Browsing 'india' News

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Airways made waves this week after its CEO announced plans to enter the fast-growing Indian market via a wholly-owned domestic carrier.

But in a possible jab at a Gulf competitor, Akbar Al Baker has pledged to take that expansion one step at a time.

According to the Financial Times, he said:

“We want to do (this) one by one, step by step, so that we don’t put so much food in our mouths that we cannot chew, like some airlines did before.”

“Some airlines” could be a reference to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which has invested in some struggling European carriers, the FT reports.

It added that the Indian market is an important one for Gulf carriers because it offers a growing clientele.

Pushback

Earlier this week, Al Baker told reporters that he plans to operate a full-service airline in India, not a budget one.

It would initially operate 100 single-aisle aircraft such as Airbus A320s or Boeing 737s, he added.

Boeing

Qatar Airways 737 Max

The move comes after India’s government relaxed requirements for foreign investment in the country.

Qatar Airways has yet to apply for the appropriate license, but domestic carriers in India are already pushing back.

According to Indian publication Mint, they are lobbying against the carrier for several reasons.

These include:

  • Reciprocity concerns, as Qatar does not allow foreign carriers to operate their own wholly-owned airlines in Doha;
  • Unspecified questions about national security; and
  • A strong belief that control of the aviation sector remain in local hands.

Thoughts?

UN/Flickr

Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs of India, addressing the UN in 2015.

India’s External Affairs Minister has ordered an investigation into reports that two nationals in Qatar have been severely abused by their employer.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Sushma Swaraj said she is seeking to hold both their sponsor and the agent who sent them to Qatar responsible.

Swaraj was responding to a Times of India report about two expats who sought jobs in Qatar in October.

They said they were betrayed by their agent and ended up on an animal farm in which their employer beat them “mercilessly.”

According to TOI, one man said “it’s “better to be thrown in jail than suffer like we are suffering.”

The Indian embassy has not commented publicly on the matter, nor have any Qatari officials.

Human rights concerns

The news comes at a time when Qatar is leaning heavily on foreign labor to complete major construction projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Because the laborers primarily come from poor Asian and African nations, rights groups have expressed concerns about exploitation of this vulnerable group.

Simon Tull/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s government has been working to improve conditions for the hundreds of thousands of men who comprise its working class.

But as explained in a recent documentary, many workers feel ostracized from society because they live outside of the city. By law, they are not allowed to reside in family-filled neighborhoods).

The low pay (usually no more than $400 a month) and long hours, as well as potentially unsafe working conditions also remain an issue.

Also yesterday, Swaraj tweeted:

Thoughts?

Prime ministers of Qatar and India

Narendra Modi/Twitter

Prime ministers of Qatar and India

Qatar and India will work together more closely on fighting terrorist financing, building energy investments and collaborating on construction projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup, officials have announced.

Qatar’s Prime Minister wrapped up a two-day visit to the Asian nation over the weekend.

While there, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani met with his counterpart PM Narendra Modi, as well as India’s President and Interior Minister, among others.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim and India's PM Narendra Modi in June

QNA

Qatar\’s Emir Sheikh Tamim and India\’s PM Narendra Modi in June

The visit comes about six months after Modi made his first official trip to Qatar over the summer.

Indians comprise the largest demographic group in Qatar, numbering more than 630,000 people.

Agreements

According to Indian media reports, the officials inked five deals in total, related to:

  • Cyber security (including combating money laundering);
  • Visa-free travel for diplomatic, special and official passport holders;
  • E-visa system for business travelers and tourists (preliminary);
  • Ports management cooperation; and
  • Infrastructure building in Qatar, particularly between the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and Doha-based Indian companies ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Other topics of interest included growing Qatar and India’s food security, aviation and energy ties, the Hindu reports.

Thoughts?