SHEIKH JASSIM BIN MOHAMED AL THANI

Qatar 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

With the tourism and healthcare sectors set to grow further in the coming years, MBHHC is confident its hotels and hospitals will reap the benefits.

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohamed Al Thani
BIOGRAPHY

Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohamed Al Thani is a graduate of the University of Plymouth, UK, with a degree in business management and administration. Since taking up the role of Vice Chairman of MBHHC, he has injected new energy, knowledge, and expertise into the organization and has taken an active and comprehensive approach in the day-to day management of the ever-challenging business environment.

With healthcare as one of your main businesses, what are the main companies under this umbrella?
In January 2018, Allegheny International, a Philadelphia-based hospital, came here and started operating Doha Clinic, which has been around for a while. Healthcare is the backbone of our holding company. We have the hospital and clinics, two pharmacies, and a medical company that imports and exports medicine. We have Icon Medical, which started in 2013 and is for orthopedics and neurology. We also have West Bay Petroleum, which was established in the 1980s to import and export chemicals. We do a great deal of business with Qatar Petroleum (QP) and Baker Hughes. We are also in the hospitality sector with Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, which was the first hotel we invested in. It is a five-star hotel, unlike most Crowne Plaza hotels, which are usually four stars. We have a great occupancy rate, even though the hotels here are suffering from the blockade. We started a Holiday Inn as a four-star hotel, where Holiday Inn is usually three stars. We have excellent food and beverage offerings in both hotels, which contributes to the hotel revenue.

What new business lines do you plan to open?
By the beginning of 2020, we will open up a mall with a high-end Lulu supermarket. It will start operating after decorations are completed. We hope for this to open in April 2020. In terms of healthcare, there are plans to build a new hospital next to that mall. We own the whole plot measuring 1.1 million sqm. It used to be my father's farm. It is the biggest plot close to Doha, so we decided to develop it with the mall first and then the hospital, which will require three years, at least, to build. That will start in 2020. The whole project will be called Abu Sidra City. In 2019, we did not open any new businesses, as we plan to invest in the stock market, which is now picking up.
Do you see more opportunity of investment inside or outside of Qatar?
If there is a window of opportunity, we will go for it; however, at the moment, we will focus on Doha, as Qatar is a safe place to invest money. You will not get growth of 50%, but will always get growth of 8%. This is positive compared to the rates of interest you would get from a bank. In the medical sector, we saw growth of around 400% from 2017 to 2018. It is a sector that we know about and where we can succeed.

How will the 2022 World Cup affect these sectors?
Tourism picked up in 2018, as people want to know more about the country set to host the World Cup. We saw many Europeans coming to visit Doha, especially on cruises. Many people from Turkey and the UK want to come and visit, as they see Qatar advertised everywhere. There is a big integration now with Qatar Airways and the Tourism Authority, which advertise everywhere together. We have Trans Orient air services, which was the first business my father started in the group. The tourism sector is picking up. We see this through Trans Orient as many people are looking for packages and things to do in Doha. We started working on beach and desert experience packages as we have had many requests for this.

What are your main plans and expectations for the year ahead?
We are thinking about how we can benefit the most from the World Cup tournament and other exhibitions happening in Doha. The hospitality sector will definitely bounce back. Our main focus will be on the stock market, as we see an opportunity there. At the beginning of 2020, we will see many listed companies receiving a boost. The World Cup is coming, and the closer we get, the more occupancy increases.