Portugal and Qatar are very keen to further enhance their bilateral ties in areas such as trade, culture, cuisine, sports and tourism. They have closely been working together to implement different bilateral agreements.
This was revealed by Antonio Alves de Carvalho, ambassador of Portugal to Qatar, while talking to Gulf Times during a recent interview. The ambassador who arrived in Qatar in October 2020 also spoke about the diversity and acceptance he has observed in Qatar.
“In the first two months, I already had the chance to discover a little bit of this fascinating country and its rich culture, which values its past and its traditions, and that has proven to know how to build and underpin conditions for economic and social growth,” the ambassador said while talking about his first impression of Qatar.
He added: “Young generations with adequate training and with modern technical and professional profiles designed for the future is clearly a bet, already won by Qatar. Our two states are engaged in creating a favourable work environment but leisure and socialising are also, in part, in our cultural roots.”
The Portuguese envoy has clearly noticed the engagement in stimulating intercultural and inter-civilisational dialogue in the society of Qatar. “I already have a strong feeling that I am in the most favourable environment to develop further contacts and dialogues to enhance bilateral ties. The country is a perfect example of the communion between the future, modernity and cultural heritage.”
Portugal and Qatar established diplomatic relations in 1982 and the opening of their respective embassies in 2011 and 2012 intensified the relationship between the two states. “The ties between the two countries already have very interesting backgrounds and a strong bilateral legal framework built under
key areas such as economic and technical co-operation, trade, investments, technologies, culture, education, science, academia and sports. Therefore, multiple agreements were signed between 2010 and 2014 in these fields. The two countries also have signed fundamental agreements in order to protect investments and avoid double taxation.
“As a result, we have favourable conditions to enhance economic relations, FDI and to promote the internationalisation of companies. I would like to highlight for instance the Economic, Technical and Trade Co-operation Agreement signed in 2012. Moreover, many other treaties were signed or are under negotiation, such as the memorandum of understanding on Culture and the Agreement on Education, Science, Technology and Higher Education.”
Qatar is willing to increase the Portuguese flag in Doha in multiple sectors. “Gastronomy, for example, was mentioned to me in the very beginning as one of the fields. Doha is a cosmopolitan and modern city that hosts a multitude of communities from diverse origins, well integrated and that surrender to a multifaceted gastronomic offer. Therefore, I will maintain my efforts to promote the Portuguese culinary in Doha. Nevertheless, Portuguese companies can also be seen in other areas, such as technologies, aviation components, fashion, design, home, engineering and construction.”
As far as the political ties between Qatar and Portugal, the two sides are engaged in pursuing the agenda of bilateral visits, at the highest level of state. “Hopefully before the FIFA 2022 World Cup we will have some high level visits. Previously, the Prime Minister of Portugal visited Qatar in 2017, reviewing especially economic and trade dossiers. At the same time, the vice minister for internationalisation also visited Doha in order to strengthen the economic side of our relationship and to promote Qatari investments in Portugal.”
The ambassador has reasons to believe that in the field of trade, the panorama will positively change. “We expect Portuguese exports to grow with a desirable diversification of exported products. Indeed, the export of Portuguese goods to Qatar had a positive variation of 16% between 2015 and 2019.”
Like Qatar, Portugal is engaged in maintaining its high training standards in the field of sports. “For example, Portugal is paying key attention in areas such as parachuting and football. The two countries' football federations preserve a tradition of excellent co-operation which is expected to be strengthened with FIFA 2022. We also hope to co-operate in many other opportunities as Qatar is positioning itself as a worldwide sports hub. The next edition of Asian Games will be held in Qatar. There can be other sporting events that Qatar will host in the near future.”
The ambassador further said: “Regarding, the tourism sector we count on Qatari investment in the branches of hospitality and real estate, especially targeting the leisure sector. In the field of culture, in addition to the forthcoming conclusion of negotiations and entry into force of the MoU between our ministries of culture, we intended to develop the relationship between universities, museums and libraries, along with the dialogue on cultures and shared paths in history. The commemoration of World Day of the Portuguese Language will take place on May 5, 2021, which I intend to transform into a multi-cultural celebration, not only reserved to the local representatives of friendly countries that speak Portuguese but also to all of those who care to join. Hopefully, Qatar will join soon the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), as an associate observer.
The ambassador also mentioned two more aspects. “One concerns the fact that Portugal will assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2021, which will naturally bring new dynamics, visibility, and forecast to Portugal. The other aspect refers to the implementation of a bilateral agenda, in which I am already working together with our two ministries of foreign affairs. Therefore, this will imply the retake of bilateral political consultations that hopefully will take place first half of this year and the meeting of the bilateral Joint Commission for the Economic, Technical and Commercial Co-operation Agreement during the second half of 2021.”