Interview: Sheikh Ali Al Waleed Al Thani

What more can be done to accelerate the transition to a diversified, knowledge-based economy?

SHEIKH ALI AL WALEED AL THANI: In parallel with transport infrastructure development projects such as Hamad International Airport, Hamad Port, Doha Metro, as well as those improving digital infrastructure, Qatar has made significant investment in human capital – particularly education. Initiatives such as Education City and partnerships with international universities have played a pivotal role in nurturing talent. In addition, regulatory reforms, including the liberalisation of foreign ownership laws and progressive visa policies, have made the country attractive to skilled professionals.

Moreover, Qatar has taken significant strides in creating a business-friendly environment, allowing 100% foreign ownership and enacting favourable regulations. Initiatives such as Invest Qatar Gateway facilitate connections and support foreign investors. At the same time, the ministries of commerce and industry, labour, justice and interior have expanded the capabilities of the platform, simplifying company registration.

In what ways can public-private partnerships (PPP) attract foreign direct investment (FDI)?

SHEIKH ALI: PPPs are crucial to attracting FDI. They have become a cornerstone of Qatar’s economic diversification efforts, fostering a vibrant business ecosystem that prioritises productivity, competitiveness and private sector-led growth. The May 2020 PPP law marked a significant milestone in our journey towards economic diversification, providing investors with the confidence and predictability they seek.

The significance of PPPs is shown by the expanding array of sectors encompassed in our framework. Education, health care, real estate, tourism and energy present promising opportunities for collaboration. Including these in the framework adds another dimension to the business environment and complements the advantages that form Qatar’s FDI value proposition.

Which incentives and infrastructure developments could enhance Qatar’s competitive advantages?

SHEIKH ALI: Significant investment has been made in Qatar’s physical and digital infrastructure, enabling us to become a prominent tech centre in the Middle East. The country’s commitment to economic diversification and innovation is evident through its partnerships with global tech companies such as Microsoft and Google. These companies have chosen to establish cloud data centres in Qatar, recognising the country’s favourable investment climate and growth potential.

Recent collaborations have reinforced Qatar’s focus on technology and innovation further. For instance, partnerships to develop innovation centres with US-based software engineering firm Emerson Electric and Spanish renewable energy company Iberdrola highlight Qatar’s dedication to advancing the energy, health care and transport sectors. These initiatives aim to drive research and development, foster collaboration, enhance cybersecurity measures and support start-ups.

How does the Third National Development Strategy 2024-30 (NDS-3) contribute to advancing Qatar’s economic development and diversification?

SHEIKH ALI: The NDS-3 serves as a roadmap for achieving sustainable economic growth, ensuring financial stability and fostering a cohesive society for generations to come. This strategy sets forth objectives to boost diversification and cultivate a knowledge-based economy, including accelerating growth to an average of 4% annually until 2030, and strengthening the country’s position as a top-10 destination for investors and businesses globally. It also sets an FDI target of $100bn. Our recent business environment survey revealed that 93% of established investors intend to sustain investment in Qatar, citing supportive regulatory changes and a conducive business environment. Additionally, 91% of potential investors view the country favourably and 86% perceive its macroeconomic stability positively.