March 01, 2020, was the last day of the outgoing Chargé d’affairs William Grant at the US Embassy in Doha, Qatar. Grant oversaw crucial aspects of the US-Qatar relationship over the last year as the level of cooperation between the United States and Qatar reach ever greater heights. Chargé Grant further enhanced business ties between American and Qatari business’, engaged critical players in Qatar’s Defence establishment with their American counterparts, was present as the United States negotiated with the Taliban, and brought the overall US-Qatar relationship closer together.
The new Chargé d’affairs and former Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Qatar will be Mr. Phillip Nelson. Nelson has been a career foreign service officer since 1994.
He has previously served at US missions in Baghdad, Rabat, Kinshasa, Vienna, Chisinau, Libreville, and Montreal, as well as being the Burundi Desk Officer. Mr. Nelson is fluent in French, German, Norwegian, and Romanian, and has a limited fluency in Arabic, Russian, and Danish.
(Image Source: Twitter – @USAmbQatar)
Qatar has played a crucial role in conducting peace negotiations between the US military and the Taliban. In 2013, at Washington’s request under the Obama administration, Qatar facilitated in opening an unofficial Taliban office in Doha so that negotiations could take place between the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban.
Additionally, Qatar has been intrinsically involved in the United States’ mission to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. On January 16, 2018, Qatar signed a security agreement with NATO within the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
The agreement allowed for NATO forces and personnel to both enter and transit through Qatar, primarily using the Al-Udeid Air Base. The US and NATO coalition in Afghanistan then added Qatar into the multi-nation coalition with the first-ever deployment of Qatari ground troops to the South Asian nation in July of 2018.
Left #Qatar knowing that the world is a safer place, with solid progress towards a political settlement that will end the war in #Afghanistan. Thank you to Qatar and our allies and partners for their support of peace in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/j6C9B6DxDT
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 1, 2020
Now, seven years after the opening of the office, US officials and Taliban representatives have signed an agreement after several rounds of negotiations in Doha, in expectation of ending the United States’ longest war. The agreement was signed in Doha in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. If the deal is successful, it will pave the way for the US to gradually withdraw its troops.
The deal has four points: a 14-month timeline for the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan; that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad to threaten the security of the US; the start of intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.
(Image Source: Twitter – @SecPompeo)
On Monday, 09 December 2019, QAI hosted its first Doha salon dinner, titled “Qatar- America: Forging New Paths” at Doha’s newly-opened American hotel, Park Hyatt. The intimate dinner aimed to introduce invitees to QAI’s new leadership and highlight past accomplishments, ongoing activities, upcoming projects, and strategic goals. It also introduced new key partners to the organization, such as the programmatic partnership with the Doha Film Institute (DFI) starting October 2019 and the corporate sponsorship from ConocoPhillips starting in 2020.
Twenty American and Qatari guests with backgrounds ranging from the arts, culture, business, education, and diplomacy enjoyed the family-style dinner served by Qatari Chef Shams Al-Qassabi of Doha’s Opus Restaurant.
In addition to the delicious food, guests also enjoyed an exhibition of artwork graciously loaned by the Al-Bahie auction house, which featured works by Arab and Islamic artists, such as a contemporary bronze horse sculpture by the artist Mohammed Hussain Alkhaldi, a vintage Tabriz rug, and a painting by Baya Mahieddine. QAI’s Executive Director Fatima Al-Dosari led the dinner conversations which included remarks by the dinner’s guest of honor Mr. William Grant, who is the Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Qatar and Mr. J. Todd Creeger, President of the Qatar Business Unit for ConocoPhillips.
Through December 14th-15th 2019, the Qatar-America Institute (QAI) was pleased to attend the Doha Forum. Widely regarded as one of the world’s premier international policy conferences, this year’s theme was “Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World.” The Forum convened heads of state, policymakers, scholars, journalists, business leaders, and other distinguished participants to explore new approaches for a more pragmatic, sustainable, and collaborative governance around the world.
HH the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, opened the Forum with a speech calling for greater international cooperation and emphasizing the vital role that non-governmental and non-profit organizations play in civil society.
In between dozens of official panels and sessions covering every topic from foreign affairs to culture, the Forum also serves as a convening space for stakeholders in the U.S.-Qatar relationship. QAI’s leadership attended the 2019 Doha Forum in order to build relationships, gain valuable insight into the topics our audience cares about, and raise international awareness of QAI’s mission.
Additionally, a broad array of American individuals, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senior Advisor to the U.S. President Ivanka Trump, among others, participated in this forum. Also, entities extended their support to this forum with organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg, the Stimson Center, The McCain Institute for International Leadership, The Wilson Center, The Middle East Institute, The Brookings Institution, Aspen Institute, The U.S. State Department and USIP, as well as academic institutions such as Yale University, Georgia State University, and Cornell University, and the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security.
Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, former Executive Director, Advisor, and Scientist at NASA and a member of QAI’s Advisory Council was a speaker on the panel titled “Developing the High-Tech Sector in Russia: Prospects for Venture Investment.” Dr. Al-Ali previously participated in QAI’s Expert Voices program touring Stanford, UCLA, The Rand Corporation, Larta Institute, and The Pacific Council on International Policy.
“Technology is disruptive. It’s going to be interesting to see a multipolar approach to governance to see who owns the technology that comes out of the 4th industrial revolution.” pic.twitter.com/ZlMlmBtlYF
— Doha Forum (@DohaForum) December 15, 2019
(Image Source: Twitter – @arightside)
The City of Houston proclaimed Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 ‘Qatar Day.’ Qatar Day was proclaimed by Houston Mayor Turner in recognition of the State of Qatar’s efforts to support Houston’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The $30 million gift from Qatar supported recovery projects in the areas of education, housing, and community development. All of the contributions from Qatar, administered by the Qatar Harvey Fund, have been dispersed ahead of the two-year anniversary of the hurricane in August 2019.
The press release on the Qatar Day Proclamation from the City of Houston can be found below:
CITY OF HOUSTON PROCLAIMS “QATAR DAY IN HOUSTON”
State of Qatar is Recognized for $30 Million in Support After Hurricane Harvey
HOUSTON, TX November 19, 2019 – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared today “Qatar Day in Houston” to acknowledge the State of Qatar for its generous support of the city’s long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
In a ceremony in City Council chambers at the council’s weekly meeting, Mayor Turner read aloud and presented a proclamation to Qatar’s consul general in Houston, the Honorable Rashid al-Dehaimi. Council Member Jack Christie had requested the proclamation.
In his acceptance remarks, Consul General al-Dehaimi told members of City Council that the $30 million Qatar Harvey Fund was established soon after the hurricane upon the instructions of His Highness the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and that all of the recovery funds were allocated prior to the storm’s two-year anniversary last August.
The Qatar Harvey Fund is chaired by Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S., His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, who said after the ceremony: “The State of Qatar has a history of providing humanitarian assistance throughout the world, including after Hurricane Harvey. We wanted to help our friends in Texas, where our relationships in business, education, and medical and cultural exchange go back decades. It is an honor for us that today is “Qatar Day in Houston.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said: “The Qatar Harvey Fund has helped our City immensely, providing the means to enable a more complete recovery from Hurricane Harvey. On behalf of the City of Houston, we sincerely thank the leaders of Qatar and look forward to their continued friendship.”
Jack Christie, the At-Large Position 5 Council Member, said: “We choose to honor Qatar for the exceptional kindness and compassion that Emir Al Thani, his family, and the great people of Qatar exhibited towards the City of Houston. When the city was at its greatest need, with citizens hurting from floods, homelessness, and educational deficits, our Qatari friends answered the call for aid.”
The Qatar Harvey Fund was established by the State of Qatar in 2017 to administer $30 million in long-term recovery assistance to the people of southeast Texas following widespread destruction from Hurricane Harvey in August of that year. The Fund serves as a commitment of solidarity between the people of Qatar and the people of Texas and the U.S. The entire $30 million has been publicly committed to recovery projects in the areas of education, housing and community development. For more information about the Qatar Harvey Fund, please visit www.QatarHarveyFund.com.
Growing Film Education and Culture Together: Doha Film Institute Partners with The Qatar-America Institute
Qatar-America Institute (QAI) and the Doha Film Institute (DFI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to formalize a partnership between the two organizations and to promote the cultural ties between the U.S. and Qatar.
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK– November 17, 2019 : The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) – an independent cultural and educational nonprofit organization with mission to facilitate dialogue, research, and exchange on the strategic relationship between Qatar and the U.S. – is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Doha Film Institute (DFI), a leading film organization from the Middle East and North Africa, effective from October 23rd 2019.
With culture, community, and education at the core of both institutions, QAI and DFI pledged to work together to promote and foster an appreciation and understanding of the cultural and social intersections between Qatar and the US through creative storytelling and community-driven programs and exchanges.
DFI serves as an all-encompassing film hub in Doha and a resource for the Arab region and is dedicated to film appreciation, education, and building a dynamic film industry in Qatar that focuses on nurturing regional storytellers while being entirely global in its scope. DFI also hosts the annual Ajyal Film Festival which takes place from November 18th- 23rd at Katara Cultural Village, Doha. ‘Ajyal’, Arabic for ‘generations’, consists of screening and events that bring people of all ages together, especially youth, to inspire creative interaction and stimulate cinematic dialogue.
The signatories of the MoU were Ms. Fatma Alremaihi, Chief Executive Officer of DFI and QAI’s Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari. Among attendees were DFI’s Chief Administrative Officer, Abdulla Jassim Al-Mosallam, and Fatma Al-Ghanim, DFI’s Director of Marketing & Communications.
QAI Executive Director, Fatima Al-Dosari, said “The MOU represents the beginning of a key relationship that will provide new opportunities and platforms for creatives in film and media from both Qatar and the United States. Since 2010, DFI has remarkably organized workshops featuring many renowned international creatives, in addition to hosting and participating in film festivals and premieres. QAI aims to capture the American-Qatari synergy in film culture and increase awareness, forge introductions, and establish important ties and partnerships between the US and Qatar. This partnership with DFI will definitely serve as another cultural bridge towards that goal.”
“The cultural and business connection between Qatar and the United States are historic”, said DFI Chief Executive Officer, Fatma Hassan Alremaihi. “I want to thank Fatima and the team at the Qatar America Institute for this great opportunity to deepen understanding between the two nations through mutual exchanges of arts and culture. We look forward to an exciting program of activities with our partners at QAI, focused on strengthening a single world connected by education, appreciation, and collaboration.”
On November 12th, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross visited Qatar to emphasize the strong bilateral economic ties between the United States and the State of Qatar. “American companies are an exceptional and indispensable asset to Qatar […] and the benefits flow both ways,” said Secretary Ross during his visit.
Over 100 U.S. companies operate and/or have offices in Qatar, and the total trade value between the two countries has surpassed $6 billion in 2018. Most notably, U.S.-Qatar bilateral trade has generated more than 20,000 jobs in the United States alone.
Numerous American companies have partnered with the State of Qatar to assist the country in its preparations for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, and to achieve its national development objectives as deciphered in Qatar National Vision 2030.
During his visit, Secretary Ross met with the Amir H.H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Prime Minister and Interior Minister H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Minister of Commerce and Industry H.E. Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, and Minister of State for Energy Affairs and CEO of Qatar Petroleum H.E. Saad Sherida Al Kaabi.
Furthermore, Secretary Ross met with representatives of the U.S Chamber of Commerce in Qatar. On such occasion, Amcham Board of Directors discussed potential commercial and investment opportunities in Qatar.
(Image Source: Twitter – @USAmbQatar)
On 05 November 2019, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar addressed the Advisory Council at the opening of its 48th Session. Below is key highlights from HH the Amir’s speech.
Qatar has unified as a nation under the weight of the Gulf Crisis:
By virtue of God’s support, credit for our success in containing most
of its negative impacts is attributable to maintaining our calm and decisive
approach in handling this crisis, revealing all its related facts to the whole
world…as well as strengthening our bilateral
relations with friendly and allied countries.
The Qatari people, with their noted magnanimity, stood up together as
one man in defense of their homeland’s sovereignty and principles,
because they realize that renunciation of the independent decision-making
is conducive to losing the homeland itself along with its wealth and
Qatar’s economy continues to grow at significant levels:
Qatar’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices grew in 2018 by about 15% and
non-hydrocarbon GDP by about 9%. The importance of that has been further boosted by the fact that the
government has sought this year to restore balance to the State budget, by
cutting public expenditure, without affecting priority projects.
As a result of the efforts to cut expenditure and increase efficiency,
the big budget deficit in 2017 was turned into a surplus. Although the
spending was reduced, the general State budget has continued to attach
importance to and focus on priority sectors, especially education, health
and investment in infrastructure.
The private sector has participated in QR. 27 billion worth of major
projects over the last five years.
The nation’s development vision is being realized in real-time:
I will focus hereinafter on the most important initiatives, projects and
policies we have adopted, and which show that we have overcome the
negative impacts of the blockade, and that we are steadily moving towards
achieving the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Reports indicate a significant progress in the field of economic
diversification, encouraging the private sector, increasing the production
capacity of power generation plants and establishing an advanced
agricultural and livestock-fish production system
The progress made is notable, but we have much still to do in the
areas of economic diversification, food and medicine security, renewable
energy, revitalization of the private sector and cutting red-tape that hinders
progress and advancement.
Qatar’s human capital is its most important asset:
Development is not measured by buildings and facilities only, but rather by the ability of
human beings to plan, build and maintain them, and by the schools that
educate them and the universities from which they graduate, as well as the
quality of education, culture and the prevailing values and ethics.
Rights, brothers and sisters, are not privileges or a mere sense of
superiority engendered by identity or unwarrantable transcendence towards
others, because humility is a proof of self-confidence, and showing respect
to others is a reflection of self-respect. The responsibilities of citizenship
also require being appreciative of the those who have worked hard in
building this country, and this includes our resident brothers.
Guest workers are an indispensable component of the country’s success:
Our fellow resident brothers who live with us in
Qatar are not here as a result of a favor conferred on them, but by virtue of
their work, which is indispensable to us, and by means of their appreciated
contribution to the building of this country.
The U.S. Embassy in Qatar announced the presence and engagement of several major U.S. companies with Qatari counterparts during the Qatar Information Technology and Communication Conference & Exhibition (Qitcom 2019). The conference was held in Doha from October 29th to November 1st, 2019.
Under H.H. Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s imprimatur, Qitcom was organized by the Ministry of Transport and Communication. The theme of Qitcom 2019 was “Safe Smart Cities”. The conference featured more than 90 guest speakers, 300 technology exhibitors, 100 start-ups and 300 entrepreneurs.
U.S. Charge d’Affaires, William Grant, said of the six American companies present at Qitcom 2019: “We are glad to see the US participation at Qitcom this year. We had six major companies (Microsoft, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Oracle, Dell Technologies, and Intel, two American startups (Litterati and Trust Stamp) and our very own Commercial office from the embassy showcasing their respective engagements with the Qatari government on digital initiatives.” In addition, Grant stressed the importance of Qatar’s state-driven initiatives, such as Tasmu, that collaborate with U.S. firms.
Qatar Smart Program (TASMU) is designed to accelerate the stated objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030. In essence, the main long-term objective of TASMU is to utilize innovative technology to improve the delivery of domestic public services across a multitude of sectors.
The program serves as a framework to transform Qatar’s digital economy, for the realization of smart projects, and to sustain Qatar’s economic growth. The State of Qatar plans to invest QR 6 billion (1.64 billion dollars) over the next five years to develop the technological and digital infrastructure.
In regards to existing and potential U.S.-Qatar collaborations in the digital sector, Grant declared: “One example of this is the announcement of the collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications ( MoTC) with Microsoft; Microsoft Azure has been chosen as the cloud service provider of choice for the digital transformation initiative of Qatar. We were also pleased to see Cisco sign three agreements with Ooredoo Group and MoTC for collaboration on Qatar’s digital transformation initiative. Similar announcements are expected in the near future.”
(Image Source: Twitter – @MarhabaQatar)
On 03-04 November 2019 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin visited Qatar to meet with senior government officials and discuss the strategic U.S.-Qatar relationship in various security, financial, and banking sectors.
During the 2 day trip to Doha, Secretary Mnuchin met with the following Qatar leaders:
– His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar. The Secretary highlighted the significant economic and security partnership between the U.S. and Qatar. Secretary Mnuchin and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani discussed collaborative efforts to counter terrorist financing networks and strengthen Qatar’s Anti-Money Laundering/Counterterrorism regime and other national security issues.
– His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar. Secretary Mnuchin and the Prime Minister discussed collaborative efforts to counter-terrorism finance networks and strengthen Qatar’s AML/CFT regime. The Secretary reaffirmed the important economic and security relationship between the U.S. and Qatar.
– His Excellency Ali Shareef al-Emadi, Qatari Minister of Finance. The Secretary emphasized the strong bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Qatar. Secretary Mnuchin discussed efforts to counter terrorism financing along with other national security and economic issues of mutual concern.
– Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, Vice-Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Foundation. The Secretary and Sheikha expressed their shared belief in the transformative power of education and discussed the Qatar Foundation’s work to support economic and social development through initiatives in education, science and research, and community development.
– His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud Al Thani, Qatari Central Bank Governor. The Secretary reaffirmed the strong economic relationship between the U.S. and Qatar. Secretary Mnuchin discussed combating terrorist financing.
(Image Source: Twitter – USAmbQatar)
On October 29th, 2019, the State of Qatar announced a $1,890,945 donation during Hope for Haiti’s annual Harvesting Hope Event held in Stamford, Connecticut. The event commemorated the catastrophic and devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.
The generous donation will be disbursed by the Qatar Haiti Fund and will impact the lives of at least 300,000 Haitians via Hope for Haiti’s social assistance programs. These programs seek to improve the accessibility and quality of clean water, healthcare, and education.
During the event, the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States, H.E. Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, stated the following about the donation: “Through the Qatar Haiti Fund, we are proud to partner with Hope for Haiti in support of their important work, and we hope this gift also serves as a symbol of solidarity from the People of Qatar to show that Haiti is not forgotten and not without hope.”
Attending the event was also Hope for Haiti’s CEO, Skyler Badenoch, who commented the following on the donation: “Thanks to the support from the State of Qatar, hope for Haiti will be able to improve the quality of life for Haitian children, parents, and grandparents. It’s incredibly important for the success of our mission that the support from the Qatar Haiti Fund goes directly to improve the quality of life for the Haitian people, particularly as communities in Haiti are currently challenged by fuel shortages, a rising cost of living, and a lack of access to education and healthcare.”
Qatar’s donation, other than being a symbol of solidarity, demonstrates the country’s global leadership and reliability in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
(Image Source: Hope for Haiti)