His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad AlThani inaugurated the 48th ordinary session of the Shura Council at its premises on Tuesday morning.
H.H. the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani attended the inauguration ceremony.
H.H. Personal Representative of H.H. the Amir Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani and His Excellency (H.E.) Sheikh Jassim bin Khalifa Al Thani were also present.
The inauguration was also attended by H.E. the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and a number of Their Excellencies Sheikhs, Ministers, heads of the diplomatic missions accredited to the State and the State's dignitaries.
On this occasion, H.H. the Amir delivered a speech in which he reviewed local and foreign policies, the most important achievements of Qatar and its future projects, in addition to its positions on the main issues and challenges facing the region.
"In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
"Brothers and Sisters Members of the Advisory Council,
"I congratulate you on the occasion of the opening of the new session of your esteemed Council, wishing you all success and fulfillment in carrying out your exalted tasks. We are appreciative of your valuable contributions to enriching national work, not only in the legislative field, but also with enlightened opinions in following up government performance and various development plans. As you know that, within the framework of completing the constitutional requirements for the election of the Advisory Council members and practicing of its legislative functions in accordance with the Permanent Constitution of the State of Qatar we have issued Amiri Decision No.(27) of 2019 extending the term of your esteemed Council for two years starting from July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2021, and Amiri Decision No.(47) of 2019 establishing and forming the High Committee for the Advisory Council's elections and defining its functions, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to oversee preparations for the Advisory Council elections, draw up the necessary draft laws, and propose a timeline for the elections of the Council's members. The elections' date shall be announced after the completion of the committee's task.
"It has been taken into account in setting the period of two years, that the required constitutional procedures shall include the promulgation of many important laws and legislative instruments, namely, an electoral system act that sets the conditions and procedures for nomination and voting, and a decree defining the electoral constituencies and zones of each one of them, as well as other necessary administrative procedures. We will, of course, submit to you the bills to be passed for approval in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
"Brothers and Sisters, for the third consecutive year, the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar has continued with its illegal practices, despite the crumbling down of all the claims propounded to justify it. By virtue of God's support, credit for our success in containing most of its negative impacts is attributable to maintaining our calm and decisive approach in handling this crisis, revealing all its related facts to the whole world, while adhering to the independence of our political decision vis-avis attempts to impose tutelage on us, as well as strengthening our bilateral relations with friendly and allied countries. Since the outset of the crisis, we have expressed our readiness for dialogue to resolve differences between the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and within the framework of its charter on four bases: mutual respect, common interests, avoidance of dictating a foreign policy, and non-interference in internal affairs. The Qatari people, with their noted magnanimity, stood up together as one man in defense of their homeland's sovereignty and principles, because they realise that renunciation of the independent decision-making is conducive to losing the homeland itself along with its wealth and potentials.
"Our national march has proceeded forward, with confident strides, to implement the development programs as prescribed. Qatar's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices grew in 2018 by about 15% and non-hydrocarbon GDP by about 9%. The importance of that has been further boosted by the fact that the government has sought this year to restore balance to the State budget, by cutting public expenditure, without affecting priority projects.
"Brothers and Sisters, in my address before your esteemed Council in the aftermath of the unjust blockade imposed on us, I stated that this blockade would strengthen our steadfastness and push us forward to deal in a better way with the new circumstances that ensued. And this is what actually happened. I will focus hereinafter on the most important initiatives, projects and policies we have adopted, and which show that we have overcome the negative impacts of the blockade, and that we are steadily moving towards achieving the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.
"In preparing the second national development strategy, we have benefited from the experience of the first strategy, and we took into consideration the new regional circumstances, and the significant change in the energy market caused by the discovery of shale oil and shale gas. Reports indicate a significant progress in the field of economic diversification, encouraging the private sector, increasing the production capacity of power generation plants and establishing an advanced agricultural and livestock-fish production system. The progress made is notable, but we have much still to do in the areas of economic diversification, food and medicine security, renewable energy, revitalization of the private sector and cutting red-tape that hinders progress and advancement.
"As for the legislative tools needed to achieve reforms, an important law was promulgated at the beginning of this year to reorganise foreign investments in economic activity by providing them with facilities and incentives. The simplification of bureaucratic procedures should also be included therein.
"A decree law regulating food and strategic commodities reserve has also been issued, in addition to a law on supporting national products competitiveness as well as combating of commercial practices harmful to such competitiveness. We have to protect the national product achieved by the local industry while controlling, at the same time, its quality and improving it. We are also in the process of issuing other laws on public-private partnership.
"As a result of the efforts to cut expenditure and increase efficiency, the big budget deficit in 2017 was turned into a surplus. Although the spending was reduced, the general State budget has continued to attach importance to and focus on priority sectors, especially education, health and investment in infrastructure. We have been able to restore the State reserves to levels higher than the pre-blockade levels. The Qatari Riyal has also maintained its stability and value despite various systematic attempts to cause it to crash. Qatar has also maintained its robust credit rating by the international rating agencies. We have also fulfilled our commitments in the field of combatting money laundering and terrorism funding, and a law has been issued in this respect this year.
"Last year and this year have witnessed a development in the energy sector which will reinforce the strength of Qatar's economy and the status of Qatar in the international natural gas market. We are on the right track towards achieving a qualitative and quantitative leap in liquefied gas production and export. Qatar Petroleum has continued to proceed on its course to become global, as it has started to participate in explorations and production in ten countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia of which two are Arab countries. Energy would remain a major source of wealth in Qatar and a resource for financing development projects. We shall remain committed to preserving the rights of the future generations. As for the infrastructure, the exerted efforts are clearly visible and the achievements are evident, whether on the level of roads, bridges and tunnels or on the level of public parks and general landscapes of our towns. The private sector has participated in QR. 27 billion worth of major projects over the last five years. The State is supposed to act to increase the private sector participation in these projects in the future.
"Brothers and Sisters, we cannot achieve development and make our homeland join the ranks of the developed countries if we do not pay great attention to the human being, because he is the pillar of any development. Development is not measured by buildings and facilities only, but rather by the ability of human beings to plan, build and maintain them, and by the schools that educate them and the universities from which they graduate, as well as the quality of education, culture and the prevailing values and ethics.
"We feel contented and happy for the capability of the State to provide services and a decent standard of living. However, we cannot build a human being if a feeling pattern of being entitled to privileges is stabilized with endless expectations from the State without any deep sense of duty by the individual citizen towards the society and the homeland. He who does not give, does not appreciate what he obtains. Citizenship includes rights not privileges. It doesn't only involve rights but also responsibilities and duties, foremost among them is to work sincerely and with precision, each in his position, as each position is important.
"Rights, brothers and sisters, are not privileges or a mere sense of superiority engendered by identity or unwarrantable transcendence towards others, because humility is a proof of self-confidence, and showing respect to others is a reflection of self-respect. The responsibilities of citizenship also require being appreciative of the those who have worked hard in building this country, and this includes our resident brothers.
"The Almighty Allah says: "And for each there are degrees (of reward and punishment) for what they have done, and it is so that He may fully compensate them for their deeds, and they will not be wronged." He also says: " Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds. For them is a reward uninterrupted." Our fellow resident brothers who live with us in Qatar are not here as a result of a favor conferred on them, but by virtue of their work, which is indispensable to us, and by means of their appreciated contribution to the building of this country.
Brothers and Sisters, I have previously spoken to you about the importance we attach to the development of the judicial systems, so as to consolidate the independence of the judiciary and realization of a prompt justice. Significant steps have been taken, such as updating many laws that are related to litigation procedures to provide speedy and easy procedures for litigants. Reports have been sent to me on the establishment of mechanisms to expedite the enforcement of rulings, particularly those regarding alimonies, debts and labour disputes.
"All this is not enough, and efforts must be exerted to modernize the functioning of the judiciary to make it a success. Work is under way to increase the number of judges and members of the public prosecution and to expand on establishing specialised courts and to open new court premises.
"Brothers and Sisters, our Gulf region is witnessing accelerated events and very serious and delicate developments threatening the security and stability of the region, which oblige our states and the international community to double their efforts to halt the deterioration and to adopt dialogue as a means of settling disputes. Sisterly states have started to realise the rightness of our position that GCC countries have no interest in fixing the situation. Regrettably, the absence of the GCC role amid these circumstances has been observed due to the fabricated crises, the resources they waste and the potentials they waste.
"Despite the unjust blockade imposed on our country, the right position and responsible behavior have reinforced Qatar's status and consolidated its role as an active partner on the regional and international arenas.
"In our foreign policy, we have chosen a strategy based on a balance between our firm principles and our security and economic interests. All this is within the framework of defining our civilisational, geographical and strategic position in this world as well as knowing our potentials. We have chosen to assume a role to facilitate dialogue, just solutions and peaceful settlement of disputes. We have participated in all international and regional efforts that aim to achieve peaceful coexistence, protecting the environment, fighting poverty and in all efforts amid at combating terrorism and its causes.
"The 74th session of the UN General Assembly was an appropriate opportunity to remind the international community of the strategic importance of our Gulf region, that necessitates the achievement of political and security stability in it, which is a goal that would only be achieved through peaceful means and through making the Middle East, without exception, a weapons of mass destruction free-zone. It was also an opportunity to remind the international community that peace in the Middle East can't be achieved without enabling the Palestinian people to exercise their legitimate rights, foremost among them is the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as stated by the resolutions of the international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative. Accordingly, the normalization of relations with Israel without a just solution to the problem of Palestine is a mere illusion.
"Regarding the Syrian affair, we assert our firm position on the necessity of finding a negotiated political solution among all Syrian parties in accordance with Geneva Communique (1) and the Security Council Resolution (2254) to maintain the unity, sovereignty and stability of Syria, and we reiterate our rejection of the Israeli decision to perpetuate Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
"With regards to Yemen, we believe that the continuation of the conflict poses a direct threat to regional and international security and peace. We call on all parties to give priority to the higher interest of the brotherly Yemeni people and to spare them further suffering. We call on the active powers of the international community to act on providing the appropriate conditions for the resumption of the political solution based on the Gulf Initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue and Security Council Resolution (2216), and to help the Yemeni people conduct an inter-Yemeni dialogue without foreign interference to realize the aspirations of the brotherly Yemeni people in security and stability.
"Regarding the situation in Libya, we reaffirm the necessity of achieving national concordance among all components of the Libyan people without any external interference. We renew our support for the recognized Government of National Reconciliation and reaching a comprehensive political settlement that preserves Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and fulfills the aspirations of its brotherly people for security and stability. We affirm that the support of some countries for those who are outside the political process and international legitimacy is the main impediment to achieving stability in Libya.
"As for the brotherly Sudan, we value the positive steps achieved in the political process, the latest of which is the formation of the Sudanese government, and we renew our support for it to meet the aspirations of all Sudanese people.
"Brothers and Sisters, in conclusion, I pray to Allah to help us all in serving our country, and to achieve further aspirations of our people for progress and prosperity. May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you."
Cover image credit: Lusail News
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