Midlands at heart of Britain’s offer to Qatar

Qatar commits to investing £5 billion in the UK over the next three to five years.

The joint Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum is being held in Birmingham this week, with the city hosting the largest ever Qatari business delegation as part of the Government’s drive to create a global Britain.

On Tuesday the Forum was attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and Qatar Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. This will mark the first time that a Qatari delegation led by the Qatari Secretary of State, Minister Rumeiheh, has visited a UK city outside of London, with the delegation set to be shown ‘investment-ready’ projects across Birmingham, including Curzon HS2.

Following the Forum, the delegation will be taken for a tour of Birmingham’s major development sites on Wednesday 29th March. This tour, which includes the prime business district locations, will demonstrate the city’s most significant planned office and regeneration developments, as well as asset investment opportunities.

Strong links between Qatar and the Midlands already exist with the Qatari Al Rayan Bank having a strong presence in the region and Qatar Airways flying directly from its Doha hub to Birmingham Airport. In 2017, Alduwaliya Asset Management acquired One Eleven Edmund Street in a £22.5 million deal. Over the last year, the Midlands has exported £144.3 million to Qatar.

Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine said, “Today’s forum demonstrates why the Midlands is at the heart of a global Britain’s offer to the world. The investment-ready projects showcased have a value in the billions and will help the Midlands reach its untapped potential in growth. These projects are central to boosting productivity and I am confident that not only do they demonstrate to investors that they get a return on their investment, but that an investment in the Midlands, which will drive growth and allow our businesses to expand, is an investment in the UK.”

The Midlands is already home to world-leading businesses and sectors, such as the automotive, advanced manufacturing and life sciences industries, and is earmarked to lead the way for the UK on next-generation technologies.

Greater Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands has attracted record levels of foreign direct investment, with 253 new foreign direct investment projects in the Midlands in 2015/16. And the region is working hard to build on this momentum, undertaking trade missions to the US & Canada, China and India – the leading economies in the world.

Councillor John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “I’m delighted the Forum is meeting in Birmingham and giving us the opportunity to promote current investment and trade opportunities. I see it as a strong signal of confidence from Qatari investors in the city and the wider region. It’s vital to build links and trade with the rest of the world and seize all the opportunities available to us.

“The Forum is key to securing greater bilateral trade between Qatar and the UK and a chance to showcase the best of British industry. The collaborative, ambitious projects being delivered by Birmingham will help drive global Britain towards economic prosperity.”

Steve Hollis, Chair of GBSLEP, said: “We welcome the Qatari delegation to Birmingham. The Conference provides a fantastic platform for us to showcase some of the many investment opportunities that this region has to offer and to highlight the benefits of doing business with local firms. We hope that today’s event will not only lead to increased levels of Foreign Direct Investment and exporting, both critical to further grow the local economy, but also to raising Greater Birmingham’s profile as a global city region.”

Sultan Choudhury, CEO of Al Rayan Bank, added: “Birmingham is a growing city, with first-class modern infrastructure and excellent transport links. With nearly 50,000 people employed in financial services and related professional services, Birmingham is a major financial centre and has the talent to support the growth of Al Rayan Bank, an increasingly important conduit for Gulf investment into the UK. Labour and occupancy costs are significantly lower in Birmingham than London, yet the capital is just over an hour away. Also with daily non-stop flights from Birmingham Airport, we are within easy reach of the Gulf. These factors, combined with the strong support of the local authorities provide a compelling proposition for any financial services organisation.”