The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA), in partnership with Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA), organised yesterday an investment webinar on ‘How to Start a Business in Qatar Free Zones’.
The webinar was part of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two entities in February 2020, which included joint co-operation and ways to benefit from what both institutions provide in terms of services to local and foreign investors to attract investments and support the economic development of the state.
The webinar was presided over by QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and HE the Minister of State and QFZA chairman Ahmad bin Mohamed al-Sayed.
The webinar was also organised in co-operation with QBA’s French and German partners – MEDEF International, the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Qatar, and the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ghorfa) in Germany. These institutions invited their members from French and German companies to attend the webinar, attracting as many as 112 companies to the event, QBA said.
QBA board member Saud al-Mana, and QBA members Omar Alfardan, Nasser Sulaiman al-Haidar, Khaled al-Mannai, Faisal al-Mana, Ihssan al-Khiyami, Ali Abdul Reda Mashhadi, and Dallah Holding Media CEO Wassim al-Dayaa, as well as QBA deputy general manager Sarah Abdullah also participated in the webinar.
In a welcome note, Sheikh Faisal said the webinar is “an important step” in a series of events that QBA is organising to promote Qatar as “a distinct investment destination.”
“Today, we are seeking to pave the way for businessmen in France and Germany to establish commercial and investment partnerships in the free zones of Qatar, and to benefit from the services provided by the authority to attract local and foreign investors,” Sheikh Faisal said.
He said the meeting comes in light of the global pandemic “that has cast a shadow on the global economy and requires serious co-operation” between private sector institutions and businessmen around the world, which would lead to “transfer of know-how that may help all parties overcome challenges better and faster.”
Through the webinars, Sheikh Faisal said QBA seeks to establish a network of relations between Qatari businessmen and their counterparts around the world “in the service of the national economy by supporting the State in its efforts to diversify sources of income and attract foreign investors who will benefit from the privileges, incentives, and infrastructure developed by the State of Qatar.”
Al-Sayed said, “The free zones witnessed the joining of several global companies in 2020, including companies in the logistics, emerging tech, and e-mobility sectors. This impetus highlights QFZ as a destination for attracting investment with its advanced infrastructure and a platform for innovation where world-leading companies enter into cross-sector partnerships, creating entirely new value-chains.
“Such initiatives are contributing to Qatar’s growing economic outlook, which is substantiated by the World Bank prediction of a 3% growth rate in 2021 – the highest in the GCC.”
The webinar featured a panel discussion with the following participants: international broadcaster at DW News Terry Martin; QFZA deputy CEO Abdullah al-Misnad; MEDEF International member and deputy general manager of Credit Agricole CIB Regis Monfront; Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ghorfa) board member and chairman of Hogrefe Consulting Company Jurgen Hogrefe, and Gaussin CEO Christophe Gaussin.
Al-Misnad said the free zones provide many opportunities and competitive advantages for companies seeking to expand regionally and globally, including advanced infrastructure, a skilled workforce, and 100% foreign ownership, in addition to tax exemptions and partnership opportunities with major Qatari companies.
He also discussed ease of procedures in establishing a company and the quick response to various requirements of foreign companies, as well as the keenness to secure a fast and efficient operations.
Al-Misnad said innovative communication technology, smart cities solutions, digitisation, petrochemicals, food security, and agriculture are among the sectors that French companies have a potential to establish in the free zones.
Monfront said the number of major French companies and banks in Qatar, such as Total, Thales, and Societe Generale, among others reached approximately 200. He added that Qatar is considered to be “a major investment hub in the Gulf region.”
Hogrefe said Qatar is a key partner of Germany “at all levels,” especially at the economic level, which is reflected by huge Qatari investments in Germany, exceeding €25bn, in addition to the 300 German companies operating in the Qatari market, including Siemens and Volkswagen.
Gaussin said, “We have received a warm welcome from the Qatari authorities, which helped in developing our experience in establishing and operating businesses in Ras Bufontas as part of the joint GAME project between Gaussin and a Qatari local partner.”
Sheikh Faisal concluded the webinar by inviting participants to explore Qatar’s investment opportunities and the many incentives being offered by the government. He said public and private sectors work together to achieve a comprehensive sustainable development by 2030, attract foreign investment and advanced technology, and localise high-level competitive industries.
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