Qatar becomes the strategic location in the Middle East and the economic hub between developed and emerging markets…

Strong income growth and the country’s strategic location in the Middle East are among the key advantages that could reinforce Qatar as an economic hub between developed and emerging markets, according to an expert.

Foresight Advisors founder and CEO Dr Alessandro Magnoli Bocchi, who was one of the speakers of the State of the Region Forum organised by the Qatar Leadership Centre, underscored Qatar’s resiliency despite the ill effects of the 2008 financial crisis on the global economy.

“The global economic crisis in 2008 became an opportunity for Qatar,” said Bocchi, who joined the undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater during the panel discussion held at the Qatar National Convention Centre yesterday.

Bocchi emphasised that during the crisis Qatar “rose to prominence” and established itself as a solid economy in the Gulf region “because of the good management of Qatar’s leadership both in economic and political context.”

He also noted that while the entire region was seeing a rise in political tension, Qatar’s foreign policy has “intelligently taken advantage of this situation and put the country on the global table.”

At the same time, Bocchi stressed that given Qatar’s geographic location the government should consolidate its strengths, particularly trade and economic diversification to sustain its position in the global market.

“If you take advantage of Qatar’s strategic geographical location by locking-in trade and economic diversification, you can consolidate what you have done so far,” Bocchi explained.

He expounded further and said, “Urban population and real personal disposable income are rising…so trade goes up pushing urbanisation and income per capita among emerging markets, and Qatar is in between the producers and consumers in terms of trade – that’s the position you should lock-in.”

Bocchi also stressed on the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in employment generation and diversification. He pointed out that SMEs do not get enough opportunities in securing big-ticket contracts.

“SMEs comprise more than 90% of the GCC private sector but they contribute to less than 40% of GDP, so they need to get more opportunities through big contracts, infrastructure projects, education, and Public Private Partnerships,” Bocchi said.

For his part, al-Khater encouraged Qatari entrepreneurs present during the forum to explore trade opportunities outside the Gulf region and attract more foreign investors to Qatar.

“We encourage our young leaders to visit other countries to discuss opportunities and grab those opportunities and bring them to GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) countries so we can make the most of those investments,” he said.

He added that ongoing development projects, specifically the multibillion infrastructure preparations for the 2022 World Cup, are “expected to drive Qatar’s GDP growth from 6.8% to 7.8% next year.”

“We are optimistic that Qatar’s economy will remain strong. However, we still keep in mind global variables that the country and region might face such as the fluctuations in oil prices, supply and demand, and geopolitical problems in neighbouring countries,” al-Khater said. Source: Gulf Times