Qatari Emir’s landmark visit to Bangladesh open new vista of strengthens bilateral ties

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani

Dhaka witnessed a grand spectacle yesterday afternoon as the red carpet was rolled out at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to welcome Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The emir’s arrival marked a pivotal moment in Bangladesh-Qatar relations, as this is the first visit by a Qatari emir since 2005.

The special Qatar Airways flight carrying the emir and his delegation touched down at around 5:00 pm. Bangladesh is the second leg of the emir’s three-country tour, which includes the Philippines and Nepal. This significant visit was extended by a special invitation from President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, indicating the importance both countries place on their relationship.

President Shahabuddin set the tone for the visit by welcoming the emir with flower bouquets upon his arrival. The air echoed with a 21-gun salute, symbolizing the respect and honor accorded to the distinguished guest. A guard of honor was also presented to the emir, accompanied by the national anthems of both countries. Following this, the emir inspected the parade ground, witnessing the military precision and discipline of Bangladesh’s armed forces.

Today’s agenda is packed with bilateral meetings and engagements. Emir Sheikh Tamim is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Prime Minister’s Office for a bilateral discussion, which will be followed by a more intimate one-on-one meeting. Later in the day, President Shahabuddin will host an official lunch in honor of the emir at the Bangabhaban.

Recognizing the enduring friendship between Bangladesh and Qatar, two significant infrastructure projects are in the pipeline. A park under construction at Balurmath of Kalshi in Mirpur and a road from Mirpur ECB Chattar to Kalsi Flyover will be named in honor of Emir Sheikh Tamim. These gestures underscore the deepening ties and mutual respect between the two nations.

The timing of this visit holds particular significance against the backdrop of shifting global geopolitics. The ongoing Middle East crisis, exacerbated by the Iran-Israel conflict over Palestine, has created a pressing need for dialogue and collaboration among nations. Both Bangladesh and Qatar have shown eagerness to enhance trade relations and mutual cooperation, making this visit all the more crucial.

Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud hinted at the possibility of discussions between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Qatari Emir on the Iran-Israel conflict. Qatar has increasingly played a mediating role in global crises, while Bangladesh has been vocal in its support for Palestinians, calling for an end to Israeli attacks and the genocide in Gaza.

A series of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are set to be signed during the emir’s visit, covering a wide range of sectors. These include agreements on the avoidance of double taxation, legal cooperation, shipping, mutual investment promotion and protection, exchange of prisoners, and the formation of a joint business council. Additionally, MoUs will be signed in areas such as manpower, port management, higher education, scientific research, youth and sports, and diplomatic training.

One of the key areas of discussion is likely to be energy security. Bangladesh, with its growing economy, is keen to secure its energy needs and sees Qatar’s rich petroleum reserves as a potential source. Currently, Bangladesh imports LNG from Qatar under an agreement signed last year, and discussions may focus on deferred payment options for LNG during the bilateral meeting.

The economic ties between Bangladesh and Qatar are robust, with bilateral trade exceeding US$3.6 billion. Around 400,000 Bangladeshis are employed in Qatar, contributing significantly to both countries’ economies. Hasan Mahmud expressed Bangladesh’s interest in attracting Qatari investments in sectors like renewable energy, financial services, and port management. Bangladesh also aims to export more products such as ceramics, leather goods, garments, and pharmaceuticals to Qatar.

Qatar has shown interest in managing ports in Chattogram and Matarbari, indicating potential collaborations in infrastructure development. Hasan Mahmud expressed optimism, stating, “We expect the Qatari emir’s visit to be a milestone in our relationship”.

Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani’s visit to Bangladesh marks a significant chapter in the longstanding friendship between the two countries. With a focus on strengthening economic, political, and cultural ties, this visit promises to elevate Bangladesh-Qatar relations to new heights. As both nations navigate the complexities of global geopolitics, their shared commitment to mutual cooperation and understanding serves as a beacon of hope and collaboration in an increasingly interconnected world.


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