UAE ban hits expats with Qatari residence visas

Published:  8 Jun at 6 PM
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As the Gulf States crisis hots up, the ban on Qatari nationals entering UAE states has been widened to include all expats holding Qatari residence visas.

The new ban applies to all passengers on airlines flying to UAE airports, and is set to cause extreme difficulties for expat professionals who travel the region regularly a part of their jobs. In addition, Qatari nationals living and working in other Gulf States have been given just two weeks to pack up and return home. The small country holds 2.3 million people, most of whom are foreign workers.

In a further development, both locals and expats living in the UAE have been warned not to express sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar on social media or as a part of any visual, written or verbal communication. Those who do will be arrested, fined 500,00Dh or more and imprisoned for up to 15 years. UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al Shamsi announced the new law, saying anyone who expressed sympathy towards any aspect of Qatar’s or its residents’ situation would face ‘strict and firm action’ for breaching the law.

The latest countries to join the action against Qatar are the Maldives, Yemen and Mauritania, although Turkey has accelerated the departure for its Qatari military base of a significant troop deployment as well as shipments of water and food supplies. Doha is also in talks with Iran regarding the minimising of trade disruptions caused by the ban.

Consequences of the ban are likely to hit hard on Qatari banks, with foreign deposits from the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council most at risk. Doha Bank QSC and National Bank QBSC in particular have benefited from the deposits but are already struggling with shrinking cash reserves and higher interest rates due to government use of bank deposits to offset the effects of declining oil prices.

Qatar is still one of the richest countries in the world due to its massive reservoirs of oil and gas, and is regarded as a global financial powerhouse. Holdings include Deutsche Bank, Barclays PLC and Credit Suisse Group AG. However, its domestic banking relies on foreign cash, mostly obtained via non-resident deposits. Since the ban, Saudi and UAE central banks have now requested information from lenders about their exposure to Qatari clients.
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