Qatar: Interview with H. E. MR. Hamad Bin Hamad Al Ibrahim Al Attiya

H. E. MR. Hamad Bin Hamad Al Ibrahim Al Attiya

Ambassador of Qatar in Spain

H. E. MR. Hamad Bin Hamad Al Ibrahim Al Attiya

Petroleum is the cornerstone of Qatar's economy and accounts for more than 70% of total government revenue, more than 60% of gross domestic product, and roughly 85% of export earnings. Qatar's proved reserves of natural gas exceed 7000 km³, more than 5% of the world total, third largest in the world. Production and export of natural gas are becoming increasingly important. However the government wants to diversify the economy for the future with sectors such as industry or finance. What have been the major moves in this way in the last years?

There are many things the government has done to diversify the economy such as establishing a regulation pattern for investments. The government has been trying for the last years not only to focus in the oil & gas sector but also in other important sectors such as tourism or construction.

Qatar has also investments all around the world in very successful and profitable projects and investment.

I also wanted to say that the international crisis didn’t affect Qatar to a big extent. The government managed to handle the crisis in a very efficient way. As a matter of fact I didn’t hear from any bank or company from Qatar being in serious trouble.

The kings of Spain visited Qatar for the first time in 1980 and in 2003 to inagurate the Spanish embassy in Doha. H.E. Mr. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani also visited Spain in 2004. How do you perceive the bilateral relations between Spain and Qatar?

We are very pleased about the bilateral relations between our 2 countries. And we are working hard to enhance them even more in the future because there are many mutual interests between us. Political relationship and coordination are going well, but in the field of economy and trade needs to be looked after, we are preparing for near future visits of high officials from both sides. We expect Mr. José Luís Rodriguez Zapatero to visit Qatar in the second semester of 2010 and planning for a visit of his Highness the Emir of Qatar to Madrid.

The relations between His Majesty the King of Spain and the H.H. Mr. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani are also very good

We wish to reinforce the relationship this year by signing several agreements such as a memorandum of understanding, a double taxation convention, an encouragement of investment, an aviation agreement and cultural and sport agreements. Since I arrived to Spain one year and a half ago I have been working on these projects and hopefully in any visit of high official here or there we can sign them.

Qatar Airways, participated in the roadshow organized by the Tourism Office of Qatar, targeting the corporate market that took place in the hotel Westin Palace in Madrid. The objective was to promote Qatar as a destination for business and tourism. From June 7th Qatar airways will increase its presence in Spain with a direct flight from Barcelona to Doha. Is Spain becoming an interesting market for the Qatar tourism sector?

Yes it is, and I am sure after the launching of the direct flight from Barcelona to Doha the tourism and business will increase between the two countries, Qatar has many things to offer for tourists and the business people such as the best hotels in the world, great facilities, cheap shopping, historical places, museums cultural events, and for business Qatar is rising developing state with many potential opportunities for business people to invest.

Bahrein has already organized a grand prix in 2010 and it had a very important media repercussion. Now Qatar pretends to organize a Grand Prix of Formula 1 as well. The President of the Qatar Motor and Motorcycling Federation Mr. Nasser bin Khalifa al-Attiyah is expecting the visit of Mr. Charlie Whiting (FIA Formula One Race Director). What is expected from this sport event?

We expect this will reflect that Qatar is the capital of sport, with its high standards facility.

Qatar wants to hold the Football World Cup in 2022. Mr. Ronald de Boer, Mr. Gabriel Batistuta and Mr. Josep Guardiola are bid ambassadors of Qatar. However, there have been some criticism such as the temperature and the poor transport network. How can the country work to improve these aspects?

Qatar is developing its transport network I’m sure that by 2022 or even before we can finish the entire infrastructure that is needed. When it comes to the weather there is nothing one can do about that but we are working in order to install cooling systems in the stadiums. Concerning the transport network we are working on a railway system that will be finished by 2016 and that will facilitate transportation.

Also we are working to open in the near future one of the biggest airports in the Middle East that will receive 50 million per year.

Qatar wants to become a regional reference in sport events. The country already organized at the beginning of March the World Indoor Championships in Athletics 2010 in the installations of the Aspire complex. What are the main advantages that Qatar can offer to organize main sport events?

We can offer the maximum comfort to the sport men. We are investing to become a major sport Hub in the region, we have solid infrastructures and a consolidated expertise after several years organizing this kind of events.

What would be your final message?

I’m very pleased to be the ambassador of Qatar in Spain because it is a very important country in Europe and in the world. I’m sure I will learn a lot in the years I will spend here. I hope I manage to bring both countries together while I’m ambassador in Spain because I believe we share many values and we have a similar vision of the future.