In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Prime Minister Theresa May, distinguished guests

Firstly, I would like to welcome you again to the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum, which resumes its sessions in Birmingham today.

I would also like to thank Prime Minister May for her speech which reflected the depth, strength and strategic dimension of the relationship between Qatar and the UK.

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.

Qatar is proud of its historic, deep and special friendship with the UK, which goes back many centuries. We have worked together with determination to consolidate this relationship in all fields, including politics, economy, investment, military and culture.

Because we are proud of this solid relationship, we are constantly looking for new ways and means to enhance it, and ways to add new dimensions to it.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests

The initiative to organise this Forum is indicative of the importance Qatar gives to its relationship with the UK.

As I said yesterday in London, we are looking to increase bilateral cooperation between our countries, in order to continue the process of diversifying and developing Qatar’s economy.

Since the last Forum, which was held in 2012, this relationship has witnessed many developments. As such, there was a need to organise a new Forum with the aim of pushing the strategic partnership between our countries to new horizons, as we accelerate our move towards a true knowledge-economy.

We are also aiming to increase our cooperation with the UK as it prepares for the next chapter in its remarkable history.

Since we are hoping for UK companies to make a greater contribution to Qatar’s economy, I would like to point to the significant role that UK companies have played in the development of our economy over the past decades, as these companies have greatly contributed to the growth of the gas and petrol industries as well as other economic sectors.

Over 200 UK companies currently operate in Qatar, in the sectors of energy, education, construction, banking and consultancy. In 2016, Qatar’s exports to the UK totalled £1.5 billion and its imports totalled £1.1 billion.

The UK is one of the biggest investment destinations for Qatar. Qatari investments total more than £30 billion across a variety of economic sectors in Britain, which contribute to economic growth and the provision of jobs.

In this context, over the next 3 years Qatar will invest £5 billion in the UK – across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will be through various investment funds and relevant parties in Qatar – which will constitute another addition to its already successful investments in the UK.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests

Qatar is going through an historic era in its quest to achieve sustainable development by implementing the strategies and programs of Qatar National Vision 2030, which aim to reduce dependence on oil and gas, achieve economic diversity and transform Qatar’s economy to a knowledge-based economy. Qatar has already achieved great milestones in this regard. In 2016, revenues from non-hydrocarbon sectors reached high levels. During the past few years, Qatar’s economy has been one of the best performing economies in the world with the average GDP growth between 2010 and 2016 at 6%.

Despite the drop in oil prices over the past two years, and predictions that prices will remain at their current levels (which are low compared to previous years), Qatar has achieved good growth levels, owing to its efforts in economic diversification and increasing the efficiency of public spending. In 2017, Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by 3.5%.

Qatar is focused on continuing to implement huge infrastructure projects in the key sectors of education, health and transport, in addition to projects related to World Cup 2022.

These projects provide significant opportunities to strengthen cooperation between our countries. This is taking place as UK companies expand their contribution in developing Qatar’s economy and build new partnerships with Qatari companies.

There are also great opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the field of managing, operating and supporting these projects. In addition, our quest to transform into a knowledge-based economy requires a remarkable level of expertise in the fields of education, research and training, in which the UK is a pioneer.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests

The business and investment environment in Qatar offers special privileges to foreign companies that operate in the country. These privileges are clearly evident in The Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum; in 2016 and 2017 Qatar was ranked first in the world on “Ease of Paying Taxes”.

I would like to point out that during the past few months, Qatar has taken a number of important steps to consolidate the business and investment environment in order to bolster growth in nonhydrocarbon sectors, and support the private sector to expand its role in the national economy.

We are also working to improve our laws and legislations to facilitate the procedures of issuing and renewing all forms of trade and industry licenses, in addition to developing and expanding industrial and logistical zones. These procedures will facilitate cooperation and bilateral projects between Qatari and UK companies in the future.

Let me end by thanking you again for attending and participating in this Forum. I hope that today’s discussions and the conclusions that will result from this Forum will lead to strengthening the links between our two countries in all sectors.