‘80,000 residents from Qatar visited the UK in one year’
More than 80,000 Qatar residents travelled to the UK in the year between the second quarter of 2017 until the end of the first quarter of 2018, British ambassador Ajay Sharma said.
Informing this to a group of journalists over the weekend, Sharma said more than 75% of the travellers from Qatar visited London and its immediate suburbs, while others flocked to destinations outside London.
“Considering the relatively smaller population of Qatar, the number of visitors from Qatar to the UK is highly impressive and I’m sure that such visits would help the British people develop much better awareness and understanding of Qatar, especially in the context of this country playing host to the FIFA World Cup in 2022,” he said.
Hailing the visits of Qatar residents to his country in such large numbers, the ambassador said Qatar Airways is operating flights to London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff, and this has contributed to the growth in the number of travellers and creation of awareness about Qatar among the British population. While answering a question, the envoy said bilateral trade between the UK and Qatar was worth approximately QR30bn in the last financial year and it showed an 8% rise compared to the previous year.
“It is an impressive figure considering that the Gulf dispute and economic blockade are still in place,” he said, adding that chief exports of the UK to Qatar are mainly heavy machinery and equipment and services in various sectors.
While stressing the need for the ongoing blockade to end, the ambassador said resolving such disputes is good for the entire Gulf region and also for his country.
It is an issue that needs to be amicably settled through dialogue by the parties involved, he said.
Queried about data on students from Qatar studying in the UK, the envoy said about 3,000 are undergoing various higher education programmes and 1,000 others are pursuing English language courses.
“Considering the relatively smaller population of Qatar, the number of visitors from Qatar to the UK is highly impressive”