The week that has gone by will be recorded in Qatar's history in golden letters. It was a week of spectacular achievements which were crowned with the historic win of the AFC Cup on Friday by the Qatari team in front of a hostile crowd in the UAE.
Among the feats, three things need special mention - the first being the highly successful visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to three friendly Asian countries, all of them major economic powers and significant trading partners of Qatar. His Highness the Amir's tour has resulted not only in further strengthening Qatar's cordial relations with South Korea, Japan and China but also opened ways for elevating bilateral co-operation to a higher strategic level.
As the South Korean ambassador Kim Chang-mo said Doha-Seoul relations have remained solid for decades in various fields, especially in energy and construction sectors. Since the first LNG shipment to Korea in August 1999 Qatar has continued to be a trustworthy supplier of that country's energy needs. Presently Qatar supplies 11.5mn tonnes of LNG to South Korea which is one-third of its annual consumption, making Korea Qatar's biggest LNG export destination.
During the visit that coincided with the 45th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations, the Amir discussed with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in ways to enhance co-operation in fields such as energy, economy, investment, health, agriculture, education, technology and defence. The talks led to the signing of several agreements in these sectors. Both leaders also emphasised the need to solve disputes between nations through constructive dialogue.
In Japan, His Highness the Amir and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to establish a mechanism for strategic dialogue and both countries decided to intensify co-operation in fields including culture, economy, trade, technology, transport, youth and sports, and waste treatment.
Qatar has also been a leading energy supplier to Japan and the strong buyer-seller partnership between the two countries has grown from strength to strength since the first gas consignment was delivered in 1996.
His Highness the Amir's visit to China also turned out to be highly successful. Talks between the Amir and Chinese President Xi Jinping led to further consolidating bilateral ties and agreements were signed for promoting co-operation in infrastructure development, establishment of Friendship Committee, co-operation between Qatar Free Zones Authority and China Council for Promotion of International Trade, participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, among others.
China, already an economic, military and technology superpower, in a statement also expressed support for Qatar's sovereignty.
Qatargas recently signed a 22-year deal with Petro China International Company to provide 3.4mn tonnes of LNG annually, allowing China to replace coal with cleaner burning gas
to reduce air pollution.
Secondly, as Qatar was basking in the glory of the Amir's fruitful Asian trip, came the historic exploit of the national team that beat all odds to emerge the Asian football champions on Friday.
The win silenced Qatar's critics, who since the country won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, engaged in a malicious campaign that made sensational headlines worldwide. In the midst of all the cacophony, Qatar as advised by His Highness the Amir, kept course and strove with patience and diligence to reach the goals. Qatar responded with grace and dignity to calumny and the smear campaign. This noble and focused approach was rewarded in the form of the astounding success of the national team at the AFC 2019.
With the epoch-making win, one major grouse of the condescending critics, that the host of the 2022 World Cup lacks a football culture, has also been answered. The successful campaign also is in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 that aims to realise the nation's ambitious plans.
Thirdly, Qatar was again in the list of the 10 safest countries in the world. The only country outside Europe to come in the top 20 list of the Global Finance magazine, Qatar ranked 7th, above countries such as Singapore, Denmark, New Zealand and Canada. The distinction follows Qatar being ranked as the safest country by Numbeo, the world's largest database of user contributed data on cities and countries.