AHMAD AL-SAYED

Qatar 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

QFZA was established to support Qatar's ongoing diversification and provide a new access point for international investors and their families to benefit from Qatar's bright future.

Ahmad Al-Sayed
BIOGRAPHY

Ahmad Al-Sayed is a Minister of State and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of QFZA. He is also the chairman and managing director of Doha Venture Capital Fund (DVC) and a board member of Qatar Development Bank and Msheireb Properties. He also served as CEO of Qatar Investment Authority and Qatar Holding, where he played a critical role to build, oversee and manage Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund. Prior to that, he held key roles in various local and international institutions, including the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment. He holds an MBA from TRIUM Global (from LSE, NYU Stern, HEC Paris), a master's of international banking and financial law from Boston University, and an LLB from Qatar University. He was awarded an honorary degree (DLitt) from Swansea University in the UK in 2019.

Why is now a good time to invest in Qatar?
Qatar has experienced rapid development over the past few decades, steadily building up our physical, social, and economic infrastructure to create the compelling investment environment we are able to offer today. 40 years ago, we began investing heavily in building modern physical infrastructure, beginning with development of an advanced transportation system including highways, bridges, tunnels, and a cross-country rail network, and leading to the opening of our now world-leading airport and seaport. We complemented this with soft infrastructure, establishing and strengthening a high-quality education system now comprising more than 15 universities and research institutes. These institutions produce skilled talent for the market, helping spur innovation and advance the economy, alongside our top-ranked health system, cultural and tourist attractions and recreational activities. We have also built robust economic institutions, diversifying our economy through cornerstone entities such as Qatar Airways, Al Jazeera, Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar Science and Technology Park, Qatar Financial Center, and Qatar Development Bank. QFZA was established to support this ongoing diversification and provide a new access point for international investors and their families to come and benefit from Qatar's prosperity and bright future. This is all supported by a business-friendly regulatory environment, with a legal system based on common law and backed by strong IP and data protection regulation. The government has recently set new laws and regulations to continue liberalizing the economy and encouraging investment, while strong institutions ensure investors are able to take best advantage of this environment. Additionally, the government has taken major reforms to support attraction of FDI to the country and recently established the Investment Promotions Agency (IPAQ) to promote Qatar as a preferred destination location for foreign direct investment.

How does QFZA support companies seeking to capitalize on opportunities in Qatar?
We're dedicated to providing companies in our free zones—or considering opening operations in our free zones—with top-of-the-line services and opportunities, including brand-new infrastructure, tax exemptions, partnership opportunities with Qatari entities, access to investment funds for eligible companies and a wide range of land plots including different building options in both zones to meet all needs. Unlike many free zone developers, QFZA oversees Qatar's free zones as an independent regulatory body, providing a one-stop shop for the entire set-up and management process.

QFZA initially focused on logistics, chemicals, and emerging technology. What is the rationale for selecting those sectors?
Building a diverse knowledge-based economy is at the heart of Qatar's National Vision 2030, and we're committed to supporting that vision, for the benefit of Qatar and all the businesses that work with us. We identified these three themes as they are all areas where Qatar has a strong value proposition, so we can develop and offer specialized solutions for businesses based on the nature of their product. Logistics, for example, is a very natural fit, as Qatar sits at the intersection of three continents and is one of the world's largest cargo hubs and currently a key logistics player. We also have powerful logistical infrastructure, including our leading airport and seaport and an advanced domestic transportation system. Chemicals and its supply chain, meanwhile, build on our strengths in natural gas production and the availability of feedstock in the ground, which is very attractive for international investors. Emerging technology is an obvious area of focus given the country's small size, powerful technological infrastructure and high internet and smartphone penetration, all protected by strong IP and data protection regulations. Technology is an integral aspect of the new economy, and we have a great ecosystem in place to support tech companies. However, these are not the only areas we are focused on. We are also particularly interested in welcoming businesses operating in the fields of food manufacturing, agriculture, trading, and import and export activities.