Apr. 19, 2016

HE Mohamed Bin Ajaj Al Kubaisi


HE Mohamed Bin Ajaj Al Kubaisi

Chairman, Ajaj Group


HE Mohamed Bin Ajaj Al Kubaisi is a member of the Qatar Advisory Council and the Leader of the Economy & Finance Committee since 1989. The role of the advisory council is to advise the Emir of Qatar in various fields on policy matters to pass decrees for the State of Qatar. HE Mohamed Bin Ajaj Al Kubaisi is the owner of Ajaj Group, which deals in different fields of business in Qatar.

What are the opportunities for Ajaj Group in the Qatar's agricultural sector?

We began operations in the agricultural sector in 1985. We work mostly in the private sector, and we remain top rated and market leader in specialized agricultural production. We own more than 300 greenhouses surrounded by 5,000 palm trees, and produce almost 20 tons of vegetables daily. Two years ago we began focusing on flowers. We have visited many countries worldwide to develop the concept of agriculture growing in Qatar. We had 40,000sqm of greenhouses full of white roses concentrated in one place. In the Middle East, we cannot have one special production line and concentrate solely on its enhancement; we have to create a more diversified product offering and constantly adapt our production to meet the local demand of the market.

How would you assess Qatar's opportunities in the construction sector as the country heads toward the 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond?

Competition in real estate will continue for the foreseeable future. There are some who claim that Qatar's real estate market is like a balloon and that inflation has begun. Based on our experience and market forecast, GDP will keep pace with inflation even after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Many people do not remember that Qatar reached similar peak points in the past, as was the case with the 2006 Asian Games. We thought that there would be chaos in the real estate market after 2006, that there would be mass vacancies, and we would have a surplus of supply. Fortunately, that did not happen, and based on that experience we have similar our Post-2022 expectations. What is also reassuring to us is the ambitions set out in the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV2030). This plan puts a tremendous emphasis on developing the country's human resources, and one of the predominant players in the market in this regard is Qatar Foundation (QF). QF has set its target on developing a world-class education city that will attract students from across the world. With the ambitions of QF, we see tremendous growth potential in the real estate market for projects associated along these lines. Similarly, we are still forecasting continued opportunity within the energy sector despite the recent drop in oil prices. Qatar will continue to expand its energy market and will continue exporting its natural resources despite market fluctuations. With these developments, we expect a host of energy sector projects in the near future. There will be, of course, challenges for Qatar as we approach 2022, and we are preparing for market fluctuations even beyond then. It is, in fact, likely that there will be a one-year market reset from 2022 to 2023. However, all matters considered, there is a clear direction for Qatar that has been laid out by the country's leadership in the QNV2030. As long as Ajaj Group aligns its goals and ambitions with that vision, we will achieve success.

Which sectors have the most potential moving forward?

We have identified two sectors as having the most potential in the near future, namely agriculture and manufacturing. On both these fronts, Qatar is facing import-related challenges. The country is importing all of its foodstuffs, leaving us vulnerable to risks in terms of food security. In the manufacturing sector, Qatari industrial and construction companies are forced to import many of essential assembly, construction, and agriculture materials at a high cost. It is therefore one of the aims and ambitions of the Qatari government to diversify the country's economy and stimulate growth in these areas. What we have seen so far is that many Qatar-based banks are beginning to finance projects in these areas. In conclusion, when I look at the current state of the economy in Qatar, I see tremendous opportunity in both fields, as they perfectly mirror the ambitions of the country as a whole.