Qatar Sets Aside $2 Billion in Bid to Rival Dubai Financial Hub

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar has allocated $2 billion to attract multi-national companies to its financial center in its latest effort to rival Dubai.

Companies that set up a hub in Doha will be provided free offices and tax incentives as well as seed capital to cover five years of operating expenses in return for a commitment of at least a decade, Yousuf Al Jaida, chief executive officer of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, told Bloomberg TV. Qatar’s financial hub is targeting to launch the incentive plan in the first quarter once all the governance structures have been put in place.

“It’s there, ready to be tapped, sitting in a bank account under government supervision,” he said. “We expect every single QFC company to have full access to government tenders and have unlimited access to the local market be it corporate and retail.”

The plan comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar in June last year, accusing the country of financing terrorist groups and having close ties with Iran, charges Qatar rejects. The rift forced Qatar to shift import routes to Kuwait and Oman, and buy goods from Iran and Turkey.

Doha is working toward taking on rivals in the Gulf Cooperation Council by trying to attract overseas investment and growing into a bigger financial hub. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are using the same tactics, including plans to relax company ownership rules and grant foreigners permanent residencies. QFC is aiming to attract companies from Kuwait, Oman and Iraq as well as firms looking to participate in the reconstruction of Syria and some South East Asian countries.

Al Jaida spoke to Bloomberg in Doha. Below are more highlights from his interview:

  • QFC targeting 1,000 companies, creating 10,000 more jobs by 2022
  • Number of companies have grown 80 percent in 2017; expects that growth rate to continue until 2022
  • Looking for QFC-registered companies to make up 5 percent of market capitalization of Qatar’s stock exchange by 2022

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