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“In many ways, Qatar and Norway are as different as it is possible to be. Despite this, we have a number of things in common. We are both oil and gas nations. Hydro’s long-lasting activities in Qatar have led to the forging of a deep relationship, and the establishment of Qatalum will contribute to ever closer ties between the two countries,” commented Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Åslaug Haga, when she addressed the 500 or so guests.

With Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani leading the way, Qatar’s official representatives lined up to mark the significance of Qatalum – which means that Qatar will gain a broader industrial base and new opportunities for a processing industry.

Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy & Industry, and Abdullah Salatt, the chairman of Qatalum’s board of directors, both emphasized the enduring relationship between Qatar and Hydro, and how the aluminium plant will contribute to diversifying the country’s industry.

"By realizing Qatalum, we construct the world’s largest greenfield smelter ever built in one step," Hydro's President and CEO Eivind Reiten pointed out in his speech.

"And our ambition would be to expand the project by doubling its capacity to 1.2 million tonnes. Together with our partner, we will then operate the biggest aluminium plant in the world. Even more important than size: Qatalum will be the most technologically advanced aluminium plant in the world – providing the world’s most cost-efficient, most energy-efficient and most eco-efficient production of the metal of the future," Reiten said.

Exciting performance

But it was the use of images and the artistic features on the program that really showed that a fusion of the two cultures is possible. The brass instrumentalists making up Brass Brothers from Norway, and the drummers and vocalists from Qatar’s Al Nokuda Folklore Group literally entered the stage from opposite sides, playing typical national music, but after a short time the musicians had all joined forces in something resembling a jamming session.

Dancers from Oslo Dance Ensemble concluded their rhythmic dance by uniting the two parts that make up the foundation stone. After that, Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani could seal the stone with a bolt, before watching an animation depicting a metal plant being built in just one minute.

More than 500 guests from Qatar Petroleum, Hydro, suppliers, customers, financial institutions, the Qatari authorities, and Qatar’s industrial and business community were invited.

The entire ceremony was broadcast live on Qatari television. The guests were also taken on a guided tour of the harbor and the site area where the construction start for Qatalum is being prepared.