Qatar and Singapore are working aggressively to enhance their bilateral relations. Some of the key areas where both the countries are currently focusing to expand and deepen cooperation include energy, security, fintech, cybersecurity, education and training among other sectors.
The relation between the two countries is in an excellent state. Since it is already in a good position, it’s much more difficult to increase it by even a small quantum, so both the sides are working very hard and exploring new opportunities to boost ties, said a senior diplomat from the Southeast Asian nation.
“We started from a zero base which is now growing at a rate between 10 and 20 percent. We have been working very hard, and we are folding our sleeves to even work harder. We have identified several areas where we can expand cooperation in a big way,” Singapore’s Ambassador to Qatar Jai S Sohan told The Peninsula.
Speaking exclusively to The Peninsula just after a high-level Qatari delegation visited to Singapore, Ambassador Sohan, added: “The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani had discussions with my Minister on the implementation of monitoring mechanism (of the Qatar-Singapore High-Level Joint Committee). Both sides believe that things are good but can be made better.”
Sohan noted that there is a lot of potential to expand cooperation in various promising areas such as physical security on the ground as Qatar is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “In addition to security, we are also facilitating cooperation in the field of technology such as fintech and cybersecurity. I see these three fields as the wave for the future in terms of Qatar and Singapore relations.”
Enhancing cooperation in the field of LNG trade is another promising area where both sides are working to develop if further. Singapore and several other countries in the Asia Pacific are buying a lot of gas from Qatar, and since Singapore has a lot of storage capacity, both sides are willing to capitalize on the potential.
On contributing to Qatar’s efforts in achieving a knowledge-based society, the envoy highlighted that Singapore has been working on it for years, and continuing to implement it. So there are a lot of areas where both sides can work together. For instance, cooperation in the field of education, skill development and training can be of mutual interests.
“For Singapore we have no resources. Our people are the only resource. So we believe a lot in education, education, and more education.
It’s a life-long learning process. For workers, we need to provide training and re-training, because in 10 to 20 years from now, the economy will not be the same. We need to train the people to remain adaptable for the economy in the future. We need to merge technology with humans so that we work together in a synergy where everybody has a livelihood,” said the ambassador.
He also hinted that both sides are also looking forward to working together on projects to invest in Qatar, Singapore and beyond. He didn’t rule out the possibility of forming joint investment funds in this regard.
“It’s too early to tell anything about it (establishing joint funds). All options are on the table. We are exploring opportunities. It may be singly, or jointly, all depends on the private sector. We don’t know yet. But what I know for sure is that Qatar is looking at Singapore as a gateway and Singapore is looking at Qatar as a gateway. So that is important,” said Sohan.
He reiterated that there a lot of complementary areas between Qatar and Singapore and cooperation among them can be a win-win situation.
“For instance, we can also cooperate in the field of arbitration, water, and waste management, in addition to other areas that I mentioned.”
In terms of cooperation in the field of physical security on the ground, especially for the 2022 Fifa games, the Singapore-based companies are discussing with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said that ambassador.
Trade volume between the two countries crossed over $7.2bn in 2018, which is expected to continue expanding with a double-digit rate this year.