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What Emir of Qatar’s Visit Holds for Rwanda

by Dan Ngabonziza
1:08 pm

President Kagame and His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani – the Emir of Qatar endure the rain to see one of Rwanda’s Big Five in Akagera National Park on Monday.

His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani – the Emir of Qatar has been in Rwanda on a three day State Visit, which he concluded on Tuesday morning.

Since the first day of his visit which started on Sunday, April 21, the Emir was seen with his host President Paul Kagame touring different parts of the country.

President Kagame took the Emir of Qatar on the rooftops of Kigali’s skyline – showing him the magnificent view of the capital city at night.

At some point, after bilateral talks and signing of several agreements, Kagame was also seen personally driving the Emir in his Range Rover car.

On the second day, President Kagame and the Emir of Qatar flew in a helicopter to the Eastern part of Rwanda to visit Akagera National Park – which offers enormous savanna wildlife and safari.

On arrival, the two leaders endured morning rain in the middle of the park as they struggled to see the country’s list of ‘Big Five’; Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhinos.

That, however, was the least the Emir could see of Rwanda’s species. No photos or a tweet have been released by the President’s communication team showing Emir’s visit to the Gorillas in the Virunga mist – Rwanda’s biggest revenue earner from tourism, according to data by Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

The visit was visibly memorable – as seen on the two leaders’ faces through pictures.

But what more should Rwandans expect from the visit?

Rwanda’s development index is too small compared to Qatar. But a quick look at Qatar’s economy tells it all; that Rwanda could be looking up to partner with the World’s richest country, as it engineers its quest to become a middle-income economy in the next few years.

The World Bank’s 2017 data indicate that Qatar’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP) stood at $166, 929 billion with a 2.6 million population compared to Rwanda’s $9.135 billion in nearly 12 million population.

This is more than 18 times the GDP of Qatar – thanks to its God-given Oil and natural gas.

In 2012, Qatar retained its title of richest country in the world (according to per capita income) for the third time in a row, having first overtaken Luxembourg in 2010.

In the same year, a study published by the Washington-based Institute of International Finance, stated that Qatar’s per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) was $106,000 (QR387,000), helping the country retain its ranking as the world’s wealthiest nation.

Luxembourg came a distant second with nearly $80,000 and Singapore third with per capita income of about $61,000.

The same study that year published that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with assets of $115billion, was ranked 12th among the richest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

Existing relations between Rwanda and Qatar

In November last year, President Kagame conducted a two-day official visit to Qatar. While there, Kagame met with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar who welcomed him to the Amiri Diwan of the State of Qatar in Doha.

The two leaders, together with their respective delegations, held bilateral talks on furthering areas of economic cooperation between the two nations.

At the conclusion of their discussions, the two leaders witnessed the signing of three bilateral agreements; Agreement on Air Services, Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments and a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic, Commercial, and Technical Cooperation.

Rwanda and Qatar enjoy commendable bilateral ties established in May 2017 through the two countries’ Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York, United States of America.

Qatar is accredited to Rwanda through its mission in Dar es Salaam – Tanzania, while Rwanda is accredited to the Gulf state through its mission in the United Arab Emirates.

President Kagame on arrival in Qatar in November last year. The two countries have stepped up efforts to improve bilateral relations.

The two nations share economic ties in Civil Aviation. Qatar Airways – the state-owned airline started its direct flights to Rwanda in March 2012, creating a direct linkage between Rwanda and the Middle East.

While in Qatar, President Kagame visited the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development where he toured the Qatar National Library and other facilities.

The tour signals the two countries’ joint project to promote science and technology, among others.

See you next time. His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani – the Emir of Qatar waves at Rwandan officials led by Prime Minister Dr. Edourd Ngirente before he boards a plane back home.

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