15 Feb 2024

27 percent of Qatar's population comprises Indians; what makes Qatar significant for India?

Following the recent decision to release eight former Indian Navy personnel from incarceration in Qatar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Doha, capital of Qatar.

This marks the PM's second visit to Qatar, the first being in June 2016, while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited in November 2008.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the Amir of Qatar,  Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Amiri Palace in Doha.

PM Modi was given a ceremonial welcome at the Amiri Palace on arrival. Thereafter, both sides held delegation-level talks. The discussions covered a wide array of topics including economic cooperation, investments, energy partnership, space collaboration, urban infrastructure, cultural bonds and people-to-people ties. The two leaders also exchanged views on regional and global issues.

Earlier, PM Modi et Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, in his first engagement at Doha, Qatar.

The two leaders exchanged views on expanding bilateral cooperation in sectors such as trade, investment, energy, finance, and technology. They also discussed recent regional developments in West Asia and emphasized the importance of upholding peace and stability in the region and beyond.

Thereafter, Prime Minister attended a dinner hosted in his honour by the Prime Minister of Qatar.

India-Qatar Bilateral Trade

Qatar is significant for India. 27 per cent population of Qatar is Indian. There are about 15,000 Indian companies in Qatar. In 2022-23, trade between India and Qatar was worth $18.77 billion.

During this period, India exported goods worth $1.96 billion to Qatar. India's imports during this period were worth 16.8 billion dollars.

The trade between the two was $12.33 billion in 2018-19, which was $10.96 billion in 2019-20, $9.21 billion in 2020-21, $15.20 billion in 2021-22 and reached $18.78 billion in 2022-23.

Qatar sells LNG, LPG, chemicals, plastics and aluminum goods to India. At the same time, it buys grains, copper, iron, steel, fruits, vegetables, spices, processed foods, electric machinery, clothes, precious metals and rubber from India.

There are also important defense agreements between India and Qatar under which Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships keep visiting Qatar.

Qatar is India's largest supplier of NLG and LPG. India buys a total of 48 percent of its LNG requirement from Qatar.

India is Qatar's third largest buyer after China and Japan. In terms of imports, India is at third place after China and America.

Relationship Challenges

A notable challenge arose in June 2022 when BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammed on a TV show. Qatar was the first country to demand an apology from India, expressing strong displeasure and lodging an objection. Although the BJP removed Nupur Sharma, the incident temporarily strained diplomatic relations.

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