The blockade on Qatar by the Saudi-led bloc served as an opportunity for the nation to reach greater heights, diversifying its economy and strengthening relations with numerous countries like Kazakhstan, ambassador Askar Shokybayev has said. “No blockade can create a negative impact on Qatar. From day one of the blockade, it made extraordinary and wise steps in forging economic ties with different countries globally,” the envoy told 'Gulf Times'.

The blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Egypt completed two years. Shokybayev said he saw “real and rapid progress in Qatar regardless of politics, economy, culture and socials issues” in nearly five years since assuming duties in November 2014 after handing over to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani his credentials as ambassador.

“Qatar’s economy changed rapidly and became more diverse, for example, the food sector’s growth was impressive and as a result of that, consumers have access to a wide range of Qatari-made products,” he noted. The envoy lauded Qatar’s strategy of further strengthening its co-operation with foreign partners, states (Kazakhstan in particular), and international organisations.

As Qatar and Kazakhstan are set to mark on July 1 the 26th anniversary of establishing their diplomatic relations, Shokybayev said the two countries have been very co-operative and supportive bilaterally and multilaterally. He noted that the ties between the two countries continue to grow in the political, economic, and cultural spheres, witnessing high-level visits in 2014 and 2015 and next state visits are expected to take place soon.

Despite the blockade, Shokybayev said Qatar made significant strides in its economic reforms, especially in trade and investments. “We saw not only how Qatar’s agriculture and food processing sectors rose and created new opportunities and jobs, but also its financial sector flourishing with such very unique and effective institutions like the Qatar Financial Centre and its regulators and authorities,” the envoy pointed out, adding that the Qatar Stock Exchange, Qatar Investment Authority, and Qatar Development Bank, among others, all played significant roles in contributing to the country’s success.

“In terms of trade, the outcomes in the last two years are very impressive: how the county managed these import and export (LNG in particular) lines with its partners from around the globe,” the envoy said. “Qatar accomplished and is still also doing good job with reforms and the main macroeconomic indicators confirmed them.”

About Qatar’s massive infrastructure projects, he said, Doha will be one of the most modern and innovative cities in the world once major infrastructure projects are finished. “The connections between Doha, Lusail, and Al Wakrah with Doha Metro Red Line, and the soon-to-open Green and Gold Lines will be the best conclusion of the long years of work,” he stressed.

About the regional rift, Shokybayev, quoting the statement of Kazakhstan First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who in 2017 commented on the conflict between Arab countries and Qatar, saying: “The recent political tensions around Qatar are of concern. And in this regard, we advocate the de-escalation and normalisation of the situation in the Persian Gulf region. This is important not only for Arab, Islamic states but for the whole world. This is our common sub region."

Shokybayev added that the continuing blockade and its results serve no one and damages “historically formed co-operation in the region and beyond.” “For us, any situation around this crisis is very important and we are interested to offer our efforts to help find solutions,” he said.

The envoy also highlighted the role of Qatar in combating terrorism and other international dangers.

Economic relations

The current bilateral economic relations between Qatar and Kazakhstan are flourishing, according to ambassador Askar Shokybayev.

He said co-operation on the level of the ministries and agencies continues to prosper and one of the priorities is investment. “Qatar has already done investment projects in Kazakhstan.” The envoy cited the importance of the Kazakh-Qatari High Level Joint Commission, which will hold its fifth meeting on the second half 2019 in the City of Nur-Sultan.

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