Labelled as “unfair” and “racist”, the new changes introduced to the ‘Visa on Arrival’ requirements for three nationalities has fuelled anger in many.
Discover Qatar has removed the mandatory hotel booking option for visa-on-arrival for nationals from Iran, Pakistan and India, 24 hours after announcing them on 5th April 2022.
The Ministry of Interior mandated that all nationals with passports issued by Iran, Pakistan and India are required to fulfil additional conditions in order to be eligible for a Visa on Arrival, as of 14th April 2022.
Despite the removal of the option on Discover Qatar’s website, as well as the official announcement page which is no longer available, it is unclear whether the amendments remain in place or not.
The new amendments to the requirements for any visitor holding either of these three passports stipulate a purchased hotel accommodation from the Discover Qatar website, a visa length that must match the duration of the hotel stay purchased from said website ranging from a minimum of 2 days and up to a maximum of 60 days, as well as any other criteria decreed by the Ministry of Interior.
This is treated as a Visa on Arrival hotel booking, separate from any mandatory quarantine requirements.
For the three nationalities, under the new requirements, even if one is visiting their family in Qatar they are still required to book a hotel for the entire duration of their stay, as stated by Discover Qatar.
Outrage on social media
The decision has seen intense conversations, as social media users have referred to it as “prejudice and racism,” leaving many appalled or in distress.
One Twitter user wrote: “I was so happy that my mom will come to me. After all the struggle I had for family and visit visa, i was left with option of visa on arrival. And now i have to spend yet another fortune for that. Sad, really sad.”
“The disparity and marginalisation of these communities is extra loud under this absurd decision by the ministry and I think what is even more frustrating is that some of those nationalities have families living here [Qatar] and are still obliged to book their stay at a hotel for the entirety of their time here,” Baran, an Iranian national born and raised in Qatar told Doha News.
A user from Pakistan, took her anger to Instagram’s comment section, saying, “Wow, open and blatant prejudice, ongoing since forever, and not nearing an end anytime soon.”
Another commented said, “It’s 2022 and the country hosting FIFA is showing its racist side so proudly.”
Questioning the decision over the decisive intention behind choosing passport carriers of Iran, Pakistan, and India only, one individual wrote in the comment section of ilqlive’s post: “Purely racist and harsh approach. Why only 3 countries? Majority of the population and workforce are from India and Pakistan who are working in various fields and sectors for the betterment and development of Qatar […] visa on arrival was a lifeline for those who couldn’t bring their families on visit due to strict requirements.”
“This will break the hearts of people who consider Qatar as their second home,” he added.
Doha News has reached out to Discover Qatar and the Ministry of Interior for comment.