Throughout its history, the United States has developed and nurtured friendships with allies around the globe. Some share similar economic interests. Others are tactical political partners. Still others are strong military allies. A few share America’s emphasis on education, health care and opportunity for all. It is rare however, when a nation shares in all of these items with the United States.
The Middle Eastern nation of Qatar is just such a rarity.
Diplomatic relations between Qatar and the United States were established in 1972. Nearly 50 years later, Qatar is home to thousands of Americans and the United States is Qatar’s largest foreign investor and its largest source of imports. By virtually any measure, America’s friendship with Qatar ranks among its top relationships worldwide.
Not only is the association between the two nations healthy and prospering, it continues to grow in a variety of ways including economic, political, militarily, educational and cultural.
Geographically speaking, Qatar is a small nation. Economically however, its relationship with the United States rates as a powerhouse. The value of Qatari imports to the US in 2018 totaled $855 million, while the value of US exports to Qatar amounted to $5.15 billion, growing by $270 million over the prior year. That means the annual trade between the two is more than $6 billion.
As of now, there are 120 wholly owned US subsidiaries participating in the Qatari market. Surprisingly only 20 of those are in the oil and gas industries. There are more than 650 joint-venture companies. Most of these companies play an active role in various business markets in such as contracting, engineering consulting, infrastructure, education and information technology.
Clearly US companies recognize the stability and benefits of investing in Qatar but the investment of time and money delivers the other way as well. Over the past several years Qatar has continually increased its investments in the US. Most recently Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) pledged to invest $45 billion in the US in 2019-2020. To date, $30 billion has already been committed across various industries. In June 2018, Qatar announced they would invest $20 billion in US oil and gas companies through Qatar Petroleum over the next five years. They are also looking to invest another $5 billion in downstream assets.
Qatar Airways and Boeing signed an $18.6 billion deal which will support more than 100,000 American jobs across the US. In total, more than one million American jobs depend on business with Qatar.
Qatar has also made notable US real estate investments, such as the City-Centre-DC project in Washington, DC. The $1.5 billion investment from Qatari Diar made it the development’s principal owner and is the single largest private-industry investment in the nation’s capitol.
Qatar’s ongoing relationships with multiple American universities including Georgetown, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, Weill Cornell, Virginia Commonwealth University and Northwestern University not only open the finest educational opportunities to their own at Doha’s Education City, it ensures a flow of hundreds of millions of dollars to the universities in the US as well. Students in both Qatar and on American campuses benefit form the arrangements.
Qatar hosts 11,000 US troops at Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US military base in the Middle East. They invested $5 billion to establish Al Udeid, which serves as the headquarters for the US Central Command, US Air Force Central Command and the Forward Command Center for US Special Operations. In total, 80% of aerial refueling in the region currently takes place at Al Udeid, where thousands of counterterrorism missions are launched.
At the 2019 US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, the US and Qatar signed an agreement for the expansion of of the air base. Plans for the expansion include the following initiatives:
•Increasing capacity to accommodate US Navy warships.
•Building 200 housing units for officers and families on the base.
•Building schools on post to serve the children of military personnel.
•Providing job opportunities to newly retired military members to assist in the development of the Qatari Armed Forces.
The Qatar-US partnership was also strengthened through the recent purchase of F-15 E fighter jets, worth $21 billion.
Nations, like each of us as individuals, count on their friends in the best of times and in troubled times. Supporting one and other’s economies, strategic military goals, educational efforts and diplomatic efforts have proven the United States and Qatar continue to be the best of friends.
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