Qatar eases banking regulations for expats with expired visas

Published:  31 Oct at 6 PM
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As the regional economic boycott enters its sixth month, Qatar’s central bank is loosening up on expat banking rules.

According to the regulator, lenders must now allow expat workers whose visas have expired a full 90 days before their accounts are closed. Formerly, accounts were shut down immediately on visa expiry. The news was posted on the regulator’s website last Sunday, and is in line with an existing law which allows a stay of up to three months for expats whose residency permits have ended.

The declared aim of the new rule is to ensure the correct functioning of foreigners’ financial affairs before they leave the emirate, thus ensuring expatriates are able to pay outstanding bills and other financial commitments. The order follows on August’s landmark legislation which conferred permanent residency on a number of expats who dominate the emirate’s population. The new policy has elevated important members of Qatar’s foreign community and is at present unique in the Gulf States region.

Elsewhere in the UAE and especially in Kuwait, expats are subject to prejudice and blamed for much that is wrong in the region. The privileges of nationals are traditionally jealously guarded whilst foreign workers’ access to property rights and public services are restricted. Qatar is still denying its links with Islamist extremists as well as with Iran, and is determined to reject the effects of the embargo.

Meanwhile in Bahrain, parliamentarians are proposing the establishment of a separate health centre to serve expats living and working in the kingdom. The proposal claims a totally separate facility for expats would relieve the pressure on existing public healthcare facilities. It also claims services given at the public healthcare clinics and hospitals would improve considerably as a result, in particular in highly populated areas. At present, the proposal has been rejected by the l Ministry, but may resurface at a later date.
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