Qatar Emir to make first official visits to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

Qatar's Emir

Georgetown University

Qatar\’s Emir

The Emir will visit India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – countries that are collectively home to about a third of Qatar’s population – on his latest foreign trip next week.

It’s the first time Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has made an official state visit to any of the countries, according to records published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

The Emir has spent considerable time in recent months on official state visits to foreign countries. A month ago, he visited Japan before traveling to the US for his first official White House visit. Last weekend, he was in Turkey.

Former Emir during 2012 India visit.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs

Former Emir during 2012 India visit.

His father and former Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, traveled to India in 2012 with his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

At the time, a deal to sell Qatar’s liquified natural gas (LNG) was a significant part of the high-level visit, but Indian media reported that the treatment of India’s large diaspora in the Gulf country was also discussed.

There are an estimated 500,000 Indians living in Qatar. While many are employed in professional and managerial positions, large numbers work in low-income construction jobs, where they are vulnerable to abuse at the hands of their sponsors.

The remittances from overseas workers are an important part of the Indian economy, making up 3.7 percent of the country’s economy. India, like other labor-sending countries, has negotiated a minimum wage for its nationals working in Qatar, but some recruiting companies have previously said that those agreements are not always followed.

Pakistan

Energy and labor issues are also expected to be raised during the Emir’s visit to Pakistan, which will be the first trip to the country by a Qatari leader since 1999, according to MOFA.

Pakistan flag

mdwallpaper

Pakistan flag

The two nations appear to have finalized a 15-year, multibillion-dollar deal to ship LNG to Karachi after months of negotiations, primarily over price. Media reports suggest that the agreement may be officially signed during the Emir’s visit.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Tamim’s visit to Sri Lanka comes roughly a month after the country’s diaspora received a plot of land from the Qatar government to build a permanent school in the Al Thumama area of Doha.

Currently, the Stafford Sri Lankan School operates from a rented building off Salwa Road near the Midmac flyover, according to the Gulf Times. The school currently has more than 900 students and employs about 60 teachers.

The new facility will accommodate some 2,000 students.

As in past visits, Qatar will sign various agreements and memorandums of understanding with the south Asian countries, covering fields such as youth and sports, culture, health, communications and information technology, Qatar’s state news agency reported.

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