Qatar sets aside $2.7 billion to attract MNCs, rival financial hub in Dubai

File photo of Doha, Qatar. Companies that set up a hub in the city will be provided free offices and tax incentives, among other things, in return for a commitment of at least a decade. PHOTO: REUTERS

DOHA (BLOOMBERG) - Qatar has allocated US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) to attract multinational companies to its financial centre in its latest effort to rival Dubai.

Companies that set up a hub in Doha will be provided free offices and tax incentives as well as seed capital to cover five years of operating expenses in return for a commitment of at least a decade, Mr Yousuf Al Jaida, chief executive officer of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, told Bloomberg TV.

Qatar's financial hub is targeting to launch the incentive plan in the first quarter once all the governance structures have been put in place.

"It's there, ready to be tapped, sitting in a bank account under government supervision," he said.

"We expect every single QFC company to have full access to government tenders and have unlimited access to the local market be it corporate and retail."

The plan comes after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar in June last year, accusing the country of financing terrorist groups and having close ties with Iran, charges Qatar rejects.

The rift forced Qatar to shift import routes to Kuwait and Oman, and buy goods from Iran and Turkey.

Doha is working towards taking on rivals in the Gulf Cooperation Council by trying to attract overseas investment and growing into a bigger financial hub. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are using the same tactics, including plans to relax company ownership rules and grant foreigners permanent residencies.

QFC is aiming to attract companies from Kuwait, Oman and Iraq as well as firms looking to participate in the reconstruction of Syria.

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