Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I acknowledge the Head of Protocol, Mr Fakhroo, our Ambassador to Qatar, Axel Wabenhorst, and all of those who have gathered here today for this momentous occasion.
I am here to officially launch Australia’s new Embassy in Qatar, here in the Tornado Tower in Doha. This represents a significant milestone in the relationship between Australia and Qatar.
There are about five and a half thousand Australians who are currently living and working here, and we feel sure that the two-way trade, economic, commercial and investment relationship has much potential, and with our presence here, will grow substantially.
This morning I have had the honour of meeting with the QIA, the heads of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), with the Foreign Minister, and with the Minister for Economy and Commerce, and at each meeting we discussed the current partnership between Australia and Qatar and the potential that this relationship has. Two-way trade is currently worth about $1.75 billion, but given the enormous infrastructure build that we see here in Qatar, there are many opportunities for Australian businesses to work here. Likewise, there has been significant investment from Qatar in Australia, in agriculture, agri-businesses, commodities, and tourism related infrastructure and the like, so while there is already a deep level of investment, we see opportunities for more.
We also work together on some strategic issues, and have been partners in a number of the coalitions designed to resolve conflicts in our region. So with many common interests and a number of shared values in terms of outcomes to regional conflicts, I believe that there is much that we offer each other.
We certainly welcome Qataris to visit Australia. I believe that the complementary seasons mean that we should see more Australians visiting Qatar, and more Qataris visiting Australia. We have much to offer each offer. We see this as part of Australia’s expanding diplomatic footprint around the world. This is our 101st post overseas. Yesterday in Marrakesh I confirmed that Australia would be opening its 102nd diplomatic post in Rabat, so our presence in this part of the world is important in the Middle East, North Africa. I see the embassy here in Doha as the beginning of a new era in relations between this magnificent country and Australia.
So it is with great pride and pleasure that I formally declare open Australia’s new embassy, our first embassy in Qatar, here in Doha.
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