Qatar will invest 4,720 million euros in Spain in the coming years

  • The emir completes this Wednesday his state visit to Spainvery important for the Government and Zarzuela to strengthen investments and guarantee gas

  • The trip, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, will raise the level of bilateral ties to that of strategic partnership

Spain hosts this Tuesday and Wednesday the only state visit scheduled for all of 2022: that of the Emir of Qatarthe sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. An event to which the Government and the Zarzuela attach great importance due to the economic background of the trip: increase in investments and also an increase in the supply of gas from the Arab country, the world’s second largest exporter after the United States.

The Qatari head of state landed in Spain on Monday, but this Tuesday the official acts began with the honors in the Plaza de la Armería of the Royal Palace, the place where, at night, Kings Felipe VI and Letizia offered their guests, the emir and the first of his three wives, Sheikha Jawaher bint Hamad bin Suhaim Al Thani. The two-day state visit (that is, at the highest level), prepared since the end of last year, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In addition, this visit raises the rank of the ties between Spain and Qatar: it goes to the level of strategic partnership —that is, a more structured political dialogue framework—, as will be reflected in the joint declaration that the two governments will sign this Wednesday and in the 12 agreements of various types that both parties will sign. With this leap, Spain joins a select and narrow club of countries with which Qatar maintains this alliance, among which are the United States, France, Italy, Japan and China.

The most important agreement signed this Wednesday is that of collaboration between the Qatari sovereign wealth fund QIA —one of the most important in the world, of greater solidity, and with assets for a value of €450 billioninforms EFE— and the public-private partnership Cofides to “identify investment opportunities aligned with the Spanish recovery plan”.

The emir justifies the investments by the solidity of the Spanish economy. Qatar, he underlines, “is one of the largest Arab investors in Spain”

Already at the gala dinner that the King and Queen offered him and his wife, and which was attended by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, the emir announced that his country is going to increase €4.72 billion (5,000 million dollars) the investments of the Arab country in Spain in the coming years due to the confidence it has in the “solidity” of the Spanish economy, reports EFE. Those 5,000 million “will have an added value to our already existing successful investments in Spain, bearing in mind that Qatar is considered one of the largest Arab investors in Spain“, asserted Al Thani. The sheikh did not reveal where the investments will be made, although he did highlight the “deep friendship” that unites his country with Spain and the cooperation that has existed between the two nations in recent years in areas such as energy As indicated on Tuesday by government sources, Qatar wants to increase its investments in areas such as the ecological and digital transition, and Spain “offers a clear and opportunities very interesting”.

Greater production

The Government is therefore keenly interested in strengthen your relationships, at all levels, with the small country of the Persian Gulf (organizer, by the way, of the 2022 World Cup), which has the highest per capita income in the world and which is the second largest exporter of gas in the world after the United States , precisely at a key moment due to the war in Ukraine, which has aggravated the energy crisis and set off all the alarms due to the dependence, in a large part of Europe, on Russian gas. Qatar, which has a current production capacity of 77 million metric tons of gas, intends to reach the 110 million tons in 2024.

Until 2019, the Gulf country was the second supplier of natural gas to Spain, tied with Nigeria and behind Algeria, and then with the pandemic it dropped three places

Spain is the 15th supplier of Qatar, the fifth at European level, and the twentieth client of the emirate, the fifth also at European level. According to the Executive, it was until 2019 the second supplier of natural gas to Spain, tied with Nigeria and behind Algeria, and represented 11.4% of total gas imports. However, these purchases fell in 2020 and 2021, atypical years due to the pandemic, and it ranked as the fifth supplier for our country. The commercial relationship was around 1,200 million euros, basically due to Qatari exports to Spain (around 900 million), and less due to Spanish exports (worth around 400 million), so the Government understands that this imbalance “is what reduce“And he also defends that he has to consolidate these “magnificent relations” with Qatar because other European countries are approaching the Arab country to guarantee the supply of gas.

That is, with the strategic association, the possibilities of investment flows increase “multiply exponentially“In addition, Spain is interested in increasing the import of Qatari gas (although our dependence on Russia is very insignificant) and that the mix is ​​diversified, so as not to be subject to a single country.

In addition, you want that relationship to reach “all spheres of political action“, given the growing importance of Qatar on the international stage, as happened with the evacuation of Afghanistan, at the end of last summer. The state visit, they point out in Moncloa, had actually been “pending years”. Because the current emir It has been since 2013 and since then “they have been thinking” about that trip. It was tried before, but it was impossible due to the pandemic, and in the end the opportunity was found at the end of last year, before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, to “promote the bilateral relationship at all levels”.

Red carpet

The emir and the sheikha were received this Tuesday morning by the King and Queen at the Royal Palace. These then offered them a lunch at the Zarzuela and then the gala dinner at the Royal Palace. Felipe VI and Al Thani held a working meeting, and before that the emir received the golden keys to the city from its mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and visited the Senate, where he was welcomed by the president of the upper house, Ander Gil, and the head of Congress, Meritxell Batet. In addition, he completed his first day of work with a visit to the Zarzuela Racecourse Madrid, to witness a show horse race.

The Government points out that the good relationship with its partner allows it to also talk about the human rights situation and recalls that some “progress” has been made

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This Wednesday, Sánchez participates in the inauguration of the Spain-Qatar business forum, at the CEOE headquarters, which was also attended by the Minister of Industry, Reyes Maroto. Then, the president receives the emir in Moncloa. At 1:15 p.m., the signing of agreements is scheduled there. The state visit will conclude with lunch to Al Thani offered by Sánchez in his government palace, a meal also attended by the first vice president, Nadia Calviño, and the heads of Industry and Agriculture.

Where is the defense of the human rights? In the Executive they defend that having “good relations” with the Arab country “allows us to talk about all the issues, including this one, which is included “in the joint declaration”. From Moncloa they emphasize that Qatar has starred in “some advances such as those in labor matters welcomed by the International Labor Organization (ILO)”. “There’s a long way to gobut we have no problem raising it with a partner like Qatar”. In the Government they remember that the high representative of the EU, the Spanish Josep Borrell, paid a visit to the country and a dialogue on human rights was launched.