Brief on Nepal-Qatar Relations
Nepal and the State of Qatar established their diplomatic relations on 21 January 1977. Since that time onwards, bilateral relations between the two countries are cordial and friendly that are based on mutual trust, respect, understanding and cooperation. Nepal opened its Embassy in Doha on 11 July 2000 where as Qatar set up its Embassy in Kathmandu in August 2011. Before that, Qatari Ambassador resident in New Delhi was concurrently accredited to Nepal.
As Nepal and Qatar share similar views on many international agenda and issues, both countries at the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, and other international forums have been working in tandem and playing active role for the cause of peace, security and development in the world.
Exchange of Visits
Exchange of visits at different levels and interactions thereof help promote understanding and goodwill which in turn also help widen and heighten the subsisting bonds of ties. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal Mr. Ramesh Nath Pandey visited Qatar and signed the bilateral Agreement concerning Nepalese manpower employment in Qatar on 21 March 2005. After the successful people’s revolution II in Nepal in 2006, Right Honourable Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, President of Nepal paid an official visit to the State of Qatar on 10-13 October 2011. Earlier Minister of Labour and Transport Mr. Ramesh Lekhak visited Qatar signed the Additional Protocol to the Agreement on the Regulation of the Employment of Nepalese manpower on 20 January 2008; on 14-16 March 2009, former Foreign Minister Mr. Upendra Yadav paid an unofficial visit to Qatar. Similarly, former Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai paid a visit to Qatar from 28 November to 03 December 2008, in the capacity of the Minister for Finance and Leader of Nepalese delegation, to participate in the Follow-up of International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of Monterrey Consensus. Likewise, former Prime Minister and Member of Constituent Assembly Hon. Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda paid a private visit to Qatar from March 19-23, 2014. During the visit, Hon. Prachanda had meetings with H. E. Sheikh Abdulla Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister for Interior, H. E. Dr. Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, Minister for Foreign Affaires, and H.E. Abdullah Saleh Mubarak Al-Khulaifi, Minister for Labour and Social Affairs.
In recent time, Hon. Mr. Babu Ram Kunwar, Attorney General of Nepal also visited Qatar leading a ten member delegation from 25-31 October 2014 at the invitation of his counterpart H.E. Dr. Al Bin Fetais Al-Marri to study the prosecution practices of Qatar. Hon. Bam Dev Gautam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs visited Qatar from April 11 to 14, 2015 leading a Nepalese delegation to take part in the 13thUN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. During his sojourn, the Deputy Prime Minister paid courtesy call on H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior on the sideline of the UN Congress on 13 April 2015. Likewise Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat paid an official visit to Doha from January 10-12, 2017 at the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar E. Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. During the Visit, Hon. Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call to His Highness Emir Tamim Bin Hammad Al Thani, hold bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister and Labor Minister of Qatar separately.
From Qatari side, H.E. Dr. Al Bin Fetais Al-Marri, Attorney General of Qatar made private visit to Nepal on 17 and 18 July 2014. During the visit, Dr. Al Marri held bilateral meeting with his counterpart Hon. Babu Ram Kunwar, Attorney General of Nepal and paid courtesy call on Hon. Narahari Acharya, Minister for Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs. Similarly, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs H.E. Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi paid an official visit to Nepal from 4-7 April 2015. During the visit the Labour Minister held bilateral meeting with his counterpart Hon. Tek Bahadur Gurung, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, had meetings with Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey and paid courtesy calls on Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Rt. Hon. President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav.
Prospects of Bilateral Cooperation
Since both countries are endowed with natural resources, there is an ample scope of promoting cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, and tourism and manpower utilization. Moreover, Nepal is a country of choice as a destination for tourism, trade and investment opportunity and both Nepal and Qatar should boost their economic relations in the domain of having comparative advantage.
The trade between Nepal and Qatar are insignificant. However, it is in favor of Qatar. Nepal’s major export items to Qatar are pasta, carpets, spaghetti, noodles and tea whereas polymers of ethylene, oil from petrol and bituminous minerals are major import items from Qatar. The following table reflects the recent trade figures between the two countries:
|Year||Export||Import||Balance of Trade (million, NRs.)|
|2014||76,809,975.00||798,038,220.00||– Around 722|
Source: Trade and Export Promotion Centre
Nepal should, therefore, explore the ways to decrease the gap of trade deficit through enhancement of exports to Qatar. In this context, it is the opportune time to review/amend the Agreement on Economic, Commercial and Technical Cooperation as well as MOU between Chambers of Commerce signed between the two countries.
Tourism is an important sector where Nepal and Qatar co-operate to each other. Nepal and Qatar signed the Air Service Agreement in 2002. At present, Qatar Airways is operating daily direct passenger flights to Kathmandu and handling a significant quantity of Nepalese export goods bound for Europe and America. The air connectivity between Kathmandu and Doha has facilitated the movement of the people to either side. Nepal’s most famous Himalayan beauty as well as its rich architecture and hospitable people are receiving worldwide attention and attracting an increasing number of tourists from around the world. Nepal could provide best alternative ambiance for Qatari tourists to spend their holidays away from the bustle of modernity. Bilateral relations in the tourism sector have been further enhanced after the successful ascent of the world’s highest peak- Mt. Everest by H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Thani on 22 May 2013. He is the first Qatari national to climb Mt. Everest.
Till date, there is a significant flow of Qatari nationals as well as expatriates to Nepal. There is indeed a great potential to attract them through dissemination and publication of the natural beauty, culture and hospitable Nepalese people.
Bilateral Labour Relations
As part of the economic diplomacy, Government of Nepal has taken the policy of sending its nationals abroad for employment with honor and dignity. Pursuant to it, Nepalese people are going abroad for the quest of jobs. Qatar has become one of the most preferred destinations for employment opportunities. After the signing of bilateral Agreement between Nepal and Qatar concerning Nepalese manpower employment in the State of Qatar on 21 March 2005 and its Additional Protocol (signed on 20 January 2008), the flow of the people has been increasing annually. According to a conservative estimate around 370,000 to 400,000 Nepalese people are working in Qatar but most of them are in menial jobs. Dedication to work, loyalty, sincerity and integrity are some of the attributes of the Nepalese workers that have earned trust and goodwill of the people and Government of Qatar.
The prospect of employment in Qatar is ever growing due to the massive construction of infrastructures by the Qatari Government in the context of hosting the World Cup-2022 and realizing the goals set in the Qatar National Vision 2030 of the Government of the State of Qatar.