Backed by its 2020 budget of QR210bn ($60bn), “the biggest in the past five years,” Qatar has one of the highest ICT spending in the MEA region, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) CEO and board member Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said Wednesday.
Speaking at the QFC’s webcast series titled ‘Emerging Opportunities: Qatar & Malaysia’, al-Jaida said 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” by 2024.
“This is in large part owing to our diversified economy, which continues to grow from strength to strength, in addition to our solid foundation that has proved its resilience to withstand turbulence.
“According to the IMF, Qatar would be the only economy in the Middle East and North Africa region to show fiscal surplus this year and in 2021. The IMF projected Qatar’s real GDP growth to grow by 5% in 2021,” al-Jaida said.
Underlining the country’s “positive international testament” and “unsaturated digital market,” al-Jaida said Qatar has significant advantages for international firms to tap into “where there exists a great potential for even more growth in the coming years.”
During the webinar, al-Jaida was joined by other speakers: Malaysian ambassador Zamshari Shaharan, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) director of Central, West, South Asia and Africa Section Mansor Shah Wahid; Matrade trade commissioner Omar Mohd Salleh; Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation head of Business Development, Global Growth Acceleration Ryan Chan; QFC vice president of Business Development Jahongirbek Burhonov; and Westbay Consult managing director Mohamed Thomas Lim.
Al-Jaida noted that the webinar reflects the “strong and prosperous” bilateral trade between Malaysia and Qatar, “which has grown over the years since 1974.” The facets of co-operation between the two nations “are limitless” spanning economic, social, diplomatic, and cultural sectors, he continued. He said Qatar is Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner with trade volume exceeding 3bn Malaysian ringgit in 2019, and having as many as 85 Malaysian companies operating in Qatar’s engineering, construction, oil and gas, and Information Technology sectors.
Describing 2020 as “a challenging time for the global economy as Covid-19 caused unprecedented impact,” al-Jaida said Qatar-Malaysia bilateral ties “are faring relatively well” and continue to maintain an upward trajectory.
Al-Jaida said, “Currently, more than ever, we are 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.”
The QFC chief underscored that the Qatari government was “attuned to the value” of the ICT industry during and pre-Covid-19 to investments in state-of-the-art ICT and digital infrastructure, skills development, and commitment to e-Governance transformation.
Al-Jaida said the QFC continues to be the key gateway for attracting firms, including digital enterprises into Qatar and offering them access to Qatar’s competitive market. He said QFC also extends an array of benefits and incentives to digital services firms, including data and IT-related services, digital financial solutions, gaming services, cybersecurity, and cloud service providers, software development, and tech-based platforms.
“Our platform is currently home to more than 900 companies representing financial and non-financial sectors. Some of the QFC’s licensed world technology and digital firms include Oracle, Sponix, and Microsoft, and we look forward to welcoming more Malaysian firms very soon,” al-Jaida stressed.