Qatar to open embassy in Australia this year: Envoy
DOHA QATAR will open its embassy in Canberra, Australia this year, said the country’s Ambassador to Qatar and the UAE HE Pablo Kang on Monday.
Talking to Qatar Tribune on the sidelines of a reception hosted by the Australian community in Qatar, Kang, who is on his maiden visit to Qatar, said the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani is likely to visit Australia this year.
He said Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig would visit Qatar on February 1
“Australia is boosting ties with Qatar in many areas. There are growing relationships between both countries in aviation, education, trade and defence. Australia has invited the HH Emir to visit the country. At present there are around 3,000 Australians in Qatar and though I am stationed in the UAE, I will be visiting Qatar regularly to look after the needs of the citizens as well as to discuss bilateral relationship with Qatar,” he said.
The envoy said free trade agreement between the GCC countries and Australia has become effective from this year.
Acknowledging Qatar’s growing influence in the region, Kang said, “In the recent times, Qatar has emerged as a prominent political player in the region.” He pointed at the role played by Qatar in Libya and Lebanon.
“Australia has also formed the Australia-GCC Committee through which foreign ministers of the GCC countries will be invited for a summit in Austraila this year,” he added.
He hoped that Prime Minister and Minster of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani will be able take part in the summit.
He said that Qatar Airways will launch a direct flight to Perth in July.
Kang said that the trade volume between Qatar and Australia amounted to 800 million Australian dollars between July 2010 and June 2011. The major Australian export to Qatar was livestocks.
He said, “There is a huge demand for Australian livestock in Qatar and the region. Over 316,000 sheep were exported to Qatar, which was 11 percent of the total export of sheep from Australia. Qatar is the fourth largest meat and livestock export market of Australia.” Regarding the partnership between the two countries in the construction field, the envoy said that Australian company Leighton was instrumental in constructing the equestrian complex in Qatar, which is the largest in the world.
He also said that Australia was open to coordination with Qatar in the field of liquefied natural gas as his country has discovered large reserves of gas in its coastal areas recently. He noted that China is the leading importer of gas from Australia.
The ambassador also said that there were great opportunities for Qatari students in Australia for higher studies.
“There is a significant increase in the number of Qatari students as well as from other GCC countries who pursue higher studies in Australia,” he said.