By Andy Sambidge
British Ambassador to Qatar also calls on more UK schools to set up business in Gulf state
Trade between Qatar and UK has seen a 90 percent increase over the first four months of 2011 compared to the same period last year, a senior official has said.
John Hawkins, the British Ambassador to Qatar said bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $4.8bn in 2010 and was expected to increase significantly this year.
He said the UK now represented Qatar’s largest LNG market, following a deal signed in May between Qatargas and the UK's Centrica.
“Over the last year we have seen an unprecedented number of high-level visits in both directions,” he said in comments published by Qatar daily Gulf Times, referring to the state visit of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Shekha Moza bint Nasser, as well as visits from both country’s prime ministers and other government officials.
He added that the UK was also set to welcome a large number of Qatari visitors this summer, with applications rising from around 60-80 a day to some 250-300 a day in recent weeks.
The ambassador said that following the opening of the University College London (UCL) in September, he would like to see more educational institutions coming to Qatar.
A lack of school places has consistently been identified as a stumbling block for British and other expatriate families relocating to Qatar, and Hawkins admitted that this was an issue.
“We want to see more schools here in Qatar, and we are also working with Doha College and Doha English Speaking School on their expansion plans. This is something we are involved in an active dialogue about,” he told Gulf Times.
The UK is keen to cement strong links with Gulf nations and last week a joint UK/UAE CEO Forum was established in a bid to drive trade between the two countries.
A target has been set for bilateral trade to reach $12bn by 2015.