Pivotal moment in strengthening the long-standing friendship and partnership between Bangladesh and Qatar

Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina

A highly anticipated two-day state visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to Bangladesh is scheduled for April 22-23. This visit, at the invitation of President Mohammad Sahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, marks a significant milestone as it is the first time a head of state from the Middle East is visiting Bangladesh since the re-formation of the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in January.

In a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud provided details of the upcoming visit. The Emir is expected to sign a total of 11 bilateral documents during his stay, comprising 6 agreements and 5 memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

The agreements will cover a range of areas, including the avoidance of double taxation and evasion, cooperation in legal matters, maritime transport, development and protection of mutual investment, transfer of convicted persons, and the formation of joint business councils. Additionally, the MoUs will focus on higher education, scientific research, youth and sports, diplomatic training, manpower, and port management.

Dr. Hasan Mahmud highlighted the deep-rooted and friendly bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Qatar. He recalled that Qatar was among the Muslim countries that recognized Bangladesh in 1974 during the tenure of Bangabandhu’s government. The bilateral ties have further strengthened through Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s two visits to Qatar in March and May 2023, paving the way for the Emir’s upcoming visit to Bangladesh.

Upon arrival in Dhaka on the afternoon or evening of April 22, the Emir of Qatar will be welcomed by President Mohammad Sahabuddin at the airport as a state guest. A guard of honour will be presented in his honor. Subsequently, the Emir will pay courtesy calls on Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the morning of April 23.

The highlight of the visit will be the signing ceremony for the 6 agreements and 5 MoUs at Ganabhaban. Later in the afternoon, the Emir will attend a courtesy call and state lunch with President Mohammad Sahabuddin at Bangabhaban. The visit will conclude with the Emir departing Dhaka in the evening via a special flight.

Additionally, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is scheduled to inaugurate a park in the Kalshi area of Mirpur under Dhaka North City Corporation and a road from Mirpur ECB square to Kalsi Udal Bridge on April 23 at 3 pm, symbolizing the friendship and cooperation between Bangladesh and Qatar.

Qatar, known for its robust economy driven by petroleum and natural gas, holds significant influence in the Middle East due to its geopolitical position and active diplomatic engagements. Bangladesh has approximately four lakh Bangladeshis employed in Qatar, making it an essential labor market in the Middle East for Bangladesh.

Furthermore, Qatar stands as a potential source of investment for Bangladesh, given its substantial sovereign wealth funds. Qatar also plays a vital role as one of Bangladesh’s primary sources of energy imports. Therefore, the Emir’s visit is expected to further bolster the bilateral relations between the two countries, reinforcing Bangladesh’s cooperation with Qatar in the Middle East.

During the press conference, Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud responded to queries regarding discussions on purchasing oil from Qatar. He mentioned that since Bangladesh has an agreement with Saudi Arabia for oil purchase on deferred payment, similar discussions might take place with Qatar during the Emir’s visit.

In response to criticism from Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the Secretary General of BNP, alleging the current government’s failure to maintain democracy, Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud defended the government’s track record. He asserted that democracy has flourished under the current government, and electoral systems have been well-established. Mahmud further criticized BNP, accusing them of attempting to undermine the democratic system continuously.

On the same day, Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud met with Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Syed Ahmed Maruf, and the resident representative of UNDP in Dhaka, Stefan Liller. Discussions with Pakistan’s High Commissioner revolved around increasing exports and expanding business relations with Pakistan. Mahmud also raised the sensitive issue of Pakistan’s acknowledgment of the genocide that occurred in Bangladesh in 1971.

Regarding the meeting with the UNDP representative, the discussions highlighted Bangladesh’s 50-year cooperative relationship with the organization. The release of funds allocated to various UN projects was also discussed, emphasizing the importance of smooth collaboration between Bangladesh and UNDP.

The upcoming state visit of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar to Bangladesh signifies the deepening of bilateral ties and mutual cooperation between the two nations. With the signing of multiple agreements and MoUs across various sectors, the visit is poised to elevate the strategic partnership between Bangladesh and Qatar to new heights. As both countries continue to collaborate in areas such as trade, investment, energy, and employment, the Emir’s visit is anticipated to serve as a pivotal moment in strengthening the long-standing friendship and partnership between Bangladesh and Qatar.


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