Qatar’s relationship with its Asian depth has been cemented over the past years through joining the Asian entities and blocs. Also, Qatar has been playing an effective role in lockstep with regional and global organisations in Asia which helped bolstering its standing and influence in the region, as well as the global arena by virtue of an effective bilateral co-operation with some of the most prominent and major Asian blocs and bodies.
The Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), marks the Qatari flagship initiatives directed towards the communities and countries in Asia whose population suffers either from low income levels or lives in unstable social conditions engendered by crises, wars, and climate change.
Since the launch of such an initiative in September 2005, ROTA has provided education and training for over two million children and young people in 20 countries in collaboration with partners, volunteers, and local societies to help build their capacities in the quest for a viable role in a sustainable future. Also, ROTA has bolstered Qatar’s efforts towards humanitarian co-operation and development in Asia and the entire region.
The Initiative underscored Qatar’s ironclad commitment to significantly support bilateral relations and co-operation with the countries in Asia in multiple fields, including education, culture, health, economic development, providing humanitarian assistance in times of disaster and crises, and upgrading the infrastructure.
By utilising this initiative, Qatar has succeeded in forging a robust partnership with the countries in Asia through supporting the shared development projects, essentially enhancing the sustainable development, and optimising the life quality of the population in the region.
Through its membership in the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) that was established in Thailand in 2002, Qatar launched its vision to achieve effective and sustainable development in Asia. Also, Doha hosted numerous ministerial meetings of ACD countries, the last one was the 16th ministerial meeting held in 2019 and left a footprint of co-operation that advances the countries in Asia, affirming that Asia possesses all opportunities of forging an eventual integration that ultimately makes the continent a groundbreaking economic zone thanks to the geographical, human, and civilisational potential of success and booming development and creates peace and security in the world, announcing from Doha that the inter-Asian partnership is a critical method of achieving the aspirations of the continent’s nations.
During its hosting of the meeting, per se, Qatar announced an initiative to teach the Arabic language among member states, since education is the only means that bridges the gaps between cultures of wide diversity of peoples all over the world.
Qatar’s hosting of the ACD ministerial meeting in 2019 earned strong commendation as it was a critical event because it witnessed the convention of the first meeting after being postponed for two and a half years. Thereafter, Qatar made massive efforts to revive the ACD and rebuild the confidence of the member states, especially that the event was deferred multiple times leading to confusion and uncertainty about the future of this bloc.
There was a new transition for Qatar’s relationship with the Asian entities and bodies to a new phase after it joined the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), the second-largest parliamentary group in the world after the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Qatar’s admission to the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) came during the first meeting of APA Executive Council held in Turkiye on October 26, 2019. The presence of Qatar in this regional bloc was a qualitative addition to enhance the shared parliamentary action in Asia.
In confirmation of Qatar’s tremendous role in the field of parliamentary diplomacy, along with its unwavering efforts devoted to bolstering the parliamentary co-operation and contributions to creating interconnection and people-to-people communication, Qatar has won the position of vice-president of the APA for the period of 2024-2025 following the elections that were held within the agendas of the APA Executive Council meetings hosted by the city of Antalya, Turkiye last year.
Established in 2006, APA primarily aims to strengthen the parliamentary co-operation and share expertise among the member states in Asia. Its primary objective is to promote democracy and upgrade the legislation in the Asian region.
The assembly holds periodical events to discuss issues of shared interest and encourages the exchange of information and experiences among national parliaments in Asia. It plays a significant role in promoting understanding and co-operation among the countries in Asia, in addition to deepening the principles of democracy and human rights in the region.
In its new quest for strengthening the Asian horizons, Qatar has signed the instrument of accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia (TAC) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on the margins of the 55th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in August 2022.
Qatar’s accession to the treaty stems from the common desire to create a safe and stable area for societies to achieve sustainable economic development and shared prosperity, in addition to creating a common unity among peoples based on diversity and acceptance of the other.
Qatar’s relationships with the Asean countries earn utmost significance to consolidate co-operation in multiple fields, in addition to supporting all efforts to enhance regional and international peace and security, giving foremost priority to upgrading relations and co-operation with the Asian continent in general, and with the Asean in particular. The treaty was signed in 1976 among the five Asean founding countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, as well as the rest of the member states.
The treaty was amended in 1987 to allow for accession by states outside Southeast Asia. It primarily aims to accomplish a number of principles that promote peace and co-operation among countries, along with shared respect for independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all countries.
In the context of Qatar’s relations with the Asean group and under the umbrella of the Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani participated last year with his brothers, Their Majesties and Highnesses, leaders of the GCC countries, and Their Excellencies heads of state of the Asian countries and heads of delegations, at the maiden summit of the GCC countries and the Asean, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The participation of HH the Amir in this event reflected the foremost priority Qatar gives to strengthening the interconnection between the GCC countries and the Asean member states in a variety of fields, along with Qatar’s ironclad commitment to strengthening and deepening its partnership with the Gulf countries and other Asean member countries.
The relationships between the GCC countries and the Asean member states have been thriving in various fields, especially in the economic and trade areas, which made the Asean one of the most vital trade partners of the GCC countries in areas of shared interest, such as co-operation in the maritime field, communications, sustainable development goals, the economic field, as well as other possible and appropriate areas of co-operation.
In 2014, Qatar joined the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and became a member of the conference after it had observer status.
Additionally, CICA is an international forum aimed at promoting understanding and building confidence among countries in Asia. The idea of organising the conference came as an initiative put forward, for the first time, by the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev on October 5, 1992, during the 47th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and officially remained operational in March 1993.
CICA includes 27 countries as permanent members, representing nearly 90% of Asia’s territory and population, as well as 13 observers from countries and international organisations. Also, its name reflects its philosophy of operation, as it primarily focuses on interaction between member states, in addition to sharing confidence-building measures to strengthen security and stability in the region and strives to enhance bilateral and multilateral co-operation in areas, such as combating terrorism and organised crime, in addition to de-escalating regional conflicts.
Being an important platform for dialogue and co-operation in the region, CICA seeks to achieve balance, stability, and constructive co-operation among countries in Asia.
Since joining the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia during the fourth CICA Summit held in Shanghai, China in 2014, Qatar has regularly participated in all CICA activities and strives to strengthen cooperative relationships with the member states.
On September 14, 2022, Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the margins of the organisation’s summit held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The MoU was a new step towards boosting the Qatari-Asian co-operation regarding its accession to the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) as a dialogue partner.
SCO is considered an intergovernmental organisation founded on June 15, 2001, and currently includes China, Russia, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan as members, with Iran being accepted as a permanent member, after it was an observer member.
The countries that hold observer status in the organisation are namely, Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia, with the list of countries with the status of dialogue partner including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkiye, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Nepal, before Qatar was accepted to join the organisation. Also, the countries’ admission to SCO requires obtaining the consent of all member states, as does the transition from one status to another.
Stemming from Qatar’s conviction of the tremendous goals for which SCO was established, along with SCO’s leading role in resolving urgent and pivotal issues considering the major evolutions happening in the world, Qatar shares the SCO countries’ endeavours to strengthen stability and security in the territories of its members, in addition to combating terrorism, extremism and crime, drug trafficking, and advancing co-operation in the fields of economy, energy, culture, and science. (QNA)