Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where would you invest $20 million in Qatar?

Definitely hospitals and schools, nothing else. A nation is as strong as its education and health, not how big its bank account is,” said Ali Al-Humaidi, Managing Director of Almaras Management Consultancy.

In engineering, consulting or market research as these are services Qatar really needs, as is a scaleable business with not a lot of upfront capital required,” said Curtis Avery, Entrepreneurial Mentor at the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar.

I wouldn't, not anymore. I've become more fiscally conservative for one, but how do you protect your investment in Qatar? Rules can change overnight, and there are new regulations all the time. Or what if you kiss a girl on the beach and get caught? You'd have to leave, and what would happen to your investment then?” said an analyst that wanted to remain anonymous.

I'd invest in a company providing good maintenance and services, plumbing and carpentry, for residences in Qatar. It is a gap in the market. If you don't live in a compound with a maintenance team, it is hard to get someone to do it that speaks English and knows what they are doing,” said Andrew Wingfield, Partner at international law firm Simmons and Simmons

I would probablly look to invest in mid-range hotel assets, for example Ramada Encore, decent business style hotels. Why? An area that shows the most growth in the next 10 years. The time to get out of Qatar is 2017-2018 not the day after the world cup. Who knows how much the economy would've diversified in 10 years time, and education and health care will have expanded,” said Edd Brookes, Director and Head of Valuation at real estate firm DTZ.

I'd invest in manufacturing industry with export capability to the GCC and nearby markets like Iran, Iraq and the Indian subcontinent. I would say don't build another hotel as there are enough players in that space, whether hospitality or services. The government says that it is easy to invest in real estate but gets into population game and looking at Qatar like Dubai,” said Narayanan Ramachandran, KPMG Head of Advisory for Bahrain and Qatar

I'm not sure I would. I would probably lean towards something with not much upfront capital cost that could be wound down pretty quickly rather than be stuck with fixed assets that may not have any fixed value at the end. Definitely there are opportunities but there is a lot of risk to start up a company here. Hopefully that will start to change. The whole sponsorship rule is not foreign investor friendly, and for 90 percent of business you need a Qatari partner. If I put in $20 million, he owns 51 percent,” said an economic analyst off-the-record.

I'd say three or four options to mind. Advanced building materials given all the construction underway. Second, in education, as although there is significant investment it is still under-invested in terms of local needs; not universities but schools and training. Third, the oil and gas sector attracts a need for technologies, especially away from downstream. Four, even small investments might have worthwhile returns,” said Anil Khurana, director of Operational Strategy and Private Equity at management consultants PRTM.

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