Saturday, 26 November, 2022
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Bangladesh-Qatar Relations Gain Momentum

Noor Mohammed

The landmark visit of Dr. Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Qatar’s Minister of Labour to Bangladesh, in August 2022 was crucial for advancing and strengthening the future cooperation in labour-related fields. On the sideline of the visit, the Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs in the Ministry of Labour of Qatar, Mohammed Hassan Al Obaildi, and the Minister of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment of Bangladesh, Imran Ahmad, had a joint meeting with Qatar-Bangladesh committee for labour affairs in Dhaka. The joint committee meeting was organised to advance bilateral cooperation and share labour-related experiences between the two countries, in accordance with the bilateral agreement on manpower signed by the two countries. The two parties emphasised how important it is for employees to be aware of the rules, procedures, rights and obligations of Qatari labour market. The importance of friendly relations between the two burgeoning nations was highlighted by subsequent visits last week by Bangladeshi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohamed Shahriar Alam, Senior Secretary from the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Mahbub Hossain, and Ambassador Shabbir Ahmed Chowdhury, Secretary (West) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with Deputy Secretary Nashid Rizwana Monir.

A turning point in Qatar's history occurred with FIFA's announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, bringing the most prestigious sporting event in the world to the Middle East for the first time in the competition's 92-year history. I was hoping for it as a long-time resident of Qatar but I was even more shocked when Sepp Blatter, the then-president of FIFA, announced Qatar's victory over rivals Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. The Qatar World Cup will be held this year, putting an end to all speculation and fantasies despite criticism from various media outlets, sports experts, and human rights organisations for Qatar's lack of a football history, high estimated costs, local climate and human rights record. The financial ramifications of the sporting event are starting to be far-famed in just two months until it begins on 20 November 2022. Despite never having taken part in it, Qatar is the first nation to host the event since Italy did so in 1934. In addition, Qatar will host the event for the first time in an Arab nation and will have the smallest population and landmass in the entire world. In the years leading up to the World Cup, Qatar has also played host to the Asian Football Confederation Cup, the World Men's Handball Championship, and the IAAF World Athletics Championships. In 2030, it will also serve as the venue for the Asian Games.

The goal of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030) is to make Qatar an advanced society capable of sustainable development by the year 2030 as well as ensure a high standard of living for all citizens. Qatar would still need people from both blue-collar and white-collar resources to complete its 2030 national goal, and Bangladesh might end up being a pivotal option. Jashim Uddin, the ambassador of Bangladesh to Qatar, and his staff have been working nonstop on it. They meet with senior officials from ministries, government, and semi-government organisations, as well as leaders from business, commerce, and trade associations, almost daily, sometimes within the bounds of protocol and sometimes beyond the bounds to discuss potential new job opportunities for Bangladeshis. We are pleased to see the results of their efforts. For instance, the visit of the Qatari labour minister to Bangladesh is a prime illustration. This was the minister's first trip to an Asian nation since taking office in October 2021.

For nearly four decades, the Bangladeshi diaspora in Qatar worked in a variety of fields to directly or indirectly contribute to the megaproject's completion and the country's growth. In preparation for FIFA 2022, many Bangladeshi volunteers have already signed up to offer their generous services. The people of Qatar now have a positive attitude toward Bangladesh and Bangladeshis as a result of this. Bangladesh is eager to increase LNG imports in accordance with the current LNG sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Qatar. Bangladesh is prepared to buy an additional one million tons per annum (MTPA) from Qatar. Under a 15-year LNG SPA Agreement, Bangladesh imports 1.8–2.5 million tons of LNG per annum (MTPA) from Qatar. Furthermore, due to the excellent bilateral relations that exist between the two countries, Qatar has become a popular destination for Bangladeshi migrants and an important manpower market for Bangladesh, and this trend is likely to be enhanced in the aftermath of the visit just concluded.

Apart from a few, the Bangladeshi diaspora has long been in Qatari individuals' and employers' priority lists due to their reputation, dedication, hard work, and honesty. It is also true that Qatar now requires more personnel in the technical and professional domains. If Bangladesh wants to take the lead, she must develop the skill workforce Qatar requires. I think the time has come for Bangladesh to prioritise sending white-collar workers if the country wants to increase the flow of foreign currency.

 

The writer serves as the General

Secretary of Chattogram Samity Qatar and the Joint Secretary of the Bangladesh Community in Qatar