Manama: Bahrain will issue entry visas to Qataris who are members of mixed Bahraini-Qatari families, the interior ministry has said.
However, the visas will be allowed on humanitarian basis and under specific conditions that include “the monitoring of the movement of money, especially in such circumstances,” the ministry said in a statement late on Friday.
“The number of individuals who will be exempted will be limited as part of the framework to protect Bahraini society.” The statement said. “The special cases and application mechanisms will be determined later.”
On Tuesday, Bahrain said that it would stop issuing entry visas to Qatari nationals “in response to the irresponsible acts of Qatari authorities that do not consider the rights of neighbouring countries or the principles of the international law.”
The interior ministry said that Qatari students who are taking courses in Bahrain and Qatari nationals holding valid visas are exempted from the entry visa ban.
Nationals from the GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — can travel across the council just by showing their ID cards while foreigners holding GCC residence permits are eligible for a visit visa on arrival.
However, on October 31, Bahrain imposed entry visas on Qatari nationals and residents and said that the decision was to protect its security and preserve its stability.
The authorities launched a hotline to enable members of Bahraini-Qatari families to register their details and to have their travel requests related to essential matters such as deaths, weddings, studies, work and medical treatment processed.
Bahrain’s Foreign minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa attributed the decision to impose the entry visas for Qatari nationals and residents to the fact that several people coming from countries that sponsored terrorism had been given Qatari documents that allowed them to move across the GCC freely.
“Qatar has facilitated the granting of visas and residency permits in contravention of its obligations to GCC regulations that ease the movement of residents between the GCC countries, which poses a security risk,” Shaikh Khalid posted on his Twitter account.
“The [Bahrain] visa restrictions were not aimed at the people of Qatar, but were rather against Qatar’s facilitating the granting of visas and residency to citizens of countries sponsoring terrorism and extremism. The waiving of the Qatari visa [requirement] for the citizens of Lebanon, with due respect for the brotherly people of Lebanon, opened the door wide to the followers of the terrorist Hezbollah to enter Qatar and the GCC.”
In 2013, Bahrain’s parliament declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.
In August last year, Qatar announced a scheme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including Lebanon.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on June 5, 2017 cut off their diplomatic, trade and travel relations with Qatar after they accused it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism.
The Quartet issued a list of 13 demands and asked Doha to respond to them as a prelude to end the crisis; however, Qatar rejected the accusations, causing the crisis to drag on until today.
International mediation efforts led by Kuwait have failed to make any incremental progress to resolve the issue.