(MENAFN- Gulf Times)
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani began a working visit to the United Kingdom yesterday, within the framework of strengthening the bonds of friendship and strategic co-operation between the two countries.
Qatar and the United Kingdom enjoy distinguished relationship at all levels, which is growing stronger over time to serve as a model of friendship between countries.
The mutual visits of leaders and senior officials in the two countries reflect the joint keenness and sincere desire to develop friendship bonds and bilateral common interests.
Qatar and the UK share positions on many regional global issues to ensure international security and stability, including the situation in Afghanistan and Syria, making room for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis, and supporting dialogue and reconciliation in Libya and elsewhere.
Qatar and the UK also share achieving development goals at a humanitarian level on issues such as refugees, education, human rights, and combating extremism and terrorism.
Over the past few years, relations between Qatar and the UK have gained increasing momentum, which was clearly reflected in the announcement in October 2021 to launch an annual strategic dialogue between the two countries, highlighting the strength of the bilateral relations and the mutually beneficial opportunities for the peoples of the two countries to deepen co-operation.
The launch of the strategic dialogue also confirms the existence of a close mutual partnership between Qatar and the UK in developing trade, investment, defence, security and technology, co-operation in combating terrorism, public health, the climate change crisis, energy, culture, sports and education, and promoting peace and security with friends and allies around the world, which includes infrastructure and investment in developing countries.
Developing relations at the strategic dialogue level allows both countries to operate from a position of strength in the international arena by facilitating and assisting in addressing issues of mutual concern related to development and sustainability, the climate change crisis, conflict resolution, defence, and security issues.
Qatar is one of the strategic allies of the UK.
According to previous statements made by Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom Liz Truss to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the sidelines of her visit to Doha, she confirmed that Qatar is one of the United Kingdom's strategic allies, and described their relationship as“important”, emphasising that there are very clear plans for how to work between the two countries for the future.
Relations between Qatar and the UK have recently been strengthened in more than one milestone, most prominently, in the Afghan crisis and Doha's prominent and active role in evacuating foreign nationals, including the British citizens, from Kabul Airport amid a crisis, in which the whole world witnessed Qatar's excellence and efficient management.
Qatar contributed to the humanitarian field by establishing the largest air bridge in history, which evacuated more than 75,000 different nationalities from Afghanistan and secured their transit through Doha to their last destinations.
During the first quarter of this year alone, Doha was visited by senior government officials and British parliamentary delegations within the framework of the friendship and partnership that exists between the two countries, including UK Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, and UK Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and Prime Minister's Special Representative Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Mayor of London Lord Vincent Keaveny, UK Minister of State for Investment Lord Gerry Grimstone and UK Special Envoy for Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Affairs Nick Dyer, along with UK Parliamentary delegations members.
The past year has also witnessed a diversification in co-operation between Qatar and the UK, and regional issues of common interest.
In early 2021, the first meeting of the Qatar-UK joint committee to combat terrorism was held, within the framework of co-operation between the two sides in this field.
During the meeting, they reviewed ways to enhance aspects of joint co-operation.
Topics of preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, combating terrorist financing, and Qatar's preparations for the evaluation of the Financial Action Group (FATF), aviation security, maritime security, threat and risk management, and other related topics were also reviewed.
As for bilateral co-operation in the regional environment, Qatar, represented by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), signed in March 2021 a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UK, represented by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to support the education of children in northwestern Syria and meet their comprehensive needs by providing support to 130,000 children and 11,683 teachers in 435 schools in the Syrian governorates of Idlib and Aleppo.
In terms of security and military co-operation, Qatar and the United Kingdom enjoy exceptional military relations within the framework of the strategic role that Qatar represents in the Gulf and in the region in addition to its constant endeavour to benefit from UK training and capabilities in the military field.
Last year, Qatar, represented by the Amiri Air Force, and the United Kingdom, represented by the Royal Air Force, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expand the current partnership between the air forces of both countries.
The MoU included joint training between the Qatari Amiri Air Force and the UK Royal Air Force on a squadron of Hawk aircraft and employing a Voyager aircraft to refuel the Qatari forces' aircraft.
This partnership, in addition to the success achieved by the joint No 12 Typhoon squadron, will deepen the defence relations between the two countries and will enhance their ability to confront common security challenges in the region and contribute to its stability.
In terms of economic relations between Qatar and the UK, the two countries are linked by many joint projects and enjoy tremendous investment opportunities that stand on solid ground, reinforced by the strong and historical friendship.
The two countries are committed to developing their successful partnerships and exploiting the opportunities available in the future to strengthen their co-operation in many areas such as green finance, technology, and the financial services sector.
According to a statement by Mayor of London Lord Vincent Keaveny to Qatar News Agency (QNA), the volume of Qatari investments in the UK amounted to about £40bn in 2021 in the energy, companies, and real estate sectors.
The total number of UK companies and representative offices operating in Qatar is 1,134, including 993 companies with joint Qatari-UK capital, and two representative offices of UK companies, compared to 104 companies wholly owned by the UK and 35 companies registered in the Qatar Financial Center, according to the latest available figures.
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to about £4.1bn at the end of the third quarter of 2021, £2.7bn of which were exports from the UK to Qatar, and about £1.4bn were the value of Qatari exports to the UK, where oil and gas supplies represented about half of the value.
At the forefront of the list of priorities for economic co-operation between Qatar and the UK are the energy and real estate sectors, and in the past two years alone, these two sectors witnessed a remarkable recovery and acceleration in growth.
Before the end of 2020, a subsidiary of Qatar Petroleum and National Green LNG in the United Kingdom signed a long-term agreement for the storage and regasification of LNG.
Under the agreement, which will start operating in 2025 and will last for 25 years, the Qatar Petroleum subsidiary will be able to utilise the storage capacity of the Isle of Grain terminal to receive liquefied natural gas in the county of Kent, amounting to 7.2mn tonnes per year.
The agreement comes at the conclusion of the competitive process that the company started in November 2019, which will in the future secure the largest LNG receiving station in Europe.
Then, in October 2021, QatarEnergy (QE) and the UK company Royal Dutch Shell signed an agreement to jointly invest in blue and green hydrogen projects in the UK.
This co-operation aims to direct efforts towards integrated and scalable opportunities in key sectors where hydrogen can support decarbonisation solutions, especially in industrial clusters and the transport sector, with a focus on the greater (London) region.
This co-operation will exploit both parties' ability to deliver large and technically complex energy projects.
In the real estate sector, Qatari Diars investments, have amounted to nearly £4bn in real estate projects in the UK so far.
Upon the completion of the company's latest project“The Chancery Rosewood,” the officially approved name for the latest investment buildings in London, will amount to £7bn.
This is in contrast to the world's best sustainable housing project Chelsea Barracks in Belgravia, UK, and other major property developments in the UK.
The hotel is located in the most historical areas in the UK and has replaced the US embassy building in London.
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