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Pressured Qatar easing visa rules for 80 states

Qatari authorities have lifted visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries, as the Gulf state continues to be pressured by a blockade from a number of other Arab nations.

The ruling covers 33 countries, whose nationals are eligible for a 180-day waiver, plus a 30-day waiver for a further 47 countries.

Qatar Tourism Authority chief tourism development officer Hassan Al Ibrahim did not refer specifically to the political blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates while unveiling the change.

But he stated that the "circumstances the country is passing through" have "acted as a catalyst" to "accelerate" the process of "opening Qatar up to the world".

Qatar Airways has been banned from operating to the states involved in the blockade, which began in early June.

The effect on passenger numbers at Doha's Hamad airport has yet to become clear – the figures for the first half of this year showed the passenger count rose 8% to 19 million.

Qatar Airways is backing the waiver scheme, which is effective immediately, adding that the number of nationalities entitled to enter the Gulf state without a visa is "the highest in the region" as a result.

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