Representatives from a wide range of both British and Qatari business interests were present at the Intercontinental Hotel on Tuesday evening, when The Duke of York Prince Andrew was the guest of honour at a dinner jointly hosted by the Qatar Businessmen Association (QBA) and the Qatar British Business Forum (QBBF). The Duke of York is the UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.
Among the 270 guests were the chairman of the QBA, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, HE Dr Hamad bin Abdul Aziz al-Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts & Heritage, and the British Ambassador John Hawkins.
The Duke with Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and Dr Hamad bin Abdul Aziz al-Kuwari at the dinner
The Duke of York was welcomed on behalf of the QBA by Sheikh Faisal, in an address read on his behalf by QBA board member and former ambassador to the UK Sherida Saad Jubran al-Kaabi. In his address to QBA and QBBF members, The Duke, who has visited Qatar on a number of occasions, stressed the importance of both Qatari and British organisations developing strong and mutually beneficial business partnerships.
He welcomed recent efforts by the UK and Qatar in creating an even better climate for trade and investment links, citing the signing of a Double Tax Agreement in June and the Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement that he himself had signed earlier on Tuesday with HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, Acting Minister of Business & Trade.
The Duke emphasised that his role was to support British business interests and not necessarily to support the policies of the British government.
In the recent past, he said, bilateral relationships between Qatar and the UK had not perhaps been as close as they should have been, given the long-standing historical links between the two countries.
All this has changed, he said, with Britain importing 29% of its LNG needs from Qatar, and education playing an increasingly important role, the latest being the opening of Sherborne School in Doha.
He hoped that universities in Britain would continue to attract students from this country.
“My role in coming here is to encourage greater flows of investment and business between our two countries,” said The Duke, “and in the UK I will encourage the business sector to look at doing business in Qatar.”
The latest technology was a field in which the UK could contribute towards the development of Qatar, he said. Yesterday The Duke visited the Science and Technology Park at Education City.
QBBF chairman Robert Muir, also speaking, highlighted the wide range of new opportunities for British companies in the Qatar market and the growth in British business that has seen a significant increase in the membership of the QBBF in 2009 to over 360. He praised the vision of the Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in developing a wide range of initiatives in this country, and looked forward to further co-operation between the QBA and QBBF.
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