Qatar to invest in tech, education, health

DOHA - Qatar is setting up a separate investment agency - in addition to its $60 billion sovereign wealth fund - to buy into education, technology and healthcare companies and projects, diversifying its economy from energy.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Thu 24 Jan 2008, 8:39 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:35 PM

The new agency, spawned by government-owned Qatar Foundation, which has attracted universities such as Georgetown and Weill Cornell Medical to set up in the Gulf Arab state, plans to buy into companies or set up new ones, foundation President Mohamed Saoud told Reuters in an interview.

The foundation, a non-profit organisation which received $8 billion from the Qatari government to create a medical research centre, last month joined Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc to invest in securing the country’s second mobile phone licence.

It was the foundation’s first investment dedicated to making money, part of a longer-term strategy to generate independent funds to cover operational costs that may average as much as $70 million per year, Saoud said.

“To secure the endowments we get and to produce the returns we expect, we have to use this ... we can’t just leave it in the bank,” Saoud said. “We are very flexible ... we will go after opportunities where we they are.”

The government of Qatar, the world’s third-largest holder of natural gas reserves, allocates the equivalent of 2.8 percent of its $54 billion gross domestic product towards helping develop research and development in Qatar and the Arab world, according to Saoud.

“Arab countries are not producers of knowledge, but consumers of knowledge,” Saoud said. “We want to change that.”

He declined to be more specific about the foundation’s investment plans, saying it will take another six to eight months to set up a dedicated agency to manage them.

Gulf Arab states and companies are spending billions on foreign acquisitions as the world’s largest oil-exporting region reaps a windfall from oil prices that have more than quadrupled in the last six years. Prices rose above $100 per barrel this month.

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