By Ayman Adly /Staff Reporter
A delegation of seven mayors of different US cities, currently visiting the country, have described Qatar as the Middle Eastern land of opportunities, stressing that there are great potentials of mutual co-operation with their cities in various fields.
Bryan K Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, the 77th president of the US Conference of Mayors, told journalists yesterday that the delegation has been in the country for just above three days and saw many amazing achievements, worthy of strongly commending the serious efforts of the Qatari government.
“The resilience of the people of Qatar was able to overcome all the implications of the blockade and the country is going ahead with its economic plans at a faster pace, but on the human level the blockade has resulted on severing some family relations that need to be addressed,” he said.
Barnett first visited Qatar in 2017 just after the blockade began. When he came back this time he found great development in all fields at unprecedented speed.
In the meantime, he noted that the country has invested heavily in its people with immense focus on sophisticated modern education to build a knowledge-based economy while maintaining a strong local heritage.
He said that the seven mayors would certainly tell people back home that Qatar is a “safe place that values family. It has traditions but also an accepting place that welcomes visitors, and our experience with Qatari people here has been incredible.”
Barnett also agreed with other members of the delegation that Qatar has two amazing and unique museums - the National Museum of Qatar and the Museum of Islamic Art, and the people of the country are really proud and enthusiastic about their culture, heritage and traditions.
The visit of the delegation, according to Barnett, aims to maintain closer culture exchange as it is a good opportunity to build relationships with Qatar, being in a strong alliance with the US, and further enhance economic alliances between the two friendly countries.
The delegation included Victoria R Woodards, Mayor of Tacoma City; Christina M Muryn, Mayor of Findlay City, Ohio; Chris Barnett, township supervisor of Charter Township of Orion; Harry LaRosiliere, Mayor of Plano, Texas; Andrew J Ginther, Mayor of Columbus; and Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando City, in addition to some associate staff members. All the mayors except Barnett are visiting Qatar for the first time.
Woodards considered the visit as an eye-opening experience, stressing that she has seen that the country really takes care of its people and poured huge investment in development projects with special focus on 2022 FIFA World Cup. “There IS a lot to be learned from the Qatar’s rapid development efforts,” she noted.
Dyer admitted that he did not know a lot about Qatar before coming here but this visit has opened his eyes to such an amazing country with welcoming people ready to interact with others.
He said that the country has a long-range vision and planning that is “being implemented not just talked about”. He further praised country’s efforts on the diversification of the economy, as it is really accomplishing this and moving forward with it through “creating talent, attracting talent or retaining talent”.
Dyer, who alongside the members of the delegation visited Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, highly appreciated its sophisticated educational capabilities and facilities.
“Qatar now has seven ambassadors in “America”, we will go back to our cities and tell our people about the magnificent and resourceful country,” said LaRosiliere who hoped for more co-operation among the US cities and Qatar in various mutual fields.
Muryn stressed the need to work closer with Qatari partners not only to get more American companies coming to Qatar but get more Qataris to invest in the US, and the visit will help to explore these opportunities with the communities in America.
The members of the delegation welcomed city to city exchange of culture and arts events, describing the ongoing Ajyal Film Festival as a high-level event with its focus on the young people. They further stressed that Qatar has been leading in the region in introducing labour reform legislations and regulations, besides the other obvious developments that are reshaping the country on all level. The members stressed that they felt the warm welcome, generosity and spirit of openness and co-operation all through their visits not just on the official level but at the people’s level as well.
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