Al-Jaida said that as a result of the blockade, Qatar’s government was working to attract more foreign direct investment. The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)’s website states that businesses setting up operations in Qatar can “enjoy competitive benefits” in the country, including a legal environment based on English common law, the right to trade in any currency, 100 percent foreign ownership, 100 percent repatriation of profits and a 10 percent corporate tax on locally sourced profits.
“We’ve allowed 100 percent foreign ownership across all sectors, we’ve allowed visas from 80 different nations and (allowed citizens) to get visas on arrival, which hasn’t happened in the past ever before, and we’re at looking at also doing things differently,” Al-Jaida said.
As trade routes and relations had been interrupted in the region, the government was focusing on developing its ties with ‘friendly nations.”
“It’s difficult to travel to Qatar from neighboring blockade countries so we’re taking advantage of this and we’re creating our own ‘hub’ model for friendly nations, if you will, between Qatar and Turkey, Oman, Kuwait and South-East Asia, and we’re allocating funds to that to enable multinationals to take Qatar as a hub for their expansion in the greater Middle East and South East Asia.”
Al-Jaida said FDI was the most prioritized item on the Qatari government’s agenda. FDI to Qatar increased 4 percent in 2017, he said, and the Qatar Financial Centre saw a sharp uptick in new firms being licensed to operate in Qatar, up 66 percent from the previous year.
The total number of firms on the QFC platform has reached 461 (as at 31 December 2017), compared to 348 firms at the end of December 2016, a 32.5 percent increase year on year.
There’s an explanation for that growth in business interest, Al-Jaida said.
“Companies that used to service Qatar from outside the country can no longer do that so they’ve been relocating to Qatar to service their clients, which means more FDI, more companies on the ground and more jobs being created because of the blockade. So it’s a very interesting dynamic that’s happening during the blockade and we expect this to continue all the way to 2022,” he said.
Qatar hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022 and hopes the tournament will provide an extra economic boost.