Emir says Qatar has overcome obstacles of Gulf blockade

Sheikh Tamim lays out economic achievements, says Doha ready to resolve disputes based on principle of mutual respect.

Emir of Qatar [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani addressed a session of the Shura Council [Al Jazeera]

Qatar has overcome the effect of the blockade imposed on it by Arab countries in 2017, its emir has said in televised remarks.

Addressing Qatar’s Shura Council on Tuesday, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani outlined the country’s economic achievements and said the Gulf state will keep developing its food security and renewable energy sectors while working to further diversify its economy.

On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar, closing land, air and sea links, as they accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” and their regional rival, Iran. Doha vehemently denies the charges and says the boycott aims to impinge on its sovereignty.

“We’ve overcome the obstacles of the blockade and we’re also closer to achieving Qatar’s national vision for the year 2030,” the emir said.

Sheikh Tamim said Qatar has always been ready to resolve differences based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.

Economic achievements

On the economic front, the emir said Qatar would post a budget surplus this year, its first in three years, after a deficit a year ago.

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Last year, the oil and gas-rich country had forecast a 4.3bn riyal ($1.1bn) budget surplus in 2019, after an estimated 28.1bn riyal deficit in 2018.

In May 2018, Qatar’s largest commercial bank, Qatar National Bank (QNB), reported that the country’s account surplus has widened to 6.4 percent of gross domestic product in the fourth quarter.

In his speech, Sheikh Tamim said the country’s currency maintained its value despite various attempts aimed at dismantling it since the start of the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

The growth witnessed by Qatar’s economy at various sectors, including education, health, food and agriculture, following the blockade are part of programmes adopted by the state to diversify its economy.

“We executed national programmes that enhanced local production,” Sheikh Tamim said, referring specifically to the last three years.

“More importantly, the government sought to rebalance the country’s budget, and worked on decreasing public spending while leaving priority projects unaffected,” he added.

“Reports indicate that there is a noticeable improvement in economic diversification and enhancement of the private sector, as well as an enhancement in the agriculture and fishing sectors.” 

In his remarks, Sheikh Tamim noted there was more work to be done in order to enhance economic diversification and boost the country’s growing private sector.

Decreasing bureaucratic processes that “hampers progression and development” was also a key goal, he said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies