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Introduction

The year 2021 was filled with a unique set of challenges as the global economy set out to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a taxing economic backdrop, QFC marked another successful year, expanding its growth portfolio and navigating the unprecedented conditions with commendable resilience and agility. In effect, QFC consolidated its unmatched role as one of the leading financial centres in the region.

With a focus on maximising opportunities for local and international organisations, QFC facilitated the integration of 281 new firms onto its platform in 2021, raising the number of QFC-registered firms to 1,283 by year-end and thereby exceeding its target of 1,000 companies by 2022.

Driven by Qatar National Vision 2030’s prescription on economic diversification, QFC helped set up operations for several home-grown companies as well as international firms hailing from over 60 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, India, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and working across a spectrum of fields within QFC-focus clusters: digital, sports, media, and financial services.

QFC maintained its commitment to digital transformation in 2021. Recognising the pivotal role of digitisation in withstanding the adverse effects of the global health crisis, QFC adopted innovative technologies to drive business continuity and enhance value for stakeholders.

With its uncompromising approach towards the development of Qatar’s thriving business ecosystem, QFC ratified as many as 20 Memoranda of Understanding with leading local and global organisations in 2021.Six of these agreements were inked with top-tier Russian firms during the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2021). QFC also established new collaborations with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Rwanda Finance, and Malaysia’s Labuan International Business and Financial Centre.

QFC routinely helps prominent international entities navigate Qatar’s diverse economic landscape. Over the last year, QFC opened its doors to representative offices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey’s Finance and Investment section, and the French multinational bank Société Générale. QFC also welcomed the establishment of Qatar’s Ministry of Justice Real Estate and Authentication office within its facilities.

QFC moved into 2022 with strong growth momentum, stimulated by Qatar’s encouraging economic outlook and expanding business activity in light of the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The country’s increasingly strong global network, competitive cost advantages, focus on innovation, and high-profile investments continue to cement its position as one of the MENA region’s most dynamic business destinations.

Chairman Foreword

The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) has concluded yet another year of record growth, owed to our dedication to Qatar’s economic diversification strategy as much as our aim to strengthen our role as a key gateway for global investors.

The growing number of firms registering under the QFC umbrella across key economic sectors represents one of the most demonstrable impacts of QFC’s contribution to Qatar’s financial ecosystem. This positive development was complemented by QFC’s renewed focus on mutually-beneficial partnerships with prominent international firms. We worked to fortify Qatar’s strategic economic ties with global partners by spearheading opportunities for dialogue, engagement, and joint ventures.

I congratulate everyone at QFC on their significant accomplishments in 2021 under the leadership of Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, our Chief Executive Officer. I am certain that our exceptional success in mitigating the profound impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with QFC’s unshakeable drive to expand economic activity in Qatar, will move us closer towards a truly inclusive, resilient and sustainable economy.

H.E. Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Acting Minister of Finance, and QFC Chairman

CEO Foreword

2021 was a phenomenal year. Despite the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also learnt about the power of undiscouraged determination in overcoming extraordinary circumstances.

Three factors were key in pushing Qatar’s post-pandemic economic recovery forward: the guidance of our wise leadership, the business environment’s ability to evolve, and our community’s readiness to acclimatise to a new way of life. Together, these elements have spurred the development of a more sustainable and inclusive economy.

On this encouraging note, I take immense pride in sharing QFC’s 2021 Annual Review with you, offering a window into our growth journey over the past year.

We entered 2021 with a moderately strong positive outlook. Yet, accelerated expansion of business activity following the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, coupled with new partnerships and collaborations with local and global stakeholders across key industries, helped us mark another year of record growth and tremendous success.

We simplified our incorporation procedures and enhanced our services, attracting a total of 136 global firms to our platform in the first half of the year alone. This number more than doubled with 281 firms joining QFC by year-end, effectively expanding our network of QFC-registered companies to 1,283 and allowing us to meet our target of 1,000 firms by 2022 well in advance.

Building on the indispensable role of meaningful collaborations, QFC joined forces with prominent entities across diverse business sectors in India, Malaysia, Turkey, Russia, Rwanda, and Qatar.

A key highlight of 2021 was our active participation in more than 70 local and international events, including the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPEIF 2021) which witnessed the signing of several agreements with leading organisations in Russia’s investment, innovation and technology fields.

Guided by our aim to attract investors to Qatar, we organised over 50 virtual, hybrid and in-person events in 2021, bringing together business leaders and innovators from across the globe to explore the country’s business opportunities while furthering a culture of knowledge-exchange.

Through a variety of agreements, we were able to strengthen our connections with national industry leaders such as Qatar Central Securities Depository, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, Qatar Credit Bureau, Qatar Museums, Ooredoo Qatar, Qatar Development Bank, and Qatar Research and Development Institute. By joining hands with prominent partners, we can continue to build a more robust business environment.

With our growth momentum – spurred by our collective commitment to Qatar’s economic development and diversification – I am convinced we will scale new heights of success in 2022 and beyond.

Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida

Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Financial Centre

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Business Facilitation Benefits

QFC offers a world-class business platform with its own legal, regulatory and tax environment and a wide range of benefits and services to companies that wish to establish operations in Qatar.

Governed by four independent bodies working together in harmony – the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority, Qatar International Court, and QFC Regulatory Tribunal, QFC is a business-friendly ecosystem that aligns with international best practice. It provides companies with optimal operational, regulatory and judicial support.

Two independent offices also extend assistance across different areas of business to QFC clients. Client Affairs supports firms with accessing all essential information on taxation, compliance, company registration, and employment standards, while the Employment Standards Office, which administers and enforces the QFC Employment Regulations, is dedicated to preventing and resolving disputes to create and maintain sound, balanced and constructive employment relations as the basis of any successful and vibrant business.

To give its firms a competitive advantage, QFC also offers up to 100 percent foreign ownership, 100 percent repatriation of profits, 10 percent corporate tax on locally-sourced profits, and an extensive double taxation treaty network with over 80 countries.

Strategic Vision 2022

In 2022, QFC aims to attract $25 billion of foreign direct investment and to reach its target of 10,000 jobs by bringing in businesses in key sectors relevant to the Qatari market and growth plan, including sports, digital innovation and financial services.

QFC is looking to expand Qatar’s growing digital and fintech sectors, capitalising on the country’s unsaturated market and projected $9 billion worth of ICT spending by 2024. It will push the development of Islamic Finance, giving special attention to green and ESG Sukuk. To help streamline and stabilise this sector, a QFC initiative is introducing the Sustainable Sukuk and Bonds Framework, which ensures that these financial instruments meet their objectives.

QFC also intends to accelerate the local REITs market and has launched initiatives toward this goal with the establishment of the Ministry of Justice Real Estate Authentication and Registration office at the QFC to allow investors easy access to key services.

Another priority for QFC is to encourage the launch of open-trade finance platforms in Qatar, which would allow operators to take advantage of the country’s transport and logistics links and its growing status as an international trading hub.

Internally, QFC will continue to innovate and leverage emerging technologies to meet prevailing market demands, with the aim of offering the best service for its firms and staying on top of the competition.

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Key highlights

Reached its objective to register 1,000 firms by 2022 – a year ahead of its target date with close to 1,300 companies licensed on its platform by end of 2021.

Amended its Data Protection Regulations and Rules to align with international standards, earning a regulatory status for the QFC Data Protection Office. The Office ensures that the rights and interests of QFC Data Subjects are protected through education, guidance, advice, monitoring, and enforcement.

Opened the Ministry of Justice Real Estate Registration and Authentication office at QFC, offering timely and easily-accessible services to investors registered at the QFC.

Opened the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey’s Finance and Investment Office at QFC. The office will help spread and strengthen the economic, business, and investment relations between Qatar and Turkey, improving regional collaboration through QFC’s world-class business infrastructure.

Welcomed aboard NEBIX LLC to create the region’s first trade finance marketplace in Qatar. NEBIX joins QFC’s comprehensive suite of FinTech companies to help advance Qatar’s position as a rising regional and global fintech and trade finance hub.

Published the Qatar Fintech Report 2021 in collaboration with Refinitiv. The report reveals the rapid and steady growth in global FinTech investments, highlighting an exponential increase from just under US$ 1 billion in 2008 to an estimated US$34.5 billion by the end of 2019

Joined the Asian Financial Cooperation Association (AFCA), a non-governmental and non-profit international organisation devoted to building an exchange and cooperation platform for Asian financial institutions, while strengthening exchange among regional financial institutions and financial resource integration.

Digital Transformation

As a customer-centric financial and business hub, QFC recognises digital transformation as a foundational change to provide continued value to its stakeholders and to building a more sustainable and inclusive economy. QFC has leveraged technology to create efficient and safe business processes, lower costs, elevate customer experiences, increase productivity, and ensure ease of doing business across sectors.

During the early periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, when movement restrictions were at their most stringent, digitalisation proved instrumental for QFC to continue business activities and provide seamless services to its firms. To maintain stakeholder engagement, QFC moved events to virtual platforms and adopted data protection technologies, all while operating under a remote work system. QFC’s digitalised registration and incorporation processes enabled business registrations to continue without the need for face-to-face meetings.

Digital transformation has improved many aspects of QFC’s business operations. Forums for cross-functional interactions, decision-making, and flexible digital learning platforms that support continued employee development were instrumental in raising operational efficiency. Likewise, software solutions, like policy management solution Staff Wiki, and QFCA KPIs dashboards, which give QFC clients and staff easy access to information, aided seamless operations.

QFC’s paperless initiatives, such as the use of an electronic signature and letter correspondence system, as well as its automated vendor registration and tendering process and enhanced client eServices portal, saved QFC and its clients time and resources, helping to reduce their overall carbon footprint.

QFC’s ongoing digital transformation elevates its service and performance, enabling the Centre to make a more impactful contribution to Qatar’s business ecosystem and sustainable economy.

Incorporation of Firms

In 2019, QFC set an ambitious goal to register 1,000 firms by 2022. After welcoming 281 more firms in 2021, QFC has not only hit this objective but also exceeded its target a year ahead of its marked date with 1,283 firms operating on its platform. With close to 1,300 companies registered on its platform, QFC’s contribution to Qatar’s economic growth and diversification is considerable, helping the country move closer to its realisation of Qatar National Vision 2030

The newly registered firms come from over 60 countries, with a majority coming from India, Lebanon, Jordan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Turkey, and Qatar. The new firms represent several key sectors, including QFC’s focus clusters – digital, sports, media, and financial services.

Most considerable growth was recorded in the digital sector with 196 new firms in 2021, an increase of over 100 percent compared to the previous year. Financial services came in second with 150 new firms on the platform.

This significant increase reflects QFC’s efforts to stimulate market activities, boosted by the much-anticipated FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM.

Partnerships

Memoranda of Understandings (MoU)

QFC has signed 20 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and 1 letter of intent with key entities in Qatar and in other leading economies worldwide to create new investment and partnership gateways for local and global companies to tap into these markets.

Memoranda of Understanding – Local Entities

  1. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Central Securities Depository

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar Central Securities Depository (QCSD) to provide depository and associated services in the State of Qatar. The MoU sets forth the framework of cooperation between the QFC and QCSD, which aims to stimulate, attract, and bolster local and foreign investments. Under the conditions of the MoU, the two parties will be joining efforts to educate, direct, encourage, and motivate local and foreign investors to invest in securities and strengthen their confidence in the Qatari economy.


  2. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Museums

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar Museums to develop and promote ‘M7,’ an innovation and start-up hub dedicated to empowering designers to explore, collaborate, and grow into successful entrepreneurs.

    Read more


  3. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre Authority and HEC Paris in Qatar

    QFCA entered into a corporate partnership with HEC Paris in Qatar to create leaders, who drive performance and support the creation of a vibrant and efficient business ecosystem in Qatar. Under the MoU, HEC Paris in Qatar will share its expertise and initiate activities to support QFCA’s development strategy, including master classes, roundtable discussions, webinars, and leadership development initiatives.

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  4. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and The Ministry of Labour

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) to train and employ candidates from the national forces to enter the job market. The MoU facilitates work affair services, meeting the requirements of the QFCA. Under the agreement, MoL will provide national workforce data of male and female candidates to be employed at companies licensed by the QFC.


  5. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Credit Bureau

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Qatar Credit Bureau to facilitate the query process and companies’ access to services and credit facilities provided by banks operating in Qatar. Under the MoU, QFC will automatically provide Qatar Credit Bureau with data of companies registered on its platform.


  6. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Ooredoo

    QFC signed a partnership Ooredoo to leverage joint experiences, expertise, and capabilities to further extend and develop collaboration between the two entities. The partnership incorporates several initiatives planned for the coming years, with a clear focus on digital innovation, smart cities, FinTech, cybersecurity API, cloud solutions, blockchain, payment gateways, and software and algorithm development.


  7. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to develop and promote Challenge 22, an innovation programme that supports startups, innovators, and entrepreneurs with ideas that can facilitate the successful delivery of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.


  8. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Media City

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Media City to facilitate the registration of media firms in Qatar and to support their growth. The agreement enables the QFC and Media City to work together to establish a QFC registration presence at Media City’s premises, providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ registration service to Media City entities.


  9. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and the Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council

    QFC signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council allowing the creation of opportunities for international and local companies with interest to establish an R&D division in Qatar. The MoU entails jointly aiding new and existing QFC firms in terms of aftercare support and access to QRDI incentives and co-organising activities and seminars and webinars to promote the collaboration referred to in this MOU and the benefits each Party offers.


  10. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar Development Bank (QDB)

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with and Qatar Development Bank (QDB) t to collaborate on projects that focus on meeting national priorities. The QFC shall support QDB in the evaluation of proposals on (i) investment capabilities building, (ii) venture capital industry expansion, (iii) financial technology (Fintech) sector development. The QDB shall refer individual investors to the QFC to explore ways in which they can benefit from the QFC's advantages for establishing investment and venture capital structures such as SPCs, Hold Co.s, Investment Clubs or applicable legal structure. The QFC shall evaluate the possibility of providing assistance to new QFC investment clubs and other legal structures in terms of access to QFC incorporation incentives whenever applicable and approved by QFCA board. The QFC shall introduce relevant QFC firms to QDB to access its accelerators, incubation and/or similar grant programs. The QDB to explore opportunities to invest in suitable QFC companies.

 

Memoranda of Understanding – International Entities

  1. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to create more opportunities for accountants, promote entrepreneurship, and facilitate the setup of Indian firms in Qatar through collaborative initiatives. Under this partnership, both organisations will extend support to Indian businesses looking to set up in Qatar and explore available opportunities through joint roundtables, networking events, and other exchange programmes.

    Read more

  2. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Labuan IBFC Inc

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Labuan IBFC Inc to develop long-term cooperation and boost economic and financial ties between the two financial centres. Under the structure of the agreement, QFC and Labuan IBFC will explore a mutually beneficial framework to allow relevant financial institutions in Qatar to operate in Labuan IBFC and vice versa. Following this MoU, Labuan IBFC and QFC organised a roundtable discussion on ‘Growth through Partnership and Opportunities in Islamic Finance and Fintech’.

    Read more

  3. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Rwanda Finance Limited

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rwanda Finance Limited (RFL) to facilitate initiatives that will promote the international development of both QFC and Kigali International Financial Centre. Under the MoU, both parties will promote capacity-building and skills development through training programmes, knowledge-transfer, and the promotion of continuous cultural improvement within the financial landscape.

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  4. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and The Moscow Innovative Cluster Fund (MICF)

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Internet Initiatives Development Fund to collaborate in order to facilitate the commercialization of advanced technology projects, increase business opportunities and market investor expansion in Qatar and the Middle East region for Moscow-based technology companies, and increase business opportunities in Russia for Qatar-based companies based on the network of the QFC in Qatar and based on the https://i.moscow/platform in Russia


  5. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF)

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Internet Initiatives Development Fund to create a roadmap to collaborate on certain initiatives including, but not limited to, development of criteria and the selection of 1-2 digital technology startups with a ready made product and necessary resources ("Test Startup"), which allows the parties to check the product 'market fit' in Qatar; preparation of detailed project plan which includes Test Startup setup on Qatar, incl. application assessment and approval, certificate and scope of license, starting operations in Qatar, product or service localization, content development, application adaptation, terms and conditions for users; expansion of funnel of projects from Russia; development, promotion (locally and internationally) of respective mandates with emphasis on on all QFCA's target sectors; evaluation of proposals; information exchange on innovation trends; QFCA shall endeavor to license companies referred by IIDF; and promote each other’s events and programs and welcome start-ups and company delegations to their respective jurisdictions.


  6. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Qatar-Russia Investment and Trade Advisory (QRITA)

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar-Russia Investment and Trade Advisory to collaborate on certain initiatives including, but not limited to: development, promotion (locally and internationally) of their respective mandates with an emphasis on all QFCA’s target sectors (digital, technology, sustainable finance, financial services and professional business services) in the State of Qatar; identify and execute on suitable investment and trade opportunities; evaluation of proposals involving joint initiatives or projects relating to QFCA's target sectors and their promotion and establishment, incl. related products and services; promote the programs and activities of each party within scheduled events and welcome start ups and company delegations; QFCA shall endeavor to license companies referred by QRITA; QFCA shall, where applicable, render support to companies referred by QRITA; propose relevant experts as advisors to boards, steering committees or working groups; and support each others marketing tasks to engage best efforts to advertise, market, promote and demonstrate the offered services.


  7. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and All Russia Public Organization 'Business Russia'

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with All Russia Public Organization 'Business Russia' taking into consideration mutual interests and endeavors of the business communities in the State of Qatar and the Russia Federation to deepen contacts between the business structures of the two countries, the Parties wish to strengthen business links and relationships between both countries, identify new areas of commercial cooperation and further promote trade, business and technical cooperation by offering practical information and support to their members and associates within the scope of their terms of reference and in accordance with the laws of each country and the international treaties that each country is party to.


  8. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and The Roscongress Foundation

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Roscongress Foundation to collaborate in order to arrange effective communications between expert communities and business and political circles in the Russian Federation and the State of Qatar such as development of shared communications platforms; dialogue in the investment and finance sector, tourism and cultural cooperation; joint congresses and exhibitions on energy, economic and social issues; exchanging information; carrying out promotions during joint events; supporting each other in inviting potential partners to key events, etc.


  9. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and QR Sports

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with QR Sports to collaborate on certain initiatives to promote common interests including, but not limited to,(a) undertake to be key partners in the development, local and international promotion and facilitation of the activities related to the sport sector of QFCA through the provision of services that fall under each Party's mandate; (b) promote, where relevant and appropriate, the programs and activities of the other Party within their scheduled events/programs and also welcome start-ups and company delegations to their respective jurisdictions; (c) QFCA shall endeavour to license companies referred to it by QR Sports provided such companies' activities fall under the QFC permitted activities; (d) QFCA shall, where applicable, render support to the companies referred by QR Sports through providing advices and/or consultancy services regarding the Qatari ecosystem associated with QFCA's sectors of interest and/or introduce to relevant entities in Qatar which may be interested in partnering with such companies; and (e) propose, where suitable and relevant, experts as advisors to boards, steering committees or working groups set up by either Party in the fulfilment of their joint initiatives


  10. MoU between Qatar Financial Centre and Toronto Finance International (TFI)

    QFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toronto Finance International (TFI) to collaborate on certain initiatives including, but not limited to: (a) Development, promotion (locally and internationally) of their respective mandates with an emphasis on all QFCA’s target sectors (digital, technology, sustainable finance, financial services, and professional business services) in the State of Qatar through the provision of services that fall under each Party’s mandate; (b) TFI shall, where applicable, support QFCA in the evaluation of proposals involving joint initiatives or projects relating to the QFCA’s target sectors, and their promotion and establishment including in respect of QFC-related product and service activities and ancillary services; (c) Exchanging information on innovation trends in each Party’s products and services and also exchange information related to legislation and regulations in their respective jurisdictions; (d) Promote, where relevant and appropriate, the programs and activities of the other Party within their scheduled events and programs and also welcome start-ups and company delegations to their respective jurisdictions; (e) QFCA shall endeavour to license companies referred to it by TFI provided such companies’ activities are aligned with and fall under the activities permitted to be carried out in or from the QFC; and (f) Propose, where suitable and relevant, experts as advisors to boards, steering committees or working groups set up by either Party in the fulfilment of their joint initiatives.


  11. Letter of Intent between Qatar Financial Centre and The Skolkovo Foundation

    QFC signed a Letter of Intent with The Skolkovo Foundation to pursue certain areas of mutual collaboration and initiatives including, but not limited to, promote respective mandates with emphasis on mutual target sectors (digital, technology, sustainable finance, financial services); QFCA to use available and feasible measures to support Skolkovo resident start-ups operating with the scope of QFC's permitted activities and willing to expand in the Qatari and Gulf regional marker; promote where relevant each other's events and programs and welcome appropriate start-ups and company delegations in respective ecosystems; QFCA intends to endeavour to license start-ups referred to it by the Skolkovo Foundation; and propose experts and representatives to participate as speakers, mentors, jury panellists or specialists to events for the fulfilment of their joint initiatives or initiatives of interest

Strengthening Qatar’s Bilateral Relations

Ambassador Meetings

  • Excellency Md. Jashim Uddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the State of Qatar - January
  • His Excellency Dr. Claudius Fischbach, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the State of Qatar - February
  • His Excellency Nikoloz Revazishvili, Ambassador of Georgia to the State of Qatar in 2018 – March
  • His Excellency Kazuo Sunaga, Ambassador of Japan to the State of Qatar - April
  • His Excellency Lee Joon-Ho, Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea to the State of Qatar – September
  • His Excellency M. Mafaz Mohideen, Ambassador of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the State of Qatar – September

Delegations

    • Swiss Finance Delegation
    • Delegation from the Government of the Republic of Maldives
    • Irish Trade Delegation headed by Robert Troy, Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, and H.E. Aidan Cronin, Ambassador of Ireland to UAE, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Qatar
    • Turkish Delegation headed by His Excellency Dr. Sahap Kavcioglu, Governor of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey
    • Mexican Business Delegation
    • Delegation from the Pacific Council on International Policy
    • World Affairs Council Student Delegation
    • German Press Delegation Visit

Key International Events and Engagements

QFC_Hosts_Networking_Event_To_Introduce_New_Firms_To_Qatar’s_Business_Community

QFC Meets

This in-person business networking event was organised to welcome firms licensed on the QFC platform during the fourth quarter of 2021 and to create an opportunity for them to engage with key members of Qatar's business community.  

Emerging Opportunities in Digital: Qatar & Russia

Organised in collaboration with the Qatari-Russian Center for Cooperation, this webinar introduced Qatar’s digital market, opportunities, and some of the advanced technologies it has adopted.

Emerging Digital Opportunities: Qatar - Kyrgyz Republic

This webinar discussed the latest developments in Qatar’s digital ecosystem and explored opportunities for Kyrgz investors and firms to join the country’s digital sector. 

Tech Talk x Decentralised Finance: Supporting SMEs Access to Credit in Qatar

This Tech Talk tackled various factors that hinder SME access to credit from traditional financial institutions and how decentralised finance addresses these challenges. It also touched on the conditions necessary for a decentralised platform to become a viable alternative to traditional financial services in Qatar.

Tech Talk X Digital Workforce of the Future

This event offered insights into the latest developments in the digital workforce landscape in Qatar and globally, discussing implications for the local labour market. 

Fast Forward: Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Recovery

This virtual event discussed recovery strategies during and post-COVID-19, covering Qatar’s economic performance during the global crisis and how firms can capitalise on opportunities in the local market.

Fast Forward: Sustainable Finance and Green Economy

In this webinar, Nibras Hadi, Vice President of Sustainable Banking Middle East & Africa at Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, discussed how sustainability works from a financial perspective and how it will impact Qatar’s future economy.

Structural Factors Driving Positive Change in the Gulf

This webinar looked into the challenges and opportunities for a transition to a post-oil future, focusing on structural reforms to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability and fair inter-generational wealth transfers.

Pillar 2 and QFC Corporate Solutions – Bring your SPCs and Hold Cos Back Home

In this webinar, leading tax experts tackled the challenges ushered in by the endorsement of a global minimum tax of (at least) 15%, its impact on decision-making, and how the QFC can help provide an opportunity to bring some of the structures back home. 

Real Estate Ownership in the QFC

This event discussed the recently enacted QFC Real Estate Ownership Regulations, which provide a legal framework for the ownership of real estate by QFC entities in line with the real estate ownership laws in the State of Qatar.

Key International Events and Engagements

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2021

QFC joined over 50 leading Qatari public and private sector entities as part of the State of Qatar’s delegation as a Guest Country in the 24th edition of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Represented by a high-level delegation, QFC signed six Memorandums of Understanding and one Letter of Intent with leading organisations from Russia’s investment, technology, and innovation ecosystem, aimed at promoting investment in Qatar’s wider business environment.

Qatar Economic Forum (QEF)

QFC joined an international delegation of more than 200 heads of state, international investors, chief executives, and influential voices across culture, sports, and entertainment, at the inaugural instalment of the Qatar Economic Forum. During the event, Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO of QFC, participated in a roundtable discussion on “Pandemic Investment Resilience: Traditional versus Emerging Markets”. Before the event, the CEO filmed a video with Bloomberg, highlighting how Qatar’s business community has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Conference on Islamic Finance (ICIF)

QFC participated in the International Conference of Islamic Finance (ICIF) 2021 entitled “Sustainability & the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Implications for Islamic Finance and Economy in Post Pandemic Era”. The third edition of the conference explored the barriers and opportunities for sustainable economic development under the "new normal" in the context of Islamic finance and economy. Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer of QFC, gave the keynote address at the event’s opening ceremony.

Singapore Week of Innovation & Technology (SWITCH)

SWITCH is a global platform for collaboration that encourages meaningful exchange across different fields. During the event, QFC delivered a session on Qatar’s digital landscape, presenting the country as the ideal springboard into the MENA region.

Bloomberg Events

Bloomberg 5th Invest Global

QFC sponsored an editorial session titled, ‘What’s Next for Global Wealth & Investing’, held as part of the larger Invest Global summit. Organised by Bloomberg, the session focused on global wealth, latest investor trends, key investment strategies and tactics that help achieve market-beating growth and long-term wealth security. As part of the event, Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO, QFC, delivered the opening remarks, as well as other high-level speakers who joined the discussion: Nuno Matos, Chief Executive, Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC; Mark Delaney, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Investment Officer, Australian Super and Omar Aguilar, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer, Schwab Asset Management.

Bloomberg Financial Innovation Summit

In another collaboration with Bloomberg, QFC sponsored the virtual event, ‘Bloomberg Financial Innovation Summit’, which examined the next generation of fintech and what it means for institutions, clients and society. The virtual event convened the most innovative minds in financial innovation, banking, finance, and regulation and focused on ESG, Stablecoins, Bitcoins, financial inclusion, decentralised finance and more.

Thought Leadership

QFC has utilised the power of media and social media platforms to share insights and valuable perspectives on pertinent economic and industry issues with the business community. This year’s thought leadership articles by QFC’s industry experts covered various topics. Some of the titles include:

Increased collaboration among international financial centres continues to strengthen economic recovery

Increased collaboration among international financial centres continues to strengthen economic recovery by Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO, QFC, and Dr Jochen Biedermann, Managing Director, World Alliance of International Financial Centers

Digital transformation in Qatar: a top priority for continued business resilience

Digital transformation in Qatar: a top priority for continued business resilience by Abdulla Mohamed Alhajri, Chief Operating Officer, QFC

Engagement, performance and productivity, the big post-COVID questions

Engagement, performance and productivity, the big post-COVID questions by Luigia Ingianni, Commissioner of the Employment Standards Office, QFC

Gulf Competition Ramps Up: Qatar’s Venture More in Tune with Global Greening Trends

Gulf Competition Ramps Up: Qatar’s Venture More in Tune with Global Greening Trends by Thaddeus Malesa, Senior Advisor for Economics and Research, QFC Authority

The Qatar Financial Centre – A Compelling Destination for Aircraft Leasing Companies

The Qatar Financial Centre – A Compelling Destination for Aircraft Leasing Companies by Thaddeus Malesa, Senior Advisor for Economics and Research, QFC Authority

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  • QFC Real Estate Ownership Regulations 2021

These regulations, drafted by the QFC, introduce a legal framework for real estate ownership in Qatar by QFC entities in line with the State’s ownership law. The new regulations pave the way for foreign nationals to invest in the country’s real estate market while fully utilising QFC’s benefits.

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Corporate Social Responsibility

QFC's social investment programme orbits three focus areas - Financial Literacy & Youth Empowerment, Sustainability and Social Engagement. In 2021, QFC continued to mobilise its CSR programme to create a positive impact, focusing on financial literacy.  

 

  • COVID-19 Donation - Health Protection Kits

Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is a mammoth task that needs more than the efforts of governments. To complement the measures being taken by Qatar and the business community in containing this public health crisis, QFC partnered with Qatar Charity to distribute personal protection kits to workers in the Industrial Area. These kits contained supplies such as face masks, hand sanitisers and hygiene products, which help protect the users from spreading and contracting the virus. By donating personal health protection kits to workers, QFC has reinforced the preventive measures implemented by Qatar to curb the spread of COVID-19.

 

  • Injaz Summer Camp

In line with the Youth Empowerment and Social Engagement pillars of QFC’s CSR programme, the summer camp saw the participation of more than 1,000 students and offered youth aged 15 to 24 years old the opportunity to participate in online workshops focusing on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and work-readiness skills.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing guidelines, the programmes were held online via Zoom, delivered by expert volunteers and INJAZ staff. Key programmes included the ‘Innovation Camp’, where students worked in teams to address a business challenge judged by a panel of professionals from QFC and the Ministry of Education; ‘Maharat Min Google’, a programme developed and sponsored by Google that focused on digital marketing tools and online strategies; and two ‘Head Start’ programmes tailored to CV writing and job interview skills. The participants received a “Certificate of Participation” from Junior Achievement Worldwide/INJAZ Qatar.

Employment Standards Office (ESO)

Legislation

  • Updated the Occupational Safety and Health section of the QFC Employment Regulations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new risks to the employees’ health
  • Published the Interpretations & Guidance on Discipline and Grievance in the Workplace
  • Drafted a commentary on the QFC Employment Regulations to facilitate compliance

 

Employment and Labour Standards Administration (ELSA)

  • Completed assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market, which analyses the potential need for legislative tools to maintain labour market stability
  • Carried out regular thematic reviews, monitoring activities and labour inspections to monitor the level of compliance with the QFC employment standards among the QFC community
  • Provided ongoing advisory services, consultancies, and procedural guidance to foster awareness on the employment requirements and ensure compliance
  • Implemented a real-time collection and analysis of labour market data for the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which has been crucial to monitor the evolution of the labour market and assess imbalances and gaps

 

Dispute Resolution

ESO dealt with 30 complaints in 2021, with only four cases requiring adjudication and the others resolved through conciliation. This datum is significant, as it reveals that 87 per cent of complaints were resolved without the need of referring them to the Court, significantly reducing the Court’s burden as well as costs for the QFC.


Initiatives

The ESO is committed to contributing to the local and international community and regularly conducts a series of initiatives with key stakeholders to elevate labour standards and promote the QFC globally. Among the most significant initiatives:

Through its affiliation to GHAEA, the ESO Commissioner became a member of the WHO World of Work Dialogue which fosters private and public cooperation on the health and safety of people in the workplace.

The Commissioner also conducted workshops and seminars on alternative dispute resolution methods, negotiation techniques, discrimination in the workplace, and gender and leadership topics for various universities, including Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, University of Parma, European University of Rome, and others.

The ESO also organised masterclasses on leadership development in cooperation with HEC Paris and was appointed by the International Labour Organisation training centre to discuss the future of work in the ILO Academy on gender, inclusion, and the future of work. It discussed on the same topic in a seminar on digital labour platforms, where the Commissioner analysed the evolution of the world of work and the impact of the 4th industrial revolution and artificial intelligence on the future world of work.

In addition, the ESO Commissioner published articles on organisational behaviours and management of the workforce in the post pandemic period, conducted a seminar with the London Business School and supported the Career Guidance Stakeholder Platform with the Qatar Career Development Centre.

Financial Sector Office (FSO)

Key Highlights

  • Authorised by Société Générale as first Representative Office in the QFC
  • Launched the QFC sponsored Global Islamic Fintech Survey
  • Formed Islamic Finance Task Force
  • Approval of Representative Office Regime, opening opportunities for a healthy pipeline of interested prospects for 2021
  • Exceptional growth on AUM for regulated firms, representing a 91 per cent growth (as at Q3 2020)
  • Registered 7 firms with Fintech as permitted activity and licensed 15 non-regulated firms and 2 regulated firms
  • Intern Project on Captive Insurance: Identification of Opportunities for Local Captives with Local Players & Presentation of Recommendations to Increase QFC’s Attractiveness for Captives

 

Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

FSO signed MoUs with the following entities:

  • Qatar Credit Bureau
  • Labuan Inc to enhance Asia and MENA Financial Sector ties
  • Internet Initiatives Development Fund (Russia)
  • QCSD signing ceremony
  • Rwanda Finance Limited

Drafted the MOU with key organisations including:

  • Qatar Credit Bureau
  • Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC)
  • International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA)

 

Thought Leadership

  • Paper on QFC’s strong representation of women in its workforce and associated positive impacts
  • Paper on North Field Expansion’s Economic Implications for Qatar published on LinkedIn and QFC website
  • An article on QFC’s growing assets under management carrying potential to develop Qatar as a global financial centre
  • Co-authored article on the “Ingredients of a Successful Islamic FinTech Ecosystem in Qatar” included in the Global Islamic FinTech Report 2021
  • Article on Qatar’s Venture More in Tune with Global Greening Trends, published on LinkedIn
  • Paper on the Promise of Islamic FinTech in Islamic Finance: Driving Growth, part of the Refinitiv Report 2021
  • Article on the Strong Potential for a Trade Finance Platform out of Qatar, published on the QFC website and LinkedIn

 

Reports

  • Qatari FinTech Landscape & Commercial Opportunities 2021
  • QFC Fast Forward Pulse 2021 Q1

Business Development

Key Highlights

  • Business Development continued to attract companies that generate high FTEs and tax revenues
  • For the third consecutive year, profits from non-regulated firms have increased by 300% since 2017
  • Exceeded its 2022 target by 394 firms, significantly contributing to the overall QFC registered firms which reached 1,200+ (net) and made great progress in increasing the number of employees in 2021 by 1,509
  • Continued to position QFC as the first-choice incorporation platform for local Qatari strategic entities. QIA, Barzan Holding and Qatar Energy confirmed their trust in the QFC by incorporating more than 25 companies in 2021
  • Succeeded to attract other major Q-companies. Among them are beIN Media Group, Katara Studios and Shaqab Investments
  • Maintained close relations with Oil and Gas Engineering companies which continue to do business via the QFC platform.

 

Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

BD signed MoUs with the following entities:

  • Qatar Research Development and Innovation Council
  • Ooredoo
  • Qatar Development Bank
  • Qatar Museums
  • Qatar-Russia Sports
  • Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
  • Qatar Russia Investment and Trade Advisory
  • Toronto Finance International
  • A Letter of Intent with the Skolkovo Foundation

 

Initiatives

Business Development has taken part in many outreach activities such as hosting events, hosting delegations and ambassadors, accepting speaking engagements, initiating stakeholder engagements and arranging strategic partnership workshops to ensure that QFC remains at the forefront.

Sports

BD’s sports initiative helps reaffirm the QFC as an international hub for sports services and lays the foundations in the growing and highly lucrative sports industry that ultimately supports the achievement of the QFC’s 5-year strategy. The initiative focuses on a number of areas that are considered key foundation stages toward setting the QFC apart as an international hub for sports.

New permitted activities were approved by the QFCA Board in December 2020 to accommodate and license more companies in sports services. Overall, a total of 35 firms have been licensed since the initiative started.

Digital

The digital initiative helps position the QFC as an ‘Incorporation Hub for Digital Service Companies’ and lays the foundations in the growing and highly lucrative digital services industry to ultimately support the achievement of QFC’s 5-year strategy. The initiative focuses on a number of areas that are considered key foundation stages toward setting the QFC apart as an incorporation hub for digital service companies. New permitted activities were approved by the QFCA Board in December 2020 to accommodate and license more companies in digital services. Overall, a total of 204 firms have been licensed since the initiative started.

Legal

Key Highlights of 2021

  • Successful Mediation between QFCA and Neilson
  • Successful completion of Compliance and Training awareness sessions held organisation wide (inclusive of QFCA, QFBA, IPA and QICDRC)
  • Various enhancements to QFC legislation including the enactment of Data Protection Regulations and conducting workshops for QFC clients on the same
  • Successful automation of CRM systems
  • Completion of liquidation of Qatarlyst
  • Completion of renewal of insurance policies for QFCA, QFBA and IPAQ
  • FIFA Law Implementation
  • Legislative enhancements – Service Regulations and Companies Law Reform
  • Successful liquidation of QIS
  • Completion of multi-jurisdictional comparison to develop QFC’s corporate solutions offering
  • Assisting Monitoring and Enforcement with the preparation for the State’s FATF Assessments
  • Successful renewal of law firm panel
  • Successful negotiation of the Northumbria Contract on behalf of the QFBA
  • Opening Ministry of Justice Office in the QFC and the first property registered
  • Assisting the QFCRA on new category of the Professional Investor Fund
  • Introducing monthly updates on the new laws of the State as and when issued in the official gazettes

Legislation

  • Enactment of Data Protection Regulations and Rules
  • Enactment of Real Estate Regulations
  • Enactment of proposed Amendments to Trust Regulations, Special Companies Regulation and Rules, Insolvency Regulations, QFCA Regulations and Rules in respect to Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO’s)
  • Completion of public consultation on Nationality of Entities (QFC Authority Regulations)
  • Completion of public consultation on Service Regulations
  • Completion of public consultation of Prohibition of Directors (Rule 13.3 of QFCA Rules)
  • Approval of further amendments to QFCA Rules (AML Law)

Compliance

  • Completion of Legal Policies and Procedures
  • Completion and roll out of QFCA policies and procedures:

- QFCA Code of Conduct
- Anti-Bullying and Harassment
- Anti-Bribery and Corruption
- Gifts and Hospitality
- Conflict of Interest

  • Completion of Training and Awareness Sessions of the QFCA Policies and Procedures to the QFCA, IPA, QFBA and QICDRC
  • Drafting the Compliance Program for the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA)
  • Automating Conflict of Interest process
  • Drafting policies related to Data Governance Framework
  •  

Litigation

  • Advising Human Capital on internal investigations
  • Developed and implemented a debt recovery process
  • Successful mediation cases
  • Assisting on proceedings on multiple claims on behalf of M&E, Finance and Tax


Strategic Initiatives

  • Participation in the higher steering committee of the Qatar Economic Forum powered by Bloomberg
  • Provide assistance with the Economic Diversity Survey
  • Provide assistance and advise on the Economic Diversification and Fiscal Stability Committee

Services to the Investment Promotion Agency (IPA)

  • Advice on the IPA Incentive applicants, framework, and process.
  • Advice on MoU’s, contractual agreements, and procurement matters
  • Advice on Project Quantum – establishment of a global banking hub at the QFC
  • Advice and review on the IPA website project
  • Secretarial assistance for the Board and Committee meetings
  • Assistance with the drafting of the compliance program

Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)

Legal signed MoUs with the following entities:

  • Media City
  • Ministry of Labour

Data Protection Office

Key Highlights

The Data Protection Office (DPO) was formed in July 2021. Despite being a new entity, DPO has attained significant accomplishments during the year, including:

  • Submitting the QFC Data Protection Regulations and Rules for public consultation in August.
  • Approval of the Regulations and Rules by the Board and signed in law by the Minister of Commerce and Industry in December, aligning QFC’s Data Protection Regulations with international best practice and establishing the DPO as an Institution of the QFC. The 2021 Regulations and Rules will come into force in June 2022.
  • Appointment of the first Commissioner for Data Protection under the new Regulations.
  • Joining the Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) as an observer and participating in the 2021 GPA conference in October 2021, providing the DPO contact with global data protection regulators.

 

DPO also released newsletters and issued guidelines to enhance the knowledge of QFC firms on specific areas of the Data Protection Regulations, which include:

  • The 2020 thematic review findings
  • Data transfers outside of the QFC
  • The use of consent as a lawful basis
  • The use of surveys

The Tech Circle

The Tech Circle (formerly Fintech Circle) is a co-working space established to build a tech community within the QFC. The Tech Circle supports qualified tech startups by offering them free space. The initiative evolved in 2021 from supporting solely fintech startups to involving a broader range of tech companies. Tech Circle currently hosts over 60 companies and monthly tech talks with topics covering different sectors, featuring expert speakers in the industry.

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