Doha tourism chief says no visas for country’s ‘enemies’

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05/05/19

Akbar Al-Baker came under fire in June 2018, when he said a woman would not be capable of doing his job as CEO of Qatar Airways CEO.
  • Egyptians who live in the country already do not appear to be included
  • Deportations appear to be unlikely at this stage

DOHA: Qatar will not grant visas to those it considers “enemies,” the secretary-general of the National Tourism Council said in reference to Egyptians seeking to enter the country amid an ongoing political rift.

Since the Egyptians, who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar, have remained and make up a sizable portion of the tiny but wealthy country’s workforce.

In June 2017 Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism – Doha denies the claims.

The blockade saw Qatar’s land borders and airspace closed.

Speaking at an event to promote a summer tourism campaign, the tourism council’s Akbar al-Baker said 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 looking to visit Qatar. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them? Everything is reciprocal.”

Qatar has not said it would deport Egyptian residents already in the country and the comments did not suggest a policy shift that could endanger their status.

Many Egyptians say the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with narrow exceptions made for the immediate family members of residents and for specifically approved events.

Al-Baker came under fire in June 2018, when he said a woman would not be capable of doing his job as CEO of Qatar Airways CEO.

Speaking at the press conference following a meeting of airlines group International Air Transport Association (IATA) he was asked about female employment in the Middle East and why a woman could not do his job as CEO.

He said: “Of course it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position.”

This article was first published in  Arab News

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