Qatar’s tourism chief says the country will not be issuing visas to its “enemies,” in reference to people from Egypt, which has stopped issuing travel documents to Qatari nationals and has, along with three other Arab governments, severed ties with Doha.
Secretary-General of Qatar’s National Tourism Council Akbar al-Baker said on Sunday that Doha would not grant visas to those it considers “enemies,” in reference to Egyptians seeking to enter the Persian Gulf country.
Speaking at an event to promote a summer tourism campaign, Baker said that Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting its tourism industry.
“The visa will not be open for our enemies, it will be open for our friends,” Baker said of Egyptians. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them?! Everything is reciprocal.”
“When you open your arms to Qatar, Qatar will open its arms even bigger for you. But if you become an adversary of Qatar, then we will also treat you as an adversary,” he added.
Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017, shortly after Saudi Arabia cut its own ties with Doha. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain similarly followed Riyadh’s suit. The four Arab governments accused Doha of sponsoring terrorism, but they were widely believed to have been angered by its relatively independent foreign policy.
Qatar denied the charge of supporting terrorism; and later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands — including the closure of the Al Jazeera television network and the downgrading of relations with Iran — in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha. Qatar also rejected those demands.
The Qatari king has slammed the ongoing Saudi-led blockade against his country as a blatant violation of the international law.
Egyptians make up a sizable portion of the 2.7 million-strong population in Qatar, which only has some 300,000 nationals. An estimated 200,000 Egyptians reside in Qatar.
Doha has not said whether it would deport those Egyptians, although many Egyptians say the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with certain exceptions.
The Sunday comments by Baker were the first ones since the standoff began between the Saudi-led governments and Doha affirming that Qatar will no more be issuing visas to Egyptians.