The QFC Authority was established to support the development of a thriving financial sector in Qatar. How has that mission evolved in its first decade, and how do you expect it to develop in the coming years?
Our main focus has always been to support the development of Qatar and contribute to diversifying its economy. Over the past decade, we have built a solid, first-class business environment locally, and we provided a competitive platform for domestic, regional, and international growth. Additionally, and so as to adapt to the growing and diversifying economy of Qatar, we have broadened the range of firms we welcome. For example, a significant number of professional and business services firms, across a variety of professional sectors, have now set up at the QFC. Moreover, we have also witnessed a substantial increase in the number of Qatari businesses that have joined our growing family. In fact, nearly 30% of QFC-licensed companies are Qatari. Attracting additional Qatari firms to the QFC remains a top priority and I am confident that our legal and structural enhancements will prove beneficial to both Qatari and international firms in the years ahead. The more the country moves forward, the more our role to attract and provide the required skills and expertise to support the economy becomes indispensable. QFC-licensed firms provide essential support to industries that contribute to diversifying Qatar's economy.
In July 2014, the QFC Authority updated the QFC tax regulations and rules. What have been the most important changes and what was the reasoning behind this new policy?
At the QFC, one of our strongest assets is our in-depth understanding of the economy's requirements. From the outset, we have attempted to respond to the nation's development, and that is why we continue to adapt our approach to the benefit of all concerned parties. For example, the introduction of the new tax regulations has helped Qatari businesses capitalize on the QFC platform while opting for the zero-tax rate on all operations conducted from the QFC. This policy was developed in line with the government's goal of strengthening the domestic private sector. In comparison to other financial centers in the region, our tax regime is unmatched. It is clear in its application and straightforward in its approach. The tax rate is low and the administrative process is both transparent and efficient. The QFC's tax regime is amongst the most favorable in the world, with a tax rate of just 10% on profits that are sourced locally. Binding, advanced tax rulings add to the certainty.
What's your outlook for the future of the QFC?
In 2014 alone, we surpassed our expectations both for registering firms and in building a healthy pipeline of businesses looking to participate in Qatar's growth. This reflects the bright future ahead of us. Qatar's economy is rapidly evolving, and we remain fully committed to supporting the growing private sector. We have expanded our scope to include special purpose companies, company headquarters, holding companies, single family offices, professional and business services, as well as corporate services. As the country is developing, we expect heavy investment in the construction, health, education, and technology sectors that will undoubtedly create a wide range of business opportunities for the private sector, and prove fruitful to both the economy and to companies.