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After the fabulous arrival into Doha, which involved a water cannon salute, I was now at Doha’s fabulous Hamad International Airport again after 48 hours or so.
My rollaboard bag had gotten heavy, so I decided to check it in at Toulouse for the flight to Doha, not realising I should have through checked it into Mumbai since I was going to catch the Mumbai flight a little after arriving on this Doha flight.
Once I arrived at Doha, I realised I did not have a way to pick up my bag. Working with Qatar Airways, I am sure I could have had someone retrieve my bag, put it through customs and bring it back to check in, however, I now wanted to try out the full Qatar Airport check-in experience. So, I remembered that since late last year, Qatar allows for a Visa-free entry for 80 nationalities across the world now.
The following countries get Multiple Entry Visa Free for 30 days (extendable for 30 days). You can stay for at most 30 days in the country across your Multiple Entries.
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Georgia, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Macedonia, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.
The following countries get Multiple Entry Visa Free for 180 days (non-extendable), and you can stay for at most 90 days in the country:
Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey.
Citizens of these countries wishing to visit Qatar no longer need to apply or pay for a visa; instead, a multi-entry waiver is issued free of charge at the port of entry upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket.
Qatar Airways had kindly organised all the people coming on this flight to use the Qatar Airways Arrival Lounge, which had its own immigration facility. I joined the queue, and soon enough, I was meeting an immigration officer.
Given there are no pre-conditions to this Visa for Indians, such as having a USA visa on your passport or something, he flipped through my passport, checking the validity, then he scanned the passport onto his computer, and placed a small sticker on the passport to denote the Qatar Visa on Arrival and stamped on top to wave me through. For representation, it looked like this.
No questions asked. Once I arrived inside Qatar, I was able to head to the baggage belt and pick up my bag. My stay inside the borders of Qatar was, however, short. I picked up my bag, added some more stuff to it, and I was on my way back to the Business Class Departures Check-in. It was all in a matter of 30 minutes and has to be my shortest stay in a country by a mile. I was infact wondering if the departure immigration officer would ask me a question, but nothing bothered him as he waived me out of the country.
Qatar has really made it easy to access the country, and this is one country I’d love to go and visit over sometime. It helps that Visa costs nothing now, and you and plan a last minute trip to the country without having to worry. Also, it looks beautiful from the air, and must be visited sometime!
Have you used the new Visa Free facility at Qatar? What has been your experience?