WATCH: Blockade - three years on, Qatar marches forward with dignity, self-reliance
June 5, 2020 marked three years to the start of the illegal blockade imposed on Qatar.
In these years, under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar has grown more resilient, self-reliant, and stronger than ever.
Although the country has consistently called for dialogue to resolve the Gulf crisis, which erupted on June 5, 2017, it has left no stone unturned in boosting local capabilities and diversifying resources to meet the various challenges that emerged as a consequence of the illegal siege.
Adding to its earlier achievements of two years under the blockade and its determination to beat the odds, Qatar continued scaling new heights of success across various areas since June 5, 2019. Below are some highlights worth taking a look back at:
Qatar's hosting of prestigious international and regional sporting events including the Arabian Gulf Cup 2019, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, the first-ever ANOC World Beach Games 2019, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 reaffirmed the country's position as an unparalleled sporting hub in the region. The success of the major sporting events showed the world, it is ready to deliver amazing in 2022.
Despite the challenges, Qatar has been successfully accelerating toward the completion of most of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 facilities. Three out of eight stadiums are fully ready, while the others are progressing toward completion ahead of the tournament.
Qatar officially launched the emblem of the tournament in September last year and also presented the first-ever joint World Cup Sustainability Strategy earlier this year with FIFA.
Travel and Tourism
Even with airspace restrictions as well as the impact of the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Qatar's national airline, Qatar Airways (QA) soared higher. The airline's share of the passenger and air cargo market grew significantly in recent months, the airline's Group Chief Executive confirmed.
QA, which has been consistently rated as the World's Best Airline, has been flying past various challenges to expand and continue to serve millions of passengers worldwide. This is evident in the airline's ability to maintain a robust and agile network helping take over 1.8 million passengers home amid the current pandemic.
Qatar's gateway to the world, Hamad International Airport (HIA) has clinched a position among the top airports in the world, rising from number 4 in 2019 to number 3 in the world in 2020. HIA has once again been recognized as the best airport in the Middle East.
The airport remains focused on implementing smart technologies to elevate traveler experience and has recently announced a series of impressive features to protect travelers amid the COVID-19 situation.
With one of the best health systems in the world, Qatar's health sector has gone from strengths to strengths, in spite of the blockade. The country has seen a rise in the number of healthcare facilities to meet the needs of the growing population. Perhaps, the prowess of the health system is best seen in its response to meet the present health challenge.
Because of its self-reliance and capabilities, Qatar was quick to introduce changes to health care services - introducing new remote services to safeguard the health of patients and healthcare staff.
Since the early stage of the crisis, Qatar's health system has ensured the availability of testing, isolation, and treatment facilities for COVID-19 cases. While some existing hospitals were converted into dedicated COVID-19 treatment centers, the country also opened new hospitals, including field hospitals.
In addition to this, Qatar's local experts been working hard to produce medical equipment and supplies essential to combat the disease. At a time when several nations have struggled to deal with the situation, Qatar stepped up to offer support with life-saving medical equipment as well as financial assistance.
For its outstanding humanitarian efforts, the country has garnered praise from the United Nations as well as the World Health Organization.
One of the areas where Qatar has really outshined amid the blockade is self-sufficiency in food. Keeping this among its top developmental priorities, Qatar began harnessing local capabilities to bolster farm production in the face of the crisis.
Since the start of the Gulf crisis, the country worked tirelessly to increase local food production and has made great strides in this field. The country worked above and beyond to achieve food security whether through building food storage facilities, growing its own vegetables and fruits in schools, or simply flying in some cows to shore up its local milk production.
Qatar was able to accomplish 106 percent self-sufficiency in dairy and 124 percent self-sufficiency in poultry.
Its hard work bore fruit as it was ranked number 1 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the Global Food Security Index for 2019.
Qatar's ability to rise above this challenge presented by the blockade prepared it well enough for any crisis. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar's Government Communications Office (GCO) assured the public that Qatar owns a strategic stock of food, consumer goods, and medical supplies "to ensure the uninterrupted flow of goods into the country during any crisis or emergency.”
In addition to the successes and achievements in the above-mentioned areas, Qatar has seen significant progress in other fields including education, research, development and innovation, economy, defense, ICT, international relations, among others.
While Qatar has grown in many ways, it continues to highlight the significance of the resolution of the Gulf crisis. On various occasions and forums, Qatar has urged the siege nations to come together for unconditional dialogue and prioritize regional stability and security.
Qatar has repeatedly shined a spotlight on the human rights violations that have resulted as a consequence of the blockade and urged the blockading nations to put an end to human suffering.
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