Qatar’s plans to allow some expatriates to obtain permanent residency in the country - the first move of its kind in the GCC region - have been hailed by residents, saying it will further contribute to its fast-paced economic growth.

A draft law approved at a Cabinet meeting will allow permanent residence to the children of Qatari women married to non-Qataris, as well as expatriates who provide outstanding services to Qatar, the Qatar News Agency reported recently.

"According to the provisions of the bill, the minister of interior may grant permanent residency IDs to non-Qataris if they meet the conditions specified in the law," the Cabinet statement carried by the agency said.

Holders of the new permanent residency can for the first time access free state education and healthcare. They will also have the right to own property and run some businesses without needing a Qatari partner.

Prominent expatriates who spoke to Gulf Times generally said the decision would further enhance Qatar’s economy, competence and productivity, driven by a better talent pool.

They say it is a landmark legislation with the potential to ultimately transform the national economy by granting permanent residency to some of the foreigners who form a sizeable number in the population.

Pakistan ambassador Shahzad Ahmad congratulated His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, for what he described “the wise initiative, which shows the inclusive and caring society he wishes to build.”

Philippine Business Council – Qatar chairman Greg Loayon said: “The granting of permanent residency is a great testament to Qatar's recognition of the people’s contribution towards its economy and society, and will serve to cement this relationship and integration as the country works towards achieving its long term vision.”

Prominent Doha-based Indian entrepreneur and former chairman of Birla Public School - Qatar, C V Rappai said Qatar’s recent decision to consider expatriates for permanent residency in the country would further contribute to national economic development.

K R Girish Kumar, former president of Indian Cultural Centre (ICC) said: “The permanent residency initiative is a highly remarkable one, a great move and a thoughtful decision from the country’s wise leadership. I congratulate and thank His Highness the Emir for this historic move.”

QNA said a committee would be established at the interior ministry to review requests of granting permanent residency ID in line with the provisions of the law.

Qatar has a population of 2.47mn including some 300,000 citizens.

A wise initiative

Shahzad Ahmad, Pakistan ambassador to Qatar

On behalf of myself and the Pakistani community, I would like to congratulate His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for this wise initiative and a first in the GCC, which shows the inclusive and caring society that he wishes to build. This new law will reinforce the fabric and cohesion of all communities in Qatar and have a significant and positive impact on its economy, as expatriates become real stakeholders in the prosperity of Qatar.