Though Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani's visit to Bangladesh this past week lasted for less than 24 hours, its significance outweighs the time he spent here. The Emir expressed his amazement at coming to Bangladesh 19 years after the visit of his father, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani. He observed various infrastructural development activities undertaken in Bangladesh that included the expansion of Dhaka and Cox's Bazar airports, metrorail and elevated expressway. The excited Qatar Emir at one stage of his discussion with the Bangladesh prime minister, whom he met twice, said: "Seeing is believing."

Diplomatic sources said the Emir was keen to find trade and investment potentials in connectivity, tourism and other sectors in Bangladesh. He informed the Bangladesh prime minister that he will give necessary orders to the relevant authorities to take initiatives upon returning home. A message of enhancing political relations was also given.

The Qatar Emir visited Bangladesh on Monday and Tuesday. His meetings and other agenda were scheduled on Tuesday. He started his flurry of activities with a 25-minute one-to-one meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the morning. Later, they held a bilateral meeting for over 45 minutes. Following the meetings, five agreements and five memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed. Later, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani took part in a lunch hosted by the Bangladesh President Mohammed Shahabuddin in his honour at Bangabhaban. He went to Shahjalal International Airport from Bangabhaban via the elevated expressway.

Qatar is a major source of liquified natural gas (LNG) for Bangladesh. The bilateral trade between the two countries has crossed $2.5 billion with LNG as the central commodity. The way development activities have been going on in Bangladesh, the demand of LNG will soar here, and Qatar is seen as a major partner to ensure energy security of the country. That is why it was important for Doha to assess the potential sectors of trade and investment in the country.

Bangladesh's Petrobangla signed an agreement with Qatar Gas in January this year to import 1.5 million tonnes of LNG annually. The agreement will be implemented from 2026.

At one stage of their meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requested the Qatar Emir to invest in Cox's Bazar, a coastal town with major tourist spots. She informed him about the expansion of Cox's Bazar airport and construction of a deep seaport in Matarbari. Qatar could think of investing in Cox's Bazar considering those, Sheikh Hasina told Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

She also spoke of investment opportunities at the special economic zones (SEZs). The Qatar Emir showed interest in the proposals of the prime minister. He assured the prime minister about asking the relevant authorities to take initiatives to grab the opportunities. If the signs from this bilateral visit are anything to go by, it all augurs well for what will potentially be one of the most important relationships for the country in the foreseeable future.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts