Davos / Information Office / January 23
HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that there is no sign of a breakthrough in the Gulf crisis so far.
In an interview with US media network (Bloomberg), HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that no movement or further steps have been made since the GCC Summit in which some breakthrough has been expected, stressing that the State of Qatar remains open to dialogue and is still carrying on with its own national agenda.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs affirmed that there is no alternatives for the GCC countries for the State of Qatar, and said that Qatar believes in the strength of the authority of the GCC since its establishment. Turkey, Iran and Iraq are important parts of the region and Qatar needs to build strong relationships and partnerships with other countries in the region. Qatar needs to have positive and constructive relations with those countries and this is not because of the blockade crisis but it is a part of Qatar's strategy to maintain its friendship relations with all countries in the region.
His Excellency noted that Qatar may have differences and disagreement with those countries, but Iran is a neighboring country at the end of the day, and Qatar shares gas fields with it, adding that Iran opened its skies when the blockading countries closed their airspace in front of the Qatari people. Therefore, it is important to engage with all these countries, and Qatar remains open with the GCC crisis and without the GCC crisis. His Excellency expressed the hope that the GCC countries, especially the blockading countries, go back to reason, start to engage with their region and resolve this issue.
Asked if Qatar would consider closer relationships with Iran, Iraq and Turkey if the blockade persists, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said that Qatar has already strong strategic relations with Turkey, "we stood next to each others during difficult times. When Turkey went through difficult time Qatar stood for its, and when Qatar went through difficult time Turkey stood for it, we have this strategy."
His Excellency added, "Iraq is also a part of our region, and we welcome Iraq back to the Arab world as a stable nation and we are trying to help in stabilizing this nation. A closer relationship with Iraq is a plus for Qatar."
Regarding Iran, His Excellency said: "Iran is a part of our geography, and we hope also that the GCC countries start to engage with Iran in a positive and constructive dialogue to resolve this outstanding issue of our regional security which is impacting our security directly and indirectly".
On Qatar's decision to invest $500 million in the Lebanese government bonds, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, "Lebanons stability is our regions stability and its very important for Qatar," adding that Qatar has been an active player regionally in stabilizing different countries, and Lebanon is one among them. He said that HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attended the Arab Economic Summit and had a discussion with the Lebanese President, and the Lebanese explained their situation that any help would be in buying the government's bonds which would help to stabilize their economy. "We took our decision both based on our assessment to stabilize Lebanon and also as an investment decision, this is a good investment."
His Excellency said that Lebanon had never defaulted in paying interests, and said, "We are going to work it out together. We have trust and confidence in the economy and the people of Lebanon, and that they will stand and flourish again."
On the commitment of Qatar Investment Authority to invest 10 billion euros in Germany, HE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that Qatar Investment Authority is looking at different sectors including financial services and infrastructure as well as the industrial sector.
His Excellency noted that Qatar has already significant investments in Germany, and said, "Our pledge in the conference last year is just a part of our strategy in growing our investments in Europe, especially in Germany given the strength of the German economy."
On Qatar's interest purchasing stake in Deutsche Bank, His Excellency said, "We are interested in all the big companies. We are talking with everyone."
Asked about management changes in Qatar Investment Authority and if the change will include priorities, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that it is part of the normal structural change for any government bureaucracy, to renew experiences and have new bloods and new generations. He added that Qatar Investment Authority is a part of the government structure that has to be changed, "We look forward to contribute positively, myself and my colleagues the board members, to the growth of our country and the diversification of our economy."
On particular sectors of interest for the Authority, His Excellency said, "We are looking at different sectors as I mentioned, mainly this year we are looking at technology, infrastructure and medical services sectors. These three sectors are priority for QIA given our diversification strategy, and we had a lot of investments earlier in the different financial services and industries sectors."
On the possibility of Qatar's exit from investments relating to the UAE or any of the blockading countries, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs said, "We never politicize our investment decisions. The policy of Qatar Investment Authority has been very consistent from the beginning and we take out decision based on pure commercial assessment. His Excellency said that many countries had investments in the blockading countries and this reflects our commercial activity, not according to the policies of Qatar Investment Authority, but in accordance with the policies of the State Qatar. He referred to one of the examples, which is the gas pipeline which is still supplying the UAE with its requirement of energy.
"So we have a clear a very strong view on this, that we should have a china wall between politics and other things, such as culture, trade and relations between people. We don't politicize every thing."
Speaking about the biggest risk in the world currently, His Excellency said that everybody is speculating that 2019 will be a year of turbulence for the market and that in 2019 might witness a market slowdown. He believed that there are a lot of challenges, and that the trade agreement between China and the United States is one of these challenges if it was not achieved because both of them are the strongest economies in the world. However, His Excellency noted that there are many opportunities emerging in times of slowdown or any economic crisis, saying that Qatar Investment Authority had made a lot of transactions during the previous crisis in 2008.
He said that the opportunities will lay in different sectors, and believed that there a lot of things that would come up in case of slowdown. There are indications but nothing has happened yet. He stressed that Qatar Investment Authority will remain looking at investment opportunities.