CRE­AT­ING A NEW BUSI­NESS OR­DER

IN AN EXCLUSIVE IN­TER­VIEW WITH QATARTODAY, MANATEQ CEO FA­HAD AL KAABI TALKS ABOUT THE COM­PANY'S SPE­CIAL ECO­NOMIC ZONES – RAS BU­FONTAS, UM AL­HOUL AND AL KARAANA.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - BY UDAYAN NAG

In an exclusive in­ter­view with QatarToday, Manateq CEO Fa­had Al Kaabi talks about the com­pany's Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones – Ras Bu­fontas, Um Al­houl and Al Karaana.

“OUR ECO­NOMIC ZONES PLAY A CRU­CIAL ROLE IN TRANS­FORM­ING QATAR INTO A GLOBAL IN­DUS­TRIAL AND LO­GIS­TICS HUB, AND THE INI­TIA­TIVES WE HAVE IN PLACE OF­FER HUGE IN­CEN­TIVES TO LOCAL AND FOR­EIGN IN­VESTORS.” FA­HAD AL KAABI CEO, Manateq

Manateq re­cently signed back-to-back deals for its Ras Bu­fontas Eco­nomic Zone. A deal with Ismail Bin Ali Group for build­ing labour ac­com­mo­da­tion which will house more than 8,700 work­ers was fol­lowed by a sign­ing cer­e­mony for the devel­op­ment of two ho­tels and three ho­tel apart­ment com­plexes. It was seen as an­other mile­stone in Manateq's drive to se­cure pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment in Qatar. So, how are these pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment ini­tia­tives go­ing to ben­e­fit Qatar in the years to come?

“Both deals were land­mark agree­ments as they em­pha­size the strong bond be­tween the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors in the devel­op­ment of Qatar,” says Fa­had Al Kaabi, CEO, Manateq.

“Go­ing for­ward, ini­tia­tives such as these demon­strate the op­por­tu­ni­ties available to other pri­vate sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions to make a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy as the coun­try con­tin­ues to drive to­wards Qatar Vi­sion 2030 as a more di­verse econ­omy. Our eco­nomic zones play a cru­cial role in trans­form­ing Qatar into a global in­dus­trial and lo­gis­tics hub, and the ini­tia­tives we have in place of­fer huge in­cen­tives to local and for­eign in­vestors.”

One of the steps taken by Manateq was to of­fer 100% own­er­ship in the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones (SEZs) in an ef­fort to at­tract more for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI). On whether there have been fur­ther de­vel­op­ments re­gard­ing FDI in the Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones, Al Kaabi says that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of 100% own­er­ship in the SEZs came about be­cause of Manateq be­ing aware of the com­plex­i­ties faced by for­eign en­ti­ties in try­ing to set up busi­ness in Qatar.

He fur­ther says: “In ad­di­tion to the 100% own­er­ship, we also pro­vide in­vestors with a ded­i­cated per­sonal point of con­tact to fa­cil­i­tate reg­is­tra­tion and li­cens­ing, which al­lows them to fo­cus on get­ting down to busi­ness. This unique, ded­i­cated ap­proach makes in­vest­ing much eas­ier and more at­trac­tive to FDI.”

Among Manateq's Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones, Ras Bu­fontas is sched­uled for com­ple­tion in the fourth quar­ter of 2018, while Um Al­houl phase 1 is set to open in the se­cond quar­ter of 2018. Al Kaabi con­firms that the work is go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan. “Manateq is com­mit­ted to se­cur­ing pri­vate in­vest­ment in Qatar; we've al­ready had great suc­cess in this area, and Ras Bu­fontas, Um Al­houl and Al Karaana SEZs will strengthen our abil­ity to ap­peal to for­eign in­vestors across a host of dif­fer­ent sec­tors.” The lo­ca­tion of the Al Karaana Eco­nomic Zone is very strate­gic be­cause it's on the bor­der of Saudi Ara­bia. Once com­plete it will add to Manateq's port­fo­lio of spe­cial­ized zones cater­ing to for­eign com­pa­nies look­ing to start op­er­a­tions in Qatar and local in­vestors look­ing to ex­pand op­er­a­tions across the coun­try.

“The strate­gic lo­ca­tion of Al Karaana will serve as an over­land gate­way to in­vestors for mov­ing goods across the coun­try with ease, and the block­ade will not af­fect the zone's devel­op­ment. With ac­cess to over 100 mil­lion cus­tomers, Al Karaana will pro­vide all the re­quired in­fras­truc­ture for suc­cess­fully ser­vic­ing the global markets.”

Re­cently, SMEET Ready Mix opened its new plant in Ras Bu­fontas, which Al Kaabi de­scribes as a ma­jor mile­stone. The move is ex­pected to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the devel­op­ment of Ras Bu­fontas' in­fras­truc­ture sec­tor. “The open­ing of the SMEET Ready Mix plant demon­strates our vi­sion to at­tract pri­vate sec­tor en­ti­ties. SMEET Ready Mix has earned the rep­u­ta­tion as a trusted source for its qual­ity

“THE STRATE­GIC LO­CA­TION OF AL KARAANA WILL SERVE AS AN OVER­LAND GATE­WAY TO IN­VESTORS FOR MOV­ING GOODS ACROSS THE COUN­TRY WITH EASE.”

prod­uct through­out the re­gion and will be a key player in the devel­op­ment of Ras Bu­fontas' in­fras­truc­ture as we de­velop an ef­fi­cient, sus­tain­able busi­ness hub.”

Manateq has been in the news re­cently mainly for the Ras Bu­fontas Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone (SEZ), but what about the Um Al­houl SEZ, which has a wa­ter­front like Ras Bu­fontas? What are the com­mon fea­tures it shares with the other two eco­nomic zones (Ras Bu­fontas and Al Karaana), and how is it dif­fer­ent from them?

“Work is press­ing ahead in the Um Al­houl SEZ. It has sim­i­lar fea­tures to our other SEZs in terms of 100% own­er­ship and the var­i­ous ben­e­fits of a per­sonal point of con­tact to help with reg­is­tra­tion and li­cens­ing,” says Al Kaabi. “The lo­ca­tion of Um Al­houl gives us the ad­van­tage of di­ver­si­fy­ing and fur­ther ap­peal­ing to var­i­ous sec­tors. Um Al­houl SEZ is per­fect for those spe­cial­is­ing in marine in­dus­tries, the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor, build­ing ma­te­ri­als, and food pro­cess­ing.”

Zukhrof Trad­ing and Con­tract­ing was part of the deal that Manateq re­cently signed for the devel­op­ment of two ho­tels and three ho­tel apart­ment com­plexes in its Ras Bu­fontas SEZ. Jaa­far Ali Jaa­far Al Sar­raf, board mem­ber of Zukhrof Trad­ing and Con­tract­ing, had said that “in­creased devel­op­ment in the coun­try's 4-star ho­tel seg­ment will help sus­tain Qatar's hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor be­cause it caters to both the busi­ness sec­tor and leisure tourism.” Does Manateq share Al Sar­raf's views on 4-star ho­tels? What are Manateq's plans re­gard­ing 4-star ho­tels?

“We strive to cre­ate a world-class busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment,” says Al Kaabi. “The agree­ment to de­velop the ho­tel and ho­tel apart­ment com­plexes in Ras Bu­fontas will bring pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment worth QR338.5 mil­lion. It is a clear in­di­ca­tion of the com­mit­ment of our team to meet our man­date to es­tab­lish a wider range of busi­ness sec­tors for the growth of the econ­omy, and pro­vide world-class ser­vices and in­fras­truc­ture for in­vestors across am­bi­tious projects. Fur­ther­more, go­ing for­ward, with chang­ing mar­ket dy­nam­ics and con­sumer trends, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to be able to of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion that cov­ers the full spec­trum of cus­tomer pref­er­ences.”

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