“We are exerting efforts to increase the volume of bilateral trade”
His Excellency Yousuf Bin Mohamed Al-Hail, ambassador of the state of Qatar to Nepal, has been here in Nepal since 2016. Prior to that, he worked at the Africa Department at Qatar’s Foreign Ministry. Previously, he was based in the Embassy of state of Qatar in Kuwait and the Embassy of Qatar in Pretoria. He had worked at the Department of Administrative and Financial Affairs from 1997 to 2004. In an email interview with Nepal Khoj, His Excellency Al-Hail shared about his experience in Nepal, bilateral economic relations and knowledge sharing between the two countries. Excerpts:
How has been your Excellency’s stay in Nepal since 2016? What is your impression about Nepal and its people?
I am spending very good time in Nepal and it is my pleasure to work in the field of strengthening the bilateral relations between our two countries. I always say Nepal is my second home. And I know Nepali people from Qatar before I came here. This gave me good impression in advance. I found the same characteristics of respect, honesty and open-heartedness in Nepalis. The country is really beautiful in terms of nature, rich with its mountains, rivers and forests.
How challenging is diplomatic job in this digital age flooded with social sites like Twitter, Facebook and others?
Diplomacy is managing international relations through formal communication among governments and states. However the people’s component of it is very important because strengthening the relations between two countries is easier if the relations between the peoples of these countries are good. Here comes the role of the social media where it can create positive impact or negative according to the status of international relations between the particular countries. Certainly, social media have strong effect.
Though Nepal- Qatar relations is congenial, do you think that it is doing well in trade and commerce too, profiting our both peoples?
The volume of bilateral trade right now is not as high as we wish. However, we exert efforts to improve this front. We have already signed a MoU with (Nepal) Chamber of Commerce. We invite the Nepali side every year to participate in the Qatar international agricultural exhibition, which is a good opportunity to promote Nepali products in the Qatari as well as other markets. Recently we also received many demands for urea fertilizer from Nepal. The State of Qatar is the second biggest exporter of urea in the world after the Russian Federation.
What investment prospects do you see that Nepal and Qatar can cooperate and as well attract investors from Qatar? What policy initiatives should be taken by Nepal government to attract investment from Qatar?
The State of Qatar has shown its interest in the agricultural sector and water resources. We have signed agreement for agricultural cooperation and I hope it would be implemented for the benefit of the two countries.
However, we look forward to sign the agreement of protection of investments, and the State of Qatar prefers the inter-governmental partnerships and agreements.
I appreciate the efforts and the laws reforms introduced by the Nepali government and the Investments Board’s initiative to facilitate the investment environment. It is known that Nepal has excellent opportunities in hydropower and infrastructure sectors.
How Nepalis can invest in Qatar and what are the prospects?
The State of Qatar has updated the Investment Law in January 2019, now foreign ownership up to 100 percent is permitted in economic sectors without obligation to have a local partner. We also facilitate in entry visa and real estate ownership, exempt of income taxes according to specific regulation and exempt of customs regarding imports of project machineries that are not available in the local market.
What preparation is underway to organize the FIFA World Cup 2022? How can Nepal help Qatar to organize the World Cup?
Preparation for the FIFA World Cup of 2022 is advancing in according to the plan of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy. The State of Qatar will spare no effort in presenting the championship in a wonderful shape as it has been looked upon by billions of people.
I take this opportunity to appreciate the contribution of Nepali workers in the field of building and construction. The Supreme Committee has announced for registration of volunteers to participate in the global event. Nepali youth can be part of this group. A cooperation can also be formed in the field of security coordinated through the interior ministries of both the countries.
What can Nepal learn from development efforts of Qatar?
The State of Qatar is committed to achieving sustainable development goals to improve the quality of life of the people. Now the State of Qatar enjoys great development in the fields of education, health care and raising the standard of living.
In 2008 the State of Qatar had adopted the National Vision 2030 which is a general framework for develop strategies and plans.
Nepal has the requirements needed to achieve development and prosperity, and the government of Nepal has set its priorities in this path and definitely with the political will and people’s unity, it will attain the national goals.
What measures you think should be taken to further enhance relations between our two nations?
The bilateral relations between our two countries are very good and we have maintained cooperation at the international level. Several agreements and MoUs have been signed, and we continue to further strengthen the relations and expand it into more popular fields such as sports. We have also an MoU signed between the two Football Associations. Nepali sports people can benefit from sports medical and other advanced training facilities. We had also invited the Nepali cricket team before the global Covid-19 pandemic, and we’re interested to cooperate in the field of cricket.