Qatar plans economy base shift from oil to knowledge

March 30th, 2008 - 6:44 pm ICT by admin  

(Gulf Business Capsule)

Dubai, March 30 (IANS) Qatar is planning to transform its economy from one based on energy to one that has knowledge as its mainstay. “We expect to be an exporter of knowledge as well as gas,” the Peninsula newspaper quoted Qatar Foundation’s associate vice-president for higher education Ahmed Hasnah as saying at a three-day international conference on knowledge parks in Doha.

“It is naturally our greatest hope that the new economy will be well entrenched before our gas revenues start falling. We are making huge investments in education because we know that the wealth we are currently enjoying is unsustainable in its present form,” he said.

He said institutions such as the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) would commercialise research and development work already under way in the country, in partnership with the private sector.

The blueprint for Qatar’s future will be one based on an educated population which serves as a producer of knowledge that will become the nation’s greatest export, Hasnah added.


New Islamic mortgage company coming up in UAE

Omniyat Holdings, the parent company of Dubai-based real estate investment and development firm Omniyat Properties, has said it would launch a new regional Islamic mortgage company by the end of this year or early next year.

“We are doing the paperwork for it now and have begun the initiation to enter into this field,” president and chief executive of Mehdi Amjad told Emirates Business 24-7 newspaper.

He said the new company would have a capital of over 3.67 billion dirhams ($1 billion).

“It will be a regional firm, but we are yet to decide where the holding company is going to sit,” he said, adding the location of the company’s headquarters is yet to be decided.

“Our aim is to become an owner, investment banker, fund manager, developer, operator and consumer financer.”

He, however, did not disclose the sectors the new company would be targeting.

As of now, there are 23 players in the mortgage market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


$201 mn windfall for Gulf petrochem firm shareholders

The Manama, Bahrain-based Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co (GPIC) has announced that it would distribute the entire $201 million profits it posted in 2007 among its shareholders in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

GPIC board chairman Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa has said the company will distribute the profits equally among the stakeholders, according to a report in the Bahrain Tribune.

This represents 126 percent return on the paid-up capital.

Established in December 1979, GPIC is a joint venture between the Bahrain government, Saudi Basic Industries Corp and Petrochemical Industries Co of Kuwait.

Speaking at the 29th annual general meeting of the company, Al Khalifa said production of the ammonia, urea and methanol plants continued at the highest levels of quality and efficiency while maintaining the highest safety and health standards.


Private wealth in Gulf to soar by 81 percent in next four years

Private wealth in the Gulf is estimated to swell by a whopping 81 percent to $3.8 trillion by 2012 from an estimated $2.1 trillion in 2007, according to a new study.

Global management consultancy firm Oliver Wyman, in its new study titled ‘The Future of Private Banking - A Wealth of Opportunity’, has found that the bull-run in stock markets and unprecedented wealth creation has driven an 11 percent year-on-year growth in assets held by high networth individuals (HNWI) globally, the Gulf News reported.

“The combination of increased competition and more difficult market conditions has marked the beginning of a more challenging era for the global private banking industry,” Stefan Jaecklin, partner and head of wealth management at Oliver Wyman, was quoted as saying.

“We expect growth rates to vary significantly by region, with the Middle East and Asia-Pacific - except Japan - leading the pack.”

According to the study, globally, an estimated 16 percent of HNWI wealth was held offshore in 2007, while about 52 percent of the Middle East’s private wealth was held offshore.

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