The year 2023 is a turning point in Qatar and Bangladesh’s expanding relationship, marked by diplomatic progress, strengthened defense ties, educational achievements, and economic growth. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to Doha, welcomed by Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, paved the way for a stronger collaboration. Furthermore, both countries participated in a varied conversation about energy cooperation, trade, investment, and the well-being of Bangladeshi workers in Qatar. Qatar also recognized Bangladesh’s transformation under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, suggesting a noticeable change in perspective. To strengthen economic connections, Qatar vowed to provide critical infrastructure for increasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies, ensuring stability in the face of global uncertainty.
Bangladesh-Qatar Relations in 2023
|May 22-25, 2023
|Diplomatic Relations & Economic Ties
|Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Doha for the Qatar Economic Forum strengthens diplomatic ties.
|June 1, 2023
|Agreement signed for an additional 1.5 million tonnes of LNG annually for the next 15 years, addressing Bangladesh’s domestic supply deficit for power generation.
|March 7, 2023
|Agreement signed for the deployment of 1,129 members of the Bangladeshi armed forces to Qatar, fostering direct integration between defense forces.
|Visit of Qatar Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff to Bangladesh, enhancing mutual cooperation in training and various fields, strengthening professional relations between the navies.
|March 9, 2023
|Qatar pledges $1.27 million to support Bangladesh’s education sector, creating opportunities for 650,000 out-of-school children at the primary level.
|Various – Throughout 2023
|Economic Ties and Collaboration
|Continuous economic collaboration highlighted by Qatar’s recognition of Bangladeshi labor as a blessing, offering job security and fostering people-to-people connections.
|Multifaceted Mutual Benefits
|Ongoing collaboration in various sectors, including labor migration, energy cooperation, and support for the Rohingya, demonstrating the multifaceted benefits of the relationship.
|May 23-25, 2023
|Diplomatic Relations & Economic Ties
|Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s participation in the 3rd Qatar Economic Forum underscores the growing significance of the bilateral relationship. Discussions include energy, commerce, investment, and broader issues concerning the Muslim Ummah.
|March 9, 2023
|Qatar pledges $1.27 million through the Qatar Fund for Development to enhance Bangladesh’s education sector, supporting 650,000 out-of-school children at the primary level.
Qatar-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations Flourish in 2023
During the Qatar Economic Forum 2023, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina significantly enhanced the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Qatar via a crucial three-day visit. The visit, led by Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, highlighted the increasing importance of the bilateral relationship. The leaders participated in an extensive dialogue, covering several subjects such as energy cooperation, trade, and investment, as well as the Bangladeshi labor force and larger matters related to the Muslim Ummah.
The leadership of Prime Minister Hasina and the remarkable socio-economic progress of Bangladesh were praised by Emir Al Thani, indicating a change in how they are seen. The Emir recognized the notable changes that have taken place in Bangladesh under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, praising her for successfully decreasing poverty rates to a great extent. Sheikh Hasina made a kind offer to Qatar, proposing to provide them with land in Bangladesh’s special economic zones. She also expressed the desire for more collaboration in the energy sector, namely in the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Significantly, the meeting led to Qatar’s pledge to provide crucial infrastructure to support the expansion of LNG production, strengthening economic cooperation. The Emir stated his desire to visit Bangladesh, highlighting the longstanding affinity between the two countries. Prime Minister Hasina called for solidarity throughout the Muslim Ummah and requested Qatar’s assistance in promoting unity.
The diplomatic negotiations reached their pinnacle with a reiteration of amicable ties and shared dedication. The recognition of Qatar’s assistance in stabilizing Bangladesh was conveyed, as Prime Minister Hasina expressed appreciation and requested ongoing support. The Qatar Economic Forum played a pivotal role in facilitating enhanced collaboration, economic expansion, and mutual prosperity for both countries. The visit demonstrated the favorable course of Qatar-Bangladesh ties, indicating a hopeful and cooperative future.
The Diplomatic Visit between Bangladesh and Qatar Reveals Several Mutually Advantageous Aspects
Qatar’s Emir acknowledged the significance of Bangladeshi labor and guaranteed the preservation of 370,000 workers, referring to them as a valuable asset. Qatar’s dependence on immigrant labor corresponds with Bangladesh’s role as a significant labor exporting country, given the current global difficulties. The partnership enhances employment stability for Bangladeshi expatriates and reinforces interpersonal relationships.
Bangladesh is enhancing its economic diplomacy by offering land in special economic zones to attract Qatari investors. This decision is in line with Bangladesh’s strategy to create 100 specialized economic zones, which would promote a favorable environment for investment. The possible relationship presents opportunities for further investments, demonstrating reciprocal economic development.
The relationship becomes more significant in the years after the Covid-19 and Ukraine conflict. Qatar’s genuine dedication to fostering friendly connections demonstrates a mutual aspiration for economic progress, the exchange of technology, and the efficient assessment of human capital. This alliance has the capacity to effectively address global concerns and enhance the standing of both countries in the international arena.
Foreign Minister Momen Represents Bangladesh at Doha Forum 2023
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen is actively participating in the ‘Doha Forum 2023’ in Qatar, a vital platform fostering diverse perspectives for global dialogue. The two-day forum, themed “Diplomacy, Dialogue, Diversity,” aims to address critical issues in international relations, security, economic policy, cyber security, sustainability, and more.
The 21st edition of the Doha Forum has drawn top officials, executives, and thinkers worldwide. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his opening session address, emphasized the Security Council’s role in averting humanitarian catastrophes. The forum provides a space for constructive dialogue to shape a safer, more just, and interconnected world.
Doha Forum 2023 delves into pressing global questions, exploring interconnected futures of prosperity and well-being. Themes include international relations, security, economic policy, cyber security, data privacy, artificial intelligence, and sustainability. The forum aims to build on past discussions, shaping future actions and policy recommendations.
The overarching theme reflects the forum’s commitment to fostering diplomacy, encouraging dialogue, and embracing diversity. By providing a platform for the exchange of ideas, Doha Forum 2023 aims to contribute to actionable recommendations and policy-making.
Qatar-Bangladesh Energy Cooperation 2023: A Strategic Boost amidst Global Challenges
The collaboration between Qatar and Bangladesh in 2023 emerges as a significant milestone, showcasing the resilience and adaptability of nations amidst challenges like the ongoing pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. Bangladesh’s pursuit of an additional MTA (Million Tonnes Annually), translating to 16 to 17 LNG containers, signifies the nation’s proactive response to the escalating energy demand propelled by rapid economic expansion and population growth. The Bangladesh Power Development Board’s projections indicate a sustained annual increase in energy demand for the next decade, necessitating a strategic shift towards alternative energy sources.
The deal signed on June 1, 2023, between Bangladesh’s state-owned entities, Petrobangla, and Qatar’s Qatargas, formalizes an annual supply of 1.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the next 15 years, commencing in 2026. This agreement not only addresses Bangladesh’s domestic supply deficit for power generation but also signifies a renewed commitment to long-term energy security and economic stability.
The global supply chain disruptions, induced by the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict, have prompted a comprehensive reassessment of commodity prices, with a particular emphasis on petroleum. In this context, the Qatar-Bangladesh energy collaboration assumes heightened importance, offering a stable and reliable source of LNG amid global uncertainties.
Notably, Bangladesh’s initial LNG import pact with Qatar’s RasGas Co. in 2018 marked a pioneering step in addressing the country’s shortage of domestic natural gas. The subsequent agreements, including the recent one, underscore the evolving nature of the partnership, transforming it into a resilient framework that adapts to changing global dynamics. Beyond addressing immediate energy needs, the collaboration has broader implications. Qatar, as one of the world’s leading LNG exporters, leverages its position to support Bangladesh’s economic growth. This is particularly crucial as Bangladesh positions itself as an emerging economic force in the South Asian region.
The strategic importance of this collaboration is amplified by the commitment to sustainability and environmental considerations. As Bangladesh diversifies its energy mix, incorporating LNG as a cleaner source, the collaboration aligns with global efforts to reduce carbon footprints.
Bangladesh-Qatar Defense Relations Strengthen in 2023: New Recruits and Ongoing Collaboration
A recent agreement signed in Doha on March 7, 2023, solidifies the defense ties between Bangladesh and Qatar. This follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked in October 2022, reflecting the commitment to ongoing collaboration in the defense sector. The cabinet’s approval of the deal involves sending 1,129 members of the Bangladeshi armed forces to Qatar on deputation, fostering a direct integration between the defense forces of both nations. The agreement serves as a strategic move to strengthen ties not only at the governmental level but also between the people of Bangladesh and Qatar.
The economic benefits, estimating a monthly remittance of $3 million to Bangladesh through this defense collaboration. The agreement ensures that the soldiers deployed to Qatar receive free food and accommodation, enhancing the socio-economic impact on the personnel involved.
Also, the meeting at Naval Headquarters in Banani underscores the traditional and friendly relations between Bangladesh and Qatar. Acting Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral Mohammad Anwar Hossain expresses gratitude for the visit, setting the tone for future collaboration. The visit is expected to strengthen professional relations and broaden cooperation between the navies of the two nations.
Bangladesh-Qatar Education Cooperation 2023: $1.27 Million Boost for Primary Education
Qatar has pledged $1.27 million to Dhaka through the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) to enhance Bangladesh’s education sector. The funds aim to create opportunities for 650,000 out-of-school children at the primary level, fostering inclusive and accessible education.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formally signed between Bangladesh and Qatar under the project Education Above All Foundation. The MoU designates Bangladesh’s Ministry of Primary and Mass Education as the implementing body for utilizing the funds. This financial support underscores the commitment of the Qatar government to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and aligns with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Expanding Economic Ties: Qatar-Bangladesh Relations
In recent years, the economic partnership between Qatar and Bangladesh has experienced significant growth, evident in the surge of trade volumes. Qatar’s imports from Bangladesh rose from 2.37 million in 2000 to an impressive 89.43 million in 2022. Conversely, Qatar’s exports to Bangladesh increased from 4.55 million in 2000 to a substantial 2739.29 million in 2022, highlighting the deepening economic collaboration.
|Qatar Import from Bangladesh (in million)
Qatar Export to Bangladesh (in million)
The strategic visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Doha played a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape. Discussions with Qatar’s Emir emphasized multifaceted cooperation, including labor migration, energy collaboration, and joint support for the Rohingya community. Qatar’s recognition of the invaluable contribution of 8 million Bangladeshi workers underscores the symbiotic economic relationship, fostering mutual development.
The economic ties extend beyond traditional sectors, with a specific focus on energy cooperation. Qatar’s acknowledgment of Bangladesh’s investment potential and the creation of economic zones signifies a commitment to diversified economic growth. This expanding collaboration positions both nations for sustained development, leveraging each other’s strengths for mutual benefit.
Delwar Hossain, PhD is Professor of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).