The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Zani, has travelled to Madrid with the aim of implementing a new diplomatic strategy with Spain that will highlight an alliance in one of the key sectors: energy and liquefied gas.
The new diplomatic crisis between Algeria and Spain as a result of the Spanish government's recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara has put the supply of Algerian gas at risk, a situation that has led Spain to seek gas alternatives.
Tamim al-Zani, along with his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Hamad bin Suhaim Al Zani, were received with military honours by the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia. Subsequently, the Qatari sheikhs received the Golden Key of the City of Madrid, as well as medals from the Congress of Deputies and the Senate during their visit to the Upper House.
It was here that, in a brief meeting, the Qatari emir declared that "Spain and Qatar have many values in common. This visit to Madrid comes to strengthen these relations in all areas both at the institutional and parliamentary level and at the popular level (...) Thank you for the hospitality and the welcome. Our determination is to deepen bilateral collaboration", he added.
These statements are the few that are expected, as the emir will not appear at any press conference during his visit. Tammin bin Hamad al-Zani is also expected to attend an exhibition at Madrid's Zarzuela racecourse later in the afternoon.
The recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara has opened different fronts. Algeria, which decided to unilaterally break off diplomatic relations with Morocco, has criticised Spain's new stance, deciding, moreover, to harass it in a sector on which Spain is highly dependent: gas.
The Qatari emir's visit to Spain is no trivial matter. Doha, aware of the situation and an enclave with an important gas reserve, has not been slow to set itself up as an alternative energy supplier.
Until 2019, Qatar was the second largest supplier of LNG to Spain, after Algeria. In that year, the Qatari country accounted for 11.4% of total gas imports, although it has now dropped to fifth place.
This situation could undergo a major transformation after Algeria's turn towards Italy, a new favouring of Algeria that is not beneficial for Madrid. In this sense, the Qatari ambassador has the same words as the ministers of the Ministries of Finance and Energy, both of which are involved in gas exports.
Thus, the diplomat Abdulla bin Ibrahim Abdulrahman Sultan Al Hamar declared that "Qatar has already invested in expanding its gas production capacity in the coming years, however, for the moment, the state's room for manoeuvre to export more is small".
The Qatari emir's visit is the only official visit to Spain by a Qatari head of state from another country. The economic agreements reached that strengthen ties between Spain and Qatar are expected to be initialled tomorrow. These signatures are scheduled to be executed at the business forum organised by the CEOE, which will be attended by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez.
One of the most important agreements is the one with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the Qatari sovereign wealth fund with assets worth 450 billion euros.
In addition, Iberdrola's chairman, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, will hold a meeting with the emir, who is also the main shareholder of the Spanish company through its sovereign wealth fund.
Another of the objectives of the visit is to join in this strategic partnership, of which Spain would form part along with countries such as the United States, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, China and Japan.