Jan 21 2021

Regional Update on Normalization of Diplomatic Relations with Qatar

Bahrain, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

At a Glance

  • Two weeks after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize their relations with Qatar following the latest Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit in Saudi Arabia, several entry and travel restrictions remain that impact mobility in the region.
  • This alert summarizes the restrictions and the expected road ahead.

The situation

Two weeks after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize their relations with Qatar following the latest Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia, several entry and travel restrictions remain that impact the mobility in the region. These restrictions are in addition to the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A closer look

Situation Details

International borders

The land border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia is now open for traffic. Marine borders between Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now open. 

Consular operations

The re-opening of affected consular posts in these countries has been announced and is expected to occur in the coming weeks, though they currently remain closed.

Qatari nationals’ entry restrictions to certain GCC countries and Egypt

  • Visa-free entry. Qatari nationals are subject to visa-free entry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for an unlimited duration of stay.
  • Pre-authorization and visa. Qatari nationals require a pre-authorization and a visa for entry to Egypt.
  • Pre-authorization. Qatari nationals travelling to Bahrain are subject to a pre-authorization which is only issued in humanitarian cases.

Entry restrictions for certain GCC nationals and Egyptian nationals entering Qatar

  • Visa-free entry. Nationals of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are subject to visa-free entry to Qatar.
  • Entry visa. Egyptian nationals must have a visa for entry to Qatar.

Entry restrictions into certain GCC countries and Egypt for foreign nationals holding Qatari residence permits

  • Entering Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Foreign nationals holding residence visas from Qatar continue facing difficulties in obtaining visit visas to countries whose diplomatic posts in Doha remain closed, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • Entering Bahrain. Those individuals travelling to Bahrain under the e-visa program are unable to obtain their permit as the e-visa portal does not recognize Qatari residence permits.
  • Entering the United Arab Emirates. Those individuals travelling to the United Arab Emirates are expected not to face immigration restrictions.

No entry restrictions into Qatar for foreign nationals holding certain GCC residence permits

Foreign nationals holding residence permits from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are not expected to face immigration restrictions for entry to Qatar.

Air travel

Airspaces of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are now open for aircrafts originating from Qatar and vice versa. Airlines of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have started operations between their countries and Qatar, while Qatari Airline announced the start of its operations in the coming days. 

 

Background

On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, resulting in the closure of all airspace, land and marine borders with Qatar. On January 6, 2021, the disputing countries signed an agreement to normalize their relations and to lift existing restrictions.

Looking ahead

The restoration of diplomatic ties between the involved countries is expected to positively impact the economic situation in the region, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which have had close trade and other relationships. Both countries are hosting major international events in 2021 and 2022 that are likely to positively impact the tourism, transportation and aviation sectors.

Check Fragomen’s dedicated COVID-19 website for COVID-related entry restrictions, as these will affect travel rules aside from the agreements’ terms above.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].