A Qatari delegation, led by His Excellency Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Ambassador Anne Patterson and Ambassador Khalid Bin Yousef Al-Sada, visited Utah on March 21 and 22 and was hosted by World Trade Center Utah. As part of their inbound trade mission to the state, the diplomats met with Gov. Gary R. Herbert and nearly 30 Utah companies to explore opportunities to expand trade and investment between Utah and Qatar.
"Qatar is a longstanding strategic partner of the United States and one of the largest foreign investors in our country," said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of WTC Utah. "We are excited by the level of interest in Utah shown by the Qatari delegation as is evident by the quality of the delegates we had the honor of hosting – including three separate officials with the rank of Ambassador in one delegation. During their time here, they made valuable connections which will further enhance the Utah-Qatar relationship and bring important foreign investment to our state. Now the real work begins to follow up on the momentum that was generated during the visit."
Looking to diversify their investments and find the right long-term partners, the Qatari Investment Authority established an office in New York to invest $45 billion in the U.S. economy. In addition to Utah, the Qataris have visited Florida, South Carolina and Texas.
Ambassador Al-Thani stated that they were pleased to receive an invitation from World Trade Center Utah to visit the state and see what it has to offer. “It was also an opportunity for us to introduce Qatar to Utah, connect with potential partners and look for investment opportunities,” said Ambassador Al-Thani. “This is a first visit, and we are hoping to come back.”
Qatar is made up of a highly educated and motivated workforce. Additionally, Qatar has taken key steps to ensure fiscal responsibility by investing conservatively and for the long term. These steps include increased spending on infrastructure and its people, much like Utah.
“What strikes me more than anything else about Utah is that it is a very creative environment,” said Ambassador Patterson after a business roundtable including the delegation and members of Utah’s business community. The Ambassador also noted Utah’s impressive labor force demographics. “There are a lot of available opportunities, and the next step is to take the appropriate Utah companies to Qatar.”
Opportunities exist extensively in technology and defense. The government, as well as the private sector of Qatar, is looking for ways to expand their markets globally in order to diversify and generate connectivity.
During their business tour of Utah, the Gardner Company hosted the delegation to discuss investment opportunities in Utah's energy industry. "World Trade Center Utah has helped our company interact with high-level foreign government representatives, foreign markets and business leaders from around the world,” said JT Martin of Integrated Energy Companies. “WTC Utah has opened doors enabling us to make presentations for investment and business opportunities at the right level with the right people. The recent visit of the Qatari Ambassador along with members of his investment team is a recent example of how Integrated Energy Companies has benefited from membership in the WTC Utah organization. It would be difficult–if not impossible–to access the opportunities we have had to foreign markets without WTC Utah.”
In addition to their work on outbound international trade missions, WTC Utah will continue to invite and host key contacts from foreign markets to the state. Inbound delegations, like the recent visit from Qatar, allow Team Utah to demonstrate firsthand the state’s highly-qualified workforce and vast investment opportunities.