QATAR 2019: A year full of achievements

Qatar Airways, on January 1, announced that it acquired five percent of China Southern Airlines. Qatar Airways completed an on-market purchase of certain A shares and

H shares of China Southern Airlines, resulting in aggregate holding of approximately five percent of the total issued share capital of China Southern Airlines.

The National Human Rights Committee of Qatar signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Commission on Human Rights of the Republic of the Philippines on January 10. 

On January 12, Ashghal opened the longest and deepest bi-directional tunnel in Qatar as part of the Al Rayyan Road Upgrade Project Phase 2. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani met on January 14 with Chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat. Following the meeting, H E the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the AU Commission witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding through which the State of Qatar would provide a grant of $20m as a restricted grant for victims of irregular migration and human trafficking.

Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) recorded 745 violations committed by United Arab Emirates (UAE) against citizens and residents of Qatar during six months after the issuance of decision of International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Qatar Executive announced, on January 29 that it had become officially the world’s first commercial service operator of the Gulfstream G500 jet, which embarked on its inaugural flight on January 14.

The total number of vessels arriving at Qatar’s Ports increased by 53.2 percent in January 2019 against same month last year, which helped total net tonnage of ships to grow by 159.1 percent in January 2019.

Some of the finest Kahraman amber pieces from around the world were showcased at the first ever Katara Exhibition for Kahraman which opened on January 10.

On January 25, Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra (QPO) opened the first-ever Children and Family Festival in collaboration with World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and Qatar Music Academy (QMA) underlining the significant impact of blending music and education towards building communities and enriching lives.

The third Shop Qatar featuring exciting retail offers, fashion-forward events and spectacular entertainment concluded with a grand finale on January 20. 

Hamad International Airport was the second best airport in the world for On-Time Performance (OTP) according to OAG’s Punctuality League report. As per OAG, the leading global provider of digital flight information, Qatar’s state-of-the-art airport ranked second in the major airports category (from 20 to 30 million departing seats per annum) with 85.41 percent of its flights operating on time.

Ooredoo Group announced it has successfully tested the first International 5G call in the Arab World. 

Qatar topped the global entrepreneurship environment, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, in which 54 countries worldwide took part. 

Qatar has ranked first in the Arab world and seventh globally out of 128 countries at the Global Finance Safety Index for 2019. 

The Public Parks Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment in collaboration with the Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’ launched a large park (linear park) in Al Hilal area near Qatar Charity and The Mall on February 4.

Qatar Foundation (QF) launched a first of its kind school in Qatar, which offers a globally unique learning model to young children on February 12. Academyati is a progressive school under the umbrella of QF’s Pre-University Education (PUE) and admissions are open now for the 2019-20 academic year. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stressed that the State of Qatar was open for dialogue to resolve the Gulf crisis, adding that it has been calling on the blockade countries to sit at the negotiating table to discuss the causes of the crisis and work to resolve it. H E the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs was addressing the  Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 17.

The relaunched Doha Debates, a Qatar Foundation (QF) production, held its first live debate on the world’s urgent and worsening refugee crisis in the presence of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation (QF) on February 26. 

Qatar Airways Cargo announced on February 26 that it had been named ‘Global Air Cargo Airline of the Year’ by STAT Trade Times. The coveted award was given at this year’s ‘Air Cargo Africa’ air freight industry trade exhibition and conference, held in Johannesburg, South Africa from February 19 to 21. 
In February, the Ministry of Interior won top places and gold medal in the field of security innovations at the 11th International Inventions Exhibition in the Middle East held in Kuwait.  
In February, Hamad Port, Doha Port and Ruwais Port handled 83,091 tonnes of general cargo last month compared to 46,764 in January, reflecting 78 percent monthly increase.  
Qatar Petroleum and Exxon-Mobil have taken the final investment decision for developing the $10bn+ Golden Pass LNG export project. 
Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) unveiled its aggressive 2022 strategic roadmap aims to enable it to emerge as a major financial hub in Mena and South Asian region. The QFC 2.0 expansion plans target to triple the size of QFC’s assets to $70bn and plans to create 10,000 high-skilled jobs in the private sector, in addition to increasing the total number of firms on QFC platform to 1,000. 
Prime Minister and Interior Minister, H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, launched Qatar Petroleum’s (QP) ‘Localisation Program for Services and Industries in the Energy Sector’ (Tawteen), an initiative to enhance localising the sector’s supply chain and expand the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) base.
Acclaimed Indian spectacular “Ticket to Bollywood” which has been presented more than 700 times in 18 countries served as a fitting show to welcome Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture on February 4 at Katara Opera House. 
On February 20, Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani inaugurated the 16th edition of Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. 
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment launched on February 23 two new electronic services available on smart and mobile devices: request for the fencing of farms and tenders and auctions services. 
On March 3, 2019, the Ministry of Interior inaugurated the open data website, making it the first government department in Qatar to launch this service and provide a specialised website for this data to the public.
Improved life expectancy, better health outcomes, and investment in health infrastructure have led to Qatar being ranked fifth in the world for best healthcare by the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank on March 5. 
On March 5, the General Directorate of Civil Defence (GDCD) announced that it acquired many advanced fire-fighting vehicles related to civil defence, including 90-metre and 112-metre ladder vehicles which can be use in case of fire incident in high-rise buildings. 
National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) appointed three leading positions during the General Assembly meeting of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) on March 5.
London Stock Exchange (LSE) has listed QIIB’s $500m Sukuk. The highly successful offering was oversubscribed nearly seven times with investors bidding for more than seven times the amount offered and reflects the positive outlook of the Qatari economy and the strength of its financial position.
Qatar announced the launch of the world’s largest Shariah-compliant ‘Energy Bank’ with a targeted capital of $10bn (QR36.41bn) to finance local as well as overseas energy projects. 
On March 7, the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) announced plans of 55 new road and infrastructure projects with a total budget of QR18.8bn for 2019.
Qatar Airways, on March 7, revealed its new Economy Class experience and announced seven upcoming additions to its rapidly-growing global network on the first the opening day of ITB Berlin, the world’s largest international travel and tourism trade show
H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), on March 12 reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to bringing the widest possible range of perspectives to crucial issues and challenges – by announcing a pledge that will see women make up at least half the panel speakers at all its conferences and events, locally and internationally.
On March 13, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah met with US Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea L Thompson.
On March 14, the State of Qatar announced this year a contribution of $100m to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. 
The State of Qatar received the first batch of Apache-QA, during a ceremony held at the headquarters of Boeing Defense Systems in Arizona, US ,in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, H E Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah on March 16.
Qatar Airways, on March 21, celebrated the arrival of its 250th aircraft, an Airbus A350-900 from Toulouse, France, the latest addition to the group’s growing fleet of passenger, cargo and executive aircraft.
March 27 was a significant day when Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani inaugurated the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) in the presence of prominent figures in the field of politics, culture, art, media, and heads of companies and international institutions, directors of museums, academics, film directors, and celebrities.
The inaugural Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) awards ceremony witnessed Hollywood actors and the whos’s who in global fashion industry descend on the Fire Station on March 28.
Sidra Medicine, became the only hospital in Qatar and the Middle East to offer a neonatal respiratory ECMO service. 
New Hamad General Hospital Trauma and Emergency Department completed by Ashghal and handed over to Ministry of Public Health.
The Katara Oud Festival marked its third edition with a spectacular opening on March 23. 
Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) marked its 10th anniversary with a festive opening ceremony showcasing culinary excellence and cultural performances at Oxygen Park in Education City on March 20.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment revealed in March its projects to increase food production including fish, vegetables, red meat, eggs and shrimps aimed at reaching a level of sufficiency by 2023. 
Hamad International Airport (HIA) was ranked as the fourth best airport in the world at the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2019, which took place during the Passenger Terminal Expo 2019 in London, United Kingdom on March 28. 
Qatar Airways announced on April 4, that it was named ‘World’s Top 10 Airline’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘Middle East Best Airline’, ‘Middle East Best Major’, ‘Middle East Best Business Class’, and ‘Middle East Best Economy Class’ by TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Airline Awards 2019.
Qatar Airways announced on April 5, that it was awarded the PAX International Readership award for ‘Best Cabin Interior Passenger Experience’ at an awards ceremony. 
Under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs, H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, and in the attendance of the Chief of Staff of the Qatari Armed Forces, H E Lieutenant-General (Pilot) Ghanem bin Shaheen Al Ghanem, the cornerstone for the Armed Forces Technical Institute was laid in cooperation with BAE Systems on April 10.
H E Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, on April 10 was awarded the Pioneer Leadership Award in Healthcare for 2019 by the Arab Hospitals Federation during its 21st annual forum.
On April 17, the Chairman of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) Elections Supervisory Committee, Major General Majid Ibrahim Al Khulaifi, announced the results of 25 CMC constituencies. 
On April 15, National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Somalia’s Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs H E Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah met on April 17 with the Vice-Admiral James Malloy, Commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT); and Commander of the US 5th Fleet and his accompanying delegation.
Ashghal started on April 17 the construction of the first Cable-Stayed Bridge in Qatar and the conversion of Haloul Roundabout into a two-level interchange on Sabah Al Ahmad Corridor project. 
Bringing together more than 250 brands under one roof, the five-day 15th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition witnessed a grand launch on April 26.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment created on April 29 Food Security Department under a recent administrative restructuring of the Ministry to enhance the state efforts to ensure food security in the country with special focus on increasing fresh local food production including vegetables, fish, milk and meat
Vodafone Qatar marked a major communications technology achievement by making the region’s first local and international live mobile calls via a 5G handset powered by its GigaNet 5G network. 
Barwa Bank has announced the official completion of its legal merger with International Bank of Qatar (ibq). The merger, which brings two of Qatar’s leading and most dynamic financial players under one roof, will establish a powerhouse Shariah-compliant financial institution in both local and regional markets.
The State of Qatar participated in the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, with a delegation consisting of Minister of Transport and Communications H E Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti and Minister of Commerce and Industry H E Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari. 

As seen on Peninsula Qatar  Image Credits Peninsula Qatar