The chairman of Qatar Chamber (QC), Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, described the Qatar National Day (QND) as an important occasion to celebrate the country's achievements at various levels, including all political, economic, scientific, cultural, social and legislative fields.
Speaking to the Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the occasion of the National Day, the QC chairman said celebrating the National Day on December 18 each year is a great national event where the Qatari people remember, with great pride, the sacrifices and glories of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed bin Thani, who founded the State on December 18, 1878, when he assumed power, to remain a memorable and cherished date in the hearts of Qataris.
The QC chairman expressed his congratulations to His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Father Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, His Highness the Deputy Amir, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, and the Qatari people on the occasion.
The National Day, he said, represents an opportunity to unite around the wise leadership that has been working for more growth and progress of Qatar and has been following the same path initiated by the Founder to further promote the pride and dignity, complete the building of the State of Qatar on a strong, civilized and modern basis to uphold the principles of truth and justice and support the oppressed.
The National Day, he said, is a day of steadfastness in the face of crises with patience and endurance. "Just as our ancestors stood in the face of conspiracies, we stand today in the face of the failed siege that tried to obstruct our march and affect our sovereignty, leaving many indications urging us to do more work, achievement and sacrifice and reject all temptations to change our policies and constants and accept the challenge and success in the test to face risks at a difficult stage and a historical and thorny colonial period."
He noted that the National Day is an occasion that boosts the Qatari people's loyalty and love of this generous nation and that rallies them behind its leadership to build a modern State with its people equipped with the knowledge of science and a strong economy open to the world.
It is also a national opportunity during which the Qatari people express their support, solidarity with and loyalty to the wise leadership in an honest and loyal manner.
It recalls the history that reminds Qataris of the establishment of their modern state.
The QC chairman praised Qatar's achievements at all levels, guided by its National Vision 2030 and its four pillars, which undoubtedly emanate from the Founder's principles and values.
Qatar has been able to race ahead and occupy a prominent place among the civilised and quickly progressing countries with its balanced policies and openness to all countries of the world, he underscored.
At the political level, the State of Qatar, he said, has succeeded in consolidating its position in international forums, enabling it to play an effective and influential role through a policy of clarity, rationality, accurate evaluation and political equilibrium.
In its foreign policy, Qatar has not stopped supporting its brothers and advancing the principles of peaceful coexistence and international peace, and has also worked, taking into account the interest of the country, on the foundations of cooperation and mutual respect and non-interference in the affairs of others.
This policy is clear as the country dealt wisely with the unjust siege that has been imposed on the State since a year and a half.
He added that the State has succeeded in developing its legislative and legal structure by issuing and amending laws in line with the development witnessed at all levels.
Qatar’s national economy has greatly developed and attracted investors from all over the world to invest in the country, especially in light of the encouraging environment and stability of the State’s economy, as well as the growth in industry, agriculture and technology use, which goes hand in hand with the significant development in the oil and gas industries.
Foreign investments have witnessed a great growth due to the attention given by the wise leadership and the government to strengthen economy and find new sources of income other than oil and gas.
He added that Qatar has prioritised the health and education sectors.
Healthcare services have been expanded and many specialised hospitals and health centres have been established in accordance with a clear vision aimed at taking this sector to the international standards.
Private schools and universities have expanded and Qatar is at the forefront of countries in the Middle East in terms of spending on the health and education sector.
In the social field, the QC chairman said, many centres and institutions tasked with the rights of children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities and all segments of society have been established, adding that steps have also been taken to modernise the judicial, administrative and security systems, telecommunications, environment, culture, arts and media, which in turn have witnessed great openness in terms of freedom of expression.
During the siege period, he said, Qatar saw the highest sense of solidarity, steadfastness and cooperation, and invested its resources and capabilities to overcome the repercussions of this siege and thwart its plans aimed at undermining the independence of Qatar and the sovereignty of its decision.
The country's wise leadership dealt with the siege professionally and led the country to safety.
The economy is growing steadily thanks to the government policies taken to reduce the impact of the crisis, using its diverse and distinct economic capabilities.
The QC chairman pointed out that many factors prevented the Qatari economy from being affected by the siege, including the country's volume of exports, especially of gas; diversification of the energy sector and advanced infrastructure projects, in addition to stimulating the local industries which have remarkably developed during the siege period; as well as the unity of the people of Qatar and the residents behind the wise leadership, along with the cooperation of all parties and the private sector to provide food and building materials which prevented any confusion in the domestic market; in addition to reforms in the legislative structure which contributed to the creation of more incentives to invest, a matter that encouraged businessmen to invest in new sectors.
Regarding the agricultural and industrial sector, he said it has achieved great growth within the framework of food security policy and self-sufficiency.
Qatar's exports, whether oil or non-oil, have not been affected by the siege, he said, adding that they have witnessed great growth and opened up new markets for Qatari goods and products.
The World Cup 2022 projects, he said, are continuing at the same pace and the Hamad Port, which has strengthened Qatar's trade with the world, also has been inaugurated.
He highlighted that Qatar Chamber has played a positive role in confronting the siege and since its first day, it made all that it can to ensure the continued flow of goods and products to the local market at the same pace as before the siege, adding that the QC contacted traders and tried to find new alternatives to import commodities, taking advantage of its relations with the chambers of commerce in some sisterly and friendly countries.
In reply to a question on what is required from all to satisfy the right of the homeland and contribute actively to its building, the QC chairman quoted the speech of HH the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, at the opening of the 47th session of the Shura Council last November, when His Highness said: "The human being remains, the core, focus and target of the development plans.
High living standards of citizens must be coupled with values, cultural evolution and care for morality.
Otherwise, a possibility of welfare degenerating into a state of social corruption based on an unproductive and constantly resentful culture of consumerism and a sense of entitlement that is not based on work and efficiency, may arise."
The QC chairman said that everyone is required to work seriously and respect the values of the State of Qatar in terms of fairness, transparency and achievement and put the interest of the country in mind by committing to perform the work sincerely and in best manner, and have sense of duty and responsibility towards the society and the State in sharing the burden.
Sheikh Khalifa said that the Chamber has attained a number of important achievements during 2018 and has continued its pioneering role to serve and protect the private sector, adding it organised more than 170 events ranging from conferences, seminars and meetings, received 52 international trade delegations, and organised 7 foreign visits for Qatari businessmen to a number of countries in the world.
Outlining the achievements of the Chamber in 2018, he said it held new elections for the QC Board of Directors for the sixth session 2018-2023.
The current year witnessed the QC's accession to the World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC) and the Chamber joined International Certificate of Origin (CO) Accreditation Chain at the International Chamber of Commerce.
He added that the Chamber continued its role in addressing the siege through all possible ways and means, and encouraged investors and businessmen to direct their investments to the industrial and food sectors, in addition to supporting small and medium enterprises.
He noted that the QC also continued its cooperation with all ministries and authorities concerned in the State to overcome all obstacles facing the private sector and solve all the problems facing its employees, and organised a number of meetings and seminars with these authorities to discuss issues and matters of interest to the private sector.
The QC continued to issue the monthly report that monitors the growth of Qatar's non-oil exports, as well as continued efforts to tackle the siege imposed on the country a year and a half ago, in addition to organising ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition in Oman with the participation of more than 240 Qatari companies and factories in five industrial sectors during the period from 3 to 6 December 2018.
In 2018, the QC hosted and organised 21 meetings with a number of heads of state, ministers, officials and representatives of other chambers of commerce and foreign institutions, he said.
More than 52 trade delegations from different countries visited the QC this year to discuss increasing cooperation between Qatari businessmen and their counterparts in the various countries of the world.
These meetings also reflected a great international interest in the investment climate in Qatar and high confidence in the Qatari economy.
The QC's board members met with a number of presidents, ministers, officials, representatives of organisations, bodies and chambers from the Gulf, Arab and other foreign countries to discuss mutual cooperation and to introduce them to the QC, the Qatari business community and the private sector.
The Chamber also participated in many events held outside the country.
The QC held 26 conferences, symposiums and forums, the most prominent of which were the Qatari-Turkish Forum, the Social Responsibility 2018 and Beyond, the Effects of Applying VAT on Businesses in Qatar, the Qatar-Pakistan Business and Investment Opportunities Conference, and the Third International Arbitration Conference and others.
In order to enhance cooperation with all parties, institutions and chambers of commerce, the QC signed about 8 agreements and memorandums of understanding, including an agreement between the QC and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to renew their partnership in the framework of a program to promote trade and investment at the global level.
This program was launched by ICC in 2012 under the theme of the World Trade Agenda.
The QC signed a number of agreements and memorandums of cooperation with its counterparts in the world, including a MoU with the chambers of commerce of Nepal, Ghana and Bulgaria, and a cooperation agreement with the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade and Investment and Technology (COMCE).
Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration (QICCA) signed a cooperation agreement with the Istanbul Arbitration Center (ISTAC) to promote awareness of alternative ways to resolve trade disputes and promote a culture of commercial arbitration.
During 2018, the QC organised 12 training courses in which more than 320 individuals from various private institutions and ministries participated, in order to train as many individuals as possible and improve their skills in all aspects of career development.
The Qatar Chamber was honored by the Social Responsibility Committee at Dar Al-Sharq during an honoring ceremony held under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah bin Saoud al-Thani, governor of Qatar Central Bank and chairman of the Support Fund.
The honoring was in recognition of the QC's important role in the face of the unjust siege.
At its annual meeting, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) decided to appoint Sheikh Dr
Thani bin Ali al-Thani as a member and representative of the State of Qatar at the ICC Arbitration Tribunal for three years.
In 2018, Qatar International Center for Conciliation and Arbitration realised many achievements and organised many seminars, conferences and training courses, recorded 20 arbitration cases during 2018 and issued 9 arbitral awards and 2 rulings of conciliation and mediation during the current year.
The Center held the training and preparation program for arbitrators Professional Certificate in cooperation with the Qatar University's Center of Continuing Education twice during 2018.
In 2018, the QC released a number of publications on the private sector and the Qatari business community, including the monthly magazine Al-Moltaqa, which covers all the news, activities and events of the Chamber and highlights the achievements of some local companies.
The Chamber also issued a guide to its services, which includes services provided to the private sector in both Arabic and English, as well as a book with comprehensive analysis of the country's non-oil exports for 2017, a book on "Industry a Strategic Option", and brochure on the Chamber, as well as the annual report and other publications.
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