What renders this system ludicrous is that, for an additional fee, a Multiple Exit permit is obtainable at a cost of QAR500 and valid for a year. Putting aside for the moment the new rule that cancelling an existing multiple exit permit now costs an additional QAR500, which wasn't advertised at the time and is certainly not something The Goat signed up for, there seem to have been some additional changes.
Last weekend, The Goat attempted to leave the country with a suitcase full of some of his worldly goods. He used his ID card at the e-gate, and nothing happened. Now the e-gate facility coded on to The Goat's ID card should be valid for three years from August 2011, and it has functioned faultlessly on 23 occasions. The last two had some problems 'with the system' but the reader eventually decided to let The Goat out and back in again.
Last Thursday was a different story. After a total refusal of any e-gate machine to read the card, The Goat was forced to present his passport and lose yet another page to ink. The immigration official advised what the problem was: the exit permit was valid for passport only, and not for e-gate.
The Goat checked with an Emirati friend who had contacts in Qatari officialdom. Perceived wisdom from that source was that The Goat's sponsor had attempted to prevent The Goat from leaving the country and/or had screwed up the paperwork.
After returning to Qatar, The Goat checked with the firm's HR department, where he was told in No Uncertain Terms that any changes caused by HR to his permission to leave the country would have been advised in advance, but no, there were no known changes in Immigration systems.
So which is it? As usual, The Goat merely seeks knowledge of what the rules are, and what has caused a perfectly good e-gate permit suddenly to become a waste of money. And if you, dear reader, have an e-gate card, you might well be interested in learning if you need to do something about ensuring you can escape from Qatar before turning up at the airport.
- 86% reckoned that Immigration had changed the rules and not told anyone.
- 14% suggested a new conspiracy theory that the Goat hadn't considered.