HE Hussain Ahmad Al-Homaid, Qatari ambassador to Cyprus, speaks to former Cyprus ambassador Dr Andrestinos Papadopoulos
The relations between Qatar and Cyprus have developed significantly recently. What are the features of these relations and how do you see them expanding in the future?
Relations between Qatar and Cyprus have witnessed a remarkable development especially in recent years. The Qatari embassy was opened in Nicosia in 2007.
Last year Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, accompanied by a large delegation of Cypriot businessmen, visited Doha where he was warmly received at the highest level and met with several high level state officials. During this visit a number of bilateral agreements were signed between the two countries which cover several fields. These agreements reflect the depth of relations between Qatar and Cyprus and the desire of both sides to strengthen their cooperation.
Although economic cooperation remains lower than both countries aspire to reach, there are promising prospects to develop and widen this cooperation. One important development is the opening by Qatar Airways of new offices in Nicosia. The airline operates four weekly direct flights between Doha and Larnaca and this will help increase travel flow and develop commercial relations between the two countries.
These relations could expand in the future through investment projects which would be undertaken by Qatari private investors or jointly by Qatari and Cypriot businessmen. For this purpose several delegations from Qatar visited Cyprus during the last year to examine investment possibilities and available opportunities in the country. There are several Cypriot companies operating in Qatar mainly in the construction sector, and lately Cypriot citizens are able to get entry visas to Qatar at the airport in Doha, which will further enhance the relations between the two countries.
Qatar is active in foreign policy matters. The upheavals in the Middle East and the actions of ISIS represent additional challenges for your country. What is your government’s position?
Qatar and its leadership are active in foreign policy matters due to their strong belief that stability and peace especially in our region is inseparable. We all need stability to achieve progress in our endeavours. However the current situation in the region necessitates collective efforts to deal with the challenges we are all facing. Hence, Qatar together with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are joining in the international efforts to deal with these challenges, normalise the situation and restore stability and peace in our troubled area.
Qatar stands against any group or action that contradicts human values and international laws and traditions.
Qatar will be hosting the football World Cup in 2022, the first country in the Middle East to do so. How many new infrastructure projects have been undertaken (stadium, training facilities, hotels, etc), and how does Qatar hope to benefit from the tournament?
Qatar undertook to build the necessary infrastructure needed to host the World Cup in 2022, which shall be ready on time if not even before. Already there are many modern stadiums and other facilities which will host many regional and international sporting events in addition to the existence of many luxurious hotels with high capacity and standards to accommodate visitors.
The western media have made a big issue about the working conditions for the thousands of foreign workers employed in constructing stadiums for the World Cup. How does Qatar view these reports and have any measures been taken to improve workplace safety?
The Qatari government spares no effort to ensure appropriate and safe working conditions for those who are involved in the construction of the facilities needed for hosting the World Cup. For this purpose the government has taken the necessary measures to improve workplace safety in all sites.
The Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, pointed out that a country hosting a big event such as the World Cup would face such criticism. His Highness has assured that many of the reports published against Qatar were false, and that the subject of foreign workers and the strict applications of work regulations have been fulfilled. Big companies that did not abide by the laws were placed on the black list, and work conditions have improved.