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Qatar Drawing Strong Interest From UAE Firms

Middle East : 22 November 2013

Source: The Peninsula 2013

DOHA: Qatar is emerging as a focal point for multinational financial institutions, especially for those operating in the UAE, according to banking experts preparing for the Euromoney Qatar Conference in Doha in December.

The rising profile of Qatar’s financial sector is drawing particular attention from financial houses that use the UAE as a base of operations to serve the wider GCC region. The Conference, which runs from December 10 to 11, has seen a record number of registrations from the UAE this year.

The Conference, co-hosted by Qatar Central Bank, is held under the patronage of the Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The Conference will serve as a major platform for global players to learn more about Qatar’s financial future and speak to the new generation of leaders and decision-makers in attendance.

From the UAE, Michael Grifferty, President, Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association, will speak on a high-profile panel on “Developing Debt Markets: The Issuers Perspective”, which will also include representatives from some of Qatar’s most significant companies and government-related entities (GREs).

A wide variety of international financial organisations will also be attending the Conference, including the US Federal Reserve System, United Kingdom Debt Management Office, International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation, International Monetary Fund, International Capital Market Association, International Finance Facility for Immunisation, McKinsey & Company, BCA Research, and Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company. Qatar is expected to post 6.8 percent year-on-year real GDP growth into 2014, thanks to large infrastructure projects, population growth, and economic diversification, according to a recent report from QNB Group.

The most competitive economy in the Middle East and North Africa, Qatar is also the 11th most competitive in the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2012-2013.

Qatar was recently upgraded to “Emerging Market” status by S&P Dow Jones Indices and Morgan Stanley Capital International, set to take effect in 2014, increasing its importance for an international investment portfolio.

At the same time, the evolving regulatory environment – coupled with significant changes at governmental and institutional levels – is leading more investors to seek to understand the internal dynamics of the country, and looking to financial analysts for their predictions on the direction of the economy.

In particular, the on-going discussion around changes to regulations that would limit the exposure of local banks to state-owned GREs has potentially significant implications for banks in the UAE and for future capital market issuance.

Director of Euromoney Qatar Conference, Richard Banks, said: “Thanks to its combination of strong economic growth and stable financial environment, Qatar has become an important country for institutional investors and debt markets to follow. However, the recent changes within the country’s investment strategy and regulatory framework have increased the pressure to get closer to the realities on the ground.”

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