QATAR’s NATIONAL DAY falls on 18 December, which marks the historic date in 1878 when Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, the founder of the modern state of Qatar, rallied the tribes of the peninsula into a unified people.
Since then we have flourished, growing from a small nation in the Gulf whose economy was based on pearl trading, to the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas with a strong global presence. We are proud of our cultural heritage and traditions, but have also embraced modernity.
To fulfil the Qatar National Vision 2030, we aim to build a strong, vibrant and diversified economy based on sustainable development by setting a modern infrastructure to serve all sectors.
Much of our prosperity comes through our relationships with other countries. And Britain is one of Qatar’s oldest friends in the West. We value this longstanding relationship, which has gone from strength to strength.
Qatar is the UK’s third-largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa region, and bilateral trade between the two countries is more than £5 billion each year.
The ‘Sharaka’ (Partnership) agreement, signed by the United Kingdom and Qatar during the first official visit of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the UK in October 2014 was a clear signal of the commitment from both countries to strengthen ties on culture, defence, education, trade and energy.
In business, UK companies have played a critical role in developing our economy. They are now helping transform it into one that is based on knowledge as much as oil and gas, by developing our human capital, innovation, and commerce. In turn, we have invested £30 billion into the UK, more than in any other country. This is not just in buildings like Harrods and the famous Shard, the tallest building on London’s skyline. It is also in the LNG plant in South Hook, Milford Haven, which employs hundreds in the local community and can provide up to 20 per cent of the UK’s natural gas needs.
We have close ties in education, too. University College London, from its base in Doha, leads world-class archaeology and research across the Arab and Islamic world. And each year, thousands of Qataris come to study in the UK, in Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and London and in many other cities across the country. They come back to Qatar with lifelong friendships and warm memories of their time here, as well as a stellar education. The same goes for Britons who come to Qatar. There are now over 20,000 Britons who make their home in our country.
We are close allies internationally and we share a vision of a peaceful and secure Middle East. This will – God willing – create a more secure global community.
In short, the UK is a long-term, valued partner of Qatar. It is through links like these that we will deepen the relationship between our two countries. We look forward to continuing to work together in this New Year.