The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) formally opened Sunday for business, featuring a ceremony performed by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, underlining the commitment of the State of Qatar Council of Ministers to the new regional financial centre. After the opening ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar's Minister of Economy & Commerce, who has ministerial responsibility for the centre, welcomed the establishment of the QFC. He also expressed his pleasure that the independent QFC Regulatory Authority had confirmed it is ready to receive licence applications from international financial institutions and multinational corporates who wish to participate. Project finance, private wealth management, insurance of all categories, Islamic finance and a wide range of investment, corporate and private banking opportunities are permitted under the QFC Law. From discussions with interested institutions, the QFC expects to receive interest across a broad range of financial service activities and associated support services. Speaking afterwards at media briefing on the QFC, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani said: "The vision for the QFC is to become a vibrant hub for conducting financial and professional services in a low cost, low risk environment. The QFC Regulatory Authority and its regulations have been designed to meet global best practises and deliver high standards with minimal bureaucracy. The regulatory framework and commercial intent will provide opportunities for incoming institutions to conduct international, regional and local business. There is an extensive breadth of business that may be undertaken in the centre, but the strategic and commercial focus will be to encourage institutions that can help develop new and genuine revenue streams, thereby creating value for themselves and bringing complementary assets and skills to Qatar and the region. "The QFC is actively encouraging applications from firms who share our long-term view and aspirations. We therefore welcome applicants who have both the passion and commitment to realise the benefits of a long-term investment in a spirit of partnership with a forward-looking Qatar, which is developing and diversifying its economy from a position of strength”.
Qatar has moved swiftly to establish the QFC. On 9th March this year, new legislation was ratified enabling the QFC to have an internationally recognisable, best-in-class business and legal infrastructure run by a commercial authority and an independent regulatory body, the QFC Authority and the QFC Regulatory Authority respectively. Work has been proceeding to bring the QFC to the point where it can open its doors to business on 1 May 2005.
The QFC Authority is the commercial and administrative body responsible for driving the commercial strategy and for developing relationships with the international corporate community and other key institutions both within and outside Qatar. It will have a company registration office with quick and simplified systems for setting up companies and issuing visas.
A fully independent Regulatory Authority will oversee business conduct and grant licenses to operate in the QFC. It has a broad range of regulatory powers to authorise, supervise, and where necessary, discipline regulated firms and individuals. The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Regulatory Authority is Mr Phillip Thorpe who has a wealth of experience as a financial regulator and is highly regarded in the international financial community, having held senior posts in London, Hong Kong, Washington and Dubai. He reports directly to the Council of Ministers. Both the QFC Authority and the Regulatory Authority will have their own Boards of Directors.