Significant growth in UK-Qatar bilateral relations, says envoy
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.