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Big bucks draws talent to Qatar

Is more money and benefits enough to lure work talent from other cities including Dubai?

October 11, 2012 8:54 by

Credit Suisse, in which Qatari investment firm Qatar Holding owns a stake, is trimming its investment banking team in Dubai and relocating some jobs to Qatar as part of efforts to focus on niche markets, industry sources told Reuters last month.

Morgan Stanley’s Qatar head Khalid al-Subeai resigned last week to join the investment banking division of Qatar’s Barwa Bank, while Goldman’s Qatar chief executive Tamim al-Kawari has joined QInvest, part-owned by Qatar Islamic Bank, as deputy CEO, according to sources familiar with the matter. Both men are Qatari citizens.

Morgan Stanley and Barwa Bank declined to comment. A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman confirmed Kawari’s departure, which took place this summer but was not publicly announced. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the matters had not been made public.

In Qatar, “you can see that the top brass is grooming the young talent to take up bigger roles, and the hirings could be part of that move,” one foreign banker said of Qatar.

“These are the kind of people who will run the sovereign fund in future. It’s a very smart move and very much expected of Qatar.”


The influx of banking talent to Qatar includes some experienced executives who are moving there from rival financial centres nearby, such as Dubai.

For some, the move raises potential quality of life issues. With a population of just 1.8 million including 250,000 Qatari citizens, Qatar is smaller and less glamorous than glitzy Dubai, which has been building itself as a cosmopolitan city for at least a decade longer.

A 2011 survey by consultants Mercer ranked Dubai as 74th in a global ranking of cities for their quality of living, with neighbouring Abu Dhabi at 78th. Qatar’s capital Doha came in significantly lower at 106th.

The rankings may change, however, as Qatar conducts a massive infrastructure building programme before it hosts the 2022 soccer World Cup. And even now, the attractions of working for an active and expanding financial establishment are clearly enough for many bankers.

In June Commercial Bank of Qatar hired Sarmad Lone, previously Dubai-based Middle East investment banking head of Morgan Stanley, to head up its wholesale banking business.

Barwa Bank hired Ihsan Khelef from HSBC Holdings’ Dubai office to head its debt capital markets business early this year. Khelef was responsible for regional sovereign debt issuance at the British bank.

Since then, Barwa has been involved in several high-profile Islamic bond sales in the region, including Qatar’s $4 billion issue in July.

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