Qatar in a bid to boost economic activities in its isolated country has opened the borders to citizens of 80 countries yet to be made public. Qatar, isolated by its neighbours in a diplomatic crisis, announced on Wednesday a visa-free entry programme for 80 nationalities to stimulate air transport and tourism.

“The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,” tourism department official Hassan al-Ibrahim told a press conference in Doha. Interior ministry official Mohamed Rashed al-Mazroui said the nationals of 80 countries would only need to present a valid passport for entry to the energy-rich Gulf State which is to host football’s 2022 World Cup.

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The 80 countries were not named and neither was the date from which the visa-free programme will take effect, but Qatari newspapers said it would apply mainly to Western nationals. Nationals of 33 countries will be authorised to stay for 180 days and the other 47 for up to 30 days, periods which are renewable a single time. Mazroui said the countries were selected on the basis of security and economic considerations, or for the buying-power of their nationals.

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