SHEIKHA ALANOUD BINT HAMAD AL-THANI

Qatar 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

QFC will focus on increasing the number of media outlets, sports, and digital firms on its platform as part of its 2022 strategy.

Sheikha Alanoud bint Hamad Al-Thani
BIOGRAPHY

Sheikha Alanoud bint Hamad Al-Thani was appointed Managing Director of business development of the QFC Authority in 2017. Previously, she was associate director of economic affairs for the MENA region and vice president of strategic alliances. Prior to joining QFC, Alanoud served as the Qatar Country Director for Silatech. She has also held other positions working with various UN agencies and international organizations. Alanoud has been a board member of a number of organizations, including vice chair for the Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Guidance, Tomouh, How Women Work, and others. She is a proud recipient of honors and awards including Young Arab Achiever in 2011 and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani Education Excellence Awards in 2008 and 2012. She earned a BSc (joint honors) in economics with government from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an MSc in economics for development from Oxford.

As the onshore business and financial center, QFC provides an excellent platform for firms to do business in Qatar and the region. What are your main areas of focus as managing director of business development?

A successful business development office must be able to develop and increase awareness, generate new opportunities, stay up to date with trends and the competition, and build and maintain relations with key stakeholders. So far, these have been the focus areas of our office, which has enabled us to create long-term value for QFC. It has a clear mandate to help develop and diversify the Qatari economy, and we have demonstrated significant success in fulfilling that role. In line with QFC's 2022 strategy, the business development team is focused on identifying business opportunities within the digital, media, and sports sectors, each of which are poised for growth.

What international companies is QFC looking to attract to Qatar or facilitate agreements with?
QFC's objective is to diversify the economy and position Doha as the region's leading financial and commercial capital. A critical part of that objective is attracting foreign investment and encouraging businesses to expand to Qatar as the gateway to the Middle East and beyond. QFC has been successful in attracting some of the most influential players across a broad range of industries, from professional services firms such as Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters to global banking powerhouses like JPMorgan Chase Credit Suisse, Barclays Bank, and Bank of China into Qatar. We have also signed MoUs with a variety of firms, including B-Hive and Qatar Development Bank (QDB) to support the establishment of a fintech ecosystem; Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) to establish Qatar as the region's first-ever sports business park; and Paris EUROPLACE to support the development of the digital industry in Qatar. We are now placing a more targeted focus on sports and digital—key clusters we expect will continue to attract leading firms.

As a social entrepreneur, with numerous businesses in different sectors, how do you assess the capacity of Qatar to create a solid and diversified business community?
I have made multiple investments in Qatar across sectors because I see numerous actionable opportunities. Qatar as a market is rapidly developing, and commercial opportunities abound as we continue to mature. There are a wealth of attractive opportunities in Qatar, many of which leverage the world-class infrastructure Qatar has erected in recent years, starting with our new seaport, airport, and 5G network. We are now in an advanced stage of the country's physical development, and this presents a whole host of commercial opportunities for firms to actualize. Start-ups and entrepreneurs are also gaining a foothold in Qatar's business environment and the QFC is taking an active role in that space. We are working together with QDB and other entities on Sport Accelerator – Qatar Business District, a pioneer sport business hub dedicated to creating new business opportunities for the private sector, attracting foreign investment and supporting entrepreneurs.

What are the priorities for business development at QFC in the coming years?
QFC business development's overwhelming priority in the years ahead is to execute QFC's 2022 strategy. As part of that effort, we will concentrate on increasing the number of firms in media, sport, and digital on our platform. In tandem, QFC is also aggressively pursuing asset managers, fintech, and wealth advisors to set up operations. Collectively, we are working to execute our vision of maturing our already-vibrant financial center to include over 1,000 companies employing 10,000 high-skilled staff. Also, one of the biggest mandates of business development at QFC is to host international roadshows, known as investment roundtables, around the world to strengthen ties with international business communities and seek out areas for cooperation. We will continue pursuing opportunities within key markets in an effort to strengthen the presence of international firms here in Qatar.