The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), the Silicon Valley Forum, and the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Washington DC recently hosted a virtual event titled ‘Qatar in Focus: Smarter Countries & Thriving Communities in the Digital Age’.
The event provided US companies with an overview on how the State of Qatar is driving ambitious economic diversification by investing in smart cities technologies and digital innovation to build its smart nation.
Speakers from Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) and one of its flagship initiatives, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Msheireb Properties, Silicon Valley Forum, and USQBC discussed the strength of the existing US-Qatar relationship in the smart cities sector and laid out the value proposition for US companies looking to invest.
MoTC’s assistant undersecretary of Digital Society Development Reem al-Mansoori said the Smart Qatar (TASMU) Programme is looking to collaborate with global smart cities players and technology partners to bring the Smart Qatar vision to life.
Qatar’s digital transformation into a smart country will be supported by a multitude of top-notch global companies all working in collaboration with TASMU, al-Mansoori pointed out.
“We invite US companies to explore the various investment opportunities available to them now in Qatar, as we are actively looking for global innovators in smart city technologies that can bring valuable experience and best practices to the table,” she said.
According to Fahad al-Dosari, Qatar’s commercial attaché to the US, the Qatar-US business relationship has grown steadily and is now worth more than “$200bn overall.”
“But this total, while impressive, represents just a fraction of the potential of our relationship as Qatar’s economy is rapidly growing and diversifying. Qatar’s Smart Nation development efforts offers a wealth of new business opportunities. US technology is deeply respected in Qatar, and US firms are well positioned to succeed in this tremendous emerging market,” al-Dosari said.
QFC senior economic adviser Thaddeus Malesa said Qatar offers US tech companies “unparalleled commercial opportunities” in the smart city space, which include the world’s sole single-company controlled more than 100 building development with an integrated data backbone.
Along with appealing prospects for data scientists to explore, Malesa said Qatar also offers strong incentives for qualified US tech companies and a business-friendly tax system, which according to a joint report by the World Bank and PwC “is ranked third best in the world.”
Bassam al-Mannai, executive director of the Real Estate Directorate at QDB, said: “Owing to their lean practices and innovation-based ethos, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of Qatar’s economic diversification and smart infrastructure development.”
QDB helps fund, establish, and grow startups and SMEs across tech-focused sectors in Qatar through a full suite of support services, initiatives, and platforms including the Qatar Business Incubation Centre, Qatar SportsTech Accelerator, and the Qatar FinTech Hub Incubator and Accelerator programmes.
Qatar’s commitment to smart infrastructure is vividly illustrated in one of its newest urban development projects. “Msheireb Downtown Doha is one of the world’s smartest and most sustainable fully built city districts, adhering to the highest standards in green building, smart city technology, and connectivity,” said Clark Williams, director of Marketing at Msheireb Properties.
“Qatar represents one of the best opportunities in the world for US tech companies to invest,” said Nick Sramek, director, International Relations Silicon Valley Forum. “This event will help connect people and organisations to the knowledge, networks, and companies in Silicon Valley to seize on the tremendous partnership opportunities that exist in Qatar,” he said.
USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat said the 850 US companies operating in Qatar, including 120 wholly-owned US companies and $300bn in new projects in the pipeline, “are solid indicators of the confidence US investors have in our growing commercial partnership.”
“With Qatar’s relentless pace of growth and innovation, every day that passes provides US firms with even greater opportunities for investment and partnerships,” Barakat further said.