Central Asia to reap benefit of Tokayev’s visit to Qatar

Central Asia and Eastern EuropeCentral Asia to reap benefit of Tokayev’s visit to Qatar

By Raza Syed

Introduction:

Kazakhstan, as a pivotal player in Central Asia, maintains close diplomatic ties with various nations to bolster regional stability and foster economic growth. Recently, the visit of Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to Qatar marks a significant diplomatic stride, with potential ramifications for not only Kazakhstan but also its Central Asian neighbors. This article delves into the implications of this visit on the broader Central Asian region.

   
Diplomatic Objectives:

President Tokayev’s visit to Qatar underscores Kazakhstan’s commitment to diversifying its diplomatic relations beyond its immediate neighbors. Strengthening ties with Qatar, a prominent Gulf state, presents opportunities for Kazakhstan to enhance its economic cooperation, particularly in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, and investment. Moreover, this visit serves as a platform for Kazakhstan to showcase its strategic significance as a gateway between Europe and Asia.

Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Qatar Arman Issagaliyev in an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) said the agenda of the visit includes discussions on cooperation issues in international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia. The visit also places significant importance on food security within the framework of the Islamic Organization for Food Security. As a consequence of this visit of the President, Kazakhstan is likely to emerge as an important player on international scene and a key Islamic state.Central Asia to reap benefit of Tokayev’s visit to Qatar

Impact on Economic Development:

The engagement between Kazakhstan and Qatar holds the promise of substantial economic benefits for Central Asian countries, in general, and for Kazakhstan, in particular. Qatar’s robust economy, fueled by its vast natural gas reserves, presents avenues for collaboration in energy projects and infrastructure development across the region. Increased investments from Qatar could catalyze economic growth in Central Asia, facilitating job creation and fostering socio-economic stability.

“Qatar is our important and reliable partner in the Islamic world.” Tokayev declared and added.” I believe the time has come to give a new impetus to our bilateral relations. I propose to bring the interaction between Kazakhstan and Qatar to the level of a full-fledged strategic partnership. We attach great importance to our relations, as Qatar is a special country for us. We are ready to make every effort to strengthen bilateral ties further.”

“Qatar will become one of Kazakhstan’s top ten largest investors in the near future. Kazakhstan is ready to increase exports to Qatar on 60 non-resource commodity items totaling $250 million,” Tokayev said during talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

He also proposed to increase mutual trade to $500 million soon.

During the talks, issues of agriculture, transportation, logistics and tourism were discussed. Specifically, the Kazakh leader urged Qatar to make joint efforts to develop an intermodal transportation network connecting the Gulf and Central Asia to stimulate economic activity in the region. Kazakhstan is currently among the world’s top 10 wheat and flour producers and plans to increase its irrigated land area further.

It is pointed out that special attention will be paid to investment projects in Kazakhstan, one of which is the construction of “a grain processing plant in Astana”, the implementation of which “will make an important contribution to food security in both countries.” The project will increase the export potential of Kazakhstan, as the plant’s main products consist of wheat gluten and vegetable protein, which will be exported to the Middle East, Europe, and the United States of America.

Plans on Technology Sharing:

Cooperation between both these countries in the gas processing and gas chemistry sectors has significant prospects and in future the whole region can benefit from their experiences. Kazakh ambassador to Qatar said, “Negotiations are underway with Kazakhstan on the construction of a gas processing plant, main gas pipelines, as well as on investment partnerships in the field of finance and telecommunications, as well as on the possibilities of implementing specific projects in the mining industry and alternative energy, as promising areas”.

In light of the wide-ranging reforms initiated by Kazakhstan, the ambassador noted the growing interest of Qatari investors in other important economic sectors, such as healthcare, as the Qatari company Elegancia Healthcare plans to build a multi-functional medical center in Astana, leveraging Qatari expertise and the latest technologies.

He also pointed to the maternity hospital project in the Almaty region with a capacity of 125 beds, which is funded by the Qatar Fund for Development.

Boost to Tourism:

A significant increase in Qatari citizens’ interest in traveling to Kazakhstan has been noted, with official figures indicating that the number of Qatari tourists has doubled in one year, as the number increased from 553 Qatari visitors in 2022 to approximately a 1,000 visitor in 2023. According to official statistics, about 40,000 Kazakhstanis visited Doha in 2023. In 2022, their number was only 15,000.

The Ambassador Kazakhstan in Qatar stated that the Kazakh Embassy in Qatar provides comprehensive support to enhance tourism potential in Kazakhstan through social media, media outlets, and tourism exhibitions in Doha, while several Qatari companies organize tours to Kazakhstan, leading to a rapid increase in the number of Qatari tourists, especially with the current visa exemption system for both Qatari and Kazakh citizens.

He added that as a result of that, a significant increase was recorded in the number of tourists from Kazakhstan last year.

This is facilitated by an increase in the number of direct flights; new routes will be launched this year. Today, there are 14 regular direct flights a week between Doha and Almaty, as well as charter flights from five cities in Kazakhstan.

Regional Security Dynamics:

The geopolitical landscape of Central Asia is characterized by intricate security dynamics, influenced by factors such as transnational threats, border disputes, and great power competition. Kazakhstan’s outreach to Qatar contributes to diversifying its network of regional partners, potentially mitigating security risks by fostering dialogue and cooperation on regional security issues. Collaborative efforts between Kazakhstan and Qatar could promote peace and stability in Central Asia, serving the interests of all countries in the region.

Diversification of Diplomatic Alliances:

Kazakhstan’s diplomatic engagement with Qatar reflects a broader trend of diversification in its foreign policy objectives. By expanding its network of diplomatic allies beyond traditional partners, Kazakhstan aims to enhance its international standing and pursue its national interests more effectively. This strategic approach not only strengthens Kazakhstan’s position on the global stage but also creates opportunities for collaboration and mutual benefit with a wide array of countries.

Potential Implications for Central Asian Countries:

The visit of Kazakhstan’s President to Qatar sets a precedent for other Central Asian countries to explore opportunities for enhanced cooperation with Gulf States. As Kazakhstan establishes deeper ties with Qatar, neighboring countries may seek to leverage similar diplomatic channels to bolster their economic development and security cooperation. This could pave the way for a more integrated and interconnected Central Asian region, with increased collaboration among its diverse stakeholders.

Conclusion:

Kazakh President’s visit to Qatar signifies a proactive approach towards expanding diplomatic horizons and pursuing mutually beneficial partnerships. The key focus is on cooperation in the investment field, where several promising projects are already underway in areas such as energy and agriculture. The President’s visit to Qatar is expected to elevate bilateral cooperation to an entirely new level. More importantly than that, the impact of this visit extends beyond bilateral relations, with implications for economic development, regional security, and diplomatic alliances across Central Asia. The war in the region has caused economic sufferings for all the Central Asian countries. In view of the pressure of the international community to boycott trade with Russia, it is important for the countries of this region to look for markets for their goods in other parts of the world. By capitalizing on opportunities for cooperation with Qatar and other Gulf states, Kazakhstan aims to contribute to the prosperity and stability of the entire Central Asian region. This move may also stimulate Kazakhstan’s neighbors to adopt similar policies in future.

Note: The above article by Raza Syed was originally published by London Post on February 16, 2024.

Mati
Mati
Mati-Ullah is the Online Editor For DND. He is the real man to handle the team around the Country and get news from them and provide to you instantly.

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