Opinion: Why did Qatar just change its residency laws?

For more than two months, Qatar has been under a political and economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia. Just last week, Qatar approved a draft law that gives permanent residency status to certain noncitizens, including children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men.

By pushing through domestic policy goals that will reshape not only the country but the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a whole, this move is an indication that the Qatari leadership is using this crisis to its advantage.

In line with the GCC, Qatar has always enforced citizenship laws that pass down citizenship only from father to child. Being born in Qatar gives one no claim to citizenship: Even children of Qatari women married to non-Qatari men do not get citizenship upon birth.

Qatar’s new law is the first in the union to bestow noncitizens with the economic benefits akin to those under full citizenship — including free education, free health care, and preferential hiring — as well as the stability of permanent residency rather than temporary visas that must be renewed annually.

Already, Qatar’s plans for increased taxes internally have been shelved: A promised “sin tax” on alcohol in July never materialized, suggesting that Qatar is less interested in making money than in keeping its expatriate community, including important business interests, happy. Qatar is also hinting that it will change the rules of foreign investment and ownership to attract additional business away from its blockading neighbors.

Source Credit: The Washington Post
Read full story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/09/why-did-qatar-just-change-its-residency-laws/?utm_term=.039cfead46ae

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