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DOHA: Malaysia must explore the potential for cooperation with Qatar in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector and take advantage of the incentives amounting to nine billion Qatari riyals (RM1=0.77 Qatari cents) announced by the kingdom.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim welcomed the announcement of the incentives, saying this is in line with the government’s aim to empower the sector in Malaysia.

“Yes, our focus is cooperation with Qatar in the field of AI. That is there. For example, Qatar has an AI research institute. (Thus) I have asked (Higher Education Minister) Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir to take follow-up action with his counterpart, the Minister of Education of Qatar,“ he told Malaysian reporters, concluding his visit to the West Asian country today.

Earlier, Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced a “massive” digital transformation effort with incentives worth about nine billion Qatari riyals, including in the field of AI, during the Qatar Economic Forum this morning.

Anwar, also the Minister of Finance, said that among the forms of cooperation that can be done with Qatar in AI is education and investment. Commenting on the results of his short visit to Qatar, he said the confidence of Qatari companies in Malaysia’s ability has resulted in an export value potential of RM700 million.

Thus, Anwar said he is optimistic that bilateral trade between the two countries will exceed the amount of trade achieved last year, extending the upward trend.

“In these three months, due to the encouragement from the Qatari government as well, the increase in trade (increased by almost 180 per cent). Both the (Qatar) leaders, the Emir of Qatar (Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani) and the Prime Minister (Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrahman Al Thani), in addition to the (Qatar) ministers who met my fellow ministers, assured that this amount will be increased much more in terms of trade, investment and cooperation,“ he added.

The total bilateral trade between Malaysia and Qatar reached RM4.2 billion last year.

From January to March this year, total trade between the two countries increased 178.4 per cent to RM1.43 billion (US$303.9 million) compared to RM514.9 million (US$116.7 million) for the same period in 2023.

As of last year, Qatar was Malaysia’s fifth largest trading partner, the sixth largest export destination and the sixth largest source of imports from the West Asian region.

Anwar, who ended his official visit to Qatar today, is scheduled to depart for the Kyrgyz Republic by boarding a special plane at the Doha International Airport here this evening.