Great strides in Brunei, Qatar ties

Azlan Othman

Bilateral relations between Qatar and Brunei Darussalam have seen a steady growth, and rest on the bedrock of genuine friendship and fraternity, with wide potential of cooperation.

This was shared by Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Brunei Darussalam Jassim Ali Abdullah Al Obaidli in remarks delivered in conjunction with the Qatar National Day. “On December 18, the Qatari people celebrate the State of Qatar’s National Day, while building their country with firm will and strong determination, working sincerely to achieve the goals of the development march which advances in well-studied steps towards maintaining the country’s prosperous present and preparing for a bright, dignified future,” said the ambassador.

“On this occasion the people of the State of Qatar reiterate their allegiance to His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, which is associated with profound feelings of love, gratitude, appreciation and loyalty to His Highness the Amir, whose wise leadership developed a modern state established on solid foundations of equality, civilised citizenship, rule of the law.

“His Highness Sheikh Tamim the country on the right track for progress and growth which benefits all citizens.”

Touching on the relationship between Qatar and Brunei Darussalam, the ambassador noted that diplomatic relations were established on October 2, 1991. The Embassy of Brunei Darussalam was set up in Doha in June 2001 at Charge D’Affaires level.

Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Brunei Darussalam Jassim Ali Abdullah Al Obaidli

Qatar opened its Embassy in Brunei Darussalam in October 2008, also headed by Charge D’Affaires. Both missions were later upgraded to Ambassadorial level in 2012. “Looking back since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Brunei in 1991, bilateral relations between the two countries have witnessed steady growth,” said the ambassador.

“Qatar has always enjoyed deep-rooted historical, cultural, and social ties with Brunei. The two countries have made great strides in bilateral relations that have truly become multi-faceted and would continue to grow and flourish in depth and dimension to the mutual benefit of the two peoples in the years ahead.”

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Brunei Darussalam 28 years ago, the two countries have concluded numerous cooperative agreements and memorandums of understanding which strengthened closer cooperation in different fields.

“The close relations are also evident by the visit paid by His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to Brunei Darussalam in January 2012 – during which His Highness and the accompanying delegation met with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and some of the Cabinet Ministers, and agreed to further strengthen the bilateral exchanges and cooperation in different fields.”

He added that, moreover, high-level visits at the ministerial level have continued to play an important role in the evolution of Qatar-Brunei relationship.

“The potential of cooperation between Qatar and Brunei is wide and spacious,” continued the ambassador. The State of Qatar welcomes Bruneian investments particularly in many fields such as industries, tourism, logistics, mining and fisheries, as well as, technology, healthcare, education, energy, water, environment, and renewable energy.

“In addition, the area of cooperation between our two countries is widely open to enter into many joint venture projects and investments whether in Qatar or in Brunei or any other country, and it is hoped that the private sector will play a major role in this partnership.

“Thus, we would like to invite Bruneian companies to take the opportunity to participate in these projects and investments.

“The embassy is keen on providing support and cooperation to Bruneian companies and looks forward to their participation and presence in Qatar.”

The ambassador also noted that significant fiscal and external buffers coupled with strong gains in the non-oil and gas sectors have made Qatar one of the most resilient economies in the world. Despite the challenges, Qatar remained a regional leader in terms of economic expansion over the years.

“According to a report carried by CNBC Arabia, Qatar has been ranked first in the world index of countries that have achieved record economic growth over 20 years from 1997,” he said. “Furthermore, Qatar achieved an average rate of 10.5 per cent compound annual growth to emerge as the world’s top economy.”

Economic prospects for Qatar remain positive, with growth expected to reach high levels during the coming years, while total LNG production is expected to rise to 126 million tonnes (mt) per year by 2024. The World Bank expects the Qatari economy to grow at an average rate of three per cent over the next two years. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), GDP growth of two per cent is projected for 2019, up from the 1.6 per cent growth recorded in 2017.

“We are hopeful that this expansion will gather momentum again in 2020, on the back of both increased hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon activity, underpinned by still significant public infrastructure spending, expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, and the hosting of FIFA 2022 World Cup,” said the ambassador.

“Having said that, the reason for Qatar’s position of strength is the wise and far sighted leadership of the country. Qatar has an ambitious and long-term development plan under the national Vision 2030 to diversify its economy, with infrastructure spending related to transport, education, sports, healthcare, telecommunication and hospitality being a key part of this plan.”

The ambassador noted that strong gains by the non-oil and gas sector underpinned solid growth in Qatar’s economy over the years, laying the foundations for further expansion as the country steps up efforts to diversify its economy.

“Any assessment of Qatars economic strength will be incomplete if it does not include success stories of Qatari banks and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the country’s sovereign wealth fund that invests surpluses of oil and gas revenues to diversify revenues and minimise risk from a reliance on energy prices.”

He shared that, with assets now estimated to be around USD330 billion, the QIA is helping to guarantee Qatar’s future economic sustainability by not only providing alternative sources of income but the huge amount of foreign assets held have been successful in protecting Qatar’s strong sovereign credit rating. Top global rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and S&P global Ratings changed the outlook on the Qatar’s long-term issuer ratings to stable from negative in 2018 citing country’s economic resilience.

Meanwhile, Qatar plans to solidify its status as the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

An expansion project in the north field will add four liquefaction trains, raising LNG production from its current level of about 77m tonnes a year to 110m tonnes by 2024.

This 43 per cent increase, along with LNG production of 16m tones through international projects and a planned boost to oil production, should extend Qatar’s standing in international markets.

Qatar’s economic fundamentals remain robust and Qatar will continue to be an outstanding economic success story in the region, said the ambassador.

“In closing, on the occasion of the National Day of the State of Qatar, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for the excellent cooperation, generosity and hospitality extended to the embassy since it opened its door in this beautiful country.

“Last but not least, I would like to invite the brotherly people of Brunei Darussalam to visit Qatar, explore the heritage and culture, tourism landmarks beside the beautiful geological landscape and adventure. “I would also like to invite the Bruneian companies to participate in the investment opportunities of various projects,” added the ambassador.

“I am confident that our relations and cooperation in the coming years will witness further enhancement and development. Ultimately, my heartfelt wishes to Brunei Darussalam for further success and progress and for the further development and prosperity of Qatar-Brunei relation.”