Qatar’s Free Zones attract global tech leaders

26 August 2020


Qatar’s free trade zones are increasingly becoming an attractive destination for global tech leaders seeking to expand regionally and globally. While both industry giants Microsoft and Google have already previously announced setting up their operations at the country’s free zones, the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) continues to receive a growing demand from companies specialising in emerging technology, in addition to other sectors. 

To date, the QFZA oversees the Airport Free Zone at Ras Bufontas, which is directly linked to the world-class Hamad International Airport; and the Port Free Zone at Umm Alhoul, which is connected to the Hamad Port, also known as the world’s largest greenfield port. 

“Ras Bufontas is linked directly to the airport. So we have a lot of demand here from logistics companies, companies specialising in emerging technology, light manufacturing and the aviation sector. The big German investor that we announced recently is Volkswagen. They’re based in Ras Bufontas and they want to deploy their first autonomous vehicle project here in Qatar, in this area. Another big investor is Google, which has decided to launch their cloud services here. 

“We’re currently talking to an online retailer based in the Silicon Valley, which wants to also base their company here due to the access to Qatar Airways. So we have quite a lot of demand for Ras Bufontas, although we’re still within our soft opening,” Fahad Al Kuwari, Markets Manager at QFZA said during the online Qatari-German Business Forum held recently.  

He added that Volkswagen, one of the leading automobiles company in the world which has embarked on a journey towards becoming a software-driven company, has set up an office at the Free Zones to conduct its research and development on autonomous vehicles. 

Previously, Google Cloud has signed its first strategic collaboration agreement in the Middle East with the QFZA to launch a new cloud region in Doha; while Microsoft has also announced its plans to establish a new cloud datacenter region in Qatar and expand the Microsoft global cloud infrastructure to 55 cloud regions in 20 countries. 

At a recent webinar with leading US firms, Minister of State and QFZA Chairman H E Ahmad bin Mohamed Al Sayed, also reiterated the Qatar Free Zones’ strategy to be a premier hub for technology companies that lead to the New Economy. He added that the Free Zones are particularly focused on bringing in international companies that make up the New Economy and specialise in technologies like the Internet of Things, cloud services, cyber security, and industrial intelligence that are contributing to the fourth industrial revolution.

He also noted that Thales has recently inked an agreement with QFZA to establish a centre for digital competencies that will provide its cross-sector services for companies across the region. 

“Qatar’s position within 25 economies, within 3,000km, all accessible through Qatar Airways, that’s $6 trillion worth of combined GDP. What we try to do at QFZA is allow the foreign investors to own their businesses completely and to partner with leading Qatari companies should it be mutually beneficial. We help our own companies grow and we help foreign companies grow as well,” added Al Kuwari.


Kindly supplied by The Peninsula Qatar


Follow Chamber International on Twitter @ChamberInt and on Facebook for the latest in international trade.