The visit of the Emir of Qatar, Shekih Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to Madrid has brought rich rewards for Spain.
The Emir used the visit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the two country’s diplomatic relationship, to announce that Qatar’s €425 billion sovereign wealth fund will invest some €4,720 million of it in projects in Spain.
The bilateral deal represents the first major agreement between a European nation and a non-EU country aimed at leveraging the EU’s Next Generation Fund of which Spain has been earmarked some €70 billion in soft loans and grants.
The deal is expected to signed today, Wednesday 18th May between the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Spain’s investment agency Cofides.
Spain wants to increase Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports from Qatar in order to guarantee the gas supply.
In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic upended supply and demand worldwide, LNG from Qatar – currently the world’s biggest exporter – accounted for 11% of Spain’s gas imports
Qatar currently exports 77 million tonnes of LNG per year but aims to reach 126 million tonnes by 2027.
Qatar is already a major investor in Spain, with some €21bn in sectors, such as energy, sports, and real estate, among others, and the Qatar Investment Authority is the second largest shareholder in the Spanish Stock Exchange including being the largest shareholder in Iberdrola.
It is also the world’s second largest gas exporter, after the United States, which makes it a key country for Spain when Europe is grappling with reducing its dependence on Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine.
The Emir was given full military honours at the welcoming ceremony at the royal palace yesterday with a guard of honour provided by the Guardia Real.
Later the Emir was given a gala dinner at the palace which was attended by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and other leading political and business figures.
“This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, which have been characterised by continuous development and growing cooperation in all fields, particularly in education, health, investment, energy and the economy,” said the Emir.
“All this is proof of our confidence in the strength of the Spanish economy. Earlier today I gave instructions to increase investments by $5 billion, which will add value to our existing successful investments in Spain, bearing in mind that Qatar is considered one of the largest Arab investors in Spain,” he concluded.