In a historic move, alien to the GCC, Qatar passed a draft law that allows certain expats a permanent residency permit that makes them equal to Qatari citizens.
Emir Tamim passed the legislation saying the decision was no longer a “luxury” but an obligation. Officials were instructed in a July 22 speech to expedite measures to lure investments and reduce the economy’s reliance on energy in the wake of the crisis.
The draft law approved at a cabinet meeting will allow permanent residence to the children of Qatari women married to non-Qataris, as well as expatriates who provide outstanding services to Qatar, the Qatar News Agency reported on Wednesday.
“According to the provisions of the bill, the minister of interior may grant a permanent residency ID to a non-Qatari if they meet the conditions specified in the law,” the cabinet statement carried by the agency said.
Most Gulf Arab countries have a high number of expatriate workers but do not allow naturalization of foreigners, except in extremely rare cases. Qatar’s population is made up of only 30% of citizen while the remaining are expats. This Draft, although difficult to be accepted in the gulf, will probably soon be adapted to help lift their dependency off of the energy business that is very volastile.
According to the report:
“The rising proportion of expatriate workers in the past decade has created considerable risks, including to the economy, should a major crisis force expatriates to leave.
In order to satisfy the demand for skilled expatriate workers, Qatar needs to create incentives, through improved working and living environments, especially the provision of appropriate schooling, to attract and retain the right mix of skills.”
What expats can expect:
- Expats holding the permanent residency card can for the first time access Free State education and healthcare previously only available for Qatari Citizen. They will also have the right to own property and run some businesses without needing a Qatari partner.
- Permanent residents, under the new law will be treated more like Qatari nationals and will benefit from elements of the state’s generous welfare system, including free education and health-care services, the official QNA reported.
- A permanent committee shall be established at the Ministry of Interior under the name of the Permanent Residency ID Granting Committee in order to review requests of granting permanent residency ID in line with the provisions of the law.
- They will also be given priority, after locals, for military and civilian public jobs and would be allowed to own property and run certain commercial activities without a local partner, QNA reported. Those eligible for the card include children of Qatari women married to foreigners, people with special talents “needed by the state,” and others who have extended notable services to the country, it said.
- Citizenship, however, will remain off-limits to foreigners.
- In addition, holders of that ID have the right to property ownership and practicing some commercial businesses without the need to have a Qatari partner, in line with the executive decisions that shall be issued by the cabinet according to the provisions of the law.
The cabinet took the necessary measures to issue a draft law amending some provisions of Decree Law No. 14 of 1993 on passports, after the cabinet reviewed the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the draft law.
The amendment stipulates that Article 12 of Decree Law No. 14 of 1993 shall be replaced by the following text: “A decision by the minister of interior shall specify the applicable fees to obtain normal passports, travel documents and transit tickets as well as their renewal and amendment. And a decision by the foreign minister shall specify the applicable fees to obtain diplomatic, special and mission passports as well as their renewal and amendment.”
Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani reviewed topics on the agenda.