Jul. 8, 2021


Sheikha Alanoud Bint Hamad Al-Thani

Qatar

Sheikha Alanoud Bint Hamad Al-Thani

Managing Director of Business Development, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)

QFC is geared toward being a best-in-class platform from which to do business, supporting the creation of a diverse and knowledge-based economy in Qatar.

Can you guide us through the main achievements of QFC in 2020?

Despite the challenges we faced due to the global pandemic, QFC experienced a remarkable 78% growth with 364 new firms registered on its platform in 2020. Profits of QFC firms rose over 2020, with the aggregate tax take rising nearly 68% YoY. A variety of QFC firm activities expanded, with commercial opportunities greater than ever before. At the same time, assets under management of institutions on our platform more than doubled compared to a year earlier, which pointed to the health of the financial sector. Within business development (BD), which I oversee, growth has manifested across its core areas, increasing the number of registered licenses by 71% compared to 2019, totaling 318 by year-end 2020. Because of these achievements, projections have been made of BD-licensed firms to reach an approximate: 4,000 FTEs, USD1,134 million in revenues to be generated by QFC entities, and USD1,327 million of assets held by 2022.

In 2021, we enter in the final decade to realize the Qatar National Vision 2030. How does this situation impact your strategy over the next decade, and does QFC have a focus on sectors and geographical origin of investors?

QFC's strategy is aligned with the Qatar National Vision 2030, geared toward a diverse and knowledge-based economy. This strategy includes a keen focus on high value-adding services such as the digital, media, sports, and financial service sectors, which is analogous with Qatar's positioning in those fields. Another facet of the QFC strategy is our emphasis on moving more broadly into geographical markets in APAC such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pakistan, and South Korea, as well as the US, parts of Europe and Russia. We are also looking to boost our high-net worth individuals' product offering to further service these markets and customers.

The government has established other free zones and investment ecosystems in the country, such as QFZA and QSTP. What makes QFC a unique ecosystem in 2021?

QFC is an onshore jurisdiction, providing an ideal environment for international, local, and regional companies to flourish and grow in Qatar and beyond. Since its inception in 2005, QFC's role and contribution to Qatar and its economy has evolved, expanding its permitted activities and enhancing its product offerings in line with country priorities and business needs. However, over its entire 15-year history, QFC has continued its original focus on finance and professional services. This role complements the activities of QFZA and QSTP, which have their own niche industry mandates that focus on export-oriented manufacturing and scientific research, respectively. The collective efforts of these three platforms drive Qatar's economic diversification across all industries.

Qatar has been given a stable economic outlook which includes a 2.5-3% growth rate in 2021. What is the role of the QFC in the recovery after this year's recession?

The health crisis abruptly changed the global business ecosystem, and QFC quickly adapted to the new business norm. We provided financial relief measures, introduced technical solutions, and enhanced our digital outreach to help our firms and the larger business community withstand the crisis and enable business continuity. Qatar and QFC have proven themselves resilient in past crises, and this adaptability will continue to serve it well in 2021 and beyond. QFC sees its role this year as enabling the firms and institutions on its platform to succeed locally and internationally. We intend on working with our growing client base to realize commercial opportunities and ensuring we continue to a best-in-class platform from which to do business.

What are QFC's most urgent strategic priorities for 2021?

We aim to attract QAR91.25 billion in FDI with a particular focus on the digital, media, sports and financial service industries and to anchor them with opportunities in Qatar and other markets so they remain sustainable and contribute to the local economy in the long term. Despite some of the challenges at hand, QFC's outlook in terms of acquisition and growth prospects is extremely promising.

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