Rt. Hon Lord David Howell, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office addresses the Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2011
Bilateral trade between Qatar and UK to reach $12bn by 2015
By Iqbal Tamimi
The international Monetary fund expects the Qatari economy to grow by 18.6% in 2011, making it one of the best performing economies in the world. This has been only one of the reasons for hosting the Qatar Infrastructure Projects Conference 2011, held 4 – 6 July 2011, at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London.
Interest in Qatar has never been greater following FIFA’s decision in December 2010 to appoint Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup finals, creating additional reasons for interested investors to know more about the opportunities in Qatar and other neighbouring Middle Eastern countries. Qatar has major projects planned in the transport, infrastructure, power, healthcare, real-estate and education sectors totalling over $100bn. Most of the projects form part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup winning bid. Big-ticket projects on their way include $35bn on a rail network, $20bn on roads and $25bn on real estate.
The Rt. Hon Lord David Howell, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office addressed the conference hailing the fast rate of development in Qatar, describing Qatar as a strategic partner on international policies, mentioning their combined efforts as peace intermediates in a number of negotiations. “Over the last year we have seen an unprecedented number of high-level visits in both directions,” he said referring to the state visit of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Shekha Moza bint Nasser, as well as visits from both country’s prime ministers and other government officials.
Trade between Qatar and UK has seen a 90 percent increase over the first four months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, and a target has been set for bilateral trade between Qatar and UK to reach $12bn by 2015. John Hawkins, the British Ambassador to Qatar told the press few days ago that the bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $4.8bn in 2010 and is expected to increase significantly this year. He said the UK now represented Qatar’s largest LNG market, following a deal signed in May between Qatargas and the UK’s Centrica. The UK was also set to welcome a large number of Qatari visitors this summer, with applications rising from around 60-80 a day to some 250-300 a day in recent weeks.
The ambassador told Gulf Times that following the opening of the University College London (UCL) in September, he would like to see more educational institutions coming to Qatar. A lack of school places has consistently been identified as a stumbling block for British and other expatriate families relocating to Qatar, and Hawkins admitted that this was an issue.“We want to see more schools here in Qatar, and we are also working with Doha College and Doha English Speaking School on their expansion plans. This is something we are involved in an active dialogue about”.
Patrick Rowe, General Manager at the Chemicals, Engineering & Projects Division of TEYSEER TRADING & CONTRACTING CO, who has a long experience of working in the GCC, commented on the importance of twinning the efforts of attracting investors and skilled workers, by providing them with the much needed affordable schooling and medical services for the expatriate workers. He talked about his own personal experiences “I have missed a great deal on my own children while they were growing up while I was working in UAE. There were no suitable affordable schooling for them that I had to keep shuttling for years between my work place and my family in USA”. He commented on the importance of providing affordable medical, educational and housing services to provide the stability needed for the workers and their families that will in the end benefit their establishments and improve their working capacity.
Erik Childerhouse, Senior International Trading Advisor, London International Trade Team of UK Trade & Investment, explained his establishment’s role “We provide many different courses and alternative educational materials that can substitute for the missing educational needs until such English schools are built and start running. Such educational materials can complement the work of existing educational establishments in other countries as well”.
The first CEO panel session was Eng. Issa M. alMohannadi, Chief Executive Office for MSHEIREB PROPERTIES, Ahmed al-Kowsi, Projects / NLS Manager of QATAR NAVIGATION who assessed the long-term vision and development opportunities for the Qatari project market and Edmund O’Sullivan Chairman of MEED Events who said “MEED organised the Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2011 in London for both delegates and stakeholders to network and learn from the policy-makers about the opportunities and future investments in Qatar”.
Mr Shady Shaher, Senior Economist, Middle East and North Africa, Global Markets, Standard Chartered Bank, talked about the economic developments in the region and Qatar’s emerging role within it.
Salah Jaidah, Vice Chairman MENA & Chief Country Officer of Deutsche Bank sees has bank’s investments as a necessary step “we offer loans for gigantic projects that other local and Arab banks have no capacity to be part of, we offer other supporting advisory and evaluator services much needed for large scale investments and certainly we are not competing with other national or Arab banks” he added.
Other investors and policy makers who participated in the conference include: Abdulla Al Subaie, Managing Director of Qatar Railway Company; Abdulsattar al-Rasheed, CEO, QEWC; Ahmed Meshari, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Islamic Bank; Eng; Saad Ahmed al-Mohannadi, Director, Technical Affairs at Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation; Saleem Akbar, Mott MacDonald; Ali Akbar Ahsan, Head of Corporate Finance; Marc E Verbrugghe, Global Manager Business Development, Boskalis International bv; Micheal Duval, General Manager of QNB; Rolf Dahl, Project Manager at International Construction Management and Christopher McGee-Osborne Partner at SNR DENTON.
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