Muscat: Jhabindra Aryal, who has been appointed as the first chargé d'affaires of the Nepal Embassy in Muscat, outlined his vision for Oman-Nepal relations after arriving in Muscat.
Born on October 1958 and raised in Sirseni-5, Gulmi, Nepal, Jhabindra Aryal received his school education in Gulmi. He is a graduate in law and economics and achieved his Master's Degree in Political Science from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Before coming to Muscat, he held the position of Minister-Counsellor (undersecretary) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, Singha Durbar, Kathmandu.
He joined the diplomatic service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1988 as a Section Officer (Desk Officer) and served in the various divisions of the ministry enriching his knowledge, skills and experience focusing on issues of foreign policy pursued by Nepal.
He also served in Nepalese embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (1994-97), Brussels, Belgium (2001-2004) and London (2007-2011) as First Secretary, Counsellor and Minister.
Speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman, he said he hoped to further strengthen the growing ties between Oman and Nepal. "Since I arrived I have felt that there is a growing appetite on both sides from the business people to enhance business relations between the two countries," he said.
On the business front, Aryal said there was a lot of potential for Nepal making investments in Oman in the hydropower, construction, agriculture and food sectors. "Besides investment, we think tourism is something we can share with our friends in Oman as we now have direct flights between Kathmandu and Muscat," he said.
But before taking full-fledged charge, he had to select premises to house the Chancery Building and a residence for the Head of the Mission as he is currently staying in a hotel. "But very soon, we will be opening our office as staff from Kathmandu and other parts of the world are joining us soon," he said.
To set up the embassy, a few buildings in places like MQ and Ruwi were short-listed.
"With the opening of the embassy, more than 40,000 Nepalese in Oman will have a moral guardian. At present, all attestation and paperwork of Nepali workers in the Sultanate is carried out at our mission in Saudi Arabia, which costs a lot of money.
It is also a time-consuming process. Due to the absence of an embassy, it was the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) which was taking the lead in solving issues related to the workers," said D. B. Chettri, president of Non-Resident Nepali Association.
Nepalese workers say they used to face a lot of problems as they didn't have an embassy in Muscat all these years.
"All the paperwork has to be done through the embassy in Saudi Arabia which is quite expensive. One single courier costs OMR60 if sent through urgent service while a normal courier costs no less than OMR10. Not only this, after dispatching the documents, one needs to constantly call the embassy for follow-up action and nobody knows when the final documents will come," he said.
In 2011, it was reported that steps were being taken to open a Nepalese consulate in Muscat to help serve the expatriate community in Oman, following extensive lobbying and consultation by the Non-Resident Nepali Association.
Chettri also said, "We are extremely happy that the embassy will finally open soon. It will further boost the Oman-Nepal ties. We hope to strengthen business and cultural ties between the two countries. The embassy will also play a key role in promoting Nepal as a tourism destination. Besides, it will also look into all labour-related issues and get more skilled workers from Nepal."
Nepal announced the opening of an embassy in Oman in February this year, as well as at other locations in the GCC, as the country looks to expand its existing network of diplomatic missions around the world. In addition to Oman, an embassy will be established in Bahrain, and another consulate is to open in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.