India and Qatar enjoy wide-ranging partnership across different sectors. Can you shed light on the recent visit that contributed in expanding partnership?
The relations between Qatar and India are strategic, historic and close which have been strengthened through ancient and modern trade and cultural ties between the two friendly countries. These relations have grown steadily in various sectors including political, economic, commercial and investment, mainly by historical communications between the peoples of the two countries.
Qatar is the largest exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to India, and there is close cooperation between the two countries in the field of combating terrorism, drug and human trafficking. The relationship between the peoples of the two friendly countries, is one of the strong pillars of these ties and is growing further, and the large Indian community in Qatar works as a strong link for these relations, characterized by strong cultural exchanges, especially the celebration of the Qatar-India Year of Culture 2019. As well as the recent visit of Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Minister to the State of Qatar gave a strong impetus to relations in all fields, especially in the energy, investment and bilateral trade. Also, there are other reciprocal visits between the two countries that paved the way to benefit from Indian expertise in the field of technology, electronics and health. There are more than 6000 Indian companies in various sectors in Qatar working on implementing mega projects such as Doha Metro project and Stadium projects for hosting FIFA World Cup 2022.
How did Qatar assisted the Indian community during the period of Covid?
2020, has been very difficult for everyone as the whole world came under the effect of Covid-19 (Corona) pandemic, and combined efforts were of great importance in order to limit the spread of this pandemic and with the launch of Covid-19 vaccines, we look forward with hope and it seems that the end of the pandemic has approached. The cooperation between our two countries, Qatar and India have also contributed in the fight against Covid. I thank the Indian people for the their awareness and excellent behaviour to curb the spread of this Pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic State of Qatar had a clear and deliberate plan in order to take care of everyone who resides in its lands, and to minimize the spread of the disease. Qatari authorities took rapid actions to establish field hospitals, isolation facilities, quarantine centers and established direct personal help lines for all, and free high-quality medical care was provided to everyone infected with the virus.
State of Qatar, like other countries of the world, is working to the fullest to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and took the necessary measures to combat the pandemic along with implementing precautionary programs (such as quarantine, social distancing and wearing masks). Under these procedures, direct communication services were also provided via free telephone lines for emergency situations and inquiries, in several Indian languages.
We also commend the strong measures taken to reform the labor laws, adopted by the State of Qatar, to protect the rights of the workforce and enhance their conditions, Indian community has been granted great attention and respect, and the increasing numbers of the Indian community in Qatar during last few years, proves the same.
Can you elaborate on the India and Qatar cooperation in the energy sector?
The close bilateral relations existing between the State of Qatar and India depend greatly on cooperation in the field of energy. Qatar is the largest provider of LNG to India, as it meets nearly 60% of its needs and counts 15% of Qatari exports of LNG to India, as India imports about 7. 5 million metric tons of Qatari gas under a long-term contract between the Ras Gas Company of Qatar and Petronet company in India. Further an agreement was signed for additional supplies of about one million tons of LNG annually from Ras Gas during the remaining period of the contract of 25 years which is ending in 2028.
Our two friendly countries are looking forward to strengthening their partnership in this field by intensifying cooperation in building the LNG infrastructure in India, given India’s desire to expand its gas infrastructure to meet its growing needs over the next few years. It is expected that there will be investment opportunities in these projects worth $ 60 billion for building the gas infrastructure. There is no doubt that these projects will create new and broader opportunities for building an energy partnership. The emphasis was given upon the importance of expanding cooperation in the field of energy between the two friendly countries during the recent meetings between Saad bin Sheridah Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Energy Affairs of Qatar and Managing Director and CEO of Qatar Petroleum, and Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
What are Qatar’s plans to invest in various sectors in India?
As we all know that there is a lot of potential to enhance the commercial and investment partnership between the State of Qatar and the Republic of India, especially under the wise leaderships of both countries, as there is a strong communication at the highest levels to enhance investment relations between the State of Qatar and the Republic of India.
There is a tendency of improvement in Qatari investments in various sectors of India as it is considered an important and preferred investment destination for the State of Qatar, especially with regard to investment in the field of infrastructure, roads, airports and other important sectors.
There is also communication between the Qatar Investment Authority and the Investment Authority of India (Invest India) as well as the “National Investment and Infrastructure Fund”, in addition to continuous cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce in India in order to take benefit from the exchange of information and investment offers and overcome Challenges with of a business partnership.
In order to achieve these goals, it is imperative to facilitate financial transfers from Qatar to India and opening Qatari banks in various Indian states, especially after the opening of QNB in Mumbai and Doha Bank in Mumbai and Kerala. We look forward to opening these banks soon in New Delhi and other Indian states. The large number of Indian community in Doha encourages these transactions for easy transfers and is also considered as an encouragement to the economy.
What are the incentives provided by Qatar for new companies and businesses?
The business environment in the State of Qatar in general provides exceptional incentives for business and investments, and these incentives have made Qatar a preferred destination for trade and investment activities, and the encouraging environment provides unparalleled support for international entrepreneurs and investors to establish and start their business in the local market. In particular investment and infrastructure reforms are ideal incentives to support business growth and help investors determine the ways to invest and find suitable opportunities for them easily.
There are also advanced and fast aviation services between the two friendly countries, which guarantees speedy access to the State of Qatar, as it has also exempted all Indian citizens from the requirements of entry visas, which makes business in Qatar very easy for Indian citizens. Intensive efforts and reform measures aim to facilitate smoothen business opportunities and support small and medium manufacturing enterprises.
How is Qatar preparing to host 2022 World Cup? What role are Indian companies playing in this?
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be an unparalleled version throughout history, as its facilities will be interconnected in a way that ensures the preservation of the environment. It will also be the first time that the largest football tournament in the world will be held on an Arab land, and the first FIFA World Cup will also be in terms of the short distances between the stadiums, which will make it easy for fans to attend two matches in one day, and we hope that there will be a large Indian participation as this tournament is held in its extended neighborhood.
The Indian company Larsen End Tarbo L&T is participating with Al Balagh Trading and Contracting company in building Al Rayyan Stadium with a capacity of 40 thousand seats in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in addition to the participation of Indian companies in big projects related to developing the necessary infrastructure to host the World Cup such as the Golden Line of the Metro And Al Wakrah Highway.