Qatar emir seeking new markets, starts West Africa tour

CONAKRY, Guinea – In the aftermath of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries breaking of ties with Qatar, the emir of the wealthy emirate landed in Senegal on Wednesday at the start of a six-nation tour of West Africa as Doha seeks out new markets.

According to Emirate’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani’s is anticipated to visit Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, and Senegal.

Khater said the emir’s visit is part of Doha’s drive to open new markets and expand its economy amid ongoing barriers by its neighbors.

The emir who arrived in Senegal on Wednesday evening is also expected to travel to Guinea on Thursday, according to the Guinean presidency in a statement.

Karim Wade, the son of former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, lives in exile in Doha as part of an arrangement reached with the emir to free the former Senegalese minister from a prison sentence given for corruption.

The Malian presidency has also announced that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is also expecting Emir Al-Thani on Thursday.

The six countries on the emir’s itinerary had “strong economic potential and opportunities despite some security challenges in some of them,” Khater said.

The emir is to sign cooperation agreements in health, education, mining, energy and food security.

Khater said Qatar will pledge and donate $13.8 million to fund a cancer hospital in Burkina Faso.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with gas-rich Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups and being too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival.

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.
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