Is Qatar on your entrepreneurial watch list?


Entrepreneurs looking for potential investment opportunities ought to place Qatar high on their watch lists during the next year or two or else they could be missing out big time. Huge billion-dollar infrastructure projects, not to mention the 2022 FIFA World Cup competition, mean major companies from around the world eagerly eyeing the oil-rich Persian Gulf state and working out how to grab some of the action.

Little wonder. In terms of GDP per capita, Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world, with its economy still growing apace despite the global economic slowdown. Qatar is an outward-looking country, with modern infrastructure and sound financial institutions. So no problem then if you’re looking for a business bank account from HSBC or from one of the other multinational banks operating in the country!

But banks in Qatar aside, the country is the place to do business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Ask the Brits who have been heavily involved in trade with Qatar for several centuries. As the British government’s UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) department points out,   exports to the country have more than doubled in recent years.

Qatar’s economic diversification and investment in human capital in accordance with the Qatar Vision 2030 continue to generate opportunities for UK businesses across a wide range of sectors, says the UKTI.

And they list a string of business opportunities available right now on their website – a service which is continually updated and always worth checking out regularly. The latest offerings range from multiple opportunities in the oil and gas sector to the provision of Linux servers. A leading Qatari company is even looking for a UK supplier of bulk quantities of mineral or spring water!

Sectors which offer the most opportunities are:

– Construction

– Energy & Environment

– Transport Infrastructure

– Education & Training

– Financial & Professional Services

There are also opportunities in other sectors, says the UKTI, including in security, ICT, healthcare, creative & media and sport and leisure.

Another country with a healthy trading relationship with Qatar is the United States. The US is a major equipment supplier for Qatar’s oil and gas sector. US companies have also played a major role in the development of the oil and gas sector and petrochemicals.

US exports, worth several billion dollars annually, include aircraft, machinery, vehicles, optical and medical instruments, and agricultural products. The US imports liquefied natural gas, aluminium, fertilizers, and sulphur.

Russian trade with Qatar, by contrast, is comparatively low and can be measured in the millions of dollars, not billions as is the case with Britain and the US. Qatar imports trucks from Russia, as well as machinery, auto products, and some cement, metal and materials for the construction industry.

Optimism and confidence, precious commodities these days, look set to grow not only in Qatar, but in other countries in the region, too, judging by a survey carried out towards the back-end of 2012 by Mercer, a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and investment services.

In total, close to 500 firms across various industries were surveyed, with results forecasting a rise in salaries by 5% in the UAE, 5.6% in Qatar and 6% in Saudi Arabia during 2013.

Aggressive recruitment strategies were expected to be put in place, with 70% of companies surveyed looking to increase headcount during 2013.

Zaid Kamhawi, Mercer’s IPS Business Leader in the Middle East, said, “Multinational firms, head-quartered in Europe or the US and with Middle East operations, perceive the MENA region as a bright spot for investment and one of their key growth regions. As a result of this, and as we tend to see in emerging markets, companies are competing to attract and retain valuable talent in the foreseeable future.”

Check out the survey findings here.

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