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Qatar investments coming

Several Qatari businessmen are interested to pour investments in the Philippines after being impressed by the friendly business climate and political stability under President Duterte’s watch.

The renewed investor interest comes amid plans of the Philippines and Qatar to forge an agreement on the promotion of trade and investments during the President’s visit here this weekend.

Duterte has arrived in Doha to hold bilateral talks with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as well as attract more investors during an assembly with Qatari business community.

“We are looking forward to the signing of a bilateral agreement on the promotion and protection of investments. If inked during the visit of the President, it is expected to open a lot of investments in the Philippines because the Qatar government wants to diversify their investment to other places,” Philippine Ambassador Alan Timbayan said in a media interview in Doha. “They are looking to the Philippines as a good place where to place their investment,” he added.

Ahead of the President’s visit, Timbayan said the investment roadshow conducted by Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Charito Plaza in Doha last February already yielded positive results.

He said Plaza has “received pledges of investments in the Philippines from various individuals and companies interested in doing business in the Philippines.” He could not provide the names of the interested companies as of press time.

The business interest was sparked after Plaza presented the lucrative investment opportunities in the country while highlighting the “stability of the country to do more business” as well as “stability of the Duterte administration and zero tolerance for corruption,” according to Timbayan.

The priority sectors for investment promotion to Qatar are information technology, business process management, energy, agribusiness, infrastructure, and tourism.

Timbayan said they expect the President’s visit to Qatar to further boost the economic and investment relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Filipino Catholics can practice their faith openly, particularly observe Lent, in Qatar despite being a Muslim country.

Timbayan said Qatar has been “liberal” and “tolerant” on freedom of religion or belief for non-Muslims, citing the establishment of buildings for Christian worship on the outskirts of Doha.

The first Catholic church in Qatar, dedicated to the Our Lady of Rosary, was built in 2008 inside the religious complex widely known as the Church City. Other Christian churches have also been constructed on the same land donated by Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

“We have a Catholic church here and in fact the government here gave a land for the building of the church so Filipinos are free to go to church here and hear mass,” Timbayan said in a media interview, referring to the 2,700-seat Catholic church frequented by Filipinos. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)