The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) hosted recently a business lunch for Ranil Jayawardena, UK Minister of State for International Trade and Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the residence of QBA second deputy Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani al-Thani.
UK ambassador Jon Wilks was also present during the lunch, which was held on the sidelines of the minister’s visit to Doha to discuss ways of supporting and revitalising bilateral trade between the UK and Qatar.
(From left): QBA first deputy Hussain Alfardan, UK Minister of State for International Trade and Parliamentary Under-Secretary Ranil Jayawardena, QBA second deputy Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani al-Thani, and QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani
The business lunch was attended by QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and QBA first deputy Hussain Alfardan, as well as QBA board members Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal al-Thani, Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani, and Saud al-Mana.
QBA members Sheikh Faisal bin Fahad al-Thani, Nasser al-Haider, Khalid al-Mannai, Salah al-Jaidah, Ibrahim al-Jaidah, Nabila Abu Issa, and Maqbool Khalfan, as well as Qatar International Islamic Bank CEO Abdulbasit al-Shaibie and QBA deputy general manager Sarah Abdallah were also present during the meeting.
Sheikh Faisal welcomed the minister and highlighted the importance of the British market to the Qatari investors “and the need to restore market dynamics and business interaction.” To underline the depth of the historical relations between Qatar and Britain, Sheikh Faisal stressed the importance of exchanging trade delegations and official visits in strengthening relations of Qatari businessmen and their counterparts in the UK.
Jayawardena said his visit to Doha aims to follow up on trade and investment co-operation between the two countries. He said the UK is preparing to start trade negotiations with GCC countries in 2022 to create “a modern and comprehensive agreement” that would remove trade barriers on the food and beverage markets, digital trade, and renewable energy as London seeks to establish deeper economic relations post-Brexit, which is seen as a step towards strengthening trade and economic relations.
The minister said he is looking forward to finalising negotiations for strengthening economic integration, opening markets to Gulf and British companies, and enhancing economic co-operation by expanding trade and investment between the two sides.
Jayawardena lauded the economic prosperity Qatar is witnessing and the progress in Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He invited QBA to visit the UK to discuss investment projects, emphasising the economic reforms pursued by the British government to encourage foreign investment and improve the country’s business climate.
Sheikh Dr Khalid underscored the interest of Qatari businessmen in the British market, saying there are already many Qatari investments there, whether in the public or private sectors.
He added that the British market is “a favoured investment destination” for Qatari businessmen, adding that “it is a market full of opportunities.” “The Qatari private sector is always looking forward to explore and search for new opportunities,” Sheikh Dr Khalid said.
The business lunch was also an opportunity to discuss “the wise steps” taken by the State under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions and to normalise the daily lives of the people while putting emphasis on the health of all citizens and residents.
Wilks said the UK always seeks to strengthen economic relations with its strategic partners, particularly Qatar, to open new co-operation prospects in various sectors. He stressed that Qatari-British economic relations “are very powerful” and that the Gulf region is a source of energy and a centre for business, major projects, and investments.
The ambassador also lauded the strength of the Qatari economy, “which has proven itself through various crises, and its ability to withstand different challenges.”
Sheikh Dr Khalid exchanged gifts with the minister and said he hopes that this visit will achieve its goals in developing economic relations for both countries.