The friendship between Qatar and Japan goes back forty years. Khalid Al-Saad remembers how the two countries first established diplomatic relations in 1972 as major trade partners, a partnership founded primarily on energy. He describes how this partnership has developed beyond energy into education, technology, sports and cultural exchanges over the past four decades.
“When Japan was hit by the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, we knew we had to help our friends,” Khalid recalls.
Qatar allotted US$100 million to the Qatar Friendship Fund, to be used for rehabilitation projects in Japan, focusing on children’s education, fisheries and healthcare. Khalid explains: “QFF supports projects in Japan that reach the greatest possible number of long-term beneficiaries. Each project that receives a grant from QFF must show us first how it is creating long-term, sustainable growth and jobs for Japanese people.”
Khalid adds, “We have a long list of projects in the pipeline in health, education, agriculture and community development.”
The growing number of beneficiaries shows the great impact of the organization’s efforts. To date, the direct and indirect beneficiaries for all projects number more than 350,000.
“The Fund was established to manage Qatar’s grant of US$100 million. We always intended to complete the work before the end of 2014 and we are trying hard to meet that target,” Khalid continues. “However, QFF is not about a ‘quick fix’; it is about creating a legacy that will create jobs and build the community in the worst affected areas for generations to come. We’ve had an overwhelming response from the people of Japan and we continue to have tremendous support from the Government of Qatar. We just hope and pray that a disaster like the Japanese Massive Tsunami from March 2011 will not happen again.”