The inauguration of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) office in Doha is a “very positive step,” and will bolster Sweden’s future bilateral trade and investment programmes, according to Swedish ambassador Ewa Polano.
Polano said the opening of the ILO’s office in April follows through to the implementation of a three-year technical agreement signed by Qatar and the ILO in October 2017.
“This will lead to an increased interest from Swedish companies, which, before, have sometimes seen worker’s rights as an obstacle. But now, Qatar is showing a strong interest to become a role model in the Gulf for worker’s rights...and abolishing the Kafala (sponsorship) system in the new legislation from December 2016. This is very positive for Swedish bilateral trade and investment initiatives in the coming year,” Polano said.
The opening of the ILO office is among the many initiatives implemented by Qatar in the past year amid an ongoing economic blockade imposed on Qatar by four Arab countries in June 2017, according to Polano. Despite the blockade, Polano said, Qatar and Sweden continued to pursue various co-operation and partnership initiatives in several sectors. Earlier this month, Polano said, she met with Qatar University president Dr Hassan al-Derham to discuss how to implement in Qatar academia-related initiatives by Sweden.
“I believe this is great and can be a much-focused follow-up with the young generation of Qataris going to study at the Swedish top ranked universities,” Polano pointed out.
Polano also lauded Qatar’s focus on entrepreneurship and innovation as it diversifies the country’s economy away from the hydrocarbons industry, which, she said, was accelerated by the economic blockade led by Saudi Arabia and its allies, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt.
She said “the positive side” of the economic blockade was that “it sped up the already ongoing paradigm shift in Qatar away from its oil and gas economy into a knowledge-based and diversified economy.”
“Because of the blockade, I firmly believe that Qatar has developed into a much stronger country than it was before the Gulf crisis,” Polano emphasised.

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