Qatar’s cabinet has approved a draft law that would grant permanent residency to some foreigners.
Under the provisions of the law, foreigners can receive permanent resident status from the Ministry of Interior if they are married to a Qatari, have “performed great services to the state” or have “special competencies”.
The permanent residence card would grant holders privileges including the same treatment as Qataris in terms of education and healthcare in government institutions and priority after nationals for military and public sector jobs.
They will also have the right to own real estate, in accordance with the country’s laws.
A permanent committee will be established at the Ministry of Interior to consider applications under the new law, according to Qatar News Agency.
Permanent residence has been a heavily debated topic in the Gulf region, where some expatriates spend decades living and working but usually must leave when they reach retirement age.
Other GCC countries have also considered similar systems, including Saudi Arabia.
Last year, the kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said a US-style green card system allowing foreigners to live and work in the country on a permanent basis could help reduce foreign remittances.
The draft law comes as Qatar faces an economic boycott from its Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, as well as Egypt, that shows little sign of ending.