By Faisal Abdulhameed al-Mudahka/Editor-in-Chief, Gulf Times
Two hundred and eleven days have passed since a siege was imposed on Qatar by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. As the international community and major world powers already know, the claims the blockaders used in their vain attempts to justify the siege have been proved to be false reports. Yet the interest here is not to recount the fake news and reports but to look into some key achievements my country has recorded.
Last updated: December 31 2017 11:40 PM
Starting from June 5 last year, the unjust blockade has led to some unprecedented gains and developments which another country may not have been able to achieve, had it been subjected to a similar blatant land, sea, and air blockade by neighbouring friends.
The inauguration of the Hamad Port, the world's largest green-field seaport and the logistics projects attached to it, has accelerated the development of the country. The port is now connected directly to commercially rich countries like Turkey, Oman, Pakistan, India, and many to come.
National carrier Qatar Airways also continued to thrive, adding several new international destinations during this period. It took delivery of 19 new aircraft in 2017, taking its total fleet to 212 aircraft. It launched some 11 new destinations in 2017, taking the total number of destinations to more than 150 with a promise to add more in 2018.
Under the supervision of the government, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Ashghal have completed new highways and roads before the scheduled time and the ambitious projects related to the 2022 World Cup and railways are moving smoothly. Qatar is also eagerly waiting to hold Shura Council elections for the first time in its history.
During the siege period, new military, security, economic, commercial, media and other agreements have been signed with world’s major powers like the USA, Russia, Turkey, France, England, Germany and Italy. The visits of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to European, Asian and African nations promoted and widened bilateral relations with countries in these continents. In other words, Qatar’s bilateral relations with other countries have almost doubled.
In a brave show of mutual trust and respect, Qatar has offered the permanent residency to foreigners; it has successfully closed the expats' human rights issue which turned out to be partly related to some policies and partly propaganda. It has also eased entry (visa) procedures to citizens from around 80 countries, opening up the tourism and hospitality sectors to investment and growth.
Personally, and as is the case with all Qataris, it is a matter of great joy to see the popularity of Qatar rising to new levels, with the country’s fair image being admired, both regionally and internationally. Each crisis brings advantages and disadvantages. I do admit the Gulf crisis has affected Qatar in certain ways but the country has been able to withstand the pressure and emerge as a developed and stronger nation. The crisis gave birth to qualified Qatari leaders in all sectors. All of the previous factors and many others have led to the second independence of Qatar.