Virginia, US
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| Orlagh Mailey

Diplomatic Crisis: What are Your Options for UAE/Qatar Movement?

The diplomatic crisis with Qatar has become a talking point for many in recent days as the number of participating countries has risen to thirteen. While some countries have downgraded their relationship with Qatar, others have taken a more serious approach and have imposed an entry ban against Qatari citizens. Both businesses and individuals alike have been expressing their concerns over how to best accommodate those affected as the consequences are felt globally.
Qatar’s land, sea and air borders remain shut to travel to and from countries participating in the travel ban, and the embassies of countries involved have been gradually removing their staff from Qatar. This has resulted in limited mobility within the Gulf, especially when travelling to and from Qatar. Although there is no flexibility available for Qatari nationals (with the exception of those with mixed families), who are currently prohibited from travelling to the neighbouring countries, foreign residents in Qatar can call upon other options should their business or personal needs require them to travel between the countries.
In the past, foreign nationals living in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including Qatar, were eligible for a single entry visit visa for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) based on their GCC residency. The benefit was the flexibility to move in and out of the UAE regardless of nationality. Although the new restrictions have eliminated access to this visa, the visa-on-arrival (VOA) program continues to be available to those eligible by way of their nationality. This currently includes 49 nationalities that can enter the UAE free of charge and without having to secure a pre-approval. Those who do not benefit from the VOA may seek an alternative visa category sponsored by companies, tourist agencies, hotels, and airlines; these can be prearranged ahead of travel.
Available Visa Categories for Companies
There are several other categories of visas for which companies can apply. Companies operating in the Freezone can apply for long- and short-term visit entry visas, whereas for companies in the mainland, the authorities offer visit visas, service visas and mission work permits. The recent events have not thus far affected these options and they are available for businesses that regularly send staff on assignment to the UAE from abroad.