International trade and investment form a key part of Qatar’s future growth and diversification, and the UK is one of Qatar’s most valued global economic partners. This is why in March 2017, the State of Qatar and the UK’s newly founded Department of International Trade hosted the Qatar-UK Business & Investment Forum in London and Birmingham.
The Forum highlighted the strong ties between the two countries and also showcased new opportunities in the bilateral relationship. Qatar’s 2030 National Vision was a pillar throughout the event, with both UK and Qatari officials emphasising the country’s ambitious development goals.
Speaking about the country’s long-term vision, His Excellency the Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani stated that “Qatar is going through an historic era in its quest to achieve sustainable development,” and that “this quest to transform into a knowledge-based economy requires a remarkable level of expertise in the fields of education, research and training, in which the UK is a pioneer.” The Forum explored areas for collaboration between the two countries as Qatar progresses towards its 2030 Vision, and resulted in a new Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the State of Qatar, affirming Britain’s pledge to support Qatar’s ambitious goals.
Speaking about the MoU, UK Prime Minister Theresa May remarked that it would deepen “co-operation between our governments and our businesses across a wide range of vital areas including education and healthcare, science, research and innovation, tourism and culture, transport, energy, financial services and the development of small businesses.”
As a signal of its continued commitment to the UK and its vital role as a long-term partner, Qatar pledged a £5 billion increase in its investments in Great Britain over the next three to five years. The announcement came shortly before the UK triggered Article 50 and officially began the process for Britain to exit the European Union. Speaking less than 24 hours before this historic moment, UK Prime Minister Theresa May referred to the Forum as a “prestigious conference which comes on the eve of one of the most significant moments that the United Kingdom has faced for many years” and stated that Qatar “will play a significant role in shaping a brighter future for Britain.”
The Forum reaffirmed both the UK and Qatar’s long-term commitment to deepening bilateral relations and trade ties as they each work to transform their economies for the future. In his closing speech, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox called the event a “spectacular success,” and highlighted the “solid” and “dependable” nature of this partnership.