By Usha Wagle Gautam/ Correspondent
Qatar will support the Visit Nepal 2020 initiative that aims to attract 2mn foreign tourists to the Himalayan country, Qatar’s ambassador to Nepal Yousuf bin Mohamed al-Hail has said.
“Nepal enjoys a wide range of natural tourist attractions. I support the Visit Nepal 2020 initiative launched by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (of Nepal) with the aim to bring in 2mn tourists a year. It is known that tourism flourishes through factors such as political stability, which has been attained in Nepal,” he told Gulf Times in an interview.
The (Nepal) government’s plans to strengthen infrastructure “will definitely contribute” to the Visit Nepal 2020 initiative, he noted. “Qatar will support Visit Nepal 2020. I want to request my Qatari friends, brothers and sisters to come and visit this incredible country.
“If you want to see the four seasons - rain, autumn, winter and summer - in one day, come visit this country. Nepal has eight of the 10 world’s highest peaks, and it is the best destination for mountaineers, rock climbers, mountain bikers and other adventurers. The highlights include hiking, canoeing, rafting, paragliding, ultra-light flights, hot-air ballooning, kayaking and jungle safaris. There are three major climatic zones in Nepal - and each zone has a lot to offer by itself. Come to Nepal in 2020,” he said.
Al-Hail, who has been Qatar’s envoy to Nepal since 2016, stressed that bilateral ties between the two countries are “excellent and improving continuously”.
Recalling that diplomatic ties between Qatar and Nepal were established in 1977, he said Qatar has been one of the popular destinations for Nepali migrant workers over the past few decades. He said: “The bilateral relations are marked by the exchange of high-level visits, which have contributed to further deepening political, cultural and economic ties between the countries. Qatar has contributed to Nepal’s economic development in different ways. The country has provided employment to almost half-a-million Nepali citizens in various categories.
“Doha is now a gateway to Nepal, linking Kathmandu with the rest of the world through its national flag carrier - Qatar Airways. Also, Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari paid a state visit to Qatar in 2018 on an invitation from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.”
Trade between Qatar and Nepal is gaining momentum, he noted. “Nepal’s export items include yarn and man-made staple fibre, carpets and other textile floor coverings, vegetables, coffee, tea and spices. The country imports plastics and articles thereof, copper and articles thereof, electrical machineries and equipment, and iron and steel, from Qatar,” he said.
Asked about the possible sectors in which Qatar and Nepal could collaborate, he said: “There are various opportunities and ideas to strengthen bilateral co-operation in the fields of trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, minerals and hydropower. The possible areas are wide open, and what we need is a joint effort and work to achieve common interests.”
On investment opportunities, al-Hail said: “Qatar is ready to invest in hydropower, agriculture and tourism... there are huge investment opportunities in many fields in Nepal, and the (Nepal) government can improve the investment climate by enacting or rectifying laws to stimulate investments gradually.
“I believe the time is suitable for Qatari investors to undertake exploratory visits to Nepal, which is a country of choice as a destination for tourism, trade and investment.”
Regarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and whether there are plans to hire Nepali workers for the mega event, the ambassador said: “We have already taken many employees from Nepal. We have many Nepali teachers and doctors in Qatar. Nepali workers are marked by honesty, sincerity and hard work. The prospects of employment in Qatar are ever-increasing. Many Nepali nationals have contributed to infrastructural development for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and Qatar National Vision 2030. Even after the World Cup, Qatar will continue with the process of building and development, and there are long-term plans and strategies to exploit gas and oil.”
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