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Govt urged to maximise opportunities during Qatari Emir's state visit

B360
B360 April 22, 2024, 4:33 pm
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KATHMANDU: Former ministers and foreign affairs experts have advised the government to prioritise the upcoming visit of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, to Nepal, in order to secure maximum benefits. The Emir of Qatar will commence his two-day state visit to Nepal on April 23.

They believe that Nepal could learn from Qatar, a country with a small geographical size, on how to achieve prosperity in a short period through far-sighted leadership and optimal utilisation of available resources.

Former Minister Surendra Kumar Karki commended Qatar's significant contribution to the establishment of international peace, despite the country's small territorial size. He noted that Qatar is playing a facilitating and decisive role in establishing regional peace, strengthening international relations, and managing significant political tensions.

Karki added that Nepal could learn much from Qatar's experiences in peace establishment, particularly as it pursues the establishment of durable peace after conflict by concluding the peace process.

Furthermore, Qatar serves as one of the major labour destinations for Nepali migrant workers, from whom Nepal receives a large portion of remittances. The high-level visit from Qatar should be utilised as an opportunity to promote the rights and dignity of Nepali workers in Qatar, and to ensure the availability of decent job opportunities for them.

As suggested by the former Minister and Maoist Centre leader, it would be beneficial for Nepal if the visit could be utilised as an opportunity to attract Qatar's investment in the processing of drinking water in the Himalayan regions and the production of organic agricultural products.

CPN (UML) leader and foreign affairs expert, Rajan Bhattarai, praised the path to prosperity that Qatar has found amidst severe climate adversity and limited human resources. According to Bhattarai, Qatar is advancing itself through a multi-dimensional approach, exploring its leading role in the global forum and a significant role in dispute management in Middle Eastern nations.

Bhattarai stated that Qatar is seeking to establish itself as a 'world champion' in the resolution of unrest in the Middle East, including in Hamas and Israel. He noted that Qatar is being developed as an international transit hub in its efforts to expand air connectivity in the global forum.

From a diplomatic perspective, the Emir's upcoming visit to Nepal stands as a symbol and an example that Nepal is moving on a positive path. "Qatar is an economically prosperous country in the Middle East. Over 400,000 Nepali migrant workers are currently working in Qatar. Nepali migrant workers have shed blood and sweat for the development and prosperity of Qatar. Against this backdrop, the visit of Qatar's Emir to Nepal is a matter of great importance and an opportunity," he observed.

Bhattarai emphasised the creation of an enabling environment in Nepal for job creation for the youth, rather than sending labour forces offshore. He further asserted, "There's a high prospect of investment in Nepal from Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries. Export from Nepal to Qatar could be increased. Nepal has been importing fuel in a huge quantity. We could make an effort to secure some concessional cooperation towards this end as well. Nepal should pitch these issues and advance the discussion during the visit."

According to him, securing the welfare of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar and addressing the issues relating to their employment should be a part of the regular agenda of the Government of Nepal during the Emir's visit.

Bhattarai added, "In recent years, Qatar has achieved economic prosperity by capitalising on its natural resources. It is progressing in terms of development and economic prosperity, thanks to capable leadership with a clear vision and political stability. It has taught us a lesson that we could advance by optimising our natural resources."

Similarly, Narayan Khadka, a Nepali Congress leader and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, opined that Qatar has been succeeding diplomatically and economically of late. "Countries such as the USA and the UK, among others, have been seeking Qatar's mediation in any form to resolve the dispute between Israel and Hamas," he mentioned.

He suggested that discussions and consultations on the facilities for Nepali migrant workers in Qatar should be held during the Emir's visit. He also recommended a timely amendment to the labour pact between Nepal and Qatar.

According to him, the Qatari Emir's visit, before the Investment Summit, is an opportune time to create an environment of confidence for the international community to consider investment in Nepal.

Former Minister Khadka expressed his belief that the ties between the two countries could be expanded at a people-to-people level if a training centre could be established in cooperation with Qatar to impart training to aspiring Nepali migrant workers.

He suggested that Nepal should warmly welcome the Emir of Qatar, who is arriving here for his two-day official visit, by showing Nepal's value and importance.

'Initiatives should be taken to raise pay, facilities of Nepali workers'

Similarly, Narad Bhardwaj, who served as Nepal's ambassador to Qatar from 2019 to 2022, has suggested utilising the Emir's visit, which is the first high-level visit from the Middle Eastern kingdom, to secure the rights and interests of Nepali migrant workers there.

Nearly 400,000 Nepalis are currently working in different sectors in Qatar. According to Bhardwaj, the Qataris also have an interest in this topic as they are impressed by the Nepali workers.

"The government of Nepal should take initiatives to increase the salary and job security of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar and their welfare. This is a high-level visit from Qatar and if the Emir of Qatar gives his approval during his state visit, there will not be any problem in the implementation," former ambassador Bhardwaj said.

According to him, although Qatar is a rich and developed country, the salary of Nepali workers there is comparatively low. He said the Nepali workers there receive lower salaries compared to the pay they get in South Korea and Israel, even though Qatar is a comparatively rich and developed country.

Nepal's former Ambassador to Qatar suggested that the Government of Nepal lobby on this topic during the Emir's visit. Stating that in Qatar there is a provision of providing accidental insurance to the Nepali workers only in case of an accident at the workplace and not in the case of an accident on the way or other accidents, he urged the government to raise this topic as well.

"Qatar had made efforts to employ Nepali workers in the security sector before this and Nepal too has made a decision to that end. But the decision has not been implemented yet. If this topic could be advanced during the Emir's visit by taking cognisance of their perspective on it, it will be of much benefit to Nepal in terms of income," Dr Bhardwaj suggested.

Similarly, Qatar is seeking to employ Nepali women as domestic help, but Nepal has prohibited this. At the same time, a large number of Nepali women have been going to the Gulf countries on visit visas and working there as domestic workers. This issue also needs to be managed and the government should address it during the Qatari Emir's visit.

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