By Anindita Mukhopadhyay
P Kumaran, the Indian Ambassador to Qatar, revealed, “The year 2019 will be celebrated as the Qatar-India Year of Culture,” in his address at the recent reception held to celebrate the 69th Republic Day of India. He added, “We expect to organize in partnership with Qatar Museums a plethora of exciting cultural exhibitions and events that will highlight the cultural and traditional ties that bind us.”
Qatar enjoys strong, substantive relations with India, these bilateral relations has evolved and grown stronger over the years, marked by an increasing exchange between the two countries. Additionally, the Indian community is the largest expatriate group in Qatar, numbered at about 700 million people, further strengthening ties between the nations. Trade and economic co-operation are regarded as the pivot of the bilateral relations between the nations, in addition to the remittance sent to India, from the Indian expatriate community in Qatar, estimated at $750 million per annum.
Trade between the countries has flourished as India became the fourth largest export destination for Qatari products in 2016, with exports amounting to nearly $10 billion. These products range from precious stones, rubber, plastic, fertilisers, and chemicals. On the other hand, Indian products exported to Qatar are valued at about $1.2 billion, has seen steady growth over the past several years. Kumaran noted a recent, substantial increase in Qatar’s imports from India, with new direct shipping lines facilitating trade. Qatari imports from India include textile, minerals, pharmaceuticals, and more.
The year of cultural exchange
Qatar Museums, a group of heritage sites and museums, run a cultural exchange programme every year with the aim of fulfilling the cultural goals of the 2030 National Vision. The programme intends to convey Qatar to an international audience while building bridges between nations. Through a variety of exhibitions, festivals, competitions and events, the programmes promote mutual understanding, recognition and appreciation between countries. People are invited to explore their cultural similarities, as well as their differences. The year 2019 has been chosen as the Qatar-India Year of Culture, following 2018 as the year for the Qatar-Russia alliance.
As Safiya Al Hajari, Qatar Museums’ Director of Strategic Cultural Relations, remarks, “The years of culture initiative reflects upon and displays Qatar’s past, present and future by creating and interpreting culture through art. It brings world cultures to Qatar and takes our heritage, art and traditions to the world.” The alliance will give rise to several collaborations between the two nations in a number of areas, including infrastructure, information and communication technology, energy, and other areas to the mutual benefit of both parties.
Energy security needs of Qatar-India
Qatar is a major contributor to India’s energy security, as the largest exporter of LNG and LPG to India to meet about 70% of India’s natural gas needs. Kumaran confirmed India’s plans to increase the share of natural gas in India’s energy mix, currently at about 7% to 20% by 2030. “Qatar will, therefore, continue to be a key partner in our energy security calculus for many years to come,” he said. The Qatar-India collaboration is expected to give rise to a significant increase in trade, strengthening the bilateral relations between the nations, in addition to contributing to their mutual benefit.
Referring to the recent conflict amongst the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, the Ambassador clarified, “We are of the view that the countries concerned should resolve their differences through a process of constructive dialogue and peaceful negotiations based on well-established international principles of mutual respect, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.” He added, “Peace and security in the Gulf are of paramount importance for the continued progress and prosperity of the countries in the region,” welcoming the efforts of the Emir of Kuwait to promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Featured image source: Wikimedia Commons
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