The State of Qatar has successfully dealt with the challenges posed by Arab countries as a result of ‘complete blockade’. While 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”.
Qatar | The emir announced a budget surplus this year – its first in three years. "We've overcome the obstacles of the blockade", Sheikh Tamim said. Moreover, Qatar will keep developing its food security and renewable energy sectors, @AJEnglish reports. https://t.co/29WPdqkrf9
— Sebastian Castelier (@SCastelier) November 5, 2019
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.
As a result of the blockade, Qatar is facing several challenges. Maryam bint Abdullah al-Attiyah, Secretary-General National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), pointed to “the seriousness of the violations affecting Qatari children as a result of the blockade imposed on the country, expressing regret that the celebration of the Universal Children’s Day coincided with the continuing violations and discriminatory measures of the blockade countries, which did not exclude any category of Qatari society, including children”.
She added that these violations against Qatari children, even children from the blockade countries, are no longer hidden because of the deprivation of their basic rights, especially the right to family reunification with their parents, where Qatari children were prevented from traveling and settling with their parents, only because they had Qatari citizenship.
Furthermore, Al-Attiyah said that the arbitrary decision affected infants and deprived them of their parents, while others found themselves victims because blockade countries’ citizens were forcibly separated from their Qatari husbands or wives. It is a matter of serious human rights which is affecting the lives of many in Qatar and beyond.
— Bloomberg (@business) June 7, 2017
Secretary-General called on the blockade countries to stop their violations that did not exclude children, to abide by the international laws and conventions they have ratified in the field of protecting children’s rights, and to implement the resolutions of international organizations and bodies asking them to stop their violations. She also hoped that the international community may play a role in this regard to protect the rights of children and women in the State of Qatar.
On the economic front, Qatar has been able to deal with the blockade. “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. The emir also said that Qatar would post a budget surplus this year, its first in three years, after a deficit a year ago.
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 the 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 in various sectors, including education, health, food, and agriculture, following the blockade are part of programs adopted by the state to diversify its economy. “We executed national programs that enhanced local production,” Sheikh Tamim said, referring specifically to the last three years.
Qatar has been making all possible efforts to strengthen its economy. In this regard, it is important to point out that Turkey and Qatar enjoy friendly and brotherly relations despite the latter’s blockade by Arab states since 2017. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charge and says the boycott aims to infringe on its sovereignty.
Trade between Qatar and Turkey is expected to have hit $2 billion in 2018, a Turkish official said, up 54 percent from the previous last year and underscoring Ankara’s solidified role as a top ally to Qatar amid a political rift in the Gulf region.
Qatar-Turkey trade volume for the first 10 months of 2018, the latest data available, indicates $1.7 billion of total trade, higher than the $1.3 billion in all of 2017, a Turkish trade official told international media. That trade includes goods such as Turkish food and building materials to Qatar and Qatari liquefied natural gas and aluminum to Turkey.