Emir of Qatar’s historic visit enhances Dhaka-Doha cooperation

Bangladesh, Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Sheikh Hasina

The two-day state visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, to Bangladesh has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two nations. Marked by the signing of 11 cooperation documents, including agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), this visit represents a landmark moment in Bangladesh-Qatar relations. While this visit is not the first by a Qatari Emir to Bangladesh, it holds particular significance as the first high-level state visit from a Middle Eastern leader since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office in January 2024.

The historical ties between Bangladesh and Qatar date back to the diplomatic recognition of Bangladesh as a sovereign state by Qatar in 1974. This gesture of diplomatic solidarity was followed by the establishment of mutual embassies in Dhaka and Doha, laying the foundation for deeper engagement and cooperation. Over the years, bilateral relations have flourished on the basis of mutual respect, shared values, and cultural affinity.

One of the defining features of Bangladesh-Qatar relations is the significant presence of Bangladeshi workers in Qatar, numbering over 400,000. These workers are widely acknowledged for their sincerity and hard work, contributing substantially to Qatar’s economy and fostering strong people-to-people connections between the two nations.

The Emir’s visit has served as a catalyst for further strengthening and expanding bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Qatar. The signing of multiple new MoUs and agreements underscores the commitment of both countries to take their cooperation to the next level. Areas of cooperation include manpower, energy, trade, and investment, aligning with the development agendas of both nations – Bangladesh’s Vision 2041 and Qatar’s Vision 2030.

Despite the existing tilt in bilateral trade heavily favoring Qatar, there is immense potential for attracting more investment from Qatar into Bangladesh. Bangladesh mainly imports liquefied natural gas (LNG), fertilizers, and petrochemical products from Qatar, reflecting the current trade dynamics. However, efforts are underway to diversify trade and attract Qatari investment into Bangladesh’s burgeoning sectors.

Local business leaders see significant potential in attracting Qatari investment into Bangladesh, particularly in sectors such as energy, banking, construction, logistics, and the garment industry. Bangladesh’s garment exporters, for instance, envision increased exports to Qatar if conducive business environments are established. Moreover, opportunities exist in sectors such as IT development, logistics infrastructure, and specialized industrial zones, where Qatari investment could play a transformative role in driving economic growth and job creation.

Under the circumstances, the local business leaders see great potential in attracting Qatar’s investment in Bangladesh. The leaders said that the growth of Qatar’s national economy depends mainly on the efficiency of its investments outside the country.

They also suggested that it is necessary to give more importance on how to bring Qatari investment to Bangladesh.

Talking to media, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Ashraf Ahmed said, “We mainly import fuel oil, fertilizer or petrochemical products from Qatar. Compared to that, our export volume is very insignificant as Qatar’s consumer market is small. So, there is less opportunity to export consumer goods there that we manufacture here.

However, there is an opportunity to increase our participation in several other services sectors including construction through which bilateral trade can be expanded”.

He said although there is less opportunity to boost Bangladesh’s exports to Qatar, but there is a lot of potential to bring investment from that country. “Qatari Entrepreneurs want to invest abroad. They can invest in energy and banking sectors in Bangladesh”.

The DCCI president also opined that the government should focus on bringing Qatari investment to the specialized industrial zones in Bangladesh.

Shams Mahmud, Director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and also managing director of Shasha Denims Ltd said if Qatar eases the process of doing business in the country for Bangladeshi garment entrepreneurs, then Bangladeshi garment exports to Qatar would increase.

He said that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are exporting apparel items easily by setting up overseas offices in the Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “Bangladesh’s garment exports will increase if such facilities are available in Qatar”, he added.

Mahmud, also the former president of DCCI, said, Qatar is now providing business opportunities to IT developers. “We should seize that opportunity”.

Echoing with Ashraf Ahmed, Mahmud also thinks that there are many opportunities to attract Qatari investment in Bangladesh.

Mentioning that Singapore has invested in the logistics sector in Bangladesh, Mahmud said more investment is needed in this sector. “Qatar can come forward with investment in this logistics sector. Besides, they can invest here in the cold chain sector, develop specialized industrial zones and establish Qatar Airlines cargo hub in Dhaka”. he added.

The Emir’s visit comes at a critical juncture amidst growing tensions in the Middle East, particularly with regard to the Palestine-Israel conflict and escalating tensions between Israel and Iran. Bangladesh and Qatar, while focusing on enhancing bilateral cooperation, are also expected to address pressing global issues during discussions. It is hoped that both countries will take a common stance on such global challenges, reaffirming their commitment to peace, stability, and the welfare of the Muslim Ummah.

As Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s visit concludes this evening, there is a shared desire for mutual benefit and success between Bangladesh and Qatar. Both nations aspire to forge enduring partnerships that contribute to their respective development agendas and promote regional stability and prosperity. With a firm foundation of mutual respect and shared values, Bangladesh and Qatar are poised to embark on a journey of expanded cooperation, unlocking new horizons of progress and prosperity for their peoples.

The historic visit of the Emir of Qatar to Bangladesh has laid the groundwork for a deeper and more fruitful partnership between the two nations. By leveraging their complementary strengths and fostering greater economic and diplomatic ties, Bangladesh and Qatar are poised to realize their shared vision for a brighter future.


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