Addressing policymakers, students, intelligence officials and governmental leaders, the airline boss spoke of how the carrier was increasingly playing a pivotal role in the State of Qatar’s economic growth.
He also spoke of the importance of Qatar’s geographical position in the prosperous GCC region, comprising of neighbouring Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Kingdom of Bahrain, Sultanate of Oman and United Arab Emirates.
Al Baker was speaking at the 21st Annual Arab-US Policy Makers Conference in the US capital on the subject ‘Unprecedented Emergence of the Aviation Sector in the GCC’.
Other speakers included His Excellency Mohamed bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United States; HRH Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Sa’ud of Saudi Arabia, former Saudi Ambassador to the United States; and the Honourable Jose W. Fernandez, the current United States Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs.
Al Baker said the GCC region stood apart as a powerful base in global aviation, spurring new alliances, international route expansion and uncompromising service standards. The GCC’s draw as a tourist destination and economic hub continued to fuel the region’s unprecedented growth on the world stage, he stressed.
He spoke of how the rapid rise of Qatar’s national carrier Qatar Airways had developed an economic vehicle spreading the wings of the nation to countries around the world.
He said that aviation was a key component of the economic backbone of Qatar and that the country’s national airline had been highly instrumental in transforming Doha into an international business destination and, increasingly, a tourist centre.
Al Baker’s speech also covered Qatar’s confident outlook on the future, as directed by Qatar’s Instrumental National Vision 2030 with its four pillars for sustainability – economic, social, human, and environmental.
“At Qatar Airways and in Qatar we want to nurture a continuation of the region’s growth. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to link Doha with as many global gateways as possible,” said Al Baker.
“We believe that by being a global connector, we act as an enabler; a purveyor of economic growth, bringing people and businesses closer together.”
During his speech, Al Baker earmarked the close relationship Qatar and the GCC countries shared with the United States of America.
“US exports to Qatar include aircraft, machinery, cars, trucks and agricultural products, as well as universities with American educational establishments in Qatar. Hundreds of Qataris study at US academic institutions every year, both in campuses in Qatar and across the United States.
“We look forward to even more US investment in Qatar as we move forward with a National Development Strategy which is designed to improve infrastructure, real estate and medical facilities over the next decade and is funded in part from the expanding tourism and conference industry which is made possible, again, by Qatar Airways,” he added.
Al Baker also spoke about Qatar Airways’ involvement in GTL (Gas to Liquids) projects in Doha which will not only support Qatar’s own environmental initiatives, but the entire world since the fuel that will be developed can be exported and used by other airlines.
During his Washington visit, Akbar Al Baker also spoke with a select group of Washington-based media, sharing insights on the airline’s expansion strategy and the recent announcement about Qatar Airways’ invitation to join the oneworld global alliance.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operations, currently flying a modern fleet of 111 aircraft to 120 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Since the beginning of 2012, Qatar Airways has launched flights to Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq), Perth (Australia), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania); Yangon (Myanmar) and Maputo, (Mozambique).
Over the next few weeks and months, Qatar Airways will launch services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Belgrade, Serbia (November 20); Warsaw, Poland (December 5), Gassim, Saudi Arabia (7 January 2013); Najaf, Iraq (January 23); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (February 20) and Chicago, USA (April 10).
About Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways currently has orders worth over US$50 billion for more than 250 aircraft, including Boeing 787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s and A320 Family of aircraft. In addition to winning Skytrax’s prestigious Airline of the Year 2011 and 2012, Qatar Airways was named Best Airline in the Middle East for the seventh year in a row, and its Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport was named Best Premium Service Airport for the second consecutive year in 2012. Skytrax is the only global independent passenger survey monitoring airline standards and is considered the ultimate benchmark for excellence in the airline industry. In October 2012, Qatar Airways became the first of the major Gulf carriers to officially join a global alliance having been invited into the oneworld group. For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com
About The National Council on US-Arab Relations
Founded in 1983, the National Council is an American educational, non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to improving American knowledge and understanding of the Arab world. It endeavors to do this through leadership development, people-to-people programs, academic seminars, an annual Arab-U.S. policymakers' conference, specialized publications, and the participation of American students and faculty in Arab world study abroad and Arabic language learning experiences as well as intensive year-round and summer university student internships combined with an academic seminar in the nation's capital.