Qatar sets sights on Asia after diplomatic blockade

Following the blockade of Qatar by major Arab nations four months ago, the oil and gas-rich state has turned its attention to Asia in the hope of attracting more investments, especially from the private sector.

A top Qatari official yesterday also gave the assurance that it is business as usual for Singapore companies operating there.

"We have heard some testimonies from Singaporean companies which are operating in Qatar and they feel no effect, and their businesses are... as usual," said Qatar's Minister of Economy and Trade Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani.

"All our projects are going on schedule with no delay. In fact, (they are) ahead of schedule," he told reporters in Singapore on the sidelines of the Qatar-Singapore Business Forum.

Sheikh Ahmed added that Qatar has looked for "alternative sources" of imports that were previously from Gulf Cooperation Council countries comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

In June this year, several Arab nations, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar over the latter's close links to Iran and support for extremist groups, which Doha has denied.

Sheikh Ahmed said: "This blockade plays a positive role as an accelerator to our already existing plans. Because of this blockade, we are moving to more self-sufficient and diversification plans. I am optimistic about the future growth for Qatar in the next year or the year after."

 

In his address at the forum, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran noted that as Qatar gears up to host the Fifa World Cup in 2022, there will be "increasing interest" among Singapore companies to explore the growing opportunities there. He cited sectors such as urban solutions, information communications technology, architecture and engineering.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2017, with the headline 'Qatar sets sights on Asia after diplomatic blockade'. Print Edition | Subscribe