DOHA: Qatar’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be ready to receive investors in the first quarter of 2019. Um Al Houl Free Zone, one of the two Free Zones under development, will start receiving both local and foreign investors from early next year, Minister of State and Chairman of the Free Zones Authority H E Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Sayed announced yesterday.
Speaking on ‘enabling foreign and local investors to register companies within the Free Zone”, on the second day of the International Products Exhibition and Conference (IPEC 2018) yesterday, the Minister said the second Free Zone, Bu Fontas, will also be launched next year. The government is working to bring some iconic projects and locations, including Musheireb, under the Free Zone law. The market will hear major announcements regarding Qatar’s aggressive FDI policies next month, he said.
An area of 34sqkm, Um Al Houl is perfectly located to facilitate access to the rest of the world via the sea. This SEZ is situated next to Hamad Port, and is ideally situated to serve the Northern Gulf area and beyond. With its close proximity to the Port it is set to be a dominant gateway for Qatar’s imports and exports. Hardly 20km South of Hamad International Airport, and adjacent to Mesaieed Industrial Zone, this zone is primed to be an advantageous hub for suitable industries.
Covering an area of 4.01sqkm, Bu Fontas is set to become an advanced technology and logistics hub for the region, attracting regional and global business, trade, and investment thereby contributing to Qatar’s vision of becoming a Smart nation.
The Minister said Qatar’s Free Zones are set to host large number of foreign companies by next year. Free Zones Authority is engaged in negotiations with some major international companies before launching joint ventures in selected sectors. Some of these companies will be controlling their global operations from Qatar.
The Free Zones are keen to host investors and companies interested in sectors like logistics, precious metals, expensive antiques as well as food processing. Other strategic sectors include pharmaceuticals and gas & petroleum derivatives.
The Minister said the Free Zone Authority is in talks with many entities in Qatar, including Qatar Petroleum, in order to encourage the Qatari private sector or the foreign companies to invest in the energy sector and to transform the Special economic Zones as a future exporting hub.
The development of Free Economic Zones will position Qatar an ideal destination for foreign direct investments.
The country has a globally competitive independent regulatory authority with an advanced licensing regime to protect the interest of the foreign investors.
The compliances are in line with global best practices. The regulatory body will be working in a transparent and competitive operating environment. There will be special laws to serve intellectual property rights, privacy and data protection. A special FDI-friendly law is in the making, he said. “A large number of foreign companies are expected to join Qatar’s various Free Economic Zones. It is time to derive maximum benefits from Qatar’s high-value assets. With the support of the country’s wise leadership, we will achieve this,” the Minister said.