Looking towards its staging of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is a hive of infrastructure-building activity as the clock ticks down to this great celebration of football. It’s the place to do business, no doubt about it, and companies from around the world are vying with each other for even a tiny piece of the billion-dollar action.
Some 12 stadiums are required to stage the competition, with nine yet to be built from the ground up. Work on them is expected to begin in two or three year’s time. All of this development is not lost on a competitive commercial banking sector offering a tremendous range of services for both the large and small investor. International banking from HSBC, for example, is a good first step for any company looking to set up in Qatar. With the account comes access to timely local knowledge, not to mention global expertise, which few banks anywhere can match.
It’s variously estimated some $100 billion is to be spent on infrastructure projects leading up to the World Cup. The Doha Metro, which will link stadiums taking part in the competition, will certainly rank as one of the largest at a cost of around $36 billion. But there are others, too, although not necessarily directly linked to the World Cup itself. These include the new $17.5 billion airport for the capital, Doha, due to open next year, and the capital’s new $5.5 billion deep-sea port, costing an estimated $5.5 billion. There are many other projects planned on top including around $20 billion to be spent on the country’s roads.
Qatar’s GDP growth over recent years has been phenomenal, as figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) clearly demonstrate. GDP growth tripled from 2005, rising by around 19% in 2011 alone. This year, GDP is expected to grow by something like 6% or better. Given the state of the worldwide economy, this represents a more than respectable figure. US GDP growth for 2012, by comparison, is expected to be just under half of that figure.
But there are many other reasons why Qatar represents an excellent opportunity for any American or overseas investor. Corporate taxes are low and the administrative compliance burden on businesses is minimal. It’s also a relatively easy country in which to relocate employees.
Here are just some of the reasons why Qatar is such a great place to invest in or to set up a business:
- Low corporate tax rate of 10%
- Zero personal tax for employees
- No foreign exchange controls
- Repatriation of capital and profits
- Foreign ownership allowed in certain circumstances
- Few restrictions involved employing overseas staff
- Excellent air and sea links
- First rate telecommunications infrastructure
- Modern banking offering financial management, online banking and more
- Great schools for expatriate children and fantastic universities
- Excellent hospitals and medical facilities
- Low levels of corruption and crime
Revenue generated through oil once dominated the creation of wealth within Qatar. Not any more. In recent years, diversification away from hydrocarbons has been a main plank in the government’s economic strategy. Judging by the number of foreign companies which now operate out of Qatar, the strategy has been a highly successful one.