Croatia and Qatar stand to gain considerably from their partnerships in many areas, including sports, Croatia's ambassador Drago Lovric has said.
"I think Croatia is gaining good visibility in Qatar and am very proud to say that Qataris recognise Croatia and Croatian successes. We are working well to further improve our visibility here and there is room for improved co-operation between the two (countries) in many fields beyond sports," the envoy said.
"Our bilateral trade has been increasing. The volume of trade between the two countries was about $60mn last year. This year, we hope this to exceed $100mn," he said.
The ambassador offered support to Qatar for building partnerships in areas such as developing information security capacity for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and sports medicine. "Our information technology companies have a good track record of dealing with major events. Croatia can provide the best data centres for different institutions in Qatar and we have successful examples in the digital industry."
Croatia, he said, is specialised in some niche capabilities needed for the successful hosting of the World Cup and hence "can offer superior solutions for fan accommodation by building modular homes". "This solution is vital as accommodation needs to be affordable for fans coming for the World Cup," he said.
While talking about sports co-operation between Qatar and Croatia, the envoy said his country has been successful in a number of sports events such as tennis, water polo, basketball, handball, skiing, boxing and athletics, among others.
"We have a great deal of experience in preparing teams for international competitions and this way we can also co-operate with Qatar in the coming years. For example, Qatar and Croatia can prepare their national teams together for the next FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar in 2022," said Lovric.
The people of Croatia, he said, like being associated with sports events. "We have celebrated many medals in international competitions and, besides football, Croatia has had achievements in tennis, water polo, basketball, handball, skiing, boxing and athletics over the past 27 years since we declared independence."
Football is the most popular sport in the world and naturally this event is receiving the maximum attention among the Croatian population. "If everything goes well, a Croatian success will be celebrated as the greatest achievement in our sports history. Nevertheless, I'm sure Croatia will continue with its success in international sports competitions due to its dedication to the field," he added.
While hoping for further sports co-operation with Qatar in the coming years, the ambassador suggested that the Qatar Football Association and Croatian Football Federation could build a joint campus for preparation of players for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.