The Iranian President’s visit follows the recent undisclosed visit of Qatar’s Foreign Minister to Tehran for talks with President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, according to AFP.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, has arrived in Qatar on his first official visit, upon an extended invitation from the country’s Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
— الديوان الأميري (@AmiriDiwan) February 21, 2022
The Iranian Ambassador to Qatar, Hamid Reza Dehghani, while addressing a press conference on Saturday, revealed that a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) will be signed between the two countries.
According to reports, President Raisi will address Iranian expatriates residing in Qatar as well as hold talks with Iranian and Qatari businessmen. On the second day of his trip, the Iranian President will deliver a speech at the 6th Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) summit.
Shortly before his departure for Qatar, President Raisi said the visit entails two objectives. The first objective is to “expand ties with the friend, brother, and neighbour Qatar and the second one is to participate in the GECF,” the report stated.
The visit is seen as an opportunity to further strengthen the diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries. Iran and Qatar’s shared ownership of the North and South Pars Field natural gas area, the world’s largest natural gas field, offers an already-established medium for the two countries to strengthen economic ties in the oil sector.
His visit also offers an opportunity for Iran to bolster ties through neighbourhood diplomacy with the regional countries in the Persian Gulf.
“Iran is one of the founders of the GECF because we are among the three most important gas producing and exporting countries,” Raisi said in remarks reported by state television before he left Tehran, reports noted.
Raisi’s arrival to Doha marks the first visit by an Iranian President to Qatar in eleven years and his third foreign visit since assuming office in August 2021.
Three agreements and one proposal underway
Managing Director of Ports and Navigation Organisation, Ali Akbar Safaei, has focused on three joint agreements, headed by the Roads and Urban Development Minister, Rostam Qasemi, and the Qatari Transportations and Naval Affairs Minister. The agreements, between Iran and Qatar, are set to be finalised in the presence of President Raisi.
The Iranian Roads and Urban Development Ministry also has a fourth proposal on the agenda.
Regarding the agreements, “one of them is in air transportations field, one in the naval field, one on ports field, and the fourth one is the proposal of constructing an under-seabed tunnel between Iran and Qatar, which is a unique project and will join Bushehr’s Deyr Port to Qatar,” Safaei noted.
The tunnel is “unique” because it connects Qatar to countries in Europe, and the Caspian Sea littoral countries, as well as the eastern and western countries of Iran, Safaei explained.
“This is a macro-scale project which will harbour in great developments both for Iran and for Qatar and will join the north of the Persian Gulf to its south,” he added.
Oil and gas field agreements
The Iranian Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji held meetings with energy ministers of Algeria, Qatar, Venezuela, and Nigeria in Doha on Sunday, centered around “investment in oil and gas fields, transfer of technology, and swap of gas,” reports said.
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The Petroleum Mnister also assessed a number of issues in the meeting with GECF’s current Secretary General, Mohamed Hamel.
Iran and Qatar trade
The head of Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization (TPO), Alireza Peyman-Pak, said that the value of trade between Iran and Qatar can reach one billion dollars in the upcoming year.
He said that trade between Iran and Qatar is “currently a small figure of about $300 million-$400 million,” adding that there is potential for the figures to exponentially increase by next year.
Referring to the GECF summit, Peyman-Pak believes the agreements bear expansion of industrial, trade, transit, and tourism cooperation between the two countries.
Iran and the GECF
Iran is amongst the founders of the GECF and had been the Secretary General of the organisation for two periods. Dr Seyed Mohammed Hossein Adeli assumed his role as Secretary General of the GECF on the 1st of January 2014 for a duration of two years and was elected again for another term, 2014-2017.
Iran, Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela are 11 members of the GECF, while Angola, Malaysia, Norway, Iraq, Peru, Azerbaijan, and the United Arab Emirates are observers, according to GECF reports.
With the current members of the forum, the GECF plays a crucial role in the global energy markets and among the international energy organisations. “Together, the coalition represents 71% of the world’s proven natural gas reserves, 43% of its marketed production, 58% of LNG exports and 52% of pipeline trade of the source across the globe,” it reported.