From 1995, Qatar decided to take a different approach from Qatar before 1995 through establishing a new diplomatic approach, in order to become an active player, and it also took up the diplomacy of an open door policy to become an active mediator, and to contribute to regional stability. We are building our diplomacy on the basis of our values, and we believe that our region is in need of a solid and secure strategy that enables people to live and live their lives in peace. The fundamental tenet of our principles is that people are not subject to any political deal. When the issue is between the government and the people, we stand with the people. When we started this policy we focused on different dimensions, and the first step was to review the media outlets available to us. We were the first country in the region to close the Ministry of Communication and Journalism, and we started with the legislation of free media, and ensured freedom of expression under the provisions of the law. We focused on human resources, and the ways to develop them. We extended the invitation to different universities in different countries, from France to the United States and the United Kingdom. We provided them with freedom of expression.
The investment in our employees was one of our top priorities. The third was our economy, and in 1995, Qatar was a state that produced 650,000 barrels of oil. Oil prices put the State of Qatar in a difficult financial situation. We were on the brink of bankruptcy. But His Highness the Emir decided to invest in gas in a time where no one believed in the power of gas, and they used to call it a crazy decision. But it was the right decision and Qatar is now one of the biggest producing countries of liquefied natural gas. We developed technology for this industry, which placed us side by side with the key world players of liquefied natural gas in terms of production and shipping. As part of our economic vision, we worked on a diversification strategy where the surplus is invested in our budget and revenues in different sectors and in different countries, and then Qatar's Sovereign Fund was established. We also considered the size of our country and population, and opted for international cooperation. The development plan represents an essential part of our policy, and we believe in the need to focus on human capital, and for that reason we have allocated 50% of our external development aid to education. We set out a vision a few years ago to educate 10 million children in vulnerable countries. So far, more than 7 million children are being educated through Qatari donation programs. We have a partnership with France and other countries. In Africa, our programs aimed at assisting a French development company. We believe in empowering youth, and it is a part of our national work schedule to establish initiatives to create work opportunities. We have the Silatech institute, which was established to create job opportunities for Arab youth in Yemen, Morocco, and other countries in the region. More than 300,000 jobs have been created till now. We have the Qatar-Tunisia Friendship Fund, which has created more than 50,000 job opportunities for youth.
Our foreign policy depends on those essential principles, and it uses those as key tools to achieve that vision. For there to be a peaceful region that provides prosperity. This region has many resources and high potential. We have plenty of youth, and we consider them a fuel for prosperity. But we are in need of providing them the correct means to achieve this vision.
Our relationship with France has long history, and it has its own characteristics. France was the country that stood with Qatar during the early days of the crisis. The crisis in the Gulf region is not new. When there was a crisis between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in the eighties, France came up and stood with Qatar, and the first defense agreement was signed with it. Our energy partnership has a long history too, we have agreements in infrastructure, in education and in many other fields.
With regards to what is related to the crisis between the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council; what happened was a hostile attack and an attempt to impose authority. This is not new. A similar attempt happened in 2014 and in 1996. This hostility towards Qatar began when Qatar started to adapt to change. Implementing a different strategy and a different vision. These countries don't accept differences in opinions, and they don't accept a country having a different approach. We refused to give up our sovereignty. No concerns were mentioned before the blockade imposed on Qatar. The crisis was established at a time when the region is facing many challenges.