By Ray Chickrie
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – A delegation from Qatar Sovereign Investment Authority (QIA) is currently visiting Guyana seeking investment opportunities with this new oil and gas giant in South America. Last Thursday, two executives from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Abdulhadi F A Al-Hajri and Dany Farah Nakhoul met with the president of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, at the presidential Secretariat in Georgetown.
President Irfaan Ali is boldly seeking overseas investments in the Arab Gulf states. He recently returned from Dubai where he opened “Guyana Day” Expo 2020. It was during this visit that Guyana again showcased its investment opportunities. Guyana attracted great interest in Dubai while Ali had many meetings with investors which led to follow up meetings and visits to Guyana.
QIA is a state-owned sovereign wealth fund, Qatar in 2005 “created to diversify the economy and prepare for a time beyond the hydrocarbon era, ” its website reads:
“QIA today is a professional and sophisticated investment organization, capable of attracting top talent locally and from around the world. Our teams of financial experts are empowered to develop long-lasting business relationships in every market. QIA brings value to the table in speed of execution combined with clear decision making. Our investments are across many different markets, asset classes, sectors and geographies.”
President Ali and a high-level team of government ministers and private sector representatives met on Thursday with the Qatari delegation. They included senior minister within the office of the president with responsibility for finance, Dr Ashni Singh; minister of agriculture, Zukfikar Mustapha; minister of natural resources, Vickram Bharrat; minister of tourism, industry and commerce, Oneidge Walrond and minister within the ministry of public works, Deodat Indar.
The private sector was also represented by president of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Rafeek Khan; president of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Timothy Tucker; president of the Private Sector Commission, Paul Cheong.
A press release from the office of the president said that “ the meeting was critical and can open up many opportunities for cooperation between the government, the local private sector and QIA.”
“President Ali highlighted his government’s desire to make Guyana the hub for agriculture and food security within the region and further afield while pointing to the numerous opportunities in other sectors that will promote the overall growth and development of Guyana.”
The Gulf has been a cornerstone of the ruling government’s foreign policy since 1992. Former president Cheddi Jagan visited the Gulf in 1993, as did former president Donald Ramotar and former president Bharrat Jagdeo, now vice-president of Guyana. Jagdeo visited the Middle East many times and had desired to see major investments coming from the Persian Gulf states.
The ruling party commenced diplomatic relations with the Middle East when the PPP returned to power in 1992. Guyana in 1993 joined the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and began a campaign to expand Middle East ties. Guyana then established diplomatic ties with Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. They also expanded ties with Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Now it’s becoming clearer why Guyana is about to open embassies in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A steady stream of investors from the Persian Gulf states of Qatar and the UAE are coming to explore investments in Guyana.
The prime minister of Kuwait, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia also promised to lead trade delegations to Guyana. In addition, Guyana plans to open embassies in Kenya and Ghana.