Brit government hikes Qatar terrorism threat level

Published:  23 Jan at 6 PM
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Expats and foreign visitors in Qatar are being urged by the UK government to stay alert after the emirate’s terrorism threat level was raised to ‘likely’.

Prior to the update, Qatar’s rating as regards the likelihood of terrorist attacks fell in the General category, indicating ‘some level of known terrorist activity’. The British government’s advisory page now shows an upgrading of the threat level which indicates a ‘high level of known terrorist activity’ resulting in warnings to expats and visitors.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the agency responsible for the UK’s worldwide travel advisory service, is now urging all foreigners in Qatar to be vigilant and maintain awareness in all public places including malls, shopping areas and entertainment venues. It adds that terrorist attacks in the emirate are likely to occur on an indiscriminate basis, especially in areas frequented by foreign tourists and expats.

The warning comes after a recent, somewhat surprising report by the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report claiming Qatar as the safest country in North Africa and the Middle East. The emirate is located in one of the planet’s most politically unstable regions, although the UK’s threat level rating is one step higher at ‘severe’, and the UK government have not yet advised against travelling to Qatar.

Meanwhile in Kuwait, continuing attacks on the status of the country’s expat community are causing deep rifts in local media and society. The latest reference to foreigners as ‘settlers’, made by lawmakers supporting drastic reductions in the number of expat workers, is especially controversial. However, rather than being drawn in to focusing on the views of newly-elected, more vociferous MPs, the majority of Kuwaiti citizens consider parliament should concentrate on the large number of more pressing domestic issues.

Following the cancellation by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health of its contract with a health insurance company tasked with providing the now compulsory expat medical insurance, expats are now in limbo. As private health insurance is a legal requirement for residency applications, no new applications or renewals can be processed until the ministry has appointed a new insurer. For renewals only, a temporary one-month permit is being permitted, but no statement has been made as to the time needed to arrange another contract.
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