Qatar’s Cabinet has approved a draft law making permanent residency available to some non-citizens, marking a partial shift from its reliance on its longstanding visa-sponsorship system. The energy-rich Gulf nation said in a statement sent today that the residency permits could be granted to children of Qatari women married to foreigners, people who “offered valuable services to the country” and those with special skills. As in many Arab countries, a Qatari child’s citizenship is granted based on the father’s nationality. The residency permit gives holders similar rights as Qataris in terms of property ownership and access to generous education and health care services. Qatar’s native population is far surpassed by foreigners holding fixed-term residency permits typically tied to a sponsoring employer.