Qatar Becomes First Gulf Nation to Grant Permanent Residency Status to Expatriate Workers
The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar (Photo: qatarliving)

Qatar has made official the permanent residency as an option for a limited number of foreigners who work in the country. Qatar is the first among the gulf countries to do so.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued a decree allowing a maximum of 100 expatriates to gain permanent residency each year. This will allow Qatari permanent residents access to a generous welfare system and commercial rights previously reserved for Qatari citizens.

To be eligible, residents born in Qatar must have lived in the country for 10 years, while those born abroad would need to have lived there 20 years, according to the decree. A passing command of the Arabic language, proof of sufficient income and sound legal standing are also required. The new permanent residency law gives priority to children born to a Qatari mother, as well as foreign nationals who have lived in the country for more than 20 years and are considered "valuable" for their skills.

Under the new law, permanent residents will be entitled to the same social security benefits as Qatar's citizens, including free healthcare, education in government schools and be allocated priority in government jobs.

Qatar's population is estimated at 2.7 million in 2018 of which Indians form the biggest group of expatriate workers at 6.5 lakhs.

As permanent residents, foreign expatriates investing in setting up a business in Qatar will no longer be required to have a Qatari citizen as their partner. The new law also allows them to own real estate in the country.

Qatar’s introduction of this law seems to be an effort at stemming the flight of human capital from the country since Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed ties with the country, accused it of funding terrorism and imposed an embargo. The Saud-led action deeply impacted Qatar’s economy with food prices sky-rocketing the first year. But since then, prices have stabilised but the hostility with its neighbours continues.

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world with an average income of nearly $124,000 per annum and also is the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas.