Bilateral relations between Qatar and Spain have remained strong in various fields of co-operation, Spanish ambassador Ignacio Escobar has said. “Both countries have enjoyed deep-rooted ties through the years,” the envoy told Gulf Times yesterday.
He was speaking on the eve of the Spanish National Day celebration in Qatar, set to take place with a reception at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, today.
Escobar noted that both King Felipe VI and His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani have excellent background and training besides being both young and working actively for their countries and citizens.
With a few exceptions, he added that Spain and Qatar are also in line in dealing with international and regional challenges such as fighting terrorism, particularly Daesh, and climate change, among others. Negotiations regarding the €40bn joint investment fund between the two countries are still going on, the envoy said.
“We have to find ways in which the implementation of the investments decision can be taken in a swift way,” he explained.
The two countries also enjoy strong co-operation in the field of sports, particularly in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to Escobar. He said many Spanish coaches, technicians, experts, psychologists and a wide array of professionals, who have vast experience in sports, are working with Aspire Zone Foundation and Aspetar.
“We are participating in the design of stadia and that is something which is ongoing, and we’ll continue for sure because we have a lot to offer and are more than happy to offer it to Qatar,” the envoy added. “All are very excited for the 2022 World Cup, which will take place for the first time in an Arab country.”
In the field of culture, he said Spain successfully held traditional events in previous years at Katara–the Cultural Village.
The embassy also partnered with various Qatari educational institutions such as Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Qatar University to teach the Spanish language to students with the help of “highly experienced and motivated staff”.
“The first way to understanding another country is by language. Once you know how to speak the language you can understand many more things,” the envoy pointed out. “It is important to bring your culture to different parts of the world where Spain is present, and Qatar is no exception.”
In trade, he said the volume is around €1bn annually but decreased to €800mn in 2016 due to lower oil prices. Spanish exports to Qatar consist of construction materials, textiles, marble, furniture, fruits and vegetables, electronic equipment, automobiles, transportation equipment and machinery, among others.
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