(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
DOHA: Qatar is witnessing a remarkable development towards building a fast-growing and accelerated economy. It is implementing an ambitious development program that has transformed Doha into a workshop for a variety of projects that will make it a strong economic center in the region and the world, UK's Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling (pictured) said.
In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Grayling said that he had held meetings with Qatari officials during his current visit to Doha where he expressed the willingness of the United Kingdom to work closely with Qatar in the implementation of the giant projects in the State, such as the expansion of Hamad International Airport and other infrastructure projects. Such projects represent a real opportunity to deepening the bilateral partnership between the two countries.
Secretary Grayling said that Qatar and the UK have significant partnerships in many promising sectors. They also have multiple opportunities to create other areas of cooperation that will enhance the relationship between the two countries from economic cooperation to forging a strategic partnership that paves the way to deepen defense cooperation.
He noted that Qatar has ambitions to huge private investment in infrastructure, which open the door before promising cooperation opportunities and sharing expertise to work together to help bring that ambitions to reality, especially in light of Doha's preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.
Secretary Grayling expressed readiness to work closely with Qatar to help it deliver a magnificent World Cup, as the Britain has got recent experience with holding the Olympic Games, and many lessons about how to make these things run smoothly.
Speaking on the cooperation between the two countries in the aviation sector, the UK Secretary of State for Transport said that he held talks during his visit to Doha on developing and promoting cooperation in this field, noting the British investment that has been made already in supporting the development of air traffic control of air space management in Qatar, where the UK has high skills in air traffic control system to would help the Qatari administration develop its competence in that area. He expressed the hope that the British firms will be able to play a part in the expansion of Hamad International Airport in the same way that Qatar Investment Authority is playing a big role in the expansion of Heathrow Airport in London.
The British Secretary praised the outcome of the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum, which was held in London recently, in providing promising opportunities and opening up new horizons for cooperation between the two sides, noting that Qatar Investment Authority has committed to invest £5bn in the UK in the coming three years.
He stressed the UK government keenness to see UK firms investing internationally and Qatari firms investing in the UK.
On the performance of Qatari economy, especially in light of the blockade imposed on Qatar, Secretary Grayling said that it has been a challenging time for Qatar, however he has been impressed with what he has seen in Qatar with the economy continuing to grow and develop and be successful, stressing that the United Kingdom wants to see a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible, stemming from its good relations with all those involved.
Asked if the British interests in Qatar been affected by the blockade, the British minister said: 'No and it should not be because Qatar is a country with which we have close friendship and I would not want to see that change by the difficult circumstances that Qatar has been through. Actually, stand next to friends at tough times and that is what we seek to do.
Speaking about the UK interest in reaching more trade agreements with Qatar, especially after Brexit, he said that Britain has ambition to strengthen trade ties around the world, and to continue to be a good neighbor with the European Union and to trade with them, noting that the UK is the biggest export market, but part of the opportunity for the United Kingdom after Brexit is to strengthen trade ties and open up new trading opportunities whether it is on sector-by-sector basis or in broad terms through broad ranging trade agreements. Above all, he added, the UK wants to be a much stronger investment and trading partner and seeks good friends and long-standing allies like Qatar to deepen those trading relationships.
On the areas of cooperation that are yet to be discovered between the two countries, the UK Secretary of State for Transport referred to promising sectors in the UK like the fast emerging digital economy as a great creative economy, in addition to fantastic technological skills in the oil and gas sector that is very relevant in Qatar. He expressed the hope to see British energy firms investing further in the future, especially that there is a whole range of sectors where opportunities are there for relationship to deepen.