One of the two free zones in Qatar will be operational from the first quarter of 2019, Minister of State and Free Zones Authority Chairman HE Ahmed bin Mohammed al Sayed said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the ongoing International Products and Exhibitions and Conference (IPEC) in Doha, Sayed said the Umm Al Houl Free Zone located next to Hamad International Port will be ready to receive local and foreign investors from the beginning of next year. The second free zone near Hamad International Airport will also become operational next year.
Other than these two full-fledged free zones, Sayed said, the government has also allocated some areas of the upcoming Musheireb Downtown Doha under free zone which will be very important owing to its location and advanced infrastructure.
He revealed that the Free Zones Authority is engaged in negotiations with some major international companies to set up their shops in the upcoming free zones. Some of these companies, he said, will start operation from Qatar soon.
Highlighting the advantages of investing in Qatar's free zones, he said,"There are three advantages that make Qatar's free zones attractive. Availability of natural resources, including energy, financial efficiency and developed infrastructure make the country an attractive platform for local and international investments."
He said the Free Zones Authority is also engaged in talks with many local entities including Qatar Petroleum to encourage Qatari private sector and foreign companies to invest in these zones.
Highlighting the importance of Qatar's geographical location, he said 60 percent of the world's population is within eight hours of flying from the country. Foreign investors can benefit from this strategic location by accessing 400 million consumers in the neighbouring countries.
Highlighting the privileges that investors will enjoy if they invest in the free zones, he said the benefits include 100 percent foreign ownership and full capital repatriation, flexible foreign workforce and visa regimes, potential joint ventures with government-backed companies and access to investment funds set up to support small companies.
Easy access to airport, seaport, flexible land options and modern communications infrastructure, exemption from custom duty on imports, lack of individual income tax and 20-year corporate tax holiday are other facilities that will be provided to investors, he said.
Qatar Development Bank CEO Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Khalifa also addressed a gathering on the second day of IPEC on how to provide SMEs with the essential support needed in accessing large government projects through the Moushtarayat initiative.