Earlier last year, it was announced that GCC nationals will soon enjoy a trip to the United Kingdom without the hassle of obtaining visas.
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) Oliver Dowden highlighted his country’s desire to develop and enhance cooperation with Qatar, specifically in the economic, investment, and trade industries.
Speaking to Qatar News Agency (QNA), Dowden said that relations between the UK and the Gulf States are vibrant, particularly in their political and economic ties.
The Deputy Prime Minister said, “It’s excellent to have the opportunity to visit Doha and to have productive and wide-ranging discussions covering existing UK-Qatar partnerships.
“I am also keen to discuss with our partners the ways in which the UK can support Qatar in delivering its new Third National Development Strategy,” he added.
The UK Deputy Prime Minister also addressed his meeting with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, stating that the conversation expressed reassurance in the bilateral relationships between the two countries.
“To discuss our broad bilateral relationship in the areas of defence and security, prosperity, and regional security, and to convey the UK’s commitment to the close and continually expanding partnership between our two countries,” Dowden told QNA.
“We are committed to taking steps to further deepen the political, trade, and investment relationship we share with Qatar. We achieve this through the UK-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, which was inaugurated in 2022 and is due to take place in Doha in 2024, and also through the UK-Qatar Joint Economic and Trade Committee,” Dowden added.
Last year, Qatar hosted the inaugural annual Qatar-UK strategic dialogue to consolidate and deepen the partnership between the two countries.
The event was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs, James Cleverly, now Secretary of State for the Home Department.
Last year, it was announced that Qatar and other Gulf Corporation Council nations would be allowed visa-free to enter the United Kingdom.
The opening of Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) enabled Qatar to be the first country in the region to be allowed to have its nationals apply for an ETA form.
At the same time, other nationalities will need to wait till next year.
“I am pleased to announce that, starting today, Qatari citizens will be the first globally to benefit from the new UK Electronic Travel Authorisation programme,” British Ambassador to Qatar Jon Wilks said.
“We appreciate the strong relations between the people of (UK) and Qataris make more than a million visits annually to (UK), and we look forward to welcoming many more,” the ambassador wrote on his social media channels.
The decision to include Qatar in the ETA scheme has been long in the works as it was announced last year during Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the UK, where he met with various officials including the previous Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the late Queen Elizabeth II.
A document sent to Doha News by the UK Embassy highlights the details of the scheme, which will cost £10 and permits multiple journeys to the UK over two years, or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner.
The document adds that if an individual intends to visit the UK for over six months, they must obtain a relevant visa.
Visitors from the other Gulf Cooperation Council states and Jordan will be able to apply for an ETA from 1 February 2024 before a worldwide rollout kicks off.
Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan are the countries featured in the February phase.