In a first for the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the state of Qatar is to offer permanent residency to a limited number of expats each year, it was announced today.
The move, announced by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and passed by decree, allows up to 100 expats per year the prospect of gaining not only permanent residency, but also full access to the state’s generous social security.
As the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, Qatar has for decades extended these benefits solely to its own citizens. Yet the need to encourage foreign workers to remain has become ever more pressing given the ongoing boycott of Qatar by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE and also Egypt.
The move, which has long been seen as controversial, will nonetheless only affect a tiny percentage of the foreign workers in Qatar, a country where expats form 90% of the 2.7 million populace.
Resident expats born in Qatar must have lived in the country continuously for 10 years. Those born abroad will need proof of 20 years’ residency. Some understanding of basic Arabic will also be required.