Qatar to enjoy the summer.

His Excellency explained that he was speaking with emotion as a passionate Qatari who had been affected by the blockade imposed on his country. He went on to say that Qatar was a country that is open to all nationalities including those from the countries who have imposed a blockade against Qatar: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

When asked a question during last week's press conference, H.E. Al Baker had said that Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting it as a travel destination of choice.

H.E. Al Baker says Egyptians are well-respected in Qatar

In response to this, His Excellency told the media that Qatar Airways has more than 750 Egyptians working at Qatar Airways and some of the senior management is also Egyptian.

H.E. Al Baker went on to point out that not only did the media take his comments out of context, they also ignored, within the same context, the openness of Qatar to all countries of the world including those that are mentioned above, citing what the Qatari leadership had said that "if the blockading countries come towards us one metre, we will go 1,000km towards them".

According to the Africazine, H.E. Al Baker also went on to say: “I know that when somebody speaks with emotion, the press very quickly makes a very big issue out of that. As far as my remarks on Egyptians are concerned, you can see that it was really not meant literally the way it was translated...We have a very large diaspora of Egyptians in my country. And they are respected."

Government Communications Office's response

The GCO issued a statement on Sunday 5 May saying that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) of Qatar (Expatriates Affairs Department) is the only authority authorised to issue the various types visas of entry into the country, according to the approval of the competent authorities and in accordance with the laws and regulations governing this, as well as the joint agreements with other countries.

GCO pointed out that any remarks out of those legal frameworks, do not represent the MOI's policy. GCO further stressed that Qatar welcomes all people from all around the world and that the various activities between peoples, whether cultural, sports, tourism, economic and others, are some of the ways to bring people together regardless of the differences between the countries.

Cover image credit: afarawayfriend