Updated: Nov 13, 2021
On August 9, 2017, Qatar waived the entry visa requirements for 80 countries. Citizens of those countries who wishes to visit Qatar for certain amount of days (included in their terms and conditions) no longer need to apply for a visa.
Although, as mentioned by Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority, the main aim of this policy is to promote tourism (and there has been relatively more tourists), many took this opportunity to look for jobs in Qatar. This is not permitted. There have been cases where companies have reported large number of applications for jobs from people who did not have a residence permit, and some even reported to get applications that did not fit their workers requirements. As a result, there is an ongoing debate on putting more visa restrictions to prevent the visitors from misusing the purpose of visa-free entry.
I interviewed one such “tourist” whom I came across in a private company:
“How is Qatar been treating you so far?”
“Qatar is nice and the people are nicer. But the employers are very inconsiderate towards us visitors. I am searching for a job to settle down here but so far, no luck. Most of them just ask me whether I am a resident of this country and when I answer in negative, they refuse to even take my CV.”
“Qatar government did not provide the visa for job hunt, you are aware of that, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but there is a lack of employment in India at the moment. I tried for 2 years to get a proper earning job that would help me to take care of my family, but my source of income was really inconsistent. I could not promise anything to my family, because my work did not promise me anything. Then when I heard about Qatar’s new policy of visiting, I thought of taking a break from looking for jobs in India and try my luck in Qatar… I have roamed around most of Qatar and applied for many jobs which I think are suitable for me. Now let’s see. I have only 5 days left before my visa gets expired and I keep praying for a miracle in the form of a job.”
When I asked one of the sector managers of the same company about their policy towards these foreigners, the manager answered:
“It is mostly visiting Indians and Malaysians so far, who have applied to our company. It might be quite sad and, well, it is also frustrating at the same time, but we disregard most of such CVs because of many reasons. Firstly, they do not have the legal rights to do so. The government is not taking any actions currently, but I don’t think they will keep quiet for long if it continues. And secondly, most of them do not possess the bare minimum qualifications that we need. Hope that answers your questions.”
This individual that I interviewed is a representation of many such unheard voices in Qatar, ‘visiting’ to hunt down jobs. It might not be right on their part, but they have their personal struggles and interests to make the best out of a trip, even if it means misusing the visa opportunity. Similarly, the manager is just one example of the many other frustrated companies that are looking for legitimate employees but need to go through the filtering process regularly. Alas, the visa-free entry has not only made the life of tourists easier but has also brought upon Qatar some unintentional implications.