Qatar welcomes Turkish partners

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Qatar welcomes Turkish partners
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Mart 25, 2009 00:00

DOHA -Unfazed by the crisis, Qatar welcomes Turkish investors, in its drive to construct infrastructure. With an improved approach, the business volume of Turkish construction firms in Qatar could reach $10 billion in four years, says the chair of the Turkish Businessmen Association in Qatar.

Aiming to diversify to a more knowledge-based economy from energy dependency, Qatar is largely unfazed by the current global turmoil and stands as an oasis of stability.

Aware of this vision, Turkish investors are encouraged by the investment drive in the Gulf nation for their own development prospects. Undertaking considerable projects especially in construction, Turkish firms are aiming to inspire their own "renaissance."

The total business volume of Turkish construction companies in Qatar has reached $4 billion. "With an improved approach, it is easy to attain $10 billion in the next four years," Muammer Arıkan, chairman of the Turkish Businessmen Association in Qatar, or TBA, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in Doha last week.

Including 22 corporate and six individual members, the TBA was founded last year with the aim of enhancing commercial and cultural relations between the countries, as well as assisting Turkish companies to develop their businesses in Qatar. The association is looking forward to being a reference point and information center for Turkish firms who "look into the Qatari market for expansion and to inform Qatari firms that look into Turkey's market," said Arıkan, who is also the construction coordinator of Turkey’s Nurol Holding.

Counting on the dynamism of Qatar, Arıkan, who has four decades of experience in the sector, said he believes the country can be a second home for Turkish companies, particularly in construction. As the impact of the global financial turmoil was not so strong on Qatar's economy, it has become a popular spot for Turkish companies who seek diversification in the face of falling demand elsewhere. "Our mission is to introduce the market to Turkish companies and to reduce difficulties when they enter the market for the first time," Arıkan said.

Arıkan said he believes the future of Turkish-Qatar business relations is bright. The increased attention of Turkish government representatives on Qatar is adding more hope, he said.

"Turkish officials are approaching Qatar with increasing attention," he said. "President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Doha last year. Such interest at the governmental level would definitely create opportunities. Separating business from politics is impossible."

Commenting on the influence of the global crisis on Qatar, Arıkan said Qatar was not a "demand-based economy," thus it was largely unfazed, at least not as much as other major economies in the Gulf.

"There is a widespread belief that Dubai is an oil-rich economy and oil is the key factor behind its growth drive. This is not true. Dubai is a demand-based economy. Its main carriers are tourism and real estate development."

"Thus, the crisis is heavily affecting Dubai due to the sharp decline in demand. Most of the investment plans were postponed indefinitely. But Qatar’s economic structure is different. This is not a place for tourism, nor is it for real estate development. It aims to diversify and become a production-driven economy, as opposed to a demand-driven one," Arıkan said.

"There is no stagnation in the economy. Investments are going on as they are supposed to. This is one of the biggest energy hubs in the world in terms of natural gas reserves. It now is turning its energy wealth into creating a dynamic and sustainable economy," he said.

The only effect of the global crisis in Qatar may be the decline in raw material prices, plus labor costs. "Turkish entrepreneurs can benefit from that," Arıkan said.

Nurol Steel, a subsidiary of Nurol Holding, recently completed the steel construction of Al Shaqab Academy at the Education City, where the Doha branches of six leading U.S. universities are based. The company is currently planning a $30 million investment in Qatar, with the support of a foreign partner. Nurol has a 51-percent share in the framework of the investment.

TAV Havalimanları Holding, a leading airport constructor and operator whose 14.4 percent belongs to Goldman Sachs, is in charge of building the main terminal of the New Doha International Airport, or NDIA, which will have an annual capacity of 50 million passengers. TAV leads the joint venture with Japanese Taisei Corporation’s Sky Oryx JV.

Tekfen, another Turkish construction firm, has been operating in Qatar since 2005. The company focuses on infrastructure operations, including two pipeline projects and one highway construction project. Tekfen's highway project, named the North Road, is one of the largest among Turkish operations in Qatar.

Yüksel Construction is undertaking NDIA’s bridge and road construction projects. The size of the project reaches $30 million.
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