Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum. First and foremost, on behalf of His Highness the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, let me offer our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in London and to our friends here in the United Kingdom. Qatar stands in solidarity with the UK and supports it in all the measures and procedures that it will take to confront these terrorist acts in order to preserve its security and stability.

This important event underlines the close historical ties between our two countries in all fields, whether at a government, business or personal level.

The relations between our two countries have a long history since the early phase of oil and gas exploration, where British firms played an essential and critical role in the oil and gas industry in the Gulf region, including Qatar. British firms are also invaluable partners in every area of the economy, including industry, trade, tourism and financial services.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom has always and will continue to be, a preferred destination for Qatari investments in various fields, especially in the real estate sector. In addition, London is the preferred destination for Qatari tourists.

The State of Qatar is a major suppliers of liquefied natural gas to the United Kingdom, which provide security and supports diversification of energy sources.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Several conferences has been held in previous years to strengthen cooperation between our two countries. This forum comes in a very important period, where our two countries are witnessing a new phase of continuous development, providing an important opportunity to strengthen our distinguished relations by welcoming mutual investments at the level of government or private sector.

The UK is seeking to develop its strategic relations and enhance cooperation in all fields. The State of Qatar is entering an important stage of implementing strategies, programs and projects based on our national Vision 2030. We have accomplished the first phase of implementing the National Development Strategy 2011-2016 and are currently implementing the second phase to cover the years 2017-2022. It is a future that looks beyond abundant natural resources towards a diversified and knowledge-based economy.

Transferring the country into a global center for knowledge-based industries and innovation is one of the most vital goals of the State of Qatar. We want to focus, in particular, on expanding our partnerships in education, healthcare, sports and security – areas where the UK is a world-leader. We also look to cooperate with the United Kingdom and UK firms to achieve our goal of strengthening and diversifying the Qatari economy.

I strongly believe our two countries, close friends and allies for many years, are ideally placed to provide a suitable platform for cooperation which will help us to achieve our mutual goals. We have great confidence in the UK which will be seen in our additional investment here over the next decade.

I am sure the discussions that will take place over the next two days will help write this new chapter in our shared story.

In conclusion, I would like to express my thanks and I hope this forum will reach it desired goals.