Surge in Saudi firms looking to set up operations in Qatar: Pro Partner

Trade of goods between Saudi Arabia and Qatar resumed through the Abu Samra border crossing on Feb. 14 after ties between the two neighbors. were restored. (Social media photo)
Trade of goods between Saudi Arabia and Qatar resumed through the Abu Samra border crossing on Feb. 14 after ties between the two neighbors. were restored. (Social media photo)
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Updated 05 July 2021

Surge in Saudi firms looking to set up operations in Qatar: Pro Partner

Surge in Saudi firms looking to set up operations in Qatar: Pro Partner
  • Company formation firm has seen a 40% rise in inquiries since relations resumed in January

RIYADH: The number of Saudi-owned companies looking to set up operations in Qatar surged in the first quarter of this year following the restoration of political, trade and travel ties between the two Gulf neighbors.

The resumption of relations between the two countries has seen a 40 percent rise in the number of Saudi companies looking to open operations in Qatar, according to James King, general manager of the Qatar office at the Pro Partner Group, a firm which specializes in company formations.

While he did not give specific numbers, King said that his company had seen a 75 percent year-on-year rise in activity during the first quarter of 2021 and the number of inquiries coming from Saudi companies has increased by 40 percent year-on-year for the first three months of this year.

“The increase in Qatar company formations is being driven by the multi-tiered investment opportunities in the country. These include opportunities linked with the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the North Field Expansion Gas Development Project and the Qatar National Vision 2030. This growth is further enhanced by the ending of the Qatar boycott and the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions,” King said.

FASTFACTS

Standard Chartered in January forecast that Qatar’s economy will grow by 3 percent this year as a result of the easing of a three-year regional dispute, up from its previous 2.1 percent growth estimate.

The increase in Qatar company formations is being driven by the multi-tiered investment opportunities linked with the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the North Field Expansion Gas Development Project and the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Creation of the Qatar Free Zone represents a major change in how Qatar attracts foreign investment.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in January agreed to end a boycott imposed on Qatar in mid-2017, and on Feb. 14 trade of goods between Saudi Arabia and Qatar resumed through the Abu Samra border crossing.

There has been a flurry of diplomatic connections in recent months, including Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad’s visit to the Kingdom in May and the appointment last month of a new Saudi ambassador in Doha.

Standard Chartered in January forecast that Qatar’s economy will grow by 3 percent this year as a result of the easing of a three-year regional dispute, up from its previous 2.1 percent growth estimate.

King believed the recent creation of the Qatar Free Zone “represents a major change in how Qatar attracts foreign investment and the industrial sectors it aims to attract.”

While Saudi companies have always been able to set up 100 percent owned companies in Qatar, without the need of a local partner, King said that “many of them choose to have a local partner as they are more familiar with the local business environment.”

Dubai-headquartered Pro Partner Group was established in 2014 and has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman and Qatar, but is planning to expand into Saudi Arabia.

Given the opportunities in the Kingdom, the firm believes that its Saudi office will eventually outperform its existing operations in the UAE and Qatar.

“I see Saudi Arabia as our biggest opportunity of the region by far. And I think in the next two to three years, our business in Saudi Arabia should eclipse our UAE business and Qatar business,” Nazar Musa, Pro Partner Group CEO, told Arab News in June.

Musa said that recent announcements by the Saudi government had spurred interest among companies in expanding their operations to the Kingdom.

“Obviously, there are businesses that have been there for years and years, but I’m talking about the kinds of companies that are starting to speak to us for the first-time about opportunities in the Kingdom,” he said.