Building on the existing relations between Qatar and Austria, the bilateral cooperation is expected to a see major boost in 2019 and beyond as both the countries are working very aggressively to expand and deepen ties in new areas, said Dr. Willy Kempel, Austria’s Ambassador to Qatar.
The two-way trade exchange between Qatar and Austria witnessed double-digit growth in 2018, and both the countries are working to build on this with a special focus in the field of infrastructure and services sector.
The trade volume between Qatar and Austria stood at $130m (about QR475m) in 2018, which registered more than 10 percent growth compared to 2017. Authorities from both countries are talking on several fronts, including investment promotion and production agreement, which is expected to open more opportunities for bilateral cooperation, according to the envoy.
“We had the most important visit of the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Austria in early March this year. We signed several MoUs for cooperation in the field of commerce, industry, and tourism. And we have finalized MoUs for cooperation in internal security and public health, and waiting for the new Austrian government and high-level exchange of visits as well as the signing of the MoUs,” Ambassador Kempel told The Peninsula recently.
He added: “The visit by His Highness to Austria has opened a lot of doors, and we are just walking through the doors. For instance, the head of the Austrian Olympic committee recently signed an MoU with its Qatari counterpart to establish cooperation.”
He further added: “We stand ready to strengthen the level of cooperation. Our companies in Qatar are expanding their operations in the field of infrastructure and other sectors. Austrian companies have handed over the Al Janoub Stadium, (located in Al Wakra) and Doha Metro’s Green Line. And they are likely to contribute to the expansion of Hamad International Airport and other projects that would come our way.”
He also noted that the bilateral trade volume number does not reflect the real figures as there are a lot of Austrian goods exported to Qatar via third country ports. So the real figures would be much higher.
Qatar’s investment in Austria is limited to private investments and the Austrian side is expecting some investments from Qatari public sector companies, including the sovereign fund, to invest in the coming days.
“The talks have started and we are very confident that soon we will finalize them which will open a new chapter in the bilateral relations between Qatar and Austria,” said Kempel.
In addition to health, infrastructure, the tourism sector is also one of the most promising sectors of cooperation as around 30,000 to 40,000 Qataris visits Austria annually. And given the number of MoUs signed between the two countries, a lot of Austrians are also expected to visit Doha in the coming years.
Both countries are also looking forward to forming joint committees for business and economic cooperation once a new government is formed in Vienna.
Among the Austrian exports to Qatar include food and beverages (such as Red Bull), healthcare products, exclusive fabrics, and machinery. The trams operating in Qatar’s Education City were also imported from Austria. In addition to Doha Metro and Al Janoub Stadium, Austrian companies have implemented several other important projects, which include Al-Ahli Hospital.
Currently, some 25 Austrian companies and 350 Austrian nationals are working in Qatar who are looking forward to longstanding relationships to contribute to Qatar’s fast-growing development story in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond.
The connectivity in Qatar and Austria is very good. There are 17 weekly services by Qatar Airways between Doha and Vienna, which is the host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations, Opec, and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).