- Italy-Qatar relations “have greatly strengthened in recent times, across several areas of the economy, the defence sector first and foremost.” Politically, the two countries “share multiple dossiers at the regional level and work to ensure security and stability in the world.” (Majed Al Ansari)
- Energy is crucial, as “Qatar has been supplying Italy with eight billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas” in 2009. Also, “the emirate has a strategic partnership with Eni and the Italian Qatari Energy Corporation to develop and consolidate the Qatari North Field. (Ali Al Hail)
- “Qatar Energy and Eni will build strong cooperations both within Qatar” and internationally. The former is “working on this now, anticipating a broadening of horizons and being aware that Europe needs our energy because of the war between Russia and Ukraine.” Beyond energy, “the military sector should not be underestimated, especially the naval sphere.” (Jaber al Harmi)
- “Several spaces have been created for Italian-Qatari cooperation on offshore fields” as a consequence of the maritime borders agreement between Israel and Lebanon. “There are also other opportunities in the [Eastern Med].” Ali Bakeer thinks Rome and Doha will cooperate further in gas projects “in that area and with a third country.”
- “In 2021, the value of total [Italy-Qatar] trade exceeded €4 billion for the first time. In the first eleven months of 2022, it amounted to approximately €6.8 billion, an increase of 120% compared to the same period in 2021.” Also, Italy is “a prime destination for Qatari investment”: Qatar Airways operates more than 40 weekly flights between the countries, and it holds 49% of the new parent company of Air Italy.” (Saleh Ghareeb)
The Doha-Rome connection. On Sunday, the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, landed in Rome. There he met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and spoke by telephone with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who could not attend for health reasons. In the wake of the event, our sister website contacted the leading experts in Qatar’s international relations to analyse the evolution of ties between Rome and Doha, with a view from the Persian Gulf.
Shaping relations (also thanks to the defence sector) – Majed Al Ansari, Foreign Ministry spokesperson and Advisor to the Qatari Deputy PM
“The visit of the Emir of Qatar to Rome was aimed at modelling the strength of relations between our two countries. In fact, these relations have greatly strengthened in recent times, across several areas of the economy, the defence sector first and foremost. The Qatari Armed Forces have signed several contracts with Italian companies. Qatar also highly appreciates the Italian contribution to the World Cup. It was a collaboration on the security and technical level, which contributed to the event’s success. At the political level, Qatar and Italy share multiple dossiers at the regional level and work to ensure security and stability in the world. During his meetings, our Emir [left] no stone unturned to strengthen these relations and will support them so that they can continue, particularly in the face of the common challenges ahead of us.”
Gas and investment at the heart of the partnership – Ali Al Hail, Mass Communications teachers in the Faculty of Political Science at Qatar University, in the US, Europe and the Arab world, and consultant to Qatar Radio & TV Corporation
“The importance of the visit is related to Europe’s gas needs following the war in Ukraine. It is well known that Qatar has been supplying Italy with eight billion cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually since 2009. This happened after the two friendly countries agreed on opening the Rovigo regasification plant (in October 2009, ed.), whose mission is to receive LNG from Qatar. The current and previous visits in 2016 and 2018 are a political indication of the value of Qatar’s strategic partnership with Italy. Italian President Sergio Mattarella also visited Doha in January 2020.
Today, there are more than 250 joint Italian-Qatari investment projects in Qatar. On the other hand, there are significant Qatari tourism and real estate investments in Italy. It is worth noting that relations between the two countries have seen extensive political, economic, trade, investment and military activities since the appointment of the Italian embassies in Doha and the Qatari embassy in Rome in 1992. For example, the emirate has a strategic partnership with Eni and the Italian Qatari Energy Corporation to develop and consolidate the Qatari North Field. It should be added that a qualitative change in relations between the two countries emerged in the first Rome-Doha strategic dialogue in February 2022. The event, led by the Qatari and Italian foreign ministers, broadened the basis of the strategic partnership.”
Continuity and development: relations (and LNG supplies) set to grow – Jaber al Harmi, editor of the Qatari daily al Sharq
“Relations between Qatar and Italy are characterised by stability, continuity over time, and the multidisciplinary dimension of cooperation. Although the energy sector is currently the most critical cooperation sector between the two countries, the military sector should not be underestimated. Especially the naval sphere, where several contracts exceed 5 billion dollars for supplies to Qatar. This is why we can speak of excellent relations between the two countries and new opportunities to implement them.
I foresee that in the next phase, Qatar Energy and Eni will build strong cooperations both within Qatar, where Eni is already present in the ‘al Shamal’ project, and will start an alliance in new exploration in different regions of the world. Qatar Energy is working on this now, anticipating a broadening of horizons and being aware that Europe needs our energy because of the war between Russia and Ukraine. At the moment, more than 10% of the energy used in Italy comes from Qatar. Still, given Doha’s reliability as a supplier, there is leeway to increase this percentage and thus strengthen cooperation between the two countries. I also register a mutual trust that allows these relations to be built and strengthened.”
Eastern Med and the Middle East: two regions in which to implement the partnership – Ali Bakeer, Professor of International Affairs at Qatar University and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington
“The Emir’s visit comes at a crucial time when it is vital to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries at the political, economic and defence levels. Qatar sees Italy as an essential partner for energy projects in the region and the future. For example, after the maritime borders agreement between Israel and Lebanon, several spaces have been created for Italian-Qatari cooperation on offshore fields in that area. There are also other opportunities in the eastern region of the Mediterranean where there are Italian projects, but also Qatari and US projects. That is why I think there will be future cooperation between Qatari and Italian companies for gas projects in that area and with a third country.
As far as the defence sector is concerned, Qatar is considered one of Italy’s most important customers. Several contracts have recently been signed, and talks on cooperation in this field are ongoing between the two countries. Qatar is seeking new technologies, especially for the naval military sector. I believe that, in general, relations between the two countries are important with regard to the entire MENA and Mediterranean regions and will continue in the future.”
2021-2022: a 120% increment in year-on-year trade – Saleh Ghareeb, Qatari analyst and researcher
“Perhaps Italy’s position and support for Qatar in organising the World Cup in Qatar 2022 has had a good impact on the consolidation of relations between the two countries and peoples. Italy is Qatar’s eighth-largest trading partner and seventh-largest supplier. In 2021, the value of total trade exceeded €4 billion for the first time. In the first eleven months of 2022, it amounted to approximately €6.8 billion, an increase of 120% compared to the same period in 2021. The Qatari-Italian Businessmen Council has worked to develop these relations with Qatar’s successful participation in Expo Milano 2015, where the pavilion attracted attention to Doha’s economy and broad investment prospects. It is also worth mentioning that 250 Italian companies operate in Qatar; Doha and Rome jointly own 200, and 50 are 100% Italian-owned.
Italy is also a prime destination for Qatari investment, an example being Qatar Airways, which operates more than 40 weekly flights between Doha and 4 Italian destinations. Qatar Airways holds 49% of AQA Holding, the new parent company of Air Italy. It is noteworthy that economic relations between Qatar and Italy have seen remarkable development since the official opening of the Adriatic LNG station off the coast of Rovigo. Mutual investment is an essential and strategic component of these relations. There is no doubt that [Sunday’s] visit and its large economic delegation [included] businessmen and investors, and they [brought] files to discuss and find ways to benefit from investment projects between the two countries. As a Qatari citizen, I am happy about this scale-up in relations between Doha and Rome because it benefits the two countries and the two friendly peoples.”