The Qatar-America Institute (QAI) has launched a new initiative, the Expert Voices Series. The initiative is envisioned as a medium for encouraging broader and more diverse conversations between Qatari experts and/or experts on Qatar with U.S.-based leaders in business, academia and politics.
In an effort to diversify outreach beyond the traditional East Coast hubs of Washington, D.C. and New York, QAI sought to initiate new channels of engagement with the key West Coast hubs of San Francisco and Los Angeles. With a population of 39.5 million and a GDP of $2.7 trillion – the fifth largest economy in the world – California (CA) was QAI’s natural choice for a first foray to the West Coast. The state boasts some of the world’s premier academic institutions and science labs, as well as America’s motion picture industry (Hollywood).
Silicon Valley in California’s Bay Area is the global capital for hi-tech innovation and entrepreneurship; the co-location of a critical mass of venture capital investors and a talent pool of unparalleled depth and quality has produced some of the world’s most valuable companies. California’s industrial origins in defense and aerospace remain integral to the state’s research and development (R&D) nexus and economic export composition.
Dr. Khalid Al-Ali – Qatari Tech Entrepreneur and Former NASA Specialist
The first participant in QAI’s Expert Voices Series was Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, a Qatari technology entrepreneur and Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Senseta, a Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm.
In the field of aeronautics and exploration technology, Dr. Al-Ali spent 10 years in NASA’s Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Dr. Al-Ali was also the CEO of the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar’s premier business “free zone” dedicated to the development of market-ready tech products
Having earned his PhD at UC Berkeley and worked at NASA and DARPA-administered labs, Dr. Al-Ali has made California his second home both professionally and personally. He is uniquely well positioned to provide a nuanced outlook of promising and fertile areas of collaboration between Qatari entities and the State of California.
California Engagement Snapshot
QAI hosted Dr. Al-Ali in Northern California, where he featured as a speaker on a panel, “Technology Trends in Emerging Markets,” at Stanford University’s inaugural MENA Forum. As the CEO of tech firm, which has created knowledge-intensive jobs in both Silicon Valley and Doha, Dr. Al-Ali spoke about Qatar’s commitment to increasing its GDP contribution to R&D that forms the basis of commercially successful tech-enabled products.
On the panel, Dr. Al-Ali spoke about his experience leading the complex negotiations that brought two of the seven U.S. universities that have established full degree-granting campuses in Doha’s Education City. With his appointment as the first CEO of QSTP, he spoke of the vision to “capture the intellectual property from the academic institutions and providing a finance bridge from QSTP to create value from knowledge.” Dr. Al-Ali spoke of his leadership role on national steering committees that have shaped Qatar’s technology policy and articulated Qatar’s vision of integrating its industry with the research and higher education infrastructure that it has been investing massive resources to develop.
On the sidelines of the Stanford MENA Forum, Dr. Al-Ali held meetings with Research Fellows at the Hoover Institution, a leading American think tank, to discuss potential partnerships between Hoover Fellows and research institutes in Qatar, such as the Qatar Computing Research Institute and the Qatari Energy and Environment Institute.
Similar consultations were held with Distinguished Fellows at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs, with a specific focus on food security and energy markets and with the Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development.
UCLA’s Center for Middle East Development (CMED) hosted QAI and Dr. Al-Ali at the university’s Faculty Club for discussions that will reinforce UCLA’s already deep ties with Qatar. CMED is UCLA’s dedicated center for Middle East expertise and, for many years, has partnered with Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to host an annual conference in Qatar under the banner of “Enriching the Economic Future of the Middle East.”
RAND Corporation Santa Monica
At the RAND Corporation’s Santa Monica headquarters, Dr. Al-Ali gave remarks on “Qatar’s Economic Diversification and Tech/Innovation Policy” to a select group of researchers, followed by an engaging Q&A session under Chatham House rules. He highlighted the nexus approach of linking Qatar’s universities with government-backed funding mechanisms, such as Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and QSTP. He emphasized that enabling the private sector through access to credit and business incubators will facilitate the creation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that will help Qatar diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons.
Though the RAND Corporation no longer maintains an office in Doha, it remains an important strategic partner to many Qatari institutions who rely on RAND for research and advisory support.
The Larta Institute defines itself as providing a “mesh network” of mentorship resources, expertise, funding and connections to patient capital. In that sense, Larta is an Institute and not in the mold of traditional Bay Area “accelerators” that tend to be a source of one-time funding, office space for a limited time, and a scattered feedback loop.
Larta recognizes the fiercely competitive space of emerging technology start-ups and instead seeks to support nascent tech companies in every step of their lab to market transition. This starts with pairing companies with Principal Advisors who are experienced practitioners in both academia and industry. Larta is organized around the four pillars of Feed, Fuel, Heal and Innovation, with long-standing partnerships with the federal research funding arms of the National Institute of Health, Department of Energy and United States Department of Agriculture.
QAI and Dr. Ali had a very positive meeting with the Larta leadership. QAI expressed enthusiasm for converging some of Larta’s internationally renowned experience with Qatar’s efforts to cultivate its own organic “mesh network” of business enablers. This will help advance the Qatar National Vision 2030, which prioritizes economic diversification and human capital development.
The Pacific Council on International Policy
The Pacific Council is the West Coast’s premier member-based public diplomacy institute. It has hosted sitting U.S. Secretaries of State, Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, former presidents, and the list could go on.
The Pacific Council hosted a lunch in their LA headquarters in honor of Dr. Khalid Al-Ali. The lunch was well attended by Pacific Council members who hail from diverse industries: financial services, aviation, law enforcement, defense, academia and literature.
Dr. Al-Ali offered some remarks on Qatar’s journey from seeking partners in the 1960s to finance and provide the technology for a world-leading LNG industry, to its current investment-led boom in human capital development and a sovereign wealth fund with a global and diversified portfolio of assets. Under Chatham House rules, Dr. Al-Ali fielded many thought-provoking questions about Qatar’s role in international affairs, its sporting ambitions and engagement with the U.S.
On February 13, 2019, after 2 years of the Saudi led air blockade of Qatar, the EU has finally spoken out. “The air blockade of Qatar was unthinkable to us,” said the director of Transport for the EU Commission. “We cannot tolerate countries using civil aviation for political moves like this.” These comments were the first time the EU has publicly taken a stance on the blockade. The countries in the EU are some of the Gulf’s largest foreign markets, and they champion free skies.
The EU is now trying to work out a deal that will boost market access for Qatar to a significantly higher level than any other gulf country. They are creating a “Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement [CATA] between the EU and State of Qatar.” The CATA will be the first agreement of its kind between the EU and a GCC state. It will allow Qatar airways to fly to cities located within 28 European countries without any of the prior restrictions that were imposed before. Negotiations are reaching the finalization stage with the agreement set to be signed later this year.
( Image Source: Politico )
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani emphasized that Qatar is willing to engage in a dialogue that will resolve the Gulf crisis. He went on to state that Qatar has continuously called on the blockading countries to engage in negotiations that aim to resolve the Gulf Crisis.
At the Munich Security Conference, Qatar’s Foreign Minister stressed that both Saudi and Emirati leaders should prioritize the Gulf issue as it is vital to the security of the greater region. The Foreign Minister suggested that the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) should be used as a platform for negotiations as it was originally established for regional cooperation.
He highlighted that regional states have been able to resolve conflicts in the past but that the current state of affairs poses a grave security risk to the region. He specifically stated “We have been through various conflicts and disagreements in the last 20 years, but we have never reached this level and reflect a shift in the position of the leadership of these countries.”
The Foreign Minister went on to state that Qatar was ready for dialogue during an upcoming summit in Kuwait but Qatar’s willingness to solve the dispute is not shared by the blockading states. He also addressed past criticism of ‘Qatar’s unwillingness’ that was leveled at the nation during the most recent Gulf Summit. The Foreign Minister stated that that since the invitation to Qatar was extended by the GCC Secretary-General rather than the host country’s leadership, they explained “that is why we participated with a lower representation.”
In regards to Washington’s efforts in resolving the Gulf crisis, the Foreign Minister praised the willingness of the United States in their attempts at resolving the dispute. He highlighted the rejection of the blockading states to US President Donald Trump’s proposal of holding a Gulf Summit. He also stressed that Qatar’s relations with the United States have never been affected by this crisis, stating: “Our strong alliance with them continues. We have the largest US airbase and there are 11 to 12 thousand US troops on our territory. The centre of the international coalition is in Qatar, and everything is going well.”
(Image Source: Munich Security Conference)
On January 17, 2019, Qatar-America Institute Cultural Advisor Diana Untermeyer visited the Indiana Council on World Affairs (ICWA) in Indianapolis to discuss “Qatar and its Neighbors.” She joined Bill Clifford, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of America and Melissa Beuc, executive board member of ICWA Board, both of whom recently traveled to Qatar.
In her talk, Ms. Untermeyer discussed the context for the blockade imposed on Qatar in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt; the resiliency with which Qatar has withstood and even thrived in the midst of the blockade; Qatar’s policy of engagement in the region and its focus on education, sports and culture.
Ms. Untermeyer spoke about her experience living in Qatar from 2004-2007 and attributed Qatar’s resilience to the strong foundation built by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani culminating in the peaceful transfer of power in June 2013 to his well-prepared son, His Highness Sheikh Tamim. In a region known for coups and octogenarians who cling to power, this unprecedented, planned succession sets Qatar apart.
Moreover, the fruits of His Highness Sheikh Hamad’s leadership — including the development of the massive LNG industry, the granting of equal rights to women, the promotion of modern educational and cultural institutions, the founding of Al Jazeera, and a commitment to transparent and inclusive foreign policy — both set the stage for the showdown with the blockading nations and provide the fortitude to withstand it.
The blockade has fast-tracked many endeavors including anti-terrorist money laundering agreements, social and labor reforms, free trade zones, and food security initiatives. It also has strengthened a sense of national pride and caused an outpouring of support for Sheikh Tamim. The iconic image “Tamim the Glorious” now festoons buildings and innumerable windshields.
National service was instituted before the Blockade; however in April 2018, the mandatory time for men was extended from a few months to a full year following graduation from high school. And, women are now allowed to volunteer as well. The decision is so much more important than one might think. Imagine: Women in the military in a traditional Muslim country; youth increasingly differentiated by degrees of wealth and education literally in the trenches together; and a shared sense of discipline should all add up to transformative national unity and individual growth.
In response to lively questioning from the audience about Qatar’s political alignment, Ms. Untermeyer explained that while Qatar remains committed to the GCC and looks forward to a resumption of a strong alliance, their policy has always been to maintain positive and constructive dialogue with all countries, including Iran. While Qatar has disagreements with Iran, they are also neighbors and share the massive gas field. The blockade led to closer ties with Iran. Iran opened their skies providing the sole access for Qatar’s commercial and civilian air traffic. Additionally, Iran provided immediate food relief.
Qatar hopes to normalize relationships with their neighbors but is moving forward with its own vision including the massive infrastructure build up for the 2022 World Cup. Overall, the attitude in Doha is optimistic and full speed ahead.
On January 13th, 2019 the United States and Qatar held the Second U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue in Doha under the theme “Forward Together.” Chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the dialogue focused on: regional security and defense cooperation, education and culture, law enforcement and counterterrorism partnerships, commercial and energy cooperation, and labor issues.
This year’s Strategic Dialogue builds on the historic achievements of the First U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, in Washington, D.C., in which Qatar and the U.S. agreed to landmark cooperation in several areas.
A Joint Statement produced by the U.S. and Qatar details the outcome of the dialogue, progress made in key policy areas, and the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Statements of Intent (SOIs) to advance mutual cooperation.
Full Remarks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at a Press Availability (01/13/2019)
Full Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (01/13/2019)
Below is a summary of key developments from the Joint Statement produced at this year’s U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue:
Officials reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing senior-level engagement:
Qatar and the United States expressed strong support for the expansion of bilateral relations evinced by high-level meetings in 2018 between: U.S. President Donald J. Trump and HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani; U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani; U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah; and an exchange of other minister-level visits to Washington and Doha. These high-level diplomatic engagements highlight the two nations’ shared commitment to advance cooperation and promote global peace and prosperity.
The U.S. recognized Qatar’s role as a leader in global humanitarian assistance and development:
The United States acknowledged Qatar’s generous humanitarian role bilaterally and multilaterally through the work of various UN agencies, in the form of a $500 million multi-year assistance pledge, including $8 million annually between 2019 and 2023 to support forcibly displaced populations, and assist refugees including millions of vulnerable young children and women.
Both countries reiterated the essential role the U.S.-Qatar defense partnership serves in international security:
Qatar and the United States emphasized the vital contribution their defense partnership provides for the security and stability of the region. This strong and lasting partnership is key to successfully combating terrorism, countering violent extremism, and deterring external aggression. U.S. officials lauded Qatar’s contributions in supporting the strategic U.S. military presence in Qatar under the U.S. Central Command.
Three key developments in defense were announced:
- The two governments reaffirmed their commitment to the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation to promote peace and stability and counter the scourge of terrorism.
- The United States welcomed Qatar’s generous offer to expand critical facilities at bases used by U.S. forces in the country and to align operating procedures at these bases with NATO standards, thereby increasing the operational capability of U.S. and coalition forces based in Qatar.
- The U.S. and Qatar signed an MOU enabling deeper coordination on potential expansion at Al Udeid Air Base. Qatar’s offers to fund capital expenditures and sustainment affords the possibility of a more enduring U.S. presence.
The U.S. recognized Qatar’s commitments to defeat radical extremism, prevent terrorism finance, and to support U.S. anti-terrorism efforts:
The United States thanked Qatar for its continued efforts to counter terrorism, counter the financing of terrorism, and prevent violent extremism in all forms. Both sides intend to strengthen their security and counterterrorism (CT) partnership to eradicate terrorism and violent extremism. The United States welcomed Qatar’s commitment to provide $75 million over five years to the work of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, including its efforts to help Member States develop and implement advance passenger information and passenger name record systems in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2396.
The forward progress made on several counterterrorism agreements, including the July 11, 2017 MOU on Counterterrorism, was reviewed:
They reviewed the positive progress made under the terms of the MOU on Counterterrorism signed on July 11, 2017, and the second bilateral CT Dialogue convened in Doha September 5, 2018, including the 2018 Joint Action Plan to implement provisions on border security, information sharing, countering the financing of terrorism, anti-money laundering, aviation security, cybersecurity, and judicial capacity building.
A Memorandum of Understanding in education was signed by Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister bin Abdulrahman Al Thani:
The U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani signed the MOU in the field of education to continue building and sustaining key partnerships in the fields of: primary, secondary, and higher education; English and Arabic language instruction; student advising; promoting academic exchange; and facilitating a wide range of study abroad options that enable students to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Qatar and the United States welcomed the role of U.S. companies in Qatar’s development and of Qatari investment in U.S. firms and jobs:
The Qatari delegation outlined successful implementation of reforms designed to attract foreign investment in Qatar, including free trade zones and expanding business ownership for non-citizens. Both countries also underscored their commitment to boosting trade and investment and noted the growing strength of bilateral trade relations.
Qatar confirmed that the United States is its top import partner, representing 18% of all imports to Qatar in 2018.
The two governments recognized Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA) previous commitment to invest $45 billion in American firms, real estate, and jobs. QIA Chief Executive Mr. Mansour al-Mahmoud described plans to increase Qatari investments in American infrastructure.
The United States and Qatar emphasize the importance of their continued partnership which benefits the interests of both countries, as well as the security and prosperity of the Gulf region.
This Strategic Dialogue process underlines the commitment of Qatar and the United States to increase cooperation in fields that provide the greatest mutual and practical benefit. Such cooperation includes the issues discussed today but also incorporates important work in the fields of health, food safety, intellectual property rights, nuclear safeguards and more. Qatar and the United States remain committed to dialogue and long-term cooperation on political issues, consolidating state-of-the-art defense facilities, combating terrorism and violent extremism in all its forms, countering the financing of terrorism, expanding their trade and investment partnerships, and enhancing educational and cultural cooperation.
To expand partnerships and advance mutual policy goals in those areas, the two sides agreed to hold the first working group in April of 2019. Qatar and the United States look forward to reviewing progress in these areas at the next Strategic Dialogue in Washington in 2020.
(Image Source: Middle East Monitor)
The 2018 Doha Forum was held in its namesake city this year from December 15-16, 2018 and brought together key leaders from the international community under the Forum’s theme “Shaping Policy in an Interconnected World.”
The 2018 Doha Forum was launched with an opening address by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar. His Highness stressed the need for free speech and dialogue between the Gulf countries.
The Financial Times reported on the mission of this year’s Doha Forum:
“The 2018 Doha Forum brought together political figures, thought leaders, governmental agencies, and civic society organizations with the aim of facilitating dialogue about how conscious policymaking can guide us to our global tomorrow. The forum addressed today’s urgent issues and ways the international community can come together to solve them. The forum also highlighted the modern success models and discusses how we can expand on them and replicate them. Through active and responsible global leadership, our possibilities are limitless.”
Below are some highlights of key 2018 Doha Forum developments, events, speeches, and speakers:
- Qatar Announces USD Half Billion in Aide to UN Agencies
Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Qatar Fund for Development today signed agreements with multiple United Nations agencies to support humanitarian, counter-terrorism and relief programs around the world on the sidelines of Doha Forum. The multi-year assistance to ten UN agencies amounts to USD 500 million, including 28 million to the UN Development Program (UNDP), 8 million annually between 2019 and 2023 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4 million annually to UNICEF and 15 million annually to the Security Council’s Counter Terrorism Committee (CTC).
- Announcement of the Doha Forum Award
The first Doha Forum Award will be given in 2019 to recognize outstanding achievements in diversity, dialogue and diplomacy, and will be worth half a million US Dollars.
Opening address by HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar:
Keynote address by HE António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations:
- H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Qatar
- H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the United Nations General Assembly
- H.E. Hassan Ali Khaire, Prime Minister, Somalia
- H.E. Teodor-Viorel Meleşcanu,Foreign Minister, Romania
- Wolfgang Ischinger (moderator), Chairman, Munich Security Conference
- Brett McGurk, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
- Vladamir Voronkov, U.N. Undersecretary General for Counter Terrorism
- Peter Bergen (moderator), Vice President for Global Studies & Fellows, New America Foundation
- H.E. Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, Minister of Finance, Qatar
- H.E. Berat Albayrak, Minister of Treasury and Finance, Turkey
- Christian Sewing, CEO, Deutsche Bank
- Chris Giles (moderator), FT Economics Editor
- Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office & Minister of State at the Department for International Development
- H.E. Sigmar Gabriel, Member of the Bundestag (Parliament), Former Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
- H.E Dr. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution
- Ibrahim Kalin, Special adviser to President Erdogan and the Presidential Spokesperson
- Julien Barnes-Dacey (moderator), Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations
- Michael Rich, President, RAND
- Alain Gresh, Editor, OrientXXI
- Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive director, QCRI
- Nicholas Enfield, Director, Sydney Social Sciences and Humanities Advanced Research Institute, University of Sydney
- Steve Clemons (moderator), Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic
- H.E. Moussa Mara, Former Prime Minister of Mali
- Yéro Boly, Former Defense Minister, Burkina Faso
- Hannah Armstrong, Senior Sahel Consultant, International Crisis Group
- Phillip Carter III, Consultant, The Mead Hill Group, Former US Ambassador to Ivory Coast
- Rinaldo Depagne (moderator), West Africa Project Director, International Crisis Group
Qatari Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani gave an interview to Chris Giles of the Financial Times covering a variety of political issues related to Qatar during the 18th Doha Forum.
The latest development in the illegal blockade occurred when the Emir of Kuwait, HH Sabah Al Sabah, raised the issue during the December GCC summit. The matter was acknowledged by participants, but there was no “breakthrough,” according to the Deputy PM. Despite this, however, Qatar remains open to negotiations with the blockade nations.
“We are willing to come to the table to sit and to discuss what are the real problems, how we can resolve these problems, and the only thing you need to understand before you come to the table [is] that our sovereignty is [a] subject for negotiation.” -HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani
The Deputy PM also addressed Qatar’s recent decision to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, in January 2019. He reiterated that, although the decision undeniably took place within a highly politicized context, Qatar left for purely business-related reasons: OPEC members primarily export oil, whereas Qatar primarily exports natural gas. Qatar’s departure simply acknowledges that Qatar is a very minor player in the global oil marketplace, and will allow the country to focus its efforts on its largest export.
On October 31st, 2018, His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs of Qatar sat down for a conversation at the Forum on Foreign Fighters and Returnees in Doha, Qatar with Steve Clemons, Editor at Large of The Atlantic.
His Excellency Dr. Khalid spoke on the role Qatar is playing in rehabilitating former extremist fighters, the international community’s progress in regional peace building, and the stabilizing affect the defense partnership between the United States and Qatar has on the Middle East and Gulf regions.
Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow and author of “The Gulf States in International Political Economy,” published an op-ed in The New York Times this week on the logic behind Qatar’s decision to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, commonly known as OPEC.
According to Ulrichsen, OPEC has become mired in geopolitical disputes like the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, to the detriment of its member states and its central mission to stabilize international petrochemical markets.
Qatar has persisted in its mission to serve as a secure natural gas exporter. Qatar provides more than half of India’s natural gas imports, as well as 14-15% of China’s, Japan’s, and the UK’s, according to the MIT Observatory of Economic Complexity. Following the illegal blockade, Qatar signed long-term natural gas agreements with China, Japan, and the UK. Qatar even still provides natural gas to the United Arab Emirates through the Dolphin Pipeline, despite the blockade.
Qatar remains committed to the central mission of mission of OPEC – maintaining a stable international market for petrochemical products. Its decision to increase natural gas exports was in response to a projected increase in international demand, according to then-CEO of Qatar Petroleum, Saad Sherida Al Kaabi. Qatar Petroleum is investing $20 billion in U.S. oil and gas fields, most notably the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, even though the U.S.’s LNG exports will inevitably compete against Qatar’s primary source of revenue in the global market.
Qatar’s departure from OPEC is a business decision, allowing Qatar the autonomy to develop its natural gas resources – its foremost economic strength – independent of other members’ geopolitcal agendas.
(Image Source: Darren Hillman)
Below are key excerpts from His Excellency’s conversation:
Qatar’s initiatives in building bridges to peace have seen the U.S. as a critical stakeholder:
In 2007, Qatar started interfaith dialogue between Christians, Jews, and Muslims so that co-existence could be a reality. Qatar invited many U.S. universities to join our Education City to give the region access to excellent and unrestricted education. To bring about these reforms, we invited help from experts—financial, environmental, academic, and human rights specialists.
Qatar has been a critical partner of the United States in securing peace in Afghanistan:
AL-THANI: Well, in fact, what we see in Afghanistan now for over the last few years since this office been established for the purpose of the peace talks between Taliban and the Afghan government and the U.S., there were not much progress in it. But in the recent—in the recent months, we have seen a lot of positive things.
Qatar’s Year of Culture program will see the U.S. as its marquee partner in 2021, showcasing the cultural and people-to-people ties that bind the two allied countries together:
We will have the Year of Culture between Qatar and United States in 2021, which is a showcase for this cultural exchange between the countries. We have it every year in a different country and it has been a successful model for promoting the Qatari culture and inviting the other cultures.
Outline of Qatar’s engagement-driven foreign policy that emphasizes dialogue, development, and global partnerships:
Over the past twenty years, Qatar has engaged with the world through foreign diplomacy, forged economic global partnership(s), developed human capital, invested in the region. Two decades ago, my country decided to begin a new chapter of openness. This decision shaped Qatar’s signature foreign policy of engagement, dialogue, and collaboration. This was new for the Middle East and the outreach paid off.
Outside the neighborhood, Qatar found friends, allies around the globe. Within the neighborhood, Qatar became a skilled mediator in the region largely closed off to negotiation. For example, in Lebanon we were able to help calm the sectarian fighting and fill the vacuum of power. In Sudan, we helped stop a genocide and sustain peace in Darfur. Today, we are facilitating talks between U.S., the Afghan government, and parliament.
Qatar’s liquified natural gas strategy has transformed the global energy landscape:
This engagement-driven foreign policy meant that a political partnership ran parallel to economic ones. Reciprocal investments across the globe made in numerous industry sectors meant that Qatar could partner with the global specialists who supply the world with liquefied natural gas. This was no easy task because scientists had not developed an efficient way to liquefy natural gas and to ship it.
So Qatar and experts around the world collaborated and brought the energy industry into a new era of liquefied natural gas. Simultaneously, Qatar was able to diversify its economy to move away from fossil fuel dependency. Today, Qatar supplies almost 30 percent of the world’s natural gas.
Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup will be the most environmentally-friendly rendition of the games in history:
So there is a lot of programs that are taking place within the country in order to transform our country to a more green country, more environmentally friendly, and we are experiencing this especially in the World Cup—in the World Cup Project, which will take place in 2022, and I hope all of you come there and enjoy it in Doha.
The stadiums—the way it’s built—the buildings over there, all of them they are maintaining the maximum standard of environmentally friendly. We have also—we take the same consideration on our industrials because Qatar is an industrial country as well where we have industries which are derivatives from the gas industry or from the oil industry. All of this the environment is taken into consideration.