QBA visits to the United Kingdom to promote mutual investments

18 Nov 2017 London - UK

QBA Members attended

  • Liam Fox, UK Secretary of State for International Trade: The relation with Qatar is a long term strategic relationship based on mutual interests.
  • Mark Garnier, Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade: Doha is an indispensable partner in the future
  • Sheikh Faisal: visiting London is practical and soon this will translate into more mutual projects
  • Qatar’s Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Yousef bin Ali Al-Khater: we are not investing in the UK alone, but in the future between the two countries
  • Al-Fardan: we are establishing an assembly of Qatari businessmen with their European counterparts
  • UK Ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma: we aim to increase trade and investment between Doha and London
  • Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal: The QBA helps facilitate British companies wishing to invest in Qatar and the UK makes a strong partner
  • Sheikh Nawaf Bin Nasser: Doha is a gateway to neighboring countries and regional markets

The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) has visited London on the last stop of its foreign tour to promote Qatar as an attractive destination for international investment. The QBA’s tour follows the various measures taken by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, regarding foreign investors, free zones and other investment facilities. The QBA revealed that their visits to the European capitals were successful and practical. The QBA also stressed that Doha will be a portal for Qatar’s neighboring countries and regional markets, and the QBA’s proposal to create a business community was highly welcomed by senior officials and businessmen in the countries forming their tour.

The meetings were led by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatari Businessmen Association, Mr. Hussein Al-Fardan, First Deputy to the Chairman and Board Members Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal Al-Thani, Sheikh Nawaf bin Nasser Al-Thani, Mr. Sherida Al-Kaabi, and from QBA Members Mr. Khalid Al Mannai, Saud Al-Mana, Mr. Salah Al-Jaidah, and also Sheikh Turki Bin Faisal Al Thani, Sheikh Jabor Bin Abdelrahman Al Thani and Ms. Sarah Abdullah, Deputy General Manager of the QBA.

Mark Garnier, Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade said at the beginning of his meeting with the QBA that trade exchange between the two countries exceeded 5 billion pounds in 2015, with the pace of growth increasing annually. He praised the successful business and investment forum held in London and Birmingham earlier this year, and pointed out that the partnership between the two countries is a strategic one, with more than 600 British companies operating in Qatar, in addition to Shell being the largest foreign investor in Doha.

Garnier expressed his admiration for the value of Qatari investments in Britain, amounting to 35 billion pounds, in addition to 5 billion pounds announced by HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar during the business and investment forum held earlier in the year. Garnier also said that the UK is a strategic partner of Qatar’s successful staging of the 2022 World Cup, especially given the UK’s success in organizing the 2012 London Olympics.

Garnier said that education is an important area of partnership between the two countries, where there are about 25,000 British professionals working in Qatar. In addition, the British Council is graduating about 8,000 students a year in Doha. In contrast, British schools are accepting about 4,000 Qatari students, at an increase of 20% annually. Garnier also referred to the agreement signed by His Excellency the Prime Minister of Qatar with his British counterpart in 2017 pledging to invest 5 billion pounds, and Britain's total support for the Qatar 2030 Vision, making Doha an indispensable partner in the future. Garnier also noted that Britain has set up a £5 billion investment fund to support companies investing abroad, with an amount allocated for companies wishing to invest in Qatar.

The British Ambassador to Qatar, Ajay Sharma stated he will work with the Ministry of Foreign Trade to do everything in their power to support the increase of trade and investment between the United Kingdom and Qatar, which is for the benefit of both countries. Sharma said that the UK has always been open to business, and is running the largest international trade campaign in Doha as an important step to showcase the best services and products that the UK can offer to the world.

H.E. Yousef bin Ali Al-Khater Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United Kingdom, stressed that the mutual investments and the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries were once again confirmed by the visit of members of the Qatari Businessmen Association, led by Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani. "We are investing not only in the UK, but in the future of both our countries, and this is the greatest opportunity to make links stronger than ever," Al-Khater said.

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qasim Al Thani, QBA Chairman, said that the Qatari government's role is extremely important and its contribution effective in that the members of the QBA are gathering with their British counterparts.

Sheikh Faisal pointed out that Britain seeks to boost the volume of exports as a contribution to GDP, with 11% of British companies exporting their products abroad. He also pointed out that the QBA meetings are an opportunity for UK companies to increase exports to Qatar, to open company branches in Doha, establish links between businesses and businessmen in both countries, and integrate and promote investment and trade opportunities between the two countries.

Sheikh Faisal praised Qatar's achievements in the field of infrastructure projects and other economic sectors, stressing that Qatar’s strategic location between Asia and Europe represents an opportunity that can be efficiently exploited by both countries’ business and investment sectors. "We see clearly the importance of building a stronger Qatar, just as you want Britain to be stronger after Brexit. Therefore, British companies are going to invest in Doha with the establishment of free zones, the largest port in the region, and multiple facilities that will enhance our bilateral relations and further strengthen the strong relationship between both countries" he said.

Mr. Hussein Al-Fardan, First Deputy to the Chairman, said that the visits of the QBA to Paris, Berlin and London were very successful. QBA members agreed with their European counterparts to establish a company in each of the three countries, with the aim to invest abroad and attract foreign investments in Qatar. Al-Fardan added: "There is a great convergence of views towards welcoming the idea. The practical steps will be considered soon." Al-Fardan said that government is strongly supporting the business community in its efforts and is offer privileges. The investment environment is very conducive, industrial lands are available, and energy and electricity prices are suitable, so opportunities are great and plentiful to transform the free zones into placed of real industry. Al-Fardan stressed that as with the case in France and Germany, a number of British companies will visit Doha individually and in groups. Issues of finance, land and other obstacles have been solved. Besides Qatar Development Bank, there is a British fund to help British companies invest in Qatar.

The QBA stressed that the visits to the major European capitals advanced beyond the stage of welcomes and formalities to direct and constructive work and openness through the presentation of projects, with political support from both sides, especially with regard to small and medium enterprises, which are mainstays of the advanced economies in each country.

Pharmaceutical industry and medical materials are at the heart of the discussions

The second component of the visit was devoted to the cooperation between the QBA and their British counterparts in the field of health and medicine, all of which are distinguished medical experts. The meeting was moderated by Dr. Hakim Yadi, CEO of the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA). He reviewed the pharmaceutical industry in Britain, valued at more than 107 billion pounds. He stressed the need for strategic industries in life sciences and medical materials, with more than 5,000 operating in these sectors, with exports worth 63.5 billion pounds. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said it would work to ensure meeting the needs of Qatar and the region.

The QBA highlighted the need for long-term partnerships in Britain and Qatar, and that Qatar offered significant concessions to value-added industries. The QBA seeks to attract groups in the medical products industry to invest in Qatar. Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal Al Thani spoke of facilitating all actions for British companies wishing to invest in Qatar and be a strong partner, with the QBA ready to discuss any project. Sheikh Hamad spoke of the need to create special economic blocs between small and medium enterprises. Sheikh Hamad also spoke about his country offering various incentives, including land, low taxes and logistics, as well as financing through Qatar Development Bank, which is very interested in investing in small and medium enterprises in the industrial field.

Sheikh Hamad focused on the supply issue that was taking place across Jebel Ali in Dubai and which made the free zone lose about 20% of its export value to Qatar, with Qatar securing its needs through the opening of the largest port in the Middle East and the opening of new maritime lines, including the port of Sohar in the Sultanate of Oman.

Sheikh Faisal bin Qasim said that Qatar is still part of the GCC, where there are procedures for the importation of medicines, and Qatar took several measures as the issue is related to human wellbeing. He stressed that after the recent crisis, Qatar is working hard to secure the local market and supply to hospitals. Therefore, any international company with a recognized European and international brand can open its plant in Qatar, with the QBA facilitating all the procedures required. He pointed out that both the government and the QBA are working to be a gateway to Qatar's neighboring markets, in addition to the local market in many industries including everything related to health products. Sheikh Faisal also pointed out that Qatar is one of the few countries in the world that provides free health and medicines through its government hospitals to everyone who lives on its land.

New London Plan

British Deputy for the Mayor for Investment Sir Edward Lister welcomed Qatari investments in Britain and described them as "strong and important" and invited Qatari businessmen to London saying that London "always welcomes Qatar and its people.” He presented plans for the new city of London and its plans to build 17 new towns and villages across the English countryside in an effort to ease a chronic shortage of housing.

Lister, who presented the plan inside the London City Model Planning Center, said new communities would be allocated land and large areas for gardens, extending from Cumbria in the north, to Cornwall in the far south of England, as part of a scheme to build up to 200,000 new homes. This represents a small part of the 1 million homes the government says are to be built, between 2015-2020, in a densely populated country. During the event, they reviewed information and facts on seven sectors, including technology and food, to help Qatari companies learn about what UK markets can offer and make well-informed decisions on how to take advantage of their best investment opportunities.

Financial services

The Deloitte Financial Advisory Group and City of London Group for the Middle East and North Africa hosted members of the Qatari Businessmen Association. "We have confidence in British banks and financial companies, some of which are established by the Qatar Financial Center, and we are going to pay a visit dedicated to invest in the financial markets," said Sheikh Faisal bin Qasim Al Thani. He also said that the QBA sees London as Qatar’s first investment destination, both in terms of financial services and retail.

Nick Tolchard, Head of EMEA fixed Income, the Middle East & Africa (EMEA), said that his country was impressed by Qatar's investments in Britain, stressing that the two countries have a common vision for 2030. The message is important and Qatar now has significant opportunities with the 2022 World Cup in the fields of infrastructure and stadiums, manufacturing and food industries. Tolchard said that after leaving the EU, Britain was more free in choosing its trading partners according to bilateral agreements and would remain an important financial arena with great opportunities.

Mr. Saud Al-Mana, QBA Board Member, focused on Qatar's dependence on youth, the people's trust in the government, and the new generation of young people occupying prestigious positions which gives confidence in the Qatari economy and confidence to foreign investors to come to Qatar and find strategic partners.

Technology in the heart of the event

Eric Van der Kleij, founder of the Centre for Digital Revolution in Britain, presented a project on technology, modernity and the digital economy, and the Centre’s adoption of advanced technologies that increase the volume of business. Eric Van der Kleij stressed that the Centre is of great importance in the sectors of retail and developers on social networks, which will enable the creation of a successful business environment for SME technology by adopting modern technologies for business growth.

Van der Kleij said that the aim is to link businesses in Doha and London and to bring the distances closer by modern technologies, stressing that the project requires only a building in London and another in Doha, as well as a range of advanced equipment.

Sheikh Turki bin Faisal Al Thani invited the Centre to Doha for further presentation of the project, to study the market and how to implement it, as well as the possibility of cooperation with Qatar Science and Technology Park.

Louis Taylor, Chief Executive of UK Export Finance said that Qatar is an interesting market for foreign companies, as Qatar is working to make structural changes in its economy in a plan to move away from oil as a main source of income. "British companies have made many contributions in the areas of finance, enterprise development and other projects in many important and vital areas.”

Food Industry

The British Food and Drink Federation organized a lunch in honor of the QBA, and presented a number of projects related to the food industry, including red meat, fish, fresh and dried milk, as well as other projects focusing on how to transform insects into proteins and promote the culture of eating insects as "food.” The food and drinks industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK with sales of £76 billion.

A Visit to the UK Houses of Parliament

UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Lord Powell, international businessman and partner of major international brands, welcomed the QBA at the UK Houses of Parliament. The two sides stressed the need for the private sectors in both countries to take advantage of politically strong relations and invest in projects that benefit Doha and London.

Fox said that Qatar is a strategic partner and that support for the private sector in both countries is necessary. He pointed out that partnerships related to the World Cup are to take place soon, but partnerships should be on a long-term basis through investments in Qatar’s free zones to facilitate UK companies’ entry into neighboring markets such as Iraq and others, as well as Qatari companies investing in the New London Plan and Birmingham. He added that Britain is now considering the next steps to facilitate Brexit and finding new strategic markets including Qatar. Liam Fox encouraged the proposals of QBA, calling them practical solutions. He also invited the business community of both countries to cement their partnership, especially as both Britain and Qatar are supporting the private sector to invest abroad.

Liam Fox and Lord Powell accompanied the delegation of the QBA on a visit to the historic landmarks of the Houses of Parliament. The building includes a collection of famous landmarks such as Norman Terrace, Queen's Wardrobe, Royal Gallery, Prince's Chamber, House of Lords, Lobby of the Nobles, Central Lobby and Members of the Lobby, House of Commons and Westminster Hall

Gala Dinner

His Excellency Mr. Yousuf bin Ali Al Khater, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the United Kingdom, held a gala dinner in honor of the QBA delegation. He stressed the success of the visit under the leadership of Sheikh Faisal bin Qasim Al-Thani, pointing out that the visit is the beginning in a new era in strengthening relations between UK and Qatar, and it will be the start of the Qatari economy becoming global. Al-Khater also said that historical relations between Qatar and the UK will continue to strengthen.