QATAR - Diplomacy
HH Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani became the Emir of Qatar on June 25, 2013, following the abdication of his father. In 1998 HH Sheikh Tamim graduated from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and began his public service career in the Qatar Armed Forces. He was appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces in 2009. HH Sheikh Tamim has held a number of posts throughout his public life, including presiding over the Supreme Council for Health, the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology, the Qatar Leadership Center, and the Supreme Education Council. After his succession, HH Sheikh Tamim has become Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, as well as heading up the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, the Supreme Council for Coordination and Follow-up, the Board of Directors of the Qatar Investment Authority, and the Qatar Olympic Committee. The contents of this submission were sourced from his inaugural speech on June 26, 2013 and his speech inaugurating the new session of the Advisory Council on November 5, 2013.
My father, HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, left office in a unique and rather unprecedented step with upright stature, after helping Qatar to become a developed country with modern facilities and institutions, and where per capita income has reached the highest level in the world. His Highness left his position with Qatar a non-stop site of development and with manifold, balanced, and growing political and economic relations, as well as a safe and stable society where crime is virtually non-existent. Qatar has transformed from a state that some people could barely locate on a map into a major player in politics, economy, media, culture, and sport worldwide. His Highness decided to end his reign while still able to give his best. He wanted also to translate his words into actions, especially concerning the necessities of change and the succession of generations. He handed over the banner to me as an expression of confidence in his Heir Apparent. I hope to be worthy of this trust, and to be able to continue the path laid out by this man, who is actually the builder of the modern State of Qatar, and the pioneer of its awakening.
In 2008, to pursue the march of reform and modernity, we drew up a road map for the future of the country under the title of Qatar National Vision 2030, which is aimed at transforming Qatar by 2030 into an advanced country capable of achieving sustainable development and ensuring a continued and decent standard of living for its people. It is natural that we put the interests of Qatar and the Qatari people at the top of our priorities list. This includes individuals, society, economy, politics, and cultural identity. At the same time, we have to bear in mind that there is no identity without belonging to wider circles. We are part of the Arabian Gulf region, the Arab world, and the Islamic world. We are also a part of humanity and the international community. As part of Qatar National Vision 2030, we consider the building of institutions that are based on the rational management of resources, professional standards, and benchmarks of productivity and efficiency, while serving the greater public interest as one of the development processes that we aspire to. The other is qualifying our citizens for productive work and developing them such that they find meaning in their lives in the serving of their country and society.
As you know, the comprehensive development of our country has been, and continues to be, a major concern for us because we believe that integrated and balanced development is the key to establishing a modern state responsive to the needs of today, and capable of achieving for Qatar the stature that we look forward to, and for the Qatari people the decent standard of living they deserve, without abandoning our authentic Qatari Arab heritage and our most tolerant Islamic faith. In the economic domain, Qatar has sustained its accomplishments by achieving the best results as per the vision and strategy set out for this purpose, despite global economic uncertainty and instability that prevent complete recovery from the successive crises that afflict a number of advanced and emerging economies alike. Real GDP increased at a lesser rate in 2012 compared to previous growth rates. But, if we take into account the low growth rate in the oil sector, we observe that achieving this growth rate in GDP required a growth rate of up to 10% in the non-oil sector, which was not an easy achievement. This is what must be done to diversify the structure of the Qatari economy, through the participation of the private sector and by encouraging private initiative that can identify potential and market needs in the context of price control and development planning. Maintaining good annual growth rates over the coming years is considered a major challenge in light of the expected decline in the growth rate of the hydrocarbons sector. This requires a doubling of our efforts to increase productivity, improve economic and technical efficiency, promote economic diversification, encourage entrepreneurship, expand R&D, and move forward toward a knowledge-based economy. This is exactly what we are working to achieve in the next phase. The real growth rate in GDP is coupled with other indicators that reflect the strength of Qatar’s economy, namely that government expenditures in the public budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year are higher than any spending in previous budgets exceeding the 2012-2013 fiscal year level by 17%. This increase has come in a timely manner to compensate for lower growth in the oil sector, and to sustain the fiscal stimulus and the need for spending on the priorities of the National Development Strategy 2011-2016, which includes health, education, and infrastructure development. Qatar has maintained its top rank in global competitiveness and its relatively high indicators in the field of human development. Qatar has also attained the highest Human Development ranking among the Arab Gulf countries in the Human Development Report for 2013, issued by the UN Development Program. This comparison is not intended as bragging, but to identify areas of strength in order to preserve them, and the areas of weakness in order to work on their development and overcome them.
The private sector remains a key partner in development, whether in diversifying income sources or expanding the productive base of the state, thus encouraging this sector, removing obstacles, and providing it with adequate incentives rests with the government in the first place, and it is the duty of the business community and the Chamber of Commerce to cooperate with the government by providing all necessary proposals and solutions to enable the private sector to play its role. There remains a need for surmounting other difficulties facing the private sector, such as combating monopoly, providing an atmosphere of competition, overcoming bureaucratic barriers, and reducing the size and number of intermediate companies and institutions between the state sector on the one hand, and entrepreneurs and businessmen on the other.
Qatar has confirmed its advanced standing as the most competitive state in the Middle East, and remained among the world’s top-20 economies in 2013. We have established cooperative relations based on common interests and mutual respect with many countries around the world in the West and the East, in America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and in the region. There is no alternative to the common interests and mutual respect in relations between countries. The State of Qatar has also aligned itself with the issues of the Arab peoples and their aspiration to live freely and with dignity away from corruption and despotism.
In spite of the economic turmoil in the world, the financial sector in Qatar has pushed its way toward progress and is upgrading its services. This has culminated in the Qatar Stock Exchange joining the emerging markets group. Qatar has also maintained its high credit rating, which we seek to upgrade as well, by promoting transparency of competitive procedures in the markets and simplifying legislation.
We are a state, a people, and a coherent society; we are not a political party. This is why we strive to maintain relationships with all governments and nations while respecting all sincere, effective, and active political trends in the region, without being supportive of one trend over another. God has blessed us with natural resources that would not have brought us this income without the vision and courage of HH my father. We are meant to preserve it and prepare its alternatives. Despite the high standard of living that we can provide, we must deal responsibly with our resources and our economy.
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