The visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Ecuador as part of his four-nation Latin American tour, starting Monday, is expected to have a long-standing and positive bearing on future relations between Qatar and countries in that region, Ecuador ambassador to Qatar Yvonne Abdul Baki has said.
Talking to Gulf Times in an interview prior to the tour, she said there has been a remarkable growth in bilateral ties between Qatar and her country over the last few years and both Ecuador and Qatar are hoping to consolidate the gains so far and work together continuously so that both nations benefit from the synergies.
"We hope to increase trade between Ecuador and Qatar on the one hand, while on the other we are looking to open new opportunities for investment in some projects that are beneficial to each other," she said.
The ambassador also hoped that during the visit of HH the Amir, a series of agreements would be signed between the two countries. "We hope there will be discussions on the issue of setting up a petroleum refinery in Ecuador with Qatari assistance during the visit. Negotiations on the issue are expected to continue until a good and long-lasting agreement is reached," she added, noting that there has been considerable interest and progress in the talks initiated on the issue so far.
Further, she said Ecuador has highlighted the need to end the blockade on Qatar and her country would like to ensure that measures taken as part of the blockade do not violate the international law.
The Ecuador embassy in Qatar is the only diplomatic mission of the Latin American country in the Gulf region. The mission was opened in Doha in 2012 and Qatar, too, has a full-time ambassador in Quito at present.
"As is evident from the visits of our officials to Qatar in the last two years as well as the tours of Qatari officials to Ecuador during the period, it is clear that both the countries want to increase commercial and economic co-operation and contacts and are also keen to strengthen political relations," said A-Baki, stressing that there is a need to understand the culture and traditions of the Arab world to develop good relations between the South American countries and Qatar.
"Cultural ties with the Arab world have been fundamental in understanding the culture and traditions of a country like Qatar," she added, reiterating that such an understanding is vital for strengthening bilateral relations between Ecuador and Qatar.
A-Baki remembered that earlier this year there were visits by the foreign minister of Ecuador to Qatar and there was a return visit by Qatar Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ecuador as well. "We also had a bilateral commission meeting in Quito last May and now above all HH The Emir will visit our country. We will continue to increase contacts at the highest levels between the two nations."
The envoy also highlighted that Ecuador has received migrants from the Arab world for more than 100 years and people from the Middle East have integrated well into her country.
Highlighting the need to further trade contacts between the two countries A-Baki remembered that there has been substantial growth in the export of flowers from Ecuador to Qatar in the last one year. "We are now working to increase the supply of many products, particularly agricultural items," she said.
The ambassador also disclosed that there has been a positive follow-up to her request to Qatar Airways to introduce direct flights between Doha and Quito. "Negotiations continue between Qatar Airways and aviation officials in Ecuador for starting the route and the issue is expected to be taken up during the visit of HH the Amir," she said, reminding that the geographically advantageous position of her country in the Latin American region would help airlines operate direct flights to Quito.
A-Baki hoped that considering the huge popularity of football in her country, Qatar Airways would consider the request for operating direct flights, as Qatar would play host to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. "Our national team played qualified for the World Cup thrice in 2002, 2006 and 2014, and we hope a massive presence in Qatar from Ecuador and other parts of South America during the 2022 World Cup."
"One of the positive results of opening a direct route between Qatar and Ecuador is that it would facilitate the easy arrival of fans from Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and other South American destinations," she added.
Answering another question, A-Baki said she was expecting a sharp rise in the number of tourists, commercial and business exchanges and visitors between South American countries and the Gulf states, especially Qatar, as there is enormous potential for the same. "We are working to strengthen the bonds that unite us and increase contact between both the parties," she said, recalling past initiatives such as the participation of artistes in cultural events hosted by Katara. "We are optimistic that there will be an increase in such participation in the coming days."
Ecuador - First in the world to have legally enforceable Rights of Nature
The Republic of Ecuador is a country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific, about 1,000 kilometres west of the mainland. The capital city is Quito, while the largest city is Guayaquil.
What is now Ecuador was home to a variety of Amerindian groups that were gradually incorporated into the Inca Empire during the 15th century. The territory was colonised by Spain during the 16th century, achieving independence in 1820 as part of Gran Colombia, from which it emerged as its own sovereign state in 1830. The legacy of both empires is reflected in Ecuador's ethnically diverse population, with most of its 16.4 million people being Mestizos, followed by large minorities of European, Amerindian, and African descendants. Spanish is the official language and is spoken by a majority of the population, though 13 Amerindian languages are also recognised, including Quichua and Shuar.
Ecuador is a middle-income representative democratic republic with a developing economy that is highly dependent on commodities, namely petroleum and agricultural products. It is governed as a democratic presidential republic. One of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, Ecuador hosts many endemic plants and animals, such as those of the Galápagos Islands. In recognition of its unique ecological heritage, the new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognise legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
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