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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Bahrain stops issuing visas for Qatari nationals

The move is aimed at the recent actions by the state, not at the people, Bahrain says

A Bahraini woman walks through local souq as she looks for clothes for her children ahead of Eid al-Adha in Manama, Bahrain, August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
A Bahraini woman walks through local souq as she looks for clothes for her children ahead of Eid al-Adha in Manama, Bahrain, August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Bahrain will stop issuing visas for Qatari nationals after “hostile behaviour” by the isolated peninsular nation, the government in Manama announced on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Interior declares that “in response to hostile behaviour against the Kingdom of Bahrain, it was decided to stop issuing visas to Qatari nationals, except Qatari students studying in the kingdom,” a statement carried by the official Bahrain News Agency said.

The statement said that the action was not aimed at targeting the Qatari people, with who the statement described having "fraternal brotherly relations," but to stop “the actions of the Qatari authorities” which is said was acting “irresponsibly” and not following international laws or norms.

As well as students, those with existing visas would be exempt from the new ruling.

Nationals from Gulf Cooperation Council members – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar (which is suspended) – can travel to other member states using just an ID card.

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Bahrain announced in November 2017 that Qatari nationals would require a visa for entry after it said that several people travelling from other countries “which sponsored terrorism” were entering the kingdom using Qatari documents.

The move came after Qatar announced visa-free travel for Lebanese nationals.

UAE Minister of State Anwar Gargash (R) and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (L) attend the Arab Foreign meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
UAE Minister of State Anwar Gargash and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa attend the Arab Foreign meeting in Riyadh. Reuters

“The waiving of the Qatari visa [requirement] for the citizens of Lebanon, with due respect for the brotherly people of Lebanon, opened the door wide to the followers of the terrorist Hezbollah to enter Qatar and the GCC,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa tweeted at the time.

Bahrain says it has arrested numerous Iran backed Hezbollah operatives and cells in the country in recent years and has accused the powerful Lebanese militia-cum-political party of fermenting unrest among Bahrain’s Shiite community.

The country has also accused Qatar of running espionage operations and trying to destabilise Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt suspended travel and trade ties with Qatar last June alleging it was backing Iran and supporting terrorism.