Qatar’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic has inspired a high level of confidence in the government, and resulted in the social unification of the community working together to fight the effects of Covid-19 crisis.
This analysis was shared in the third instalment of QF partner Georgetown University in Qatar’s (GU-Q) Pandemic Panels, a three-part series of virtual discussions featuring GU-Q faculty experts and moderated by the dean, Dr Ahmad Dallal.
The third and final panel investigated the types of global pressures that influence regional responses and how these set the nations of the Gulf, Middle East, and North Africa on a path to pandemic recovery.
Panellists included Dr Rogaia Abusharaf, professor of anthropology; Dr Alexis Antoniades, professor and director of International Economics; Dr Rory Miller, professor of government; and Dr Gerd Nonneman, professor of international relations and Gulf Studies.
Dr Miller provided context for Qatar’s pandemic response, noting that small states like Qatar are better equipped to quickly build social cohesion and institutions, and make rapid decisions.
So despite the number of cases per million, “there’s still a confidence at all levels of society that they have the structures in place and the decision-making capabilities to deal with it.” While some states would be able to emerge from the crisis in better shape than others, he concluded, “there are few opportunities to come out of this in a positive light.”
Dr Nonneman focused on the role and future of GCC, one of his areas of expertise, which continues to be fractured under the blockade, saying, “It would be very important, ideally, to have a coherent GCC framework to have a collective response economically and in terms of health arrangements and logistics and food security, but there isn’t.”
With the crisis depressing economies and sending unemployed labourers home, Nonneman also stressed the risk posed by the secondary effects of the crisis on less developed parts of the Middle East, highlighting aid and investment from Gulf neighbours as a possible mitigating strategy.
Dr Abusharaf discussed the ways the crisis has exposed the fragility of neglected health systems and spurred regional political action, saying: “you will see co-operation and competition highlighted and amplified as a result of the pandemic.”
Touching on the gender inequalities and domestic violence reported by multiple agencies working on women’s issues, he noted that “the pandemic didn’t introduce such domestic violence, but exasperated it.”
In his analysis of the future outlook of the region’s economies, economics expert Dr Antoniades described concerns over the recovery timeline as “the trillion-dollar question.” He explained that “what market participants are trying to assess is whether the easing of the lockdown restrictions on some countries and the gradual opening of some businesses will succeed or if it will derail the progress made over the past few weeks in controlling the spread of the virus.”
In a post-crisis world, he said, markets would see major innovations inspired by changes in consumer behaviour.
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