Qatar has launched the first of three new special economic zones established to help the state diversify its economy.
The Ras Bufontas project, spread over 4.1km2 near the new Hamad International Airport, will specialize in companies in the communications, infotech, energy, logistics, construction, transportation and other sectors.
Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who laid the foundation stone on Monday, said the special economic zones would be the base of the country's private sector, focusing on small and medium enterprises.
Qatar has stated it wants to diversify from a hydro-carbon-led economy – which helped to make it one of the richest in the world but is subject to volatile global oil prices – to a knowledge-based economy.
During a separate speech, the Prime Minister said the private sector and entrepreneurialship would play a key role in diversifying the economy.
"Today's launch of the Ras Bulfontas Special Economic Zone project for technology and logistics sectors is an example of the government's efforts to support the private sector," Sheikh Abdullah said.
Qatar is expected to record a surplus of $2bn in 2014, with GDP rising between 6.5-7% to about $780bn, according to the Commercial Bank of Qatar.
The other two zones are Abu Nakhla and Um Alhoul.