DOHA: The allegedly long and cumbersome procedures for obtaining a visit visa to the UK have angered several Qatari citizens, triggering calls for urgent action to address this issue.
The issue is being discussed in the local media and social networking sites, with some citizens complaining that their plans to visit the UK were upset due to delays and complicated procedures in obtaining a visa.
They have called on the Qatari government to force the British authorities to simplify the procedures. “The British (visiting Qatar) are getting visas on arrival at the airport but they are making us go through complicated procedures and interviews and forcing us to pay too much money,” lamented a citizen.
According to statistics released by the British embassy recently, over 33,000 Qataris obtained visas to travel to the UK in 2012, almost double the number of tourists two years ago. The number of tourists from Qatar to the UK grew by almost 60 percent between 2006 and 2011.
“Countries like Qatar should deal with other countries in the same way they treat Qatar, especially since the Qatari investment in Europe is rescuing their economies in times of recession,” commented another citizen, who introduced himself as Saif on Qatarshares.com, a popular Qatari social website. The issue was a topic of discussion at a popular programme on the Qatar Radio — Watanee Al Habeeb, Sabah Al Khair — yesterday.
The presenter read out a message sent to the radio by a citizen, who complained of delays in obtaining a British visa.
“I submitted my passport (at the British embassy) on February 20, along with the passports of my wife and daughter. When I went to apply for the visa an employee asked “do you want a normal visa or urgent visa”. He said if I pay QR1,700 the visa will be ready in five days. I paid the amount but still didn’t get the visas, upsetting my travel plans,” read the message.
Similar views were expressed by callers at the radio programme last week, drawing support from some Qatari columnists.
“While British authorities are humiliating the Qataris with personal interviews and too many requirements and high fees their citizens are getting the Qatari visa on arrival at the airport.
The Cabinet has the responsibility to protect the interests of the Qatari citizens travelling abroad but what had the Cabinet done in this respect?,” Dr Mohammed bin Ali Al Kubaisi wrote in his column in Al Sharq yesterday.
He said UAE was trying to convince the European countries to issue Shenghan visas to their citizens the same way visas are issued to the European nationals in the Gulf countries.
“Qataris are going to the UK and other western countries only as tourists or for studies or treatment. None is going there looking for a job or to settle there. On the other hand, the Westerners are coming to our country looking for jobs or to promote their products. I strongly demand the Qatari government to deal with these governments on an equal footing,” he added.