Interview: Yousuf Mohamed Al Jaida
What sort of tangible economic impact is the creation of a distinct financial city expected to have on the Qatari economy?
YOUSUF MOHAMED AL JAIDA: Today’s economic conditions place a greater emphasis on attracting global capital as inward investment, and this necessitates setting up zones that offer more attractive investment environments. Qatar has additionally sought to establish, through the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), a platform for growth to both local and regional markets. Unlike other financial zones in the region, this new financial city will be open to all businesses, local and international, and will not be restricted to QFC-licensed firms.
The economic impact of the financial city will come in the form of direct impacts, based on direct benefits from entities and companies; indirect impacts that are based on entities’ and companies’ supply chain benefits; and induced impacts that are based on direct and indirect employee spending benefits. However, we realise that bringing in investment is only one step in a long journey. Our ultimate goal is to make those investments work to the benefit of the wider economy and the country as a whole.
Against a backdrop of reduced government revenue and budget restrictions, would you consider this apt timing to pursue this kind of project?
AL JAIDA: Despite the regional blockade, the Qatari economy is still robust. Real GDP growth is projected at 3.4% for 2017, reflecting significant expansion in the non-hydrocarbon sector. This is due to government investment commitments, as well as the added output from the new Barzan gas project, according to the IMF.
Qatar continues to assume high positions in the indices of global competitiveness. The country was ranked the 2nd most competitive economy in the Arab region, according to the 2018 world competitiveness report published by the World Economic Forum, and it was ranked 25th of 137 countries in the report. The move comes as part of the country’s strategy to stimulate the private sector and direct it towards the most productive industries. Investment spending has always been a tool Qatar has used to grow its private sector and to diversify its economy, and the new financial city is another step in this direction.
How will the QFC’s new location enhance economic diversification in the Qatari economy?
AL JAIDA: QFC’s new home is a testament to its growth and will allow for further collaborative opportunities among local and international firms. The QFC and Msheireb Properties partnership will strengthen Doha’s position as a leading business and financial district with increased international relevance. This partnership promotes further confidence from international investors, in both conducting business in Qatar and with Qatar-based firms.
This designation brings together two national entities and is the first of its kind in Qatar. The relocation serves to promote new synergies and knowledge-sharing practices, and will thereby strengthen Qatar’s private sector and create a community for businesses to come together.
What steps are being taken by the QFC to allow for easier foreign investment in the country?
AL JAIDA: Our strength is our in-depth understanding of the economy. We have evolved in response to the nation’s development, and that is why we continue to adapt our approach to the benefit of all concerned parties. The QFC introduced new tax regulations that have helped businesses capitalise on the QFC platform by opting for a zero tax rate on all operations conducted from the QFC.
This policy was developed in line with the government’s own goal of strengthening the domestic private sector, in alignment with the economic pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 development plan.
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