Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović arrived in a visit to Qatar, in an effort to open the doors for Croatian companies to the market of the rich gulf emirate. The President met in Doha with the Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and she will also meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, reports Index.hr on April 23, 2017.
Energy generates 90 percent of exports and more than 75 percent of budget revenues of the emirate with about 2.5 million people. Qatar has already shown interest in the planned construction of the LNG terminal on Krk, which is a strategic project of Croatia and the EU and should become operational in 2019. Its goal is to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas.
The construction momentum due to the World Cup in 2022 is a chance for Croatian construction companies, while the fact that Qatar is one of the major arms buyers represents an opportunity for Croatia’s military industry. The President is accompanied by representatives of a dozen Croatian companies, among them Crosco, Đuro Đaković, Končar, Jadranka Hotels and Podravka.
“Qatar is one of the countries in which decisions are made at high levels, and therefore the exchange of visits is an opportunity for our economy,” said Grabar-Kitarović to reporters. “I hope that the talks with the Qatari leadership and businessmen will lay the foundations for the participation of Croatian businesses in Qatari project and increase the potential for the Qatari investments in Croatia,” she added.
President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Luka Burilović pointed out that the goal was to send a message to the Qatari investors that Croatia was an attractive country for investments. “Our businessmen who are already doing business successfully in this market are a proof that this is a good opportunity for exports, and I am confident that this visit will bring about new business deals,” Burilović said.
Architect Otto Barić, who designed the 150 million euro hall for the World Handball Championships in Doha 2015, said that it was difficult to break into the Qatari market, which makes this visit a very important one. “Without political and institutional support, it is not possible to break through,” said Barić.
The Croatian delegation points out that good political and economic relations between the two countries can be attributed to the excellent relations of Muslims in Croatia with Qatari leaders, who financed the construction of the Rijeka mosque opened in 2013. They also say that they were pleasantly surprised by the reception in Doha, which has visited by almost all the top Croatian officials in the past ten years.
Sheik Abdulah Al-Thani has interrupted his holiday due to the Croatian delegation's arrival, and the President has been privately received by the former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, who spent several summer vacations sailing on the Croatian coast.
The visit will also include a forum of Qatari and Croatian businessmen.