The Business Year

Mohammed Barakat Managing Director & Treasurer of the Board of Directors, US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC)

QATAR - Economy

Mohammed Barakat

Managing Director & Treasurer of the Board of Directors, US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC)

Bio

Prior to joining the US-Qatar Business Council, Mohammed Barakat was a business strategy advisor at the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council (2011-2013) based in Washington, D.C. Earlier in his career, he worked in business development for a major Qatari holding group (2008-2011). He also worked in the UAE as a marketing manager for a major construction and engineering group (2006-2008). Previously, and under different capacities, Barakat developed strategic business plans and provided political, economic, social, and security analyses for several companies and organizations in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Tajikistan, Djibouti, and the US (2004-2006). He was also a defense contractor for the US Defense Intelligence Agency. He holds an advanced business strategy degree from the Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management and a BA degree in political science and public administration. Barakat has also completed several executive degree programs in marketing, finance, and defense procurement.

USQBC works with the public and private sectors to promote new, and solidify existing, business relations between US and Qatari companies.
Qatar is America’s strongest partner in the Gulf. Which sectors are currently exhibiting the most potential for investment by American companies in Qatar?

Mohammed Barakat: Qatar is the strongest partner for the US in the Middle East across several sectors including security, defense, infrastructure, and energy. This major investment kicked off around 1995-1996, especially in the energy sector when American companies invested in Qatar. Today, we have seen increased diversification of investment in different industries in Qatar from the American side. Qatar has advanced many laws that enable American companies to establish and expand their business in the country, which has allowed more companies to invest in Qatar today. Finance, fintech, infrastructure, and energy are still crucial sectors, in addition to smart cities and smart technologies, which many American companies have invested in. There are also the traditional sectors such as the oil and gas sectors but there is also a pivot towards sustainable energy. Currently, there are several ongoing infrastructure projects as part of the buildup to the FIFA World Cup.

What is the advantage of being a member of USQBC, and what relationship is the Council aiming to enhance?

Mohammed Barakat: USQBC was established in 1996. Our organization has brought together USQBC members, partners, and officials from both the US and Qatar and facilitated business discussions amongst them. Our organization has consolidated and enhanced business relationships by hosting networking events, webinars, and engagements. We have provided business consultancy services to both markets about business opportunities and connections in the US as well as Qatar. We have offered assistance to Qatari and American companies to navigate the business landscapes including the market conditions, business opportunities, laws, and regulations in both countries. We have also provided business services that included market research, market entry, and facilitated the formation of connections. However, we remain a non-profit organization, and our operations serve to help and build the relationships between Qatar and the US. Since the Qatari-American relationship is growing on the political side, that by default boosts business as well. With the rapid growth of bilateral commercial ties, our work as a business council has expanded to include multiple business entities to whom we provide advisory and networking services.

What direction is this business relationship heading toward?

Mohammed Barakat: We see the World Cup as a stepping stone toward greater business engagement in the future. With the upcoming mega event, people have learned a great deal about Qatar, and the American companies that have been involved in Qatar. Qatar has repeatedly demonstrated its conviction to attracting international companies by easing commercial laws and regulations for establishment and operation. The country has been making strides in other sectors as well such as tourism, education, and entertainment. This diversification has enabled investors to expand their portfolio in the country. To further solidify the commercial ties between the US and Qatar, our organization has launched the USQBC Business Portal. The newly developed USQBC Business Portal provides unparalleled access to investment and trade-related information in addition to USQBC services as well as providing an interactive and curated experience of the US-Qatar business relationship. We have seen traffic coming from outside of Qatar and the US, which demonstrates the keen interest in creating and expanding business in the US as well as Qatar. The portal will aid the business communities across Qatar and the US to enhance and consolidate their commercial ties to mutually grow their businesses. With the help of tools such as the Business Portal and the upcoming FIFA World cup which has provided several opportunities for commercial collaboration, the business relationship between the US and Qatar is only going to grow exponentially from here.

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