China-Arab Economic Co-operation Committee (CAECC), a Sovereign Non-Profit entity that is promoting the Belt & Road Initiative, is in discussions with Qatar’s Supreme Council for Delivery and Legacy (SC) to promote Chinese visitors and business ties at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Moreover, China is keen to enhance its relations with Qatar especially in the areas of technology such as Fintech, Artificial Intelligence, and blockchain as well as agriculture, infrastructure and tourism sectors in a big way, Snow Feinan Li, Chairperson of CAECC of China Association for Promoting International Economic and Technical Cooperation.

“We are in discussions with the 2022 World Cup Committee,” she told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.

Highlighting that CAECC could collaborate (with SC) in securing visitors from China; she said it could also co-operate in joint promotional activities and recommend opportunities for Chinese sponsors for the 2022 World Cup.

Ever since the diplomatic relations were established in 1988, Qatar is a strategic ally of China, with the relationship between the two countries growing exponentially, the official said.

The visit of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to China in April this year opened up wider horizons for co-operation and strengthening of strategic partnership, where bilateral relations were strengthened

“In the new era, as China and Arab states are natural strategic partners in jointly promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, the unique advantages and synergy of their development co-operation are becoming more prominent,” she said, adding CAECC has been established to build a relationship that is mutually reinforcing and complementing in multilateral and bilateral, official and public aspects between China and the Arab states.

On co-operation in the Belt and Road Initiative, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, Qatar’s Ambassador to China, Sultan bin Salmeen al-Mansouri, had said Doha studied the initiative in all respects and found it to be a valuable initiative.

Qatar signed an agreement with China in 2014 to co-operate in the implementation of the initiative.

Confirming its meeting with the top officials of the Qatari Government as well as the sovereign wealth fund, Li said the main points of discussions included promoting Fintech including Artificial Intelligence, big data, and blockchain payment system as well as that related to a smart city.

“In China, more than 400 million people use the internet. We aim to bring more experienced Chinese technology companies to come to Qatar (and establish) their hub for the (wider) region,” she said, adding the purpose is to support Qatar Smart City strategy.

Regarding its talks with Qatar Investment Authority, Li said “we are in pro phase stage” and QIA has been “positive” in its attitude towards future cooperation.

“We are looking at technology, agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism…We believe there will be more opportunities for the Chinese companies to invest in Qatar,” she also said

Qatar’s imports from China in 2018 reached $2bn, while annual exports to China worth $9bn and is growing, according to al-Mansouri.

In this context, he had referred to the opening of two direct maritime routes from China to Qatar for the transport of goods and consumables, noting that Qatar imports most of the needs of the Qatari market from China through two ports, one is in Shanghai and the other is in Guangzhou, via two direct routes to the Hamad Port.