Qatar’s burgeoning retail market

Qatar’s economic diversification strategy continues to create foreign investment opportunities across its burgeoning retail market, despite the sustained low oil prices.

According to Alpen Capital, the Qatari retail market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent reaching $284.5 billion in 2018, the fastest in the GCC region. The government has ambitious plans to develop its retail landscape to meet the rising demand of the growing population’s high level of personal consumption. Key projects already underway include the Mall of Qatar, Doha Festival City and Place Vendome.

The continued low oil price means the Qatari Government is seeing its state revenues decline. As such, the country is actively seeking foreign and private sector investment. The development of the retail sector will help to shore up its economy and presents excellent opportunities for foreign investors. In 2015, the country was ranked as the fourth most attractive retail market according to the Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), placing it first in the Middle East.

Recent government initiatives have already helped to pique investment interest among foreign companies. Plans to pass a law to in introduce the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) by the end of 2016 is believed to be a positive move which will likely attract further foreign investment.

PPPs are seen as a feasible alternative to more traditional procurement models and will allow private investors to take stakes in projects along with the government, bearing part of the risk and sharing profits. Foreign companies must make sure they position themselves correctly via the most suitable means of incorporation to both capitalise on these opportunities, and safeguard their beneficial ownership interests.

Qatar’s rapidly growing population, coupled with its strong purchasing power per capita are strong fundamentals driving the growth of the retail sector. The country’s affinity for luxury goods has already triggered entry plans by high-end retailers, and we expect more brands will follow suit given an additional one million square metres of retail space is scheduled to come online in Doha in the coming years. Foreign investors definitely stand to gain from Qatar’s burgeoning retail market.

Article by Neil Wilson on Jul 26th 2016