ST. JOHN’S, NL
– When Canada established its Embassy in the Middle East State of Qatar in 2012, there were some 6,000 Canadians living in the country. Today, there are more than 9,000 Canadians living and working in Qatar who are helping to develop strong international ties between the two countries.
“We have a vibrant Canadian community here,” said Canadian Ambassador, Adrian Norfolk. “We have a great number of young professionals coming here to work … there are a lot of families and many babies being born. They are all very comfortable here, and like CNA-Q (College of the North Atlantic-Qatar) people, they stick around.”
According to Global Affairs Canada, CNA-Q is the largest Canadian educational institution operating overseas. Established in 2001, the State of Qatar chose Newfoundland and Labrador’s (NL) public college to build and manage its first technical college, where it still thrives today.
Now celebrating its 15th year, CNA-Q is the State of Qatar’s premier institute of applied learning, delivering Canadian curriculum and internationally recognized and accredited programming to the Middle East. CNA-Q is an integral part of Canadian life in Doha, the country’s capital city and home to 80 per cent of its 2.3 million people.
“The college has a core connection to the Canadian community and continues to be a very valuable partner for the Embassy and for Qatar,” said Norfolk. “For example, with our emergency preparedness, we work with CNA-Q to identify various options in the unlikely case of natural disasters or man-made crises. They are very professional and have well-established procedures of their own that they are sharing with us.”
Canada’s presence there also extends to other business. There are more than 30 Canadian companies established in Qatar today, which means great things for the bottom line in both countries. In 2016, goods imports and exports activity reached $220 million.
“Though this is relatively small and definitely needs to grow, our main trade is in services. Although we don’t have exact figures, the annual value of contracts to Canadian companies is in the hundreds of millions, with education as one of the biggest and brightest examples,” said Norfolk.
“There has been a steady increase in business activity between Qatar and Canada, particularly over the past year. There is tremendous potential for Canadian companies to set up businesses in Qatar; I encourage them to come test the waters.”
One way to avail of these opportunities is through a new Canada-Qatar Business Council being formed in Qatar, with plans to launch before year’s end.
“We want to promote Canadian partnerships here in Qatar, provide a place where Canadian businesses can network. Qatar’s version of a Chamber of Commerce if you will,” said Norfolk. “This will be very beneficial to Canada, providing quality points of contact with ministers and trade members. And what better time to launch than during Canada’s 150th year!”
The council’s board will include major players from the Canadian and Qatar business world, as well as representation from CNA-Q.
“The college is a prominent member, and in fact, they are one of the founding members and contributors for this council,” Norfolk said. “Our relationship with Qatar is strong and growing with more and more potential on the horizon. We are hoping to build on that in a substantial way.”
The Canadian Ambassador noted there hasn’t been much impact on business with the recent sanctions imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. The embassy reports that it is pretty much business as usual, with the only exception being the import of food – as one-third normally comes from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Now they have turned to other countries such as India, Iran and Turkey for their fresh fruit, legumes and milk, with marginal increases seen in some food prices in Qatar.
“When this blockade began in June, there was a sense of anxiety of how to adapt to a new reality and new suppliers, but for the most part, Qatar appears to have been able to adapt quite seamlessly.”
As the world’s largest supplier of liquefied gas and with much of its oil and gas business with European countries, Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore, Qatar is faring just fine.
“It’s full speed ahead,” said Norfolk.
For more information on CNA, visit: www.cna.nl.ca and for more information on career opportunities at CNA’s campus in the Middle East State of Qatar, visit: www.cna.nl.ca/qatar
PR Specialist, Qatar Project Office
College of the North Atlantic