Sig­nif­i­cant growth in UK-Qatar bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, says en­voy

Gulf Times - - QATAR - By Ramesh Mathew Staff Re­porter

The United King­dom is ex­tremely happy with the pace at which its bi­lat­eral ties with Qatar are grow­ing and is hope­ful that the re­la­tions will con­tinue to see sig­nif­i­cant growth in the com­ing days, UK am­bas­sador to Qatar Ajay Sharma has said.

In an in­ter­ac­tion with a group of jour­nal­ists at his official res­i­dence, Sharma said re­la­tions be­tween the UK and Qatar were built on a long shared his­tory, in­ter­ests, thoughts, val­ues and ob­jec­tives and ex­cep­tion­ally good per­sonal equa­tions be­tween sev­eral peo­ple from both the coun­tries.

“In short, the re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries have gone from strength to strength, es­pe­cially in the last few years,” said the en­voy, who also said both His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May are keen on build­ing stronger and long-stand­ing part­ner­ships be­tween the two coun­tries.

The am­bas­sador said the joint Typhoon squadron formed be­tween UK and Qatar marked an im­por­tant mile­stone in the coun­tries’ de­fence re­la­tions. On a visit in the UK last sum­mer, Bri­tish De­fence Sec­re­tary Gavin Wil­liamson hosted His High­ness the Amir at a cer­e­mony held for the UK-Qatar joint Typhoon squadron, he re­called. Talks to fur­ther strengthen the de­fence part­ner­ship be­tween the two coun­tries were held at their meet­ing.

“Qatar shares very close re­la­tions with the UK and it is the only coun­try with which we have a joint squadron,” he noted.

The am­bas­sador hoped Typhoon jets would boost the Qatari mil­i­tary’s mis­sion to tackle chal­lenges in the Mid­dle East, sup­port­ing the re­gion’s sta­bil­ity be­sides de­liv­er­ing se­cu­rity at home. He also said the joint squadron would pro­vide the Qatari Amiri Air Force (QAAF) with “in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence” in op­er­at­ing the air­craft and speed up their prepa­ra­tions for the time when the first Typhoon is de­liv­ered be­fore the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

An­swer­ing queries on trade and in­vest­ment re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries, Sharma said the UK would con­tinue to work closely with Qatar and an im­por­tant MoU to ac­cel­er­ate Qatari in­vest­ments in the UK was signed dur­ing the visit of HE the Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of In­te­rior Sheikh Ab­dul­lah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani’s visit in March 2017.

Un­der the MoU, Qatar would in­vest QR25bn in ar­eas such as real es­tate, re­tail, fi­nance and gas in­fra­struc­ture, among oth­ers, in the UK in the next 3-5 years. “I am so happy to say Qatar has al­ready com­mit­ted more than half of its promised in­vest­ments and the coun­try is cer­tainly ahead of the sched­ule,” the am­bas­sador said.

Sharma added that Qatar’s in­vest­ments in the UK, which are spread over ar­eas such as real es­tate, re­tail, gas dis­tri­bu­tion net­works, shares in com­pa­nies and fi­nance, among oth­ers, are worth over QR175bn.

The am­bas­sador also re­called that an MoU was signed be­tween the two coun­tries to pro­vide food se­cu­rity to this coun­try, mak­ing use of the ser­vices of ex­perts from the UK.

Ajay Sharma

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