Jaishankar meets Qatar leadersApprox Read Time: 5 min
- External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar recently visited Qatar. On his visit, Mr. Jaishankar met Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as well as other top leaders of the Gulf country.
Highlights of the visit:
- The agenda of the visit to Qatar included discussions on bilateral, regional as well as international issues.
- Discussions were held on ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship, in areas such as energy, trade, investment, food processing, healthcare, education, culture, defence and security.
- The two countries agreed to maintain regular consultations and coordination on all issues of mutual interest at multilateral forums.
- The two sides discussed the progress on setting up task forces on investment and energy, which was decided in the recent past.
- Jaishankar interacted with business leaders from Qatar and highlighted investment opportunities in India. He also appreciated their commitment for business partnerships with India.
India-Qatar Bilateral Relations:
- India and Qatar share historically close ties and the cooperation between the two countries has been steadily growing in diverse sectors, due to regular engagements at the highest levels of government.
- Defence cooperation is an important pillar of bilateral relations between the two countries. India offers training slots in its defence institutions to a number of partner countries, including Qatar.
- India regularly participates in the biennial Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX) in Qatar.
- Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships regularly visit Qatar as part of the bilateral cooperation and interaction.
- India-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2008, was extended for a period of five years in 2013, and further extended for a period of five years in 2018.
- The agreement is implemented through the Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC).
- India’s bilateral trade with Qatar in 2018-19 was US$ 12.33 billion. India’s export to Qatar during 2018-19 was US$ 1.61 billion and India’s import from Qatar was US$ 10.72 billion.
- Qatar’s key exports to India include liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), chemicals and petrochemicals, plastics, and aluminium articles.
- Qatar is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for over 50% of India’s global LNG imports.
- India’s key exports to Qatar include cereals, copper, iron and steel articles, vegetables, fruits, spices, electrical and other machinery, construction material, textiles, chemicals, precious stones and rubber.
- India is among the top three largest export destinations for Qatar (Japan and South Korea being the other two) and is also among the top three sources of Qatar’s imports, along with China and Japan.
- According to the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), there are over 6000 big and small Indian companies operating in Qatar.
- Indian companies are pursuing collaborations in various sectors like infrastructure, communications and information technology, energy and other areas in Qatar.
- India is a popular tourist destination amongst Qatari nationals, due to the cultural compatibility and historical contacts between the two countries.
- India was the largest source of tourists for Qatar in 2018. The growth is largely due to liberalized visa regime of Qatar. Qatar granted citizens of more than 80 countries, including India, tourist visa on arrival facility in 2017 to promote inbound tourism.
- Cultural ties between India and Qatar are deep-rooted and actively nurtured by both sides. The year 2019 was celebrated as India-Qatar Year of Culture.
- There are regular cultural exchanges between the two sides, under the provisions of the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation signed between the two sides in 2012.
- The Indian Cultural Centre (ICC), an umbrella community organisation of Indian socio-cultural associations in Qatar, functions under the Embassy of India, Doha. It undertakes a number of cultural and other activities.
Indian Community in Qatar:
- As of June 2019, there are around 7,56,000 Indians living and working in Qatar. Indian nationals comprise the largest expatriate community in Qatar.
- They are engaged in various professions including medicine, engineering, education, finance, banking, business and media apart from a large number of blue-collared workers.
- Blue–collar worker refers to workers who engage in hard manual labor, typically manufacturing, construction, mining, or maintenance.
- There is a dedicated Labour and Community Welfare Wing that systematically registers and addresses grievances brought to its notice.
- The Indian Sports Centre (ISC) is a community based organization working under the Embassy of India, formed exclusively to focus on all aspects relating to the promotion of various sports and games.