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Qatar beats rivals to run Pakistan airports

July 25, 2023 at 7:59 pm

A general view of the newly-built Islamabad International Airport. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images]

Qatar has manged to fend off competition from Saudi Arabia, UAE and China to secure a deal with Pakistan over the running of Islamabad Airport. The sale, via tender of a contract, to manage Islamabad Airport is nearing completion after consultations with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Ministry of Finance said Thursday.

The Ministry said that Pakistan had begun outsourcing of operations at three major airports, and Islamabad was the first of these to be affected. Generating foreign exchange reserves for Pakistan’s ailing economy is said to be the reason for the sale.

In its statement, the Ministry said it had been unanimously agreed for the outsourcing of operations at Islamabad Airport to go ahead in order to improve service delivery in line with best industry practices.

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Officials say Pakistan has been in talks with Qatar to jointly run the terminals at Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore airports. The Qatar Investment Authority pledged to invest $3 billion in Pakistan after Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, visited Doha late last year.

Qatar’s neighbours, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with China were among the five countries in a race for the contract to run Pakistan’s main airports.

Pakistan’s economy has crumbled due to simmering political crisis. The rupee has plummeted, and inflation is at decades-high levels. Devastating floods and a global energy crisis have piled on further pressure.

Earlier this month, Pakistan received $2 billion in financial assistance from Saudi Arabia, days after Islamabad and the IMF reached a $3 billion loan agreement.

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