Qatar is the richest country in the world despite its small size and population and plays a significant role in world politics and economy.
A country rich in natural gas and petroleum, it’s an influential player in the Arab world asserting its global presence through the expanding media group, the Al Jazeera Media Network. Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Arab country to host the event. The country within a few years has attained a pivotal place in international diplomatic scene through its discreet foreign policies. The willingness and the ability to play mediator in several international disputes placed the country at a significant position in international politics. The population of Qatar comes to around 18 lakhs out of which the country’s locals make up to 2, 78, 000 i. e around 12 percent of the population. Indians comprise the largest expatriate community in Qatar making up to about 23.58 percent of the population with around 600, 000 Indian nationals working in the country. The country is also the largest source of India’s LNG imports, at 86 percent. Therefore the ties between both the countries extend beyond mere diplomatic relations.
The visit of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to India gains relevance in the context. The 34-year old who assumed office in 2013 is the youngest ruler of the Arab world and was in India on Wednesday for a two day visit. Six significant bilateral agreements were signed on by both the nations with the deal focusing on PM Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. The visit is expected to boost the business, economic and diplomatic ties between both countries that would in turn, be beneficial to the Indian expatriates in Qatar. One of the prominent parts of the agreement was the transfer of sentenced prisoners to their respective countries. While the Indian prisoners convicted in Qatar would be handed over to India to serve the remaining part of their sentence, the Qatari prisoners would be sent back to their home country to serve their sentence. At present 96 Indians are imprisoned in Qatari prisons convicted in several cases and this agreement would enable the prisoners to be near their families and ‘help in the process of their social rehabilitation’. Major infrastructural projects are underway in the country which would be hosting the world cup and India is seeking to invest in the upcoming projects. As per Vision 2030, the presence of Indian companies in the area would be increased.
Other significant aspects of the deal signed in the presence of the Emir and Prime Minister Modi are an MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology, an MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation, an MoU between Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar and Foreign Service Institute of the ministry of external affairs, a collaboration between Prasar Bharati and Qatar Media Corporation and an agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News between Qatar News Agency and UNI. The agreement as well as a boost in the cordial ties between both the nations is likely to benefit India and signals a positive hope.