Pakistanis have been residing in Qatar since long so their traditional foods are available here as well. Few of the restaurants are here since decades. However, restaurants serving pure Pakistani taste and recipes are few in number.
Exercising soft visa policy, Qatar has recently began granting visit and transit visas at the airport to the Pakistani nationals and nationals of some other countries as well. However, work and employment visa policy hasn’t been revised the same way.
On interviewing a restaurant owner, two reasons of this surfaced. Firstly, the number of Pakistani nationals in Qatar is so small that it cannot be relied upon to run the business.
Secondly, to hire cooks from Pakistan, visa is not required while people belonging from other professions do not get visa easily too.
Probably this is the reason that the number of Pakistani nationals in Qatar is 1 lac only, a few thousand less and more over the years, however, no big change in the numbers has taken place. The number of Pakistani nationals in Qatar is the least when compared to other Asian countries.
According to an estimate, out of Qatar’s 2.7 million population, 0.7 million comprises of Indian immigrants, 0.4 million Nepali immigrants and more than 0.4 million Sri Lankans and Bangladeshi immigrants.
Why are Pakistanis being issued fewer visas since past few year? Assumptions are circulating among the Pakistani nationals residing in Qatar regarding this issue since nothing has been said by the Qatar and Pakistani governments on the issue.
However, based in Qatar, Pak-Qatar business forum’s president Muhammad Idrees, one reason of this can be the unstable foreign relations between the previous Pakistani governments and the military rule. Improvements, however, have been recorded during the current government’s tenure.
While talking to BBC Urdu he said that “the issue of visas was raised during former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Qatar visit in 2016 after which issuing of 0.1 million Qatari visas to Pakistani nationals was agreed upon”.
Muhammad Idrees Anwar said that, “Now when we go to Qatar government with visa requests, they are accepting them. Hopefully over the next two years, 0. 1 million Pakistani nationals will come to Qatar and the Qatari government will abide by its agreement”.
Idrees Anwar since decades has been working in Qatar and is the chief executive officer and managing partner of Alkhaireen Group.
According to him “from unskilled to businessmen everyone will be able to come to Qatar, a reason of this is the ongoing Gulf crisis”. “Numerous opportunities of business and employment are surfacing as a result of ongoing crisis,” he said.
Pak-Qatar business forum’s president said that “since the beginning of the crisis the Qatari government announced a policy of self-sufficiency in every profession. Many business and work opportunities in every profession are being granted by the government itself”.
Earlier on June 5 the Saudi Arabia, Behrain, UAE and Egypt cut-off ties with Qatar after which possibility of economic crisis surfaced in Qatar.
However, up until now Qatar has stood firm that the isolation hasn’t affected the country’s economy.
Idrees Anwar said that “Skilled businessmen and professionals must reap benefits from the current situation”. According to him, ongoing crisis has paved way for better trade relations between Qatar and Pakistan.
He told that delegation of economic analysts and skilled businessmen from Pak-Qatar business forum visited Pakistan recently. Various factories were paid visit where agreements have been signed.
Idrees also told that ‘Pakistani export to Qatar is likely to face increase in near future. Besides raw material, Qatar will import fruits, vegetables, dairy and poultry products from Pakistan’.
He said that agreement to set-up a pharmaceutical industry in Qatar has also been signed.
Currently, the Qatar import rate of Pakistan is higher than the export rate. Past year an agreement of import LNG gas for 15 years to Pakistan on one billion US dollars annually had been signed between Pakistan and Qatar.
A lot of Pakistani nationals based in Qatar are serving in the military, police or government positions at Qatar. Skilled people are needed in the field of medicine, education and engineering. A huge number of Pakistani nationals in Qatar comprises of unskilled people.
According to Idrees Anwar, Pakistani professionals are needed at Qatar while with the resolution of visa issue even more business and work opportunities will come up for Pakistani nationals.
To train the unskilled people, an organization working under the Pakistan embassy at Doha has been formed known as the Pakistan Welfare Forum.
OrganiSation’s former president Riyaz Bakali told BBC that ‘over 1000 families would be left without basic education, health and legal advice if the Pakistan Welfare Forum wouldn’t be there’.
The organisation through various programmes looks after the education expenses of Pakistani immigrant children, training of unskilled people, their welfare and legal issues faced by them.
This story originally appeared on BBC Urdu.