Increasing the number of Tunisian workers in Qatar is one of the issues under discussion during a three-day official visit to Qatar by Tunisia’s President.
Beji Caid Essebsi arrived in Doha yesterday to kick off a three-day visit to the Gulf state and was met at Hamad International Airport by a delegation that included Qatar Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Qatar’s ambassador to Tunisia and Tunisian ambassador to Qatar.
New agreements on the economy, security and education will be on the agenda, in addition recruiting more Tunisian workers to Qatar, QNA reported Tunisian officials as saying.
Earlier this week, President Essebsi highlighted youth unemployment as one of his country’s key challenges.
Joining the president on his trip is Zied Ladhari, Tunisia’s minister for employment and vocational training.
Ladhari said he hoped the visit would give a “new impetus to cooperation between the two countries in the field of labor” adding that his government is keen to increase the number of Tunisian laborers working in the Gulf state, Qatar’s state news agency added.
Labor relations between the two states dates back 35 years, to the first agreement signed in 1981 between Qatar’s then-Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs of Tunisia, Ladhari added.
There are currently around 20,000 Tunisian nationals living and working in Qatar. The Tunisian population has quintupled in the past four years, Gulf Times reported Tunisian ambassador to Qatar Salah Al-Salhi as saying ahead of the visit.
This is the Tunisian President’s first official visit to Qatar since he took office in 2014 and in the interview in Tunis he described relations between the two countries as “historic”, “close”, and “renewed”.
However, that wasn’t always the case.
The current warm relations contrast to the situation between the two states 10 years ago when Tunisia closed its embassy in Doha over what it said was unfavorable coverage on Al Jazeera of its domestic politics. The embassy was re-opened three years later in 2009.
Since then, Qatar funded the establishment of a camp for Libyan refugees in southern Tunisia in 2011 and, the following year, pledged financial assistance for the North African state including a five-year, $500 million loan to help it recover following the Arab Spring.
Earlier this year, Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the state would support Tunisia in its current economic and social challenges.
He also offered to help them in its “fight against terrorism,” a statement from Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Investment in Tunisia was also one of the issues discussed during a meeting with the Tunisian delegation and Qatari businessmen at Qatar Chamber yesterday.