Plans are being studied to link Qatari agencies with US small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups during a forum aimed at strengthening partnerships in the field of entrepreneurship, an official of the Washington-based US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has said.
According to USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat, the council is considering to tap Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Qatar Business and Incubation Centre (QBIC) for the forum slated “within the year.”
Barakat, who was in Qatar to attend the second leg of the Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue last Sunday, said the planned forum would present success stories of US SMEs and startups, and provide an overview of how they operate.
“Maybe we could connect these US companies with Qataris working with QDB and QBIC in trying to build a platform for that kind of interaction, so they can get some listeners from the US side if there are any new ideas that Qataris want to implement, and maybe they could partner with them,” Barakat told Gulf Times.
On the sidelines of the Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue, Barakat participated in a roundtable meeting, which involved representatives from top-billed players in the Qatari private sector, such as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Investment Authority, Hamad International Airport, Barzan Holding, and Free Zones Authority.
Asked if the meeting discussed aspirations of Qatari SMEs to participate in big-ticket US contracts, Barakat said, “There were no direct discussions but it was obvious that this openness and talks of new initiations of in-country value programmes, some of which have to do with the Free Zone Authority. This will encourage more SMEs from the US to partner with their Qatari counterparts.”
In May 2018, ambassador Anne Patterson, who is also USQBC president, met with top officials of Qatar Chamber and leading Qatari businessmen to discuss the expansion of investment opportunities beyond hydrocarbons and defence co-operation.
“We’re trying to expand beyond energy and defence but we brought the board of directors here so they could meet directly with Qatari officials and learn about the situation here. We have Qatari and American board members, but it is important for the American board members to see firsthand the situation,” Patterson told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the meeting with Qatar Chamber.
“The backbone of this relationship has been in the defence and energy sectors and that needs to be expanded to other sectors and to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as to Qatari entrepreneurs,” she added.