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Minister in London promoting QFC and investment

Qatar: Thursday, December 08 - 2005 @ 09:17

Sheikh Mohammed, one of the key figures in Qatar’s progressive-style Government, and Chairman of the new Qatar Financial Centre Authority, has a hectic programme of meetings with several of the City’s major institutions. The aim of the visit is to put the case for Qatar and the Qatar Financial Centre to leading international bankers and to explain the QFC’s role in the country’s major reform and economic diversification programme.

Already this Gulf state is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and is on course to be the world’s largest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas – with an agreement just signed to supply 30% of United States needs in addition to 10% of the UK’s gas imports and a large slice of the booming Asian markets.

Democratic base

Sheikh Mohammed and his ministerial colleagues are using the opportunity provided by Qatar’s considerable energy wealth to build a free market economy. Qatar is also seeking to grow its democratic base with a liberal new constitution introduced this year, and elections to Parliament – the Majlis al-Shura – scheduled to be held in about a year.

A central pillar of the reform plans driven by H. H. Sheikh Hamad, Qatar’s Emir, is the creation of an internationally credible financial capital market to be the engine of economic growth.

That is why the Minister will be accompanied on his City of London mission by the heads of Qatar’s Financial Centre and its independent Regulatory Authority, both established in May. Stuart Pearce, CEO and Director General of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, is a career banker and former senior executive at HSBC while Phillip Thorpe, Chairman and CEO of the independent QFC Regulatory Authority, was formerly Managing Director of the UK’s Financial Services Authority.

The Minister said:

‘Qatar is offering a huge opportunity to the City of London. We want to create a progressive partnership to develop our natural wealth and invest it in order to create a diverse, free market economy. In return, we offer new sources of business and revenue streams for banks and other financial institutions. The visit supports our efforts to attract leading international banks to join us in our reform and development programme and to help us build a stronger financial services sector with a deep capital market.

‘We have more than 100 years supply of natural gas at the current maximum extraction rates. We are on course to become the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas. Our energy projects will attract publicprivate investment in a region which has hitherto been a large net exporter of capital.

‘The Qatar Financial Centre will be a catalyst for economic and social development not only in Qatar but in the wider region – perhaps the world’s most dynamic emerging market at present. ‘Our development and investment programme is ambitious but realistic – because it is founded not on aspiration but on assets.’

Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani added: ‘This is a large and diversified programme of projects.For example, we will finance more than $30 billion in new infrastructure projects; we will invest $15 billion in airport and tourism projects, with eight new luxury hotels being built in Doha; and we will raise over $50 billion for oil and gas development.’

The Qatar Financial Centre has been established so that top flight financial institutions will have the comfort of operating in a centre with laws and regulations drafted in English, based on best practice in London and New York – and independently regulated by internationally respected regulators.

Stuart Pearce added: ‘What we have put in place is a low risk, low cost, low tax environment. But we also provide the bonus of being very definitely an onshore not an offshore financial centre.’

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Thursday, December 8- 2005 @ 9:17 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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