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NEW PHOTO QA24 Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO, QFC

QATAR - Finance

Yousuf Al-Jaida

CEO, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC)

Bio

Yousuf Al-Jaida was appointed CEO of QFC in June 2015. He previously held the role of deputy CEO and chief strategic business development officer at QFC, where he was responsible for leading the overall strategy and business development functions of the organization. Prior to joining QFC, he was head of indirect investment at the Qatar General Retirement and Pension Authority. He serves as a board member in leading local and international organizations including the World Alliance of International Financial Centers, the QFC, the Qatar Finance and Business Academy, the Qatar Free Zones Authority, the Qatar Stock Exchange, the Investment Promotion Agency, and Sidra Medicine.

"As an advocate for sustainable business practices, QFC has introduced several paperless and sustainability initiatives, promoting sustainability within the organization, among firms registered on the platform and its stakeholders."
QFC’s innovative Digital Assets Lab plays a role in enhancing the local digital ecosystem by offering collaborative spaces, cutting-edge technology, regulatory support, and engagement with industry experts.

How does the QFC facilitate foreign investment and business growth in Qatar, and what makes Qatar an attractive destination for international financial institutions and businesses?

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) plays a pivotal role in advancing Doha’s stature as a premier financial and commercial hub, aligning with the objectives outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030. Our commitment is reflected in a host of benefits and robust legal and regulatory frameworks designed to facilitate the establishment and operation of businesses in the country and expansion within the region and beyond. Our proactive engagement with both local and international business communities, as well as key organizations, serves to establish gateways that facilitate the entry of investors and wealth managers into Qatar, capitalizing on the conducive market environment.

Qatar stands out as an exceptionally attractive destination for investment and businesses, supported by several compelling factors. Boasting one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, it has maintained an impressive average GDP growth rate of 5% since 2009. According to the World Bank, this trajectory is projected to reach $247.13 billion by the end of 2024. Furthermore, Qatar holds the 5th highest GDP per capita globally.

The country’s economic prowess is underscored by its 9th-place ranking in the 2022 World Competitiveness Yearbook’s Global Economic Performance assessment. In addition, Qatar nurtures a favourable business environment, offering competitive benefits such as extensive Double Taxation Agreements with over 80 countries, up to 100% foreign ownership, a 10% corporate tax on locally sourced profit, flexibility to trade in any currency and an absence of personal income tax, wealth tax, or Zakat. These features enhance its allure as an investment destination.

Qatar has strategically positioned itself for the future with a robust digital infrastructure, hosting cloud data centres managed by industry giants Microsoft and Google. Geographically, Qatar’s location at the crossroads between the East and West is pivotal. This global connectivity is further accentuated by well-established infrastructure, including the world’s third-largest cargo fleet and a comprehensive network of 140 destinations served by its award-winning airline, Qatar Airways.

Moreover, the nation boasts a diverse pool of talent sourced from around the world. This rich talent pool, driving the knowledge-based economy, empowers businesses at local, regional, and global scales. In essence, Qatar presents a compelling package for foreign investment and business growth, underscored by its economic dynamism, strategic location, and commitment to fostering a conducive business environment.

In April 2023, QFC signed an MoU with R3, a globally leading provider of enterprise distributed ledger technology (DLT) and services. How will this partnership help QFC to support the fintech industry in Qatar?

The QFC has been at the forefront of fostering a globally competitive FinTech ecosystem in Qatar through various initiatives. One key move involves introducing the “FinTech Services Providers License,” which clearly delineates eligible activity types exempt from financial regulation and supervision, providing a conducive environment for innovation within the FinTech sector.

The QFC has established the Tech Circle, a shared working space for early-stage tech firms, and the QFC Innovation Dome, dedicated to transformative initiatives positioning Qatar at the forefront of the global digital landscape. The Innovation Dome encompasses the Digital Assets Lab, a platform focused on innovation, research, and development in Digital Assets and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

Additionally, the QFC hosts a Tech Talk series to facilitate networking among resident FinTech companies, promoting collaborative growth and knowledge sharing with local financial institutions.

By collaborating with R3, a prominent global player in enterprise distributed ledger technology (DLT) and services, the QFC takes significant strides in propelling Qatar’s FinTech industry forward. This collaboration involves the establishment of an innovation lab tailored for commercial banks and fintech firms, emphasising the development and application of asset digitisation and DLT. Simultaneously, the partnership includes the training of professionals in these domains, enhancing expertise within the sector. Beyond this, R3 will actively contribute to the deployment of DLT on a national scale, amplifying the impact of this strategic alliance in advancing Qatar’s FinTech landscape.

QFC has launched Qatar’s first digital assets lab. How will this initiative bolster the local digital ecosystem?

The QFC Digital Assets Lab is a pivotal initiative set to significantly enhance the local digital ecosystem by providing a platform that offers a collaborative environment for start-ups, businesses, and researchers to explore and create cutting-edge solutions related to digital assets and DLT.

Participants in the lab not only benefit from well-equipped, free, and flexible co-working spaces but also access to cutting-edge technology, including cybersecurity advisory services and cloud storage, facilitating experimentation and innovation. Moreover, the lab offers participants opportunities to engage with industry experts from QFC and its global partners, offering insights that can help them accelerate their innovation journey.

In addition, the lab extends regulatory support, aiding participants in navigating Qatar’s regulatory landscape. This assistance encompasses obtaining conditional registration and a license, streamlining the process of commercial establishment.

By fostering an environment conducive to the development of applicable technology and establishing a supportive legal infrastructure for its local launch, the Digital Assets Lab is set to become a driving force for the adoption of emerging technologies across diverse sectors and a key contributor to the growth of Qatar’s digital economy.

How does QFC promote sustainability and responsible business practices among its member firms?

As an advocate for sustainable business practices, the QFC has introduced several paperless and sustainability initiatives, promoting sustainability within the organization, among firms registered on the platform and its stakeholders.

The QFC currently operates an enhanced client e-Services portal, which gives firms contactless access to pertinent services, from business registration to dispute resolution, saving them time and resources. In keeping abreast of its ongoing digital transformation, QFC implemented several software solutions, such as policy management solutions, Staff Wiki, and QFCA KPIs dashboards, which give its staff and clients access to relevant information crucial to performing their daily business operations.

The QFC has also introduced an e-tendering solution for vendors, automating vendor registration and tendering process, further promoting sustainability and green living. Moreover, the QFC uses electronic signature and letter correspondence system to comply with a 100% paperless environment.

To promote sustainability within the financial industry, the QFC launched the GCC’s first Sustainable Sukuk and Bonds, integrating local requirements with the latest International Capital Markets Association’s Green Bond Principles, Social Bond Principles and Sustainable Bond Guidelines. The framework promotes harmonized financial market ecosystem, reduced risk of greenwashing, as well as the promotion of appropriate disclosures, reporting and transparency.

How does QFC promote financial education and support the growth of a skilled workforce in Qatar’s financial sector?

As part of our comprehensive growth strategy, the QFC places a strong emphasis on financial education and skills development. It is an integral component of our CSR & Social Investment strategy under “Financial Literacy and Youth Empowerment”, which we actively implement through advanced learning programmes geared towards fostering a skilled workforce in Qatar’s financial sector.

In 2009, the QFC took a significant step by establishing the Qatar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA). This specialised institution is dedicated to providing high-quality education and training, cultivating talents within the financial sector. Our commitment extends to a 360-degree internship programme, a collaborative effort with universities across Qatar. The programme ensures that students gain a well-rounded internship experience, exposing them to various facets of the QFC and the broader financial industry.

Moreover, the QFC actively engages in partnerships with both local and international organisations, fostering knowledge exchange initiatives. This collaborative approach is further reinforced through our participation in events which we host and sponsor. These events serve as platforms where industry experts share their knowledge, contributing to the overall promotion of education within the financial sector.

By integrating financial education and skills development into our growth strategy, the QFC is dedicated to nurturing a competent and knowledgeable workforce that aligns with the evolving demands of Qatar’s financial landscape.

Business activity in Qatar has been expanding over the last months. What is your outlook for the country’s non-energy private sector for the upcoming year?

Over the past year, Qatar’s non-energy private sector has exhibited consistent growth, with notable advancements in business conditions. The financial services sector expanded, and the manufacturing industry experienced an upswing in demand. Concurrently, employment rates increased, accompanied by a continued rise in wages. Looking ahead to 2024, we anticipate this positive trajectory to persist and strengthen.

This optimism is further fuelled by the forthcoming government investment of close to $20 billion in infrastructure projects across various sectors throughout the year. These substantial investments are poised to stimulate growth, enhance operational capacities, and foster economic resilience.

In light of these anticipated activities, we expect the non-energy private sector to remain a robust contributor to Qatar’s GDP. The country’s overall economic outlook is optimistic, with a projected GDP growth of 2.2% for the upcoming year, underscoring the resilience and dynamism of its non-energy private sector.

What are the main points and objectives of the new strategy QFC is launching?

The QFC 2030 growth strategy was developed with the overarching goal of transforming Doha into a leading hub for wealth and innovation within the region. This comprehensive strategy seeks to drive economic development and diversification, placing a particular emphasis on elevating the local commercial, legal, and regulatory environment to attract high-quality capital, world-class talent, and innovative businesses to Qatar.

Our core objectives within this strategy encompass several key areas. First and foremost, we aim to attract wealth to Qatar. Secondly, we will develop the local Financial Services sector. Simultaneously, we will attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to promote economic diversification and, finally, we will enhance customer-centricity, ensuring that we exceed the needs of our valued QFC clients.

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