Qatari Finance and Investment Delegation visits US, Welcomed by Gala Dinner and Participate in Forum

  January 26, 2015 – The US-Qatar Business Council, in partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of the State of Qatar, welcomed a senior Qatari delegation to Washington, DC. The delegation, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Special Envoy for His Highness the Emir of Qatar, focused on finance and investments between the United States and Qatar. The delegation also included Qatar’s Minister of Finance, Mr. Ali Shareef Al Emadi, the Governor of the Central Bank, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al-Thani, and the CEO of Qatar Investment Authority, Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani. The delegation was welcomed by a gala dinner and presented US-Qatar Finance and Investment Forum the following day. Both events were held at the US Chamber’s historic Hall of Flags, named so for “the banners of 12 great explorers who blazed the paths of trade and planted the first seeds of commercial and industrial growth in the New World,” which served as the perfect setting to host the visiting delegates. The dinner gathered a room of 250 senior US business executives, senior government officials and well-known partners in Qatar’s expanding economy. Guests included members of Congress, senior administration officials, and the diplomatic corps as well as C-suite business leaders. The US Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Anthony Foxx delivered remarks at the reception. His remarks highlighted the importance of the US-Qatar relationship and welcomed the opportunity to explore infrastructure investments. Khush Choksy, Vice President of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Middle Eastern Division welcomed the audience to the Gala Dinner and introduced Ambassador Patrick Theros, President of the US-Qatar Business Council. Ambassador Theros spoke to the development of Qatar since his first post as junior officer in 1964 and described Qatar’s determination to become a leading Gulf nation. Ambassador Theros introduced Michael Cousins, Vice President of ExxonMobil, the Lead Sponsor of the Gala and the two-day program. Mr. Cousins spoke of ExxonMobil’s longstanding commitment to Qatar’s economy and its National Vision of 2030. He spoke of the depth of the relationship, which reaches beyond the energy industry to many sectors including science, technology, education and social areas such as youth development. Mr. Cousins introduced the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Ambassador Anne Patterson, who touched on Qatar’s unwavering commitment to the bilateral relationship with the United States, spanning from education, regional politics, and global humanitarian efforts. Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce took the stage and spoke of the strong economic partnership that American firms share with Qatar. Speaking on behalf of the US Chamber, which represents nearly 3 million US businesses, he communicated the interest of the US private sector to grow the business relationship and support Qatar’s growing economy. Mr. Donohue introduced Qatar’s Minister of Finance Al-Emadi who gave the keynote speech outlining Qatar’s vision for furthering the bilateral relationship with the US. The Minister reaffirmed Qatar’s commitment to a strong bilateral relationship and continued development and growth, “Despite the decline in oil prices, Qatar will continue the path of development and there will be no change in fiscal policy on spending or investment in infrastructure.” He projected Qatar’s investments in the United States will exceed $35 billion over the next five years. On January 26th the delegation participated in the US-Qatar Finance and Investment Forum, which underscored the industrial and economic alliance between The United States and the State of Qatar, and also presented opportunities and addressed challenges. Ambassador Patrick Theros, President of the US-Qatar Business Council, moderated the first panel that examined the economic relationship from a Qatari perspective. The Minister of Finance of the State of Qatar, H.E. Ali Shareef Al Emadi, spoke regarding Qatar’s economic vision and business opportunities in the country. The Minister celebrated Qatar’s special relationship with the United States, beginning with ExxonMobil being the first American oil company to invest in Qatar. Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani, CEO of QIA spoke on the successful project of CityCenterDC. Sheikh Abdullah also announced plans to open a representative office of QIA in the near future. Rick Davis, Partner & COO at Pegasus Capital, moderated the second panel, which focused on US perspectives on the bilateral economic relationship with Qatar. Serving as panelists were Ambassador Susan Ziadeh, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs; Dan Mullaney, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East; Andrew Baukol, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for the Middle East and Africa; Alistair Routledge, the President of ExxonMobil Qatar; and Maggie Salem, Executive Director of the Qatar Foundation International. Ambassador Susan L. Ziadeh spoke of the depth of the US-Qatar relationship. She noted that American companies truly invest and develop a relationship with Qatar. She credited those who are successful because they seek the opportunity to contribute more than just the business deal. She stated that the ideal company will contribute added value to social, cultural, and educational aspects of Qatari life. Dan Mullaney discussed the exponential growth in bilateral investment between the US and Qatar. He highlighted the 120 US companies operating in Qatar and the nearly 24,000 American jobs involved in exports to the state. Alistair Rutledge recalled the Minister’s comments about the company’s investments. He explained that when ExxonMobil began drilling in Qatar, it was a financial burden on the country, which had to borrow funds at high interest rates. Now, after years of continued investment in infrastructure and great cooperation and bilateral relations with the Qataris, they are producing a volume of 77 million tons per year and are the worlds leading LNG exporter. Finally, Maggie Salem spoke about a social and human perspective on Qatar’s investments as she discussed many of the programs QFI offers. She stated that these programs give young people and their communities, insight into Qatar and work to strengthen the relationship in years to come. The delegation’s visit underlines the State of Qatar’s enduring economic partnership with the United States, in particular with QIA’s investment in City Center DC, and Qatar Petroleum’s joint venture with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips to operate Golden Pass in Sabine Pass, TX. Also noted was Qatar’s recent announcement to purchase US Patriot missiles, Apache Helicopters, and anti-tank missiles in a major $11 billion arms deal made last year. The gala dinner and forum were sponsored by ExxonMobil, Qatar Foundation International, ConocoPhillips, Raytheon, Occidental Petroleum and Shell Corporation, which are corporate members of the US-Qatar Business Council. Additional sponsors for the program included General Electric, Pegasus, and Hines. The US Qatar Business Council takes the pride having hosted Sheikh Mohammed and his important delegation to fulfill our mission dedicated to enhancing the relationship between the United States and Qatar, our best friend in the Gulf.