(MENAFN - The Peninsula) QNADoha: As part of strengthening bilateral relations and strategic partnerships between the State of Qatar and the African continent, the President of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, began a three-day official visit to the State of Qatar.
Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is scheduled to meet with President Adama Barrow at the Amiri Diwan today morning, to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations in various fields, in addition to a number of issues of common concern. This visit reflects the desire and keenness of both countries to cement and expand their bilateral relations in various fields to serve the goals and interests of the two friendly countries and peoples, which have been witnessing outstanding development and promising growth for years.
The diplomatic relations between Qatar and The Gambia began in 1978 through non-resident representation, which was developed later with the opening of embassies in each country.
Such relations between the two countries have been further developed, especially at the level of mutual visits that aimed at holding consultation and promoting these relations and pushing them to broader horizons, exchanging views, coordination and consultation on issues of common concern.
Qatar and The Gambia have signed many agreements and MoUs, including agreements in the field of labour force, maritime navigation, the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of financial evasion related to income taxes, and air services, and an MoU concerning the development of cooperation relations between the two countries in all educational and scientific fields and in the fields of higher education, scientific research and technology through universities and institutions in both countries, an agreement for economic, cultural, commercial and technical cooperation, an agreement on the promotion and mutual protection of investments, and a twinning arrangement between Doha Municipality and Banjul City Municipality and an MoU between the foreign ministries of the two countries.
In support of the economic field, Qatar participated in the International Conference to Support The Gambia hosted by the European Commission in Brussels last May. The conference was devoted to supporting national development in The Gambia after the national democratic election which was won by President Adama Barrow; and its international donations amounted to ¤1.45bn.
To fulfil its commitments to the Brussels Conference, Qatar and The Gambia signed a $3m grant agreement at the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Banjul last October. The agreement seeks to promote transitional justice and the rule of law and establish a comprehensive democracy in the Gambia.
The Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa, with an area of just over 11,000 square kilometres. The River Gambia flows through the centre of the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean, which forms the country's west border. The Gambia has a population of more than 1.5 million, of whom 90% are Muslims, and English is its official language.
A proportion of the population works in light industries such as shoe and vegetable oil industries, trade and fishing from the Atlantic and the River Gambia as a source of natural wealth. A large proportion of them work in agriculture, which accounts for about 33 percent of domestic production. Gambia is a major producer of peanuts, which is almost one of the most important sources of its economy, and represents about 80 percent of the country's foreign exports. There are other crops such as cotton, oil palm and rice. Fish, titanium and tin are the most important sources of natural wealth.
The Gambia's economy has improved significantly in recent years thanks to increased fiscal discipline and support from the international community, while total imports and total exports have increased, with strong growth in the transport and construction sectors and telecommunications projects.
The Gambia is seeking to open its doors to global tourism, as it is described as a very large nature reserve, where the diversity of climate increases the beauty of nature and the proliferation of tropical forests and savannah forests which are home to lions and antelopes.
The capital Banjul is the largest tourist centre there, where tourist facilities are available at affordable prices and it is a source of attraction and concentration of tourists, especially in the dry seasons, as tourism is a major source of the country's economy and constitutes 71 percent of its income.
The Gambia is keen to provide an appropriate environment attractive to foreign investment and has many facilities to attract investment, especially since there are many sectors that offer promising investment opportunities, including services, tourism, agriculture, real estate and land development.