Interview: MoUs between Nepal and Qatar are historic, says Ambassador Dhakal

Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani,paid a two-day state visit to Nepal on April 23-24.This is the first visit by any Head-of-State from the Arab country to Nepal. The visit by the Amir of Qatar, an economically prosperous country, for the first time has been taken as historic.

The two countries signed important agreements and MoUs during the Qatari Amir’s state visit. Nepal’s Ambassador to Qatar, Dr Naresh Bikram Dhakal, played an important role behind the scene for preparing for this visit. He is serving as Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar since the last two years. RSS reporters Bhishma Raj Ojha and Ashok Ghimire talked to Dr Dhakal regarding the Qatari Amir’s visit and its achievement and other topics in this context.

Here is the synopsis of the interview:

Asked about the preparations for the visit and the behind-the-scene role he played as Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar for making the Amir’s visit successful, Ambassador Dhakal said that he had kept this (the Qatari Amir’s visit to Nepal) as the second point in his action plan that he presented in the Parliamentary Hearing Committee before his appointment to the post. He divulged that when presenting the Letter of Credence to the Qatari Amir, he proposed to him to pay a visit to Nepal and the Amir had shared to him that time that he was very busy due to the FIFA World Cup to be organized in Qatar in 2022, and that he would visit Nepal in 2023 at an appropriate time.

Ambassador Dhakal said he was so excited by this and held meetings with the Amir five times during the two years’ period. Ambassador Dhakal added that the Amir had given him assurances that he would be paying a visit to Nepal within 2023 and accordingly, the date of November 6-7, 2023 was set for the visit. But the visit could not take place on the set date due to special reason. However, it was possible after about six months of this date.

To the question how fruitful has the Amir’s visit to Nepal been, Ambassador Dhakal described that the visit of the Amir of an economically prosperous country like Qatar to Nepal for the first time as historic in the context of nobody in the capacity of the Head of State from Arab nation visiting Nepal before this.

“We have much expectation from this visit as well. However, seen instantly, some people might underestimate it looking at some MoUs signed during the visit. But this visit has historic significance. This visit has provided with the motivation to the Heads of State of other Arab nations to visit Nepal. This visit has drastically changed the way the people of other countries looked at the Nepalis working in Qatar. Therefore, the importance of the Amir’s visit to Nepal cannot be seen only by analyzing the statements, data and statistics, rather it has to be internalized and its outcome will be witnessed in the long term.”

Ambassador Dhakal said that the MoUs signed between Nepal and Qatar during the visit covered wider areas of cooperation and collaboration and Nepal has to make extensive preparations in order to see the results.

He said that during the bilateral talks with the Qatari Amir, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ put his view that the Qatar Airlines started flights from Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) and the Pokhara International Airport (PIA). Similarly, Nepal has given priority to tourism, agriculture and energy for Qatari side’s investment and to this the Qatar’s king suggested moving ahead by forming the joint taskforce for exploring the possibilities of investment in these sectors by carrying out studies for the same.

“The visit of the Qatari Amir has concluded just recently. I am also going to Qatar after some days. We will start works on starting flights from GBIA and PIA as quickly as possible. We are holding a meeting soon with the Qatari delegation that visited Nepal. I will make strong efforts for formation of the high-level taskforce. However, my lone efforts might not suffice for this. Since this is the topic the Qatari Amir himself has spoken, it attaches special significance. I am confident that the said taskforce will bring in Qatar’s investment in the agriculture, tourism and energy sectors as per our expectations,” Dr Dhakal said.

Stating that Nepal and Qatar have not signed agreement on investment security, he said this matter would also be seriously discussed as the private sector investors want to take profit from their investments. He added that efforts would also be made for a high-level visit from Nepal to Qatar.

On the topic of review of the Labour Agreement between Nepal and Qatar, Ambassador Dhakal said the agreement has not been reviewed even in 18 years since it was signed. Nepal’s view on this is that the topic of supply of domestic helpers from Nepal should also be included in the agreement in the context of Qatar demanding for such workforce. There is vast difference in the nature of work of workers in other sectors and that of the domestic helpers.

“We have not abandoned our stance from our side that rather than hurry, the long-term solution should be sought on the topic of domestic workers. We have also said that the Agreement is outdated. The current market price has gone up drastically. Nepal has put the view that the basic salary of the workers should be reviewed,” he added.

Ambassador Dhakal further said that this topic is in the process of discussion for now as it is a topic that is not concluded with only one country finalizing the basic salary of the workers. “But let us hope, revision of the Labour Agreement is the need of both countries and we will take to a logical conclusion as early as possible.”

Asked about his take on the agreement on exchange of news and cooperation between Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) and the Qatar News Agency (QNA), the state media of the two countries, during the Amir’s visit, he described the agreement as highly important for both countries as it will consolidate the bilateral ties at the people’s level.

“People of both countries would be benefited by this as the exchange of news between the two state-run news agencies will facilitate the news media in both countries to use the authentic news produced by the news agencies. This also creates an environment conducive for exchange of news and information between the two news agencies. Its implementation is important now. We should work towards that and I am ready to provide the required facilitation for the same.”


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