Qatar marching towards modernity
By Arun Ranjit
Qatar is home (albeit mostly a temporary one) to numerous people from around the world is today marching speedily into the rapid development and modernization. Before the 20th century, Qatar’s economy was primarily characterised by fishing and pearling. However, the discovery of oil reserves in the 1940s has led to its development into one of the biggest multifaceted economies in the world. The decades following the oil discovery saw Qatar behold its major urbanisation period, posing a challenge to planners and policy makers to ensure social and environmental sustainability. One of the most significant effects of the discovery of the bountiful carbon resources in Qatar is the transformation of its social and cultural patterns.
The state has experienced such a rapid economic growth that has transformed its physical, social, cultural and demographic status. The effective development of the resources was enabled by the commitment of the country’s visionary national leadership coupled with stable and mutual relationships with its international partners. It is no doubt that Qatar currently dominates the global energy market and since 2000, the country has emerged as the fastest growing economy in terms of income per capita. But due to “political and personal" issues that separate two "different visions" about the Middle East and the Arab world, the crisis between Arab Gulf states embarked. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt extend diplomatic and trade "restrictions" on Qatar on 5 June 2017 by put forward 13-point demands that includes closing of Al Jazeera, which Doha deems unrealistic and impractical. According to an officials at the Al Jazeera English Television Qatar "believes in greater reforms and liberties” whilst other bigger Gulf nations consider the pro-democracy movements as "a threat to monarchies and their domination" of the region." The neighbour countries believed that Qatar supports violent Islamist extremist movements in the Middle East and the West; above all, it maintains diplomatic and trade ties with Iran. However, Qatar’s position has not changed since the crisis began almost a year ago.
Qatar believes that the Gulf crisis is “a futile crisis manufactured by our neighbours”. The firmness of Qatar regarding the siege has not changed but empowered to march of Qatar into the advanced development path. According to the Qatar National Development Strategy, from the 1970s to date, Qatar has taken significant strides in managing its urban development processes in a sustainable manner. It is aimed at guiding the country towards the achievement of its vision 2030 which forms the basis for Qatar’s long-term development plan that revolves around the four pillars of sustainable development namely social, human, economic and environmental development. Upholding high standards of living for its citizens has been a top priority for the Qatar government since the beginning of the development of its economy to date. The Qatar National Vision 2030 which was launched at the end of 2008 was aimed at advancing the country in all its spheres to ensure sustainable development and high living standards for all its residents and their future generations.
The implementation of the plan reflects a vibrant and prosperous future characterised by economic prosperity and social justice for all the members of the Qatar society. Moreover, it calls on all Qataris to combine their efforts in the collective pursuit of a prosperous future. Qatar’s high standing in the global arena was once again recognised and applauded marking Qatar ranks “highly with planners as locations for hosting business meetings and corporate events”. With the increase in visitors from Asia in recent years and some of the global meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions (MICE) destinations have redirected their focus to Qatar in the Middle East has become more prominent with their improved tourism infrastructures and marketing efforts. Today it’s a well-known fact that Qatar has one of the most sophisticated convention and exhibition facilities centres around the world. This is the testimony of Qatar’s efforts to achieve accomplishments irrespective of some hardships occurred after the unjust siege imposed on Qatar by some countries. In Qatar, business events have seen an average annual growth rate of 36 per cent over the past five years.
“Qatar is taking steady steps towards positioning the country as an attractive destination for business events in the region by capitalising on its easy access, growing event management services, and expanded exhibition capacity and transport network,” says the Director of Exhibitions, QTA. Qatar’s rich cultural and heritage sites and other tourist attractions also provide unique venues for business events. The commendable and far-sighted decision of launching visa-free entry to some 80 nationalities and the announcement of offering several attractive stopover packages by Qatar Airways have also contributed in showcasing Qatar as a destination of attraction. “The diplomatic and trade crisis has not had a big impact on the emirate, with the exception of a certain rise in prices of some basic foods, like milk and eggs,” said Fahim Boukendoul, the Director of Business Development at Shangri-La Hotel in Doha. Nepal and Qatar have established diplomatic relations on January 21, 1977. Since then the ties have been strengthened based on the principles of cooperation, understanding and mutual respect.
Nepal opened its Embassy in Doha on 11 July 2000 whereas Qatar set up its Embassy in Kathmandu in August 2011. Exchange of visits at different levels and interactions thereof help promote understanding and goodwill which in turn also help widen and heighten the subsisting bonds of ties. Nepal-Qatar trade has been growing gradually. Nepal’s main exports to Qatar are cloth and textile, magnetic storage discs, vegetables and other goods. On the other hand, it imports polyethylene, polypropylene, TV and video players, gold and some food products. The trade between Nepal and Qatar are insignificant. However, it is in favor of Qatar. Nepal should, therefore, explore the ways to decrease the gap of trade deficit through enhancement of exports to Qatar. Since both countries are endowed with natural resources, there is an ample scope of promoting cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, and tourism and manpower utilization. Moreover, Nepal is a country of choice as a destination for tourism, trade and investment opportunity both the countries should boost their economic relations in the domain of having comparative advantage. Today, Qatar has become one of the most preferred destinations for employment opportunities. According to the official at the Embassy of Nepal in Doha, there are nearly 400,000 Nepalese people are working in Qatar but most of them are in menial jobs.
Dedication to work, loyalty, sincerity and integrity are some of the attributes of the Nepalese workers that have earned trust and goodwill of the people and Government of Qatar. The prospect of employment in Qatar is ever growing due to the massive construction of infrastructures in the context of hosting the World Cup-2022 and realizing the goals set in the Qatar National Vision 2030. Thus, demand for Nepalese workers is higher than ever due to the Qatari government’s mega development and infrastructure projects. After an air agreement signed between the two countries in 2002, Qatar Airways is operating daily four direct flights to Kathmandu and handling a significant quantity of Nepalese export goods bound for Europe and America. Yes, the air connectivity between Kathmandu and Doha has facilitated the movement of the people to either side. Nepal could provide best alternative ambiance for Qatari tourists to spend their holidays away from the bustle of modernity. There is indeed a great potential to attract them to the natural beauty, traditional culture and world-class remarkable hospitality. Today, Qatar has become a world leader in the Global Competitiveness Index according to a report issued by the World Economic Forum. Qatar also ranked first in the world in providing a safe business environment. Qatar has cemented its partnership with various countries in the form of direct investments, joint ventures and trade deals. The partnership has contributed to the creation of countless new opportunities for investors and businessmen from both the countries.
This scribe was in Qatar for family meeting and to learn some tips including wide-ranges of experience from development to hospitality, working condition of the unskilled-labourers to the highly-graded expatriates, Arabic culture to world’s modernity, and dazzling tourism to lavish life-style. Hats Off!!! to Qatari Ambassador to Nepal Yousuf Bin Mohammed Al-Hail for marvelous cooperation. Regardless of the siege’s outcome, Qatari identity has undergone a profound change in a short amount of time. “Qatar became stronger after blockade” is enough to look into what will Doha be in future. Today, Qatar has undergone remarkable transformation in terms of economic growth and the development of its built environment. So, in future, Qatar would remain world’s oasis of peace and heaven in the world.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha is the secretariat member and spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Although he had staked his claim to the post of...