The Ambassador of the State of Qatar in Nigeria, His Excellency Abdulaziz Mubarak Al-Muhannadi, says there is a very good basis for the establishment and sustenance of solid and warm relationship that is beneficial to the peoples of Nigeria and Qatar. In this interview with RAPHAEL ONI, Ambassador Muhannadi further says there is huge potentials for improvement in almost all areas, such as political, economic, trade and investment between both countries. Excerpts:
Can you briefly trace the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the State of Qatar?
The relationship between Nigeria and the State of Qatar spans over decades. Both countries are active members of various International Organizations such as the United Nations (UN), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) etc. The two sister nations hold similar views on International and Regional issues and believe as well as advocate for peaceful means of resolving international disputes. So, there is a very good basis for the establishment and sustenance of solid and warm relationship that is beneficial to the peoples of both nations.
When did you open your Embassy in Nigeria and when was the Nigerian Embassy opened in Qatar?
The Embassy of the State of Qatar was opened on 16th December, 2013, in Abuja and I presented my letters of credence to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in July, 2014. The Embassy of Nigeria in Qatar was opened in June, 2013, in Doha.
What is the population of Nigerians that are working in Qatar and what can you say about them?
According to official statistics, the population of the Nigerian community living in the state of Qatar is about 7,649. They are hardworking professionals, law abiding and well disciplined. They contribute positively to the development and improvement of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
What is the level of visits between the two countries?
Exchange of visits between officials of the two countries is top on our agenda. Doha, being a dynamic hub for International events, received the Honourable Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson on 6th December, 2014, when she participated in the Conference of International Telecommunications Union. There was also another High Level delegation from Nigeria in Doha at the 16th meeting of the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries, where the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was elected Chairman of the influential Forum.
Since you opened your Embassy here, how has it affected Nigerians travelling to Qatar?
Well, the Embassy at the moment does not issue visas because we don’t have a consular section here yet.
Qatar Airways has been flying in and out of Nigeria even before your Embassy opened here, how did this happen? As I told you earlier the relations between the two nations is not new and we are not starting from the scratch. The diplomatic relations builds on existing ties and tries to facilitate for development of other sound and dynamic partnerships.
What are the other areas in which Qatar and Nigeria can improve their bilateral relations?
I believe there is a huge potential for improvement in almost all areas such as political, economic, trade and investment.