The formal opening of the Australian embassy in Qatar is a major milestone in strengthening bilateral relations with Qatar, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Thursday.
"Australia has been keenly looking at Qatar, a fast developing country with a high level of remarkably good infrastructural developments in the recent years," she stated after inaugurating the embassy at Tornado Tower in West Bay.
Pointing out that the Australian embassy in Qatar is the fourth in the Gulf region, after those in the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Bishop said the new embassy would not only accelerate travel between the two countries but also contribute steadily to Australia playing a larger role in the development of Qatar.
While disclosing that she had meetings with Qatar's Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Minister of Economy and Commerce HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani earlier in the day, the Australian foreign minister said she also had a detailed discussion with the some senior officials of Qatar Investment Authority.
"We hope Qatar would continue to invest in such areas in Australia as tourism, hospitality, agriculture and commodities," Bishop said while citing growing co-operation in many areas.
"The figure is expected to shoot up in coming years with the opening of the full-fledged Australian embassy in Qatar," she hoped while adding that the current joint ventures between Australia and Qatar are expected to grow phenomenally in future.
"I hope Australian professionals could avail of the opportunities here in view of Qatar's remarkably faster growth in building better infrastructure across the nation," she said.
While replying to a query, Bishop said about 5,500 Australians are currently residing in Qatar and they are contributing enormously to the development of their host nation.
Qatar Foreign Ministry's protocol director Ibrahim Fakhroo also attended the opening ceremony. Bishop cut a ribbon to mark the embassy opening in the presence of Australia's ambassador Axel Wabenhorst.
Qatar is believed to have the most number of Australian citizens after the UAE. Kuwait, which has an Australian embassy for about a decade, has about 1,100 Australians. In the UAE, which has a consulate in Dubai besides the region's first Australian embassy in Abu Dhabi, there are about 20,000 Australians.