Category: Analysis

Despite Sanctions Qatar Outpaces Saudi Arabia In Economic Growth

Qatar’s Economy Thrives in the Face of the Blockade

An article in the Wall Street Journal overviewed the ways in which Qatar has adjusted and, indeed, thrived in the face of the illegal blockade facing the country. By establishing new trade routes, Qatar has robustly demonstrated that it will not be coerced by economic pressure from the siege nations.

“What happened to us is something that we don’t want to happen to another country… it will be very dangerous for the region if aggressive acts like this become the new norm.” -Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of the Qatari Government Communications Office

The article illustrates how the blockade is more likely to backfire the longer it is in place. Qatar has been forced to deepen its trade routes with nations beyond the siege countries, and as those adjustments become the new normal, they will only further reduce the amount of leverage the siege countries have over Qatar in the future.

“These trade links sooner rather than later will become stable and normal, and this may affect the geopolitics of the region in the future.” -Nader Kabbani, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center

The blockade has accelerated certain political and economic reforms Qatar planned. The reforms are welcome news for Qatari residents, citizens, and businesspeople, but are not linked specifically to the demands of the blockading countries.

Since June, the emirate has abolished visa requirements for 80 nationalities, moved to establish permanent-residency rights for foreigners, and is setting up free economic zones. There are even plans for holding elections to a new legislature.

Rather than scaring international companies out of doing work with Qatar, the diplomatic siege has inadvertently led to a surge in business penetration in Qatar.

Because of severed air links, multinational companies can no longer fly executives on daytrips to Doha from the Gulf’s regional hub of Dubai… This has led many international companies to establish branches in Doha, leading to a 70% rise in the number of firms operating under QTF licenses.

The article cited a recent report by the International Monetary Fund that notes how the diplomatic blockade has “acted as a catalyst for enhancing domestic food production and reducing reliance on a small group of countries.”

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Georgetown University Alumni attend Qatar Food Festival

The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) recently hosted various Georgetown University alumni and students for a Qatar Food Festival event.  The event featured speakers Paul Horvath, CEO of Orchard Global Capital Group, and former Congressman from Florida’s 18th district Patrick Murphy, a fellow at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics.

Paul Horvath discussed the constructive and vital role that Georgetown University played in facilitating diplomacy with U.S. and Qatari leaders in the midst of the diplomatic blockade, and Congressman Murphy shared details of his recent trip to Doha and lauded the rigorous curriculum that is maintained on Georgetown’s Doha campus.



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Human Rights in the Gulf: A Conversation with Dr. Ali Smaikh al-Marri

The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) hosted the chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), Dr. Ali Smaikh al-Marri. The NHRC was established in 2002 and functions as an independent non-governmental organization. The committee was accredited and awarded an “A” status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (ICC).

The discussion was moderated by QAI’s Executive Director, Paul Hamill. The discussion focused on two main issues: the impact that the GCC blockade has had on the rights of Qatari citizens and the work being done by the Qatari government to ensure the rights of migrant workers in Qatar.


Human Rights Violations due to Blockade

Dr. Ali al-Marri highlighted the extent to which the Qatari population has been impacted by the blockade imposed on Qatar by neighboring GCC countries. He expressed that since the imposition of the blockade, his organization had received over 4000 complaints by Qatari citizens in regard to their rights being violated.

Dr. al-Marri also expressed that due to the blockade, families were being separated, property rights were being infringed upon, and freedom of movement had been severely impacted. Dr. al-Marri also highlighted the findings from the recent report published by the UN Human Rights Commission. The report concluded that as a result of the blockade the rights of Qatari citizens and residents were being violated.





Migrant Rights

Dr. Ali al-Marri highlighted that his organization, as early as 2004, had been urging the Qatari government to improve the status of migrant rights in the nation. He stated that as a result of both internal and international pressure, the state implemented drastic reforms and has made remarkable strides in improving the lives of migrants and curtailing the violation of migrant rights.





Dr. Ali al-Marri addressed multiple questions from the audience regarding the status of Women’s Rights, the involvement of the US in the GCC crisis, and his organization’s firm commitment to preserving & enhancing the state of Human Rights in Qatar.




“A recording of the event will be made available shortly”




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QAI Hosts Illinois State Society for Black History Celebration

On Tuesday, 28 February 2018 Qatar-America Institute Hosted the Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C. for a celebration of Illinois’ proud history of welcoming Southern African-American migrants during the Great Migration.

Congressman Danny Davis gave the evening’s keynote address, and was introduced by Illinois State Society President, Congressman Jerry Weller. Congressman Davis recalled Illinois’ history of welcoming Southern migrants fleeing racial prejudice in search of a better life.

The distinguished Congressmen were also joined by their colleague from Illinois, Congressman Brad Schneider, who praised the spirit of service and commitment to the public good that Illinois has come to represent on the national stage.

Over one hundred members of the Illinois State Society gathered at Qatar-America Institute to celebrate the occasion. Guests were treated to a full Qatari buffet, as well as drinks and homemade Southern desserts, in the style of the Great Migration.

The strong ties between Qatar and Illinois were highlighted by Adrienne Lawrence, a representative from Northwestern University. Ms. Lawrence noted that Northwestern University’s Qatar campus in Doha is helping to transform the region through its innovative journalism and communications program.

Qatar-America Institute was honored to host the Illinois State Society during Black History Month for the celebration of the Great Migration. America’s history of striving towards fuller equality is among the most important ways that it engages the international community. Qatar-America Institute is proud to partner with organizations like the Illinois State Society that celebrate this struggle, and commemorate its heroes.


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Creativity & Power: The Intersection of Art & Politics in the Arab World

Founder of the Institute of Arab & Islamic Art comes to QAI:


The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) hosted the founder of The Institute of Arab & Islamic Art, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Thani. The lecture was moderated by QAI’s Cultural Advisor, Diana Untermeyer. Ms. Untermeyer shared her views on art and the importance of the institute in crossing cultural boundaries.



During his lecture, Sheikh Mohammad, addressed the foundations of his institute, his views on art, and the aims his institution is striving to achieve.




Sheikh Mohammad also discussed the concept of cultural exchange and the impact that it has had on the development of art within various Islamic societies.




After Sheikh Mohammad’s lecture, Ms. Untermeyer moderated a Q&A session with members of the audience.  Discussion focused on topics ranging from trends in the history of Islamic art, to the challenges of creating an independent non-profit organization, and ways of expanding discussion about Islamic art into the non-Islamic world.



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Key Quotes On Qatar

Key Quotes on Qatar

“We are grateful to Qatar for their longstanding support of America’s present and continuing commitment to regional security, a commitment that includes information sharing and counterterrorism training… a united Gulf Cooperation Council bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on countering terrorism, defeating ISIS/Daesh, and countering the spread of Iran’s malign influence. It is thus critical that the GCC recovers its cohesion as the proud Gulf nations return to mutual support through a peaceful resolution that provides for enhanced regional stability and prosperity.”

 Jim Mattis, Secretary of Defense

“As a result of the memorandum of understanding our countries signed in July, the United States and Qatar have increased information sharing on terrorists and terrorist financiers. We have participated in counterterrorism technical training and taken steps to improve aviation security. We look forward to building on this foundation and implementing next steps.”

 Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State

“As the Gulf dispute nears the eight-month mark, the United States remains as concerned today as we were at its outset. This dispute has had direct negative consequences economically and militarily for those involved, as well as the United States. We are concerned by the rhetoric and propaganda employed in the region, playing out daily in Arab mainstream and social media. It is critical that all parties minimize rhetoric, exercise restraint to avoid further escalation, and work toward a resolution. A united GCC bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on counterterror – countering terrorism, defeating ISIS, and countering the spread of Iran’s malign influence.”

 Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State

I think as a follow-on to our trip over there last week, there has been some, I think, positive movement. The Qataris have continued to move forward on the MOU that the U.S. and Qatar entered into to address many of the terrorism, terror financing, counterterrorism concerns that people have, and they have been very aggressive in implementing that agreement. So we’re – I think we’re satisfied with the effort they’re putting forth. I think they also have indicated a willingness to sit with the four parties and negotiate, discuss the demands. I think they have indicated they think it’s important that the sovereignty and dignity of all five countries be respected in those discussions.

And so what – I hope the four countries will consider as a sign of good faith lifting this land blockade, which is really having the most, I think, negative effects on the Qatari people. And that would be a good – I think a good sign if the four countries would do that. And I’m hopeful they’ll consider that seriously.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State (21 July 2017)

The base in Qatar is critical. It is the headquarters of the United States Central Command – that’s the four-star headquarters – it has responsibility for US military operations from Egypt to Pakistan, it also what we call our command air operations center which really is the nerve center for all our aviation operations which again extends from Egypt to Pakistan – it’s a very critical base.

General Joseph F. Dunford  Jr. USMC, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (22 July 2017)

I applaud the leadership of his highness the emir of Qatar for being the first to respond to President Trump’s challenge at the Riyadh Summit to stop the funding of terrorism.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State (11 July 2017)


The agreement which we both have signed on behalf of our governments represents weeks of intensive discussions between experts and reinvigorates the spirit of the Riyadh summit. The memorandum lays out a series of steps that each country will take in coming months and years to interrupt and disable terror financing flows and intensify counter terrorism activities globally. Together the United States and Qatar will do more to track down funding sources, will do more to collaborate and share information and will do more to keep the region … safe.

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State (11 July 2017)


Our partners should remember that Qatar – at our request – welcomed delegations from the Taliban and Hamas, and that Qatar is now home to our military headquarters for our operations throughout the Middle East.

David Petraeus, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency, Former US CENTCOM Commander (03 July 2017)


As for the countries that accuse Qatar of financing terrorism, they have the same problems as Qatar, more so, they are on top of the list in that area,” he said. “There are financial institutes in these countries involved in financing terrorist organization and financing terrorist operations in western countries.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar (02 July 2017)


The United States supports and highly values Kuwait’s efforts to mediate the dispute among Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We share the view that there is a strong need to resolve this dispute as soon as possible through diplomatic dialogue.

Lawrence Silverman, US Ambassador to Kuwait (02 July 2017)


Qatar FMInternational law should not be violated and there is a border which should not be crossed. Regarding the demands and our position, we have been from the beginning very clear on this. We are not going to accept anything that infringes on our sovereignty or anything that is imposed on Qatar.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Foreign Minister of Qatar (01 July 2017)


The longer the crisis around Qatar continues, the deeper and stronger the lines of conflict will become. We hope that there soon can be direct discussion among all those involved because a further escalation will serve no one.

Sigmar Gabriel, German Minister for Foreign Affairs (27 June 2017)


Behind the smokescreen, we believe that the blockading nations are seeking to isolate and punish Qatar for our independence and to retaliate against us for supporting the true aspirations of the Arab people.

Meshal Hamad Al Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States (11 June 2017)


We’ve had good cooperation from all the parties to make sure that we can continue to move freely in and out of Qatar, where we have both an important air base, as well as the headquarters for the United States Central Command.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman (13 June 2017)


I believe that (Qatar’s) Prince Thani inherited a difficult, very tough situation, and he’s trying to turn the society in the right direction.

Jim Mattis, Secretary of Defense (13 June 2017)


I think this incident has proven really that Qatar is a reliable source of energy. Given whatever happened in the last week or two weeks, you know Qatar petroleum has issued a statement just yesterday, clarifying and making sure that people are aware that all the shipments, everything that we have in hydrocarbon and energy sector is working smoothly. We have not missed a single shipment during this time and we have been doing this for the last 20 years so this is as I said that’s still business as usual in the oil and gas industries.

Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Qatar Minister of Finance (12 June 2017)


We continue to be grateful to the Qataris for their longstanding support for our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security.

Captain Jeff Davis, Pentagon Spokesman (06 June)

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Remarks by Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee Chairman

In an AP interview released February 8, 2018, Mohammed E. Al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee (GRC), announced the committee’s plan to increase financing for its Gaza reconstruction efforts.  He also commented on the GRC’s close relationship with Israel in its mission to promote peace in the region explaining that the GRC works “very closely with Israel…to prevent any more escalation and war,” and that a main goal is to achieve “peace in the region and to help the people.” He further appealed to other donor nations to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza urging “we have to fund as soon as possible.”


Jason Greenblatt – the Trump Administration’s advisor on Israel and Special Representative for International Negotiations – later thanked Qatar and the UAE for their help in providing such vital funding in a series of tweets on February 8 and 9th stating “Qatar partnering with Israel can bring real relief to the people of Gaza” and “Some good news for Gaza—regional support for vital humanitarian assistance is mobilizing. Thanks to UAE @OFMUAE and Qatar @MBA_AlThani for these badly needed contributions.”





QAI hosted Al-Emadi on January 10th for a high-level dinner discussion on the GRC’s efforts in the Gaza strip.  Between 2012 and 2018 the committee has spent upwards of $400mm in completing and undergoing several projects including the Bin Khalifa residential City which encompasses 116 buildings, and more than 2,000 apartments, the Palace of Justice, several sports facilities and stadiums, a reservoir, more than 40km of roadway, a hospital and rehabilitation center and several other housing complexes.  The GRC works in tandem with other multilateral and international reconstruction groups.  All projects are fully financed through bank transfers in USD allowing them to be fully monitored by the US banking system.  All projects also go through a rigorous planning and approval process with the Israeli government.


Discussion points mainly focused on the challenges to operating a construction project in the Gaza strip and possibilities for future improvement in the reconstruction effort.  The efficiency and effectiveness with which the GRC has been able to complete its projects thus far is largely due to good faith cooperation between Qatar and the Israeli government resulting in on-time material arrivals and border crossing efficiencies. Challenges to working in the Gaza strip include uncertainty around electricity supply and obstacles to making reconstruction efforts a Palestinian-owned process.  Unreliable electricity streams are available only 3-8 hours a day, which makes planning difficult and results in higher costs for reliable per-kw coverage.


General discussion focused on the opportunity for further collaboration between various Palestinian and Israeli groups to bring people of the Gaza strip what they need to transform their economy into a high-tech economy and inspire innovation. The talk encouraged collaboration on this and several fronts and ended in a positive commitment to the betterment of Gaza’s people.  Al-Emadi reiterated the importance of providing hope to the Palestinian people through development and reconstruction financing and the importance of such funding to the prevention of the spread of radicalism and further violence.


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FACT SHEET: The U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue: The Strengthened and Expanded Bilateral Relationship


The governments of the State of Qatar and the United States held the inaugural Strategic Dialogue in Washington D.C. on January 30, 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis co-chaired the opening session jointly with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Khalid al-Attiyah and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. U.S. Secretary of Energy James R. Perry and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. participated in sessions with Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry Mohammed al-Sada and Qatari Minister of Economy and Commerce Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, respectively. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin and Qatari Minister of Finance Ali Sharif al-Emadi co-chaired the closing ceremony.


Dialogue Key Points

  • Stated the strengthened and expanded bilateral relationship
  • Welcomed the U.S. role on countering threats of terrorism and violent extremism. Agreed on the need to address violent extremism through preventive framework. Thanked Qatar for its action to counter terrorism and violent extremism in all forms
  • Acknowledged Qatar’s generous humanitarian role and commitments made by Qatar on combating human trafficking and advancing labor rights
  • Issued a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation
  • Lauded Qatar’s contributions in supporting the sizeable U.S. military presence in Qatar under the U.S. Central Command. Welcomed Qatar’s offer to expand critical facilities at U.S. bases in the country. Qatari funding of capital expenditures and sustainment offers the possibility of an enduring presence
  • Noted the $24.7 billion Foreign Military Sales, and that they have resulted in over 110,000 American jobs and the sustainment of critical military capabilities for the United States
  • Noted the recent conclusion of the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Attorney General and his Qatari counterpart on the fight against terrorism and its financing and combating cyber-crime
  • Highlighted Qatar’s committed investment of $45 billion in American firms, real estate, and jobs
  • Agreed bilateral agreements on trade, investment, and technology


Download the Fact Sheet to Learn More: 


QAI Strategic Dialogue Fact Sheet Final
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Qatar: Year of Crisis Spurred Rights Reforms


(Beirut) – Qatar announced a range of significant human rights reforms during 2017 that if carried out would usher in some of the most progressive human rights standards in the gulf region, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2018.

The reforms include legislation that can dramatically improve labor standards for migrant workers, including a migrant domestic workers law, and to grant permanent residency to children born to Qatari mothers and foreign fathers and to some foreign residents living in the country.

“Qatar could have retrenched into authoritarianism in the face of a political crisis but instead has responded to a breakdown in neighborly relations by raising the bar on human rights standards in the Gulf,” said Belkis Wille, senior Qatar researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Implementing its commitments to respecting the rights of Qatari women, millions of migrant workers, and vulnerable refugees in the country will be the real measure of its success in 2018.”

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that political leaders willing to stand up for human rights principles showed that it is possible to limit authoritarian populist agendas. When combined with mobilized publics and effective multilateral actors, these leaders demonstrated that the rise of anti-rights governments is not inevitable.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic relations with Qatar citing political grievances and demands. The crisis precipitated a range of human rights violationsagainst people living in Qatar, infringing on their right to free expression, separating families, and interrupting medical care and education.

On August 3, the Qatari cabinet moved to protect the legal status of foreign nationals in Qatar, approving a draft law that would allow permanent residence for children of Qatari women married to non-Qataris, as well as expatriates who “provide outstanding services to Qatar.” While the law falls short of granting women the same rights as Qatari men to pass citizenship to their children, it would help children of Qatari women secure resident status in Qatar even if they do not have valid passports from another country. The law could also help Emirati, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Saudi nationals who otherwise have no rights to legal residence in the country but who remain there for family or work reasons or because they fear persecution in their home countries.

The government’s most significant reform commitments came in protections for the nearly 2 million migrant workers in the country who make up 95 percent of the country’s workforce but are barred from unionizing or collective action. The government passed a new law to protect migrant domestic workers and pledged to end the sponsorship system of labor employment and to implement a minimum wage.

On August 22, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, ratified Law No.15 on service workers in the home. The law grants labor protections for the first time to Qatar’s 173,742 domestic workers. The new law guarantees domestic workers a maximum 10-hour workday, a weekly rest day, three weeks of annual leave, an end-of-service payment, and healthcare benefits. However, the new law is still weaker than the country’s general Labor Law and does not fully conform to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Domestic Workers Convention, the global treaty on domestic workers’ rights.

On October 26, Qatar committed to extensive reforms of its kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties workers to individual sponsors for their visa and employment, replacing it with a system of government-sponsored employment. It also promised to institute a nondiscriminatory minimum wage, improve the payment of wages, end passport confiscation, enhance labor inspections and occupational safety and health, including with a heat mitigation strategy, and improve labor recruitment procedures.

Qatar also unblocked local access to the Doha News website, the country’s only independent news website, which authorities had ordered Qatar’s two internet service providers, Vodafone and Ooredoo, to block on November 30, 2016.

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Qatar Not Intimidated By Blockade

How does it feel like to be in Qatar?

Check out this latest video from people in Qatar talking about what its like to live in the country and how thankful they are for the Qatar security forces

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