Interview: Fahad Rashid Al Kaabi
Where are the opportunities for investment in the downstream industry, specifically with industry verticals like plastics and petrochemicals?
FAHAD RASHID AL KAABI: Qatar is open for business, and recent laws stimulating foreign direct investment (FDI) have further opened up the nation to global investors. Companies from around the world are showing great interest in tapping into Qatar’s expansive investment opportunities, especially those arising from new free zones.
The country has strong competitive advantages in terms of attracting FDI, including available energy and feedstock; business-friendly legislation and economic reforms; modern road, airport and seaport infrastructure; and free zones in strategic areas.
Qatar Petroleum will invest over $13bn in downstream activities and expand the petrochemicals sector over the next five to 10 years. It will move into more specialty downstream chemical areas, which offer commercial opportunities for oilfield service companies, front-end engineering designers, engineering-procurement construction, refining experts, technology providers and downstream marketing executives.
Manateq is facilitating new companies to service this ancillary market via the Mesaieed Industrial Zone, located 30 km south of Doha. It is a centre for petrochemicals, chemical fertilisers, oil refining, metallurgy, workshops and primary building materials.
What aspects of the country’s logistics infrastructure need improvement, and how will the current investment pipeline address this?
AL KAABI: Qatar is fortunate that the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has invested heavily in Hamad International Airport and Hamad Port, which deliver advanced logistics solutions and sea and air capabilities. Developments at these ports have been carefully thought out to ensure the country can compete in the international marketplace with a logistics infrastructure that meets the needs of manufacturers across industries, including oil and gas, automotive, food and livestock, agriculture and general cargo.
Ashghal has undertaken a wide range of infrastructure programmes across the country, and delivered large-scale expressways and integrated infrastructure projects linking ports and logistical locations. These include the openings of Al Majd Road, Lusail Expressway and the Sabah Al Ahmad Corridor. In 2019 Ashghal completed over 125 km of road works and awarded projects worth QR3.2bn ($878.3m).
Investment at Hamad International Airport has delivered international standards for the expanding global freight business, enabling Qatar Airways Cargo to provide efficient services to customers and cargo carriers around the world. Its cargo terminal, with a yearly processing capacity of approximately 1.4m tonnes, offers complete air cargo solutions, with warehousing and advanced technologies that enable the swift transfer of goods in and out of the country.
In what ways are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) being encouraged to participate in the industrial and logistics sectors?
AL KAABI: Long-term, sustainable economic growth can only be accomplished with a thriving private business sector that is capable of competing globally. Qatar is focusing on non-oil industries and the development of solid infrastructure that will encourage SMEs to grow and prosper, thus accelerating economic diversification. We have established a number of initiatives to support the SME sector, such as the Al Wukair Logistics Park, where facilities are built in sizes catering to small, medium and large enterprises. We also have an agreement with Qatar Islamic Bank to facilitate preferential financing for our logistics parks' investors who can raise 60% of their project financing against land and personal guarantees. Furthermore, we support SMEs with ready-to-build warehouse designs for 1000- and 2000-sq-metre land plots, saving them time and money.
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