The Qatar-America Institute recently hosted a reception for the Washington Center, a non-profit organization that hosts college students and recent graduates from around the country to participate in in public policy seminars and internships in Washington, DC. The event welcomed over a hundred Washington Center students and recent graduates for an evening reception to network and discuss public policy.
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)
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.
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.
Full Video – Council on Foreign Relations: A Conversation with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani
Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani, the CEO of the Qatar Foundation, published an editorial in Quartz yesterday on women’s rights and empowerment in Qatar. In it, she addressed the Me Too and Time’s Up movements, and dispelled the misconception that women’s empowerment in the Middle East and Arab World are categorically worse than in the West. She highlighted the high volume of female participation in STEM fields compared to the U.S., as well as the fact that the female labor participation rate in Qatar is above the global average.
“[I]t fills me with pride to walk into boardrooms at the Foundation and know that 40% of the leadership working at the 5,000-strong organization is female.” – Her Excellency Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani
Qatar has the highest female labor participation rate in the Arab World, and women comprise a majority of the students in its higher education system. While Sheikha Hind acknowledges that there is still room for further progress in Qatar, gender relations in the country provide a profound example for the world of how societal progress can be achieved without sacrificing cultural traditions.
Qatar expects six F-15 warplanes to be delivered to its air force by March 2021, a military official said on Monday, the first batch of 36 it agreed to buy from the United States last year for $12 billion.
Brigadier General Issa al-Mahannadi told reporters at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar that a further six F-15s would be dispatched three months after the initial batch, with four more expected every three months thereafter:
“This is not a purchase, it is a strategic partnership with the U.S.,” Mahannadi said.
Qatar will send its pilots to the U.S. for training beginning this year:
The tiny but wealthy Gulf state will begin sending eight pilots per year to the United States for training this year, Mahannadi added, while transitioning some of its experienced Qatari pilots to fly the F-15s in order to establish a 53-person aircrew for them by 2023.
U.S. company Boeing will manufacture and deliver the jets to Qatar:
Boeing was awarded the contract for the F-15s.
Brigadier General Issa al-Mahannadi said Boeing will begin construction on the planes in 2020:
Mahannadi said construction on the area for the F-15s would start in 2020 and be completed by 2021, in time to receive the first delivery.
A 35-year-old Palestinian neurosurgeon named Walid Albanna won Stars of Science‘s tenth season competition. Albanna won 32.5% of the online vote for his “Neurovascular Retina Analyzer,” a wearable retina camera that improves care treatment for patients who have suffered a stroke. His first place victory won him $300,000 in investment. Runner ups included Nour Majbour‘s “Parkinson’s Early Detection Kit,” Sylia Khecheni‘s “Home Privacy Drone Blocker,” and Salim Al Kaabi‘s “Safe Frankincense Varnish for Artists.”
Stars of Science is a Qatar Foundation “edutainment” reality show, where innovators from across the Arab World compete in Qatar Science and Technology Park for funding for their inventions. The show has been profiled and praised by outlets like the Harvard Business Review for offering smarter content than most of the reality TV genre and for showcasing and supporting the under-recognized ingenuity of the Arab World.
— شبكة مرسال قطر (@Marsalqatar) November 24, 2018
(Image Source: @StarsOfScience )
On Tuesday, the Qatar-America Institute worked with Luke’s Wings to host a group of wounded veterans and their families for a game between the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers. Luke’s Wings is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting wounded and ill U.S. veterans and their families, which this year marked its tenth anniversary. The Wizards made a stunning comeback after a bruising first quarter, taking the lead and winning 125-118. While at the suite, QAI and the veterans were visited by Gheorghe Mureșan, the ambassador of the Wizards and the tallest player in NBA history.
SpaceX launched Qatar’s Es’hail-2 spacecraft using the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The launch took place at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The launch is the first mission for Qatar that SpaceX has undertaken. The Es’hail-2 satellite, built by Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric, will be operated by the state-owned Es’hailSat.
Es’hail-2 will be the first satellite dedicated solely to Qatar. Qatar’s previous satellite, Es’hail-1, was jointly owned by French telecommunications company Eutelsat. Qatar recently bought the rights from Eutelsat earlier this year.
The satellite is intended to be used for both broadcasting and transferring secure communication to devices within Northern Africa and the Middle East. This function will primarily be utilized by the Qatari armed forces that currently rely on external contractors to ensure safe and secure communication. Additionally, Es’hail-2 will also be the first satellite that will carry amateur radio relay capabilities opening up access to satellite and radio enthusiasts within the region.
The launch was attended by several high-profile Qatari officials, including the Qatari Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, as well as Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid Mohammad Al-Attiyah, among others.
(Image Source: NASA)