Posted on January 05, 2016

A growing population looking for a wider range of goods and services is creating “ample business opportunities” for Qatari entrepreneurs across the board, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of industry giant Al Faisal Holding has said.

Sheikh Faisal told the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) that “virtually all sectors of the economy” were ripe for private sector investment, with Qatar’s ongoing infrastructure projects and new city developments offering plenty of potential for growth. “Significant initiatives, including the expected opening of the new sea port, the continuing development of designated economic zones and the ongoing metropolitan expansion of Doha and other cities, are all driving a positive investment environment.” he said.

OBG’s wide-ranging interview with Sheikh Faisal took place against a changing economic backdrop which will see Qatar’s private sector encouraged to play a bigger part in the country’s development and a shift away from government support. A major player in Qatar and abroad, Al Faisal Holding has interests in a broad range of business activities, including hospitality, real estate, commerce and industry. The current year has brought solid operational growth across Al Faisal Holding’s business divisions, Sheikh Faisal said, with the company’s hospitality segment, led by Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company (ARTIC), delivering a particularly strong performance.

Chairman of Al Faisal Holding [].jpgSheikh Faisal, also, told OBG that ARTIC had acquired three hotels this year: the St Regis Washington DC, the Manhattan at Times Square, New York, and the Aleph in Rome. Two key local projects are also nearing completion. “The Shangri-La Hotel Doha and the Rotana Hotel City Centre are both expected to be operational soon, with other projects moving forward,” Sheikh Faisal told OBG. “We also have a strong pipeline comprising several additional projects that are currently at an early stage of development.” Other initiatives include the $100m phase two redevelopment of the City Centre Mall..

Sheikh Faisal remains upbeat about the impact on local businesses of low oil prices, although he sees the national drive to broaden Qatar’s economic base as timely, given the global challenges facing oil-producing countries. “Qatar has not been much affected by the drop in oil prices and the economy has continued to grow as expected,” he said. “The government is nevertheless keen to continue diversifying revenue streams as the economy grows, and the private sector is a major component of that process. So, in the years to come, I’m positive that the performance of the private sector will have a bigger influence on the economy’s overall performance.”

The business leader is keen to see more local firms follow in the footsteps of Aamal Company and list on the Qatar Stock Exchange, particularly family outfits. Listing not only supports Qatar’s development, but will also guarantee the future of family businesses by encouraging corporate governance, he explained, ensuring the continuation of locally-grown businesses from one generation to the next. He regards family firms as a “key component of a healthy economy that complements the public sector”, adding that the valuable role they play has been recognised at the highest level.

“Our government has undertaken several initiatives in recent years aimed at supporting and strengthening the role of private businesses,” he said. “I would call on all business leaders in Qatar to utilise the variety of opportunities arising from the diversification of the economy and to take advantage of the country’s healthy investment environment.” Sheikh Faisal was interviewed by OBG as part of the research for The Report: Qatar 2016. OBG’s report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders. It will be available in print or online.