Australia’s first diplomatic mission has officially opened in Doha, in what officials said is ushering in a new era of cooperation between the two countries.
The embassy is located on the 21st floor of Tornado Tower in West Bay. It was inaugurated yesterday by Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Australian Ambassador to Qatar Axel Wabenhorst.
Following the event, the Australian flag was raised next to the Qatari one outside of the building.
The office is expected to serve some 5,500 Australian citizens currently residing and working in Qatar.
According to its website, it does not process visa applications, as these must be done online.
Also yesterday, Bishop and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani signed an open skies agreement.
The deal will permit the countries to operate several passenger and cargo flights with “full traffic rights,” QNA reports.
Signing @qatarairways Air Services Agreement w Qatar FM @MBA_AlThani_ #Doha pic.twitter.com/bKRTF9VKiZ
— Julie Bishop (@HonJulieBishop) November 17, 2016
Qatar’s national carrier has been expanding rapidly into Australia, now flying to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
Meanwhile, the trade exchange between Qatar and Australia grew to QR3.7 billion last year, according to QNA.
The value of Qatari exports to the nation is about QR1.4 billion, while imports are worth nearly QR2.3 billion, the news agency added.
Agreements between the two countries involve trade, education, tourism and agriculture.
Bishop said yesterday she hopes this is expanded to include tourism, hospitality and commodities.
Wabenhorst told Doha News that the embassy will officially be open starting this Sunday.
It is still “training its staff on how to run things smoothly,” but Australians can visit for consular services, he added.
It is open Sunday to Thursday, 8:30am to 4pm by appointment only (email [email protected]).
More information can be found on the embassy’s website.