Interview: Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani
How is Qatar enhancing its business climate to attract new foreign investors?
SHEIKH KHALIFA BIN JASSIM BIN MOHAMMED AL THANI: Every country, whether developed or developing, is trying to attract as much foreign direct investment (FDI) as possible to grow its economy. Qatar has showcased itself as an ideal investment destination with a strong and vibrant economy.
Several global business indices and rankings agencies have recognised the advantages Qatar offers to businesses, ranking it increasingly higher among attractive FDI destinations worldwide. For instance, Qatar ranked 29th globally and second among Arab countries out of 141 nations on the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index. To achieve this, the country has adopted a series of measures and issued numerous legislative reforms, including a foreign capital investment law that allows for 100% foreign ownership of local companies across all sectors. We have also created new investment incentives, some of which allow for the allocation of land to foreign investors.
In 2018 the Qatar Free Zones Authority was founded with the aim of developing free zones and formulating policies tailored to businesses operating in these zones. Hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup will also enhance our image, demonstrating that Qatar is a nexus of commerce, investment and tourism.
What impact has the development of special economic zones (SEZs) and infrastructure had on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)?
SHEIKH KHALIFA: In 2011 Qatar founded the Economic Zone Company (Manateq) to develop SEZs in order to promote economic diversification, and strengthen the growth of the national private sector and SMEs. However, further enhancements to transport infrastructure were needed to support the expansion of the economy. In response to these various challenges, the country has accomplished a number of achievements over the past few years in the transport sector, in particular with regards to the construction of roads, ports and airports.
Qatar has succeeded in developing and enhancing an extensive transport network in line with international standards, which has contributed to increasing the country’s growth rate and has had a positive impact on the private sector and SMEs. For instance, the opening of Hamad Port, Hamad International Airport and other transport projects, as well as the establishment of adjacent SEZs, helped facilitate the growth of manufacturing industries and increase the country’s non-hydrocarbons exports. These projects have also contributed to the growth of SMEs and facilitated the diversification of the economy.
To what extent is Qatar relying on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to drive growth as part of the National Development Strategy 2018-22?
SHEIKH KHALIFA: The National Development Strategy 2018-22 has put Qatar on a clear path towards economic diversification, and becoming a global economic player and business centre. This strategy attaches great value to PPPs as vehicles to develop Qatar’s plans.
Within the framework of this strategy, the private sector has an essential role to play. The government has made significant progress since forming a technical committee to stimulate private sector participation in its economic development. The Technical Committee specialises in several areas, such as the proposal of fields and projects in which both the government and the private sector can participate, as well as suggesting ways to support and stimulate the private sector to participate in such operations.
Many projects connected to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the Qatar National Vision 2030 were implemented under the PPP framework, yielding positive results. To further support PPPs, the government also approved a draft PPP law in April 2019 that should pave the way for the launch of several new investment projects in Qatar.
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