The Middle East and North African (Mena) region, especially Qatar, has remained an attractive destination for Swedish companies, Swedish Minister for Trade Dr Ewa Björling has said.
“Qatar stands out with its dynamic development and fast pace of change,” Dr Björling noted. “Qatar is today one of our most important markets in the Mena region and with potential for further growth.”
She was speaking during the opening of the new Swedish embassy in Doha at the Palm Tower in West Bay last week. This was her third visit to Qatar since 2008. The first Swedish state visit to Doha took place in 1985.
Impressed with the country’s development plans for the future, Björling believes that Swedish knowledge, innovation and business match these plans very well especially in the field of information and communication technology and healthcare.
While many Swedish companies are already doing business in the country, Björling said she hoped more would open business in the coming years and at the same time boost trade
relations with Qatar.
She said some of these companies included Gulf Agency Co-operation, which has been operating since 1976; Ericsson for 20 years and co-operates closely with ictQATAR; Trelleborg Marine Systems supports port projects; Axis Communications offers media solutions; ABB is one of the world’s leading power and automation engineering companies providing solutions for secure, energy-efficient transmission and distribution of electricity including for Qatar Petroleum; Safegate Group delivers systems for airports; Envac is a global leader in the vacuum waste collection industry and active in Qatar since 2006; SAAB, which is active in the civil security sector; and other well-known companies such as IKEA and H&M.
“You will see much more of Sweden here in Doha in the coming months and years, I can assure you of that,” said Björling, who hoped to see trade and deeper relations with Qatar in areas such as research and development, energy, climate, transport, infrastructure and health.
The minister also welcomed Qatari business, tourism and investments to Sweden, which she pointed out is also an open economy.
Sweden, Europe and the Middle East have a shared history and have had close relations over the years particularly on trade, according to Björling.
She said they have 85,000 Islamic coins found hidden in Swedish soil which were brought more than 1,000 years ago through trade and travel
The first recorded business transactions involving Swedish and Middle East governments can be traced back to the 13th century and involved the selling of hunting falcons to the sultan in Cairo.
“Later, traders, diplomats, scientists, authors and artists have benefited from contact with the Middle East. Today, several hundred thousand Swedes have roots in the Mena region, bringing ties and knowledge that build bridges between our countries,” she noted.
Björling said Sweden and the Gulf countries co-operate in various fields such as energy, environment, research and higher education.
“Export now is equivalent to more than 50% of our GDP. Trade has also enabled us to build strong relationships with our partners,” she added.
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