One of Qatar’s largest expat communities welcomed their long-awaited ambassador to the country this week.
Nepal’s Ramesh Prasad Koirala presented his credentials to authorities in Qatar on Wednesday.
He fills a post that has been left vacant for the past four years, following the abrupt departure of his predecessor in 2013.
There are now more than 350,000 Nepalis in Qatar, accounting for roughly 13.5 percent of the population.
That makes the Nepali community the second largest in the country, after Indian expats.
Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, Nepali leaders said they are pleased to finally have official representation again in Doha.
They also expressed hope that work can start on Qatar’s first Nepali school, as well as a cultural center.
“Now, we have somebody who can address our concerns about the welfare of our community,” the newspaper quoted Sushmita Ghoshal, President of the Nepali Women’s Association, as saying.
Ensuring workers’ rights is also on the agenda.
In January this year, Nepal’s Foreign Minister met with the Emir in Qatar, and suggested the construction of temporary shelters for Nepalis who are having work problems.
He also urged the country to set up a better mechanism for these expats to complain when they aren’t paid by employers.
Not much information is publicly available about Koirala, except that he was nominated for the post by ruling party Nepali Congress.
Diplomatically speaking, the new ambassador will have his work cut out for him.
Nepali expats in Doha have been the subject of intense international interest since Qatar was selected as the host of the 2022 World Cup.
Many visiting journalists have zeroed in on human rights abuses affecting the group, which is comprised mostly of blue-collar workers.
But embassy officials have had to tread carefully when asked questions about worker treatment in Qatar.
One cautionary tale is Nepal’s previous envoy in Doha, Dr. Maya Kumari Sharma. She was recalled by her government in September 2013, less than halfway into her term.
At issue appeared to be frank remarks Sharma made to the BBC earlier that year, calling Qatar “an open jail.”
Local officials complained about the comment, and she eventually apologized.