Qatar has emerged as a major political player on the world stage due to its economic, political and diplomatic position. This position was further strengthened by Doha’s ability to carve out a role of constructive mediation amid the latest numerous crises. Last year, Qatar was crucial during the evacuation from Afghanistan, and today remains one of the few bridges between the Islamic Emirate’s regime and the rest of the world. More recently, Doha has hosted talks between world powers and Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, the intra-Chadian peace process, and remains a crucial liaison with Hamas in Gaza. For its services to the US, President Biden has designated Qatar a major non-NATO ally (MNNA) in 2022, making it one of few countries globally to receive the designation and the third in the Gulf. On the economic level, Qatar’s position as the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has proved essential to diversify EU energy supplies. Against this backdrop, the country has become a soft power and cultural diplomacy champion. From hosting the FIFA World Cup (the first ever Arab country to do so) to strongly expanding its national cultural scene (such as reopening the iconic Museum of Islamic Art), the Gulf country has established itself as an emerging global power and a coveted international destination. Still, the recent global scrutiny over Doha’s ambitions has inevitably highlighted some unresolved controversies, raising concerns about the adequacy and implementation of labour reforms, the environmental and climate consequences of its development model and respect for human rights.
How is Qatar positioned to address the current major political and economic challenges? On what principles has the country’s foreign policy strategy evolved over the past few years? What is the influence of Doha on the political, economic and security equilibriums of the Gulf and the MENA region? How does the emirate intend to exploit its gains of soft power for its increasing ambitions on the international stage?
Robin Mills | CEO, Qamar Energy
Gerd Nonneman | Professor of International Relations and Gulf Studies, Georgetown University Qatar
Dania Thafer | Executive Director, Gulf International Forum
Eleonora Ardemagni | Associate Research Fellow, ISPI
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