Source: US Global Legal Monitor
In August 2022, the governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia announced the issuance of new multiple-entry visas regulating the residency of foreign nationals attending the FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament in Qatar beginning November 20, 2022.
Because Qatar anticipates hosting over 1.2 million people during the tournament, it expects accommodation shortages, so the country is relying on the support of other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to alleviate pressure. Accordingly, agreements have been made with several airlines in the region to provide shuttle flights for fans to travel to and from Qatar on match days from neighboring GCC countries. The new Saudi and Emirati multiple-entry visas will facilitate the passage of these fans between the countries.
Saudi Arabia’s New Entry Visa
On August 24, 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that holders of the Hayya [Let us go] Card issued by Qatar for attendees of the tournament are able to apply for an e-visa that will allow them to enter Saudi Arabia 10 days before the start of the tournament. Foreign nationals, who obtain the Saudi entry visa are permitted to stay for 60 days with the ability to reenter.
In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism announced on September 2 that permanent residents of the United Kingdom, Europe Union, and United States are allowed entry into the country by applying for a visa on arrival, as are holders of valid tourist or business visas from the United States, United Kingdom, and Schengen Area countries. The Saudi authorities require that the aforementioned visa holders have used their visa at least once before applying for a visa on arrival.
Additionally, GCC residents with a valid residency visa of at least three months are able to apply for an e-visa to enter the kingdom. Immediate relatives of permanent residents and visa holders who accompany the main visa holder are also permitted to enter.
UAE Visa Permit
The government of the UAE made a similar announcement on August 30, 2022. The Emirati authorities will permit Hayya Cardholders to apply for a multiple-entry visa that will allow them to stay in the UAE for 90 days.
Besides being granted the right to enter Qatar, foreign nationals holding Hayya Cards will benefit from other perks, such as using public transportation for free during the tournament. The card is required for anyone entering Qatar between November 1, 2022, and January 23, 2023. This includes GCC residents who normally have the ability to enter the country through their government ID. Currently, only those with game tickets are able to obtain Hayya cards.
Prepared by Ali Ebshara, Law Library intern, under the supervision of George Sadek, Foreign Law Specialist