More British companies are setting up their businesses in Doha, especially after the recent reforms in Qatar’s investment laws, an appointed dealmaker for the UK government has said.
Talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the 3rd SMEs Conference which concluded in Doha recently, Alpesh Patel, a prominent dealmaker for the UK’s Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur Programme, who was also a panel speaker during the event, said Qatar’s ambition to be a regional base for fintech, as well as its business-friendly policies, are attracting more British companies to establish their businesses here.
“Overall, from the embassy, there are 700 UK companies registered here. I am looking to bring about 10 to 12 more in the next three months or maybe sooner. These are scale-up companies of the highest quality. So the kinds of companies that I work with are the ones which by our estimation, are likely to be worth hundreds of millions of US dollars within five to three years.
The ones which will invest, employ local people, train local people with the right skills, and help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem here as well. And I think one of the reasons why I’m able to bring those companies here, is because they see that Qatar is really welcoming entrepreneurs with all of the laws being enacted, which also send a signal that the country is open for business,” he added.
Patel, who is also a Financial Times top FTSE forecaster and an award-winning hedge fund manager, is bringing several UK companies to Doha which specialize in various sectors including blockchain, oil and gas, fintech, cleantech, social impact, and lending algorithms among others.
“The kinds of UK companies we’re seeing setting up in Qatar are for instance in blockchain, and I brought such a company called Finboot. We’ve also got an air purification company called Air for Life. They already have a tentative order for 50,000 air masks. And their technology comes out of NASA, they then set up in the UK, and now they’re looking to set up here.
We’ve also got a blockchain and fintech company called Worldwide Generation, which is at the early stages of inquiry. What they do is they make sure that money from governments goes to where it’s supposed to be spent in a particular way. We also have another company specializing in lending algorithms, which is helping banks improve their SME credit lending using algorithms to work out credit risks.
This can help build up Qatar’s SME and bank lending ecosystem, and make the country an even more business-friendly environment,” said Patel.
Speaking about the growing trade relations between Qatar and the UK, he added: “What’s interesting for us is, Brexit for us has had no negative impact on these technology companies going global. Equally, the blockade of Qatar has had no negative impact at all for these companies coming over here. So in some sense, both our countries have got similarities with what’s going on. The bilateral relationship is so strong. That resulted in trade and investments still continuing at the same level of strength and energy. Actually more so, because Qatar is more in the news because of the World Cup, the free zones, and the technology base that it’s creating. And so we want more British companies to also help build up that technology base and mentor companies and lift them up as well locally”.