The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), one of the world's leading and fastest growing onshore business and financial centres, ended the year on a high note with an unprecedented growth of 33% in 2019 with close to 200 firms being registered to the platform. The number of firms set up to operate out of the QFC now stands at 816 as of December 2019. Compared to 612 firms at the beginning of the same year, the QFC is well underway in its goal of registering 1,000 firms by 2022.
The expansion of firms on the QFC platform represents a variety of industries, both financial and non-financial services, including Fintech, IT, and tax and investment advisories, hailing from diverse countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Jordan as well as India.
Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, Chief Executive Officer, QFC Authority
The QFC platform has made substantial progress towards its core mandate of attracting FDI to Qatar and promoting economic diversification, as seen by our remarkable international partnerships, global engagement and business growth over the course of the last year.
Al-Jaida added: "With over 800 companies now registered on the platform, we are pleased that our efforts in developing relations with local and international stakeholders and key markets continue to bolster investor confidence in Qatar, shaping our nation as the gateway of choice to the Middle East and beyond."
The QFC kickstarted 2019 with the unveiling of its 2022 strategy, announcing its renewed focus on developing sectors of Qatar's economy that are poised for substantial growth, namely digital, media, sports, and financial services sectors, as well as targeting emerging markets such as Oman, Kuwait, India, Pakistan and Turkey.
In line with this strategic vision, the QFC has taken major strides across financial services and expanded their financial services definition on the platform to extend licensing to FinTech companies. The QFC now has an increasing number of Fintech firms on its platform including Instimatch, Q-Pay, and Goals 101. Additionally, the QFC partnered with B-Hive, a leading European FinTech platform, to develop the financial technology industry in Qatar.
2019 also saw the launch of the Investment Promotion Agency of Qatar, which is registered on the QFC platform and aims to be a single and complete source for investment solutions in Qatar by attracting FDI in all of the country's priority sectors.
The QFC signed 11 landmark MoUs in 2019 with key local and international stakeholders; including a key partnership with the Finance Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey (CBFO) to establish the long-term cooperation between the Istanbul Financial Center and the QFC. The QFC's agreement with CBFO aims to allow financial institutions in Qatar to operate in İstanbul Finance Centre and allow financial institutions in Turkey to operate in the QFC, establishes passporting services for financial institutions, and also connects QFC based entities and Istanbul Finance Centre entities to Islamic financial markets in central Asia and QFC-based commercial entities to Turkish and European markets.
Additional key MoUs include the QFC's agreement with Microsoft, which facilitates strategic cooperation and attracts international digital and IT businesses to Qatar, and an agreement with Bloomberg Media Group which brought the very first Qatar-based television studio to the QFC and further underscored the country's position as a thriving international media hub.
In line with the QFC's core mandate to promote economic diversification and attract foreign direct investment, the QFC organised a series of international roadshows in strategic markets including the United States, Spain, Turkey, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, among others, to highlight the numerous market opportunities in Qatar and benefits of doing business both in Qatar and under the QFC platform. QFC also welcomed various high-profile delegations from around the world including Canada, Mexico, the United States, France, Holland, Turkey, Russia and Japan.
2019 also saw the QFC reaffirm its social and humanitarian commitment, having signed numerous agreements to support United Nations agencies including the Office of the UN Secretary-General's Humanitarian Envoy. This agreement saw the QFC's support for the 'Hope for Gaza' initiative which aimed to mobilise financial resources and support the services provided by UNRWA for Palestinian refugees in Gaza. In December 2019 on the side-lines of the Doha Forum, the QFC also signed an agreement with Dr. Ahmed Al-Meraikhi, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General, which assists with the promotion of humanitarian challenges and increases mobilisation of Qatar's private sector on key global humanitarian issues.
In addition, 2019 marked the year that the QFC join the World Alliance of International Financial Centres, a non-profit organisation established to facilitate strategic cooperation among financial centres. As part of the alliance, the QFC will share its unique business model and expertise as well as impart successful endeavours in diverse financial sectors including Islamic Finance, Fintech, Asset Management and Capital Markets.