Qatar, Philippines forge stronger ties

MANILA. The Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, (left) and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacanang on Monday, April 22, 2024.
MANILA. The Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, (left) and Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacanang on Monday, April 22, 2024.Screenshot from RTVM video

THE Amir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived in the Philippines on Monday, April 22, 2024, for a two-day visit that aims to strengthen the bilateral ties of the Philippines and Qatar.

Upon his arrival in the country, Sheikh Tamim was welcomed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang where they also held a bilateral meeting.

Marcos and Sheikh Tamim witnessed the signing of an agreement between the Philippines and Qatar, such as on the waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and special or official passports

“Nationals of either party who are holders of valid passport types mentioned in Article 1 of this Agreement are exempted from the obligation to obtain visas for entry and stay in the territory of the other party, for a stay of 30 days,” the agreement read.

“Provided, the passport presented must have a validity period of at least three months beyond the period of allowed stay in the territory of the other Party,” it added.

Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were also inked between the two countries, particularly on cooperation in the field of sports and youth; in combating human trafficking; on technical cooperation and capacity-building on climate change; in the field of tourism and business events; on mutual recognition of seafarers' certificates; and for commerce and industry.

In a bid to combat human trafficking, the Philippines and Qatar committed to advance labor protection in both countries, through exchange of expertise in the field of legislation and exchange of studies and research.

An MOU will also cover the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificate to implement the provisions stipulated in the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) of 1978, and the amendments, in which Qatar acceded by Decree No. (14) of 2003.

This refers to Circular 1450 issued by the Maritime Safety Committee on January 24, 2013 on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates according to Regulation I/10 of the STCW Convention.

Under the MOU, the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Qatar’s Ministry of Transport “shall apply to the certificates of seafarers who serve on registered merchant ships of any of the participants and sail under its flag except for those who serve on the ships mentioned in Article 3 of the STCW Convention.”

Marcos said he is seeing a stronger collaboration between the Philippines and Qatar, which are sharing 43 years of “deep friendship and cooperation.”

“I am certain that our discussions today will translate to stronger collaboration in common fields of interests,” said Marcos.

“This is our aspiration and I think that if we come to -- if we are agreed that this is the way to go, there is much potential that we can take advantage of,” he added.

For his part, Sheikh Tamim expressed gratitude for the unwavering support and effective contribution of Filipinos to the development and progress of Qatar, which serves as the “second home” to at least 242,609 Filipinos.

In 2022, remittances to the Philippines from Qatar amounted to $895.33 million.

“This is my pleasure to take this opportunity to praise the Filipino community residing in the State of Qatar and their effective contribution to the development, progress in our country,” the Qatari Amir said.

“The Philippines is an important partner for us in many fields and especially in trade, economic cooperation. And, we aspired to improve these relations to increase communication between the private sector in both the countries,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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