Doha offers immense opportunities for technologies and the country’s vast multi-billion dollar investments in the sector has laid a solid foundation for attracting further foreign direct investments (FDIs), a top official of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) said on Tuesday.
“Despite the current challenges, we remain a fast growing economy. Our multi-billion dollar investments in the technology and digital space has put the country on a strong footing to further attract FDIs,” QFC Authority chief executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida told the online meeting of the World Alliance of International Financial Centers (WAIFC).
Qatar's FDI inward stock exceeded $31bn in 2019, according to the "World Investment Report 2020" by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Qatar, which has one of the highest ICT spending in the Middle East and Africa or MEA region, has launched many strategic initiatives to digitally transform the country, he said at the innovation and technology plenary on the sidelines of WAIFC meeting, jointly organised by the QFC, Moscow International Financial Centre and WAIFC.
Highlighting that Qatar's ICT spending is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% between 2019 and 2024 to reach $9bn, he said "this heavy investment will not only ensure the country's digital transformation but also contributes to increasing the market size by about 40% from the present base.
At present, more than ever, the world has been witnessing the critical importance of ICT in light of the Covid-19 health crisis, whereby businesses, citizens, and governments alike are turning to digital solutions to keep afloat, al-Jaida said.
The growing technologies such as Internet of Things, cloud, cyber security, big data analytics and Artificial Intelligence are expected to drive Qatar's growth in the next two to four years, according to him.
"I think technology and digital are going to be the future. (Therefore) our financial centre is looking at this as strategic cluster focus," he said, adding the QFC would continue with its policy of "generously" incentivising the businesses that enter Qatari market and make it as hub for the expansion into the wider MENA and South East Asia regions.
Last year, the QFC had entered into an agreement with the Microsoft to facilitate strategic co-operation across business activities and knowledge-sharing with an aim to attract international digital and IT businesses and firms to Qatar.
As part of the agreement, the two entities will jointly work on a host of initiatives aimed at supporting Qatar's smart country transformation and enhancing Qatar's digital competitiveness.
The establishment of four strategic clusters as sports, digital, financial and media; and a New Emerging Belt Initiative (NEBI) are the key highlights of the QFC’s 2022 strategy.
The meeting deliberated upon role of international financial centres and how cross-industry collaboration and innovative technology-based solutions can help address the challenges in a post-Covid-19 environment.