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A Conversation with Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr al-Thani [Rush transcript; Federal News Service, Inc.]

Speaker: Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, State of Qatar
Moderator: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
September 14, 2005
Council on Foreign Relations

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Council on Foreign Relations
New York, NY

 

INTERPRETER: Good afternoon. His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al-Thani, first deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, state of Qatar, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, New York, September 14, 2005.

RICHARD HAASS: Okay, if I could have people’s attention. I don’t want to brag and show off my fluent Arabic, so I will do this in English, if that’s all right.

Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations. I appreciate everyone who made the effort to get here through New York’s traffic today, which, even by New York standards, is considerable.

Today we are fortunate enough to have someone who I think is simply one of the wise men of the Middle East. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabir Al Thani has multiple titles, essentially the first deputy prime minister of Qatar as well as the foreign minister. He is now one of the most experienced foreign ministers in the world. I think you’re on the short list of experience and longevity. More important, it’s not just years; it’s also accomplishment.

What we’re going to do today is to—Sheikh Hamad has agreed to give an introductory talk for 10 or so minutes, which he will do in Arabic. And then we will move to the question and answer part, which we will do in English.

We’ve changed the ground rules slightly. We’re going to do all of this on the record, so his remarks will be on the record, and the Q and A will be on the record. I hear someone’s cell phone, which reminds me that anyone who does have a cell phone, a Blackberry—every electronic device except a hearing aid or a pacemaker—(laughter)—I would ask you to shut down at this moment, and if your cell phone goes off, I may include pacemaker on the list.

Again, the timing of this meeting could hardly be better. There are a multitude of issues emanating from this part of the world, from Iraq to Iran to energy issues to Palestinian issues, to obviously, the whole question of reform, democracy, economic change and so forth. Again, it’s as rich a—as well as I can remember, and yet I’m hard pressed to think of any, and I would rather have to offer up his thoughts and ideas and analysis from than our guest today.

So again, Sheikh Hamad, it’s a pleasure to welcome you—(inaudible)—to the Council, but back to the Council on Foreign Relations. And we look forward to hearing from you and then, in the best American tradition, we look forward to grilling you. (Laughter.)

(Applause.)

Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim
Bin Jabr al-Thani, first
deputy prime minister,
minister of foreign affairs,
State of Qatar

FOREIGN MINISTER SHEIKH HAMAD BIN JASSIM BIN JABR AL-THANI: (Through interpreter.) In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and gratitude for this kind invitation to speak about the relationship between the United States of America and the state of Qatar and the whole region. The relationship of state of Qatar with the United States is of friendship and alliance in order to realize the common interests of both countries on the basis of common respect, cooperation, and understanding.

The consultation on the issues relevant to the bilateral relationships, at regional and (universally ?), is always of a continuous nature, and we always aim to seek the best solution possible in the interests of both countries.

We view our relationships in the context of the concept of strategic partnership, which enables us not to hesitate to declare our agreements and differences on positions and policies. We have no reluctance in offering sincere advice to the United States when you say, in some positions, some aspect of (schedule?) that does not coincide with the strategic partnership. There is definitely (no doubt that unifies ?) our positions.

His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani assumed a supreme authority in our country in 1995. Our policies have been characterized with the determination to—we are on a path of reform and democracy, not overlooking the social fabric that characterizes our social—our society—characterized our society. And this was adopted prior to the events of September 11th, and we have come a long way since then.

The cooperation—the economic and cultural cooperation—between our countries promotes the political relationships to a higher levels, beneficial to both countries. This advance is a continuing process and we are keen that it keeps on this path.

And after that, I would like to mention some significant points that (it’s applied ?), but the strategic partnership between both our countries is consultation should be taken as much as possible before taking positions vis-a-vis conflicts that erupt in our region and other regions.

The Arabic regions will always be the—(inaudible)—of attention by the international actors, which—at the front of which is the United States. And these solutions will reflect on the Arabic region and the international region, and we see—we basically see—that these solutions should be based on international legitimacy and—

The other point is that we all condemn extremism and violence and terrorism equally, but we have to admit the failure to address the political and social and economic grievances in our region which associate with the lack of finding a fair and just settlement for the Palestinian issues and other conflicts in our region only strengthens the aim of extremism. The normalization of relationship between Israel is still a controversial issue among the Arab and Islamic world, and maybe the recent step by Israel withdrawing from Gaza—brought it back to prominence.

And I would like that we should salute this Israeli step, but it is important—very important—that there should be a clear vision to what becomes after this step, and that the whole Arab countries must take a step toward Israel by a conference, an international conference or a conference between the Arab countries and Israel and those sponsoring peace, especially the United States, trying to find a clear vision as to what comes after Gaza.

The other issue that concerns Iraq, it seems that the Iraqi situation has entered into political entanglements that will have repercussions not affect just Iraq, but will surpass and include the whole Arab countries in the region jeopardizing the interests of the United States. It’s important in this respect to put the regional and the Arabic role and the universal—and the international role into accord with—(inaudible)—calculation of the international and regional dimensions.

We have to—on the other hand, we have to make a—(inaudible)—rapprochement between the Arabic and Islamic world on the one hand and the American world on the other hand in order that we can learn more and further learn more about each other and in order to combat the extremism and the fanatic way of thinking that only encourages violence.

Thank you. (Applause.)

HAASS: Thanks.

Well, first I want to thank you for establishing a—it may be the first time this has ever happened. In my experience, I’ve been now president for just over two years, and there’s usually the 50 percent rule. When someone says they’ll speak for 10 minutes, they speak for 20 minutes. When they say they’ll speak for 20 minutes, they speak for 40 minutes. You’re the first person who came here and said he’d speak for 10 minutes and actually did it. So no matter what else happens today, I want to thank you sincerely for this. (Laughter.)

You touched on a few issues. Let me, if I could, at least ask some initial questions, and there’s a lot of talent in this room, and I’d like to quickly turn it over to them.

You spoke, in particular, about what you might call the linkages between policy and terrorism, that, insert whether it’s U.S. policy towards the Palestinian issue, terrorism, or what have you.

But let me challenge you on that. Just imagine tomorrow you had a settlement in the Middle East issue between Israelis and Palestinians with some form of a Palestinian state on 99-odd percent of the territory with compensation and so forth—some arrangement on Jerusalem, essentially enough to reach some of an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Just say the United States had dramatically, by then, decreased its presence in Iraq so that the two principal policy differences between the United States and many Arabs have gone away.

How much terrorism would you still see?

AL-THANI: Well, that’s the point I want to make a difference between the policies because I meant with the policies, the internal policies of the countries in the Middle East. So I mean it’s our policy on how to live in a democracy, how to be—(inaudible)—how to deal with the economy, how to deal with education and health care among our people.

These things can lead to less the people doesn’t believe in the vengeance in different way, which is the terrorism way always. This is a very important part that we have to fight among us, and to fight it, we have to have a democracy, in my opinion, to fight all these—(inaudible).

So we don’t always blame your policies, although you did some mess, but we—(laughter)—would not blame you completely.

HAASS: Not me personally, that’s just—(laughs).

AL-THANI: But I—blame the Italians. (Laughter.)

So for me, I think there’s two or three elements for this; one, the internal policies, which I mentioned in my short remarks here, that the internal policies of the state, of any state in the Middle East, have to change so it doesn’t give people reasons to start revenge against our ally, the Americans, or against the government or use the terrorism as a reason. And this is, I think, one of the most important points.

The second thing, the Israeli-Palestinian issue. It’s important to take off the (blood ?) from the people which they are trying to use this as an excuse. The terrorism used, once, they used Afghanistan as an excuse, then they used the Palestinian issue, then they used the Iraqi issue, and tomorrow they will use something else, because their policy is described to create a reason to have more believers why they are doing this.

This is what we have to fight, we want to fight. We have the three elements. First, to solve the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, to show more (fairness ?). Stability in Iraq, which is so very important, and democracy in Iraq because that’s what you promised (our world ?), a democracy in Iraq. And the third thing is our internal policies. These three elements, I think, could help to reduce or to take the excuse from these people which they do these acts.

HAASS: That’s a useful and a welcome clarification. Thank you.

Well, we’ve come to the third of your three, which is the need for democracy and internal change in your part of the world. What, if any, role do you see for outsiders like the United States, or is this something where basically it’s better left to the Arab world itself, or can we actually play a constructive role here?

AL-THANI: I think your role is very important. You are—(inaudible word)—a lot of Middle Eastern countries financially and politically, and your role would be important to try to (emphasize ?) your policies. You are not going to shape the democracy for us, how we do it, because that would be interference, but the principle of democracy is everywhere (the same ?). So I think you have to tell your friends that we need to continue to support; you have also to understand that we have to do something in the democracy side, not something, but to change, democratic countries, because we can justify it in the United States and we can justify it with your own people about our friendship. And I think that’s a very important issue.

HAASS: You talked about the importance in this context of the American intervention and investment in Iraq yielding a democracy there. I guess that leads to two questions. One is, what happens if it yields to a democracy, and the majority or plurality of the people introduce a system of government and a system of society which is quite theocratic and in many ways quite illiberal? What happens then?

AL-THANI: Well, if this happens, it happens again because how we approach the problem. When Saddam is out of Iraq, everybody is happy about this in the region. We are happy about this. But the main thing, after Saddam left, the way which you tried to tackle the problem in Iraq and also to defeat the army of Iraq, to dismiss the—the de-Ba’athification, which we have mentioned, I think that this was wrong because that leaves the other parties in Iraq, the—(inaudible)—of the Iraqi people was not clear up till now because of what you did. You dismissed a lot of people. Some of them they don’t know Saddam, some of them they don’t like Saddam, but they have to work, and if they want to work, they have to be one of the Ba’athists. That’s the system in Iraq, unfortunately, at that time.

So to dismiss all these people, you opened a door for many players, which, it’s okay, welcome in a democratic society, but you let the player and you divide the country, and there are people that are not allowed to play, so they want to play under the table and they are causing these problems in Iraq—(inaudible)—instability.

So if you are thinking about democracy, every Iraqi has the right to be equal with the other parties. If he did crime or if he is one of the leaders who did crime, you can take him to the court and this is to be decided by the court.

HAASS: What about the other danger, which is not simply that you could end up with a—how would I put it—an illiberal form of majority rule or plurality rule, but the other is simply how much do you worry late at night that what you’re more likely to end up is an Iraq that is essentially disorderly, where Iraq today comes to resemble nothing so much as, say, Lebanon from 15 or 20 years ago; that you have this potentially the worst of all worlds, element of domestic strife, of civil strife, possibly with outsiders playing an ever-increasing role?

AL-THANI: Well, my fear, if you remember the war in Afghanistan, I mean, you (kicked ?) the Soviet Union outside of Afghanistan; when that happened, you forget about Afghanistan. And many people (fled to ?) Afghanistan from our region, from all the regions, and they thought—(inaudible)—want to have a new (war/role ?) because before we called them all mujaheddin, they are welcome everywhere, and after that, we called them terrorists, which they might, some of them, yes.

And after, we left them without any plan how to build their country after the war. We just spent money for the war, and after that, we completely forget that and we went somewhere else. (Inaudible)—terrorism, and our country and your country fears. My fear is a lot of our kids, they will go to Iraq to be trained, and they are doing so now, and they will come back and they’ll want to have a role or to do what they did in different places in the world. This is why we have to understand that the Iraqi issue is very important to be discussed among the Iraqis, all the Iraqis, among the region, and also that Islamic countries, Arab countries, they have to participate ? security in Iraq and how to help the Iraqi people to gain their complete independence in the near future.

HAASS: I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll exercise uncharacteristic self-restraint and open up. What I will do is ask that when you’re recognized, you wait for the microphone and let us know who you are and who you represent.

So with that, we’ll turn the first question to Ambassador Murphy (sp).

QUESTIONER: Sheikh Hamad, wonderful to see you again, sir. Your country has been host to the American military now for a few years, very much appreciated role in that. Could you comment on what complications this has introduced for Qatar in its relations with Iran and with Saudi Arabia?

AL-THANI: Well, what we did with the United States in the military side, we started this relations more completely after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. And we were very frank with our allies in the United States that we don’t call them our friends and ally only when we need them, and when they leave after we just say, well, you know—(off mike). So we felt the Americans, they help us to free Kuwait from Saddam at that time. And we felt that Americans need the help in Afghanistan, that they need at least to be kind of a focal point between Afghanistan and the United States. So we made the agreement. At that time there was no Saddam Hussein problem under way then, before 11th of September.

And our obligation is our obligation. What we agreed in our agreements with the United States was that, yes, we have (received ?) from some of our friends, brothers, neighbors, but they did this before, you know, some of them, they did this before; they had American bases before, they have relations before us. And now, because of the political situation, they cannot have this time. (It’s their own way ?) to appreciate what they can have and what they cannot have. But for us, we feel this is an obligation, this is an agreement, have a date to start, to end, and we will fulfill our obligations. It doesn’t mean that we are encouraging the United States to use this against our neighbor because we are a small country that would like to have a peaceful region. And prosperity usually comes with a peaceful region in our thinking, but it’s very important also that if anything, for us, because the region is very sensitive to terror, not only energy—energy and (a mediator ?) between Europe and the West and Asia. (Inaudible.)

HAASS: Mr. Donovan (ph)?

QUESTIONER: Your Excellency, you talked about the need for democratic reforms and resolving the Arab-Israeli issue.

When it comes to the Arab-Israeli issue, Arabs are always telling the U.S. savator (ph), engage. But the U.S. is now saying now saying you Arabs also have to engage, and we find very few Arab countries willing to engage.

What should the Arabs do? I mean, they’ve been talking—talking about, you know, solving this issue. But yet—

AL-THANI: You know, I think it’s the problem is from more than one (tribe ?)—(inaudible). Yes, the Arabs, they’ve been waiting that there be news—(inaudible)—and nothing happens in the peace process.

Also there is difficulty in the political side in Israel to give the Arabs what they want. And the Arabs, actually, they want what the United Nations and the Security Council resolutions, the land of ’67. And there is a bargain. I think we should not do a bargain if we can do the road map we are calling for. We can do this for a long period, even over 20 years, to give the—(inaudible)—to the people of the Palestinian people and to take their land. I think that could be fine and and could be encouraging.

The Arabs—some of them—they went too far with their people that they would not talk with the enemy by any way. And I think this is, again, wrong policy. There is no enemies and no friends, but there is always not only responsibilities, but—(Arabic word spoken)—

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Interests.

AL-THANI: Interests. And interests for us all, the peace in the region, and the peace will not come with the Arabs have to be forthwith. The Israelis and the Arabs have to agree about the peace process and try to put a time of refugees, how they can deal with it. I think since there is suspicion, since there is doubt.

The second point, I think the American have now to do something to bring all the region together again after this move from Gaza and to try to (say ?) what is next. There is obligation on the Arab side and in the Israeli side. And that—most of them (talk ?)—(inaudible). If you don’t want to talk to the Israelis, I think this is not accepted at the moment not to talk with the Israelis. You have to talk with them. It doesn’t mean we talk to them, we accept what—all what they will say, but they are part of the United Nations. Some people sometimes, they still think no recognition of them—(inaudible)—the United Nations, not recognition. We have to know that there is a state, and we have to talk with them. We also, for the Palestinians to have their state.

QUESTIONER: What about, though, the Arab governments doing more to help the Palestinians? For example, you just cited the Israeli withdrawal, and the Egyptians are helping on the security side, but by and large there seems to be an observable lack of, shall we say, common solidarity with the Palestinians.

AL-THANI: One, for us, we have our own program. You know, we just fund (two ?) years ago to build a stadium for them. We just sent military equipment for the Palestinian; three days ago, we announced it.

But also I was with the—one of the European ambassadors; we don’t mention the name of the country, but one of the countries which they give substantial money for the Palestinian Authority. All what it—there is—we spend money and most of the world spends money, and this money gone and destroyed. You know—I don’t know why they destroyed the airport. They can close the airport, the Israelis, but not to destroy it because it’s not the money of the Palestinians; we pay it, all of us. All the international community spends more than $4.2 billion in Gaza being destroyed completely, and now we have to do. Who will guarantee that this will not be destroyed? We have also to have an obligation from the Israeli side—(inaudible)—but leave the structure because in the end you have to live together.

QUESTIONER: Thanks very much. Jane Arraf, Council on Foreign Relations.

Sheikh Hamad, I’d like to ask you a bit more about Iraq. There isn’t a lot of Arab participation in Iraq. There isn’t even an Arab ambassador following the death of the Egyptian ambassador-designate.

What are you and other countries waiting for to get involved in Iraq. And I’d also welcome your thoughts as to whether you think this is now a civil war you’re seeing there.

AL-THANI: You mentioned the civil war there, and with civil war—(inaudible). This is a very difficult situation. We all recognize Iraq and wish that Iraq would step out of this dynamic. But tell me, who in the Arab countries know exactly what is the policy in the Iraqi government or the American government or jointly, and what is it, the policy, and when they will start, when they will end? We hear about what is the situation. We hear about difficulties here and there. We are not the player in this, and we are not completely consulted, in my opinion. Any Arab countries say they’ve consulted completely in this situation, that’s not right.

I think it’s very important if you want me to be involved—and this is also—I mentioned it in my brief. You want me—to go with me—(inaudible)—at least you have to consult me. It doesn’t mean you accept all that I say, but consultation is important.

And I am afraid that the Iraqi problem will stay for long, long time. Possibly some of the neighboring countries will leave it as it is. (Inaudible.) A lot of Syrians come to Iraq. A lot of Ba’athists come out of Iraq now. And it’s—(inaudible). I cannot understand how you find in the very near future, at least in Iraq—(inaudible)—because we care about Iraqis, care about the people. They are—(inaudible). But logic didn’t tell me how. Nobody knows how to—where is the next step.

HAASS: Lucy Komisar.

QUESTIONER: Lucy Komisar, journalist.

You talked a lot about democratization, so I’d like to ask you a question that’s really about your domestic situation because it’s always good to show by example. Can you tell me about, in your country, what is the situation in terms of free press, free speech, multiple political parties, the possibility of voting for the head of state and for—for elected parliament with more than one party able to take part in it?

AL-THANI: That’s a very important question, and I will answer it very frankly. First of all, we are talking with the free press. We are now—(inaudible)—that there is a free press and free speech in Qatar, and it is there. And this is why we have headaches with most of our friends and brothers in the Arab world—(laughter)—about the media and about our newspaper. You can open the newspaper and you can see ministers with sides, everybody’s different sides, and you can what is right and wrong. So there is a free press.

We built our constitution. We built the municipality elections. We give the women right to vote and to be candidates. And now we will—next year we start—hopefully next year the parliament and the election of the parliament.

You mentioned one thing at how to have the parties and—(inaudible). You have to imagine that we are stopping the problem. And if you go to the women’s rights here in the United States or any place in Europe, it’s come very late. So we think that we did this quickly, start this. We will be be tried by many countries around us. We have women ministers; minister of education is a lady in Qatar. The head of the Islamic studies in the universities is a lady, and this is the first time—(inaudible)—not only in Qatar.

To have a party is, I think, to (have ?), but the constitution doesn’t say that because we are moving from one system to the other system, we need to do it not gradually, because sometimes the word gradually being used—misused; gradually in, say, a hundred years. (Inaudible)—whenever we demand something, we give you these demands. It’s not the policy demand, not because of 11 of September, because democracy becomes fashion after 11th of September because they know that if talk about democracy, then you will be killed. So they are (living this way ?). We are not living this way because, in fact, before 11th of September, I already tell you about the facts what we are doing.

The last—(inaudible) head of state be—(inaudible). The head of the state, they will be prime minister which he will be responsible. A minister can be accused through the parliament, could be thrown out. The head of state already give a lot of his power to the new parliament, and that’s the first step. If you tell me if we—within 20 years, I think there will be another step. But we have to do it in the right way. I think what we did is so advanced in our region than most, if not all, the regions around us.

HAASS: (Inaudible.) Mr. Shlesh (ph).

QUESTIONER: How do you see the developments about—(comes on mike)—how do you see the developments about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

AL-THANI: Well, as I yesterday stated in Charlie Rose—you know, you have an interview with Charlie Rose. I think Teheran (and India?) will have the nuclear—(inaudible). I don’t know when—(inaudible).

Of course we are a small country around that region would like to see a peaceful solution. We don’t want the Israelis or the Iranian or anyone to have a nuclear—(inaudible)—in our hand. If they want to use it peaceful, fine, we will be with international community on this, but also we are—(inaudible)—take the region from a peaceful region in a way—with a fragile peace to a war zone again. That’s very important for us, not to go forward and also important for the—(inaudible). Imagine you have you 60 percent of your energy or the energy of the world comes through that small gate.

So it’s a very important to be careful and try to solve through international law, through the international monetary system and through the United Nations.

QUESTIONER: Ivan Weiss (sp), journalist.

I have a question concerning the north field and recent concerns about the amount of reserves from the north fields.

First of all, what exactly are your concerns and what are you trying to find in reviewing the north field? And also, are there any cooperation with Iran, any discussion in terms of reviewing reserves together, considering they are also reviewing the reserves at the South Pars field, even on a purely technical, technology basis.

Thank you very much.

AL-THANI: Well, we are not worried about the quantity of reserves, which we know. But we made need a lot of commitment—77 or 80 million pounds of gas, and we have other product mixed with gas to—fuel gas—and diesel gas, which is also a lot of quantity.

So for us, we know that this field could—(inaudible)—for hundreds of years, but we need to know, can we do more commitment or we stay because we don’t want to start to make the gas expensive to extract from—because now it’s without pumping; it’s natural flow, so we needed to stay without any more investment in this.

Cooperation with Iran, we have kind of cooperation. I cannot say exactly what we aim and they aim, but every country, according to the agreement of the border between the two countries—said they can inspect and they can do their own projects individually.

HAASS: Okay. Mr. Paul?

QUESTIONER: Actually say my name is Roland Paul. I’m an attorney.

I’d just like to ask you a little more about your perspective on Iraq, of which is obviously an area of considerable interest to us. If I—in any way you feel—any comments or any aspects of it that you feel comfortable in answering, but—maybe it’s some—(inaudible)—an expert who I—whose views I highly regard said a couple of things like, none of the Iraqis want the Americans to leave; the Shi’ites aren’t all that close to Iran; the Sunnis who were in the delegation on the constitution, they would’ve rejected it, almost anything that was agreed to, and he—that the will constitutional pass.

But if any of those or other aspects you feel knowledgeable and would care to share with us, I’d welcome it.

AL-THANI: Well, this is—the Iraqis maybe know it better than me. But I can say, the content is good. There is many ethnic group in Iraq, which you have—they are Iraqis and they have to have their rights and the majority—the special majority—they can lead as a majority the government. But very important to make the kind of mechanism because—okay, we know that the Kurds and their tribes, they are almost a state. The Shi’a, what they want—the Sunnis, what they want, the other, to command what they want. So the very important and delicate matter, how to find a way to let everybody live together in one state called Iraq.

How they do it—Cantons, you know, other assistance—that’s the mechanism which they have to work out in Iraq. How they work it out—the climate now, inside Iraq, is a war zone—civil war. So I don’t know they—I hope, but I don’t know how they will get it clear from all the Iraqis. That’s as maximum as I can go.

HAASS: Next question.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Allan Goodman, Institute of International Education.

In a few short years you have made extraordinary investments in education. You may have actually exceeded now the endowment that Harvard University has in terms the size. Could you share with us some of the vision that lies behind that extraordinary investment?

AL-THANI: Well, I don’t know that I’m (going to speak ?), but I can say—

HAASS: It’s (another guy ?) who speaks (about it ?). (Chuckles.)

AL-THANI: (Laughs.) I think the vision at the time is, in ’95 when we take education, as I mentioned, health, democracy, free press, women’s rights, and we are working in all these fields. Her Highness Shekha Mozah is taking the education field, and she’s working in it constantly. And she did a great job for Qatar, and has successfully—and also she put an effort to put a top niche of university, a top niche of education system in Qatar, and it is working well.

We have five American universities. We have French. We have the British. And the Education City becomes a city which all the regions could use it, and there is students from all the regions use this city.

The background of this—I think without the good education, you cannot succeed in the fields which we are talking (in it ?).

HAASS: I’ve got time for one more. I’ve got to get to get the minister back on the road so we can get stuck in traffic in the other direction.

Sir.

QUESTIONER: Michael Mureji (ph), JP Morgan Chase Bank.

Given your domestic policies, how the entrepreneurial opportunities change for the younger generation, and if energy prices fall, say, five years from now, what development vision do you have for the country.

AL-THANI: First of all, we are—(inaudible)—an endowment for education and health. So at present—(inaudible)—(offset?) the prices of the oil. (Inaudible)—things we are building our investment inside and outside Qatar, investing not only in the infrastructure, but investing in a way that we can at least have some steady income to the government so that they can continue the development of the country. And we are doing so at the moment, and we are investing in Europe and the United States and Asia.

(Inaudible)—to my projection because nobody has projection of the whole—(inaudible). Nobody knows where it will go, up or down. (Inaudible)—maybe in the short term it could go up, or it will stay what it is. But in the long term we don’t know. As you mentioned, it might go down back to—(inaudible). And our policy is to be independent from that within five to 10 years from now.

HAASS: Several years ago there was a book written about how domestic innovation happens in the United States. It’s by a couple of academics called Laboratories in Democracy. And it’s essentially focused at the state level. And it made the argument that when interesting things happen, it tends to happen at the state level and then gradually it’ll move to the federal level.

Qatar in some ways is an interesting laboratory. It’s small enough, and I think it’s also blessed with sufficiently creative leadership, including the gentleman next to me, where interesting things are happening there which hold out real promise for that country, but also as something of a laboratory and model, because people are watching. And the neighbors are watching. And if good things happen there, it could have all sorts of valuable spillover, shall we say, in the best sense of the word.

So, we thank you for coming today, and we wish you and your countrymen well in what you are undertaking.

AL-THANI: Thank you. (Applause.)

 

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