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The Minister of State for Interior Affairs H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani (second right), touring the centre. Abdul Basit
By Isabel Ovalle
DOHA: The Gulf Drugs Prevention Information Centre in Qatar, which opened its doors in 2011, was officially inaugurated yesterday by H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, Minister of State for Interior Affairs, and Dr Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab Gulf states.
Due to cooperation between the GCC countries, more than 20 people have been arrested for drug-related crimes, said Colonel Saqr Al Maraikhi, director of the centre, who toured the facilities with a large group of officials.
The collaboration has also resulted in the seizure of drugs such as heroine, hashish, cocaine and other substances. The total number of people nabbed in this connection was 23, and several other investigations were on, Maraikhi said.
The centre has 40 employees who work to implement statutes approved by the member countries to fight the illegal trade in drugs and reinforce joint efforts to curb such crimes.
In regard to information exchange between Gulf states, the director said it was “fruitful and helped control many drug smuggling operations and the impact of these substances on mental health.” The centre has reached agreements with the United Nations office for drug and crime to get technical support and training. Memorandums have also been signed with Interpol and the Regional Office for Information Exchange in the Middle East.
Dr Al Zayani told The Peninsula that “the main purpose of the centre is to exchange information among the GCC member states and provide the environment to improve the procedures and cooperation to fight drugs in all respects.”
“I’m very impressed with what I have seen, the progress is very good and they have exceeded our expectations. The offices are now coordinating and representing all six member states and they are achieving all the goals approved and set by the centre,” he stated.
Al Zayani added that a drug-free environment in the region “will definitely support our economy and the millennium development goals, as well as the United Nations development goals and provide a healthy environment for our citizens.”
Ultimately, said an official of the Ministry of Interior at the event, “drug acquiring is still strong in Qatar and other rich countries, because there’s a lot of liquid cash.” The Peninsula