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2017 most successful in QFC's 13-year history.

2017 Santhosh V. Perumal

For the Qatar Financial Center (QFC), it was more business than usual between June 2017 and June 2018 although it modestly toes the official line 'business as usual', ever since the country came under the economic blockade exactly this day a year before. The hybrid onshore centre has been making whirlwind tours across the continents scouting for prospective entities ranging from global fund houses to law firms to consultants, which have evinced interests in having their base in Doha as the country has outlined multi-billion dollar infrastructure development. The QFC has seen at least 120 companies join its fold ever since the blockade started, which represented a 66% jump over the period of June 2017 and March 2018, a figure that might have gone up further. The number of the registered firms numbered 507, thus reaching the more than the halfway mark set for 2022, six months ahead of the deadline in March itself; an achievement that comes amidst the Gulf diplomatic crisis. Of the total 507 firms under the QFC, 46% are domestic, 24% from Europe, 11% from North America, 11% from Middle East and North Africa (excluding Qatar) and 8% from Asia Pacific. The rest are from Africa and South America. The spike in registrations was owing to three major Qatar companies relocating their structures from the neighbouring financial centres and many multinationals, which have clients in Doha, opening their offices in the QFC, its chief executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida (pictured) said. Despite the blockade, 2017 was the most successful year for the QFC in its 13-year history. From June 6, 2017 up to March 31, 2018, the number of registrations witnessed more than doubling from 60 the previous-year period. The QFC has witnessed overwhelming response from international companies from as far as South Americas, despite the Gulf crisis. Dunn Lightweight Architecture, a subsidiary of the Mexican company Dunn Arquitectura Ligera, which specialises in fabric and tensile structures, got licensed. "We've seen a lot of interest from companies in Germany and the UK that are looking to expand to the region and we are confident that we will be welcoming a host of companies from these markets in the near future," al-Jaida said. The QFC is increasingly focusing on new countries that have strong political stand with Doha and also at companies that have strong regional operations outside Qatar as part of efforts to become a vibrant regional hub for the Middle East. It is expecting "double digit" number of registered firms seeking listing on the Qatar Stock Exchange. Aiming 5% market capitalisation, the QFC is looking at listing large financial services companies. At present, the QFC registered firms that are listed on QSE are Qatar First Bank and the two exchange traded funds, QETF and QATR, sponsored by Doha Bank and Masraf Al Rayan respectively. The QFC would allow more stock listings and financial products on the bourse including sukuk, real estate investment trusts and family-owned companies as it aims more M-cap, it is understood. Al-Jaida had said there are credible evidences to show that the QFC is an ideal platform, not only for international companies who want to expand their business activities to Qatar, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia; but also for local businesses looking to expand regionally and internationally. At its international roadshows, the QFC showcased QR161bn worth business opportunities as part of attracting more global investors and foreign direct investment.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Jun 5, 2018
Words:584
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