Qatar Is Introducing Free 96 Hour Doha Transit Visas

Qatar is the richest country in the world in terms of GDP per capita. They’re certainly using their flag carrier, Qatar Airways, as a way of putting Doha on the map and making it a popular transit point. The primary purpose of Gulf carriers isn’t necessarily for the airline to turn a direct profit, but rather to contribute to the overall development of their respective homes.

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Qatar Airways A380

After all, where would Dubai be without Emirates, for example?

That’s why I’ve always found it a bit odd that Qatar charges a fee for a tourist visa on arrival. As an American I can visit the UAE without paying anything, while they swipe my credit card at immigration when I arrive in Doha. You’d think they’d want to do everything they can to make a stopover in Doha attractive to potential passengers, though they don’t.

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The Pearl, Doha, Qatar

The one exception has been if you have a stopover and book one of their complimentary city tours, which is available on a first come first service basis, and comes with a complimentary transit visa. It’s a cool offering, though is only available to passengers on Qatar Airways ticket stock, and also has limited space, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to use it.

Well, it looks like Qatar will be adding more opportunities for free transit visas at last.

Qatar will begin to offer free visas on arrival for passport holders from eligible countries who are transiting Doha for at least five hours and for up to 96 hours (four days). The complimentary transit visa will be available on arrival, though we don’t yet know when this new offering will be implemented.

An article from Qatar Day also suggests that Qatar Airways is reworking their fare structure to promote this initiative, suggesting that the airline will allow free stopovers in Doha on more fares. That’s a no brainer for the carrier, and is similar to what Icelandair and WOW Air do for passengers traveling through Reykjavik.

Bottom line

This is a great change. While Doha isn’t the most interesting place in the world, I think it’s worth visiting just about everywhere at least once, and this change makes that slightly more affordable.

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

Comments

  1. We did a 36 layover in Doha in May and am very glad we did! That’s about all the time you need but it’s definitely something everyone should do. The Museum of Islamic art alone is worth the trip, and admission is free!

  2. Absolutely dying (…. literally….) to visit one of the most anti-gay nations in the Middle East … esp for those who are LGBT. And of course, to say nothing of all the allegations that Qatar itself is a state sponsor of terrorist groups.

    No country is flawless or perfect, but Qatar literally is one of the worst out there, save for bottom feeders like Uganda or Jamaica.

  3. @ Max — Interesting. I know people who have been denied for being on AA ticket stock, so perhaps it’s a case of “your mileage may vary.”

  4. I was coming off an EY connection and the Al Maha rep brought me to the tour desk, so it could be they overlooked it.

  5. @henry LAX — took the words out of my mouth. Lucky is a competent writer and very, very good at playing the miles/points game, but his privileged upbringing prevents him from conveying even the slightest understanding of politics and world affairs, even when said politics directly targets people like him.

  6. @BooBoofoyNobu yes Nobu is worth a visit even if your not eating. It’s got a great outdoor bar with good views of the Doha skyline. I often go for drinks and the bar food.

  7. This is good news. I’ve also been perplexed as to why Qatar doesn’t offer visa on arrival, or free/cheap stopovers on its tickets.

    Also, for the complimentary your – it doesn’t have to be on Qatar stock. I have done the tour twice with AA and BA ticket stock

  8. Can I get a refund?

    I paid the $30 visa during a recent layover in Qatar, simply because I want to visit as many countries as possible and was interested in witnessing a “Gulf city,” but it still felt like highway robbery.

    It’s offensive that Qatar charges a visa fee to American and European citizens, given our collective military resources are the only thing keeping Qatar from being a little colony of Iran.

  9. @henry LAX @Jeremy Groffman
    Lucky’s posting was to inform you of a change in travel. He was not conveying political or world affairs because…. ummmm he is not a political blogger. This was informative to me as I am flying on Qatar in a few weeks and yes, I am a gay male that is not avoiding a country. While a country may be behind the times, they will never catch up if they don’t get any interaction with gay individuals to see how great we are. The U.S. has only made strides in the past 30 years…. that is not that long of time.

  10. Qatar wouldn’t have a high gdp per capita if they included all the workers(slaves) from Asia that live there. Both Qatar and Dubai is built by slaves and no one seems to care. Google “Dubai slaves” or “Qatar slaves”

  11. I’d certainly be happy to see the visa fee go away for short stays, but wouldn’t it be great if all other travel visa transactions were as simple as Qatar’s process of handing a card over to an immigration officer, then proceeding on your merry way!?!

  12. I did a layover there and paid the visa fee. In my opinion, Doha is not really worth the visa (except for the Museum of Islamic Art), and I found the locals (I’m not talking about the migrant workers) in general unfriendly. Never again would I visit it, even if it were free.

  13. Just wondering whether some of the people who post comments have actually visited Qatar or the middle east. Their ignorance is just beyond belief! Just to clarify in the anti-gay thing, as long as you don’t do anything “indecent” in public, no one will bother you. Most of Qatar’s population are expats, and I guess many are from the LGBT community. So relax, Lucky will not be stoned to death if he visits Qatar or Dubai.

  14. @ Qatar’s workers aka slaves make up 92% of the population.

    If that was the case for California then yes. Google “Qatar slaves” for more info. It’s honestly something that makes me incredibly angry and sad that this type of slavery is so dominant in gulf states and no one seems to care.

  15. @Max and @Lucky

    I will be traveling with my mother. We have a 20 hour layover in Doha (CAI-DOH-CGK). I used my AA miles for my mother – I booked her a oneway ticket. While mine is a rev tix CAI-DOH-CGK//CGK-DOH-CAI. But when I tried to apply a transit visa for my mom, the website says she is ineligible, while I am eligible. Is it because her ticket is AA stock? or because she holds a oneway ticket? Either way, I think she should be eligible since nothing says oneway ticket is not eligible and plus her award ticket is operated and marketed wholly by QR.

    Do you have any idea? Is there any workaround? I emailed the service desk and waiting for an answer.

    Thanks!

  16. I hold an Indian passport and Norwegian Resident card. Travelling from Oslo to India via Doha (stoppover 22 hours). Am I eligible for on arrival visa for 22 hours? Jouney is in 5 days time so I couldn’t apply online for visa.

  17. Dave W. And Henry. Lax, You guys are totally right and certainly not frivolous like the bunch of tacky dubai goers

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