Qatari Economy and Commerce Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani, left, attending the Indonesia-Qatar Economic Forum in Jakarta on Wednesday (18/10). (JG Photo/Sheany)

Qatar Emerges Stronger, More Independent From Blockade: Minister


OCTOBER 18, 2017

Jakarta. Qatar has become "stronger and more independent" since Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states imposed a blockade on the country in June, its commerce minister said.

"Today, Qatar emerges stronger and more independent than ever before," Economy and Commerce Minister Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani said in his opening remarks at the Indonesia-Qatar Economic Forum in Jakarta on Wednesday (18/10).

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, accusing the Gulf state of financing terrorist networks.

The accusations were promptly denied by Qatar, which described the measures as "unjustified" and "illegal."

The severance of diplomatic ties resulted in travel restrictions, suspensions of flights to and from Qatar as well as the closure of transportation links.

Minister Al Thani said the blockade has not negatively impacted business in Qatar.

According to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), the blockade opens new opportunities for companies from the Southeast Asian nation to forge closer ties with their Qatari counterparts.

As Qatar gears up its infrastructure projects in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, Indonesia could potentially increase exports of various commodities, including construction materials such as cement and steel, to the Gulf state.

Indonesia's total exports to Qatar amounted to $900 million in 2016 and by the middle of this year, that value has already reached $700 million.

The Indonesia-Qatar Economic Forum takes place in conjunction with a visit by Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Bogor Palace in West Java for bilateral talks.

The Qatari delegation includes 43 business leaders, as Indonesia and Qatar seek to strengthen business relations.

Minister Al Thani said Qatar has opened new and alternative routes to deal with the unprecedented situation caused by the blockade against his country and that the private sector plays an active role in this.

Qatar said the blockade has served as a "catalyst to move forward" and helped accelerate the country's plan to become more independent from its neighbors.