The interview touched on the World Cup, local health sector, Palestine along with other issues.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has tapped into domestic and international issues during a rare live televised interview on national television on Thursday.
Speaking to a live audience in Doha on Qatar Television, the interview marks Sheikh Mohammed’s first television appearance since being appointed as prime minister last month.
Sheikh Mohammed began with Qatar’s success in hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup despite a wave of criticism it received in the lead up to the major event.
“What Qatar achieved in hosting the World Cup surpassed just the World Cup itself. People from around the world got to know Qatar and its people, which has achieved many results beyond the tournament and which we will be seeing for years to come,” the senior Qatari official said.
Sheikh Mohammed noted that the major sporting event shifted past perceptions on the Gulf state, especially among the western press.
“If you see public opinion across the media, for example the BBC, which everyone saw was clearly against Qatar’s hosting of the tournament, its poll showed the Qatar World Cup as the most successful,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
With the tournament representing Qatar’s soft diplomacy, Sheikh Mohammed explained that it was a factor that helped prove Doha’s presence regionally and globally.
“Many questioned the need for this soft power or soft diplomacy. At the end of the day we are a small country and soft diplomacy is part of proving the existence of the State of Qatar and contributes greatly to our position as a major and important player in the region and the world,” the diplomat added.
Delving into Qatar’s economic diversification and growth, the senior Qatari diplomat explained that the Gulf state seeks to expand its economic resources rather than relying on its existing ones.
“If the country only relied on being an oil-rich country, we would not have reached this level. Without the vision and investment in gas and its importance in the future, and God’s help, we would not have reached this success,” he said.
Sheikh Mohammed explained that the Gulf state’s inflation rate is the global median and its economic performance is not fragile.
“Qatar is part of the world, the world is going through economic crises. The perception of Qatar, from the inside and outside, is that it is a rich country and dependent on natural resources,” he said.
Speaking on Qatar’s overall economic growth, Sheikh Mohammed stressed the importance of empowering and investing in citizens while providing them with the best services.
“The amir’s directives have always been reflected on the people, and the government’s mission is to manage the state and achieve the best efficiency and productivity from these resources and an important part of our goal is to provide the best services to the citizen, resident, investor and tourist,” he said.
With healthcare access being a key issue of concern among the local community, Sheikh Mohammed addressed the issues. Commenting on shortcomings in the health sector, Sheikh Mohammed said while there is scope for improvement, Qatar does strive to provide “the best possible services” across its hospitals.
“During Covid, the health sector proved its steadfastness and achieved what countries with prestigious institutions could not, including hospitals that have been there for more than 100 years,” he said.
The Qatari diplomat admitted that there are challenges which Qatar does not deny.
“We spoke with the Ministry of Health to improve the level of services..and the results will show during the coming period,” he explained, noting the “difference will be seen soon”.
The newly-appointed PM also tapped into ongoing Israeli aggression against Palestinians, especially in light of intensified violence on worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque.
“The attempts of forcing a new status quo on Al Aqsa mosque is unacceptable. If Arab countries and Muslim countries stay silent, the case will have no value if we lose Al Aqsa mosque,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
He added: “We saw a lot of worshippers minding their business and being beaten up, these behaviours are barbaric and brutal.”
The Qatari official reiterated the Gulf state’s support forPalestinians, saying “the war that they are fighting to defend the Al Aqsa mosque is of utmost importance” to Qatar
Commenting on recent developments regarding the Arab League, Sheikh Mohammed also reiterated Qatar’s stance on the Syrian regime.
On Friday, reports say Arab officials will convene in Jeddah to discuss whether Syria will be readmitted into the bloc ahead of the upcoming Arab League summit.
With more regional countries rekindling ties with the Syrian regime following more than a decade of isolation, there have been questions over Qatar’s stance. Sheikh Mohammed said there is currently “nothing on the table” and the reports are mere speculations.
“There were reasons behind freezing Syria’s membership at the Arab League and the boycott of the Syrian regime and these reasons are still there,” Sheikh Mohammed stressed.
He added that Qatar wants to leave the resolution to Syria’s crisis at the hands of the Syrian people themselves.
With Qatar’s major contributions emerging across various fronts worldwide, Sheikh Mohammed said such assistance is a duty for all nations.
“All countries have responsibilities to one another and Qatar is also working on its responsibilities towards better development in the world. A tent that is produced or comes out from Qatar and houses or shelters an entire family – this is part of our contribution to the world too,” he said.
The top Qatari official added that the country remains interested in domestic and global matters, especially those concerning the region and the religion.
“This is something that Qatar has always adopted, it is not new,” he said.