QBA launches the Qatari Spanish Business Council

27 Jan 2021 Virtual meeting

QBA Members attended

  • The number of Spanish companies currently operating in the Qatari market is about 210 Spanish companies, 23 of which are wholly owned by the Spanish side.
  • His Excellency Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani signs a cooperation agreement to establish the Qatari Spanish Business Council headed by His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Al Thani from the Qatari side and Mr. Ignacio Galan from the Spanish side
  • Qatar has increased its share to become one of the main suppliers of natural gas to Spain.
  • QIA is the second largest shareholder in the Spanish Stock Exchange.
  • The volume of Qatari-Spanish bilateral trade during the period from January to November 2020 reached about 750 million dollars, despite the global economic crisis.
  • The volume of Qatari investments in Spain has reached 21 billion euros in the fields of energy, sports and real estate investment.
  • More than 3000 Spaniards work in Doha.
  • The State of Qatar is a pioneer in modernization and innovation and has an ambitious plan to develop its economy.


  • The Kingdom of Spain is the first European investor in Latin America and the second in the world after the United States.

The Qatari Businessmen Association held a virtual meeting with the Spanish Businessmen Federation CEOE to sign a memorandum of understanding and announce the launch of the joint Qatari Spanish Business Council, in the presence of Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, QBA Chairman, Mr. Antonio Garamendi, CEOE President, The meeting also witnessed the participation and presence of representatives of the Qatari and Spanish governments represented by H.E. Ambassador Salem Al-Jaber, Director of European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the state of Qatar, and H.E. Mr. Manuel Muñiz, Secretary of State for Global Spain, and H.E. Mr. Saleh Al-Khulaifi, Undersecretary for Trade Affairs of Ministry of commerce and Industry of Qatar and HE Mrs. Xiana Mendes, Secretary of State for Trade in Spain. Also, the meeting was attended by Mrs. Marta Blanco, President of the Federation for International Affairs, and Mr. Jose Bonnet, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and in the presence of H.E. Mr. Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Hamar, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Kingdom of Spain, and H.E. Belén Alfaro Hernández, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the State of Qatar.
The meeting came as part of the QBA's efforts to communicate with similar economic institutions around the world in order to discuss opportunities for economic cooperation during the current global crisis and to consolidate ties to identify and benefit from global experiences and discuss proposed solutions to support private sector companies and institutions.

From the Qatari Side, QBA second deputy to the Chairman Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Al Thani and board member Mr. Saud Al-Mana have participated in the meeting, as well as QBA members, Mr. Khaled Al-Mannai, Mr. Nabil Abu Issa, Mr. Ihssan Al-Khaimi, Mr. Mohammed Althaaf, Mr. Wasim Al-Dayaa, representative of Dallah Group, and Mrs. Sarah Abdullah, QBA Deputy General Manager.
Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani started the meeting by welcoming all the participants from the Spanish Federation and their Excellencies, as well as the Qatari and Spanish companies, and extended special thanks to the Qatari embassy in Madrid and QBA’s partners in Spain for organizing this meeting, which aims at building bridges of cooperation and benefiting from the experiences of all businessmen in both countries, adding, "We are pleased today to witness the launch of the Qatari-Spanish Joint Business Council, which includes elite businessmen from Qatar and Spain and opens a new page in the history of economic relations between both countries and seeks to encourage bilateral trade and investments in various fields whether in manufacturing or service sectors and will work to provide a joint mechanism for cooperation” 
For his part, Mr. Antonio Garamendi, President of the Spanish Federation, emphasized the importance of Qatari-Spanish relations, and pointed out to the need for cooperation between the two sides in various sectors such as industry, infrastructure and sports, especially with the approach of the 2022 World Cup. Also Mr. José Luis Bonet, from the Spanish Chamber of commerce stated that the chamber is keen to strengthen commercial and economic relations with the State of Qatar and that the signing of the MOU between the Qatari Businessmen Association and the Spanish Businessmen Federation is an important step in strengthening bilateral relations, referring to the capabilities that Qatar has, especially in the energy and petrochemical sectors.
H.E. Mr. Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Hamar, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Kingdom of Spain, delivered a welcome note in which he welcomed the attendees, referring to the interest of the State of Qatar in the Spanish market, as the volume of Qatari investments in Spain amounted to 21 billion euros, adding that these investments are characterized by their diversity as they included several sectors such as Energy, sports and real estate investments and that the Qatar Investment Authority is the second largest shareholder in the Spanish Stock Exchange. H.E. the ambassador also emphasized that the Qatari embassy in Spain is keen to strengthen economic relations in order to achieve diversity in sources of income in line with Qatar’s Vision 2030 and at the same time supporting Spain by providing more job opportunities and increase foreign investment. H.E. pointed out that there are more than 170 Spanish companies operating in the Qatari market in the fields of renewable energy and infrastructure. At the end of the speech, His Excellency spoke about the importance of the agreement that is signed today, as it is a qualitative leap in the way of strengthening relations between the two countries and an indication of heading with the bilateral relations in the right way.
On her part, H.E. Belén Alfaro Hernández, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the State of Qatar, spoke about the welcoming work environment in Qatar, which was able to attract many Spanish companies, and indicated the possibility of benefiting from the expertise of these companies, which proved their success in either management or implementation of several projects, especially in the areas of technology, innovation, digitization as well as product quality.
H.E.  Ambassador Salem Al Jaber, Director of European Affairs at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered a welcoming note, congratulating everyone on the signing of the agreement, wishing the Qatari-Spanish relations more prosperity.
In his speech on this occasion, H.E. Mr. Saleh bin Majid Al-Khulaifi, Assistant Undersecretary for Commerce Affairs, stated that announcing the establishment of the Qatari Spanish Joint Business Council, came as a culmination of the historical partnership relations between Qatar and Spain that had been ongoing firmly since the 1970s. H.E. Pointed out that the bilateral relations between the two countries had developed remarkably in recent years, especially at the economic level. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries exceeded in the period between January and November 2020, 750 million dollars, H.E. Mr. Al-Khulaifi added.
On the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, H.E. expressed his hope that this step would contribute to further strengthening the bonds of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, especially at the commercial and investment levels.
For his part, Mr. Manuel Muñiz, Secretary of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, expressed his happiness for attending this meeting and spoke about the important steps the Spanish government is taking to limit the effect of the Corona crisis, including an attempt to create more job opportunities as the country witnessed a significant increase in unemployment numbers since the outbreak of the pandemic. He also added that Spain will be provided with significant resources from the European Union's Recovery and Resilience Plan, as it will receive 140 billion euros, half of it in support and the other half in loans. Stressing that the Qatari-Spanish relations are originally strong, but the announcement of this council will help in strengthening them further in order to reach the ambitious level.

Also, in her speech, H.E. Mrs. Xiana Mendes, Minister of State for Trade in Spain, said that she is proud of her attendance to this meeting and the launch of the Business Council and thanked all the Qatari and Spanish companies participating. Mrs. Xiana began her speech by talking about the strength of Spanish companies and their competitiveness in the various sectors, especially the sectors of digitization, green economy, infrastructure and sports, stressing that these experiences can contribute to achieving the economic diversification that the State of Qatar aspires and is working to achieve, especially in the fields of agriculture, livestock and electronic transformation. Her Excellency added that the Spanish government is ready to support its companies in their cooperation with their counterparts in Qatar, targeting not only the Spanish and Qatari markets, but also other regional and global markets.

These interventions were followed by the signing of the MOU by H.E. Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, QBA Chairman and Mr. / Antonio Garamendi, President of the Spanish Businessmen Federation CEOE, and also announcing the launch of the Qatari Spanish Business Council, where Sheikh Faisal and Mr. Antonio are announced as the councils honorary Presidents. Sheikh Faisal said, "In Qatar, we highly value our economic partners around the world and view the Spanish market as a market full of economic opportunities in various sectors. In this context, we invite Spanish investors to take advantage of the promising opportunities and the favorable environment provided by the Qatari economy, especially with the presence of the free zones in Qatar and that We wish to see more Spanish companies coming to the Qatari market, and that we work together to develop our partnerships and discuss joint investment opportunities, whether in Qatar, Spain, or any other destination around the world. "

As co-presidents of the Qatari Spainish Business Council, Sheikh Dr. Khaled bin Thani Al Thani, QBA Second Deputy, Chairman & Managing Director of Qatar International Islamic Bank will be representing the Qatari side while Mr. Ignacio Galán, President of Aberdrola Company will represent the Spanish side. 
In this occasion, Sheikh Dr. Khaled delivered a speech in which he congratulated everyone on the launch of the Qatari-Spanish Joint Business Council, hoping that it would be a leap towards more economic and commercial cooperation and would contribute to enhancing mutual investments between Qatar and Spain and to explore the investment opportunities available in the two countries.
Sheikh Khaled also continued, "The memorandum of understanding signed by the head of the Qatari Businessmen Association today provides two main areas represented in expanding economic, technical and scientific cooperation and exchange of information between the two countries, which creates a healthy business environment aimed at promoting the development of commercial and industrial activities in Qatar and Spain. The MOU also included a very important part concerning strengthening direct contact between entrepreneurs in both countries and organizing regular meetings of the council and exchanging visits to present joint commercial projects, which promotes investment and supports economic development.”
For his part, Mr. Ignacio Galan, Co-President of the Qatari Spanish Business Council, gave a speech in which he expressed his happiness in forming the Council as an important step to enhance cooperation and create more opportunities for partnerships between the two countries, indicating that as President of Iberdrola, he has witnessed the beginning of his company's cooperation since 2005 when a cooperation agreement was signed in the field of energy, and in 2010, in a project on the power grid, in addition to establishing a modernization and innovation center in Doha. Mr. Ignacio spoke about the free zones in Qatar, which provide many opportunities for foreign companies, calling the Spanish companies to study the opportunity to be present in the Qatari free zones and to benefit from the privileges provided.
The business council continued, as members from Spanish companies introduced their companies, and it is worth noting that the council included major Spanish companies such as Iberdrola, which works in the energy sector, Grupo Prisa, which works in the communications and press sector, El Corte Ingles which Operates in the retail, fashion, food and tourism sectors, Grupo Santander in the banking sector, Ferrovial in airports and infrastructure, FCC in infrastructure and environment, La Liga group which works in sports and football, the company Colonial in the real estate sector, Copasa and Ecisa in infrastructure, Aguas de Valencia in water treatment, as well as Qatar Airways in Spain.

On the Qatari side, Qatari companies introduced themselves. The council included Al-Faisal Holding Company headed by Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, which operates in several sectors, the most important of which are hospitality, construction, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and others. The council also included the Qatar International Islamic Bank headed by Sheikh Dr. Khalid bin Thani Al Thani, and Mr. Saud Al Mana as CEO of Al Mana Group, which operates in several sectors such as trade, construction and services, Mr. Nabil Abu Issa as CEO of the Blue Salon for the retail and luxury goods sector, Mr. Khaled Al Mannai as CEO of Al Mannai Company, Mr. Ibrahim Al Jaidah as CEO of Arab Engineering Bureau, Mr. Ihsan Al-Khaimi as the Managing Director of Al-Wataniya International Group, and Mr. Muhammad Althaf, Director of Lulu International Group.