Qatar, the Volkswagen group, Porsche Automobil Holding SE and the German state of Lower Saxony have agreed to strengthen cooperation, particularly in research, development and education, they said in a statement issued after a delegation visited the emirate.

Topics discussed included possible research cooperation into new materials, energy production and storage, fuel economy optimisation in engines, and the medium-term openings for establishing a vehicle materials test laboratory.

All parties expressed an interest in cooperation with the Qatar Foundation regarding vocational training and further study courses at Qatar University and the AutoUni in Wolfsburg.

VW group chairman Martin Winterkorn said: "The development of modern and resource-efficient vehicles increasingly calls for interdisciplinary cooperation in such diverse fields as electronics and materials science. Our plans to establish a test laboratory will put us in a position to test new materials under very challenging climatic conditions, thereby extending our leading position in research and development."

Qatar Holding is one of Volkswagen AG’s major shareholders - along with Lower Saxony and Porsche SE - and the shareholding is the emirate’s largest single investment to date.