By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
Qatar has become one of the world’s “important” investment destinations in a wide range of sectors, particularly in the construction industry, amid ongoing major infrastructure projects, HE the Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani said yesterday.
The minister, who inaugurated the 13th edition of Project Qatar, emphasised that “Qatar’s investment atmosphere is promising and economic growth continues to move forward”.
Project Qatar 2016, the 13th International Construction Technology and Building Materials Exhibition, will run until May 12 from 2pm to 9pm at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). It features 900 companies in the building and construction industry from 37 countries.
Citing the “Global Competitive Index” prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the minister stressed that Qatar led the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region at 14th position globally.
According to the WEF’s 2015-2016 Global Competitiveness Report, Qatar’s main strength is its “stable macroeconomic environment”, which is driven by public budget surpluses and low government debt due to high windfall revenues from energy exports.
“Qatar is considered as one of the most important economic environments and investment destinations across all fields. The presence of international companies, some of which are first time participants in Project Qatar, are looking for investment opportunities here. These companies understand the importance of having a presence in the region, particularly in this country,” the minister told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
“Major projects in Qatar are ongoing in all levels and in all sectors, particularly transportation and infrastructure development. Companies participating in Project Qatar 2016 are keen to partake in various economic opportunities and major projects being undertaken by the government,” he said.
Speaking to Gulf Times, Belgian ambassador Christophe Payot said Project Qatar “is a good opportunity” for Belgian companies to “identify the needs” of Qatar, especially in the fields of construction, building and materials.
“The participation of these companies shows that Belgium is ready to partner with Qatar and that we are committed to the country and all of its ongoing major infrastructure and development projects,” said Payot, who noted that 11 Belgian companies are participating this year.
“We have a lot of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a lot specific projects and niche industries, and they are ready to meet the needs of Qatar not only in FIFA World Cup-related infrastructure but with other development projects,” the ambassador added.
According to Italian ambassador Guido de Sanctis, his country has consistently ranked among the top three exhibitors during Project Qatar.
“Italy has always been present in almost all major infrastructure projects of Qatar and we’re not only looking at FIFA World Cup in 2022 but towards the realisation of Qatar National Vision 2030, which is an ‘omni-comprehensive’ programme, consisting of roads, drainage systems, tunnels and the metro project,” he said.
Trade commissioner Andrea Ferrari of the Italian Trade Agency said there are around 30 Italian companies in Qatar and 60 others in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) region.
Ferrari said Italian companies participating in this year’s edition of Project Qatar will focus on business to business (B2B) meetings and networking sessions with their Qatari counterparts.
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