The fallout from the Qatari diplomatic crisis continued this week, as Jordan downgraded its diplomatic ties with Doha and the Philippines placed a limited ban on workers planning on traveling to the small Persian Gulf nation. Kuwait positioned itself as a possible broker between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries leading the initiative. The crisis has impacted not just nationals, but also residents of countries involved in the dispute, as it is unclear whether travel restrictions will apply to them.

Key points:

  • Jordan said it would downgrade its diplomatic ties with Qatar. The move followed the decision Monday by Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen to cut ties with Qatar. The Maldives and Mauritius have also cut ties. Jordan will maintain some relations with Qatar, but has imposed a ban on flights traveling to or arriving from Qatar. For the time being, it appears that Qatari nationals will be permitted to enter Jordan through a third country, provided that the third country has not separately imposed travel restrictions on Qatari nationals. The same is true for Jordanian nationals traveling to Qatar.
  • The Philippines moved to restrict Philippine workers from traveling to Qatar. The BBC and Reuters reported that a day after saying it would not send Overseas Filipino Workers to Qatar, however, the Philippines partially lifted its ban. The Philippines said that OFWs on contracts or who have obtained an overseas employment certificate will be able to travel to Qatar, but OFWs who have not yet been issued a certificate will be temporarily prevented from traveling to Qatar, according to reports.
  • Kuwait and Oman have maintained their relations with Qatar, and the two countries will likely play a key role as transit points for travel between Qatar and GCC countries. Kuwait has stepped in to try to mediate the diplomatic crisis, but so far there are no signs that tensions are easing. 
  • The diplomatic crisis has ensnared not just nationals of the countries involved, but also residence visa holders. Foreign nationals who hold residence visas in Qatar will likely have difficulty visiting countries – including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – that have imposed travel restrictions on Qatari nationals or that have closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft. The same is true of residence permit holders in countries whose nationals have been barred entry to Qatar. Permit holders in affected countries should check with BAL before traveling.

Background: As BAL reported Monday, the Gulf countries leading this initiative accuse Qatar of supporting terrorist groups including al-Qaeda and ISIS. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry called the accusations “baseless” and said the blockade had “no legitimate justification.” Qatar has maintained a rocky relationship with its GCC co-members for almost two decades, but the rift has widened in recent months over several issues. Qatar criticized the anti-Iran rhetoric following U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia; soon after, the UAE and other GCC countries cut access to media from Doha-based Al Jazeera.

BAL Analysis: The steps taken by Jordan and the Philippines in response to the diplomatic crisis show that its impact is being felt widely. Kuwait and other countries have taken steps toward resolving the situation, but so far tensions remain high. The situation is evolving and may change quickly. BAL is following developments and will alert clients to any additional changes or restrictions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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