Amid one of the busiest times of the year for international travel, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has launched a reworked mobile application that aims to better help its citizens who encounter emergency situations abroad.
The app includes features for both nationals and Qatar-based expats who plan to spend time outside of the country, including a pre-travel registration system that records a user’s key details and logs these with the ministry through a secure connection.
There is also a “Request assistance” option that allows a citizen to call for help in real-time, sending an alert to the ministry along with the user’s location, in case of an emergency.
Many Qataris and expats travel during the summer months and with Eid al-Adha slated for mid-September, the coming two months are expected to be busy times for trips abroad.
While the emergency services function has been designed for use by Qatari nationals, other features on the app hold wider appeal.
For example, there is a list of locations and contact information for Qatari missions abroad, and contact information about accredited embassies within Qatar itself.
— Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Qatar (@MofaQatar_EN) August 17, 2015
App users can also check the status of documents being attested, as well as access a list of visa requirements for Qataris traveling abroad and non-Qataris planning a visit here.
Other functions include a currency exchange, weather forecasts, a list of prayer times and ministry news updates.
The bilingual (English and Arabic) app can be downloaded for use on iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile devices.
There are also a series of short videos on YouTube, promoting the service.
Dr. Saif Al-Kuwari, MOFA’s director of Information Systems and Technology, said:
“We urge all citizens to make use of the information and services provided in this application such as the travel details to enable the ministry to reach them in case they require assistance.”
The ministry’s website also includes a list of travel tips to help keep citizens safe when abroad. These include:
- Not carrying gold jewelry, valuables or a large amount of cash while traveling;
- Neeping a watch on children while in large gatherings; and
- Not allowing security services in the host country to search accommodation without a search warrant from the competent authority.
In line with their Gulf neighbors, Qatar residents regularly travel abroad. A survey by YouGov for Arabian Travel Market earlier this year found that on average a family living in the GCC goes overseas twice a year.
While UAE and Europe remain popular destinations for those traveling with children, Egypt and India were among the top destinations for couples.
Do you plan to use the app? Thoughts?