The Qatar Financial Center aims to attract $ 25 billion in foreign direct investment by 2022, its CEO Yousuf Al-Jaida told CNBC on Wednesday in an exclusive interview.

It comes a week after Saudi Arabia resumed diplomatic relations with neighboring Qatar and ended the more than three-year blockade against the tiny, gas-rich nation.

The reconciliation means a stronger and more powerful Gulf Cooperation Council, Al-Jaida said.

“I think the impact will be positive on trade, which means countries will work closely together,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, sealed off land, sea and air borders with Qatar in 2017 after accusing Doha of links to terrorism. Qatar has denied these allegations.

The thawing of tension – just weeks before the end of President Donald Trump’s term in the White House – is a significant change in politics in the region.

Competition for GCC’s financial center

Doha competes with global financial centers in the region, including Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh.

Dubai, one of the region’s transport and tourism centers, is facing new competition from Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is trying to attract multinational corporations to the capital as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious 2030 Vision to diversify the kingdom’s economy.

Doha, Qatar skyline

Sven Hansche | EyeEm | Getty Images

Al-Jaida said Doha’s advantage over its rivals is the urge to develop Islamic finance and fintech, as well as financial services in general.

The financial center’s ambitious goal for foreign direct investment – together with the goal of creating 10,000 new jobs and more than 1,000 companies by 2022 – will be promoted by the relaxation of the Gulf Cooperation Council, he said.

“From a QFC perspective, multinational corporations are practically all over the GCC, and that means more liberal travel, more access to markets. This means more FDI to Doha. So we’re very optimistic.” “Said Al-Jaida.

We are working on a better future for the entire region, so everyone is optimistic.

Yousuf Al-Jaida

CEO, Qatar Financial Center

The six-nation GCC is a political, economic, and social alliance that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.

According to the World Bank, Qatar’s economy is expected to grow 3% in 2021 and is the best among the GCC countries.

Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world per capita, also has its sights set on sport. The country is expected to host the World Cup in 2022 and has applied to the International Olympic Committee to join the “ongoing dialogue” on the possible hosting of the Games in 2032.

Golf relaxation

Relations between golf neighbors are deep and the blockade left a void that affected trade across the GCC.

According to the Brookings Institution, flights between Qatar and its golf neighbors before the fallout were 70 per day. The aviation sector, which has been badly affected by the global pandemic, should benefit significantly from the cooling of tensions.

Before the blockade, trade flows between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ran into billions and millions with Bahrain, the think tank announced.

Al-Jaida told CNBC that more work needs to be done to build trust between Qatar and its neighbors in the Gulf and Egypt. “But that is behind us and we are working on a better future for the entire region. So everyone is optimistic.”