Qatar and Switzerland will see a further strengthening of bilateral relations, especially in the field of tourism, as thousands of Swiss football fans are expected to arrive for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Swiss ambassador Edgar Doerig has said.
“The World Cup is a sport event that will draw a lot of Swiss fans and tourists and I would say 5,000 or more could be expected from Switzerland," the envoy told reporters on the sidelines of a Katara Hospitality event recently.
According to Doerig, tourism will be stronger in the direction from Switzerland to Qatar in the upcoming major sporting event. But traditionally, he noted, it has been very strong from Qatar to Switzerland due to the latter’s growing popularity as a healthcare destination.
The Swiss embassy in Doha, he noted, sees an uptrend based on the number of visa requests it receives. It is learnt that Switzerland’s booming medical tourism sector is due to the cutting-edge facilities, top-notch doctors, and exceptional treatment that Swiss hospitals provide.
Doerig said a delegation of about eight hospitals and hotels who visited Doha recently are in talks with Qatari health organisations for co-operation.
Renowned Swiss clinic, Clinique La Prairie, will be forging a partnership (co-operation on medical and wellness) with Alfardan Medical and Northwestern Medicine, which aims to ensure patients’ continued treatments in Qatar, he revealed.
The envoy said he expects other partnerships to take place between medical institutions from the two countries in the future, including exchanges of experts and other specialists.
‘Traditional tourism,’ he noted, is also another area that can be explored between Qatar and Switzerland such as culinary, mountaineering, and visiting cultural sites, among others.
“I find it very important that Qatari citizens and residents discover other parts of Switzerland. Traditionally, I have been very fond of the Lake Geneva region, of Zurich. I'm sure there are other hidden gems, such as Eastern Switzerland,” Doerig said.
Regarding participation in the World Cup, he said the Swiss national football team, which earned a ticket to the prestigious tournament, is ramping up its preparations. They will be staying at the Le Royal Meridien Doha in Lusail during the event.
Swiss ministers and VIPs who will be coming to Qatar during the month-long event, scheduled from November 21 to December 18, are expected to meet their counterparts in Doha as well, Doerig said.
He noted that bilateral relations between Qatar and Switzerland remain excellent: signing an agreement on cooperation on financial matters between the finance ministers of the two countries – Ueli Maurer (Swiss) and Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, and witnessing high-level visits.
Doerig said that big Swiss banks such as Credit Suisse and UBS have been in the process of expanding their presence in Doha, in addition to other banks that also planning to open representative offices.
About trade and investments, he said Qatar’s investment in Switzerland remained at a good level, citing Katara Hospitality’s three hotels: Burgenstock Hotels and Resort Lake Lucerne, Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa, and the Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa Lausanne.
Apart from Qatar Investment Authority’s significant participation, the envoy said that a number of Qataris have purchased houses or apartments in Switzerland as well.
In the area of education, he said there has been occasional co-operation between Swiss universities such as the Graduate Institute Geneva and a technical school in Lausanne with Qatar University.
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