Ellen Seeks More Investment …Agreement Signed For Liberians To Work in Qatar

Following fruitful discussions recently in Qatar by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, an investment mission from that country is expected in the country soon to explore the possibility of investing in this country, as there are potential opportunities.

Disclosing this to local journalists who accompanied her on the recent state visit to Qatar last week, President Sirleaf said the pending visit is the result of discussions held with the Qatari government and others, with diverse investment opportunities in that country.

Among individuals, groups and institutions that the President held discussions with were the Minister of Energy of Qatar, Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar Mining, African ambassadors accredited to that country, National Bank of Qatar, Qatar Charity Society, RAF Islamic Bank and Al Faisal Holding, which operates the biggest shopping mall.

The Liberian leader said she got the commitment of the head of that country,  Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who she said requested heads of entities to hold discussions on the matter.

She disclosed that one of the major achievements of her visit is as result of the talks with various sectors of that country, Qatar Airways, one of the leading carriers in the world, is expect to begin to fly in the country.

The Airways is the state-owned flag carrier, which operates a hub-and-spoke network, linking over 125 international destinations across Africa, Central Asia, Europe, Far East, South Asia, Middle East, North America, South America and Oceania from its base in Doha, using a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

It has   more than 30,000 staff, with 17,000 people employed directly and a further 13,000 in its subsidiaries.

The President added that some of the talks centered on mining, agriculture and transportation sector, and said that her government is committed to forging partnership for the realization of these initiatives.

As for Al Faisal Holding, President Sirleaf said she discussed with its leader, who is one of the business magnets in that country, the possibility of engaging in real estate and trade.

The company is one of Qatar’s leading private companies that played a significant role in the development of the Qatar economy and infrastructure attracting many foreign investments and creating immense career opportunities.

It was established in the 1960’s as a small trading company in spare parts.

Al Faisal Holding was able to keep pace with the prosperity and growth of Qatar to develop and nourish its business opportunities.

Impressed with the operation of the Qatar Foundation, President Sirleaf hoped that Liberia would learn from the experience of the foundation to help improve the country’s educational system. She expressed the desire that Liberian students and teachers would join this educational innovation and that there could be exchange program between the two countries.

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) aims to support Qatar on its journey from a carbon economy to a knowledge economy by unlocking human potential.

It was established in 1995 by His Highness, the Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. His wife, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, is the organization’s chairperson and driving force.

President Sirleaf who visited the foundation, was told that its aim is to unlock human potential through its three pillars of Education, Science & Research and Community Development, which it believes would benefit not only Qatar, but the region and the world.

The Foundation says this brings world-class education, work experience and career opportunities to Qatar’s young people and that it builds Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercializing solutions through key sciences.

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf has frowned on recent reports of how some citizens burnt a farm belonging to Sime Darby in Western Liberia and the blocking of railway belonging to ArcelorMittal in Nimba County to stop its train from operating.

The President pointed out that these acts have the propensity to discourage would-be potential investors, as they would believe that it is not safe to invest in Liberia. Another problem identified by the President is the issue of land and the demand by some residents about certain benefits.

Regarding the Liberian economy, the Liberian leader described it as, sound in potential and noted that the huge investment of about US$16bn has not really become operation, something she said the government has no control over, as this might be owing to infrastructure and negotiations.

On the Liberian media, President Sirleaf expressed concern about what she called “screaming headlines and derogatory statement” of things, she noted are not true. She urged the media to more positive, as this can also help in the nation’s economic development program.

Earlier last Wednesday, the Liberian leader held discussions with her Qatari counterpart, which culminated in the signing of four agreements by the two countries.

They are the agreements on air transport; an agreement on economic, trading and technical cooperation; an agreement on encouragement and protection of mutual investments between the two countries; and an agreement on regularizing the use of Liberian workers in Qatar.

On the issue of job opportunities in that country, it was gathered that the foreign workers are more than the citizens of that country.

The population is put at about 300,000, while the Indian workforce alone is put at more than 500,000, followed by other foreign nationals.

According to research, the 2010 census recorded the total population at 1,699,435. In January 2013, the Qatar Statistics Authority estimated the country’s population at 1,903,447, of which 1,405,164 were males and 498,283 females.

At the time of the first census, held in 1970, the population was 111,133. The population has tripled in the decade to 2011, up from just over 600,000 people in 2001, leaving Qatari nationals as less than 15% of the total population.

The influx of male laborers has skewed the gender balance, and women are now just one-quarter of the population.

Non-Arabs make up the majority of Qatar’s population, and government statistics refer to them as non-Qatari. As of 2013, the four largest ethnic groups are Arab 40%, Indian 18%, Pakistani 18%, and Iranian 10%. Of the remaining 14%, the most prevalent ethnicities are Nepali, Filipino, and Sri Lankan; however, exact percentages are unavailable.

Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Augustine Nganfuan and Civil Aviation Director, Archie Williams, signed on behalf of the Liberian government.