Qatar government officials have expressed interest to work closely and join China’s ‘One Belt One Road (OBOR)’ initiative, Chinese ambassador Li Chen has said.
“The leaders from both countries attach a very great importance to co-operate within this initiative in Qatar,” the envoy told Gulf Times at a Chinese tourism promotion-related activity in Doha yesterday.
OBOR is part of China’s development strategy to further enhance bilateral and trade relations, and co-operation in various fields among countries in different regions, including the Middle East.
The project, Li noted, consists of two components: the ‘21st Century Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’.
OBOR also aims to foster interconnectivity between countries by funding and building infrastructure development projects such as roads and bridges.
In Qatar, Li said Chinese companies have been actively engaged in construction projects, which include the Hamad Port, some roads, high rise buildings, and stadiums.
The China Railway Construction Company recently won the contract to build the 80,000-capacity stadium in Lusail City for the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to the envoy.
With OBOR, Li stressed that they want to play an important role in helping Qatar achieve its National Vision 2030, the country’s development roadmap launched in 2008.
On the other hand, he believes that Qatar will help in promoting what he described as “a great and ambitious initiative” internationally.
“We want to co-operate with countries along the ancient silk road, including Qatar, economically, culturally, and in many other areas,” Li said. “We want to achieve a high level of co-operation and development by implementing this initiative.”
Citing the wide experience of several Chinese companies in doing such projects in China and in other countries, he added that the Chinese government is more than willing to engage in big projects in the region such as the GCC railway network.
The construction of the billion-dollar long distance project, which will connect all six GCC countries, could take between six to eight years, Gulf Times earlier reported.
A senior official of AbuIssa Holding had hinted that the first phase of the project could start in Qatar but the system has to be compatible with all six GCC countries.
Li said many Chinese companies are also working with their partners in the country to seek for more awarding for major projects.
While bilateral trade between China and Qatar continues to grow annually, there was a slight dip this year due to the oil price slowdown, the Chinese embassy said.
The same trend in bilateral trade was also experienced between China and other countries in the region, according to ambassador Li Chen.
The envoy also cited the close co-operation of many Chinese companies with Qatari companies in various construction projects.
About investments, Li said several Chinese and Qatari banks have set up branches in each other’s countries.
“There are investments on both sides and we are seeking to broaden the scale and enlarge the scale for these investments,” he added.
He pointed out that the establishment of an RMB clearing centre in Doha will further enhance the financial co-operation between the two countries.
“We are also attaching great importance for cultural exchange, especially with the celebration of the 2016 Qatar China Year of Culture where both countries hosted big cultural events,” Li said.
Source: Gulf Times