Around 65% of projects related to the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar have been completed and the rest will be accomplished within the next two-three years, HE the Minister of Finance Ali Sherif al-Emadi has said.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, he stressed that Qatar has completed more World Cup-related works in the five months of the siege than it had done during the six months that preceded it.
He also pointed out that a number of projects, including those pertaining to roads and infrastructure, have been opened in Qatar ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with CNBC, HE al-Emadi denounced the alleged scheme to destabilise his country’s economy, saying the Qatar government was investigating what one news report called a “financial war” against the Gulf state.
“This is completely unethical,” he said in response to a query on the alleged plan to destabilise Qatar’s currency and exhaust the country’s foreign currency reserves by manipulating the bond and derivatives markets. “It is against international laws and against the IMF Articles of Association.”
While noting that those behind such plans would not succeed, the minister said the matter was under investigation. “We’re going to come out publicly and we’ll be very honest. We will take all the measures needed legally,” he told CNBC, adding that the matter would be pursued to ensure that the perpetrators were held accountable for whatever steps they had taken against Qatar’s economy.
Asked if the Gulf Co-operation Council still had any value for Qatar at this stage, he said: “We’ve said we’re still part of the GCC. I think His Highness the Emir has mentioned more than once that it is very important for the GCC entity to remain, and we’ve also said that it’s very important that we have a proper dialogue around the dispute without touching our sovereignty, foreign policy or integrity.”
On whether the recent Saudi actions would have a negative impact on the region’s economy, HE al-Emadi said while he would not like to talk about the measures taken internally by the Saudi authorities, the issue did concern the Saudi economy.
HE al-Emadi referred to His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s remarks at the Advisory Council on Tuesday, noting that the Emir was “very clear about our economical financial position, where we stand and our plan for the future”.
He stressed that the blockading countries have failed in their efforts, and Qatar is still one of the fastest growing economies in the region. “And the good news is that most of this growth is coming from the private sector and not from the hydrocarbon sector,” he said, adding that the siege has thrown up a number of opportunities for Qatar. “...it’s going to be a turning point for our economy.”
Replying to a query on Qatar’s assets and investments abroad and whether these had taken a hit due to the siege, HE al-Emadi said there had not been any reduction and what was actually happening was assets relocation.
The minister said Qatar’s trade activities were almost back to their pre-blockade levels. “Yes, we had some drop in the early weeks (of the siege), but I think a lot of this has been adjusted. We have been able to adapt to the situation.”
Asked if the efforts of the blockading countries were designed to disrupt Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup and all about “wounded national pride”, HE al-Emadi said: “I think it is and they will fail. We’re really going to make this a success, and not just for Qatar. From Day 1 we have said this World Cup is not only for us, it’s for the region.”
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