I encourage Nepali agricultural companies to participate in Qatari exhibitions: Qatari Ambassador to Nepal
The year 2021 marks the 44th anniversary of Nepal-Qatar diplomatic friendship. Nepal and Qatar had inked formal diplomatic relations on 21 January 1977. This diplomatic camaraderie matured to the ambassadorial level in the year 2000 after Nepal established its Embassy in Doha on 11 July 2000. Qatar reciprocated by establishing its Embassy in Kathmandu in August of 2011.
During these 44 years of friendship between Nepal and Qatar, the two countries have inched closer on many fronts. Qatar’s Ambassador to Nepal, H.E. Mr. Yousuf Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Al-Hail, who is appreciated in Nepal for public diplomacy, has exclusively shared his opinions about Nepal-Qatar friendship and areas of cooperation between the two countries and other associated topics with Birat Anupam of Nepal Press.
Excerpts from the conversation:
It has been 44 years of Nepal-Qatar friendship, since the establishment of a formal diplomatic relationship on 21st January 1977. How do you assess the relationship between the two countries?
The bilateral relationships are very good between our two countries. Now, our countries have close coordination in the international community and forums. There are various agreements between Nepal and Qatar. Most important is the agreement on agriculture and food security. Through this agreement, we can improve bilateral trade between these two countries. Already, Nepali agricultural products are exported to the state of Qatar. We have Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) in the security sector, and in the exemption of visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports, in Double Taxation Avoidance, Football Association and with the Chamber of Commerce. We are still looking forward to signing more agreements.
Since your appointment as Qatar’s ambassador to Nepal on 19 September 2016, you have travelled a lot in Nepal and interacted with lots of people and communities. What was the difference between your imagined Nepal and experienced Nepal?
Nepal is surprisingly beautiful. In terms of natural beauty, Nepal is the best in the world in my opinion. I knew Nepal is beautiful, however, I found that Nepali people are also great. Their honesty, hospitality, generosity and respect for family is amazing. Many values and morals are the same as what we believe in. Therefore, I felt at home here and not like a foreigner in Nepal. Every new thing I discover during my visits in Nepal are amazing.
You were once a member of Qatar’s national football league yourself. Qatar is hosting the Football World Cup in 2022. How are the prospects of Qatar 2022 in face of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I love football, I played football at a club in my hometown. All Qataris are football fans, therefore hosting the World Cup is a wonderful experience for us. We are proud and honored to host all global talents and professionals of the game. It’s a truly historic event, and all the preparations are ongoing as planned. As for COVID-19, we are very optimistic that there will not be impacts of the pandemic on the World Cup in November 2022. I believe the current medical and scientific efforts in terms of vaccines and medicines, as well as people’s awareness, will have positive impacts.
Nepal and Qatar had signed a ‘Bilateral Agreement Concerning Nepalese Manpower Employment’ with the State of Qatar on 21 March 2005 during the visit of Nepal’s then Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey. Subsequently, its protocol agreement was approved on 20th January 2008. How much change has occurred in the relationship between Nepal and Qatar as labor exporting and receiving countries?
It is not a matter of change. It is an understanding between the two countries to update the agreement, as a long time has passed since 2005. We have a joint committee with representatives from the Ministry of Labor of the two countries. The State of Qatar has also updated the Labor Law, abolished the sponsor system and implemented a new minimum salary system.
Referring to our MoU with the Chamber of Commerce as well as other initiatives, Nepali honey, tea, coffee, carpet, Ginger, Garlic, etc. would be more than welcome in Qatar.
Nepal has a huge trade deficit in comparison to Qatari imports and Nepalese exports. According to the official website of Nepalese Embassy in Qatar, Nepal’s export to Qatar in 2018 was 378649 US Dollars while its import was 7948448 US Dollars. How can this trade deficit be narrowed in the years ahead?
This is one of my objectives in Nepal; to improve the bilateral trade. I have experience with some companies on agricultural products. I encouraged them to participate in the Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition and these companies continue to export Nepali products to Qatari markets. Marketing is an important factor and it is improved through exhibitions and exchange of visits. Referring to our MoU with the Chamber of Commerce as well as other initiatives, I can tell you that Nepali honey, tea, coffee, carpet, Ginger, Garlic, etc. would be more than welcome in Qatar.
There have been high-level visits from the Nepali side to Qatar like the visit of PM Girija Prasad Koirala in 1998 to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to Qatar in 2018. However, there are only ministerial level visits from the Qatari side. How can we help make the Emir of Qatar visit Nepal?
To strengthen relationships between two countries, high level visits are very important. Qataris still remember that Late Former Prime Minister Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala visited Qatar in 1998. Those were the days in which Nepal and Qatar shared good faith and established a great relationship. The Nepalese started to go to Qatar for employment. Actually, the Nepalese have done hard work to build Qatar. President of Nepal Rt. Hon’ble Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari visited Qatar in 2018. The visit contributed to strengthening the existing relationship, Now, Nepal and Qatar have a very good relationship. The Qatari leadership is also equally interested to visit Nepal. His Highness Emir has a special appreciation towards Nepali people and is keen to strengthen ties between our two countries, as for this high level visit, I hope this will be realized in the near future as per the arrangement of the two countries.
His Highness Emir has a special appreciation towards Nepali people and is keen to strengthen ties between these two countries.
After three and a half years of blockade of Qatar by its neighbors, it is no more blockaded now. How hard it was to cope up with the neighboring blockade? What did Qatar learn and what can be the lesson for nations like Nepal from the Qatari experience?
The State of Qatar has always encouraged dialogue and solutions among brotherly countries of the GCC, therefore we are committed to the AlUla Agreement for reconciliation signed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and appreciate those who exerted efforts to realize the agreement. The relations among the Gulf countries is of high importance to the State of Qatar. We belong to this region, and the people of the 6 states are like a big family. Therefore, cooperative relations and open borders are very significant.