Doha tourism chief says no visas for country’s ‘enemies’

Akbar Al-Baker came under fire in June 2018, when he said a woman would not be capable of doing his job as CEO of Qatar Airways CEO.
Updated 05 May 2019
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Doha tourism chief says no visas for country’s ‘enemies’

  • Egyptians who live in the country already do not appear to be included
  • Deportations appear to be unlikely at this stage

DOHA: Qatar will not grant visas to those it considers “enemies,” the secretary-general of the National Tourism Council said in reference to Egyptians seeking to enter the country amid an ongoing political rift.

Since the Egyptians, who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar, have remained and make up a sizable portion of the tiny but wealthy country's workforce.

In June 2017 Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism – Doha denies the claims.

The blockade saw Qatar’s land borders and airspace closed.

Speaking at an event to promote a summer tourism campaign, the tourism council's Akbar al-Baker said Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting its tourism industry.

“The visa will not be open for our enemies - it will be open for our friends,” Baker said of Egyptians looking to visit Qatar. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them? Everything is reciprocal.”

Qatar has not said it would deport Egyptian residents already in the country and the comments did not suggest a policy shift that could endanger their status.

Many Egyptians say the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with narrow exceptions made for the immediate family members of residents and for specifically approved events.

Al-Baker came under fire in June 2018, when he said a woman would not be capable of doing his job as CEO of Qatar Airways CEO.

Speaking at the press conference following a meeting of airlines group International Air Transport Association (IATA) he was asked about female employment in the Middle East and why a woman could not do his job as CEO.

He said: “Of course it has to be led by a man because it is a very challenging position.”


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.