His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stressed that the State of Qatar has a wise leadership and a clear vision to be a reliable partner for peace and security in the region and the world, saying, “We have been a facilitating country and a mediator between the various conflicting parties, and we have proven our success for decades. In this field, it is not a new thing for Qatar in this field, and it is continuing on this path.”
This came during his participation in a session entitled “West Asia and North Africa… Paths Towards Stability and Prosperity” organized by the Doha Forum during the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum 2021.
On the recent developments in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government’s request from the United States for one billion dollars and military aid to restore the dome Al-Hadidiya, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his belief that “what led to the situation that happened in Gaza is not related to the restoration of the Iron Dome, or the extent of the strength or steadfastness of the Israelis, but in fact with the behavior of the Israelis in Jerusalem recently, mainly the evacuation of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from The residents and then the provocation that happened to the people trying to reach the Al-Aqsa Mosque, most of whom are Muslims and Christians.”
His Excellency considered that “all these behaviors angered the people there in the West Bank and Gaza, and led us to this latest round of violence in which we unfortunately witnessed the killing of children, innocents and civilians and the destruction of the Gaza Strip as a result of the recent raids,” adding, “I think we need to focus on building peace.” Rather than focusing only on the resilience of one side or the other in the conflict.”
In response to a question about the next countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council that will join the “Abraham” agreement, along with the UAE and Bahrain, or whether such a decision is premature, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “We cannot judge whether the decision was premature or mature enough. …as we see from our point of view in Qatar, which I can comment on, that the main reason for the absence of a relationship between us and Israel is the occupation of Palestinian lands, and that there is no step or any hope towards peace so far, and we have not seen any light at the end tunnel,” he said.Back in the 1990s, after the Madrid and Oslo negotiations, there was some hope that we could achieve peace, and Qatar took the first step at that time and opened trade missions for exchange between Qatar and Israel and had a relationship until 2008 when the war in Gaza took place, but We then decided to close the offices because we believe that what we have done has not contributed anything to peace.”
His Excellency explained, “Now we see that there are principles on which there is unanimity, one of which is the Arab Peace Initiative and the principles of the Quartet, and we believe that if there is willingness on the Israeli side, which it has not demonstrated during the past decades, this will constitute a good starting point, which is the recognition of the Palestinian state, and then All Arabs can go ahead and then have a relationship with Israel,” he said, adding, “So it’s not really about a country on their own having a relationship with Israel because that’s not a solution to the entire conflict, but I think we have to address the conflict first, at least for us. From our point of view in Qatar, and then we take the step to achieve peace with the Israelis.”
And whether his Excellency was concerned that Naftali Bennett might not be the best person to make peace, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, “We cannot comment on something that is not known yet.. There is a coalition that we have heard about that will form the new government, but it did not lead The oath is yet, and no one knows what will happen in the next few days and whether there will be changes in the conditions there.” His Excellency pointed out that “what we want is to see a government that has a vision for the Palestinian state, and has a vision that takes some serious steps towards peace and stops any action that provokes The Palestinians, especially with regard to Jerusalem, which is very sensitive for everyone, for Muslims, for Christians, for everyone.”
His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs also expressed his belief that “any behavior that talks about new settlements, or what they call the activities of the settler communities, which led to the evacuation of Sheikh Jarrah, will not help in resolving the issue and will be counterproductive and keep us in this circle, on a day of violence.” , the day of the cease-fire and so on,” adding, “I think we need a government that leads a process towards achieving peace by recognizing the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
And his vision of Qatar’s role in achieving peace and the two-state solution, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, made it clear that Qatar has always been a reliable partner for peace and security in the region, and has facilitated and mediated between the various conflicting parties.
His Excellency indicated that “with regard to Iran and the United States, it is in our interest not only in Qatar, but in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries that there is an agreement between them, that there is an agreement that also stops the nuclear race that is taking place in our region, and it is in our interest not to see or happen any An escalation between the United States and Iran, as the United States is a strategic ally of Qatar and we want to maintain this strategic alliance with it, just as Iran considers our neighbor and we want to see stability there.
His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs explained that “if both parties request Qatar to participate in facilitating matters, we will certainly do so… At the moment we are only sending a message to both parties to be more positive in dealing with each other and to reach an agreement as soon as possible.” Available time”.
On the United States’ classification of a number of movements in the region as terrorist organizations, and whether Qatar’s willingness to facilitate negotiations between these parties puts them at odds with the United States, His Excellency said, “We respect each country’s classification of the matter, which may sometimes apply with our regulations and sometimes may not, For example, one of the classified parties was (Taliban), but eventually the United States needed to talk to it to end this conflict.. We believe that it is better for the United States to have a friend to talk to its opponents and enemies than to talk to their opponents through other enemies.” He continued, “Therefore, I think that this has proven to be beneficial for everyone.. Communication and maintaining this open channel with the various parties is in the interest of regional security and stability, which is what Qatar aims for. The existence of a connection or relationship does not mean support or even belief in the same principles and ideologies. So there is a clear distinction between these two elements.Communication is only to help promote peace and stability because we believe in Qatar that no conflict will end militarily and all conflicts will end diplomatically.”
Regarding the controversy surrounding Qatar during the past years due to the blockade and the accusations leveled against it of supporting Hamas and extremist elements in Gaza and financing terrorist elements, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, “Unfortunately, this is part of the misinformation campaign that Qatar is exposed to. Directly to the people, and there we apply very strict mechanisms that everyone knows, including the Israelis and the United States, and we abide by all international rules and the US sanctions regime because we are tied to the dollar in the end, and our banking system works transparently and according to good governance practices.. And our relationship with the two “Hamas” movements Or the “Taliban” does not mean that we fund or support them.”
And he explained, “We aim with this relationship to establish contact and open a channel with them.. We help people as it happens, for example in Gaza now there is unfortunately a lot of misinformation spread by the Israelis, while they know very well how strict Qatar controls this process and where it goes. The money that Qatar contributes and donates to the people and the Gaza Strip. Since 2012, Qatar has contributed an amount of 1.4 billion US dollars to the reconstruction of Gaza, and has built 42,000 housing units there, and built roads, hospitals and schools, and it contributes to the care and maintenance of those facilities.
And whether any of these funds found their way into the pockets of the Palestinians, he said, “Of course, it is a very tight process through which all materials are managed and all contracts are prepared through our Reconstruction Committee.. Our employees are there on the ground and they are working themselves now, in the years The last three, if we take that period as an example, Gaza was getting electricity for only two hours a day at first, and when Qatar intervened, it increased that period to 16 hours.”
His Excellency also asked, “Where do we get fuel from?”, to show that “it is obtained from the Israeli side and sent to the Electricity Company of the Palestinian Authority, which generates electricity for the people of Gaza, and this support represents 50 of the money that Qatar donates monthly to Gaza, and the 50 The rest goes to 230,000 poor families in Gaza, each of whom receives $100.
His Excellency said, “I have here a big question about it: Will this hundred US dollars finance Hamas, or will it build its weapons system or anything the Israelis claim?” He explained that “another part of the money goes to financing the work of the United Nations Development Program, and we are working In full coordination with the United Nations, we have a well-defined coordination mechanism with our international partners,” adding, “For three years we have been calling on all international partners to participate, and there was no one except Qatar and a few countries. Gaza needs a lot, especially since, as you know, For 14 years it has been an open prison for 2.1 million people who are under siege and cannot move.”
On the shift in Western media coverage of the recent war in the Gaza Strip, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “Well, there is something here… I think people are aware of what happened in Sheikh Jarrah and the evacuation of people there seems to be Unfortunately, some media outlets turned from the main cause to what happened later between Gaza and Israel, and shortened the conflict to be between Hamas and Israel, while it spread everywhere there.”
His Excellency added, “Perhaps there has been some improvement in some coverage, but the prevailing narrative there is still that it is a war between a small group of the Palestinian people and the Israelis, while the reality is different. It is a conflict between the Palestinian people who live under occupation and have no state and another country that has an army.” strong.”
On whether he expected Syria to return to the Arab League in the near term, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs stated, “We have been, as you know, hearing this question for a long time, and a lot has been said about Syria’s return to the League of Arab States in the past two years, and some The countries in the Arab League demand that and support such a thing, but our main question is: What prompted the suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League in the first place?” He added, “I think the question is still valid, especially since there are still, I believe, 6.7 million people. Refugees outside the country, more than 6 million internally displaced people, and there is still a conflict between the Syrian people and the regime, so why do we change the position we took in 2011 or 2012 by suspending Syria and now we want to return it?..what did the regime do to make us return it to the Arab League?..I think That there are serious steps that must be taken to reach a political settlement in Syria before considering that matter from our point of view.”
And whether his Excellency believes that it is wrong to restore diplomatic relations with Syria at this stage, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani explained that “this is a sovereign decision for every country… In Qatar, my country in whose name I speak, we do not intend to restore diplomatic relations with Syria.” Syria, as long as the reasons for its severance remain, nothing has changed yet. If there is progress in the political settlement, then we will consider our options.”
And regarding the UAE’s quest to become a major influence in the region, and Saudi Arabia’s guidance often to the policy of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and his happiness’s vision of the role of Qatar, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “Well, I think looking at the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as you know, the six countries can complement each other to stabilize the region, and I think if you look at our region, the GCC countries were a stabilizing factor in this region.. Now the UAE has chosen for itself to be a soft power in the region, it is good that the influence is for peace and security, and this What we seek,” adding, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will remain a very important country. It is the largest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with Mecca and Medina.Qatar is also blessed with natural resources and has leadership and vision to be a reliable partner for peace and security in the region. We have been a facilitating country and a mediator between the various conflicting parties, and we have proven our success for decades in this field. It is nothing new for Qatar and we continue on this path.
On whether the Middle East can afford Lebanon to become another failed state after Palestine and Syria, His Excellency said, “Well, unfortunately, there are now countries in a critical stage, for example Libya, and we believe that they will move to the stage of stability after the elections. Iraq, after the war against ISIS, is trying to reform some laws, especially after the recent protests, and the prime minister is trying to arrange for upcoming elections, and we hope that these elections will bring national unity to Iraq and not sectarian elections.
His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed his belief that “many Arab countries are either in a gradual stage to achieve stability, or in a fragile stage, for example Sudan, which is witnessing some small progress, but faces many challenges. challenges such as economic and geopolitical challenges.”
His Excellency stressed, “We do not want to see a country collapse.. Lebanon is very important and it is now in a very dangerous situation, but unfortunately the political parties there do not agree to form a new government, and now I think that the Central Bank of Lebanon will stop financing the government soon, and it will become The government is without a budget,” noting that “there are many poor families who depend a lot on government subsidies, and we are doing our best, and France is also doing its best to get Lebanon out of this crisis, but we have not seen any result so far.. Our advice is always to the Lebanese.” by settling their caliphate and looking to the interest of the people, but unfortunately we have not seen any such serious steps.”
Regarding what is most worrying about the Iranian nuclear negotiations, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “I think that the talk now is in fact about the nuclear program, and our vision in the State of Qatar, which His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the country, mentioned several times. , is for there to be a regional security framework for dialogue between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and to address Iran’s concerns toward the GCC countries or the GCC countries’ concerns toward Iran,” he said, expressing his happiness that “it is important for the region to stop enrichment and the nuclear race, because it will affect the country’s stability.” regional security and global security.
His Excellency also added, “As for the political differences between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, we believe that these differences can be resolved through dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran directly… I think that this will be a good opportunity, if we build this dialogue.” On the basis of our common interests, I am sure that there are many common things that we can build in this dialogue for the prosperity of our region and our people,” noting, “So our advice to our neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and our neighbors in Iran, is to sit around the table and put our concerns to rest.” We build it on the basis of our common interest.”
And whether the State of Qatar has ongoing talks with Iran about this dialogue, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani replied by saying, “Yes, we have ongoing talks with Iran, and Iran is serious about the idea of a regional dialogue, and there is a kind of understanding from our partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Because of the necessity of this regional dialogue.. Perhaps it is time for this regional dialogue, but it is important that such a dialogue be held, and we believe that it is important for us to lead such a dialogue and not leave it to other countries, and we appreciate and respect the United States and the Group of Five to be a supportive part of that, But basically, the dialogue should be between Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”
Regarding the role of the Qatar Investment Authority, the investment situation and economic prospects in today’s world, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “We believe that the (Covid-19) epidemic has changed the global economic landscape and created many opportunities, and stopped some businesses that were growing in previous years.” He indicated that “the Qatar Investment Authority is focusing heavily on diversifying our economy, and this means creating an alternative energy source for hydrocarbons. We have our natural resources managed by Qatar Petroleum, and the Qatar Investment Authority is the arm that helps and supports the government to create alternative energy sources for future generations.”
His Excellency continued, “We focus greatly on sustainable investments, whether in technology, infrastructure, education and health care… as these sectors remained resilient during the epidemic period… and one of the important elements that we look forward to is the application on our standards that must have an economic impact on the country.” In which we invest and the State of Qatar, as well as the social impact of the country in which we invest, in addition to the environmental impact on the globe.
His Excellency also saw that most of the sovereign fund’s investments performed very well in the past year, and expressed the hope that it would continue in this way, saying in this context, “It is very important to maintain the dynamism of our strategy, given that the changing dynamics in the world are increasing faster than ever. go on.”
In response to a question about the importance of technology, digital assets and asset allocation, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, “It was very important even before the pandemic, and historically the Qatar Investment Authority has focused on financial assets, real estate and traditional assets, but in recent years we have redirected our strategy to focus On technology and education, and an example of this is education from afar, and we have been investing in education from afar since 2018, and accordingly, when the epidemic came, we saw that these companies became one of our leading companies.. For us, technology and digitization is a very important element and I think it is an infrastructure goal. We have seen an expansion in communications technology.”
On the future of the digital currency, His Excellency said, “The matter is still not clear… If you have a currency without coverage or a production bond, you will have doubts about it, and therefore for us as a sovereign wealth fund, we look very carefully at the risks of this investment because we believe that managing this fund is for our children and our generations.” The digital currency is still not clear yet and there is no guarantee about it and it may be strengthened in the coming years and it may become something more popular and get great value, and this will be good for all early investors, but we We prefer to get a lower return and stand on a solid ground than we have a large unguaranteed return,” adding his happiness during his response to a question about the existence of a plan to obtain the digital currency soon by saying, “I don’t think so.”
On the future of the Qatar Investment Authority during the next ten years, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “Our goal is to have a balance between financial services, technology, infrastructure, health care and education, as we focused on financial services and real estate in Qatar. To start, we are investing mainly in infrastructure, technology, healthcare and education, so it is not the fact that we are just reorienting or giving more attention to technology, at the moment we are diversifying significantly because diversity in key sectors is what is most important to us.”
On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism and preparations for the 2022 World Cup Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “I see that people will not stop traveling and tourism, and I have seen this clearly in St. Petersburg, as there are many people and everyone wants this epidemic to end as quickly as possible because they want to return to their normal lives, and there is an impact on the work of hotels because of the epidemic, and I think it needs a year or two.”
His Excellency added, “For the upcoming World Cup, I believe that Qatar is ready to host the World Cup (Qatar 2022) even if we are still not sure of the duration of the epidemic and how the vaccines will work.. We are also preparing an alternative plan to ensure that all people who will attend the World Cup have been vaccinated and have been vaccinated. “Testing them so that they can have the maximum experience they would like to see at the World Cup, we believe the World Cup will be a happy celebration for people after two years of lockdown, so we are very focused on organizing an amazing World Cup.”
Regarding the talks of the leaders of airlines and governments regarding opening countries to tourists and immunization programs, His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “For us, we are talking with the countries that are currently closed… and we are following up with them what is the situation there, and I believe that during the coming months, when the vaccination campaign will be achieved.” The level at which they aim will open their countries,” he said, expressing the hope that at the end of 2021 most of the world will have been immunized and the travel ban will be lifted, “and there is always new surprise and differences, but let’s hope for the best.”
In response to a question about Qatar’s plans to host the 2032 Olympic Games, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani explained that “at the moment we are in an ongoing dialogue with the International Committee and therefore we cannot comment, but we planned something that is fully consistent with our national vision, and therefore with the goals of the International Committee.” Sustainable development of the United Nations, there is a lot of investment underway for the next FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and the country’s infrastructure has been built, so we will focus a lot on delivering a sustainable, environmentally friendly, economic and social impact.”
His Excellency added, “The region has been deprived of such events as the World Cup and the Olympics, and Qatar is trying to seize this opportunity to bring this to the region because we believe that the benefit of the entire region, and we have a proven legacy that supports successful sporting events since the Asian Games and all tournaments after that, and we hope and dream about the 2022 World Cup.” And I think Qatar is proving even more that it is capable of hosting a world-class event like the World Cup.”
On the siege imposed on the State of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “It is an unfortunate incident that occurred and divided the countries of the Cooperation Council, and we are looking forward to overcoming this issue, but also learning from the experience we have gone through,” adding “The GCC countries have been divided for years and lost a lot of cooperation and a lot to our peoples, and therefore at the present time we need to maintain and focus on protecting the Gulf Cooperation Council from being divided in the future, building positive and constructive relations with our neighbors and building common interests.”
His Excellency also said, “There are many areas that can be built between us and other GCC countries and between our peoples that build a better future that is not subject to any disputes. I believe that any country that has gone through this crisis will be on solid ground in the future.”
On Qatar’s differences with Saudi Arabia and the UAE previously, His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said, “It is a very sensitive issue. We know that the Cooperation Council needs some time to heal, but we are positive, and we see that our partners in the Cooperation Council are positive as well.” We must look forward and to the future. We are a country that looks forward and wants to build friendly relations with everyone, and I believe that the commonalities between the GCC countries are more than the differences, and therefore let us focus on the common denominators and leave the differences,” adding, “I see that there is a new page.” In the Gulf Cooperation Council, we are optimistic about that.”