Two years of regional blockade that have changed the face of Qatar
For two years now, any long-term show in Qatar has received the achievements of a feat. Whether it is the opening of an infrastructure, the entry into operation of a farm or the presentation of a stadium. The blockade decreed in June of 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt is a constant reminder in the streets of this tiny country, the largest exporter of liquefied gas in the world with an area similar to that of the Murcia region.
The abrupt rupture of diplomatic relations and the ironclad isolation, still in force, cut their supply routes and forced the state airline Qatar Airways to modify their routes assuming an additional cost to which their accounts have not yet managed to overcome. Havoc that, in a matter of hours, transfigured a small peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia on a complete island. However, the embargo has not broken Doha’s skyscraper skyline. Last month, the partial inauguration of the city’s first subway line, after six years under construction, became the umpteenth act of vindicating its independence. “In the last ten years we have managed to complete a large number of roads and infrastructures, the blockade has not affected our growth plan or our budget”, Naser al Jater, deputy secretary of the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy, the entity responsible for ensuring the construction of the necessary infrastructure for the World Cup that the country will host in 2022 .
The tournament and the ‘boom’ of the brick that has caused has been one of the factors that have played in favor of the country in the unusual dispute with the neighboring countries of the Persian Gulf. “Our work is in line with the calendar, all stadiums and training camps will be ready by 2020. Unfortunately, if the blockade continues, the main consequence will be for fans from neighboring countries because they will be more difficult to visit. It will be a shame, “warns Al Jater from his office in Al Bidda, one of the towers that mold Doha’s” corniche “. In the confines of Qatar, the four-month-old quartet has launched the quartet of patriotism and worship of the emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Zani, 38 years old. Nobody talks about the thirteen measures required by their rivals, critical of the country’s commitment to political Islam, to suspend the blockade. “This crisis can only be resolved if they come with good faith and respect for international law and our sovereignty, Qatar will always be open to dialogue,” a senior Qatari official who demands anonymity comments to this newspaper.
But the end of the raid seems remote. The authorities have taken advantage of the crisis as an opportunity to address their weaknesses and reduce their dependencies abroad. The economy has stabilized and grew to 2.2 percent in the last quarter of 2018 after during the first months of the blockade the country had to cancel 3,000 million dollars in investments in the United States and recover 40,000 million dollars from its foreign currency reserves with the purpose of propping up its financial sector. “For Qatar, the blockade has been very beneficial, it has begun to develop an ecosystem to be less dependent, it has opened more to the world,” says Verónica Bermúdez, a Spanish scientist based in Doha. Since 2017, Doha has expanded its agricultural production; inaugurated new infrastructures as a port that aspires to become a regional center; and expanded its cultural and tourist offer, with the recent opening of the National Museum.
Without economic straits and a sovereign fund of 320,000 million dollars, Qatar has launched to increase its investments abroad. Last year Qatar Petroleum, the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas on the planet, with an annual production of 77 million tons, acquired 30 percent of the shares of Exxon Mobil’s Argentine subsidiaries. Latin America has become one of its most precious markets. “ Qatar is evaluating energy, infrastructure and tourism projects, we need to attract foreign investment and they seek to place their resources in projects that are bankable,” acknowledges Pablo Campana, Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment of Ecuador. Between the adventures that Doha studies in the Latin American country they appear a refinery of 300,000 barrels of crude oil daily and hydroelectric projects by value of 9,000 million dollars. “Until now,
An economic diplomacy that, without renouncing its precepts, the emir has accompanied with a more discreet policy in the region after the failures of its bets in Syria or Egypt, where they sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that Riad and Abu Dhabi consider a threatens its ‘status quo’. Despite the first signs of public hostility from Donald Trump and his alignment with the Saudi and Emirati theses, Doha has managed to maintain its strategic relationship with Washington . A year ago both countries agreed to expand Al Udeid, the largest US military base in the Arabian Peninsula that has played a key role in bombing the enclaves of the self-styled Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
The Qatari monarchy has responded to accusations of supporting terrorism by its enemies with a vast public relations campaign, aided by the mistakes of its neighbors. The presence of a Qatari delegation at the summits that Saudi Arabia organized at the end of May in Mecca to deal with Iran’s interference fueled hope for a thaw. Some progress that seems, for now, a mirage. “There must be mediation but the level of humiliation that our people lived, which were expelled from hotels and hospitals in the middle of the night, will not be easily forgotten, we will need an entire generation to turn the page,” the senior Qatari official ventures.
Originally published at https://zaviews.blogspot.com.