Sunday, 27 May 2018 09:04 GMT

Envoy hails strong Australia-Qatar ties

(MENAFN - Gulf Times) In less than 15 months since Australia opened its embassy in Qatar there has been significant levels of improvement in bilateral co-operation, Australian ambassador Axel Wabenhorst said yesterday.
Addressing a reception held in Doha yesterday as part of the Australia Day, he has hailed the growing bilateral relations between Qatar and Australia.
HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Protocol Chief Ibrahim Yousuf Fakhroo, Diplomatic Corps dean and Eritrean ambassador Ali Ibrahim Ahmed, and other dignitaries were present. 'Qatar has welcomed us warmly. When I first arrived, I was told that Qatar was a family country, and I have certainly felt that during the time I've been here.
Australia, he said, is a diverse country, and the most successful multicultural society in the world. 'Through this diversity, Australians are united by our values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. We recognise the complexities and challenges of our history. But above all, on Australia Day we celebrate our achievements as Australians.
While thanking Qatar Airways for the excellent connectivity that it is providing to Australia, the ambassador said the airline is now flying to four Australian cities and from next week it will also fly to Canberra. Qatar Airways was one of the sponsors of yesterday's event.
'With this expansion, I hope more of the country's residents will discover Australia as a holiday destination. Australia is safe, stable and welcoming. You will find unique indigenous culture, landscapes and wildlife, and outstanding shopping and restaurants in my country.
The envoy also said there is potential for more Qatari students to study in his country. 'Australia has a high quality education system, and is the third most popular destination for foreign students in the world, he said. He said Qatar is hosting about 3,300 Australians, working in diverse sectors, including engineering, construction, oil and gas, finance, aviation, education, health care, sports science and journalism.
Wabenhorst informed nearly 30 Australian companies are operating in Qatar. The biggest of these are in the engineering and construction field, participating in the construction of Hamad Port and the Qatar State Mosque, the hydrocarbon sector, the expansion of Khalifa Stadium and shopping centres, he said.
'Australia and Qatar are working together to counter-terrorism, through the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL and Qatar's hosting of the Al-Udeid Air Base.
The envoy observed that the GCC dispute has separated families. Qatari employees, students and hospital patients abroad have had to return to Qatar. Despite the challenges, Qatar has maintained its welcoming attitude towards all residents. Australia supports the mediation by Kuwait with the aim of resolving the dispute, he said.
While describing Australia as the world's driest continent the envoy said this has made Australians experts in dryland farming. 'As food security becomes a higher priority for Qatar because of the regional dispute, Australia is well-placed to support Qatar to grow more of its own food, he said. The investment of Hassad Food in Australian farms, worth approximately $450mn has benefited both countries by improving the productive capacity of the farms, and contributing to Qatar's food security.
The total trade between Qatar and Australia is Australian dollars 1.77bn per year, evenly balanced between imports and exports. The new shipping line between the two countries can further facilitate trade. Australia has hosted many major sporting events, including the Olympic Games and Asian Football Championships, and has expertise in events management relevant for Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he pointed out.


Envoy hails strong Australia-Qatar ties

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