London-based fintech investor Praefinium Partners announced that the company is calling on the UK government to condemn the Saudi/UAE-led blockade on Qatar and call for increased access to the country.
This follows ‘Qatar Day’ on Friday, hosted by the Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin and Rt Hon Liam Fox, Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, who announced initiatives for closer Fintech relations between the UK and Qatar, including a King’s College, London, Financial Centre and Qatar Development Bank and Innovate Finance’s International Hub – the first of its kind – outlining Innovate Finance’s commitment to support the development of Qatar’s FinTech ecosystem.
The company’s CEO, Alpesh Patel, penned letters to the UK Prime Minister, Liam Fox, and the Lord Mayor of London, urging the politicians to take public stances opposing the blockade and put pressure on the countries still enforcing the blockade after nearly two years.
“Simply put, Qatar is proving itself to be the Silicon Valley of the Middle East,” says Patel. “There are numerous examples we can point to of tech innovation going on in Qatar that would benefit UK companies and promote business growth. However, our attempts to capitalize on these opportunities are being stifled by the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.”
Since 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and many of Qatar’s other neighbours have severed ties to the country and banned its aeroplanes and ships from accessing its airspace and sea routes. However, public support for the blockade appears to be weakening, and just last week, the Lord Mayor of London and the British Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox visited Qatar to boost UK/Qatar links.
“As long as the blockade of Qatar remains in place, UK fintech companies cannot reach the full potential we want in the region,” says Patel. “The UK should take a strong stance in favour of open trading with one of the most technologically-savvy countries in the world and reject the fear-mongering vilification of Qatari entrepreneurs.”