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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Australia appoints first resident ambassador to Qatar

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The new Australian Embassy in Doha will get its first resident ambassador this summer, following the appointment of career diplomat Dr. Axel Wabenhorst.

According to the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wabenhorst has previously served in Australia’s Tehran, Riyadh and Baghdad missions.

He has also worked with the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and served as Director in the Arms Control and Counter-Proliferation Branch.

He holds degrees in mathematics and computer science, and speaks Arabic, German and Farsi.

Costly mission

Australia announced plans to open its first diplomatic office in Qatar last year.

The news was welcomed by many of the 4,500 to 5,000 Australian expats living in Qatar, who primarily work in professional fields including healthcare, education and construction management.

Tornado Tower
Tornado Tower

Previously, they received consular service from the Australian embassy in Abu Dhabi and were represented by its ambassador.

In recent months, the government has drawn criticism over the cost of operating the Doha mission, which is in Tornado Tower.

In March, a public enquiry was launched over the embassy’s projected A$20 million (more than QR52 million) price tag.

Officials responded by saying security was a paramount concern for Australia, and that the other option – constructing a new building – was too cost-prohibitive in Qatar.

Trade ties

Australia also appears to believe the investment is worth it.

In addition getting the new embassy up and running, Wabenhorst will be tasked with strengthening trade ties between his country and Qatar.

In a statement, Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the two nations growing economic relationship, saying:

“Australia’s goods and services trade with Qatar was $1.75 billion in 2014-15, and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is a valued source of foreign direct investment in Australia.”

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