The current official visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the United Kingdom is an extension of the historic friendship and alliance between the two friendly countries. It also comes in line with Qatar's keenness to strengthen and develop its relations with various countries.
Bilateral relations between Doha and London have grown steadily over the years, from the early days of oil and gas exploration in the Gulf region, where British companies have played a key role in the development of the oil and gas industry in Qatar and the region. These relations have expanded to include bilateral co-operation in all fields, especially political, economic, commercial, defence, cultural and educational.
The visit, which comes at the invitation of Prime Minister Theresa May, will focus on strategic areas, which will strengthen the relations between the two countries and realise common interests. The two sides will also discuss a number of regional and international issues of common concern.
This visit will provide an opportunity to open wider horizons for mutual investments at both public and private sector levels. The UK has been the preferred destination for Qatari investments in various fields, particularly real estate.
His Highness the Amir met with Prime Minister May in London during his official visit to the UK on September 15, 2016. He also met with May last September on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, where the two sides discussed bilateral relations and means of developing co-operation in various fields, and exchanged views on various regional and international developments,especially the Gulf crisis and international efforts in support of the Kuwait mediation to resolve the crisis through dialogue.
The Qatari-British relations have a historical relevance that give them weight and uniqueness, which is reflected in all areas of co-operation. The two countries have signed a number of bilateral agreements in various fields.
Qatar's wise leadership is keen to transform the country into a global hub for knowledge-based industries and innovation, as well as building a sustainable economy capable of achieving high growth rates in the future. Qatar is also keen on expanding partnership with UK in education, health, sports and security, areas where the United Kingdom is a global leader.
In March last year, Qatar and the United Kingdom held in London the fourth meeting of Qatar-UK Strategic Dialogue (Sharaka), which is one of the most important mechanisms for the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Having invested more than £40bn, Qatar is one of the most important investors in the UK. Qatar is planning to invest £5bn more in the British economy over the next few years through investment funds and other Qatari entities. These investments will be concentrated in the energy, infrastructure, real estate and other sectors.
Bilateral relations were made stronger in March 2017 when the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum was held in London and Birmingham. The forum confirmed the strength of the Qatari financial and banking sectors and gave UK companies the chance to know about available investment opportunities in different sectors in Qatar.
Birmingham was chosen as a location for the forum as it is the second largest city in the UK with a population of more than 5mn residents. It also offers promising investments and the city is expected to be linked with London through a fast railway network.
The forum attracted major investments from the Qatari side that wanted to benefit from the opportunities available in Birmingham. Qatar is one of the main partners of UK in the energy sector, where it provides nearly 30% of Britain's natural gas needs. The UK is also ranked the sixth largest trading partner of Qatar.
There are more than 79 UK companies operating in Qatar in the field of oil, gas, infrastructure and information technology with a capital of QR8.1bn. There are 672 Qatari-UK joint companies operating in Qatar in the fields of engineering consultancy, contracting, information technology, trade and services.
UK believes in Qatar's strategic and economic importance and is keen to take full advantage of investment opportunities in various sectors through free and fair trade which benefits both countries. The UK also values Qatar's investments in the UK.
The UK seeks to invest more in the 2022 FIFA World Cup projects, especially in stadium security and cyber security. Qatar is the largest market for UK exports in the Middle East and North Africa region. UK's exports to Qatar in 2016 reached £2.38bn, up 21.7% compared to 2014. Qatar's exports to the UK in 2015 amounted to £2.57bn, up 20.4% compared to 2014.
From a cultural and educational aspect, UK remains one of the main destinations for Qatari students and their number is increasing day by day. In 2014-2015, the number of Qatari students who went to UK for higher studies increased by 20.4%. The number of Qatari students in the UK has doubled since 2010.
The new partnership agreement signed in 2010 is a milestone in Qatari-UK relations, under which it was agreed that the two countries would intensify their high-level dialogues by initiating regular ministerial-level consultations on regional issues. In addition, they are both committed to international development which is strengthened through intensified dialogues between the ministers concerned with promoting the relations in education, sports and culture.
The historic partnership agreement also launched a new phase of the strategic relations between Qatar and UK on foreign policy, security and military cooperation in the Gulf region, and affirmed their commitment to resolving global disputes peacefully.
Amir arrives in London
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani arrived in London Sunday for a visit to the friendly United Kingdom at the invitation of Prime Minister Theresa May. His Highness the Amir is accompanied by an official delegation.
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