DOHA: In a landmark development, Qatar becomes the first GCC state to allow some of its long-time expatriates to become permanent residents.
Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued on Wednesday, the Law No. 10 of 2018 that will now permit a maximum of 100 expats every year the right to obtain “Permanent Residency Permit” (PRP) of Qatar.
According to the new law, the chosen band of expatriates will be entitled to several privileges that were once only reserved for Qatari citizens.
The holders of PRP card would be allowed to have Free State education, healthcare and be given the right to own property and can do business, without a Qatari partner, known as a kafeel.
Like other nations in the region, Qatar relies massively on foreign labor. The landmark law also allows most foreign labors to leave the country or change jobs without an exit visa.
But, for obtaining the proposed permanent resident card, expatriates who were born in Qatar must have lived in there for a minimum of at least 10 years, while the non-Qatari residents who were born abroad should have lived there 20 years, the Emir’s decree says.
Also, the eligible applicant needs to have a sufficient knowledge of the Arabic language, proof of sufficient income and a clean criminal record with no previous convictions.
Spouses of Qatari citizens, children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari husband and non-Qatari wife of a Qatari man will automatically become permanent residents.
It is thought to be the first such law proposed by one of the energy-rich Gulf states.
It was first announced last August just two months after Qatar was boycotted by neighboring former allies in a bitter diplomatic dispute.
Its current population of 2.71 million, a record, is made up of almost 90 percent non-nationals, many helping the country prepare to host the 2022 World Cup. There are some 315,000 Qatari nationals.