Finland can share its expertise in the field of education, healthcare, clean technology and food security with Qatar to help the country achieve its National Vision 2030, Finnish ambassador Riitta Swan has said.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Finland’s 100th Independence Day celebration in Doha on Sunday, the envoy noted that they have good companies, which are “very much interested” in the Qatar market.

“We have a capacity in Finland in these fields, especially in education, to do more here, in the field of preventive healthcare, digitalisation, sanitation, and clean technology, and so on” she explained.

The Finnish Independence Day celebration was attended by Fawzia al-Khater, assistant undersecretary of educational affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Dr Pekka Puska (keynote speaker), Member of Parliament of Finland; and dignitaries, school officials, and guests.

In her speech, Swan cited Qatar - Finland International School’s excellent reputation in Doha with a substantial growth in the number of students from 80 in 2014 to 750 this year.

The school, which provides globally high performing Finnish educational practices tailored for the Qatari context, also saw an increase in the number of Finnish expatriates in Doha, mostly teachers and their families.

Finland, according to Swan, is the most literate of all nations and its workforce is one of the most educated in the world. It is also the fifth most innovative country in the world.

“We can have more co-operation in teachers’ training, and also additional training for teachers, which is something very special in Finland because our kids they start school at the age of seven,” she said.

“Before that, they don’t have mathematics, English, and these kinds of lessons. They are playing and developing their identities and social skills and so on and that is something that we could share with Qatar,” the envoy explained. “May be also children with special needs, because we usually try to integrate them into normal classrooms as much as possible.”

Finland is also good in ‘functional food,’ which has an effect on a person’s health such as berries and all kinds of dairy products without lactose, the envoy added.

While a number of international Finnish companies are involved in some of the projects in the country, she noted that trade between the two countries have a lot of rooms for improvement.

Swan stressed that Qatar and Finland can also co-operate in tourism since many Finnish nationals want to escape the cold weather and the darkness back home.

While Qatar is a “perfect place to come” from December to February for many European countries, she hopes to see more Qataris in Finland as well particularly during the summer “when we have the best weather like 25C and white nights.”

She lauded Qatar and its national carrier, Qatar Airways, for opening a direct route to Helsinki, and extending the number of flights to twice a day. “It makes it easy for us to come here and for Qataris to come to Finland.”

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