Jan. 17, 2020
Qatar's exit from OPEC on January 1, 2019, after almost six decades, closed one chapter, but also underlined commitment beyond an erstwhile comfort zone. Yet, international participation is no novelty for Qatar, a sovereign state since 1971. For one, in step with its national vision, the nation has long funded international NGOs and invested in sustainable development initiatives abroad through the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). In 2018 alone, charitable projects across 70 countries from the Caribbean to Africa amounted to USD500 million, with SMEs in the Muslim world the recipients of microfinancing.
Qatar advocates international standardization in key security areas such as counter-terrorism and cybercrime, as well as in humanitarian issues. Related agreements have been penned with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for Counterterrorism. Meanwhile, four local offices of international agencies have opened including UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UNHCR, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Qatar continues to standardize its legal system through international agreements, notably the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Qatar National Vision 2030, and the consequent national development strategies. Qatar was also an early mover by enabling the UN Voluntary National Review of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Selected Countries of Note
The EU: The bloc has established extensive political dialogue with GCC member states. A cooperation agreement finalized in 1988 underpins common goals of regional stability and extending economic cooperation in key areas such as energy, investment, technology, and the environment. These areas also chime with Qatar's march toward a knowledge-based economy.
Ankara was swift to take Qatar's corner in its moment of isolation on June 5, 2017. Since 2015, the two nations have held annual meetings of the Supreme Strategic Committee, a dedicated platform for dialogue and cooperation. These are co-chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. In October 2018, political consultations between the respective nations' ministries of foreign affairs commenced in Ankara.
China: Inevitably, we turn to Qatar's relations with ascendant China. As 2019 began, Chinese President Xi Jinping appealed for “unity and harmony" between the GCC nations. Beijing treads lightly in the turbulent region, as both a partner of Iran and Israel. In late 2018, state energy giant Qatar Petroleum inked a five-year deal to supply China 600,000 tons of LPG per year. Meanwhile, an MoU will lead to a road map for Qatar's future participation in the Belt and Road behemoth. Locally, an MoU between the Qatar Free Zones Authority and China Harbour Engineering Co (CHEC) will see the establishment of a green bus assembly plant catering to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Qatar Airways has also expanded its footprint by purchasing a 5% stake in China Southern Airlines.
Jordan: In 3Q2019, Jordan and Qatar fully restored diplomatic ties ending the two-year suspension of relations by Amman in step with Saudi Arabia's blockade drive. Jordan has thousands of workers in Qatar repatriating remittances and was the recipient of USD500 million in financial assistance from Doha back in 2018. Hence, the step is a welcome early withdrawal from a hostile camp.
Meanwhile, the world, of course, turns to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with cultural and economic ramifications far beyond the one-month tournament. Sweat is an international language and sport an element of Qatar's National Vision 2030. Doha took to the international stage since the 2006 Asian Games. Most recently, the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships held the spotlight, rendering Qatar the first and sole Middle Eastern country to host the event. The goal of comprehensive international integration seems to have been scored.