Ecuador-Qatar ties set for expansion
March 05 2013 11:59 PM
Ecuador’s ambassador Kabalan B Abisaab speaking in Doha yesterday. PICTURE: Nasar T K
Ecuador’s ambassador Kabalan B Abisaab speaking in Doha yesterday. PICTURE: Nasar T K

By Bonnie James/Deputy News Editor

Ecuador and Qatar are all set to augment tourism, following the visit of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to the Andean country on February 16, a first by Qatar’s head of state.
“A delegation led by Ecuador’s Minister of Tourism, Freddy Ehlers, will visit Qatar in the first week of April, in response to an invitation from HH the Emir,” Ecuador’s ambassador Kabalan B Abisaab told Gulf Times yesterday.
A Memorandum of Understanding on tourism was among the nine agreements signed between Qatar and Ecuador during HH the Emir’s visit.
“Discussions will be held to follow up on the decision to promote tourism, which is an important source of income,” the envoy explained, while expressing hopes to see more Qataris visit Ecuador.
Minister Ehlers, a former journalist with over 30 years of experience in the field of communication, is credited with promoting “Responsible Tourism.” A former legislator in the Andean Parliament, he was the presenter from 1990 to 2006 of La Televisión, a popular weekly television programme, which is now produced by his son Fernando.
Ecuador, which rises from the sea to the peaks of the Andes, has a number of globally renowned tourist attractions, including Galapagos Islands, Banos, Cotopaxi National Park, Poncho Square, Ingapirca Incan Ruins and the Yasuni National Park.
“HH the Emir and Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa discussed about the strengthening of bilateral relations, the battle against poverty and the development of infrastructure in key areas,” the ambassador said.
President Correa, re-elected recently for a second consecutive term, has emphasised that Ecuador shares a multiplicity of cultural traits with the ancient Arab civilisation, the envoy said. The other agreements cover legal co-operation, aviation, international relations, trade and investment and strategic sectors. Ricardo Patino, Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Trade and Integration, and HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s Minister of State for International Co-operation and Foreign Affairs, signed a MoU for co-operation in the development and introduction of modern methods of training experts in the field of international relations in addition to the exchange of information in the areas of teaching and research.
A legal co-operation agreement will allow exchanging experiences, information and expertise in the operation of the Ministries of Justice, in order to promote development on the legal front.
In the area of trade and investment, an air services agreement has been signed with the objective of opening a direct air route between Qatar and Ecuador. “This agreement has to be followed up by both parties, but there is no definite date for the launch of flights, which I hope would happen as soon as possible,” ambassador Abisaab said.
At present travellers between Qatar and Ecuador have to fly via Spain, the US, London, Paris or Amsterdam with a one-way trip taking up to 20 hours of flight time alone. In order to facilitate trade and economic activities through the formation of a joint committee, both governments signed a commercial and technical economic co-operation agreement.
In the area of strategic sectors, a MoU was signed to facilitate the exchange of information on the different projects of the State Mining Company to maintain co-ordination, evaluation, viability and profitability of projects in this field.
“The Ministry of Strategic Sectors and Qatar Petroleum will develop initiatives in the legal, technical, financial and commercial areas in order to develop a feasibility study of the proposed investment in the Pacific Refinery,” ambassador Abisaab said.
Also signed on the occasion of HH the Emir’s Ecuador visit was a MoU between Qatar Chamber and Pro Ecuador (Institute for Promotion of Exports and Investments) to promote trade, attract investment and exchange of relevant information.

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