QATAR - Diplomacy
President, Administrative Control and Transparency Authority
HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah was born in1952 and has more than 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, holding numerous positions in the Ministry of Finance & Petroleum and Ministry of Energy & Industry. He has also been awarded various orders and medals, including the Grand Cross in the Order of the Orange Nassau, the Order of the Rising Sun, the National Order of the Cedar, the ROTA Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Necklace of Independence. HE Al Attiya has also held the positions of Former Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the Amiri Diwan. He is currently the President of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority. Al Attiya is also the Current President of the United Nations COP18/CMP8.
I am not concerned that shale gas will create a surplus in the gas market. A few years ago, everyone was concerned about the decline of gas, and they spent billions on R&D looking for alternative energy. The shale gas revolution has injected a new trust in gas. Now, gas can serve the world for the long term. I believe that shale gas is an added value to the gas industry, creating trust that gas will be sustainable for a long time and the world will be secure in knowing that there is a sufficient supply of gas for more than 200 years. This paradigm shift will cause more countries to turn to gas as an important source of clean energy in order to fulfill their energy needs. Furthermore, whilst some countries are clearly benefitting from this boom in shale gas, many countries suffer a shortage of gas. Even in the Middle East, some countries are facing shortages to the point that they are burning crude oil to generate power. Kuwait is starting to import LNG, and Dubai is already committed, through QatarGas. Now, Abu Dhabi is also building an LNG terminal. We are noticing a decline in consumption in some parts of Europe, but it is increasing in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, so it balances out. Only in the US are LNG imports declining in favor of shale gas. However, this LNG is diverted to other markets such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, China, and India. Gas is becoming one of the main sources to generate power worldwide.
I was appointed Minister of Industry & Energy in 1992. At that time, Qatar was only producing 360,000 barrels a day and zero LNG. We had huge gas reserves, but we didn’t know how to market it or how to create trust with customers. We had to create a market where people trusted us. We finally succeeded in signing the first contract with Japan, and even at that time there were concerns from other experts and analysts saying that there was no future for Qatar in the energy market. In 1997, we sent the first cargo to Japan and then we signed further contracts with Korea, Taiwan, and Europe. We are taking a share of the market, but we are not dominating it, because no consumer depends on one supplier.
Qatar supported the decision to extend the Kyoto Protocol (KP). Qatar had already approved and was a part of the Kyoto Protocol 2 (KP2), and we are also committed to all the decisions made. There were big players, which are not part of the KP or KP2. Qatar played a very strong role in the research of reducing emissions and capturing CO2. We proved to the whole world that we are fully committed to resolutions and reducing emissions. The interest among the world is different when you compare developed countries, developing countries, and underdeveloped countries—all have their own problems and their own challenges. You cannot just go and push a developed country to reduce emissions dramatically—this will affect its economic growth and create problems. The world is more pragmatic, but countries have to work together to reduce emissions and make more funds available for research to help the underdeveloped countries and small islands. The COP18 was a challenge, and this is what we call “the gate” because we believe that we should create a gate to allow all the major players to join the KP2 in the future—without them it will not affect anything. All the countries that have agreed to KP2 already produce 20% of worldwide emissions. The major producers that create 80% of the emissions are not signatories to the KP2. We hope that the world will understand how to create it as a package, but you cannot just try to force it. You have to take into consideration the interests of every country. It is a challenge the world is facing, and it needs a balance. Unfortunately, I believe that the world is still making big mistakes. History can always repeat itself. I am concerned that the world will face a social revolution again, and it will be big. I hope the politicians wake up.
The Administrative Control and Transparency Authority is a pioneering organization in the region. We are trying to build a powerful organization, but for this we need a certain number of high-caliber people. Today, Qatar’s rank in the International Transparency Index is 27, and we now concentrate on how to take Qatar into the top 10. This is not easy; it is a big challenge, but we are trying to take it there. We will require help from all the institutions and government organizations to match all our laws, legalizations, tendering system, and practices. There are thousands of laws and there are a lot of laws in different aspects. We have to take each law and look very carefully where the weak points are and how we can create more transparency and track the awareness of corruption. I believe very strongly that His Highness the Emir is a great supporter of this authority.
During the Arab Spring, people didn’t revolt just because they wanted to. They revolted against corruption, joblessness, political misconduct, and mismanagement of public money. These are sensitive issues, but the world should face them, otherwise the politicians will pay the price through social revolution. When people lose their jobs, they lose their futures, they are unable to send their children to school, they lose their homes, and they will not just sit and say “thank you;” they will revolt. History repeats itself, it happened in the Roman Empire, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, and modern history, during the French and Russian revolutions. I always believe that the middle class is the yardstick for social and political tranquility. If you see a big and prosperous middle class, you are on the safe side, and here in Qatar, we are lucky to have a burgeoning middle class.
© The Business Year – May 2013
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