Qatar's ambassador to Germany Mohamed Jaham al-Kuwari said that the Qatari economy is continuing to grow sustainably, creating a wide variety of opportunities for local and foreign investors. The ambassador praised, during an interview with the Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV) publication in its fourth issue for this year, the strong bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in the economic field.
He noted that Qatar is an investor in major German companies and aims to enhance its ties with Germany further. He said that Qatari investments in Germany were about 25bn euros, and that there are more than 300 German companies operating in the Qatari market in various sectors, noting that the measures taken by the State of Qatar to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) have achieved great success.
He said that, "Qatar looks forward to welcoming fans of all nationalities to FIFA World Cup 2022 and noted that Qatar continues to prosper, with the country looking to diversify its economic streams by investing in major companies like Siemens, Duetsche Bank, and Volkswagen."
Ambassador al-Kuwari added that the recent years has seen the country to be more independent, investing in new markets through economic partnerships. "Qatar is looking to enhance its economic ties with Germany, with a focus on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which represented 80% of German companies in 2018."
The Qatari envoy referred to the announcement of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of investing 10bn euros to enhance economic co-operation between Qatar and Germany in different fields, including, health, education, and liquified natural gas (LNG).
On the measures that Qatar took to combat Covid-19, al-Kuwari said that, "Qatar responded quickly and understood early on the dangerous impact of the crisis" and added that "the country relied on its experience in managing crises and on its medical institutions, while benefiting from the best international practices."
"The plans were all implemented in co-operation with international organisations," he said.
The strict measures implemented by Qatar included suspending schools and universities, limiting gatherings in public places, closing malls, and parks, in addition to limiting the number of employees allowed to go to work and limiting workhours. Qatar's health sector offered a hotline round the clock for the public, in addition to building hospitals that had a total capacity of 14,000 beds.
Qatar is also using Roche Cobas 6800, which could conduct 1,200 tests in 24 hours. The country also ensured the availability of protective equipment of individuals in the market. There were also new factories that were built to satisfy some demand.
He noted that the country built a self-sufficient economy following the blockade, and managed to navigate the current critical period successfully.
Ambassador al-Kuwari shed light on the co-operation between Qatar and Germany in repatriating 70,000 German citizens through Qatar Airways. Qatar also provided medical equipment to many countries such as Italy, Iran, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Nepal.
On the repercussions of the coronavirus, he stressed that the Qatari economy continues its growth, noting that the country is working on maintaining the prosperity of the economy. He highlighted the steps taken by the state to enhance its stature as a reputable supplier of LNG to the entire world, the agreement with China on that front being the latest evidence.
Ambassador al-Kuwari also noted that Qatar is the second biggest producer of helium, adding that the state is preparing an ambitious strategy that will diversify the economy and limit the impact of energy prices on the economy in the future. As for Qatar's preparations to host the World Cup 2022, the ambassador said that hosting the finals will contribute to realising Qatar National Vision 2030.
He noted that a report from Global Finance on the safest countries in the world saw Qatar ranked first in the region and seventh overall and said that six of the stadiums are currently under construction, following the inauguration of Khalifa International Stadium on May 19, 2017, and Al Janoub Stadium in May 2019. The envoy added that the Lusail Stadium, which can host 80,000 fans, will host the opening match and the final.
Ambassador al-Kuwari said that the Qatari economy is seeing a new phase that relies on infrastructure spending to respond to the fast population growth ahead of the World Cup 2022. He added that this achievement is a temporary one as part of a bigger vision.
On responding to criticism aimed at Qatar, ambassador al-Kuwari said that the country welcomes objective criticism and always works on improving its performance and added that the country believes in the importance of engaging dialogue to improve.
On how Qatar could compete as an investment destination with its counterparts in the region and internationally, the envoy said that Qatar has taken important measures to attract more foreign investment, as companies operating in the country enjoy competitive advantages which include a legal environment based on English common law, transfers that can be made in any currency, up to 100% of foreign ownership, and repatriation of profits. Also, foreign investment projects in Qatar grant an income tax exemption under the procedures and regulations stipulated in the income tax law.
He pointed out that the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) is developing world-class free zones in Qatar, ensuring the state's position as a global industrial and logistical centre. Ambassador al-Kuwari highlighted that more than 50 companies and projects to QFZA since its establishment, to establish operations in the free zones in Qatar, which represents a total investment of more than QR1.5bn.
He also stressed that QFZA offers fantastic opportunities for companies, including high-quality infrastructure, skilled workforce, 100% foreign ownership, and access to investment opportunities with Qatari entities, unlike many free zone developers, as well as Qatar Financial Center's (QFC) excellent platform for companies to do business in Qatar and abroad.
Ambassador al-Kuwari added that the QFC offers a legal, regulatory, tax, and commercial environment that allows 100% foreign ownership, 100% reallocation of profits, and a 10% competitive fee imposed on the profits of local companies. He said that QFC welcomes a wide range of financial services companies and non-financial companies and noted that QFC achieved growth of 30%, adding nearly 200 companies in a single year, bringing the total number to 816.
The envoy added that QFC is moving confidently towards its goal of registering 1,000 companies by 2022. He noted that Qatar worked with partners, and implemented extensive reforms to strengthen labour laws and increase protection for expatriate workers, which has made Qatar occupy a leading regional position. He added that the decisions reflected the country's commitment to a modern system that suits the needs of employers and foreign workers, noting that last year Qatar approved draft laws that give workers more rights.
He noted that one of the draft laws related to ending exit permits for those not covered by the labour law, including domestic workers, as part of efforts to secure the rights of all foreign workers.