Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani paid tribute to the thousands of Indian expats living in Qatar as he wrapped up a state visit in New Delhi this week. The trip concluded a brief three-country south Asian tour.
In a joint communique with India, the Emir said he expressed appreciation for the role and contribution of the Indian community toward the development of Qatar and said Indians are highly respected for their peaceful and hard-working nature, according to Qatar’s state news agency.
Official figures released during the Emir’s visit said there are 631,000 Indians living in Qatar – considerably higher than the previous estimates of approximately half a million, which already made the Indian expat community the Gulf country’s largest demographic group.
On the Indian side, President Shri Pranab Mukherjee thanked Qatar for its treatment of the Indian community during a speech in the Emir’s presence:
“Qatar has generously embraced a large number of Indian expatriates and has encouraged them to flourish and prosper, for which we sincerely thank you. The positive contribution that the Indian community in Qatar has made towards the development and progress of their host country has been well acknowledged and appreciated. We are confident of the continued support of Your Highness in ensuring their safety and well-being.”
That message is a change in tone from three years ago, when former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani traveled to India with his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. While there, he was reportedly pressed on the treatment of Indian migrant workers in Qatar.
But this time, foreign investment and trade between the two countries appeared to be the focus of the Sheikh Tamim’s first state visit to India.
Qatar is a key supplier of energy to India, supplying 86 percent of the country’s liquified natural gas (LNG), officials said. However, India is eager to expand the countries’ trade relationship beyond energy.
Its external affairs minister reportedly highlighted railways, defense, infrastructure, retail and LNG terminals as offering “immense opportunities.”
For his part, the Emir appeared to respond warmly to the overtures:
“The new government is taking a number of interesting initiatives. We trust the Indian economy. So we will invest in India,” he told The Times of India.
Meanwhile, Doha Bank CEO R. Seetharaman – who was accompanying the Emir on the state visit – highlighted opportunities for Indian companies in Qatar during a panel discussion that also featured Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.
The airline executive said he remains interested in buying a stake in Indian carrier IndiGo:
Al Baker appears not to have repeated his previous blunt critiques of Indian aviation policy that restricts access to foreign carriers such as Qatar Airways – something Al Baker previously suggested was a result of Indian politicians putting “their personal interests above the nation.”
Before leaving India, the Emir signed six agreements, including one that formalized a previously reported prisoner transfer treaty allowing Indians jailed in Qatar to serve out their sentence in their home country, and vice-versa.
There are 96 Indians currently incarcerated in Qatar, Indian newspaper The Tribune reported. No details were released regarding the conditions prisoners must meet in order to be eligible for a transfer.
The Emir’s South Asia trip also took him to Sri Lanka, where officials from both governments discussed ways of boosting trade and foreign investment.
During his visit, the Emir pledged to help Sri Lanka improve access to drinking water in the country’s north and east regions, the Gulf Times reported.
Sheikh Tamim also spent time in Pakistan, a visit that came several days before the first shipment of LNG arrived in Karachi from Qatar.
Pakistani officials used the Emir’s visit to press Qatari officials to allow more foreign workers into the Gulf country.
Government officials in Islamabad said there are some 100,000 Pakistanis living in Qatar whose remittances are an important part of their home country’s economy.
“We would appreciate if Pakistani manpower in Qatar is substantially enhanced,” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying.
The visits marked Sheikh Tamim’s first visits to Pakistan and Sri Lanka as Qatar’s Emir.
Anyone know how many Qataris jailed in India would benefit from the prisoner-swap deal above?
“prisoner transfer treaty allowing Indians jailed in Qatar to serve out their sentence in their home country, and vice-versa.” does not seem like a prisoner swap!!!
How would you describe the deal? It seems to allow the movement of prisoners between the two countries.
Saying “movement of prisoners” is completely different from “prisoner swap”.
I rarely agree with anything that you write, but in this case I agree that my word choice was poor and misleading.
It is not a prisoner swap as in swapping one qatari individual for an indian individual. It is a treaty to allow prisoners to serve the time in their home country (although I’m not sure that they would prefer the conditions of the prisons in India).
Thailand has this arrangement with the UK. After 3 years a Brit can choose to serve the remaining time in a prison in the UK. I don’t think any Thais jailed in the UK have chosen to transfer back to a Thai prison.
I’d be curious to know how many Qataris are jailed abroad. I know there are two or three jailed in the UAE for political reasons, and one may be in Guantanamo, but that’s all. It is possible that Qataris are one of the most law-abiding people in the world when they travel abroad 🙂
I’ve read of a couple jailed in the UK for fraud and one jailed in Canada for assault of a customs agent. There have been a number jailed in the Philippines – young men doing stupid things in the red light district. Never seems to make the news in Qatar though.
One of the UK ones was a couple of years ago and involved a Qatari student claiming benefits and defrauding the government, yada, yada – I believe that it was in Wales, he was an Al-Sulaiti I think. We had the diplomat -what was his name, Madeed or something thing? smoking in the toilet on the airline flight in the US a few years ago arrested for endangering a flight, but he never did time, he was just expelled from the US.
I’d argue the number of Qatari criminals is comparable to other populations, it is just that there are so few of them that the absolute number is small and garners little press attention.
There was also Hamid Abdul Sani Al-Thani the “Peddlephile Prince” as the media calls him who was jailed in the Czech Republic and is wanted again for more secks crimes against minors. Don’t recall seeing a word in the Qatari press about him. (Yes, I am aware of the mispellings..DN’s censorship software doesn’t like the real words.)
I wonder if the indians raised the subject of indian work visas in Qatar and the fact they are very difficult to get.
We get it. Your brothers and sisters arent getting visas in Qatar. Stop whining on DN forums and spamming it.
No you got it wrong. I like hiring indians, reasonable education, english ok, do what they are told and they are cheap.
Find another labour supplying nation. Or if you have a problem – Get up and leave. Oh I forgot, you wont do that. The $$$ you get here you arent going to get it anywhere else.
Deleting for personal attack (sigh).
What personal attack? He has been repeating the same thing in every report like a broken record. And if you have to censure comments for personal attack and stereotyping, you would have to ban most comments made by MIMH. Would you dare do that?
So the Indian govt did not mention anything about the labour laws but were busy trying to get some investment in their country. Just like their embassy, they dont give two hoots about their citizens.
Hamid Abdul Sani Al-Thani the “Peddlephile Prince…..THANK YOU for sharing his name we will be sure to pass it around the USA so we can HIM OUT .
I hope this COWARD is put on the INTERNATIONAL list of suex ABUSE Hamid Abdul Sani Al-Thani the “Peddlephile Prince
Deleting for irrelevance to this story, and possibly slander.
What I’m more interested in is what would the exchange ratio be? 10:1 or like the QAR vs INR 🙂