Qatar approves draft law to grant permanent residency to expats

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Doha, Aug 3 (IANS) Qatar, facing a Saudi-led boycott, has approved a draft law to grant residency cards to qualified foreigners who live in the country, a media report said.

The move would be the first in the Gulf region, where the privileges of nationals have been zealously guarded but expatriates’ access to public services and property rights is sharply curtailed, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) has said.

According to the new law, cardholders will be treated like Qatari nationals and will benefit from elements of the state’s generous welfare system, including education and healthcare services.

Holders of the new permanent residency will have the right to own property and run some businesses without a partner or sponsor, QNA reported, according to Xinhua.

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Under the law, those eligible for the card include children of Qatari woman married to foreigners and the expats who have extended notable services to the country.

“According to the provisions of the bill, the Minister of Interior may grant a permanent residency card to a non-Qatari if he or she meets the conditions specified in the law,” said a statement carried by QNA.

Qatar has approved the legislation after the country’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, instructed officials to expedite measures to lure investments and to reduce the economy’s reliance on energy after Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed their diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5, accusing Qatar of backing extremist groups.

Qatar has repeatedly denied the charges.

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