(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
Doha: The Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani inaugurated the opening of the first ordinary session of the first legislative term corresponding to the Shura Council's 50th annual session, at the Council's headquarters this morning.
Following is an unofficial translation of HH the Amir's speech at the Opening of the Advisory Council First Ordinary Session of the First Legislative Term Corresponding to the Fiftieth Annual Session:
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Brothers and sisters, members of the Advisory Council,
It is my pleasure to meet with you on the occasion of the first meeting of the elected Advisory Council, in this session which corresponds to the Fiftieth Annual Session of the Council.
At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to you for winning the voters confidence and the membership of the Council.
We are all aware of the significance of this historic moment in which we witness the completion of the institutions stipulated in the constitution by establishing the elected legislative authority along with the executive and judicial authorities.
I am also confident that you are aware of the great national responsibility that rests on your shoulders upon carrying out your legislative duties and consolidating cooperation with the Council of Ministers to achieve the countrys higher interests.
On this occasion, I do not miss to laud the role assumed by the previous Advisory Council and the experience it accumulated, including its embodiment of a form of popular participation in terms of legislation, expression of responsible opinion and sincere advice, through which it provided the best assistance for the government in carrying out its tasks in various fields, thus leaving behind a legacy to be guided by when your esteemed council carries out its duties.
In this respect, I do not also miss to refer to the excellent course of the electoral process, the distinguished and perfect organization, and the civilized atmosphere which prevailed therein.
Brothers and sisters,
During the previous year and this year, Qatar has succeeded in achieving several goals. In the field of food security, we have made great strides towards self-sufficiency in a number of food commodities as a result of the initiatives undertaken by the state to support the production and marketing of these commodities. Production and import operations were also facilitated, storage capacity was generally enhanced, and the strategic goods stockpile was secured.
In the field of economic diversification, legislative amendments were introduced to facilitate commercial transactions, enhance competition, protect the consumer, encourage industrial investment, increase direct foreign investment by allowing foreign investors to own 100% of some companies capital, and support the competitiveness of national products.
The local industries contribution to the GDP rose to fourth place. There is still a lot to do by the state in the field of diversifying the sources of income. But the task is not confined to the state, as the private sector has also a role here as well.
In the field of the financial and banking sector, and despite the global and regional shocks in the past years, yet this sector has shown tenacity in countering them. The Qatar Central Bank was able to maintain the international reserves growth and sustain the Qatari riyal exchange rate, and Qatar has maintained its high credit rating with international credit institutions and a stable outlook for its economy.
Qatar occupies a notable position and high ranks in some important components of global competitiveness indicators such as low unemployment rate, annual inflation rate, financing technical development, cybersecurity, sustainable development, and others.
With regard to the energy sector, Qatar Petroleum name was changed to Qatar Energy, reflecting an actual Qatari adoption of the transition towards clean and renewable energy. In this field, we are working on two spheres:
The First: Increasing liquefied natural gas production, and reducing the emissions resulting from its production by using state-of-the-art technologies.
The Second: Contributing to the development and use of solar energy.
The state pays special attention to protecting the environment by issuing the necessary legislations in this regard, promoting awareness of the importance of the environment in our day-to-day lives, recycling scrap and harmful waste, monitoring air and seawater quality, and providing financial incentives to companies presenting projects that preserve the environment and counter the climate change.
We are proceeding in our efforts to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 and prepare for the third 5-year national strategy. On this occasion, I put stress on setting priorities in light of the urgent needs of the state and call upon all concerned parties to prepare their sectoral strategies by benefiting from the failures and successes of the previous stage.
Experience and knowledge accumulate within organizations, so here comes the importance of institutionalizing the work rather than personalizing it. No knowledge arises from ignoring the organization's memory and starting from scratch every time when persons are changed.
The preparation of the third national strategy requires an evaluation of the achievements of the previous national strategies. The evaluation should also indicate the extent of progress made in achieving the objectives of the Qatar National Vision, especially at the level of workforce efficiency, economic diversification, the extent to which the private sector participates in major projects and its competitive capabilities, including its competitiveness abroad, and the stages we have reached in proceeding towards a knowledge-based economy, and the degree the state benefits from its investments in major international companies in training Qatari professionals at home and abroad.
There is no argument about the progress achieved by our country in the field of infrastructure and at the level of educational and health institutions. This can be evidenced by the figures related to the per capita income, the standard of living, the number of graduates, and others. It is important to realize that maintaining these achievements is no less important than thinking about creating new initiatives, but even more important.
Yet, there are major tasks ahead of us that are related to human development, and all things that are linked to the true wealth of any country, i.e., the human being.
It is not possible to separate any national vision or strategy from this issue, nor to discuss its success or failure without seriously dealing with the value-oriented issues concerning the identity, and belonging, commitment to work ethics, and the citizens sense of duty and responsibility towards his family, his neighbours, the institution where he works, and the society in general.
We live in a country that has undergone rapid modernization and a society whose standard of living has risen very rapidly, people's health, education and incomes have improved, and skilled human resources and national professionals have emerged. The state has also managed to establish a wide social safety net similar to that achieved by the most prestigious welfare states.
All this is good, yet we're constantly working on improving it. But we, on the other hand, as a society and as a state, have to realize the challenges posed by this, such as the dangers of the dominance of consumer life values and underestimation of the non-material aspects of life, lack of appreciation for productive work, lack of contentment by individuals of what is available to them because they are always preoccupied with asking for more consumption, easy borrowing for transient and unnecessary purposes, and excessive dependence on the state.
These negative aspects could threaten what we have achieved if not addressed by means of deepening the values of citizenship and social responsibility.
This task cannot be accomplished through preaches and speeches because here comes the role of the state through cultivation and education, national service, etc. Here comes the importance of the role of the media, the family and the direct disciplinary and educative connection between parents with their sons and daughters are highlighted, without relying on others in the task of child upbringing.
Each of us should ask himself what he did and would do from his position to serve his community? What is his contribution to building this country? Is he doing his job well? Does he value the work of others?
Whoever asks himself these questions would not find it easy to discontent and complain.
Brothers and sisters,
As you all know, the promulgation of the permanent constitution for the country and the implementation of its provisions has gone through several stages since the setting up of the permanent constitution preparation committee, which drafted it and put it to a public referendum where it garnered a vast majority of citizens approval. Subsequently, laws and other necessary legislative measures to implement the provisions of the constitution were issued.
Legislations, including constitutional Legislations, are the product of the corresponding historical stage, and it develops with the evolution of life. Out of our keenness to promote equal Qatari citizenship and translate it into practice as a direct relationship between the citizen and the state based on rights and duties, I have instructed the Council of Ministers to prepare the appropriate legal amendments to ensure the achievement of this goal, and to present them to your esteemed council whose election and formation completes the necessary legal framework to consider the approval of these modifications.
Nevertheless, it is known that citizenship is not just a legal issue, but a civilizational issue before that and a loyalty and belonging, and a matter of duties and not just rights. This requires not only a legislative work, but also an intensive social and educational work, especially on encountering the upholding of tribal bigotry vis-à-vis public interest or loyalty to the homeland and national unity.
This negative aspect of tribalism took us all by surprise recently when some of its negative manifestations reminded us of its existence. Although our enlightened society swiftly overcame it, we cannot ignore the disease for mere disappearance of its symptoms.
The tribe, the extended family, and the nuclear family are all components of our society that we are proud of. They are part and parcel of its solidarity and cohesion, besides its countless positive aspects. But tribalism and abhorrent bigotry of various kinds, can be manipulated, harnessed to subvert and undermine the national unity, and used as a cover for non-performance of duties or as an alternative for incompetence, which we did not accept, nor will allow it in the future.
In its modern history, Qatar has gone through difficult experiences and challenges. Our national unity was the source of our strength after - Almighty Gods support and guidance. We will never allow it to be threatened in the future. Hence, when reflecting on and reviewing the experiences we are going through, we must always uphold high our cohesion as Qataris, above any consideration and avoid everything that might pose a threat to it.
Brothers and sisters,
Qatar hosting of the World Cup is approaching. Preparations at the infrastructure level have been completed or in near completion. We have worked to make the preparation for it in synergy with the needs of Qatar in line with its development plans.
As this FIFA Cup hosting has accelerated the completion of many of the projects that we were originally in need of, it also intersects with the social and cultural tasks and challenges that we face as a modern state whose global economy and trade relations are intertwined.
This World Cup is a major occasion not only for enhancing the country's global status and the role of sport in enhancing communication and cooperation between peoples and to display Qatar's organizational potentials, its advanced infrastructure and its capabilities at the security level, but also to demonstrate the openness and tolerance of the hospitable Qatari people, all of which are values that characterize us here in Qatar, and to project a vivid image of the peoples of the Gulf and the Arabs in general.
Brothers and sisters,
You know that Qatar is mentioned positively in the context of talking about the Afghan crisis, this is not only because of the internationally appreciated humanitarian efforts we have exerted in this context, but also because of our adherence to dialogue as an alternative to wars, and the option of mediation in resolving conflicts, which made us accept the request to mediate between the United States and the Taliban.
As we aspire to a welfare society that is productive at the same time, and to a peaceful state, yet capable of defending itself, and a society with a high standard of living, yet also a society distinguished by its morals and authentic values, we also look forward to a foreign policy that contributes to maintaining all these, and in development that is also commensurate with Qatar's size, geographical location and wealth.
Also, there is a kind of integration between Qatar's transformation into a space of encouraging and producing science, knowledge and culture, and encouraging sport and others, becoming a hub for dialogue and peaceful resolution of disputes, and the sort of foreign policy which I am talking about.
Brotherhood, history and geography make it incumbent to preserve the Gulf Cooperation Council and improve its institutions to commensurate with the aspirations of our peoples. We have been keen to leave behind differences through dialogue, we also seek to consolidate and develop the consensus achieved at Al-Ula summit.
We proceed from our well-established principles regarding justice in international relations, and from the standpoint that we are part of the two Arab and Islamic worlds, as we do not deny our identity. Also, industry and export linked to energy and investments abroad - for the purposes of diversifying the sources of income and for the benefit of future generations, etc., - are major components of our foreign policy.
We have built good relations with all countries of the world, while insisting on achieving a persistent strategic understanding with the regional and international allies. In this, we do not seek to compete with or emulate anyone, but rather to carve out our own niche by striking a balance between our firm principles, the limits of our capabilities, and the interests of our people and the peoples of our region.
Brothers and sisters,
We are still, like the rest of the world, facing the Coronavirus pandemic, which the modern time has never experienced anything like it before, and we thank God that we succeeded with the measures we have taken so far to contain and reduce its harmful effects to a minimum. We were one of the few countries that succeeded in that, thanks to God and His providence.
Our health institutions have successfully passed the difficult test posed by the Coronavirus, indicating the level of development they have accomplished in quantitative and qualitative terms. On this occasion, we extend our thanks and appreciation to these institutions and their employees.
As you know, we have sought to strike a balance between people's health, as a priority, and the economic necessities, and I think we have presented a successful example in this difficult stage. I would refer here to the indispensable lingering urgency of the prevention duties which must be reckoned with, as is the case with the need for vaccination.
In conclusion, I wish you success and fulfilment in your tasks.
May the peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.