Qatari Prime Minister on Growth, Libya and Emerging Markets
Qatar hosts its first Business & Investment Forumin New York. The country is planning to invest over $35 billion outside of Qatar this year. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar sat down with Maria Bartiromo in a CNBC Exclusive.
Here's the transcript of the interview.
MARIA BARTIROMO: You are conducting the Qatar Investment Forum in New York this week. This is the first time you're doing it in New York. What are you trying to accomplish?
SHEIKH HAMAD: We usually do it in London, Paris and in Europe. And a lot of business people from this part of the world, they say, "We need it to be done in New York." Actually, they say that Washington. And for me, Washington is a place where I like to go and work and live. So I said, "Okay, we do it in America, but we do it in New York." We have a lot of people attending this, as you know. There will be hundreds of people. And we stop receiving people, because there is no place to have everybody. I think this could be a good model to show them what we are trying to do, what is our interest. We know what we can have from the people here, any new ideas about business in this part of the world.
For us, it's a new opportunity. We know most of the people here, but it's good to have a dialogue with them. Also, we have over 250 businessmen from Qatar and from the region which, it's healthy to have both of these people talk to each other, because I'm sure they will come with the good ideas, which will help, you know, the two sides.
MARIA BARTIROMO: The influence of Qatar and the impact is so substantial. It's hard for people to understand how substantial and powerful the country is, being the size that it is. So let me talk to you a bit about your priority. You are wearing three hats; Prime Minutes, Foreign Minister, and the Investment Portfolio Head. What are your priorities, Sheikh Hamad?
SHEIKH HAMAD: The priority is Qatar. And Qatar, it means that we need to work in different angles and different aspects. So, we are trying to first of all to work from inside to outside. And inside, that mean I'm talking about our education, about our healthcare, about our prosperity of our people, help use the wealth, the extra wealth which we have from the oil and gas to protect our next generation.
That mean we should invest it right. We are doing enormous work in infrastructure in Qatar. So we think that first of all, we need to start from inside Qatar. And if we have the strong base in Qatar from all the aspects, then we have-- we are thinking to go outside.
When we're talking about the outside, investment, political, when you talk about Libya, we are in Libya, you know, thinking that what happened to the Libyan people, they don't deserve it. For us, a small country, we want to show an Arab country a model that we can join the international community to help the people of Libya.
I'm sure not all our brothers are doing the same, but if part of them do so, that's good. So I think we need to show the Libyan people they are not alone, that there is an Arab state is helping in the coalition. If we are talking about the foreign policy, we are trying to reach all the hot spots in our region, and try to help them as maximum as we can, either in Darfur or in Yemen, or in Libya, or in Palestine.
So, this is part of our vision for Qatar and His Highness, the Emir vision for Qatar. So it's difficult, because that mean we need to make a lot of work. Because for us, a small country, a rich country, we can invest, to put Qatar in the map in all aspects.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Qatar has emerged as a major international player in this Libya crisis. The country was the first to join the alliance, commit capital to the no-fly zone. Was that tough initially going against, or breaking ranks with the GCC?
SHEIKH HAMAD: Well, it is tough. But you have to be-- first convinced that what you are doing is right. And we are not-- shy, if it's not correct, to correct it. We think we have to take these measurements, even if we are small country. But this measurement, first of all, we are helping other wealthy Arab nation. They do not have the prosperity, which they should have, or they should deserve in Libya.
So, that's one of the things. The second things, we would like to see the Middle East with a model, model that we can work as one unity, the Middle East, stability of the Middle East. Most of the problem in the Middle East is because of the economy, because of a lot of people doesn't have jobs. So we believe that we would like to help other in the peacetime, or in the wartime, according to our capacity.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What are your hopes then, for Libya? Is the best-case scenario for Gaddafi to go?
SHEIKH HAMAD: I think he should go. I think he should take this decision and I said this a few weeks ago. He should take this brave decision to leave, and to leave the people of Libya decide what they want to do in their country.
MARIA BARTIROMO: We're seeing an influx of people and wealth as a result of the crisis in Libya, people moving to London, people moving to Dubai, other areas of the Mid-East. Are you seeing an influx similar to that in Qatar? What do you think the implications are for the GCC in terms of this influx of people and new money coming from Libya and other areas?
SHEIKH HAMAD: We see a lot of movement in Qatar coming from outside. We saw it from Egypt, some of the big companies, they start moving to Qatar. Of course, they move to Dubai or other places. But we can see this. Unfortunately, we have the regulation, what to come, what not to come in Qatar, because we need to be part of the international you know, monetary way of fund, how it come.
We are little bit careful in that aspect. But we could see there, there is a flow of people, talented people, flow of companies, money in Doha, you've been there. If you go to the financial center now, or to Qatar, you will see that things has changed, and it's more people working there. It's good for the economy of Qatar.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Let me ask you about the development and what's happening in Qatar today. You've been investing in infrastructure and development. You're looking forward to some major events happening in the country, the World Cup, of course, soccer tournament.
You're also aiming to provide housing for a population projected to climb 50 percent, to 2.6 million by 2030. That's a huge jump in population. What is behind the surge, and tell me how you will manage investing new money in infrastructure and getting ready for the next ten years.
SHEIKH HAMAD: I think for the infrastructure, I think between five and seven year, we will finish all the infrastructure in Qatar. There will be minimum $70 billion is already located for that. Which, it is under our ability, it's manageable in term of financial side. In term of the work side, that's disturbing the people, because there's a lot of roads blockage in Qatar, there's a lot of work going on.
We have also the train coming, to do the railway, then in whole Doha. So there is a lot of infrastructure going in Doha, but I hope within seven year maximum, all this infrastructure will finish. That will allow us to accommodate the expansion in the population. The problem is the quality of population, that's what the next challenge will come.
Right now, we have a lot of people coming as a labor force. And that labor force will disappear or be less when the work is finished. The challenge is what to do after to keep the same growth, not the same growth, but to manage the growth of over five percent in the country. Because now it's not normal, it's around 20 percent.
I think five and eight percent is manageable for Qatar for another ten years from now because of what we need to do in the country. So I'm not worried from the growing in the population more than the quality of that population, how it is. Is it population of producing work, what sort of work, is it financial, is it only manufacturing? Is it for oil and gas, or is it for retail? You know, that's where we have to make our mind and to strive to make the balance.
WHAT's DRIVING QATAR's GROWTH?
MARIA BARTIROMO: The growth rate of Qatar is extraordinary. Twenty percent in 2011. The fastest growth rate in the world, today. What's driving that growth?