Gulf Times | 22 January 2009
By Arvind Nair
QATAR and Malaysia have agreed to look at the possibility of investing in Islamic countries, particularly in growing food and in halal industry.
The agreement was reached when the official delegations of the two countries held talks in Doha, a delegate said yesterday.
Qatari Prime Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani also expressed the need to enhance bilateral relations, especially related to investments through Islamic banking and financial services.
The delegate said that both the countries saw the need to grow food in large scale in view of the recent spurt in prices in food grains.
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who led an official delegation on a two-day visit to Qatar, stressed the need for the two countries to have annual consultations to enhance investment, trade and cultural ties as well as to promote other areas of diplomacy.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Dr Rais Yatim told Gulf Times that certain states in his country did have land for joint cultivation but “what we are encouraging is for the two countries to go, for example, to Indonesia, or to another (Muslim) country”.
Badawi described the Malaysia-Qatari relations as “good”, with “the participation of Malaysian companies in Qatar especially in the development of infrastructure”.
The volume of bilateral trade was small but, he hoped, this would increase. “I think we have every chance of doing that”.
Badawi called for “working together to establish and operate common standards and common practices for all Islamic banks in the Muslim world and for any Muslim bank operating in non-Muslim countries.
“I have also encouraged Qatar to make investments in our development corridors and (HE the Prime Minister) Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim has promised that he will certainly look into our proposals.”
Answering a question, Badawi said the Malaysian economy was doing well despite the international economic crisis. “Our banking sector is strong and resilient.” In addition, he said, the country had taken several steps to strengthen domestic economy and to increase consumption.
Welcoming the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Badawi said: “We are looking forward to work with him.”
He said: “I believe that from Obama’s address he is sincere, and he will make big changes to the foreign policy. What we would like to see in the new administration is engagement rather than containment of countries. If he is willing to listen to small countries it is good for the world.
“There are many problems being faced by Muslims and the Islamic world and America is deeply associated with many Islamic countries. So, a new readiness to listen to us, to other countries, is good. Together we can solve all these problems”.
Later, making a presentation at the Qatar Business Forum, the prime minister said Malaysia offered investors a business environment that was quite unique. “Investors are offered a wide range of fiscal and other site incentives”.
Besides, regional development corridors and industrial parks offered specialised incentive packages. A separate presentation was made on Iskandar Malaysia, the development corridor in the south of the country.
[See also Malaysia and Qatar set up RM3.6bil investment fund]