DOING BUSINESS

Qatar 2019 | ECONOMY | B2B

Well ahead of pace to reach their 2022 targets, financial and industrial firms have increased their productivity, expanded their destinations for foreign trade, and helped spur a renaissance at the level of agricultural production.

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida
YOUSUF MOHAMED AL-JAIDA
CEO
Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)
Saleh bin Hamad Al-Sharqi
SALEH BIN HAMAD AL-SHARQI
Director General
Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Can you give us an overview of your structure and strategy?

YOUSUF MOHAMED AL-JAIDA QFC is an onshore business and financial center that provides an excellent platform for firms to do business in Qatar and the region. It is made up of five separate entities: the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), which is responsible for licensing firms to conduct business in or from the QFC and managing and maintaining the QFC's legal and tax environment; the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), which is responsible for regulating and supervising QFC firms conducting regulated activities; the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center (QICDRC), which is responsible for managing dispute resolution, hearing civil and commercial disputes between QFC firms and their counterparts, and hearing appeals and decisions made by QFC Authorities and Institutions; the Qatar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA), the educational arm of the QFCA, which works to raise financial services industry standards and help organizations and professionals achieve their learning and business objectives; and the Employment Standards Office (ESO), which works to administer and enforce employment regulations and resolve employment disputes through conciliation, mediation, and arbitration. We are proud of the fact that this is the first Administrative Employment Dispute Resolution Centre in the MENA region operating under International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.

SALEH BIN HAMAD AL-SHARQI The chamber's strategy approaches innovation and entrepreneurship with special interest. It strives to support start-ups and SMEs and help them grow and urges businessmen to adopt innovative methods to strengthen Qatar's position among the fastest-growing economies. To do this, the chamber has adopted many initiatives to support entrepreneurs by streamlining startup procedures and helping them access finance with competent institutions across the country such as QDB. It also organizes a biennial SMEs conference that provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to learn about best commercial practices from other countries. The chamber also encourages businessmen and entrepreneurs to invest in innovative businesses outside of traditional sectors, as per National Vision 2030's goals, which aims to build an innovative and knowledge-based economy.

How have you fared since the 2017 blockade?

YMJ While 2017 saw unprecedented events take place, QFC has proven that challenges can turn into successes, and 2017 was our most successful year yet. In 2017, we witnessed a 66% increase in new firms being licensed YoY. As of December 2018, we have over 600 firms registered on our platform—well past the 50% mark of registering 1,000 firms by 2022. Our success is further evidence of the attractiveness of the QFC platform and openness of Qatar as a market. Our model is unique in the region, and an increasing number of institutions from Qatar and around the world are clearly seeing the benefits of coming here and joining the QFC platform. Our five-year roadmap announced at the beginning of 2017 includes establishing Msheireb Downtown Doha as Qatar's pre-eminent financial and commercial destination, the first of its kind in the region. We also want to increase the number of licensed firms to reach 1,000, in turn creating 10,000 jobs within the QFC ecosystem, in addition to tripling the licensed firms' assets under management. Finally, we are working on increasing QFC firms' participation in the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) with the goal of reaching 5% QSE market capitalization.

SHS The Qatari private sector successfully proved its ability to brave the event and has overcome its consequences from day one. Since the beginning of the siege, various sectors have opened new channels to import foodstuffs and construction materials in order to maintain the flow of goods and products in the local market. Businessmen responded swiftly to prevent any goods shortages. From the beginning of the crisis, the chamber has organized numerous meetings to bring together businessmen and officials from diverse entities and ministries to review related issues and remove obstacles. It also organized business visits for Qatari companies to many friendly countries such as Kuwait and Oman, in the quest for alternative sources for goods formerly imported from boycotting nations, and identify new markets for local products. In general, the performance of the private sector during the siege was impressive, arising as it did from a sense of patriotism. During the siege, industrial companies have intensified their work pace, increased their productivity, expanded their destinations for foreign trade, and helped spur a renaissance at the level of the agricultural production in the country.