Qatar's investments in Turkey will continue in the coming period, especially in the banking and real estate sector, said Yousuf Al-Jaida, CEO of the Qatar Financial Centre.
"Qatar will continue to invest in Turkey not only in the banking sector but also in the real estate sector. Some 35% of the $10 billion that Qatar has committed has been invested, and there is another $7 billion to flow into Turkey. Investments follow healthy political relations, and our relations with Turkey date back centuries," Al-Jaida was cited as saying by Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday.
Qatar was Turkey's largest foreign investor last year, according to Al-Jaida, who added that the two countries have healthy political relations and that the heads of states share a common strategic perspective on global developments.
His remarks come after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's official visit to Doha on Nov. 25 to attend the fifth meeting of the Turkey-Qatar High Strategic Committee. As part of efforts to promote bilateral economic ties, the visit saw seven agreements being inked between Ankara and Doha in the fields of economy, urbanization, trade, industry, technology and standardization.
The Qatar Finance Center and Turkey's Presidential Finance Office inked a memorandum of understanding, aimed at strengthening economic and financial ties between the two countries.
The two allies' close economic ties strengthened significantly after a Saudi-led embargo on Qatar. Ankara emerged as one of Qatar's top partners since the Saudi Arabia-led bloc launched a trade and diplomatic boycott of the Gulf state in 2017, sending additional troops and food to meet Qatar's needs just after the embargo began.
Turkey-Qatar bilateral trade volume has increased by 84% over the last decade, hitting $1.3 billion last year, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). In the first nine months of this year, Turkish exports to Qatar were recorded at $838 million, while imports from the Gulf nation reached $205 million.
On the other hand, Qatar's investments in Turkey are estimated to have surpassed $20 billion to date. Turkish investments in Qatar are projected to be worth some $17 billion, and they have increased further during the preparations for the football World Cup in 2022.
During his visit to the Turkish capital in August last year, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced that his country would make a direct investment of $15 billion to Turkey.
Al-Jaida noted that Turkey is a very welcoming country in terms of foreign direct investment. "Turkey is a very large country and a very significant market. There is no doubt that the return on (investments) is very profitable," he said.
Highlighting that more awareness is needed to increase the number of foreign investments in Turkey, he underscored that even though Qatar is not familiar with the Turkish legal system, the Turkish market is very attractive, and the investors feel very comfortable in Turkey. Al-Jaida suggested that some legal steps would pave the way for foreign investors.
The hydrocarbon-rich Gulf state of Qatar currently invests in Turkey's banking, real estate and health sectors.
On Islamic finance, Al-Jaida said Malaysia serves as a door for Asia, Qatar for Africa and the Middle East and Turkey for Europe, saying that these three countries can take Islamic finance to a higher level.
He emphasized that Malaysia is highly developed in terms of the legal framework and product diversity of Islamic finance. "Turkey and Qatar should accelerate and do much more because there are many Islamic financial assets and investments in the Middle East," he said.
Pointing to the high development of Malaysia's infrastructure in the sector, he added, "We can create a great platform with Malaysia to share our experience on infrastructure. We can create something extraordinary for the industry."
Recalling that Islamic finance reached $2.4 trillion in volume, Al-Jaida stated that the sector grew much faster than traditional finance and that there are untouched territories such as Islamic fintech, Islamic insurance and Islamic asset management.
I think the future of Islamic finance is bright and promising. Islamic finance can be a role model on a global scale," he added. He said that the sector has great potential and that the position should be determined in the next 10 years, adding the $300 million share of Qatar International Islamic Bank was traded on the London Stock Exchange recently.
Elaborating on Turkey's Istanbul Financial Center project, he pointed to its strategical location between Europe and Muslim nations and said it can enable the country to play a crucial role.
"I am very positive about the future of Istanbul Financial Center," Al-Jaida also noted and suggested the Istanbul Financial Center could set an example for foreign direct investments.
"Under international law, direct investments can flow into Turkey through the Istanbul Financial Center," he said.