"Qatar has rapidly established itself as an accessible, stable, and innovative investment destination, a reputation earned through investment in the incubation and acceleration of local and international startups, strategic programming and mentorship, and international partnerships. Qatar Development Bank is focused on supporting this growth."
The success of the FIFA World Cup 2022 hosted by Qatar spotlighted the country’s commitment to innovation and economic development. Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with the highest GDP per capita in the MENA region. It ranks #1 in the world for foreign direct investment growth, according to the FDI Standouts Watchlist 2023 by fDi Intelligence. Qatar achieved a 70% annual growth in FDI projects between 2019 and 2022.
In May 2022, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry collaborated with Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the World Economic Forum to launch Qatar's Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB). The following month, the India-Qatar Startup Bridge initiative was launched to connect the startup ecosystems of both countries. Qatar has also established various programs to support innovation and entrepreneurship, such as the TASMU Accelerator, XLR8, and the Lean Acceleration Program from Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), which has a specific program to assist startups in manufacturing products in Qatar. Additionally, Microsoft launched a cloud data center region in Qatar in August 2022.
In November 2022, QDB organized the Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference (ROWAD) as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Digital Transformation Summit took place in March 2023 in Doha. At-Home-Doc, a telehealth startup, has raised $6.3 million over four rounds, with the latest being a seed round of $1.9 million in January 2023.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
In August 2022, Qatar Central Bank (QCB) announced the launch of Google Pay in the country. QCB also issued licenses for Ooredoo Money and iPay by Vodafone Qatar, and all global digital wallet services are now accepted. Qatar FinTech Hub, developed by QDB to support the growth of Fintechs, offers startup support programs, and the Qatar Financial Centre’s 2023–30 expansion strategy includes plans to introduce new financial products. Spendwisor, a mobile payment app, has raised an $85 million till date with the latest seed round in January 2022.
Logistics & Transportation
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 significantly boosted the development of logistics and transportation. According to the Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index 2022, Qatar topped all GCC countries in the domestic logistics segment and is the seventh most competitive of the world's leading emerging markets because of its digital readiness and favorable business conditions. In February 2022, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar and FLYR Labs announced a partnership to advance the transportation sector through AI and digital solutions. In early 2022, GWC opened a logistics park catering specifically for MSMEs.
The Qatar Foundation WISE Edtech Accelerator Program supports Edtech innovation and community. In 2022, Edtech giant Byju’s entered into an agreement with QIA, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, to set up a subsidiary in Doha and build a R&D hub for Arabic content and products. The Doha Learning Days festival aims to take learning outside of formal educational settings, offering workshops and activities. The 2023 theme is Youth Empowerment, with a focus on empowering young people through skills-based workshops.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Doha
Access to Capital
Qatar Development Bank’s Ithmar scheme is an equity funding initiative that seeks to develop a new generation of Qatari entrepreneurs and companies. Al-Dhameen is a QDB program that encourages banks to offer financing to startups by issuing a letter of guarantee for up to 100% of the allocated funds up to 15 million QAR ($4.1 million). In 2021, QDB partnered with Plug and Play to launch the ELV8 program, which offers tech startups in Qatar access to intensive mentoring and funding opportunities.
Foreign Direct Investment
Qatar ranks #1 among 50 of the world’s top destinations for foreign direct investment, according to the FDI Standouts Watchlist 2023 by fDi Intelligence. Qatar achieved 70% annual growth in FDI projects between 2019 and 2022. Its economy is expected to grow by 2.4% in 2023, while inflation is expected not to exceed 3.3%. In 2022, most of the FDI projects Qatar attracted came from companies in business and financial services and ICT. The U.S. is the leading source market for FDI into Qatar, accounting for a quarter of all projects.
Qatar Free Zones Authority
Qatar Free Zones Authority has established free trade zones Umm Alhould and Ras Boufantas to attract foreign investment and international entrepreneurs. They offer a wide range of benefits, including 100% ownership in companies established in Qatar, no corporate tax or customs duty, and no personal income taxes. The zones are home to the Google Cloud’s Center of Excellence in Qatar Free Zones, which offers training in cloud computing skills. Cybersecurity leader Thales opened a new headquarters and Digital Competence Centre in Qatar Free Zones in September 2022.
Selected Startup Organizations
Startup Genome Members
Qatar Development Bank
Qatar Development Bank was established in 1997 under the name Qatar Industrial Development Bank, and it is a development entity 100% owned by the government. It was established to support investment in and develop local industries, and to drive economic development and diversification in the State of Qatar with a focus on the private sector. Its mission is to advance Qatar’s economic development cycle by providing entrepreneurs and SMEs with a comprehensive suite of financial and advisory services and products, while supporting Qatar’s economic and innovation agenda.
Key Ecosystem Players
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