In the Name of God, The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful
In the name of the Almighty God and with His blessing, I declare open the Thirty Second Session of the Advisory Council.
Members of the Advisory Council,
We meet today, as we did every year, to review together what we have achieved in the previous year and what we hope to achieve, with the Will of God, to attain the goals we seek to realize for our dear country, namely: progress and high-standing and prosperity for our dear citizens.
As you know, to achieve our national goals in comprehensive development, we pursue the course of planning, setting of priorities and optimum use of the available resources.
Our aspirations to build a modern state are not mere hopes; they are coupled with practical steps which, we realize, have to cope with the speed of international changes, otherwise we cannot catch up with them, and hence what we will achieve tomorrow will be surpassed by time. That is why sluggish dealing with the requirements of overall development of our country is a fault that ought to be avoided.
Domestically, the most important event since we met last year is the referendum on the Draft Permanent Constitution, which won wide popular acceptance which confirms that its provisions have satisfied the wishes and expectations of our people for establishing an institutional state on the basis of the principle of separation of powers where popular participation represented by the elected Advisory Council is considered to be a basic element. It also confirms the conviction of our people in the principles and fundamentals embodied in that constitution.
By maintaining a balance between the executive, the legislative and judicial powers, between the public rights and obligations, between the interests of individuals and those of the society, and by the unique character of its provisions that reflect our true state of affairs, our inherited traditions, the values and customs of our society in the context of our true Islamic Sharia, the Constitution represents the beginning of an important phase of our national action, which we fully trust will be of great benefit to our country. We look forward to enacting the complementary laws to the Constitution and the organs provided for their creation, such as the Constitutional Court, and determination of the polling constituencies, so as to be able to issue it and work according to its provisions.
In view of the vital importance of education and health in the citizen’s life, we are studying the possibility of establishing an endowment for each, the returns of which would ensure stability of their necessary financing, so as to protect them from any negative impacts of economic crises that might occur in the world and be reflected upon us.
The face of life in Qatar is changing daily and for the better, thanks be to God. All of us feel that change in the different aspects of life. The State is still doing its best to furnish the suitable conditions for that change. But it is also necessary that such change include several prevalent conceptions. Since independence, the State has been the sole major party in the economic arena, for a number of reasons, most important of which is perhaps that the State oil revenue was the main source of the national income. However, since we have opted for the course of comprehensive development to advance our country, we seek to diversify the sources of the national income by creating other important resources wherein the private sector has a big role in their realization. It is no longer acceptable to adhere to the conviction that the State must do everything. If the comprehensive development of our country is our aim as people and government, the responsibility of realizing it lies on the shoulders of each one of us in whichever position one might be
Economic activities in the past year witnessed noticeable events of positive indications on all spheres. In the macro economy, the gross domestic product continued its growth at a reasonable rate that makes the rate of per capita income in Qatar among the high rates in the world. On the other hand, the trade balance realized a surplus, while the rate of inflation continued its decrease for the fifth consecutive year till it reached almost zero rate.
On the sectoral sphere, the oil and gas sectors still represent the most important sources of financing the development process, with a noticeable increase in the role of natural gas. Work on increasing our oil reserves has continued. We have achieved a big leap on the way to optimum utilization of natural gas by raising the reserve, increasing the production of liquefied natural gas, penetrating world markets and diversifying exporting methods.
The re-evaluation of the North Field Gas reserves has resulted in almost doubling previous assessments, thus making the North Field the biggest single field in the world, placing Qatar in the second or third position worldwide in terms of the size of natural gas reserves.
We are also continuing expansion in the existing petro-chemical and fertilizer industries, and in establishing new projects in the down-stream industries to achieve the goal we have in mind, which is increase of added value to the existing industries, the diversification of the sources of income, the transfer of modern technology and developing and employing national labor.
As I mentioned in my address to your esteemed Council last year, and out of our belief in the necessity of increasing the contribution of the private sector in the national economy, the State has privatized part of some public sector projects in the petro-chemical, fertilizers and steel industries and petroleum products. This resulted in the creation of new companies. We will continue the privatization process in future whenever suitable opportunities occur. We have been keen on reinforcing this course because we believe in the importance of consolidating the culture of saving and widening the base of national beneficiaries in the field of privatization.
In this respect, I would like to urge the citizens to plan very well their spending and savings to ensure a decent and stable life for the future generations.
Members of the Advisory Council,
In the field of our foreign relations and policies, fostering our ties with the sisterly GCC States and deepening the bonds of fraternity and integration with them are in the forefront of our priorities. We are looking forward to the coming GCC Summit, which will be held in the sisterly State of Kuwait. We are confident that H.H. Brother Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s sponsorship of this summit and his wisdom will contribute to its success and the positive results coming out of it that would contribute to achieving integration and cohesion between the GCC countries, as well as fulfilling our peoples expectations and ambitions as to reinforce security, stability, development and consecration of the one common destiny.
We are also very keen on enhancing fraternal relations with all the sisterly Arab states which are today in most need of closing their ranks, unifying their positions and deepening their solidarity to face up to the challenges and dangers and overcome the state of weakness, disintegration and incapacity from which they suffer.
With regard to the Palestinian cause, our primary national cause, we think that Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people constitute grave escalation and a threat to security and stability in the region, and are aimed at implementing its schemes to put an end to any possibility of realizing peace, abort the Road Map, and evade the obligations of the peace process. While saluting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, we affirm the support of the State of Qatar for their legitimate struggle to regain their national rights and establish their independent State, with Al-Qud As-Sharif as its capital. We ask the international community and the International Quartet to provide international protection for the Palestinian people and enable them to exercise their inalienable national rights, and stop all that could impede the efforts made to establish just and comprehensive peace in accordance with the resolutions of international legality, and the Road Map plan, and compel Israel to fulfill its commitments and withdraw from the Syrian territories in the Golan and the rest of the occupied Lebanese territories.
The difficult conditions and challenges faced by the Iraqi people require our solidarity with them, standing on their side and helping them as best as we could. In this respect, we have welcomed the formation of the Governing Council and the cabinet that was formed, hoping that it can realize the expectations of the Iraqi people by formulating a new constitution, holding free elections and establishing constitutional institutions to achieve the hopes of this brotherly people and their national aspirations to rule themselves by themselves in an independent united Iraq.
We also welcome the success of the negotiations to achieve peace in Southern Sudan between the Sudanese government and the rebel movement and hope that a final agreement between the two parties would soon be reached so that the people of this brotherly country could turn to developing their country.
We also hope that the brothers in Somalia would arrive at a consensus on a national government representing all factions of the brotherly Somali people as to realize for Somalia its unity, independence and sovereignty over its territories.
In conclusion, I extend to you profound thanks for your sincere efforts and persistent work in service of this homeland, fully appreciating the traditions you have established in the practice of legislative work since the creation of this Council. I am confident that your achievements in this domain and the rich legislative output and acquired experiences will be the solid basis for the work of the new Advisory Council under the permanent constitution, and the reference that guides it in exercising its tasks.
May God bestow success on you.
May the peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you.