By Elizabeth Broomhall
Rules banning visas on arrival will not apply to Formula One ticket holders
Immigration rules in Bahrain restricting certain nationalities from obtaining visas on arrival will not apply to travellers attending the Formula One event in April, according to organisers of next month’s Grand Prix in Bahrain.
Travellers holding valid tickets for the race will continue to be granted free entry into the Gulf state and allowed to remain in the country for two weeks, officials from Bahrain International Circuit told Gulf Daily News.
"There have been no changes to the earlier rules that all those holding valid event tickets will be given visas on arrival or on application through the Interior Ministry's Nationality, Passport and Residency Affairs (NPRA) website," a spokesman told the daily.
"We have always had special visas for those wishing to attend the race. These special two-week visas will continue to be provided as per the existing rules."
Earlier media reports said the island state was to introduce new rules prohibiting visas on arrival for visitors from the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Japan, as well as 26 other EU countries.
Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said the regulation was to prevent violations and maintain equal treatment of countries that enforced strict entry rules on Bahrainis.
The NPRA website says Grand Prix visas are available to around 40 nationalities, subject to conditions.
Visas will be valid between April 7 and April 22, with applicants required to show valid tickets or proof of purchase to the Grand Prix events, as well as an onward ticket to leave Bahrain.
Online applications should take no longer than 72 hours, with visitors informed by email as to the status of their applications.
The Bahrain F1 Grand Prix will be held between April 20 and April 22.
Why are the Bahrainis currently stopping and holding up Western travellers on arrival at the moment?
They are released after an hour or so, but this treatment, as well as the reintroduction of an entry card system last seen about twenty years ago, is making the Bahrainis look vindictive.
I hope they see sense and sort this out quickly as it does nothing for a country that badly needs good press at the moment.
This will unfortunately affect buisness in Bahrain.
Openess and ease of access is what makes Bahrain such an easy place to do business. I think adding more obstacles to foreign business people visiting will just make it more difficult to do business with the country. This will aggravate the already difficult business environment because of all the travel advisories still in place. If foreign visitors still come in spite of travel advisory warnings from their countries, they will be more hesitant to come if they need to go through the hassle of getting a visa prior to arrival.