Qatar to spend US $108 billion on infrastructure

Announces the setting up of Qatar Financial Centre that will be unlike others in the region

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By  Eudore Chand Published  January 29, 2005

A projected US $108 billion is to be spent by Qatar on infrastructure and other development projects, according to the Gulf state’s Minister of Economy and Commerce. “Qatar is committed to spending $108 billion on infrastructure and hydrocarbon projects over the next five years. These projects, combined with the rapid growth of the economy, present significant opportunities,” Minister Mohammed A. Al Thani told a conference in Doha, while announcing plans to set up a new financial hub. Qatar is said to have the fastest growing economy in the world, and by 2012, it will be the globe’s largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) supplier. With growing revenues, it has developed a modern infrastructure, including schools and universities, hospitals, hotels, resorts, shopping malls and sports facilities. Infrastructure development is continuing and its latest project will be a financial hub in the capital Doha. Qatari officials are insistent that the project will not be like the other financial centres that are coming up in neighbouring Gulf states. Both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have progressed far on the construction of their respective projects, the Bahrain Financial Harbour and the Dubai International Financial Centre. According to the Qatari minister, the aim is to attract international financial institutions and multinational corporates to set up in the new Qatar Financial Centre. Al Thani provided a list of key differences from the models followed at other financial centres in the GCC. He insisted that Qatar Financial Centre is not a property play. “Qatar recognises that international firms will require state-of-the-art offices and will lease a purpose-built tower in Doha to provide such facilities at relatively low cost. However, Qatar is motivated in building successful partnerships with profitable companies, rather than big real estate projects,” he said. The minister explained that Qatar is not offering an offshore centre because it believes in corporate taxation. A new regulatory environment has been created where businesses can set up in Doha with minimal cost, minimal risk and minimal bureaucracy. Firms will enjoy a three-year tax holiday after which an unspecified relatively low tax rate applies on profits. The Minister explained that the commercial and regulatory laws are in place and that they allow full repatriation of profits and 100% foreign ownership.

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