“Qatar is now visa-free for over 80 countries around the world,” says Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker of state-owned Qatar Airways, as the small nation announced that it will issue waivers rather than visas — and won’t be charging for the service.The change, which is effective immediately, means that people from the U.S. and other countries are now able to enter Qatar “with no paperwork, no payment and no visas,” Baker said. Visitors from 33 countries would be able to stay for up to 90 days.

The U.S. is not on that most-favored-nation list; instead, it’s among the 47 other countries, such as Russia and China, whose citizens can stay in Qatar without a visa for up to 30 days.

Rather than applying for a visa beforehand, citizens of those 80 nations can obtain a visa waiver after arriving in Qatar.

Officials from Qatar’s tourism and interior ministries who announced the loosening of immigration rules on Wednesday said the move makes Qatar “the most open country in the region.”

Saying that the change reflects Qatar’s outlook at “a historic time,” Baker added, “While some countries in the region have taken to closing their skies and their borders, Qatar has instead opened its borders to more freely welcoming visitors from all corners of the world.”

Immigration and international travel have been hot topics both in the U.S. — where President Trump has made tighter border controls a priority — and in the Middle East, where Qatar has been isolated by its neighbors since June.

Qatar’s visa change could help the Persian Gulf country reach its target of hosting 7 million tourists annually by 2030. It could also provide some relief from the blockade led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — and which Baker on Wednesday called an “illegal violation of international law.”

As part of the blockade, Qatar Airways was barred from entering the airspace of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — although there are now signs that at least some of those restrictions might now be relaxed.

Despite the diplomatic standoff, Qatar noted that citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — and of Turkey don’t need visas to enter Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni nations have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. The peninsula nation has denied those accusations.

The U.S. response, particularly early in the dispute, has been criticized as being mixed. Even as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to ease the tension and called for an end to the blockade, President Trump said that he had consulted with Saudi Arabia before calling out Qatar for what he called its “very high level” of terror financing.

Here are the 33 nations whose citizens can stay in Qatar for up to 90 days without a visa:

  1. Austria
  2. Bahamas
  3. Belgium
  4. Bulgaria
  5. Croatia
  6. Cyprus
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Denmark
  9. Estonia
  10. Finland
  11. France
  12. Germany
  13. Greece
  14. Hungary
  15. Iceland
  16. Italy
  17. Latvia
  18. Liechtenstein
  19. Lithuania
  20. Luxembourg
  21. Malta
  22. Netherlands
  23. Norway
  24. Poland
  25. Portugal
  26. Romania
  27. Seychelles
  28. Slovakia
  29. Slovenia
  30. Spain
  31. Sweden
  32. Switzerland
  33. Turkey

And here are the 47 countries whose citizens can spend up to 30 days in Qatar without a visa:

  1. Andorra
  2. Argentina
  3. Australia
  4. Belarus
  5. Bolivia
  6. Brazil
  7. Brunei
  8. Canada
  9. Chile
  10. China
  11. Colombia
  12. Ecuador
  13. Panama
  14. Costa Rica
  15. Georgia
  16. Guyana
  17. Hong Kong
  18. India
  19. Indonesia
  20. Ireland
  21. Japan
  22. Kazakhstan
  23. Lebanon
  24. Azerbaijan
  25. Macedonia
  26. Malaysia
  27. Maldives
  28. Mexico
  29. Moldova
  30. Monaco
  31. New Zealand
  32. Paraguay
  33. Peru
  34. Russia
  35. San Marino
  36. Singapore
  37. South Africa
  38. South Korea
  39. Suriname
  40. Cuba
  41. Thailand
  42. Ukraine
  43. United Kingdom
  44. United States
  45. Uruguay
  46. Vatican City
  47. Venezuela

 

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