Speaking to Qatar TV in a live interview, his first after taking charge as the Prime Minister, HE Sheikh Mohamed pointed out that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was the starting point for the country’s great plans and ambition to open up the economy and tourism.
“For example, in the first two months of this year, nearly 730,000 tourists visited Qatar. This is a number that Qatar could have achieved in a whole year in the past, but it was achieved after the World Cup in just two months,” he explained.
“The month of March also witnessed an increase in the number of tourists, explaining that tourism is one of the main pillars of Qatar’s action plan in the next stage. Apart from the World Cup and other international sporting events, Qatar also hosts international events in a variety of ways, whether in topics of diplomacy or economy.
“Qatar has accrued great experience over the years and the success of hosting the World Cup, the largest sporting event, shall be a foundation for successfully hosting other events and tournaments.”
HE the Prime Minister recalled that ever since Qatar won in 2010 the bid to host the World Cup, many talked about the volume of related investments and unfortunately there was a confusion of messages. “The infrastructure that was achieved in the country and its availability for the championship was within the plan set for Qatar National Vision 2030. The World Cup contributed significantly to accelerating the pace of that plan and its implementation. With regard to the extent of benefiting from the tournament, Qatar always measures the volume of related investments directly.”
HE Sheikh Mohamed pointed out that investments by Qatar would have happened irrespective of whether the country hosted the World Cup or not. What Qatar has achieved by hosting the event has far exceeded the tournament itself and its success.
“This is a recognition of Qatar as a small Arab, Muslim country that was able to successfully manage an event of this size. Qatar achieved it with the help of God and the support of citizens and residents, in a way that dazzled the whole world.
“The tournament showed the image of Qatar to the whole world, as the World Cup fans confirmed their admiration for the Qatari culture and now they know what Qatar is worth. What happened after the impressive organisation of the tournament was the most prominent evidence of the benefit.
“In opinion polls in international magazines and websites such as the BBC, although it sided against Qatar’s bid for the championship, the poll confirmed that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was the most successful in the history of the World Cup.”
Citing The Economist magazine, HE Sheikh Mohamed pointed out that no country that hosted the World Cup has benefited financially or made profits as a commercial project. But what has been achieved after the World Cup in Qatar in terms of economic growth in the tourism sector would not have happened without organising an event of this magnitude .
“His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s words that Qatar, a country that was subject to crises, will prove with all its citizens and residents how it is an open, welcoming and hospitable people, has already been achieved as proven by everyone’s testimony.”
On how Qatar can benefit from the legacy of the World Cup, HE the Prime Minister said it was a major factor on how the country could benefit from all the projects that were implemented for the tournament. “Today, we find that the infrastructure is within the framework of Qatar National Vision 2030. The facilities and stadiums not only benefit Qatar, but also the least-endowed countries. Therefore, the return from the legacy of the tournament is great, whether at the level of the national economy or on other countries in need of development.
“Qatar has thus set a good example and precedent for future championships. There are many elements that have been achieved in establishing Qatar as a distinctive brand. This is something that has economic returns as well as in the tourism field, and it is something that can be built upon and we can maximize the benefit from it in the largest possible way.”
The health system in Qatar today is a competitive system, and this has helped in confronting Covid-19 with unprecedented success, HE the Prime Minister noted. “But we recognise that there are challenges and problems, and administrative shortcomings that we acknowledge. The negligent ones will be held accountable, but the health ministry has so far been working, with direct follow-up from us, to address the administrative shortcomings firsthand, and you will see the results soon, God willing,” he said.
“We have spoken with the Ministry of Public Health to improve the level of services, and the results will appear after the month of Ramadan,” HE Sheikh Mohamed said, adding that there will be programmes to facilitate medical appointments.
In response to a question about health insurance, he said implementation of the system will relieve the pressure on government hospitals. He referred to the State spending on the health sector at present, which is 11% of the budget, noting that the health sector budget amounts to QR21bn. The health insurance system aims to provide distinguished medical services in line with the financial obligations of the State.
According to the relevant law, health insurance is compulsory for a foreigner, and there are a set of laws attached to the health insurance law so that it will be applied as soon as possible. The State’s commitment is still to provide the best medical services to citizens in government hospitals, and this will relieve the pressure on government hospitals in the first stage and provide treatment for citizens abroad if they need to do so.
The government is responsible and striving to provide the best service to citizens at its hospitals, so that the citizens will feel the difference when health insurance is fully implemented. It will greatly reduce the pressure on the available hospitals.
Qatar exerts soft power
HE the Prime Minister said some may question the need for soft power or soft diplomacy, whether in sport, economy or otherwise.
“In the end we are a small country and the issue of soft power is part of proving our existence and ensuring our security. It contributes greatly to consolidating the country’s position as a major and important player for the countries of the region and the world.
“Soft power contributes in a very important way to the protection and defence of the state, and we have seen this in many stages, and how Qatar has proven that it is a country that is important in all global events, and this is the role that we aspire to and strive to achieve.”
Greatest efficiency and productivity
With regard to his message in the first meeting of the Council of Ministers that it is necessary to work to provide the highest level of performance and services, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that His Highness the Amir’s directives in this regard are clear.
“The government’s mission is to manage the state and its resources and achieve the greatest efficiency and productivity. Part of the government’s tasks is to provide services to citizens, residents, investors or tourists, which are supposed to achieve returns for the state and maximise resources.
“The challenges we are talking about face any government, but we must recognize the size and expectations of the state and the government. As Qatar is a young state founded 52 years ago, and human resources are limited, as the number of citizens is not large, the accumulation of knowledge and institutional experience is a journey that requires time and continuous and permanent development. Excellence is our goal in providing services to the public.
“What is happening now in the provision of services is that it has become focused on the customer himself, whether he is a citizen, resident, investor or tourist. How can the best service be provided with the highest efficiency.
“There are great initiatives that were launched last year and this year, such as the Government Excellence Award that stimulates government departments to provide the best level of services. As well as the “Sharek platform” (Arabic for participate), which will be launched soon, to evaluate performance in government institutions by beneficiaries, and how to speed up these procedures using Artificial Intelligence.
“The initiatives to improve the level of services are continuous. If we talk about Qatari citizens in the labour market, we find that 90% of them work in the government, so they have the responsibility of contributing with their efforts to provide these services at the highest level for all.”
Relevance of private sector employment of citizens
HE the Prime Minister referred to the issue of employment in the government, especially since Qatar is a small country and government institutions have a limited capacity to absorb staff. “Last year 7,127 citizens were employed, out of whom 5,200 were in the government sector and the rest in the private sector. This is a percentage that is considered a leap especially in the private sector, which has begun to absorb such numbers.
“If we focus only on the government employing citizens, this will be unsustainable and the government will reach saturation at some point or the situation will turn into disguised unemployment in government institutions. Therefore it will not be in favour of providing the best level of services.
“The government will provide jobs annually, but people must open up to the private sector, which must provide opportunities for citizens. There should be personal initiatives by Qatari citizens to work in the private sector, and everyone should be keen to enter the field of business and entrepreneurship, which has become a necessity, not a luxury.
“The state has provided a special platform to facilitate and provide job opportunities and present them to citizens in a transparent manner, and will always strive to provide the best levels of education and training for the national cadres to be competitive in the labour market.
Sovereign fund to be one of the five largest sovereign funds
In his response to a question about the sovereign fund, and if there a specific mechanism to supplement the fund and a specific goal to reach in the coming years, HE the Prime Minister said there is a financial framework mechanism that depends mainly on surpluses, so that the sovereign fund is one of the aspects of disbursing financial surpluses.
His Highness the Amir’s directives are that revenue from the expansion of gas fields goes into investments for future generations, and after it enters into production, it will be a major source for the fund, he noted. “We always set interim target numbers for returns from the fund’s investments, and we aspire for the Qatari sovereign fund to be one of the five largest sovereign funds soon.”
Qatar’s position on Syria in Arab League
Qatar has a clear position and reasons to support the suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League, HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani said yesterday in his first interview with Qatar TV.
He pointed out that the recent events in Jerusalem are a serious threat, and Qatar has supported Palestinian steadfastness. There is intense communication with Jordan, Egypt and the US to deter the Israelis from their violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque
Regarding diversifying the economy, HE Sheikh Mohamed stated that Qatar has made great strides. “Within two months, we will launch the third development plan for Qatar National Vision 2030,” he said.
Referring to the Qatar Investment Authority, HE the Prime Minister described it as one of the major funds in the world.
“The Qatar Investment Authority will replace oil wells in the future. Funds are not withdrawn from the Qatar Investment Authority except by higher decisions as it is for future generations and it will be an oil well in the future. We aspire to be among the five largest sovereign funds in the world.
*”Encouraging the national product is on our list of priorities, and we will develop incentive programmes for investors. Qatar has achieved a 38-fold economic leap in 30 years.
Health services to improve
“We have spoken to the Ministry of Public Health to improve the services, and the results will appear after the month of Ramadan.
“It is normal for administrative problems to occur, but this does not mean that the health service is not at the required level, and it has achieved what the old system could not. “There will be programmes to facilitate medical appointments within the same month.
“The budget for the health sector is QR21bn. Implementing health insurance will relieve pressure on government hospitals. About 20% of Qatar’s budget is dedicated for health and education.
“There will be social guarantees to support job security in the private sector by stimulating it to ensure success. Increasing the direct income of citizens will drain the budgets.
“The education sector is an essential tributary for all competencies in the country. We will address the challenges of the education system,” HE the Prime Minister added.