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Philippine Ambassador Crescente R Relacion looks at hydroponically-grown strawberries at Al Sulaiteen farm yesterday. (Shaival Dalal)
BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: A Qatari company is mulling a possible collaboration with the Philippine mission here for joint research efforts on agriculture, Ambassador Crescente R Relacion said.
Al Sulaiteen Group, which operates one of the largest agricultural complexes in Qatar, is considering collaboration with the Philippine Embassy to establish a tie-up between their research and development centre and a Philippine agricultural school.
“I was thinking of making arrangements with the University of the Philippines Los Baños for some students there who want to conduct research here on agriculture,” Ambassador Relacion told the media after a tour of Al Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complex yesterday.
Located in Umm Salal Ali, the 40-hectare farm, which employs state-of-the-art technology in agriculture, is one of the aggressive ventures in the country aimed at increasing domestic production of fruits and vegetables to decrease Qatar’s dependence on imports.
The company, according to Relacion, is also open to the idea of investing in the Philippines.
“In fact they have already invested in other countries like Ethiopia and Sudan mainly in agriculture,” he said, adding the company is currently in partnership with Philippine-based Century Properties to sell high-end properties in Manila and still looking for partnership in the future.
“We hope this is the start of our fruitful relations. I am looking forward to have more and stronger cooperation in the future,” said Abdullah Salem Al Sulaiteen, Chairman of Al Sulaiteen Group.
With the current economic climate of the Philippines, there had been renewed interest among foreign investors including those from Qatar.
“With 6.6 percent GDP growth in 2012, the Philippine economy is very healthy and one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. I see a huge potential in investing in the Philippines,” said Yassin Aman Mohamed, General Manager, Trade Sector, Al Sulaiteen Group.
He lauded the Philippines as “one of the most sustainable economies” known in the hospitality and other sectors.
“So it would really be good for foreign investors to have acquisitions in the Philippines,” he added, stressing the Group’s keenness on their recent partnership with Century Properties, a renowned real estate company in the Philippines.
Mohamed said they are at the outset concentrating on Filipino expatriates here in various segments, but in the future would target Qatari private investors to buy high-end units in Manila including at real estate mogul Donald Trump’s Trump Tower.
“For the first phase we are focusing on Filipino expatriates but our next phase and long-term plan is to encourage private and government bodies to invest in the Philippines,” he added.
The total trade volume between the Qatar and the Philippines currently stands at $800m. The Philippines import fertilisers and oil from Qatar while Qatar imports mostly processed foods from the Philippines, according to Relacion.