Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) welcoming foreign and domestic firms …

(in the picture) A view of the QFC pavilion at an event in Switzerland. The QFC has been active in attending and sponsoring various events across Europe and the world, where its members have highlighted not only the growing opportunities in Qatar, but also the available routes to set up shop in the most thriving nation in the GCC region.

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has been welcoming foreign and domestic firms since it opened for business in 2005, but in response to the growing needs of Qatar’s economy in recent months it has been expanding its international reach.

With a per capita GDP that ranks amongst the highest in the world, Qatar provides a competitive business environment with a best-in-class legal, regulatory and tax platform which ensures all firms receive the springboard they require to launch their business in the region. Local and international firms alike can benefit from the many advantages the QFC offers, such as for example, but not limited to, 100% foreign ownership, unlimited repatriation of profits and a 10% corporate tax rate on locally sourced profits.

The development of the private sector is a crucial component of Qatar’s strategy for future economic growth. The sector contributed to approximately half of Qatar’s GDP in 2014, a figure that is estimated to rise again in 2015, and is projected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Many divisions have seen a particularly significant boost in recent years, such as finance, insurance, real estate and business services; and trade, hotels and restaurants. The country’s Qatar National Vision 2030 and large-scale infrastructure projects, plus the country’s rapid population growth (estimated at 10% for 2014) have contributed to this growth.

With that in mind, the QFC, established by the government in 2005 to help diversify Qatar’s economy and reduce its reliance on the hydrocarbon sector, has been active in attending and sponsoring various events across Europe and the world, where its members have highlighted not only the growing opportunities in Qatar, but also the available routes to set up shop in the most thriving nation in the GCC region.

Qatar is proving to be a phenomenal success story not only within the financial services industry, but also the wider business community. And, in order for the QFC to spread the word about its recently broadened platform (incorporating non-financial services firms under its umbrella), the world’s leading business and financial centre has gone global. Be it at the Arab-German Business Forum in Berlin, or during the Gulf Tour to the UK organised by UK Trade & Investment, at the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation in Italy, or even at the 9th International Bar Association Annual Conference in Vienna, members of the QFC continue to advocate Qatar as a place to do business in and from.

As a result of their ongoing activities, the QFC has seen an increase in the number of firms joining its growing family from Europe and beyond, such as Enterprise Ireland, Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants, CSM Sports and Marketing, Allianz Worldwide Care, Bank J Safra Sarasin RICS International Ltd and many more.  “Qatar’s strategy to diversify revenue beyond hydrocarbons has opened new opportunities for firms looking to expand in the Middle East,” explained Rachel Kouyoumdjis, Market Adviser at Enterprise Ireland in Qatar. Enterprise Ireland is the Government of Ireland organisation that links Irish enterprises and overseas partners to build mutually profitable international business.

“By operating from the QFC, we are able to utilise a growing platform which allows us to better assist our client companies to thrive in Qatar and the Gulf region. We work closely with indigenous Irish companies to help them to start, develop and grow to optimal scale so that they can compete and win in global markets,” she continued. “With major projects helping to propel growth, significant business opportunities are being created for firms committed to succeeding in the Qatari market.

“While Irish firms benefit from getting involved in these large schemes as well as smaller ones, Qatar’s local economy benefits from the Irish firms’ international expertise, so in reality, it’s a win-win situation for all parties,” she added.

With the increasing number of events scheduled in Europe over the coming months, the International Fiscal Association’s 69th Annual Congress in Switzerland for example, the QFC’s Business Development team expects more European firms to join its growing ranks by the end of 2016.

Sadiq Hamour, director of Business Development at the QFC, said: “Part of our broadened strategy is to get out and address the market a lot more. We’ve been hosting, attending and sponsoring an increasing number of events in both Qatar and abroad. By attending and speaking at events abroad, we are able to give interested parties a first-hand understanding of what Qatar has to offer, what they could be getting out of it and what Qatar’s economy as a whole could get out of it. Since we started going global, we have been able to engage directly with a number of potential clients and explain how we can help them do business here, and learn more about their needs too. Many have now taken the next step and are QFC firms.”

With even more events scheduled to take place throughout the year locally and across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia, the QFC continues to help facilitate business success for firms looking to set up in Qatar and work alongside domestic companies to help diversify the country’s economy.