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MENAFN - The Peninsula - 28/01/2014

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(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Easing some of the barriers in setting up profitable businesses and a vibrant legal system that is more market responsive will help enhance the pace of economic diversification in Qatar, an expert has said.

"Qatar does most of the things quite right. However, if there are certain areas where it can improve is the ease with which companies are established," said Dr S Thomas Emerson, Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar (CMU-Q).

Dr Emerson, while speaking with The Peninsula recently, said: "The restriction of having minimum 51 percent Qatari ownership is one of the barriers to the creation of profitable business and investment. By focusing on lowering those impediments would be helpful spurring the development and diversification of the economy."

He said that Qatar, while maintaining a careful control on the energy sector - "the lifeblood of the economy" - can allow competition and investments in businesses outside the hydrocarbons industry.

Emerson has served in various organisations. He was the President and CEO at Arizona Technology Incubator, Xantel Corporation and also the Chairman of Syntellect.

Speaking on Qatar's efforts in achieving industrial diversification by establishing vibrant small and mid-size enterprises by promoting local entrepreneurship, he said: "Entrepreneurs can always do impossible things."

He continued saying that the Middle East, including Qatar, offers some particular challenges because entrepreneurship has always been a part of the Middle Eastern culture.

However, it has not been able to maintain the same degree of contribution to the world economy as compared to its energy sector, but the accomplishments the National Vision 2030 is expected to bridge the gap.

Referring to the evolution of digital music, which has replaced the traditional music industry, he said: "It is often said that capitalism is the process of creative destruction, and it is the very element that keeps it vital. New things are constantly evolving through innovation. Industries that were, 30-40 years ago, considered as lucrative businesses are now out of fashion."

He cited the example of Apple and Steve Jobs, who turned it as the world's largest business entity.

"Things have changed the way the world works. I absolutely see no reason why that kind of creativity and revolutionary innovations can't come from this culture. After all, Jobs was an Arab descendent whose ancestors were Jordanians," he said.

He also noted that Qatar has many competitive advantages, such as low energy cost, probably the lowest in the world, strategic geographical location, huge area of undeveloped land and relatively easy access to the inexpensive labour market.

"Qatar has a lot of opportunities to exploit these competitive advantages. The enormous level of investments in education and human capital is an experiment which has never been tried on this scale by any other country. I expect that it would pay huge dividends to create a modern society.

"The government needs to modernise its legal system to make it more market responsive. It will have great positive outcome," he said.

Qatar remains one of the three top markets for companies doing business in the Middle East region with more than 200bn worth of major projects due to be awarded in the years to 2030.

 






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