KATHMANDU, June 5: Tuesday marks the completion of Qatar’s one year of struggle against the blockade imposed on it by its Arab neighbors and co-founders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, along with their ally, Egypt. They abruptly cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed travel and trade bans.
Qatar faced a lot of problems. The website of Qatar’s national news agency was hacked and the country was denied airspace restricting its people’s mobility. Family relations between the people of Qatar and the neighboring countries were put in a difficult situation. Qataris living in other countries were expelled and made to leave for their home country seriously affecting their livelihoods and jobs. Qataris living in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt were made to leave those countries with immediate effect. The supply of food and medicines was stopped all of a sudden.
A year later, Qatar has emerged “stronger, more united and confident,” claimed Yousuf Bin Mohammed Al-Hail, the ambassador of Qatar to Nepal. In an interaction with a group of journalists on Sunday, Al-Hail claimed that his country has been able to cope up with the inhuman blockade and move forward toward a better future.
“Before the blockade, we used to import milk, juice, chicken and a variety of other food products. Now we produce all of them within the country. We have imported 6,000 cows from Canada which are providing milk products to our people. Now people get food products at much cheaper prices than before,” he said.
The envoy said within a year Qatar opened more than 1,000 companies which have provided jobs to hundreds of thousands and many more tourists come to Qatar than before. “In a sense, the blockade has come as a blessing in disguise for us,” he told the journalists.
Asked why Qatar was subjected to a blockade and when it will be lifted, the ambassador said they do not know why the other countries in the Gulf are blockading them. “We have told a number of times that we are ready to sit down for talks but the blockading countries do not reciprocate,” he claimed. “They have not been able to forward one solid reason for the blockade.”
Alleging that the countries imposing the blockade on Qatar were not serious even while human rights of Qatari people have been grossly violated, the envoy said that these countries have set conditions which Qatar cannot agree to. “They want us to shut down our news channel and they want us not to maintain relations with certain countries. How can we accept these conditions? We are a sovereign country,” he said.
The ambassador acknowledged the fact that many Nepalis are working in Qatar and informed that the Government of Qatar has established separate hospitals to provide free health treatment to the laborers, including Nepalis. “No Nepali worker will die because of health reasons,” he said.
The envoy argued that they had been able to cope up with post-blockade difficulties because of goodwill and support from countries like Nepal and India. “Nepalis have done a lot for the development of Qatar. They have shed their sweat for our country. Now that Nepal has a stable government, we are planning to establish cooperation with Nepal in various areas of business, agriculture, trade and employment,” he said.
The envoy also said that Qatar is going to make foreign employment for Nepalis, safer, more reliable and more profitable.