SHEIKH ALI ALWALEED AL-THANI

Qatar 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

IPA's key mandate is to support and facilitate foreign companies' investments and establishment in Qatar.

Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani
BIOGRAPHY

Sheikh Ali Alwaleed Al-Thani is the CEO of IPA, which aims to further attract FDI into Qatar. He also currently serves as the Coordinator for Economic Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister of Qatar. Prior to this, Al-Thani was the director of the State of Qatar's Office to the WTO in Geneva. Moreover, he was elected chairman of WTO's Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) Committee in 2017. He also served as the Commercial Attaché to Qatar's permanent mission to the UN. Al-Thani holds a bachelor of science in foreign service from Georgetown University, as well as an executive master's in international negotiation and policymaking from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

What is the overarching objective of the IPA?
We are currently unifying promotional activities and communication strategies to provide clear information about the Qatari market and the significant investment opportunities. We also act as a coordinating agency for foreign investors to help navigate within the local business ecosystem. This includes broad stakeholder management across all of the entities involved and represented on our board and beyond. We promote and produce investor leads, as well as conduct our own promotional events domestically and abroad. IPA was established in July 2019 under the purview of the advisory committee on investments. It also includes all other responsible FDI agencies, such as Media City, the Qatar Free Zone Authority (QFZA), Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP). The Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister's Office are also represented on our board.

What have been your main activities over recent months?
We recently held an event in New York, a joint event with QFC, QFZA, and the Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with Bloomberg. Those entities came together in a joint event targeting investors, mainly in the financial industry. Given its success, we are planning a number of further events. There were also numerous business-to-business meetings held on the sidelines.

What partnerships are you establishing to scale international standards?
We are currently following a strategy around building partnerships, in particular with foreign promotion agencies. We have signed an agreement with the Malaysian Investment Development Agency and have a number of others in the pipeline. IPA also recently joined the World Association for Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), which falls under the UN Conference on Trade and Development. We participated in a WAIPA conference in Warsaw. There are a number of benefits that we have enjoyed from engaging with other IPAs. We have been able to share best practices and receive technical assistance from the association to our benefit.

What incentives can investors expect in Qatar?
Qatar offers a very attractive value proposition. Our legal framework has many platforms that are interesting for investors. QFC is one, and QFZA another, both allowing 100% foreign investments. They also fall under the jurisdiction of the Qatar International Court, which is under English Common Law. The new FDI law recently introduced by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry also allows up to 100% foreign investment across all sectors. There are a number of other pro-business regulations that have also come into play. We offer foreign residency ownership of real estate now in many areas of Doha, including freeholdings and 99-year leases. There have also been new reforms on labor, and we have abolished exit permits. These measures help attract investment and retain know-how and skilled people.

What specific areas are you seeking to attract investment to?
There are prioritized sectors in the QNV2030, and we essentially follow that roadmap. We are helping the various platforms attract investment in logistics, manufacturing, emerging technologies, chemicals, financial services, professional services, insurance, education, tourism, and real estate. We are also working to attract companies involved in all stages of the supply chain. We are interested in promoting PPPs, as a number of such programs have been launched to help enhance the private sector, and this area is now open to FDI. A new law passed now allows companies registered in the QFC and the free zones to participate in government tenders. We seeing great interest from companies that are keen to serve the African and Asian markets and plan to use Qatar as a base. There is also strong potential for serving the GCC.

What are the next steps on your agenda?
We are in the final stage of developing a national brand for FDI. In addition, we are focused on building our joint stakeholder approach toward attracting FDI. We will see a natural process of sector prioritization based upon our objectives, which is shortly forthcoming. We are promoting Qatar and are interested in facilitating the entire investment cycle.