Qatar “most competitive country in Middle East”
Qatar’s new projects could amount to more than US$130 billion in the coming decade, as the country is named the most competitive in the Middle East, according toSheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, the country’s minister of economy of commerce.
The minister said: “The scale and range of projects that are now being undertaken are immense and encompass the development of essential infrastructure needed to exploit and export LNG globally, and invest in water, power, airports, hospitals, free zones, sport complexes, hotels, roads and educational institutions.”
Sheikh Mohammed was speaking at the opening of MEED’s Middle East Project Finance conference, held in Doha.
According to the minister, project finance will continue to be the preferred means of raising capital in the Middle East. “Multi-billion dollar projects such as QatarGas III and IV and Nakhilat give a very clear signal to the world that changes are happening here and opportunities are growing fast.
“While there are likely to be some peaks and troughs in the coming eight to 10 years, estimates are that there is $1 trillion worth of projects in the pipeline around the region.”
In his speech, Sheikh Mohammed referenced the World Economic Forum’s second Arab Competitiveness Report, which named Qatar as the most competitive of the 12 Middle East countries included in the survey.
“The index used by the WEF measures three areas that are critical to the growth process: the macroeconomic environment, the quality of public institutions, and the state and usage of technology. It is very reassuring to receive this kind of endorsement.”
In addition, the UN Convention on Trade and Development also placed Qatar 17th in the list of 145 nations in terms of attractiveness to investors. Meanwhile, Moodys improved the sovereign rating of Qatar by two notches to A1 in May.
Sheikh Mohammed reflected on what he termed a “milestone year”, 2005. “Qatar came second only to Qatar as a consumer of project finance in the entire world last year. Last year, there was $145 billion worth of project finance deals in the world, with almost a quarter dedicated to deals in the Middle East. This year, it is expected to be closer to half.”
The minister was opening discussions at the MEED conference, which attracted 300 top-level delegates from around the region.