Economic zones to improve ease of business in Qatar and support client investment

by  — 4 August 2013

In an exclusive conversation with The Edge Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO, Economic Zones Company (EZC) discusses the rationale of a company dedicated to creating and implementing an integrated plan for the development of special economic zones, which will heighten business efficiency.

Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO of Economic Zones Company (EZC) tells The Edge that the reasons foreign investors might be attracted to economic zones in Qatar include infrastructure, streamlined adminstration and competitively priced utilities.
Tell us about Qatar’s Economic Zones Company (EZC) and its short-term plans.

EZC is a shareholding company established by the Minister of Business and Trade of the State of Qatar under decision No. 272 in 2011. Chaired by HE Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, previously the Minister of Business and Trade, EZC is owned by the Qatari government and represented by the Qatar Authority for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. The EZC’s main task is to create and implement an integrated plan for the development of special areas in existing as well as future projects, in support of Qatar’s economic diversification and competitiveness strategy as contained in Qatar’s National Vision (QNV) 2030 framework. More specifically, as the main arm of the Qatar Authority for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, our mandate is to manage and develop economic zones allocated by the State, which are three at present: EZ 1, 2 and 3. With our vision to support Qatar’s diversification strategy by becoming one of the region’s leading economic zones for ease of doing business, our mission is to provide the most efficient and sustainable economic zone business environment to support our clients’ investments.

Some countries in the region had introduced the economic zones concept some years ago. What are the valuable lessons to be learned from their experience and how distinct will EZC be from other economic zones?

Indeed, there are quite a number of lessons to be learned, not just from the region, but also from similar models in several countries across the globe. And, as we seriously take into consideration these lessons, we are also very focused on the unique aspects, policies and growth plans of the State of Qatar. As such, EZC is fully committed to offering an integrated range of services that incorporate housing, commercial and even recreational facilities for our target sectors. EZC will ensure an environment that will be highly conducive to profitability and business growth through other support mechanisms and infrastructure.

How will EZC help in attaining the goals laid within QNV 2030?

The State of Qatar is definitely poised to be among the world’s most modern societies, with economic development being among the four pillars of the QNV 2030. 

In order to implement this successfully, the plan was divided into timeframes, which allow for a more focused and targeted approach in measuring performance against the set of strategic objectives. The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 focuses on laying the framework for Qatar’s growth and ensuring the ongoing development of world-class infrastructure, public services sector and a vibrant business climate. 

Therefore, by being steadfast with our mandate and timeframes to develop the most efficient and sustainable economic zones that are supportive of the business activities and objectives of clients, we would be fulfilling our role towards the advancement of a competitive and diversified economy for Qatar under the plan’s pillar of economic development. 

How will EZC attract foreign investors to set up businesses and operate within the economic zones?

There are a number of reasons why investors would be attracted to set up their businesses and operate within the economic zones. EZC offers several advantages that companies stand to benefit from and towards the attainment of profitability and growth, such as world class economic zone infrastructure and services, streamlined processes and single window for all administrative queries, assured provision of power, water and gas at the region’s most competitive price, access to equities and loans financing from Qatar’s development agencies and banks and access to a large and growing range of raw materials produced in Qatar.

Tell us about the thrust of activities of EZ 1, 2, 3. What was the purpose of having three separate economic zones?

EZ 1, 2 and 3 are focused on becoming catalysts for the industrial sector to develop and eventually flourish in Qatar. It is for this reason that the respective locations of each of the three zones are all meant to maximise the benefits and advantages to the targeted sectors.

“ECZ’s vision is to support Qatar’s diversification strategy by becoming one of the region’s leading economic zones.”

For example, Economic Zone 1, which is approximately a 4.01km² area, adjoins the New Doha International Airport. Therefore, industries engaged in logistics, information and communications, healthcare, energy and environment, hi-tech building and global warehousing stand to benefit the most. 

Economic Zone 2, which is approximately a 11.95km² area just south of the current Doha Industrial area is well-suited for business engaged in medium-sized industrial activities of building materials, machinery and fabrications, specialised spill-over industries, safety and maintenance and specialised warehouse. 

On the other hand, Economic Zone 3, which is a 33.52km² area adjoining the New Port Project, just south of Wakrah, provides maximum benefits for industrial companies engaged in petrochemicals, building materials, maritime, metals, and other sectors such as automotive, tools and machinery.

How will EZC help in Qatar offering the FIFA 2022?

By developing and delivering our three projects, we are fully committed to offering the most suitable and appropriate infrastructure and environment for various economic sectors to grow. Once operational, these sectors will be able to contribute in providing for the country’s demand for materials and
supplies required by projects related to the staging of the FIFA World Cup 2022.

As such, EZC and its projects, although not directly linked to one of the world’s most awaited sporting event, play a crucial and vital role on the development of the much-needed infrastructure that would set the stage for the successful hosting of such event.

Are there any plans of attracting sectors other than those that have already been planned for EZ 1, 2 and 3?

The local, regional and global business environment has changed and continues to evolve quite rapidly. While we may have, at the onset, identified particular economic sectors as targets for specific locations and zone, increased business activity and opportunity, business-friendly policy regime and services tend to attract and create future demand for additional economic zones with focus on diversified areas such as technology, research and media etcetera. Therefore, a demand-led scenario would definitely encourage us to expand our portfolio which would spur plans of attracting other business sectors in the future.

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