New verve in bilaterals
December 05 2019 10:00 PM
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Thai ambassador Nathapol Khantahiran; HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, HE Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro, Ibrahim Yousif Fakhroo and Ali Ibrahim Ahmed stand in respect of the Qatari national anthem. Photos by Ram Chand

By Kamran Rehmat

Plenty of positive vibes dominated the celebration of the National Day of Thailand Wednesday evening in what has been a landmark year for the kingdom. 
The glittering and culturally rich ceremony was attended by HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health; HE Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro, Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs; Ibrahim Yousif Fakhroo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chief of Protocol; Ali Ibrahim Ahmed, Ambassador of the State of Eritrea and Dean of Diplomatic Corps in Doha; ambassadors, dignitaries and Thai residents in Qatar. 
Nathapol Khantahiran, Thai ambassador to Qatar, recounted a few highs for the benefit of the audience, the highlight of which was the surge in Thai exports to Qatar by 24 per cent in 2018 over the previous year — leading to the volume of bilateral trade reaching $3.9 billion. There was also greater inflow of Qatari tourists to Thailand, an increase of 27.5 per cent over the previous year.
Qatar, he said, remains one of the biggest suppliers of LNG to Thailand. 
The ambassador was sanguine about the bilaterals, saying the ongoing crisis would not deter his country’s strong determination to further strengthen ties with Qatar. The coming year marks the 40th anniversary of a mutually beneficial relationship going back to August 7, 1980 when diplomatic ties were formally initiated. The two countries have also been engaged in multilateral forums.
He noted two significant recent visits to underscore the vitality of the bilaterals:  Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendiradebyavati’s visit to Qatar in December 2018; and in August this year, the visit of HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, to Thailand.
On the domestic front, the ambassador highlighted the significance of the day, which coincides with the birth anniversary of King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great, the father of King Maha Vajiralongkom Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua. It is also marked as Thailand’s Father’s Day. 
This year the day was also declared as the ‘World Soil Day’ by the UN General Assembly to promote and raise awareness of soil as an entity towards agriculture development, nutrition and food security — all very central to the Thai kingdom and reflected in its global standing in the arena. 
Ambassador Khantahiran pointed out that the country marked two major milestones this year; the coronation on May 4 of King Maha Vajiralongkam Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua or King Rama X, continuing a tradition of over 700 years of kingdom; and the election of a new government. The third related to Thailand assuming the chairmanship of Asean as the host of the 35th Asean summit.
The evening had a plateful of cultural musings with an engaging enactment of the Dance of Benediction, a traditional score from Thailand’s central region as a gesture of welcome to — and bestow blessings — on the guests. 
It was followed by Serng Kratip, a folk dance from the northeastern part of the country, reflecting the people’s daily lives which relates to glutinous rice, the main crop produced and consumed in the region. 
It was rounded up by Isaan Long Drum Dance, which also comes from the northeast region. Long drum group is popularly seen in processions at various festivals. All three had a mark of finesse about them and, apart from the performance, particularly eye-catching were the exquisite Thai attire and adornments on display.
Before inviting the guests to a traditional Thai feast, the ambassador took the opportunity to thank High Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Qatari government and people for hosting his compatriots and taking good care of them.

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