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South Africa, Seychelles are sole African beneficiaries of Qatar visa waiver

South Africa, Seychelles are sole African beneficiaries of Qatar visa waiver

South Africa

South Africa and Seychelles are the only African countries that stand to benefit from a huge visa waiver decision by embattled Gulf nation, Qatar.

Qatari authorities on Wednesday announced that the country will allow visa-free entry for citizens from 80 countries with immediate effect.

‘‘Citizens of those countries wishing to visit Qatar will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket,’‘ a statement on the website of Qatar Airways read.

Citizens of those countries wishing to visit Qatar will no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport.

They listed two groups of beneficiaries – citizens on both lists ‘‘will not require prior visa arrangements and can obtain a visa waiver upon arrival in Qatar.’‘

The difference however was the duration of validity of the waiver. In the case of the first group of 33 countries, which includes Seychelles: ‘‘The waiver will be valid for 180 days from the date of issuance and entitle its holder to spend up to 90 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips,’‘

The second list on which South Africa is present has the following conditions, ‘‘The waiver will be valid for 30 days from the date of issuance and entitle its holder to spend up to 30 days in Qatar, during either a single trip or on multiple trips. This waiver may be extended for a further 30 days.’‘

These developments come as part of a series of measures that Qatar has taken to facilitate visitor access to the country. It also comes in the midst of a regional crisis that has seen the Bulf Cooperation Council (GCC) blacklist the country.

The Saudi-led GCC accuses Doha of backing terrorist groups in the region. Qatar vehemently rejects the claims. A number of African countries severed or downgraded ties whiles others said they preferred to remain neutral on the issue.