Today is the 423 day of the blockade imposed against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.
Qatar and Turkey have a deliberately strategic relationship at the political, economic and military levels.
In 2015, Qatar and Turkey established the Supreme Strategic Committee to look after and enhance the relationship. The committee holds regular meetings between the two countries’ leadership.
Al Jazeera examines the key areas of collaboration between the two countries.
In May 2017, Qatar’s Chamber of Commerce Vice Chairman Mohamed bin Twar said: “Turkish companies here are handling projects worth about $11.6bn in Qatar, most of which is put into FIFA World Cup 2022 projects.”
“Qatar’s investment to Turkey is over $20bn, the second highest value of investments by any country in Turkey,” bin Twar added.
Turkish media reported Qatar would invest a further $19bn in Turkey in 2018, with $650m going to agriculture and livestock.
“Due to its attractive investment advantages as well as its strong relations with Qatar,” the Qatar Chamber encourages Qatari businessmen to invest in Turkey.
In August 2018, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani pledged to invest $15bn in Turkey, which struggles with a currency crisis that made the lira fall by 45 percent against the US dollar.
“We stand by the brothers in Turkey that have stood with the issues of the Muslim world and with Qatar,” Sheikh Tamim said in a tweet after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.
Turkey is also one of Qatar’s top customers for non-oil exports, according to Qatar’s Chamber.
Qatari-Turkish relations are distinct and can serve as a model for other countries
In an extraordinary session on June 7, 2017, two days after the start of the Gulf crisis, Turkey’s parliament ratified two earlier agreements allowing Turkish troops to be deployed in Qatar and another approving an accord between the two countries on military training cooperation.
The agreements aimed to raise Qatar’s defence capabilities, support “counterterror” efforts and maintain security and stability in the region.
The first batch of Turkish troops arrived at the Tariq ibn Ziyad military base in 2015. On June 18, 2017, f ive armoured vehicles also arrived in Doha while the base can accommodate up to 5,000 soldiers.
The blockading countries have set the closure of the Turkish base in Qatar as one of 13 conditions to restore relations with Doha.
When the Gulf crisis erupted, and Saudi Arabia closed Qatar’s only land border, it blocked many vital imports from reaching Qatar, including basic food supplies. To avoid potential food shortages, in less than 48 hours of the blockade Turkey sent cargo planes full of milk, yogurt, and poultry.
Turkish exports to Qatar increased by 90 percent in the four months since the blockade started (June to September) , according to statistics released by Turkey’s Aegean Exporters’ Association.
Because of longer import routes, Qatari food and beverage prices jumped 4.2 percent in August. Turkish ambassador to Qatar, Fikret Ozer, said on Monday: “We are bringing many products here, but there is no land route between Turkey and Qatar. But now there is a cooperation between Qatar and Iran and Turkey, and there will be a new route between these countries.”
Qatar has invested $444m in a 530,000sq metre food storage and processing facility at its Hamad Port.
Turkey hopes its improved trade relations with Qatar will outlive the blockade. “The Turkish products [we export] are of very high quality. Even if the embargo [on Qatar] is [lifted], our products will be permanent there,” said Sinan Kiziltan, chairman of the Aegean Aquatic Products and the Animal Products Exporters’ Union.
As part of its National Food Security Programme, Qatar is aiming to produce 70 percent of its food requirements by 2024.
We started to import food, milk... from Turkey on the first day of the blockade
Government-owned Qatar Post inaugurated a new e-commerce website on January 1, launched in cooperation with Turkey’s General Directorate of Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT).
Qatari Transport Minister Jassim Saif al-Sulaiti said the products will reach the customer in seven days, and they are working on shortening the waiting time.
In August 2018, Sheikh Tamim was the first foreign head to visit Turkey since a stand-off between Ankara and Washington started.
In September 2017, Al Thani visited Erdogan in Turkey in what was his first trip abroad since the start of the Gulf diplomatic crisis.