This post is related to our recent Eid holiday trip to Qatar (August 16-20, 2012), and hope it may be helpful in any way if you’re planning to visit Qatar anytime soon.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
Qatar grants tourist visas at border points for the nationals of more than 33 countries including USA, Canada, European countries, et al besides the nationals and professional residents of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.
*GCC countries consists of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
For more information / details on VOA from Qatar’s Ministry of Interior website, please click here.
Buboy & I fall under the category – GCC residents – being holders of valid RP (resident permit) in Bahrain.
However, not all RPs are entitled. Qatar has a specific list of professions which may only be granted VOA. To see the list, please click here.
Buboy’s profession indicated in his RP is Engineer and is included in the list, #179 Engineer (all specializations) so he’s OK. Fee is QAR 100 for 30day visa. Also extendable for another fee of QAR 100.
In my case, we had doubts as my RP indicated is Purchasing Executive, and was not in the list. The nearest equivalent was #176 “Procurement Representative” while only “executives” listed were #197 “Sales Executive” and #196 “Marketing Executive.” Awts.
By the way, my Bahrain RP entitles for VOA in Oman and the UAE (as of current regulations).🙂
To be sure, I called up the Qatar embassy here in Bahrain and even had my colleague Layla to translate my RP in Arabic.
Negative results. The embassy said that before, any GCC RP was accepted but recently the rules had become strict and the profession must be exactly as in the List.
Why oh why with a Big Sigh. Wat to do yani?
She suggested to get visa sponsorship from any of the ff:
a) a Qatari national
b) a Qatari company
c) a hotel (major hotels, 4 to 5 stars)
Thanked her for the advice and went to study this option further.
Sponsored Tourist Visa Processing
I don’t know any Qatari national… and though I have friends & former classmates working in Doha, I thought it would be a bother to request their Company to sponsor a non-business related visit.
So I chose hotel sponsorship which for me, most suitably matches a holiday trip. :)
It’s good that I have thought of this possible scenario beforehand (Yes, I am a girl scout, pak!) So that the hotel I’ve booked, though rated 3 stars only, does process tourist/ visit visas to Qatar.
Some hotels don’t offer this service, so you have to go for travel agencies which, from forums (and initial inquiries), charge a minimum of QAR 800, for visa only. So expensive lah! (>_<)
So I’m really glad we chose La Villa Hotel. Another plus point for them, apart from the hotel’s ideal location, great staff and best rates, great value for money indeed!
Check out La Villa’s website, which includes their comprehensive rates. You may opt to book your whole stay in Qatar with them or minimum 1 night (esp. if you’d be surfing a friend’s couch hehe).
They are actually a group of hotels, there’s La Villa Hotel (where we stayed), La Villa Palace and La Villa Boutique Hotel – all located in central Doha.
Already had our hotel booking prior so I only need to pay the visa processing fee, for QAR 500. Quite pricey, you may say. But the convenience and the great value we got from our stay at La Villa Hotel made up for it. Naks.
I sent my visa inquiry by email which was promptly answered by their Visa Coordinator (also a Pinay) with the complete list of doc requirements and form attachments. They basically needed the ff:
1) Copy of Passport (must be valid 6mos minimum)
2) Copy of Bahrain RP/Visa
3) Signed Guidelines Form
4) Signed Credit Card Form for QAR 500 fee + copy of card both sides (you can cover the CVV code)
5) Copy of La Villa Hotel booking voucher (booked separately / prior)
6) Copy of a Qatar resident’s ID (relative / friend), if none, company letter (where you’re working)
Can’t really blame the strict rules though.
Qatar is really a booming country right now and almost everybody wants to “jump in” esp. for major companies like Qatar Foundation, Qatalum, Qatar Petroleum…
Aside from my friends who were directly hired from the Philippines to Qatar, the rest went in from Bahrain or the UAE. They even invited me to join them. However, as of current, I am happy here in Bahrain. Pramis. Maybe in future, I may consider. But not now. 🙂
Ok, lezz go back to the visa application. Ms. Anne, the visa coordinator acknowledged by email my completed application on 02.08.12 and advised to wait 5-10 working days. Sakto lang sa travel date naming 16.08.12, hehe.
On 09.08.12, received my approved visa. Tada!
Pahabol: Even if i have the visa already. I still verified at the airport and immigration if any chance I may be entitled for VOA (for future travel lah) .
At BIA, the British Airways boarding staff said, “must be OK, but not sure, so better re-check at Doha Immigrations.”
At Doha Immigrations, the officer confirmed the rules are indeed strict, must be exact as per the list. Haist. At least I verified lah.
So there, confirmed that I really still have to pre-arrange visa for a subsequent trip to Doha (unless the rules change later in my favor). Or I ask HR to change my visa to one of the listed professions.🙂
I’m looking at #62 Artist (Actor, Musician, Composer, Poet, Painter, Singer.. etc.) hehehe of course I’m just kidding. My boss was laughing when I told him about the trip and joked about this hehehe.
Here’s how the Qatar entry visa stamp looks like (the exit stamp was on another page),
Yalla, hope this post helps you in planning your trip to Qatar, or at the very least, my “processing adventure” have made you smile, cheers!🙂