Qatar emir, seeking new markets, starts West Africa tour
Qatar's emir was to tour six West African nations starting Wednesday in search of new markets, six months after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries cut ties with the wealthy emirate.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater told a press conference that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani's mission would begin in Mali, and include stops in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea and Senegal.
The visit is part of Doha's drive to open up new markets and diversify its economy amid an ongoing blockade by its neighbours, Khater said.
She said the six countries on the emir's itinerary had "strong economic potential and opportunities despite some security challenges in some of them".
The emir is to sign cooperation agreements in health, education, mining, energy and food security.
Khater said Qatar will also be providing $13.8 million dollars to fund a cancer hospital in Burkina Faso.
Qatar has sought to establish new global trade links in an attempt to alleviate its regional isolation by powerful Saudi Arabia with which it shares its only land border.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with gas-rich Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups and being too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival.
Doha denies the charges.