Doha, 06 December 2020 (Qatar Tribune)
By Ashraf Siddiqui
Qatar and Poland have been enjoying very close bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1989, Ambassador of Poland to Qatar HE Janusz Janke has said.
In an interview with Qatar Tribune, Ambassador Janke said the Father Amir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s visit to Warsaw in 2002 as the Amir of Qatar then marked the first-ever visit of a head of an Arab Gulf state to Poland.
He said President of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski visited Qatar in 2004 and 2013, adding that the embassy of Poland was opened in Doha in 2007, while the embassy of Qatar in Warsaw became operational in 2008.
He said that apart from exchange of visits by heads of states, there have also been various high-level official visits between the two countries, including by Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk to Qatar in 2008 and Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz, who took part in the Doha Forum 2019.
Both countries have signed seven bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) covering various sectors, including air transport, avoidance of double taxation, tourism, economy, health and medical sciences, culture, and waiving of visa requirement for holders of diplomatic and special passports.
Talking about economic and trade relations, the envoy said that by 2019, the annual volume of Polish-Qatari trade reached $852.4 million with Qatar’s export to Poland standing at $750.1 million consisting mainly of liquefied natural gas (LNG). He said Poland’s export to Qatar has been very diverse and stood at a record level of $102.3 million, comprising mechanical and electrical devices, turbojet engines, turbo-propeller and other gas turbines, agricultural products, hygienic and sanitary products, and furniture. He added that, to enhance the bilateral trade and investment relations, Qatar-Poland Business Council was launched on November 9, 2020.
“The inauguration was preceded by a virtual business forum entitled ‘Polish-Qatari virtual roundtable’ organised by the Polish Embassy in cooperation with the Qatar Financial Center, Qatari Businessmen Association and the Qatar Free Zone Authority with the participation of around 60 members of the business community from both sides,” he added.
He said both countries are looking into possibilities of cooperation in energy, IT, aviation, banking and finance sectors, as well as research, development and innovation fields.
He said both countries have agreement on cooperation in the field of higher education and research. A growing number of students from Qatar are going to Poland for higher studies.
Ambassador Janke said that in June 2020, a batch of 10 Qatari Coast Guard cadets graduated from the Polish Naval Academy in Gdynia and another group of 15 Qatari cadets have recently started their training from October this year, adding that Polish military personnel present at the Al Udeid Air Base have recently successfully fulfilled the objectives set within the Inherent Resolve mission.
On cultural relations, he said the meetings between Qatar’s Minister of Culture and Sports HE Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali and Polish First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage Piotr Glinski and Polish Minister of Sport and Tourism Witold Banka in 2019 have paved the way for strengthening bilateral cultural relations between the two countries.
“To strengthen Polish-Qatari cultural relations, the Polish Embassy in Qatar has organised various cultural events, including exhibition of works of many Polish artists, performing works of renowned Polish composers by Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, participating in European Jazz Festival at Katara,” he said.
The envoy said that Poland is celebrating year 2020 as the 200th anniversary of Polish traveller Count Qzewuski, whose travels to Arab Peninsula are preserved through his memoirs ‘Sur les chevauxorientaux et provenants des races orientales’ (Concerning the Horses of the Orient and Those Originating from Oriental Breeds), which contains more than 400 full-colour drawings, recording the culture and customs of Bedouins at the beginning of the 19th century.
The envoy said the Polish traveller’s manuscripts in five volumes are preserved by Polish National Library in collaboration with Qatar Museums Authority in 2012. The work is translated to Polish and English languages, containing compilation of essays covering history, Arabic studies, literature, art, culture and detailed descriptions on Arabian horses.