Qatar-Italy ties: A shining example of friendship in times of adversity
April 09 2020 10:04 PM
Aid materials being unloaded from Qatar Amiri Air Force aircraft in Italy on Wednesday.


Tribulations and crises show the authenticity of states and nations, test the credibility of their slogans, and show the strength and solidity of their external relations, regionally and internationally. In this context, and upon the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar has and continues to offer many humanitarian initiatives and gestures during the fierce global confrontation with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
In implementation of these directives, and within the framework of the strategy drawn up by His Highness for Qatar to strengthen its relations with brothers and friends, two Qatar Amiri Air Force aircraft carrying two field hospitals landed in Italy on Wednesday, in support of the efforts of Italian friends to confront and contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
The total area of the first hospital is 5,200sq m, while the other hospital’s area is 4,000sq m. Both hospitals together can accommodate 1,000 beds equipped with modern medical equipment and technology, to treat the Covid-19 patients. More aid was scheduled to land yesterday aboard four military cargo aircraft, and a fifth plane will land in Italy today, loaded with medical tools and equipment, in co-operation between the Qatar Fund for Development and the Qatari Armed Forces.
Qatar is extending a helping hand to Italy with which it maintains high-level strategic relations, despite the unjust blockade. Qatar is fully confident that Italy will overcome this pandemic.
Despite its preoccupation with the internal situation and protecting Qatar from the pandemic and its various repercussions, the country, under the leadership of His Highness the Amir, has not forgotten its role and humanitarian duty towards friends, stressing its solidarity and standing with them during times of prosperity and distress.
In the context of Qatar’s contribution to combating the pandemic, which poses a common threat to the whole world, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani gave directives, to send urgent medical assistance to Iran. He directed urgent financial assistance to the State of Palestine, in support of its people, and a contribution from Qatar to the global efforts to combat the outbreak of the Covid-19, in addition to providing urgent assistance, including medicines, medical supplies, foodstuffs, and fuel for generators to operate the hospitals in Gaza Strip. Prior to that, Qatar sent 8 aircraft carrying 300 tonnes of urgent medical supplies to friends in China, at a time when international airlines banned flights to Chinese airports.
In addition to sending medical shipments and aid, Qatar has evacuated stranded persons, besides United Nations staff, from the Covid-19 hit areas, confirming its leadership in humanitarian initiatives. 
Moreover, Qatar Airways Cargo has increased the volume of its services around the world on cargo and passenger planes – to transport goods only without any passengers on board, as part of its endeavours to contribute to the continuity of the global trade sector, and to transport essential supplies wherever needed during these difficult times.
Qatar Airways Cargo has shipped more than 50,000 tonnes of medical supplies and essential goods to areas affected by the coronavirus around the world. The total weight of goods shipped by Qatar Airways Cargo during the month of March 2020 is equal to the capacity of 500 cargo Boeing 777 aircraft. 
The successive Qatari humanitarian initiatives reflect the positive role that Doha plays at the international level, especially in times of crisis and ordeals. They send numerous messages that Qatar is keen to harness its capabilities and potentials in order to build security and stability and spread peace and reassurance among people wherever they are in the world without discrimination. These initiatives also underline the belief of Qatar that the brotherly and friendly countries and peoples will not be left alone in their battle against this pandemic, and that defeating the virus outside the borders has the same priority and importance as at home, out of its convictions that international solidarity is the most successful and fastest way to win the battle against coronavirus pandemic, and that situation may become more difficult and painful in the absence of this solidarity.
The Italian government considers the battle against the coronavirus as the most serious crisis it faces since the Second World War. In order to prevent the situation from worsening even further, the Italian authorities asked about 60mn citizens to stay at home and implemented unprecedented measures to stop the spread of the virus, after expanding quarantine measures to cover all Italian territories. 
The Italian authorities take a cautious approach on the continuing decline in the numbers of deaths and injuries caused by the epidemic in its hospitals, and they are not in a rush to move to the second stage of the health emergency, which includes the possible gradual easing of restrictions on the movement of citizens.
Many health officials and agencies there have stressed the importance of maintaining and adhering to all measures of social distancing, and warned that any negligence could mean the resumption of a new outbreak of the pandemic. Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza presented earlier this week a strategic plan to gradually get out of the global pandemic crisis recommending by wearing protective masks, strict social distancing in places of living and work, and establishing a hospital-specific anti-Covid-19 system that remains in place after the crisis to prevent a possible return of the virus.
Qatar and Italy share political and economic visions, and common interests in all fields. The Qatari-Italian relations were further cemented by the exchange of the opening of embassies in the capitals of the two countries in 1992. Since then it has witnessed a rapid and solid development in all fields, especially in economy and trade. The relations have turned into a strategic partnership, thanks to the patronage and willingness of the leaderships of the two countries to upgrade them in various sectors.
The Qatari-Italian relations have been strengthened and developed in recent years through official mutual visits by leaders and senior officials of the two countries, and with the successful participation of Qatar in the Expo Milan 2015. The agreements and memoranda of understanding signed between Qatar and Italy play an important role by strengthening and consolidating bilateral relations in various fields. The economic relations have witnessed a great development after the official opening of the Adriatic LNG terminal in the Italian coastal city of Rovigo in October 2009, which receives 8bn cubic metres of Qatari LNG every year, equivalent to 10% of Italy’s needs.
The two countries have military co-operation that includes the purchase of Italian naval units and helicopters. Italy is the eighth trade partner of Qatar and the seventh largest supplier to Qatar. 
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries has exceeded one billion euros. Italian companies have an important role in supporting the country’s development plans and projects, and Italy is a distinct destination for Qatari investments that entered various sectors and economic activities.

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