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Emir of Qatar visits UK with eye on investment
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 10 - 2010

WINDSOR: The emir of Qatar starts a three-day state visit to Britain on Tuesday with a welcome from the Queen.
The 58-year-old Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and his wife will stay at Windsor Castle after a procession by horse-drawn carriage through the streets of Windsor town.
The emir will hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron later on Tuesday after visiting the Houses of Parliament. The Queen will later host a state banquet in his honor at the Castle.
On Wednesday, the emir will visit the 2012 Olympic stadium and, with Qatar bidding to host the 2022 football World Cup, will hold discussions with officials on England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
The emirate has a growing influence in Britain, having acquired the landmark Harrods department store in May for a reported 1.5 billion pounds.
Qatar also has a 6.8 percent stake in British banking giant Barclays and a 25.9 percent share in the Sainsbury's supermarket chain.
The emir said ahead of the visit he was interested in investing in Christie's auction house in a tie-up linked to Qatar's new museum of Islamic art.
“We are building a museum and it (Christie's) has links with the stuff we are collecting for our museum,” he told the Financial Times newspaper. “It depends on the opportunity - if we had a good opportunity we would not hesitate.” Liquefied natural gas (LNG) has boosted trade between Qatar and the United Kingdom, and also helped the UK reduce carbon footprint.
A terminal - South Hook - jointly set up by Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Total at Milford Haven in Wales, is capable of processing up to 15.6 million tons a year and delivering some 21bn cu m of LNG annually.
Qatargas has already committed billions of dollars for meeting up to 20 percent of UK's gas supply needs through the South Hook Terminal.
Qatar is the world's largest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas. The UK has specifically benefited from new gas deliveries from Qatar through the South Hook terminal. Deliveries began in April 2009.
The UK presents an opportunity for Qatar as it is the world's third largest and fastest growing import market for natural gas. The UK's import market for gas rapidly expands with declining supplies from its North Sea resources.
A view of the South Hook LNG terminal
Qatar's LNG delivery has already resulted in major environmental benefits to the UK. Qatar's supply enabled consumers in the UK burn gas instead of coal in the winter. “Coal was displaced as new gas supplies from Qatar arrived, making gas more attractive than coal for power generation,” said Centrica, which owns British Gas, the UK's largest energy supplier. British Gas supplies gas and electricity and energy services for more than 12 million households and 1 million businesses in the UK.
While LNG has consolidated the strong trade ties between Qatar and the UK, the two countries are also major investors in each other.
Qatar has a number of major investments in the UK including Canary Wharf, Grosvenor Square, Sainsbury's, London Stock Exchange, Barclays and Shard of Glass development among others.
Qatar's largest bank QNB is active in UK with a full-fledged branch in London's Grosvenor Street. The country's national airline - Qatar Airways - flies many times a week to London and Manchester.
Shell is the largest foreign investor in Qatar. Vodafone is another major UK investor. Other important UK investors in Qatar include major companies in banking and finance, legal, security, construction, education, retail, energy, transport infrastructure and others.
In 2009, the UK exported goods and services to Qatar worth £1.2bn.
UK exports of goods to Qatar have more than doubled in the last five years (from £363 million in 2005). The total value in 2009 was £778 million, an increase of 12.5 percent on 2008.
The latest figures for 2010 show UK's visible exports to Qatar were up 61.4 percent over the same period for 2009.
Britain exported services to the value of £484 million in 2009, a 16 percent decrease on 2008.
The latest figures for 2010 (January-July) show that Qatari exports to the UK grew by 331 percent on the same period last year. This is mainly due to LNG flows through the South Hook terminal.
The two countries have also signed a major agreement on “double taxation” in 2009.


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