Interview: Fahad Rashid Al Kaabi

What is being done to prevent a lack of affordable land hindering private sector growth?

FAHAD RASHID AL KAABI: While demand still outstrips supply in many areas for the time being, Manateq is taking a leading role in addressing the issue by providing more streamlined, cost-effective solutions for companies looking to invest in Qatar. For example, in Mesaieed Industrial Zone monthly rent starts from QR1.67 ($0.46) per sq metre, a price designed to support and promote the development of the industrial sector.

Manateq’s total land bank is about 90m sq metres, which comprises our SEZs, logistics parks, industrial parks and warehousing parks, all of which are positioned in strategic locations. Ras Bufontas SEZ is located adjacent to Hamad International Airport, while Um Alhoul SEZ is in close proximity to Hamad Port. These locations create easier access for businesses to enter Qatar and move their products and services out to the global markets. Fully integrated facilities in each of our dedicated zones reduce delivery times and, crucially, transport and logistics costs. By choosing to invest through one of Manateq’s special zones, companies are serviced with a dedicated point of contact to take care of the processes of setting up a business in Qatar.

The Ministry of Economy and Commerce has also made significant progress since forming a technical committee to oversee the promotion of private sector engagement in economic development projects. The committee seeks opportunities in public-private partnerships (PPPs) and Manateq plays a crucial role in this. We have developed a creative PPP project to build four warehousing parks, which are vital to the growth of the logistics sector, by awarding the projects to developers from the private sector to build and operate.

Given the small share of logistics in GDP, what kind of international investments are expected?

AL KAABI: In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, which is working towards a diverse, knowledge-based economy, the government is striving to make a regional hub for logistics. Mesaieed Industrial Zone is a sign of that progress, and complements the SEZs and logistics parks we have developed. At the moment there are more than 200 projects within Mesaieed, which include heavy and light industries, with commercial space and storage facilities for raw materials and concrete.

Ras Bufontas SEZ targets various industries such as health care and medical devices, clean and light industries, advanced technology and air cargo logistics. Um Alhoul SEZ, meanwhile, offers a base for companies specialising in marine industries, automotive, building materials and food processing, to name a few.

Will foreign direct investment inflows be affected by the establishment of special economic zones?

AL KAABI: Investors setting up in an SEZ, with its strategic location and integrated infrastructure, will additionally benefit from various incentives such as 100% foreign ownership. An assigned personal point of contact will also help with company registration, building permits and licences, making it an attractive proposition for international investors looking to establish a business in Qatar. Furthermore, foreign investors will be entitled to freely transfer and repatriate the company’s capital or profits outside Qatar without restrictions, with more incentives to come at a later stage.

How will SEZs have an impact on the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?

AL KAABI: SMEs will benefit from the personal point of contact that will help with setting up their company, as they may not have the human resources necessary to complete that task. SMEs will be provided with expertise at every stage to guide them through the processes to get their business up and running as quickly possible. By being located in one of our SEZs, organisations can benefit from the proximity to a network of similar operators, thereby enhancing their business prospects.