Nepal and Qatar Strengthen Ties with Historic Emir’s Visit

In their conversation with the emir, President Poudel and Prime Minister Dahal raised concerns about securing Bipin Joshi’s release from Hamas. Nepali youth Joshi had been captured and taken by Hamas during their attack on Israel on October 7. Poudel and Dahal urgently requested the Qatari emir to facilitate Joshi’s release from Hamas. Hamas has a political office in Qatar, and the two entities share cordial relations.

Nepal witnessed a significant high-level state visit from Qatar this week after 46 years of diplomatic relations. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived for a two-day state visit to Kathmandu on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking a historic moment for Qatar. During his Asia tour, which included stops in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the emir received a warm and hearty welcome from all three countries, including Nepal.

The emir’s visit holds special significance as he became the first head of state from the Gulf countries to visit Nepal. Former Ambassador of Nepal to Qatar, Narad Nath Bharadwaj, emphasized that this visit paves the way for enhancing bilateral relations and people-to-people contacts. He stated, “This is just the beginning; there is much more to be achieved.”

Nepal declared a public holiday on Tuesday to commemorate the arrival of the emir of the State of Qatar. Upon his arrival, the emir was received at the VVIP bay of Tribhuvan International Airport by Nepal’s President Ram Chandra Poudel.

During his visit, the emir met with President Poudel and held a bilateral official meeting with Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal. Later in the afternoon, President Poudel and the Qatari emir convened at the Office of the President, Shital Niwas. Various matters related to Nepal-Qatar bilateral relations and cooperation were discussed during this occasion. The foreign ministry of Nepal reported that both leaders expressed satisfaction with the cordial relations between the two countries and agreed to further enhance cooperation for the mutual benefit of their peoples. In the evening, the President of Nepal hosted a State Banquet in honor of the emir.

On Wednesday, the emir and Prime Minister Dahal witnessed the signing of eight agreements, including two bilateral agreements on cooperation between the two governments. These agreements covered areas such as education, youth and sports, higher education and scientific research, and cooperation between the Office of the Attorney General in Nepal and the Public Prosecution in the State of Qatar.

Additionally, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of culture and arts between the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation of Nepal and the Ministry of Culture of the State of Qatar. Agreements were also reached on cooperation and news exchange between the National News Agency of Nepal (RSS) and Qatar News Agency (QNA), as well as cooperation in diplomatic training and education between the Diplomatic Institute in the Institute of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Nepal and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar.

Bilateral Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding Signed Between Nepal and Qatar during Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit. (Photo credit: Pradeep Raj Onta/RSS )

In the private sector, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Qatar Chamber renewed their memorandum of understanding and established a joint business council.

During their bilateral meeting, Nepal’s Prime Minister requested more investment in Nepal across different sectors. According to Rupak Sapkota, the Foreign Advisor to the Prime Minister, who was present at the meeting, the Prime Minister asked the emir to invest in Nepal. Sapkota also mentioned that the emir responded positively, expressing interest in future investment in Nepal.

In both meetings with the President and Prime Minister, they praised the leadership of the Qatari emir both within Qatar and on the global stage. They acknowledged Qatar’s role in promoting peace worldwide under the emir’s leadership.

Nepal’s Ambassador to Qatar, Dr. Naresh Bikram Dhakal, emphasized that the emir’s visit holds significant importance for bilateral relations between the two countries. He stated, “This visit marks the beginning of a new chapter in our bilateral relations. It is a historic moment for Nepal-Qatar ties.”

On January 21, 1977, Nepal and the State of Qatar officially established diplomatic relations. Since then, the bilateral relationship has been characterized by mutual trust, respect, understanding, and cooperation.

Nepal established its Embassy in Doha on July 11, 2000, while Qatar set up its Embassy in Kathmandu in August 2011. Prior to that, the Qatari Ambassador, based in New Delhi, was concurrently accredited to Nepal.

Although the emir’s visit to Nepal is the first of its kind this week, there have been numerous high-level visits from Nepal to Qatar. Former Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and the Speaker of the Parliament have all visited Qatar from Nepal.

Qatar is a second home to many Nepali people, with over 350,000 Nepali workers residing there. Qatar’s contributions extend not only to these workers and their families in Nepal but also to Nepal’s economy. However, it’s important to note that Nepal’s workers’ concerns in Qatar have yet to be fully addressed, and this visit did not result in any new agreements or memoranda related to the labor sector.

Suresh Chalise, Foreign Advisor to the President of Nepal, emphasized that the emir’s visit has strengthened the bilateral relations between the two countries. He expressed, “Qatar is an important friend of Nepal, and we must continue working closely together. We are delighted that the emir accepted the invitations from the Right Honorable President and visited Nepal.”

Overall, the emir’s visit to Nepal marks a significant milestone in Nepal-Qatar relations. The signing of eight agreements and the discussions held between the leaders open doors for future cooperation in various sectors. While the immediate concern regarding Bipin Joshi’s release remains unaddressed, Qatar’s potential role in facilitating his return and the positive discussions regarding investment offer promising prospects for the future of this relationship.