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

Brothers and Sisters, Members of the Shura Council,

It always pleases me to welcome you at the beginning of your esteemed Council’s annual session, wishing you every success in discharging your noble tasks.

I also salute your tireless legislative work, and acknowledge your active participation in conferences and meetings held by regional and international parliamentary unions and organizations to catch up on legislative developments at the international level.

Brothers and Sisters,

Although we are used to focus on internal issues during my annual meeting with you, allow me this time to start with the situation in Palestine. Our Palestinian brethren are living in straitened circumstances beyond the realm of imagination.

It is neither tenable to stay tight-lipped about the unprecedented barbaric bombing of the civilians in Gaza Strip, which is one of the most populous areas in the world, nor to ignore the huge numbers of its innocent victims, including children and women.

You all know that we are peace advocates, and that we adhere to the resolutions of international legitimacy, the Arab initiative, and so forth, and that we are against attacks on innocent civilians, regardless of their nationality, by any party. But we do not accept double standards, nor do we accept acting as if the Palestinian children’s lives are not worth to be reckoned with, as though they are faceless or nameless. What is happening is very dangerous, it includes trampling not only on international law, but also all values, norms, and religious and worldly laws, besides the proclaimed Israeli remarks of its illegal intentions such as displacement, and so forth.

We are saying enough is enough. It is untenable for Israel to be given an unconditional green light and free license to kill, nor it is tenable to continue ignoring the reality of occupation, siege and settlement. It should not be allowed in our time to use cutting off water and preventing medicine and food as weapons against an entire population. We call for an earnest regional and international stance vis-a-vis this dangerous escalation that we are witnessing, and which threatens the security of the region and the world. We call for an end to this war that has transcended all limits, to stem the bloodshed, spare the civilians the consequences of military confrontations, and prevent the circle of conflict from spilling over.

We would like to ask those who have aligned with the war, and those acting to gag any dissenting opinion: What would come in the aftermath of this war? Would it bring security and stability to Israelis and Palestinians? Where would the Palestinians head for afterwards? The Palestinian people are here to stay, despite the lingering suffering under occupation, siege, land confiscation and settlement. Wars offer no solution of any kind. What lies ahead of this will be further exacerbation of suffering, an increase in the number of victims, and a deep sense of grievance that breeds wrath. Generations of children will grow up amidst this horrific experience, and the silence observed by the international community over the killing of their brothers and peers.

The only way to guarantee security and stability for the two peoples is in what has been put aside until now, which lies in achieving a just and lasting peace, and securing Palestinian people’s access to all their legitimate rights approved by international organizations, including the establishment of their independent State, on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Brothers and Sisters,

At the local level and despite the difficulties facing the global economy and their negative impact on the economies of many countries, the Qatari economy continued to grow during the first quarter of this year, as preliminary data indicate Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in constant prices by 2.7% compared to the same period last year.

The gas production expansion project and the third national development strategy have boosted the positive outlook for the local economy. The State will allocate the necessary resources to implement the initiatives and projects of the third national development strategy, in addition to the main priority projects to enhance the opportunities available for the private sector.

The hike in energy prices above the forecast price in the State’s general budget has led to generating a surplus beyond expectations during the first half of the year. This surplus will be used to reduce public debt level and increase the State’s financial reserves. We were able to cut the level of public debt from approximately 73% of the Gross Domestic Product in 2020 to below 40% at the end of the first half of 2023. This is an important achievement in terms of the soundness and stability of our national economy.

This policy has proven effective as it has contributed to raising the State’s credit rating and changing the future outlook from stable to positive.

The State will continue to adopt conservative oil prices as the basis for the fiscal budget, in addition to enhancing efforts to diversify sources of income through State investments in various economic sectors both domestically and abroad, and by encouraging the private sector.

The fiscal and economic policy besides the adopted procedures have contributed to reducing inflation rate from 5% in 2022 to 3.6% for the first half of 2023. International Monetary Fund forecasts indicate an inflation rate drop reaching 2% in the State of Qatar during the medium term.

At the legislative and administrative levels, the State has taken several measures to enhance economic openness and partnership between the public and private sectors, protect intellectual property rights, support the national product competitiveness, and digital transformation.

During the coming period, the State will pay great attention to developing the business environment, attracting investment, and benefiting from the available infrastructure. During recent years the State has succeeded in evolving an integrated infrastructure that promotes its competitiveness in attracting investments.

The competent authorities continue to invoke the provisions of the law regulating partnership between the public and private sectors in all relevant projects, including health, educational and tourist facilities. There is also an ongoing mechanism in the State that develops the legislations regulating foreign investment to remove the obstacles facing such investment, and to highlight Qatar as an incubator for direct international investment on the international level.

What is required is to change some negative bureaucratic attitudes and approaches in favor of giving openness to investments, encouraging start-ups, and creating a hospitable institutional environment that encourages success.

There are legal loopholes that need to be plugged, and obstacles that must be removed, such as lack of clarity of procedures, as sometimes the employees themselves are unaware of them, besides the conflict between agencies. These are matters that can be easily resolved. In the end, there is one State and one executive authority in place.

Brothers and sisters,

Pursuant to the development drive, the process of preparing the third national development strategy is nearing completion. Given that this strategy has been pivoted towards the pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which includes human, social, economic and environmental development, all relevant authorities were invited to contribute to its preparation.

Hence, I would like to emphasize that economic growth basically depends on the extent of investment in human capital, especially those working in government institutions, to enable it to deal and interact with the knowledge-based and competitive global economy.

In this context, reliable statistical data is an important tool in determining the real current and future needs of the State. The time has come to create an integrated central database that meets national data requirements efficiently and with high degree of credibility. Work has already begun on its construction which will be completed according to specific deadlines.

During the implementation of its development plans and projects, the State has given special importance to preserving and meeting the environmental requirements. This included increasing green spaces as part of global solidarity to protect the environment within the framework of the Green Middle East Initiative, building water treatment plants, preparing a synergic national program for managing waste and converting it into clean energy, and continuously improving the quality of life.

In the field of upgrading the judicial system, the National Justice Systems Development Initiative is making progress in realizing its desired goals in the field of prompt justice. We look forward to achieving further improvement with the promulgation of some legislations which were approved by your esteemed council in the previous session, such as the Judicial Authority Law, the Prosecution Law, and other relevant laws.

In complement to the judicial legislative structure, another set of primary draft laws, which will contribute to developing the judiciary and achieving prompt justice, will be presented to you during the current session.

Brothers and Sisters,

With regard to our foreign policy, we seek, as you know – and within the framework of striking a balance between our principles, interests, and sense of belonging to our civilized environment – to assume a constructive role, in making peace, resolving disputes through peaceful means, and doubling down on justice in international relations. We don’t stand by idly vis-a-vis the continued deteriorating situations in some sisterly countries, but we do what we can to help addressing it from the standpoints of solidarity, responsibility and regional stability. However, we feel satisfied with any progress in resolving differences through dialogue between countries.

Today, Qatar is recognized as a trustworthy mediator in peace making and conflict resolution through dialogue and diplomacy. In this respect, we reiterate our welcome of the US-Iranian prisoner swap, which was brokered by Qatar. Also, the Qatari mediation has secured the repatriation of four Ukrainian children from Russia to be reunited with their families in Ukraine. We affirm our determination to move forward in facilitating dialogue between the various parties to enhance security and peace in our region and the world.

We are also pleased to welcome again the brethren leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries in Doha next December, at its next summit, hoping that this summit will constitute an important turning point in strengthening our joint action, in a way that will fulfil the aspirations of our peoples.

Brothers and Sisters,

Neither Development nor prosperity will take place or occur just by merely approving top-down legislation and policies, because this also requires good implementation thereof by the various State agencies, the citizen’s awareness of the importance of his role in his position, in addition to his social responsibility and duties towards the homeland, besides expanding his field of vision and his interest to include the interests of society and the State. This is the highest essence of patriotism and devotion towards the homeland.

You have all noticed the level of progress we could achieve when our view of ourselves integrates with our image abroad, as was the case during the World Cup matches in Qatar. You have seen that the positive interaction with the outside has reflected in progress at home, and vice versa. This is the logic behind the energy industry, the sovereign fund, and international mediations, and this is also the logic behind the civilized interaction which also embraces tolerance and acceptance of diversity. Cultural interaction and acceptance of diversity are not contradictory to the collective Qatari Arab Muslim identity, but rather a contribution to its evolvement and development in consistence with the challenges of the times at every historical stage.

What is constant is moral integration in private and public life, in terms of nobility and magnanimity, which includes favoring justice, integrity, and generosity by all. This emanates from our keen care for the family as the basic building block of our society, raising our children, good neighborliness and sincerity in workplace, all the way down to the solidarity with the just causes with which I started this speech.

In conclusion, I would like to wish you a successful legislative term.

May God’s peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.