Economic View

On emerging from challenging times in an advantageous position

In what ways has Qatar evolved into a stronger economy following the blockade?

SHEIKH FAISAL BIN QASSIM AL THANI: To prevent conflict or competition, there has always been a broad understanding among the GCC countries as to what products each country produces. As a result of the blockade, however, the Qatari government has successfully undertaken a number of initiatives to help make different sectors of the local economy self-sufficient, most notably food and beverages. 

Major projects such as Hamad Port, Ruwais Port and Hamad International Airport provide additional access to the country, aiming to promote local and regional trade, as well as enhance the local economy. In addition, Qatar has established important strategic relationships with countries including Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. This has led to Qatar developing long-term relationships that will last regardless of the blockade, and benefit the country’s economic growth and self-sufficiency. An example of this is the Qatari people starting to discover alternative destinations to visit during their holidays. 

How might initiatives such as the food security project at Hamad Port, which is set to run as a public-private partnership (PPP), pave the way for PPPs in other segments of the economy? 

SHEIKH FAISAL: The food security project at Hamad Port is a partnership between the public and private sectors, and a great opportunity for private industry to highlight its strengths and expertise in collaborating with the public sector and entering new markets. Because the government recognises the importance of the private sector and what it is capable of, private players will handle the management of this project upon completion. This will not only benefit local food security, it will also support food security in surrounding markets through exports. 

The success of such projects encourages the private sector to participate further in economic development. Furthermore, the projects are expected to lead to both self-sufficiency and sustainable economic development in Qatar. 

What role will economic free zones play in raising Qatar’s profile as a preferred investment destination?

SHEIKH FAISAL: The Qatar Free Zones Authority supervises and organises free zones at an international level, with the aim of providing attractive and exceptional opportunities for local companies that are looking to expand internationally. In addition to attracting foreign direct investment to the free zones in Qatar, this initiative helps create a more diversified, flourishing local economy – one that is ready for a new era of development. The high level of investment in the free zones has meant that many companies are able to develop projects here. Qatar is strategically located for export activities, and as exports increase, local transport and logistics facilities have increased accessibility to the country. We also benefit from reasonable costs of raw materials. 

How concerned are you by the gap between demand and supply in the country’s real estate sector, and how is this issue being addressed?

SHEIKH FAISAL: Due to the government’s large investments in this area with the objective of increasing investment in non-oil sectors, the country has recently witnessed significant growth in the real estate sector. The sector has started to see adjustments in prices, which have declined by varying degrees according to area. This is a corrective initiative that benefits the sector, aiming to make real estate more attractive and stimulate buying and selling. Property prices are expected to become reasonably stable in the near future, which will reinforce market activity. Most companies have focused on the real estate sector during the economic boom.