DOHA (AFP) - Qatar plans to establish its own version of New York's "Wall Street" financial district, a senior official said Monday, as the emirate seeks to cut its reliance on oil and gas.
Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, head of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), said businesses including his own will relocate to the previously run-down Msheireb area of Doha from mid-2017.
The project comes as gas-rich Qatar seeks to establish itself as a regional commercial powerhouse.
The aim was to improve Qatar's financial standing and create Doha's "version of Wall Street or (London's) Canary Wharf", said Mr Jaida.
"The objective... is to create a leading financial and business centre in the region," he said.
"The relocation is part of our commitment to support Qatar in its efforts to diversify national income sources," Mr Jaida told a Doha press conference to announce the relocation.
The new financial centre will cover an area of up to 300,000 square metres.
Mr Jaida said he hoped the QFC's relocation from central Doha would act as a catalyst for other companies including the Qatar Stock Exchange to follow suit.
Msheireb is a major regeneration project in downtown Doha which seeks to revive an old commercial heart of the capital at an estimated cost of more than US$5 billion (S$6.83 billion).
It will not only incorporate the financial centre but also luxury apartments and museums.
World Cup 2022 host Qatar's attempts at economic diversification comes as it faces an estimated budget deficit of more than US$12 billion in 2016, its first in 15 years.
In June, officials warned that more deficits would follow in 2017 and 2018, as an era of lower oil prices forces Arab states of the traditionally taxes-free Gulf region to adapt.