faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani does not want to talk about business or the future of his country’s economy. First of all, he wants to get rid of something about the soccer World Cup. And the Qatari tycoon is not one to be dissuaded from his plans. So he first gives a short, patriotic keynote speech about his country’s ability to assert itself. And the value of perseverance. “We were on the right track and never let that deter us,” he says. “It was a big challenge. But we like challenges.”
The businessman speaks of “harassment” that his country has been exposed to since the World Cup was awarded twelve years ago and which it has successfully defied. What is meant is the blockade by the powerful neighboring countries that began in 2017, as well as the sharp criticism from the West of the human rights situation in the country and the exploitation of Asian and African migrant workers. “Qatar has created something that hasn’t happened before and won’t happen again in the future,” he says.
Such words speak the self-confidence of a man who is one of the richest in one of the richest countries in the world. His fortune is estimated at around $2 billion. Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani rules one of the largest conglomerates in the country. “There was only water here,” he says, pointing out the window of his office high above the streets of Doha. The view falls on the skyscrapers of an area in the heart of the capital, parts of which have been wrested from the sea. Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani not only stands for the wealth of his homeland, but also for its meteoric development.
There are many privileges for Qatari citizens
When he was born in 1948, Qatar was destitute, and his family led a hard, austere life. The decline of the pearl trade and the Second World War had battered Qatar, and people were starving. As a teenager, Faisal Bin Qassim, a distant relative of the Emir, opened an auto parts business. Under a false name, he says, because at the time it wasn’t appropriate for someone bearing the name of the Al Thani dynasty. Today, says the billionaire, he owns 1,000 cars and 40 hotels around the world. The “Al Faisal Holding” is a size in the real estate business, also trades in medical equipment and pharmaceutical goods. Only the company logo of the Faisal empire is a reminder of the harsh past. It is based on the brand that his family used to use to mark their horses or camels.
The economic power of his country is closely related to natural gas. Oil exports, which began in the mid-20th century, have not brought Qatar the wealth it has today. For the steep rise, many in Doha praise the former monarch Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, revered as “Father Emir”, who ruled the country from 1995 and abdicated unexpectedly in 2013 in favor of his son Tamim. He focused on investing in the export of liquefied gas, which was massively expanded under his leadership. Today, Qatar, which has the third largest reserves in the world, is one of the top producers and exporters of natural gas.