Ambassador of Tunisia to Qatar Sami al-Saidi has stressed the importance of the official visit by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Tunisia and its role in strengthening relations between the two countries and pushing bilateral co-operation to broader fields and horizons.
In a press conference held on this occasion, the ambassador said that the Amir’s visit to Tunisia confirms the exceptional nature of the distinguished relations between Tunisia and Qatar, especially as it comes a few months after the election of Tunisian President Kais Saied.
He added that the Amir’s visit to Tunisia is the first for an Arab leader after the Tunisian presidential elections, and it is the third visit His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is paying to his country within three years, adding it is an important message that reflects Qatar’s permanent support for Tunisia and stresses the importance of bilateral relations as well as the two countries’ keenness to continuously consolidate and enhance all areas of co-operation both in the political and economic fields.
He pointed out that Qatar has been and continues to support the aspirations of the Tunisian people and has, since the revolution, been supportive to Tunisia politically and economically, adding it is expected that the visit of the Amir would give a new impetus for political and economic partnership between the two countries.
The ambassador pointed out that the visit will be an opportunity for consultation, discussion and co-ordination on many regional issues, especially given the important role played by Qatar on the regional and international arenas thanks to its soft and active diplomacy and its mediation efforts in many disputes.
In view of Tunisia’s responsibility as the only Arab member in the UN Security Council, the consultation is expected to witness greater momentum to serve just causes and seek solutions to regional disputes tearing apart the Arab nation, he added.
The Tunisian ambassador noted the important developments witnessed in the bilateral relations between the two countries at all levels, especially after the Tunisian revolution. He praised the deep-rooted relations and the steadfast will of the leadership in the two countries to make such relations a model, adding it is normal that the level of consultation between them remains high, especially in light of the current regional challenges that cast a shadow on security and development in the Arab region, pointing out that appreciation has long characterised the relations between the leadership of the two countries that translated into practical measures to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and co-operation.
He expressed his aspiration for this official visit to be an occasion to enhance co-ordination and consultation between the two countries and give additional impetus to economic and investment partnerships to renew support for the democratic and economic transition in Tunisia, with a view to upgrading distinguished cooperation to the level of solidarity and effective partnership.
In this context, he said that the Qatari exports to Tunisia doubled six times during the period 2011-2019, while Tunisian exports to Qatar doubled 10 times during the same period as the value of Qatari exports to Tunisia amounted to about QR85mn in 2019, and the value of Tunisian exports to Qatar reached QR85mn in 2019.
He added that these figures, even if they refer to developments in the volume of trade exchange and distinguished economic relations between the two countries, but remain below the desired level sought by the two countries, due to the absence of a maritime line linking the two countries and the high cost of air freight. He added that efforts is being done with the Qatari side to accelerate the linking of Tunisia to one of shipping lines of Qatar Airways or create a direct maritime line between the two countries.
The Tunisian ambassador pointed out that Qatar is one of Tunisia’s most important international partners in the financial and investment field, as the size of the Qatari investment in Tunisia in 2018 reached about QR4bn in the telecommunications sectors through Ooredoo and the banks through Qatar National Bank, which owns 35 branches in Tunisia and has stakes in the Tunisian Zitouna Bank and the Zitouna Takaful in the amount of 370mn dinars. He indicated that the last Qatari investment in Tunisia was the opening of the desert resort in Tozeur region in southern Tunisia with a value of $80mn, which was opened two months ago and is an addition to the La Cigale Tabarka hotel, as well as the tourist resort in Gammarth district of Tunis, which is currently being implemented with investments estimated at about $200mn.
The Tunisian ambassador stressed that Qatar still maintains its position as one of the largest investors in Tunisia, where its investments are managed through Qatari companies or joint capital that include the fields of communications, tourism and services, as these investments have provided 2,524 jobs for Tunisians.
He also spoke about the support that Tunisia received from Qatar, especially at the International Conference on Supporting the Economy and Investment in Tunisia in 2016, which was announced by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, where Qatar provided financial support to Tunisia worth $1.25bn, of which $250mn financed a number of development projects through the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). The support also included allocations for social housing projects.
He also referred to the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), which is currently taking legal measures to open a branch in Tunisia as the first office abroad, as the QFFD contributes to financial co-operation efforts by signing partnership agreements with Tunisian banking and financial institutions to finance projects directed at young people, specifically those with operational capacity, especially since the QFFD’s areas of activity are among the priorities of the Tunisian state, particularly in the area of fighting unemployment through project financing and economic empowerment.
The Tunisian ambassador explained that the Qatari-Tunisian Friendship Fund is one of the mechanisms of the QFFD, which is a gift worth $97mn and comes within the framework of a programme concerned with encouraging private initiatives and projects for Tunisian youth, as the fund aspires to create between 50 to 100,000 direct and non-direct job opportunities for Tunisian youth, until the end of 2021, pointing out that the Friendship Fund signed 5 partnership agreements with banking and financial institutions worth $15mn aimed at combating unemployment and youth employment and encouraging entrepreneurship.
Qatari-Tunisian ties witness steady growth
Following a successful visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani started yesterday an official visit to Tunisia, the second leg of his Arab tour, which also includes Algeria.
The Amir discussed with President of Tunisia Kais Saied ways to support and boost the strong relations between the two countries in various fields, in addition to exchanging views on regional issues, and the most important international developments of common concern.
The Amir’s visit to Tunisia is a translation of the common desire to push forward and strengthen bilateral relations and develop co-operation between the two countries towards new horizons in a way that serves the interests of both sides as well as the interests and aspirations of the two nations.
The Qatari-Tunisian relations are outstanding for being deep, steadily growing and enjoying high momentum in co-ordination, co-operation and exchange of visits at all levels.
The visit of the Amir to Tunisia and the talks that took place during it will certainly enhance the relations between the two countries, allow more opportunities for utilising the capabilities of the two countries to push forward the level of co-operation to serve their interests and achieve their aspirations within the framework of the existing understanding between them and the convergence of their visions regarding their common bilateral issues, Arab and Islamic region issues and regional issues. The visit is also expected to constitute an opportunity to assess the various aspects of bilateral relations and the outcome of what has been accomplished and achieved on this track, especially in the economic, commercial and financial sectors, or in matters related to the field of partnership and investment.
The two nations are bound with strong ties of constructive and fruitful co-operation based on deep and varied historical relations of mutual respect.
Qatar praises the democratic model in Tunisia and always affirms its support for the Tunisian people. Bilateral relations are a model of successful and advanced relations on the Arab level, as Qatar ranks first Arab and second World country in terms of direct investments in Tunisia, with over $3bn invested in the sectors of telecommunication, banking and tourism to name a few, which is evidence of the depth of the inherent relations between the two brotherly countries.
These relations have significantly progressed during the past years, and the visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Tunisia and his personal attendance at the International Conference to Support the Economy and Investment held in November 2016, had a great impact in giving a new impetus to the relations between the two countries, especially for economic and investment cooperation. In the opening session of the conference, the Amir delivered a speech in which he announced that Qatar will direct $1.25bn to support Tunisia’s economy and strengthen its development path.
Relations between the two countries have been strengthened over the years through mutual visits by senior officials of both sides, among the most prominent and most recent are the visits of the Amir to Tunisia, in April 2014, and November 2016, and the visit of the late Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to Doha in May 2016.
The two countries have signed more than 80 agreements and memorandums of understanding , covering sectors such as political, diplomatic, economic, industrial, commercial, banking, health, agricultural, technical, media, cultural, tourism and air transport, the prevention of double taxation, judicial, endowment and Islamic affairs sectors, public works and environmental protection, and combating pollution, Information technology and vocational training, oil refining, real estate investment, and the use of Tunisian workers in Qatar.
The Tunisian-Qatari Supreme Joint Committee is considered the most important joint mechanism responsible for developing and co-ordinating co-operation relations between the two countries.
Silatech is also funding several projects there. The Qatar Friendship Fund in Tunisia, which was established in 2013, is considered one of the institutions that support the Tunisian economy through its partnerships with Tunisian institutions with the aim of providing funding for Tunisian youth and assisting them in various stages of designing and implementing projects.