Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad al-Thani and he had deliberated on the prospect of ramping up Qatar's investment in Malaysia in these two fields. Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PUTRAJAYA: Qatar is seeking to boost investment in two areas in Malaysia- healthcare services and hospitality, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today.

Najib said Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad al-Thani and he had deliberated on the prospect of ramping up Qatar's investment in Malaysia in these two fields.

"The Emir has told me that there is a possibility of Doha to raise its investment in the healthcare services by looking at how Qatar can cooperate with Malaysia through Khazanah IHH Healthcare to venture into the healthcare industry here and explore investment opportunities in other countries.

"Other investment prospect is in the hospitality industry. We have discussed the prospect (of investing) either in Kuala Lumpur, or Sabah or Langkawi.

"After this (state visit), we will act on it with follow-ups so that we can make it happen for Qatar to expand its investments in Malaysia," he told reporters after meeting Sheikh Tamim and the Qatari delegates.

Also present were Special Functions Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who is also the Defence Minister, and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

The prime minister said Malaysia and Qatar had forged strong bilateral ties for the past 43 years.

"The Emir's visit has allowed both countries to discuss bilateral issues and strengthen ties economically.

"Within the first eight months this year, the trade value of the two countries has seen a double digit growth at 36.5 per cent from US$300.5 million (RM1.2 billion) to US$384 million (1.6 billion).

"Due to many of the mega projects have been completed, our bilateral trade has shrunken in 2016, but the latest development has been very encouraging," said Najib.

In 2016, Qatar was ranked as Malaysia’s 40th largest trading partner with total trade of US$566 million (RM2.37 billion).

Total exports were recorded at USD150 million (RM623 million) while total imports were USD416 million (RM1.7 billion), with the trade balance in favour of Qatar amounting to US$256.94 (RM1.11 billion).

Najib added Malaysia had many investments in Qatar especially in the service sector with Malaysian companies operating in the Gulf state including Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), Gamuda Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd, UEM Builders Bhd and Muhibbah Engineering M Bhd.

"Qatar also has several big investments in Malaysia such as their involvement in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur through Qatar Investment Authority and KLCC via Qatari Diar Real Estate company."

Malaysia and Qatar continue to enjoy close relations in various key areas including political, economy and social affairs.

Sheikh Tamim was here for a two-day state visit at the invitation of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V.