By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter
UK firms and businesses are now eyeing Qatar as the next investment destination after the British government made it a priority for these firms to invest outside of the UK, Britain’s ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma has said.
“We are now looking much more closely at investments in Qatar, in particular to take advantage of the port and free zones,” he told reporters yesterday.
Sharma was addressing a press conference on the birthday celebration of Queen Elizabeth II, at a reception at the British embassy in Doha.
The celebration event takes place today.
The embassy will also celebrate the strong and deep-rooted relations between Qatar and the UK.
Sharma said that they have started a dialogue between the Qatar authorities and British businesses about the opportunities in Qatar, including through UK’s Confederation of British Industries, the body responsible for looking after the interest of the businesses in the UK.
“We started having institutional conversations, discussions, in order to look at how they can invest more in Qatar,” he added.
Saying that the biggest British investor in Qatar is Shell, he noted that such investment “is a great example” on how investment in Qatar can benefit both countries.
Royal Dutch Shell – known commonly as Shell – is a British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company incorporated in the UK. Its headquarters is in the Netherlands.
The UK, Sharma said, is very supportive of Shell’s efforts to invest more in Qatar and to be part of the expansion of the North Field.
“That is really a very important area for us, to support Shell in its effort to gain part of the expansion of the North Field,” he added. “It is a priority area and we are also investing in education in the way we are bringing University of Aberdeen and Northumbria University to Qatar.”
“I think we will see a lot of these kinds of investments in Qatar, which will be around the service sector, education and health care sectors, as well as perhaps in the oil and gas industry,” the ambassador said.
He hopes to see some investments in manufacturing in the country in the future.
Sharma said the UK is also looking at how it can work more with Hamad Port and take advantage of the trading route that Qatar has established.
The envoy also stressed that “a new spirit of partnership” between Qatar and the UK is focused on two areas: helping Qatar to attain its National Vision 2030, and to successfully host the FIFA 2022 World Cup.
“This is a historic relationship and we are continuing to deepen and make it more beneficial for both our countries,” Sharma told reporters yesterday.
The UK signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar in March last year, during a visit by a delegation led by HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, on how the UK would help Qatar achieve its National Vision 2030.
In education, for example, Sharma said the University of Aberdeen and Northumbria University opened campuses in Qatar, which he considered as significant events.
In health, the first and largest trade mission in the healthcare sector took place in Qatar with people from foundations and companies coming and looking on how to support the country.
The ambassador said that they have appointed a member of its team, designated the 2030 National Vision Officer, who will ensure that the embassy implements its commitment to support Qatar on its National Vision 2030 efforts.
The UK is also exerting efforts to get British businesses to support Qatar’s development, and to take advantage of the opportunities that have come, including out of the economic blockade against Qatar.
“We also recognised that the dispute has changed the way that Qatar looks at the world, the way it is organising itself and we recognised that it creates a lot of opportunities for the UK to do even more with Qatar,” the envoy said. “We are very keen to take advantage of these opportunities and to use those them for the benefit of both countries.”
“We still have a high level of ambition to do even more with Qatar than we’re doing at present, and we recognise that there will be new areas where we can do even more together,” he added.
The UK, Sharma stressed, is also working hard with the government, businesses, and experts to support efforts that will make the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar a success.
“The dispute has not changed our commitment to working with Qatar on a really successful 2022 World Cup,” he added.
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