Qatar has been a robust player both on regional and international arenas for decades, creating new strategic alliances every now and then, building new collaborative partnerships, and further fortifying friendly relationships. Though small in size, Qatar has been able to skillfully approach superpowers and establish long-term cooperative relationships with them as well as other countries. Doha has also been able to create long-term partnerships with international organisations and intergovernmental organisations like the United Nations (with its agencies) and World Trade Organisation.
Such strategic alliance, partnerships, and relations are also already established with countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Latin America, too, has also got Qatari partnerships in good measure.
Currently, His Highness the Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is on official visits to key South American countries which include Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Argentina. One aim of the visits is to explore ways of bolstering relations, developing and enhancing cooperation in various fields and areas of mutual interest. Such discussions involve signing new deals and agreements, with the hopeful outcome of increasing political, economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation.
The current visit comes within the framework of the “Doha Declaration” of 2009. It is the implementation of what was agreed on at the end of the Arab-South America Summit held in Qatar in March 2009. The summit planted the seeds of the relationships between Qatar and Latin America, and HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani saw it as an objective to be achieved.
Among what the leaders approved at the summit was agreeing on several issues that aimed at promoting key areas of common interests. There has been a stress on the importance of cooperation and promotion of capacity building and exchange of expertise in development and innovation.
Of the countries which HH the Amir has so far visited, there has been agreements on various issues related directly to the Doha Declaration. For example, Qatar and Ecuador signed an agreement to expand and develop joint cooperation in the field of environment protection and sustainable development. They also signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the agricultural field between the two countries and increase the volume of exchange of agricultural products. Such agreements directly relate to what was agreed on in the Doha Declaration with regard to “environment preservation and the leaders’ stress on the sustainable development, fighting desertification and promoting ecotourism.”
Another occasion where the Doha Declaration is implemented is seen in HH the Amir’s briefing HE President Martín Alberto Vizcarra on the ongoing Gulf crisis, and, in this regard, the Peruvian President accentuated the importance of respecting the sovereignty of states, and commended the meditation of HH the Amir of Kuwait and the United States of America to find a solution for the crisis on the basis of dialogue and diplomatic ways. Such an accentuation is in direct agreement with what the Doha Declaration stipulated in terms of the need to “respect the international law and sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”
Arabs and Latin America too share a lot in common. The countries in both regions are emerging ones. Latin American countries went through the same political and social cycle which Arab countries had gone through, in terms of colonisation, revolutions and gaining of independence, dictatorships and reaching up to opening new pages of emerging democracy. Both regions have rich and family-oriented cultures. Arabs and Latin America can work together to bring ties and relations even closer.
In addition to what the visit is trying to achieve, I believe that both Qatar and Latin America can secure significant ways of cooperation in areas that include, for example, the creation of a pension fund or social security system which would encourage Latinos to explore opportunities in Doha. Such a system would attract South Americans, especially qualified and expert human resources, from all sectors to employ their expertise in Qatar. The fund will be helpful in that Qatar will stop being a transit station and will make expats feel somehow at home. Some facilitation regarding family visas would also be helpful in encouraging skilled Latinos to come and work in Qatar.
In the area of landscaping, both Qatar and Latin American countries can work even on rapid steps to reach agreements and form committees that would help explore Qatar’s opportunities in exchanging resources so as to make the country greener. In this regard, I would call upon Hassad Food Company to work more so as to come up with proposals and suggestions that would generate agreements and memoranda of understanding with Latin America, aimed at achieving food security. These areas include the livestock field, the creation of a logistics food hub in Qatar, especially that we already have the necessary infrastructure, the economic zone (Manateq) and the huge Hamad Port. These steps can can make Qatar a major exporter in the region.
In the same vein, more investments between Qatar and Latin America can be planned in the energy sector and mining. This would also widen the scope of cooperation and presence of both Qatar and Latin America even more.