His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa AL-THANI
Emir of the State of Qatar
At the Doha Forum XII
20 May 2012
In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate
Excellencies and Highnesses,
Welcome to the State of Qatar, I hope you're having a
pleasant stay. I would like on the occasion of the twelfth
edition of the Doha Forum to pay tribute to the importance
of this forum, the discussions it hosts and the
recommendations it presents. This year's edition comes at a
crucial and critical time in our Arab nation's history. Many
of the events taking place in our region, and in various
parts of the world, were topics listed on the agendas of the
previous editions of this Forum, and I recall, among other
things, that since the fourth forum in 2004, and over
successive editions, the Forum has been urging those who
were delaying reforms in our region to proceed with them. We
were certainly not alone in criticizing, advocating and
advising, and had such appeals found sympathetic ears the
history of the region may have taken different paths over
the past year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Arab freedom uprisings were preceded by manifestations
of complete rigidity, paralyzed policies and wide public
anger. Some ignored these indicators and were taken aback by
the outburst of revolutions that heralded a historic and
unprecedented transformation showing that the Arab peoples
are shaking off the long period of indolence and claiming
back a role in the furtherance of human civilization.
The Arab revolutions did or are about to achieve victory,
but precious innocent blood was shed, and still is, for some
regimes still oppose immediate reform.
Arab peoples revolted so the Arab Man could recover his
freedom and dignity, but they will also be the support the
regional relations system will be built on over the coming
For the Arab citizen has longed for regional integration but
was powerless to attain that goal when he was not in control
of his destiny. Today we believe that the Arab integration
will no longer be a mere hope of the people ignored by the
rulers since governments will be committed to it under the
pressure of a public opinion.
Just as Arab public opinion claims freedom for the citizens,
so it does for the nations. Palestine is the last Arab
homeland that has been deprived of its freedom to-date, and
it's time it gets it. In this regard, one should assimilate
the deep significance of the great concern shown by the Arab
peoples towards the Palestinian cause despite their
preoccupation with Arab Spring-driven instability at home.
That's why I think it is wrong to leave the Palestinian
issue hanging on the political and international agendas,
for the will of the Arab peoples will not allow it anymore,
and I call on Israel to take a positive step towards peace
I also call from this forum for the Arab Spring to be
matched by a Just Peace in the Middle East Spring. The Arab
peoples will never forget Palestine, just as we do not
forget the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
jails, nor Gaza, the besieged by Israel and others.
Therefore, Israel should seize the opportunity to commit to
the rules of international legitimacy, to recognize the
legitimate rights of the Arab Palestinian people, to
withdraw from the Syrian Golan and Lebanese Shebaa Farms,
and to refrain from practices that create de facto
situations hindering the future achievement of a just peace,
such as building settlements and the Judaization of
Otherwise it will miss a chance for peace with the peoples,
for the coming Arab generation that crafted the revolutions,
rejected and challenged the injustice of their kin will even
less suffer the oppression of strangers. Can anybody believe
that this generation would accept an on-going colonial issue
in its homeland? This generation is complexes-free and does
not deem an occupier-occupied situation acceptable, and does
not bow, as the world does, to Israel's monopoly of force
and nuclear and other weapons in our region. It's also a
generation willing to develop their country and to live in
peace, prosperity, equality and in parity with other
nations. And we must exploit this opportunity.
Here we must pause and reflect upon a major political
development that took place a few days ago on the Israeli
political scene, where the Israeli Prime Minister has
managed to gather the largest and strongest government
coalition in Israel's history.
After Kadima party rallied the government, the Prime
Minister can today boast the support of 94 deputies out of
120, thus denying himself the longtime Israeli argument of
the governmental coalitions' chronic frailness that prevents
any flexibility or concessions.
If this coalition's goal is not to better resist
post-election U.S. pressure, we say in good faith that if
there is will for peace the Israeli Prime Minister should
fear no opposition, and we ask for a bold step, long
overdue, on the path towards a peace based on the cessation
of settlement, the borders of 1967 and the two-state
solution. Israel cannot rely anymore on the friendship of
rulers that have been overthrown by the Arab Spring
revolutions, nor should it count on the support of those who
are against their own people and public opinion, for in this
case it will soon find itself with no friends at all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The revival of popular will in our region is not limited to
the repossession by the citizen of his political rights, but
also his economic and social rights. Privation was one of
the most important causes that sparked the Arab Spring
revolutions. And it'll soon dawn to us that, as in third
world countries, it's impossible to have a transition to
democracy in the Arabic countries without development
policies, gap bridging between rich and poor, and the
creation of appropriate economic conditions for the
expansion of the middle class. I would like here to stress
the following challenges to the change process.
First, there are lots of complicated economic problems that
either require time-consuming processing, either could not
be solved at once before long, either are impossible to
solve at once, such as economic growth decrease, high
unemployment rate and low productivity. We must inform the
people about those difficulties in full transparency, in
order for them to tell what can be processed immediately
from what will take more time, and what are the priorities.
Second, political freedom, which is the foundation of
democracy, does not lead to economic justice if not
accompanied by social and humanitarian development as well
as fair social policies.
Third, the utmost importance should be placed on solving the
issue of unemployment and on the re-evaluation of the
educational systems so to match the needs of the labor
market. Unemployment is a major factor in undermining social
stability, for not only does it deprive the worker of his
income, it also negatively affects his self-esteem, which
leads to frustration, anger or rebellion. In order to
protect the gains of these revolutions, priority should be
given to addressing this problem.
Fourth: The ultimate goal should be sustainable development,
which involves achieving its economic, social, human and
environmental general objectives.
I would like through your forum to underscore the challenges
facing the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals
in developing countries, as the achievement of most of these
goals by the 2015 deadline has become out of reach in the
poorest countries. This applies to the objectives related to
providing sanitation, provisioning drinking water, ensuring
primary education for all, protecting biodiversity, reducing
mortality rate among under-five children, empowering women
and reducing the number of undernourished people in the
The food and economic crisis that affected the world
recently played a major role in worsening the situation.
Food shortage has deepened poverty in the poorest countries,
and the economic crisis has led to a decline in direct
investment and exports. Even public aid to these countries,
which resisted during the great economic downturn, has
dropped in 2011. This phenomenon is disturbing, especially
if the decline persists. The fear of austerity policies
implemented by most of the donor countries has led to
reduced aid to developing countries, though with a lag.
I would like in this regard to emphasize that the State of
Qatar has doubled its government aid in 2011 compared to
2010, reaching $ 730 million. Estimates for public and
private aid for this year are about $ 990 million, which
does not include aid provided by some government agencies.
We urge all donor countries to commit to the ratio
recommended by the United Nations of an aid equal to 7 per
thousand of their national gross income.
The expected delay in achieving the Millennium Development
Goals beyond 2015 should not deter us from achieving it
later, and we should at once set additional development
goals that take into account the recent events and changes
as well as the wide disparities between individuals within
the same country.
The determination to attain the Millennium Development Goals
and to improve them continuously will help achieving peace
and prosperity for all.
The Doha Forum, which has been convening on a regular basis
for a second decade now, will remain a platform where
opinions about events in the region and the world are
exchanged, where ideas about the future are presented, and
where proposals that help promoting democracy, development
and free trade are made.
In conclusion, I wish you again a pleasant stay among your
brothers and friends in Qatar and success for your forum.
May peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you.