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Qatar financial Center setting Global Standards

The year 2006 saw the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) not only easing labor market restrictions, a first of its kind and in line with the WTO mandate, but also building infrastructure for the Middle East’s first energy exchange Imex, a no small fete for a novice hub.

The QFC’s proactive global marketing seems to have paid dividends as many top notch financial banking and financial institutions, accounting and management consultants have set up bases in the QFC that seeks to silence critics.

Not only did the QFC inked pacts with global regulators for co-operation and information sharing as part of efforts to curb money-laundering but it also laid out prudential norms for sectors like insurance and rules on employment, while making legislations for collective investment funds.

More significantly the QFC authority (QFCA) enacted its immigration rules, doing away with employer release in sponsorship transfer and allowing sponsored employees to get multiple exit visas.

This, as anticipated, comes in the backdrop of Qatar having played the host to the World Tradorganizationon (WTO) negotiations of 2001, which later came to be known as the Doha Round, where many restrictions were thrashed out in a multilateral framework.

Another milestone was that the QFC put in place employment regulations, which call for establishing an employment standards office and enabling the employees to “whistle-blow” against employers violating norms, a practice largely seen in developed countries.

As a testimony to its global standing, many international banking and legal luminaries made their way to the boards of both the QFCA and its regulatory body QFCRA, which is an associate member of the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB).
To ensure jurisprudence, the QFC set up a tribunal, headed by former Lord Chief Justice Harry Kenneth Woolf as its judge, while roping in William Blair as chairman of the Appeals Body and Michael Thomas as member and alternate chairman of the appellate authority.

The QFC, which loathes arithmetic of players but unbending on the chemistry of composition as it seeks quality, has so far granted over two dolicensesnces for regulated and non-regulated activities.

Leading entities that were given nod in the review year include Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank, Morgan Stanley and Co International, AXA Investment Managers, AXA Insurance (Gulf), Alpen Investment Bank, National Bank of Dubai, Bank Audi, UBP (Qatar), Global Investment House (Qatar), United Gulf Financial Services and Kuwait Financial Centre.

For effective supervision of those firms operating across jurisdictions, as they are an essential part of the world class regulatory framework, the QFCRA has entered into pact with Channel Islands-based Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) and Bahrain Monetary Agency for co-operation and information sharing.
Not oblivious of its responsibilities towards society, the QFC is considering setting up a knowledge centre and is in talks with Qatar Foundation and other agencies in this regard.

QFC, an onshore catalyst of investment and of growth in financial services, focuses on attracting new participants as the Middle East gears up for mammoth project financing.

Various reports suggest project financing to the tune of $1tn and Qatar is now second to China as a consumer for project finance in view of the fast development taking place in the country.

Qatar has already committed investments to the tune of over $130bn in the coming 10 years. They encompass the development of essential infrastructure needed to exploit and export LNG globally, and to invest in water and power, airport and hospitals, free zones, hotels, roads and educational institutions locally.
The New Year will see the QFC being shifted from its present office in the Ministry of Economy and Commerce to its own building.

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