Qatar-Asia relations set to witness a promising future

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s three-nation Asia tour is part of Qatar’s unwavering approach to beef up strategic relations and partnerships with Asia

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s three-nation Asia tour is part of Qatar’s unwavering approach to beef up strategic relations and partnerships with Asia.

His Highness’ talks with the leaders of the Philippines, Nepal and Bangladesh will focus on ways to boost relations across various fields, and regional and international issues of common concern.

The well-established Qatar-Asia relations have seen steady development thanks to both sides’ mutual keenness to develop and enhance them across various areas.

Recently, these relations have experienced a drastic growth with both sides exchanging high-profile visits, ramping up the implementation of joint economic and investment projects and co-ordinating positions on many regional and international issues.

Aware of Asia’s vital role in consolidating the regional and global economies and achieving global food security, Qatar has dived into Asia with the aim of fostering global and regional economic security. In turn, Asia’s fast-growing economies attach overriding attention to further deepening relations with Qatar.

These mutually beneficial Qatar-Asia relations serve the two parties’ national interests. Bearing in mind economic diversification as a top priority of the Qatar National Vision 2030, Doha considers the ample economic opportunities for diverse investments in Asia across several sectors: agriculture, infrastructure, transportation, financial institutions and energy sectors.

Meanwhile, multiple Asian countries appeal to potential multi-sector Qatari investments in a bid to push their economies, provide further job opportunities, and to rocket their foreign exports.

Furthermore, Doha hosts thousands of migrant workers from many Asian countries. Recognising their contributions to the Qatari economy and the development of their home nations, Qatar has adopted leading labour rights reforms that can serve as a role model for other countries in the region.

Among these reforms comes the non-discriminatory minimum wage, a legislation highly commended by the International Labour Organisation and other international agencies concerned with workers.

With a keen eye for a robust co-operation with Asia, Qatar signed in August 2022 the instrument of accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The accession, on the sidelines of the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was driven by the common will and desire to create a safe and stable region for sustainable economic development and shared prosperity and embracing unity in diversity.

Qatar’s relations with the 10-state political and economic union in South Asia consolidate co-operation across multiple fields, support all efforts to enhance regional and international security and peace, and develop relations and co-operation with Asia in general, and Asean countries in particular.

One of His Highness the Amir’s stops in this Asia tour will be Philippines. The Doha-Manila relations were initiated in 1981, and in May 1992, the Philippine embassy was inaugurated in Doha.

Over the course of more than 43 years, both nations have shown convergent views on many international issues, and the bilateral relations are gradually progressing to the highest levels of co-operation in a way that benefits the friendly people of the two nations.

The two sides inked many bilateral agreements that are ever evolving through a joint committee meeting that was recently approved to be held annually to elevate bilateral relations to broader horizons.

One of the unswerving outcomes of Doha’s policy to promote relations with the Philippine government and strengthen ties between the people of the two friendly countries was the inauguration of the Qatar Visa Center (QVC) in Manila on Sept 25, 2019.

Part of the Qatar Visa Center Programme supervised by the Qatari government, the facility plays a key role in streamlining transparent visa and employment applications of overseas Filipino workers seeking employment in Qatar, according to a systematic manner consistent with the best international standards.

Qatar now hosts tens of thousands of Filipino workers across various sectors, and there are over 200 Filipino companies operating in the Qatari market.

The private sectors in the two countries are co-operating to increase the trade exchange between both sides.
Besides, the two nations leveraged their available resources and expertise to further step up collaboration to boost bilateral trade and investment, and to address the negative impacts of the current global political and economic challenges.

One of these resources is the Qatar-Philippines Joint Committee, which serves as a political platform to talk a wide range of topics and issues of common interest, enhance political and economic co-operation, and contribute to finding regional and international solutions to issues of migration and climate change and others.

Doha and Manila have shown huge growth in their co-operation in areas of culture and tourism as well.

Thanks to its picturesque nature, diversified and hospitable people, the Philippines is an important tourist destination for many Qatari tourists.

Qatar Airways was the only airline that never stopped flying amid the Covid-19 pandemic closure to take stranded passengers home on scheduled and charter flights offering all needed vaccines and safety measures.

His Highness the Amir will also stop in Nepal. The Qatar-Nepal relations — inaugurated on Jan 21, 1977 — have seen a steady development in recent years, with both countries working to strengthen and develop these relations in the areas of trade and investment exchange.

To further bolster their historical and deep relations, both sides ramped up their mutual official visits and sealed bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding. Qatari businessmen have been frequently invited to explore the promising investment opportunities in Nepal.

A key Asian labour exporter to Qatar, Kathmandu hosted in May 2019 a Qatari Visa Center to facilitate measures to bring Nepalese workers to Doha. In December 2018, the Doha Bank opened a representative branch in Kathmandu, a move that streamlined transaction services for Nepalese labourers based in Qatar and contributed to increasing investment flows between the two countries.

Like the Philippines, Nepal offers a competitive tourist destination for Qatari nationals. Containing most of the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain range, Nepal allures those obsessed with mountain climbing, trekking, paragliding, rafting and mountain flight-seeing tours.

Another important stop in His Highness the Amir’s tour will be Bangladesh. Diplomatic relations between both countries began in the 1970s, and a Qatari embassy was opened in Dhaka on Jan 15, 1980.

Driven by history, culture, religion and common values, the Doha-Dhaka relations have progressed over the years.

To support education in the south Asian country, the Qatar Charity opened about 10 new schools in 2023, along with boarding facilities for orphaned and underprivileged students. The facilities are expected to benefit 2,000 male and female students.

Constructed across several areas in the country, each school includes classrooms and accommodation for students and teachers. Over the past five years, Qatar Charity has also built approximately 55 schools equipped with boarding sections for students, benefiting over 12,000 students. It also sponsors 4,000 orphans in Bangladesh, providing them with all educational expenses to ensure a good future for the students.

Backing Bangladesh’s unwavering efforts to find sustainable solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis, Qatar participated in many high-level meetings on Rohingya refugees and affirmed in international forums that the repercussions of the crisis would go beyond the Asean countries. To this end, Doha collaborated with many Asean countries and supported many development and relief projects being implemented in the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. It is also working with Bangladesh and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to facilitate Rohingya refugees’ access to basic services and to support local authorities and communities hosting Rohingya refugees.
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