Qatar announced on Wednesday a programme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries to encourage air transport and tourism amid a two-month boycott imposed on the Persian Gulf state by its neighbours.
According to the list of 80 countries, nationals from dozens of states in Europe and elsewhere including Turkey, India, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States can now receive tourist visas on arrival to the gas-rich country which will host the football World Cup in 2022.
“The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,” Hassan al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, said.
Surprisingly, however, Iran’s name is not in the list of countries whose citizens may visit Qatar without obtaining a visa, even though Tehran has remained a close ally and supporter of Qataris amid their tension with a number of Persian Gulf states.
Saudi Arabia along with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates imposed a boycott on Qatar on June 5 and cut off all transport links with the country after accusing it of supporting terrorism and of close ties to Iran.
Immediately after the beginning of the rift, Iran voiced its support for Qatar and started sending them different types of products, particularly food items, to help Doha overcome the crisis.
The Alef news website, in a Thursday report, has harshly criticized Qatar for excluding Iran from the list given the country’s staunch support for Doha. It has described Iran’s aid as a key factor in decreasing pressure on Qatar, which is under severe economic and security pressures.
It also urged the Iranian foreign ministry to take appropriate stances against the ‘disgusting’ move by Qataris.