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Opinions & Interviews

18 Dec 2020

Meshaal Al Attiyah: Belarus and Qatar enjoy stable relations

Meshaal Al Attiyah: Belarus and Qatar enjoy stable relations

The relations between Belarus and Qatar have been developing steadily, Charge d'Affaires ad interim of the State of Qatar in Belarus Meshaal Al Attiyah, said in an interview with the Belarusian news agency BelTA on the occasion of the national holiday of the country. The head of the diplomatic mission spoke about the development of the country and the cooperation with Belarus, which, in his opinion, has great prospects.

Mr Charge d'Affaires, your country celebrates National Day on 18 December. Will you please tell us what it symbolizes?

This day signifies our aspiration to reaffirm the identity, ancient history and heritage of the State of Qatar and to pay tribute to the efforts of its people in all areas. The holiday celebrated on 18 December symbolizes the national unity, when the State of Qatar united under the banner and leadership of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani in 1878.

Qatar is one of the safest, most economically advanced and high-tech countries in the world. How has the country been able to achieve such results?

God has endowed the State of Qatar with many riches, including oil and gas. The country was able to use these gifts wisely. Over the past two decades, thanks to the wise leadership of the state led by H.E. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, we have created excellent infrastructure, which has had a positive impact on the economy.

The State of Qatar has made education one of its major priorities encouraging international universities to open affiliated branches in Qatar.

All that has attracted international companies that invested in Qatar, which helped improve our human development indicators and make our state one of the world leaders.

How do you assess the development of cooperation between Belarus and Qatar? Do top-level and high-level visits really help promote bilateral contacts?

Belarus-Qatar relations have been developing steadily. I would like to emphasize friendly relations between the high-ranking officials of our countries. It is confirmed by numerous top-level visits.

The visit of the then Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to Minsk in 2009 gave a strong impetus to our bilateral ties. President Aleksandr Lukashenko also paid several visits to the State of Qatar. During these visits and the visits of many delegations, the two countries signed many agreements and memoranda of understanding to lay a solid foundation for building exceptionally strong relations. We have reached agreements on avoidance of double taxation, investment protection, and abolished visas for the citizens of the two countries.

It is worth saying that the establishment of a joint committee on economic, trade and technical cooperation between the governments of the Republic of Belarus and the State of Qatar has played an important role.

I would like to emphasize that we have recently celebrated the first anniversary of the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Minsk. This event testifies to a great interest that our leadership shows in developing friendly relations between our countries.

Do our countries support each other in the international arena?

Belarus-Qatar relations are characterized by mutual respect and trust. The two countries enjoy a high level of dialogue-based mutual understanding. There are no contradictions on any issue that would hinder the development of our contacts.

Moreover, I would like to note: we have similar viewpoints on various international issues, which helps us coordinate our positions at many international forums.

How efficient are the Belarus-Qatar joint commission and the joint business council?

The Belarus-Qatar joint intergovernmental commission is the fruit of bilateral efforts. Its first meeting was held in Doha in 2009, and later it was followed by others. The commission planned its fourth meeting in the Belarusian capital in April 2020. Experts worked hard to prepare documents and projects for this event. Unfortunately, we had to postpone the meeting to a later date due to the pandemic.

I would also like to note that business cooperation between our countries has been expanding. In 2010, the first meeting of the joint Qatar-Belarus Business Council was held in Doha under the auspices of the chambers of commerce and industry of Qatar and Belarus. There is a strong determination to intensify work in this area. The level of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries does not yet meet our expectations.

Few people know that the Marriott Hotel in Minsk is Qatar’s investment project. How successful is it and what other joint projects could you name?

Indeed, the Marriott Hotel is the outcome of Qatari investments and joint efforts of the Belarusian and Qatari sides.

This is a very successful project: the hotel is considered one of the best in the Republic of Belarus. In my opinion, taking into account its location in Minsk and the sports facilities it has, we can say for sure that this hotel is the best. It has become a favorite place for business people who come here for international meetings, seminars and symposia.

We hope there will be many similar successful projects in the future. I would like to assure that the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Belarus will do everything possible to facilitate this work, and we are determined to put every effort into raising investment and strengthening economic ties.

Mr. Chargé d'Affaires, what impact has the pandemic had on Belarus-Qatar cooperation and what is your take on the prospects of bilateral contacts?

As you know, all countries of the world without exception have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Qatar is working with many states and international organizations to overcome this crisis. Qatar has sent medical supplies to dozens of countries on different continents.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has also affected the communication and contacts between officials of our countries. Many scheduled meetings were postponed, but not canceled. Right after the epidemiological situation improves, we will continue working together to make up for the lost time.

We believe that Belarus has great capacities in education and science. The expertise and knowledge of Belarusian engineers and specialists in various fields are a proof of that.

Belarus boasts a beautiful nature: forests, rivers, lakes, mild climate. This draws tourists from all countries, including Qatar, of course. Many Qatari citizens visited your country and were fascinated by what they saw. But what they liked the most was the kind and hospitable Belarusian nation.

It should be mentioned that Belarus, like Qatar, is among the safest countries in the world.

The prospects for tourism between the two countries are very good. A direct flight between Doha and Minsk, which will become available in the future, will also contribute to it. In addition, our capitals have a convenient geographical location, which will help launch flights via them to various destinations across the world.

I would like to stress the friendly nature of our relations again. Of course, we believe that there are great prospects for strengthening trade, economic, cultural, and other ties. We are ready to work hard to bring the prosperity of our two friendly nations to a new level.

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