The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is an onshore business and financial centre providing an excellent platform for firms to do business in Qatar and the region. It offers its own legal, regulatory and tax and business environment, allowing for 100% of foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of profits and charges a competitive 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profits.
The European caught up with Qatar Financial Centre’s CEA, Dr Haitham Al-Salama to find out how the nation’s financial landscape is attracting local and international business.
What is QFC’s role within the economic fabric of Qatar?
Dr Haitham Al-Salama: Qatar’s economy continues to expand regardless of lower energy prices. The expansion is attributed to the non-hydrocarbon sectors. QFC, as a platform for the financial and professional services sector, significantly contributes to Qatar’s economy with regard to economic output and employment.
The Qatar Financial Centre was established to help attract international firms and foreign direct investment into Qatar whilst also enabling local firms to expand regionally and internationally.
Since our inception in 2005, we continue to play a key role in attracting FDI by providing a competitive platform for firms to expand to Qatar.
Another aspect of us playing a key part in helping to grow and diversify the economy in Qatar is our contribution to knowledge sharing. At the QFC, we attract top international firms from various market sectors, and such businesses naturally bring along a vast amount of knowledge and professionals to the country, consequently adding value to the growth and prosperity of the local economy.
However, we don’t just look at firms, but at local talent as well. In 2009, we established the Qatar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA), an entity fully committed to developing the business and finance skillset of Qatar’s youth.
Being the country’s only business and financial centre has allowed us to put Qatar on the map and reiterate the growing business opportunities available here ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ and beyond.
What are the unique features offered by the QFC to businesses?
HA: The QFC offers many benefits such as:
- 100% foreign ownership
- 100% repatriation of profits
- Trading in any currency
- Quick and easy set up
- A one-stop-shop for businesses including help with set up, immigration, visas, etc.
- Access to an independent and transparent legal environment based on English common law and an independent Employment Standards Office
- Access to Qatar’s business community, especially now with our expected move to Msheireb Downtown Doha which will serve as a new financial and business city for Qatar
- Exemption of taxes when applicable or a competitive 10% tax on locally sourced profits
To sum up, we offer businesses the right platform to expand locally, regionally and internationally and, taking care of all logistics so that they can focus on growing their business.
What are the key service sectors and markets the QFC looks to attract?
HA: At the QFC, our mission is, and has always been, to drive economic development and diversification. We continue to focus on attracting firms that will serve Qatar’s purpose to diversify its economy, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Over the next few years, we expect the non-hydrocarbon sector and the private sector to continue to contribute to Qatar’s growth and we also expect to see more financial consultancies, management consultancies and professional services to set up shop. These sectors are naturally thriving in the region as it moves and matures to a more diverse, sustainable and knowledge-based economy.
In terms of markets, the QFC is consistently looking to expand globally. Recently we conducted roadshows across Asia and Europe and we are seeing a lot of interest from these markets. With the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup™ fast approaching we are also planning roadshows in more Asian, European and American markets to allow businesses to benefit from Qatar’s multi-billion infrastructure investment portfolio.
In what ways does the QFC stands out in comparison to other financial centres in the region?
HA: The QFC platform is truly unique, offering its own legal, regulatory and tax and business infrastructure, allowing 100% foreign ownership and 100% repatriation of profits and allows businesses to trade in any currency.
Our competitive tax regime of 10% corporate tax on locally-sourced profits is unmatched and unlike other financial centre in the region, the QFC does not impose an ‘end date’ on this guarantee. We boast a robust and transparent tax regime, and companies set up under the QFC also benefit from Qatar’s extensive double taxation agreements with over 60 countries.
Our firms also benefit from a regulatory environment that conforms to international best practices and features an independent court with judgments enforced in the State of Qatar, regulatory tribunal and dispute-resolution centre.
We also offer firms entry into a market that is not saturated, but rather one that is continuously growing. Qatar’s market strength makes it an ideal location for businesses looking to expand to the wider region and other parts of the world, including Africa and Asia.
More than 10 years into the setting up of the financial centre, what have you learnt?
HA: The QFC has come a long way since its inception in 2005, be it the continuous development of its corporate strategy, the widening of its platform or the expansion of the permitted activities and the regulatory enhancements. These improvements were initiated as a direct result of the nation’s development and the changing international economic trends.
The most important learning throughout our journey in my opinion is the realisation that today’s business environment dictates that our laws, regulations, policies and strategies are in fact responsive and require continuous commitment to evolve and progress them.
Staying ahead of the curve is a major responsibility, which entails a lot of dedication, hard work, unconditional investment and belief in our most important asset, human capital, as keys to success.
In which ways is the QFC preparing for Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup?
HA: The QFC is preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ and beyond by providing the necessary legal, regulatory and financial support to local and international firms that are essential to Qatar’s journey towards economic maturity, diversity and sustainability.
The QFC platform can be utilised to support a variety of services that relate to Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ including all types of consulting services, legal services, IT services, marketing and brand management services, PR firms, advertising agencies, recruitment firms and accounting/audit firms to name a few.