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Qatar and Spain Form “Strategic Alliance” by Bridget Ryder

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Qatar and Spain Form “Strategic Alliance”

The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, ended his recent visit to Spain by signing a bilateral agreement with the Spanish government to deepen relations between the countries to “a strategic alliance,” particularly in the areas of gas and energy. 

The two countries have had good relations for decades, and the tiny country in the Persian Gulf with the world’s third largest reserves of natural gas already supplies a small percentage of natural gas to Spain. 

Currently, Spain imports almost half of its natural gas supply from Algeria. But it is now facing a diplomatic crisis with that North African country because the current Spanish executive reversed long-standing policy earlier this year by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Even with closer relations with Qatar, Spain will still have to wait a couple of years before it can significantly increase natural gas imports from the emirate. Qatar will have to expand production generally to meet increased demand, principally due to European countries turning to it as an alternative to Russian gas. Qatar cannot promise a significant increase in gas sales to Spain until 2024. 

But Spain wanted more than gas from Qatar anyway, and it got it.

At a gala dinner hosted by Spain’s King Philipp VI and Queen Letizia, Al Thani also announced his country would invest 4.720 million euros in Spain. 

To this end, the bilateral agreement also included a Memorandum of Understanding between the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Cofides, a Spanish public-private partnership that manages state funds, to broaden and deepen their working relationship and identify new investment opportunities.

The Government has avoided providing details about future projects with Qatar, except that they will be in the areas of ecological transition, digital transition, hydrogen storage, industrial autonomy, and infrastructure.  

Qatar is already well invested in Spain— from sports teams to energy. The trade balance between the two states before the pandemic was around 1.2 billion: 900 million of Qatari exports to Spain and about 400 the other way around.

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.