The President of Belarus went to the Middle East region. He is going visit two countries, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. That’s the third visit of Alexander Lukashenko to Qatar. It is a country with ancient history. Even Before the Common Era, inhabitants of this territory were mediating in trade of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece with India. Thus, they clearly understand economic language. One more important fact is that Qatar is a large oil and gas producer as well as the UAE. And Belarus is interested in it.
Minsk and Doha, the capital of Qatar, are almost 4,000 kilometers apart. We are divided by the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf, and nearly a dozen countries. But there is much more in common between Belarus and Qatar than you think at first glance. The first detail that catches the eye: in spite of the impressive distance, there is no need to switch the clock. Time in Minsk and Doha is the same. Just as the desire of the two countries to develop cooperation.
Qatar is often called the pearl of the Persian Gulf. As if emphasizing that the small country with a population of around the population of Belarus' capital Minsk is a gem in the desert. This is the richest country of the world. Huge reserves of oil and natural gas have brought this Middle Eastern country fame and leadership in absolutely all financial ratings. An interesting detail: until the middle of the 17th century, the emirate did not exist on European maps. But today this small but very influential state is a strong player on the world energy market.
Alexei Belyayev, political scientist:
Qatar is one of the OPEC countries. And it has significant reserves of gas and oil, and exports lots of these products. They could be a certain alternative to supplies from the Russian Federation, for example. On the other hand, our relations with Qatar have been underestimated to some extent. They need a very large range of products. The supply of materials, natural stone, wood, which are in abundance in the Republic of Belarus. Furniture, some items made of wood, of course, could be in great demand there.
The Emirate considers health and social security the main national priorities. No less attention is paid to the development of sports and physical culture. Education is another priority. All residents have equal access to it. There are more than enough points of contact between Qatar and Belarus, for which the aforementioned priorities are relevant.
Roman Golovchenko, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the United Arab Emirates and the State of Qatar:
We can be proud of the fact that we see Belarusian foodstuffs on the shelves of Qatari stores. Belarusian construction materials are delivered to Qatar for the finishing of the most luxurious buildings. These are ceramic tiles and other types of finishing materials: parquet, wood. Incidentally, the Development Bank of Belarus is going to sign the relevant agreements with the Qatar Development Bank, which provides loans on very favorable conditions for the implementation of projects aimed at development.
Alexander Lukashenko is visiting Qatar for the third time. In 2007, the President gave an interview to the leading TV channel of Qatar. In 2011, the Belarusian leader's visit to that country passed almost in almost family-like atmosphere. However, most of the communion remained behind the closed doors of the Palace of the Emir. The Sheikh does not like publicity and rarely gives interviews.
For example, Belarus is ready to create in Qatar assembly plants with a view to supply the products to the neighboring countries of the region. The investment potential is inexhaustible.
Arab businesses are building in Minsk a hotel and sports complex costing more than $200 million. This is one of the examples of investment cooperation.
Alexander Kondrashonok, expert:
In my opinion, that country can be attractive for Belarus in terms of investment cooperation. There are other projects, for example in the field of tourism. Also, the country is interesting from the point of view of the organization of joint productions. Qatar is one of the leaders in the Persian Gulf and North Africa for the production of fertilizers. And Belarus is famous for potassium fertilizers. We could create some joint ventures to enter common markets.
Today, the United Arab Emirates are concerned about the diversification of the economy, which depends on the black gold too much. This is why Qatar is interested in cooperation with Belarus.
Alexei Dermont, political scientist:
Belarus, first, boasts a serious mechanical engineering industry, and, second, we have a well-developed IT sector, woodworking. They have a constant need for European technologies. We just own it all right now.
In the countries of the East, personal contacts are almost essential for a successful business. This is why Alexander Lukashenko discusses new projects and the expansion of trade and economic cooperation with the sheikhs in person. It is obvious: even with a close relationship with the Belarus President, the rulers would hardly agree to invest in projects that would not be profitable. So Belarus in this respect is a time-tested partner.
The main topic of the Belarus President's visit to Qatar and the UAE will be economy. The potential here is great. Agriculture, industry, education, aviation is not a complete list of areas in which the countries could open a new chapter.
By the way, just recently Belarus and the United Arab Emirates have signed an agreement on cooperation in agriculture. Military-technical cooperation is another promising area.
Alexei Belyayev, political scientist:
We have the latest developments, in particular, our missile systems, the same Polonez or our tractors based on MAZ technologies. All this can be in demand, given the difficult situation in the Persian Gulf. It makes them think about improving their defense capabilities.