Mar. 24, 2015


HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani

Qatar

HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani

Minister of Economy and Commerce, Qatar

BIO

HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani served as the Director General of the Al Jazeera Media Network from 2011 until June 2013, when he was appointed the Minister of Economy and Commerce. He is also the Chairman of Enterprise Qatar, Deputy Chairman of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, Member of the Board of the Financial Markets Development Committee, Member of the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, Member of the Board of Directors for the Qatar Investment Authority, Member of the Advisory Board at North-Western University in Qatar, and Member of the Qatar University Board of Regents. He started his career at Qatargas as an Engineer in 1995, in which he ascended to various leading posts including Head of Production Engineering, Director of Production and Reservoir Engineering, Director of Offshore Operations, and then as the Chief Operating Officer-Engineering and Ventures. Sheikh Ahmed holds a BSc degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of the United Arab Emirates, followed by a Master’s degree in Integrated Reservoir Project Management from the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London, and has studied at the Institut Français du Pétrole in France, and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Looking back at 2014, what were the most important policies taken by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce?

The primary objective of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) is to strengthen the foundations of a competitive Qatari economy through the adoption and implementation of policies that promote economic diversification and consumer protection. In this respect, the MEC has enforced a new set of regulations in 2014 aimed at protecting competitiveness as well as combating commercial fraud and monopoly practices. For instance, the MEC has introduced amendments to law No. 5 and 20 in a bid to streamline procedures for local and foreign investors seeking to do business in Qatar and is currently in the process of drafting a new law concerning commercial and industrial licenses.

What measures has the Ministry of Economy and Commerce taken to attract foreign investors to Qatar?

The MEC is committed to easing restrictions on foreign ownership as part of its efforts to encourage FDI in Qatar. In line with its progressive liberalization strategy, the MEC is currently considering allowing unrestricted foreign equity participation in an additional number of sectors. As of today, the MEC allows foreign investors in the agriculture, industry, health, education, tourism, and energy sectors to exceed the 49% ownership cap provided that their projects contribute to development plans as outlined by the state of Qatar.

Public private partnerships (PPPs) have been identified as a priority for the development of the Qatari economy. What is the role of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce in this area?

The Ministry believes that PPPs provide a framework that allows the government to make use of the private sector's expertise while ensuring that social obligations are met and successful public sector reforms are implemented. To ensure that tasks, obligations, and risks are allocated in an optimal way among public and private partners, the Ministry is giving priority to PPPs in areas where such partnerships offer huge potential, namely ongoing and planned infrastructure developments.

What are the objectives behind the efforts of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce to tighten economic relations within the GCC, and what areas do you identify as priorities for increased regional convergence?

The MEC seeks to foster economic relations within the GCC as part of its efforts to establish the Gulf common market and promote regional integration. While Qatar's small domestic market may fail to offer the scale needed for production efficiency, economically integrated regions can help attract foreign investors who are more inclined to open a production or distribution facility in Qatar if it serves a bigger regional market.

Hydrocarbon products dominate Qatari exports. What is the importance of diversifying the Qatari export basket?

Economic diversification plays a prominent role in creating productive jobs and is necessary to boost living standards. However, to diversify its economy, Qatar must first address several interrelated challenges starting with the need to foster an entrepreneurial culture.

What are the major challenges that will emerge as a result of the rapid growth of the Qatari economy and what can the MEC do to overcome them?

Rapid economic growth poses major risks at the social, financial, cultural, and environmental levels. To overcome these challenges, the MEC seeks to align rapid growth with social development and environmental sustainability. In following a path of sustainable development, Qatar will strive to meet the needs of this generation without compromising those of future generations, ensuring what is often called intergenerational justice. By adopting a development pace that ensures sustainable improvements in livelihoods and quality of life, the government will avoid depleting national resources and protect against economic overheating or financial imbalances that can manifest themselves in rapidly rising prices.

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