The ties be­tween Qatar and the Nether­lands orig­i­nate from the en­ergy sec­tor, but they have come to en­com­pass the so­cial, eco­nomic and cul­tural spheres of both na­tions. There are around 1,400 Dutch na­tion­als in Qatar at present and their num­bers are grow­ing with each pass­ing year, as more and more Dutch com­pa­nies be­gin to take an ac­tive part in the coun­try's eco­nomic growth.

The bi­lat­eral in­vest­ments are built around more than a dozen com­pa­nies and more firms are ex­pected to launch their op­er­a­tions par­al­lel to Qatar's am­bi­tious pro­grammes that are be­ing im­ple­mented as part of the Qatar Na­tional Vi­sion 2030 as well as the World Cup 2022.

“The his­tory of re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries is quite sig­nif­i­cant. Its mo­men­tous pe­riod be­gan when Royal Dutch Shell start­ing its op­er­a­tions in Qatar fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of oil and gas,” says Her Ex­cel­lency Yvette van Ee­choud, The Nether­lands' Am­bas­sador to Qatar.

The Royal fam­i­lies of both coun­tries are close and their ties were ce­mented fur­ther after the 2011 state visit of the then Queen Beatrix (now re­ferred to as Princess Beatrix), who handed the ti­tle of Monarch to her son Prince Willem-Alexan­der last year.

Her High­ness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned con­firmed the friendly bonds by vis­it­ing the Nether­lands in 2012, and for the in­vesti­ture of King Willem-Alexan­der in April 2013.

“An in­ter­est­ing co­in­ci­dence is that The Emir, HH Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani, and Prince Willem-Alexan­der, both mem­bers of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC), took over the reign of their re­spec­tive coun­tries the same year,” she says, adding that The Emir and King Willem-Alexan­der have been meet­ing reg­u­larly and share a pas­sion for sports.

Trade ties

The dis­cov­ery of oil and gas had strength­ened the re­la­tions be­tween the coun­tries and with an in­vest­ment

of QR76.44 bil­lion ($21 bil­lion) by Shell, the Nether­lands be­came the big­gest in­vestor in Qatar after the United States in terms of trade, and is ranked fifth among the Euro­pean Union na­tions.

“Though Qatar im­ports most of its prod­ucts from Asia, we are strong in very heavy and so­phis­ti­cated ma­chin­ery and equip­ment and of course, agri­cul­tural pro­duce,” the Dutch Am­bas­sador says.

Mar­itime devel­op­ment

One of the ma­jor Dutch com­pa­nies that is play­ing an ac­tive role in Qatar's mar­itime devel­op­ment is Da­men Ship­yards Group, who have es­tab­lished a joint ven­ture with Qatar Gas Trans­port Com­pany (Nak­i­lat) and is now Nak­i­lat Da­men Ship­yards Qatar (NDSQ) in the Port of Las Raf­fan in 2010. While Da­men Ship­yards holds 30% of the shares, the re­main­ing 70% is held by Nak­i­lat.

“Da­men is known for its rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing the big­gest yacht builders in the world and NDSQ has supplied pa­trol ves­sels and tug boats which guide the big ships to the port. It has re­cently en­tered into an agree­ment with Qatar's armed forces to sup­ply seven pa­trol boats and div­ing sup­port ves­sels to the value of around QR3.1 bil­lion,” she says.

Qatar, whose New Port Project is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2017, is look­ing at the best prac­tices adopted by Dutch lo­gis­ti­cal and port man­age­ment com­pa­nies at the Port of Rot­ter­dam in The Nether­lands. “In ad­di­tion, one of the Dutch dredg­ing com­pa­nies has been ap­pointed to do the work for the Eco­nomic Zone 3, which is com­ing up in the New Port Project's vicin­ity,” she says.

Ur­ban de­sign

In an­other area of in­fra­struc­ture, ur­ban de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects from the Nether­lands have been in­volved in several projects that are be­ing im­ple­mented in the coun­try. “The rapid ex­pan­sion of the ur­ban ar­eas in Doha needs care­ful plan­ning and syn­chro­ni­sa­tion in order to make the city fu­ture-proof.” She adds: “Some of the best ur­ban de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects of the Nether­lands are de­sign­ing as many as 30 metro sta­tions for the Qatar Rail Metro, a big chal­lenge con­sid­er­ing the time con­straints and con­struc­tion com­plex­i­ties.”

Dutch en­gi­neers are also work­ing on one of the most am­bi­tious project in Qatar – The Sharq Cross­ing. Two ma­jor com­pa­nies – Royal Haskon­ing DHV and Ar­cadis/EC Har­ris – are in­volved in the Sharq Cross­ing Project. “It is a very com­pli­cated and com­plex struc­ture and if it is not done prop­erly, will pose high risks. We have to en­gage the finest en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion ex­perts to care­fully ex­am­ine the de­sign with a lot of at­ten­tion to safety and se­cu­rity. Dutch en­gi­neers are used to work­ing with water struc­tures and are par­tic­u­larly well placed to do just that,” she says.

One of the most suc­cess­ful Dutch ar­chi­tects –Rem Kool­haas – has been com­mis­sioned to de­sign the head­quar­ters of Qatar Foun­da­tion, the new Na­tional Li­brary – and the new air­port city close to the Ha­mad

In­ter­na­tional Air­port. “There is lot of in­ter­est on both sides to work to­gether on ur­ban de­sign­ing and architecture,” she says.

Philips, one of ma­jor in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies in The Nether­lands, which is, apart from con­sumer goods, known for light­ing de­sign and state-of-art med­i­cal equip­ment, is set­ting up of­fice in Qatar. The com­pany is al­ready ac­tive and has its rep­re­sen­ta­tives work­ing in the coun­try.

“Philips is very much fo­cused on the con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence. They in­no­vate not only tech­no­log­i­cally, but also find in­no­va­tive ways to as­sure the best client ex­pe­ri­ence. Es­pe­cially in the ster­ile en­vi­ron­ments of hos­pi­tals and clin­ics, it is im­por­tant that clients can feel at ease. A case in point in the way Philips has de­signed the Dutch breast can­cer screen­ing pro­gramme. It is def­i­nitely a best prac­tice for Europe,” Yvette van Ee­choud says.


As far as sport is con­cerned, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Com­mit­tee has ap­pointed Am­s­ter­dam ArenA as Op­er­a­tions Con­sul­tants for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar. Am­s­ter­dam ArenA is one of the few sta­di­ums in the world that have de­fined a le­gacy con­cept and are prof­itable as a multi-pur­pose venue.

Some 80 Dutch com­pa­nies in de­sign, con­struc­tion,

pub­lic safety and se­cu­rity and event man­age­ment have grouped them­selves to­gether and are vis­it­ing Qatar on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, se­lect­ing a spe­cific theme for each mis­sion. They are keen to show­case their best prac­tices and high qual­ity prod­ucts. “The same Dutch com­pa­nies are cur­rently in­volved in the Rus­sia and Brazil World Cup events and will be able to of­fer the lat­est in­sights into or­gan­is­ing such mega events as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar,” the Am­bas­sador says.


Ed­u­ca­tion is an­other im­por­tant area where co­op­er­a­tion is high on the agenda of both coun­tries. Sten­den Univer­sity, which has set up its cam­pus in Qatar, has been fo­cus­ing on the hos­pi­tal­ity, busi­ness and tourism sec­tors. Stu­dents from Qatar stay in The Nether­lands for half a year to study the var­i­ous bach­e­lors' cour­ses of­fered by the Sten­den Univer­sity, while the Dutch stu­dents come to Qatar to do their in­tern­ships.

The Univer­sity of Gronin­gen has just signed a MoU with Qatar Univer­sity and many more Dutch uni­ver­si­ties are vis­it­ing Qatar on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. She says that the Lei­den Univer­sity in the Nether­lands has been work­ing on a unique project to com­mem­o­rate 400 years of Is­lamic Stud­ies. “Those work­ing on the project have made very high qual­ity re­pro­duc­tions of 40 Is­lamic manuscripts, which are not only beau­ti­ful but also ed­u­ca­tional in na­ture. Qatar Univer­sity will be ex­hibit­ing this ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion for a month later this year,” she says.

Cit­ing an ex­am­ple of how the stu­dents have ben­e­fited by co­op­er­a­tion be­tween both coun­tries, Yvette van Ee­choud re­called her meet­ing with a group of Qatar Univer­sity stu­dents who went to study jour­nal­ism and mass me­dia in Utrecht. “They made a video on what they ex­pe­ri­enced in the Nether­lands and I was very much pleased to see they had learned so much and had a lot of fun too,” she says.

“One of my main mis­sions is to fa­cil­i­tate com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the younger generations of both coun­tries. Be it for eco­nomic, touris­tic or ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses, it is hu­man in­ter­ac­tion that makes us re­alise we have much more in com­mon than we think, re­gard­less of our cul­ture or re­li­gion,” she adds

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