The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), a leading onshore financial and business centre in the region, revealed a significant increase of 63.7% in the number of new firms licensed on the QFC platform in 2020, compared to 2019. The QFC registered 334 firms in the year to 31 December 2020, compared to almost 200 firms registered over the same period in 2019.
Ending the year on a high note, the QFC maintained its business growth for the 8th consecutive year, despite the unprecedented global economic slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion of the QFC-registered firms, which represents a variety of industries, both financial and non-financial services, included a record increase of 139.5% in the digital sector. Given the tremendous opportunities that emerged in the technology and digital sectors amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and backed by the QFC’s fintech services provider license, the platform welcomed 91 new digital firms, hailing from diverse countries including India, USA, Pakistan, France, Russia and the United Kingdom. The QFC also continued to leverage its support to other firms across its strategic clusters, namely sports, media and financial services, registering 62 newcomers from these sectors. This increase pushes the QFC much closer to achieving its goal of registering 1,000 firms, ahead of the designated date as per its 2022 Strategy.
I am confident that the QFC’s progress will continue in 2021 and beyond, backed by the State’s ground-breaking reforms and economic diversification efforts.
Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC Authority
Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC Authority said: “Last year presented us with yet another chance to witness Qatar’s perseverance and ability to adapt and thrive amidst challenging circumstances. Specifically, it showcased the indispensable role of leading organisations, such as the QFC, in maintaining and accelerating the wheel of economic development. Thanks to our proactive approach, our unique business model and diverse offering, we are proudly spearheading the recovery of business activities in the country, evidenced by our extraordinary growth in 2020.”
Al-Jaida added: “I am confident that the QFC’s progress will continue in 2021 and beyond, backed by the State’s ground-breaking reforms and economic diversification efforts, which reinforce the competitiveness and attractiveness of our business ecosystem and strengthens Qatar’s position as a thriving business destination for global investors.”
2020 saw the QFC’s implementation of support measures in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, which offered relief to its registered firms, in addition to new policies that create opportunities for firms looking to tap into the Qatar’s flourishing market. This included a legal services policy, which ensures that new QFC-licensed legal firms have the capacity and expertise to serve international clients across geographic boundaries. Another significant announcement was the new regulations for financial institutions to operate a representative office in Qatar, which further bolsters their business by allowing an increased range of permitted activities. The QFC also introduced a holistic digitalised incorporation process that streamlines the business experience of new firms, starting from the licensing phase, and throughout their journey in Qatar.
In line with the QFC’s core mandate to promote economic diversification, while adhering to the COVID-19 precautionary measures, the QFC launched its thought-leadership series, entitled ‘#AccessQatar: QFC Webcast Series’, which offers a dynamic platform to engage existing and prospective clients as well as the wider business community. The series covers the latest trends and developments across a number of industries and topics, including Qatar’s economy, financial services, fintech, digital, and sports. It also promotes sectors with promising growth potential, such as the aircraft financing and leasing, and showcases the competitive offering of the QFC. In 2020, the QFC took part in 67 webinars, from which 27 webcasts were hosted by the Centre, with over 3000 attendees in total. Some of the online events, which expanded the QFC’s network in key markets, including Malaysia, Turkey, Germany, Canada and the United States, were organised in collaboration with renowned entities, including Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the Embassy of Malaysia in the State of Qatar, the US-Qatar Business Council, K&L Gates, among others.
Similarly, the QFC launched the ‘QFC Tech Talk Series’, which bolsters connectivity across the fintech ecosystem and encourages firms, experts and innovators to share ideas, exchange knowledge and explore opportunities spanning different verticals.
Another significant landmark of 2020 was the virtual hosting of the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the World Alliance of International Financial Centers (WAIFC) for the first time. The QFC successfully organised a line-up of engaging virtual events, which witnessed a record attendance of over 1,000 attendees in addition to all 17 WAIFC members.
The QFC extended its business network by signing 5 MoUs with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Qatar Financial Markets Authority, the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, and the Global Humanitarian Action Executive Alliance (GHAEA). Another key MoU was between the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar (IPA Qatar), which is licensed on the QFC platform, and UBS, the world’s preeminent global wealth management firm. This MoU sets forth a preliminary agreement to establish a UBS Wealth Management operation in Doha.
2020 saw the winning of the prestigious Silver Telly Award 2020 in recognition of ‘The Business Trip’ series, produced in partnership with Bloomberg Media Studios. The Silver Telly Awards is committed to honour work excellence; ranging from documentaries, branded content, and television shows to digital series, from across the world.