Author

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos reports on Business and general news for Gulf Times. He is a Kapampangan journalist with a writing career of almost 30 years. His photographs have been published in several books, including a book on the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption launched by
Hyunsun Hong
Qatar
Official lauds World Cup’s role in driving tourism to South Korea

The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) has lauded the successful staging of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, stating that the tournament, which has been receiving more and more fans from abroad, is helping drive tourists’ enthusiasm to visit South Korea.South Korea’s embassy in Qatar and KTO hosted the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ at Doha Corniche from November 20 to 25 as part of World Cup-related activations to celebrate the return of travel to South Korea.‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ is an opportunity to attract GCC nationals and World Cup visitors from all over the world to reboot and promote tourism in South Korea after fully reopening in October 2022, said Hyunsun Hong, regional director of KTO – Dubai Office.“The Korean Pavilion is a great opportunity to attract visitors from the GCC and the rest of the world to South Korea during this World Cup in Qatar. We have seen a great crowd at the pavilion, who witnessed the various entertainingperformances, the South Korean traditional craft zone, the game zone, and a South Korean-style sticker and photo booth.“We are seeing the enthusiasm of people to visit South Korea, and we are pleased to provide all the travel consultations, travel brochures, and information needed at our pavilion,” Hong told Gulf Times in a statement Tuesday.According to Hong, the Korean Pavilion will remain open until the end of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on December 18. It will be an opportunity for visitors to come and explore some of the fun-filled activities and collect all the necessary information, she noted.On November 24, the Korean Pavilion held another special event dubbed ‘Team Korea, Cheer Together!’ in the presence of South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon to cheer for the South Korean team competing in the World Cup.The Korean Pavilion also showcased different cultural, tourism, and traditional experiences with a host of shows and performances, as well as entertaining activities like wearing traditional clothing (Hanbok), hands-on experience with arts and crafts, tourism support, Taekwondo performance, the art of South Korean calligraphy, and K-Pop performances.Hong added: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the world’s largest sporting event, is being held in the Middle East region for the first time and therefore this is an opportunity to present South Korea and reboot tourism through the fun experiences and entertaining performances happening at the pavilion.“South Korea opened its borders to foreign visitors in a phased manner early this year after a two-year lockdown. Qataris, GCC, and several other nationalities can travel to South Korea by applying for a K-ETA 48 hours prior to travel.”

Mohamed Barakat
Qatar
World Cup fans will be ‘ambassadors for Qatar’, says USQBC official

Two top officials of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), currently in Qatar for the recent 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue and the FIFA World Cup, have lauded Qatar's achievement in hosting the mega event.USQBC president Scott Taylor and USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat shared their views with Gulf Times and their aspirations for the US team.Taylor: “I am here as a fan; I brought my family to Doha to see the World Cup. I think having the World Cup here is massive for the region, as well as the world. It’s a World Cup for a reason – to highlight different cultures and different places around the world.“In this country you’re able to go to multiple games because the stadiums are so close. The next World Cup is going to be in North America: Mexico, Canada, and the US. You’ll have to fly between stadiums. Here, you can drive; it’s crazy!“But I think having the World Cup in Qatar has been so massive for the spotlight on this country. It’s well-run; they’re executing it really well. It’s safe and family-oriented. The fans, including myself and my family, are excited to be here. We had a great time.“I think there have been some unfair criticisms quite frankly in international media but I guarantee you that all the folks and the fans that have come here would be ambassadors for this country moving forward because they’ve had a great time.”Barakat said: "What a wonderful experience! Coming from the airport and going to the hotel, we’re seeing all these fan zones and a lot of people partying, celebrating, and enjoying each other’s company. People wearing jerseys from different teams are all together having a good time."In the souq, you can also see fans engaging and hearing so many languages. In the stadiums, people are cheering and engaging each other. I think the close proximity of these engagements and being around each other created this energetic atmosphere to enjoy the World Cup. And hopefully, fans will continue to enjoy the tournament till the end. As Americans, we are very excited for the US team and we’re looking forward that the team would advance. Maybe we’ll stay longer to watch them play."The fans who arrived here and others who will still be arriving will see how much Qatar has done to deliver a World Cup that will be a lasting legacy for the future. And I think the World Cup will deliver a great message about what Qatar has done, which is something that the US, Canada, and Mexico can learn from and engage with Qatar when we host the World Cup."

 Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of YouGotaGift.com
Business
Gift card e-commerce to help merchants in Qatar scale business

Merchants in Qatar stand to gain from the solutions being offered by digital gift cards marketplace, YOUGotaGift, allowing them to capture new business and retain customer loyalty.YOUGotaGift, with its catalogue of more than 700 regional brands, distributes its eGift cards or digital gift cards through a broad network of clients across loyalty, incentives, online and retail, and other international networks, according to Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of Dubai-based YouGotaGift.com“We know that businesses in Qatar, from hospitality to retail, are realising the importance of having a digital presence and offering gift cards to increase revenues. We’ve made it easy for companies to process their own gift cards on their website by empowering them with multiple ways to extend their brand’s reach,” al-Rahim told Gulf Timesin an interview.She explained: “Our first offering is gift card e-commerce, which allows merchants to sell their own gift cards on their website without complex integration with our white-label solution. We offer hassle-free no-code integration.“Secondly, we offer omnichannel gift card programme (SaaS) solution, which empowers their brand with our end-to-end management of processing services and leveraging our systems that provide secure, flexible, and scalable architecture.”Al-Rahim said the gift card industry continues to thrive worldwide. The global gift card business is speculated to cross “$2tn” by 2027 with the Mena market witnessing the growth of gift card purchases and giving, especially after the pandemic, she said, citing data from Globenewswire.com.“Our vision since our pioneering beginnings in 2012 is to lead the cultural shift to eGifting among Gulf consumers.The purpose of YOUGotaGift.com has always been simple – to celebrate life’s special moments and reward, motivate and show appreciation to friends, loved ones, employees, customers, and partners, wherever and whenever, with seamless gifting and lifestyle solutions.“It’s all about ‘YOÜ’ and your happiness. With our new services and branding, YOÜ is poised to provide an even bigger and more innovative suite of digital solutions delivered through APIs, web services, and apps to power major businesses across loyalty, employee and customer rewards, and become the digital gift card provider for gifting happiness in the region,” she said.Al-Rahim said YOUGotaGift.com features more than 700 integrated brands across Mena, along with extended international coverage. Additionally, YOUGotaGift.com has added more than 2,000 international brands to its suite of regional and international programmes.“With strategic operations in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, as well as Egypt, Lebanon, and India, YOUGotaGift.com is a market leader in the sector in the Mena and is poised for an accelerated growth in eGift card adoption,” she added.

US ambassador Timmy T Davis. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue to expand trade, economic ties, says US envoy

The fifth Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue, which kicked off in Doha recently, is expected to further expand both nations’ trade and economic ties, according to US ambassador Timmy T Davis.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launching of the 2022 edition of ‘Discover America’ festival held Sunday at LuLu Hypermarket, Giardino, The Pearl Island, Davis said the United States’ strategic dialogue with Qatar “is a model not just for the region but for the world.”“When we talk during the workshops of the strategic dialogue about trade and commerce, we’re going to be talking about opportunities, about Qatari priorities, and how we can support those.“If you think about the goals for each nation with regard to trade and commerce, there’s a huge overlap and intersect; we want to identify the ways in which we can encourage investment in both countries,” Davis pointed out.Davis also said the strategic dialogue will help the US and Qatar lay out a plan, citing the Qatar National Vision 2030 and how the US “wants to be part of part of that vision” through trade and commerce.“We’ve got to get beyond energy and massive corporations, and we’ve got to build engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as people-to-people. The more our people engage, the better they are to create opportunities that we don’t see now and the strategic dialogue helps with that,” the ambassador said.In terms of agreements in the pipeline between both countries, Davis said: “I think you’ll see a lot in the first quarter of 2023 and a lot out of the strategic dialogue.”On the volume of US-Qatar trade exchange, Davis said trade relations between the US and Qatar are growing and that the US is looking at other sectors outside the energy industry.“There is a real emphasis now on our part in sub-national diplomacy. All 50 states in the US provide an opportunity for Qatari companies to invest. But we also want SMEs in the US to find opportunities here. The opportunities are growing and I would expect to see far more trade for SMEs from Qatar and the US into next year,” he stressed.On US-LuLu partnership and its role in enhancing trade with Qatar, Davis said: “Trade relations between Qatar and the US is fantastic; what we want that relationship to do is to grow and to build a strong foundation.”He added: “Walking through LuLu Hypermarket today, it’s clear that not only are they focused on bringing popular American products, but they’re focused on bringing produce and organic products and other sorts of things that people don’t know are American, such as fresh meat.“This is an example of how we support building a foundation because it’s not just big corporations doing this work. There are small companies, small farms, and small organisations providing much of this food and many of these products, so it supports not only the American economy but the Qatari economy, as well.”

YouGotaGift.com country manager Sarah al-Rahim.
Business
Dubai-based firm to add more Qatari brands to its eGift cards marketplace

Patrons of eGift cards may expect to see more Qatari brands at YouGotaGift.com, an official has said. Speaking to Gulf Times on the company’s ongoing or proposed expansion plans for Qatar, country manager Sarah al-Rahim said YouGotaGift.com is entering more heavily in the loyalty space offering banks, telcos, and all loyalty programmes access to its ever-expanding portfolio of popular brands.“Additionally, we continue to bring onboard local Qatari brands that are unique to this market. We wish to support Qatar National Vision 2030 and accelerate the adoption of our fintech solution to support local businesses.“We will be offering gift card processing so that companies today that desire to capture greater market share can leverage our secure scalable technology to offer their customers gift cards. These are a few of the services in the pipeline,” al-Rahim pointed out.Al-Rahim noted that these enhancements offer unique scalability and speed to market through gift cards whose ease and flexibility “are being loved more and more by people.”She said gift card solutions for businesses vary based on business objectives. eGift cards serve businesses' need to conveniently reward their employees, customers, or business partners instantly without the hassle of logistics and order fulfilment, she noted.Similarly, eGift cards are extensively offered in top-tier loyalty programmes as a redemption option for loyalty points. They are easy to integrate, provide a great choice of brands, can be instantly delivered, and allow customers to redeem the lower value of points, increasing engagement and loyalty, she explained.Al-Rahim said gift cards present a streamlined, convenient method for corporations to incentivise and reward employees and build additional revenue streams by selling branded gift cards.YOUGotaGift’s brand identity reimagines the company’s customer-centric products as digital gift cards that bring happiness to individuals and businesses alike, al-Rahim emphasised.“Driven by the motto ‘Simply Happy’, the platform has refreshed core elements of its visual identity, including the logo and the colour palette, in its journey to be popularly known as ‘YOÜ’. The logo, presented in an enhanced and impactful font and a bright new colour palette, marks the latest milestone as YOUGotaGift.com evolves from an eGift Card pioneer to become the region’s leading provider of best-in-class business solutions for incentives and commerce.“The ‘HappyYOÜ’ multi-brand gift card is an innovative super gift card redeemable at all our partner brands in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt. For the first time in the region, the HappyYOÜ card enables added benefits, in addition to the redeemable amount on the card, offering bonus value to customers. This is the region’s first multi-brand e-gift card, providing freedom of choice for our customers,” she said.Asked about Qatar’s aggressive development of ICT-related solutions and its fintech industry, and its impact on YouGotaGift’s operations in the country, al-Rahim said the tremendous efforts from the government to push digitisation in every aspect of life have contributed to a “never-before” level of interest for eGift cards amongst consumers.“Our relentless effort to create a seamless and exciting customer experience has helped in garnering customer confidence and all the programmes we support have benefited in increased customer engagement.“Over the last 18 months, corporates and individual customers have both identified various ways to use eGift cards - from traditional incentives and rewards to sending Eidiya, or just helping the ones in need during the pandemic. It’s a clear sign that eGift cards are here to stay,” al-Rahim added.

Aerial dance performance is one of the highlights of the event.
Qatar
UDC unveils captivating Qarnevale Quartier at The Pearl Island

United Development Company (UDC) launched Qarnevale Quartier at The Pearl Island’s little Venice precinct Qanat Quartier Friday. Spectators were given a taste of the charm and fanfare of the Venice Carnival during the event, which will run until December 4. The Venice-like festival is organised by UDC, the master developer of The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, in co-operation with Festi Group, the founder and organiser of the popular Venice Carnival.Visitors will experience the international flavour of Italy as a roaming parade recreates the spirit of one of the most famous festivals in the world via elaborate masquerade shows, human statues, and dazzling floating arts. The carnival features enchanting performances, including street artist performances, aerial dancing show, laser music show, and a roaming parade.UDC executive director commercial Hussain Akbar al-Baker, said The Pearl Island has been hosting a variety of events, including its latest activity, Qarnevale Quartier.“We have borrowed the concept from Italy and it is being supervised by Festi Group, the same company that organises the famous Venice Carnival," al-Baker told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.“The Pearl Island is a unique destination in Qatar, which is why we decided to hold Qarnevale Quartier here. It is only type of event being held in Doha,” he pointed out.Aside from activities at Qanat Quartier, al-Baker said UDC is also hosting other fun-filled, family-oriented entertainment at Porto Arabia and Medina Centrale “for people of all ages, from children to adults.” “We cater to different types of people by offering a variety of events,” he explained.On hosting FIFA World Cup fans coming to The Pearl Island, al-Baker said: “The Pearl Island is one of Doha’s greatest landmarks for tourists.Over the past few days, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of tourists and visitors, and the island’s footfall is increasing on a daily basis.”He added: “We are in the process of collating data in terms of the number of people and vehicles coming to the island and we shall announce these figures in the coming period.”Residents of The Pearl Island, as well as tourists arriving in Qatar for the World Cup, will enjoy 11 days of art, time travel magic, and limitless excitement from major international attractions. The Qarnevale Quartier show will run according to the following schedule, street artist performances: 4pm - 4.40pm | 6.30 pm - 7.20 pm; aerial dancing show: 4pm - 4.40pm |7.20pm - 7.30pm; laser music show: 5.10pm - 5.20pm | 7.30pm - 7.55pm; and parade: 5.20pm – 6pm | 8pm – 8.40pm.

HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali preparing to putt during the inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club held yesterday at Gewan Island; looking on are UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and other dignitaries. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Business
Sports minister inaugurates Corinthia Golf Club at Gewan Island

HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali inaugurated Corinthia Golf Club in Gewan Island Tuesday in the presence of UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO, and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and other senior UDC and Corinthia officials.The inauguration of United Development Company’s (UDC) new state-of-the-art sporting facility falls in line with its efforts to improve and diversify recreational and sports offerings at its flagship developments, The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, to provide an integrated residential and leisure experience that fulfils the aspirations of all residents, visitors, and tourists alike.UDC had also recently introduced a series of new facilities and attractions at The Pearl Island, which have been strategically launched in parallel to Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup.Al-Khater said: “The opening of Corinthia Golf Club fulfils UDC’s sustainable growth strategy, which aims at developing hospitality and entertainment sectors, given the promising prospects they hold for The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, in light of the increase in the number of visitors and demand for UDC properties and investments, which in turn drives UDC to provide comprehensive entertainment facilities and services.”Al-Othman said: “The inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club reaffirms that our projects and developments are proceeding in full swing as planned and demonstrates the depth and comprehensiveness of our entertainment vision through integrated facilities and leisure destinations, which include Corinthia Hotel Gewan Island and its annex beach club, the air-conditioned Crystal Walkway and seaside promenade, and of course the recently completed Corinthia Yacht Club on The Pearl Island.”Matthew Dixon, managing director of Corinthia Doha, stated: “We are delighted to be launching the next phase of the wider Corinthia development in Doha. Bringing another tier to our launch following on from the Corinthia Yacht Club.”The golf course consists of nine holes spread over sprawling greens of 32,000sq m surrounded by 616 trees and 96 palm trees and adorned by two sizable lakes within a total facility area of 57,980sq m.The golf club also provides a temporary building to host players until the completion of the main facility within Corinthia Hotel, where the current building includes a majlis and a rooftop terrace in addition to washrooms and lockers for storing personal belongings.Gewan Island, UDC’s latest real-estate project, is a reclaimed island situated next to The Pearl Island, spanning 400,000sq m. Once completed, the island will be home to 659 residential units, including 586 apartments, 20 standalone villas located along a placid beach in a quiet and gated seaside community, as well as 21 beachfront villas with private beach, 26 waterfront villas that are equipped with private pontoons for private boats, and six independent island mansions, in addition to 11,000sq m of retail spaces and 15 multi-use buildings.Gewan Island will feature in addition to Corinthia Golf Club, the five-star Corinthia Hotel and beach club, an air-conditioned outdoor – Crystal Walkway, a seaside promenade, parks, and green areas. The island will also be home to entertainment facilities, a clubhouse, and a mosque.Corinthia is a growing family of luxury hotels founded in Malta in 1962 by the Pisani family. The company has grown over the years into a multinational investor, developer, and operator of hotels and real estate.Corinthia Hotels is a member of Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), which brings together a unique collection of independent hospitality brands with GHA Discovery, a multi-brand loyalty programme leveraging a shared technology platform. Through membership in GHA, brands expand their global reach, drive incremental revenue, and reduce dependence on third-party channels, all while maintaining management independence and individual positioning.Corinthia Hotels’ portfolio includes award-winning hotels in cities, such as London, Budapest, Lisbon, St Petersburg, and the Island of Malta. Current developments underway in various stages of design and construction include landmark, trophy hotels in Rome, New York, Brussels, Bucharest, Doha, and a new resort in Malta.

UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qatar is keen to host all types of sports events, say UDC chairman

The State of Qatar is taking a diverse approach to hosting different games and other sports activities, according to UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater.Al-Khater made the statement on the sidelines of the inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club held yesterday at Gewan Island in the presence of HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali.“The golf club is part of the Corinthia Resort, which consists of a hotel and a beach club slated for completion by the end of 2023. We decided to inaugurate the golf course in time for celebrations of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup. This proves that the State of Qatar is taking sports very seriously, not just football, but all types of sports and sporting events,” al-Khater told Gulf Times.UDC president and CEO and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman also explained that the 9-hole golf course is now operational for amateur and professional golfers, as well as all types of visitors, including families.“The location of the golf course is phenomenal because it is surrounded by The Pearl Island on one side, while people can view the developments happening at the Ritz-Carlton and adjacent areas on the opposite side.“Indeed, it is the first time to see a golf course situated on an island and this is something unique in Qatar. In the future, it will be connected to the hotel, which is located just behind the golf course and this could be added value for residents and tourists, as well as to the investors, elevating the lifestyle of both Gewan Island and The Pearl Island,” he stressed.Al-Khater noted that The Pearl Island has been staging a wide range of daily events in different locations on the island until the end of the tournament. He said most destinations on the island were packed, citing Medina Centrale and Porto Arabia, among others.Al-Othman noted that visitor footfall at The Pearl Island is increasing daily, adding that the host of entertainment events happening there, especially the upcoming carnival along the channels of Qanat Quartier, will also drive people to the island.

Natalia Ansell, VP, head of Visa Business Solutions (VBS), CEMEA. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Business
Visa assures richer, safer digital payment experience, says top exec

At the recently concluded IATA World Financial Symposium (WFS) held in Doha, Natalia Ansell, VP, Head of Visa Business Solutions (VBS), CEMEA, participated in a panel focused on the future of airline payments where she discussed ‘Digital Payments Are Powering a New Future for Travel’.On the sidelines of the event, Ansell spoke to Gulf Times to elaborate on the latest trends in digital payments and Visa’s crucial role in making a safer and more secure experience with payments available to customers.Gulf Times: Given the rapid growth in travel, aggregators, online travel agencies, and metasearch sites face unique challenges. What can they learn from the pandemic experience and how can they automate, streamline, and digitise payments for suppliers while adding big data?Ansell: There are many ways to make payments and to do it fast. An important aspect of this is verifying the payment and validating if there are funds available to make the payment.Transactions in Visa Network offer real-time authorization. Other forms of payment, such as a cheque, for example, would take days or longer to validate. Advancements in virtual cash technology create more seamless experiences and boost efficiency and security, they help to reduce fraud, improve transparency of transactions and deliver cost savings by reducing manual back-office processes. Unlike cheques or cash that can be stolen, or payment documents that can be forged, digital transactions offer more security and robustness. Obviously, security and trust remain critical, particularly as travel adapts to a digital-first world and people use their cards overseas more frequently. Today’s demand for digital money movement requires a refreshed security approach. Visa invests in security and fraud prevention. In fact, Visa, over the last five years, has invested $9bn in cybersecurity and fraud control to make sure that the platform is robust.How can Visa’s B2B virtual card payment solutions solve pressure points in the GCC travel industry?Every country and every region is unique. And at the same time, there are global trends. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in contactless payments by travelers since the pandemic - these new habits will persist especially as we see faster, simpler payment experiences. This is vital for the travel sector and for travelers for many reasons, most notably as it removes the old, often troublesome payment hurdles that people face when they first arrive in a new country regarding a foreign currency, taxis, and train tickets.The GCC is obviously a very interesting region. It is now under the spotlight because of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But also, it is wonderful to look at the UAE, which is building its tourism industry; and Dubai which is diversifying financial services and tourism and investing in technology. With concerns over COVID still in people’s thoughts, services that eliminate the need for physical contact during a journey are boosting traveler confidence – they are also becoming expected as a new norm. In the UAE, we have seen contactless and mobile payments surge in popularity - they are up 60% and 67% respectively since the pandemic shifted people’s attitudes towards cash and cards. As a global company, we’re bringing all of these different trends to see how we can leverage them and what we can give to consumers and businesses here in the GCC.Visa is constantly investing in innovative ways to make commerce more convenient for travelers - from tap to pay to click to pay and digital wallets. Digital payment solutions are there to improve cities’ urban mobility, making their transportation systems efficient, sustainable, and appealing. As part of our ongoing push for innovation and client ease of service, we’re enabling a new era of lightweight payment acceptance tech that requires nothing more of a merchant than owning a mobile phone.We're looking at all of the use cases and everything that we believe is an interesting trend or something that makes experiences richer and more efficient for clients here, who I believe are very savvy and well financially educated.One of the things that we’re noticing is that governments in the GCC, especially after the pandemic, are very focused on wanting to migrate cash and cheques to digital. We applaud governments around the GCC for being so focused on security, building trust, and validating information in nearly real time.I think Qatar is very focused on making sure that it leverages the experience from the World Cup, for example, allowing multiple daily flights from Dubai to Qatar just for the matches. Such big scale sports events are immensely important because they become a big catalyst for what happens afterward with infrastructure, including payments. That just shows that it’s not only about Qatar but making sure that the experience is broader; that there is collaboration. And other countries will definitely benefit from that, which is a win-win for everybody because people will keep coming back. It is a wonderful example of how to anchor, build, and highlight Qatar, but also to embrace the broader GCC and make sure that the overall experience stays a positive one.Expand more on the current situation in payments related to the airline business. For example, the current benefits that airline customers are seeking in payment instruments. Is the payment market more fragmented by country or is consolidation taking place?It’s a little bit of both. Travelers have been swift in their embrace of new digital solutions. With digital solutions top of people’s mind right now. Particularly new B2B solutions and contactless options. Global spending on travel is bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels with leisure travel leading the way, including airlines and travel services that lagged in 2021. If there’s anything that the pandemic highlighted, it’s that the world is a global place. And that is exactly what’s happening with technology, as well as with payments. Nowadays, every business is in the payments business - because payments are everywhere and are expected to be easy and secure by everyone. As an industry leader that prides itself on innovative solutions and products, we understand that consumers have evolved to expect to make payments digitally with ease. If you’re so passionate about a business or a great idea but want to keep it within the borders of one country, that is just not going to happen. In regards of travel, we’ve seen a blurring of boundaries between online and physical experiences with new options becoming available.As a global company with much experience in local dynamics, Visa is able to deliver on a global scale. This responsibility is also a privilege to be the platform that scales local innovations with the right technologies and helps them go global.Kindly discuss alternative forms of payment, such as instant transfers and buy now, pay later (BNPL). Is it possible for them to work together (or not) with card products?Buzzwords like ‘BNPL’ and ‘instant payments’ are common in our industry, and it’s good when people get excited about payments; however, it’s all about presenting consumers with choice. We like to think that as Visa, we don’t pick winners and losers, but are here to present options to businesses and end-users. At the end of the day, it’s the consumers who pick the technologies they most want and need. As Visa, we enable BNPL, which is one of the many ways that help make the experience richer and provides people access to certain experiences.From Visa’s perspective, I would highlight two examples of our recent partnerships powering global money movement. The first is directly related to open banking and open architecture. We all love digital experiences and apps tend to be omnipresent. This is why earlier this year, Visa acquired Tink, a leading Open Data and Open Banking platform in Europe – enabling us to lead innovation through data and insights and expansive new partnerships. Collaborations such as this are crucial to building a strong, sustainable, and secure open data ecosystem.The second partnership is about cross border and global currency – our acquisition of Currencycloud, a business that provides complete transparency of sales. Currencies are still here to stay and when customers make those payments in different currencies, it involves a big deal of decision-making, foreign exchange comes into play and people don’t want that to be a barrier when they sell or buy in currencies with which they are not familiar and want the exact price to be clear. Currencycloud is a fintech that enables clients and partners to offer digital-first travel payment solutions, including multi-currency wallets and real-time notification of exchange rates, ultimately making it a more aware and better experience.

Dignitaries and VIPs join LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Qatar
LuLu Group opens 20th store in Qatar at The Pearl Island ahead of World Cup

LuLu Group opened a new hypermarket, its 20th store in Qatar, at Giardino Mall inside The Pearl Island yesterday, reaffirming the group’s strong presence in the region. “We are very happy to inaugurate our flagship hypermarket at The Pearl Island and we are thankful to the authorities of United Development Corporation (UDC) for shortlisting us, so we can serve the residents and visitors of this luxurious community,” LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.He said: “We would also like to express our utmost gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, as well as the government for their wholehearted support.”The two-level, 150,000sq ft store featuring state-of-the-art amenities was inaugurated in the presence of Yusufali and Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International. The inaugural ceremony was also attended by dignitaries, including Sheikh Hassan bin Khaled al-Thani, UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, Sheikh Mohamed bin Ahmed M A al-Thani, Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan, Fahad Alfardan, Fardan Alfardan, Hussain al-Baker, Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham, and the ambassadors of India, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Panama, and Georgia, as well as the senior commercial officer of the US embassy in Qatar.The new store offers shoppers all the conveniences from the group’s hypermarket chain, such as an abundant range of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood from around the world. It also features an in-house bakery for fresh-baked breads and cakes, as well as shopping options for new award-winning trends. These include LuLu’s celebrated Planet Y, which showcases a wide selection of plant-based meat substitutes and foods, special organic and superfood selections, an extensive ‘free-from’ range, and a zero-waste refill station where eco-conscious shoppers can refill reusable containers with dry goods, including pasta, grains, and other items.The store also includes popular LuLu shopping stations, such as LuLu Fashion, the electronics section – LuLu Connect, EyeXpress, the beauty and cosmetics division BLSH, and an extensive section dedicated to the latest IoT appliances and electronics. The new hypermarket boasts 500 parking spaces, self-check-out counters, and green check-out counters in-store. LuLu is also committed to delivering the same level of excellence in customer service and quality to its valued customers in this new hypermarket.For shoppers’ convenience, the mall offers amenities, such as ATM counters, food courts, money exchange, a pharmacy, and a beauty salon. The hypermarket also provides wheelchair services, a sitting area, and gift wrapping, among others. As a sustainability initiative, the new store is also equipped with a reverse vending machine (RVM) for recycling plastic bottles.Giardino inside The Pearl Island is a futuristic project that extends over an artificial peninsula having vast leisure destinations with public marinas, avenues, hotels, several multi-purpose residential, mixed-use, entertainment, and commercial facilities. Yusufali said, “The Pearl Island features so many unique attractions, making it a key destination for both tourism and investment. Considering that many fans and tourists are coming to Qatar for the World Cup, we are hoping to attract them to The Pearl Island so they can visit our hypermarket here and other branches across the country.”He added: “LuLu is ready to serve residents of the country and the millions of World Cup fans and visitors arriving here. This is LuLu’s contribution to ensuring that the country will host a memorable and very successful World Cup.”Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, lauded the support provided by government authorities to help the hypermarket chain cater to specific and essential needs of the market, especially now that millions of fans and tourists will be arriving in the country for the FIFA World Cup.Althaf emphasised that LuLu has a large workforce that is ready to address the needs of customers coming from different countries, explaining that LuLu is well-prepared to provide the necessities of diverse nationalities, especially their dietary preferences. He added that LuLu will offer a wide range of dining menus and will continue to change and adapt to customers’ essential needs on a daily basis.

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A and Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, show off some of the official FIFA World Cup merchandise available at Barwa Madinatna.
Shopping
LuLu opens Barwa Madinatna store for World Cup fans, local community

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A led on Tuesday the official opening of Barwa Madinatna, the group’s 19th store in Qatar, which is situated at the heart of a residential community in Al Wakra district.Spanning 10,750sqm, Barwa Madinatna will cater to the needs of tourists and other visitors living in the Fan Zone, as well as residents of the community and adjacent areas.Yusufali said, “We are very happy in this ‘FIFA era’ because a lot of people from all over the world are coming to Qatar. We are thankful to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, and the government for all their support.“They shortlisted us to open this mini hypermarket and cater to the needs of the people who will stay in this area. We appreciate the fact that HE the Prime Minister visited the area, so we are very thankful for the government and FIFA authorities.”Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, Yusufali said: “Qatar is ready for the World Cup, and LuLu is also ready to serve the people, especially the fans and tourists who will be attending the tournament. This is LuLu’s contribution to ensuring that Qatar will host a very successful World Cup.”According to Yusufali, LuLu has already opened a number of stores inside Doha Metro stations, including one at the Hamad International Airport station. Today, LuLu will open its 20th store at Giardino Mall on The Pearl Island, he informed.On the influx of fans from different countries for the World Cup, Yusufali said all hypermarket managers and their respective teams have been instructed to cater to people of different nationalities.“The food patterns will change according to the needs of the people, so we also constituted a task force to make sure that our customers get the appropriate items that they are buying from the hypermarket,” he explained.According to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, the hypermarket chain has worked closely with authorities in the country to determine the specific needs of fans and tourists coming to Qatar for the World Cup.“Because of this collaboration, we know the nationality and dietary preferences of the people coming here. So accordingly, we are fully geared to change and adapt to meet their essential needs on a daily basis,” he said.Dr Althaf added: “There is a big workforce capable to address the demand of our consumers. There is also ready-to-eat food and a wide range of dining menus according to different countries. We will keep changing our offerings here, so we are fully prepared to serve the 6,500 apartments that comprise this community.”

Toschi: Italy will help ensure great success for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Qatar
Italy fully supports Qatar for successful World Cup, says new envoy

Italy has ensured its support for the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which runs from November 20 to December 18, ambassador Paolo Toschi said. “We are rooting for Qatar. Italy is here to help ensure great success for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the envoy explained Tuesday in a media statement. “The four-time champion Italian national football team will not be on the green pitch during the long-awaited FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, but Italy will definitely be present in the tournament,” Toschi said. “Indeed, many of the features on display in Doha for international fans will include the ‘Made in Italy’ expertise and reflect the partnership between Rome and Doha.” According to the ambassador, there are many Italian contributions to this year’s World Cup, citing Italian fashion and design exhibitions in M7 (Forever Valentino) and in Msheireb Downtown (Olivetti). This includes contemporary art on show, the professionalism behind the organisation of many events and ceremonies, and work that contributed to the development of infrastructures, such as the Doha Metro and the iconic Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, as well as a strong presence in high-end food and beverage establishments. Toschi emphasised that Italy’s expertise in the field of security is among the highlights of the country’s contribution to Qatar 2022. He noted that 560 men and women in uniform are stationed in Qatar as part of operation “Oryx” to guarantee safety and security, in full co-ordination with Qatar’s armed forces. The envoy explained that the Italian contingent will be placed alongside their local counterparts and employ some of the most cutting-edge technologies in the field of defence. The operation will employ resources from all of Italy’s armed forces, including experts on the ground from the army, the air forces with radar capabilities, a contingent specialising in public safety from the Carabinieri military police, and even a ship – the high-tech offshore patrol vessel, Thaon De Revel, ensuring security at sea. “The presence of our armed forces and of so many Italian skills and expertise during the World Cup is a product of the strategic relationship between our two countries,” said the ambassador, who recently took office in Doha. “Today, Italy and Qatar enjoy a partnership based on high-level institutional and political dialogue, solid trade figures, successful investments, and rich cultural bonds,” he added. “A spearhead of such collaboration is the defence sector, thanks to the mutual trust built between our armed forces.” “Of course, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 presents challenges,” Toschi said. “Qatar recognised them and is addressing them, and Italy supports this important effort.” “We are here to do our best and help our Qatari friends achieve maximum success for the World Cup,” he added.

tarlink's board of directors and top company officials during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Qatar
Starlink holds grand opening of its Manarat Lusail offices

Tech distributor and business-to-business solutions provider Starlink recently held the grand opening of its Manarat Lusail Offices in the presence of its board of directors and other top officials of the company. Located on the 21st floor, the Manarat Lusail Offices feature state-of-the-art training rooms, high-tech meeting rooms, lounging areas, and displays of the company news, offers, and the latest updates, which reflect the company’s open communication, collaboration, and group work philosophy. Starlink has become the cornerstone in tech and solutions by expanding to more than 20 stores across Qatar, managing services, and bridging the gap between top clients and global solutions. Its continued growth has resulted from meeting and exceeding its customers’ needs in a customer-centric/cost-effective approach focused on bridging the gap between new tech and those interested in exploring them. Starlink CEO Munera al-Dosari said, “The opening of this new office represents a strategic expansion. In line with the opportunities arising from economic development in Qatar, the new office will enable us to create a cohesive service network and further strengthen our service capabilities in Qatar and the region.” Starlink offices in Manarat Lusail in Lusail will also be the headquarters for Starlink’s regional expansion into Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Starlink has quickly scaled up to be a leader in the corporate and business sectors covering effective connectivity, managed services, and ICT. Quickly becoming a key component in Qatar’s accelerated infrastructure development, Starlink has built extensive experience in contact centre operations, employing over 500 agents, and running Ooredoo’s flagship contact centre since November 2014. Currently, Starlink is contributing to a digital transformation project with Ooredoo, which will enable the company to provide the first digital contact centre solutions in Qatar today.    

Anshad Ebrahim, regional manager of Akbar Travels of India.
Business
‘Influx of World Cup fans to put Qatar on global tourism map’

The expected arrival of millions of FIFA World Cup fans and other visitors for the tournament will play a key role in cementing Qatar’s position on the global tourism map, a travel agency official has said. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on November 20 and will culminate in spectacular fashion on December 18 when Qatar celebrates its national day, authorities have announced previously. For Anshad Ebrahim, regional manager of Akbar Travels of India, the month-long tournament provides ample opportunity for Qatar to showcase not only its culture and heritage but its scenic and unique destinations across varied locations in the country. “Football is a much-loved sport around the world; needless to say, this event will be followed by millions throughout the tournament until the championship, which will be added value for Qatar as a country and as a tourist destination,” Ebrahim told Gulf Times yesterday. He said: “I am sure Katara, Lusail, and the Sealine beach areas would be some of the most attractive spots and must-see destinations to explore, among the many other places tourists would be visiting when they are not watching the tournament.” Similar to other travel agencies in the country, Ebrahim noted that Akbar Travels has been gearing up to prepare for the influx of tourists for the World Cup, as well as after the tournament. “The World Cup is such a popular event and the highlight that Qatar is hosting this football tournament this year is a proud moment for all of us. As a travel agent, we have been preparing for this event for a while now. “As Akbar Travels, we are able to market the World Cup via packages through our extensive network of offices. This event will boost the tourism potential of the country and propel Qatar to one of the must-see destinations in the region,” Ebrahim explained. He also expressed optimism about the gains and benefits that businesses in the travel and tourism industry, as well as the hospitality sector, would reap after Qatar successfully hosts football’s biggest tournament. “We are extremely optimistic that this event will be a saving grace for every vertical of the tourism industry, especially the hospitality industry, which has been preparing extensively, so that the tourists can have a memorable experience and that we get repeat customers, as well to develop a robust tourism industry,” Ebrahim stressed. He added: “As a key player in Qatar’s travel and tourism sector, we have always focused on developing the tourism potential of the country. We should make sure that the popularity that we would enjoy during the World Cup should be maximised, and that we showcase Qatar as a preferred destination for tourists wanting to visit the Middle East.”

HE the Governor of Qatar Central Bank Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani with FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the unveiling ceremony. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Qatar unveils QR22 commemorative banknote, coins for World Cup

The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Wednesday unveiled the QR22 commemorative banknote and coins for the 2022 FIFA World Cup during a ceremony in Doha. HE the QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani and FIFA President Gianni Infantino presented the special banknote before ministers, dignitaries, state officials, and ambassadors, as well as other guests. In his speech, Sheikh Bandar emphasised that the commemorative banknotes reflect the identity and legacy of Qatar and its football history. He also explained the different stages that led to the issuance of the banknotes, which were designed by an elite team at the QCB. This is the first commemorative banknote issued by QCB in polymer. They can last for “hundreds of years as a witness to this historic achievement of Qatar,” he stressed. SC Secretary-General HE Hassan al-Thawadi with Gianni Infantino. Supplied picture The QCB Governor said the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 commemorative banknotes signify an “essential contribution” from the banking sector, and an endeavour to ensure the success of this historic event, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East and the region. Sheikh Bandar said the banknotes are a source of pride for all people in Qatar and support the efforts of the State to successfully host the World Cup and affirm the unity and integration of various entities in the country’s public and private sectors. QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and other dignitaries at the unveiling of the banknotes and coins. The QCB governor emphasised that the commemorative banknotes will be available at the national local banks and exchange houses. Sheikh Bandar lauded the collaboration of QCB, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and FIFA for the preparation and issuance of the commemorative banknotes. In a press statement, QCB's Monetary Department director, Khalid al-Kuwari, said the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament is a source of pride for Islamic countries and the Arab world. Al-Kuwari noted that QCB has also minted coins, which feature some of the most important stadiums in the tournament: Al Bayt, Lusail, Al Thumama, Khalifa International and Al Janoub. He said these are the first commemorative coins and banknotes issued by QCB, adding that he hopes that this will be a legacy that will be passed on to future generations. Al-Kuwari noted that the banknote’s selling price will be QR75, while its nominal value will be QR22. QCB has also minted coins featuring some of the most important stadiums in the tournament: Al Bayt, Lusail, Al Thumama, Khalifa International and Al Janoub stadiums. The banknote’s selling price will be QR75, while its nominal value will be QR22. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam In a press statement, SC official spokesperson Khaled al-Nama explained that “the coins and banknotes were one of the main means of documentation, and that the presence of such coins and banknotes commemorate this pivotal historical event, not only in the history of Qatar but also the Arab world.” Al-Nama said this was the “fruit of co-operation” between QCB, the SC and FIFA, pointing out that the commemorative banknote not only immortalises the development of the sports industry through the World Cup stadiums, but also immortalises the number 22, and reflects Qatari culture and the tournament’s brand. Sheikh Bandar also presented the measures taken by QCB to develop the infrastructure and logistics of payment systems in the country to provide the best financial and banking services to citizens, residents, and visitors of Qatar. He said QCB recently issued the first prepaid national payment card bearing the registered Qatari trademark, Himyan, a card named after a money bag. He said the Himyan card will provide many advantages as it can be issued to banking and non-banking customers. The Himyan card does not require a minimum account balance and can be issued by banks operating in the country, which will facilitate the payment transactions for all the visitors in Qatar, the QCB governor pointed out.

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho.
Business
South Korea eyes FIFA World Cup Qatar to boost its tourism sector

South Korea is maximising Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to attract visitors to the East Asian nation and boost its tourism industry, according to the Korea National Tourism Organisation (KTO). KTO will be organising the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ event from November 20 to 25 at the Corniche as part of World Cup-related activations being held there and to celebrate the return of travel to South Korea, said KTO regional director Hyunsan Hong. It can be recalled that the Government Communications Office previously announced that from November 1 to December 19, the Doha Corniche remains closed to vehicular traffic and is allocated for pedestrians only as part of preparations for the FIFA World Cup. “The event is organised by KTO during World Cup Qatar 2022, which is the first World Cup hosted in the Middle East, and with that comes the chance to attract GCC nationals and World Cup visitors from all around the world to reboot and promote tourism in Korea after fully reopening in October 2022,” Hong told Gulf Times in an invitation letter to the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ event. He said the event will showcase different cultural experiences and performances and will offer tourism information and entertaining activities, such as traditional clothes experience (Hanbok), South Korean crafts, taekwondo performance, calligraphy performance, AR Trick Eye experience, and K-Pop performances. Aside from cultural exchange and the tourism industry, South Korea has been actively organising dialogue and forums between the public and private sectors of both countries, as well as sending different South Korean delegations to Doha to further enhance its relations with Qatar in a wide range of sectors. During the recently held ‘2022 South Korea-Qatar Business Forum’ held last month in Doha, South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho, called for the expansion of South Korea-Qatar economic co-operation. The ambassador emphasised the need for South Korea and Qatar to expand co-operation ties to “a new horizon” and establish a close partnership in various fields like digital technology, healthcare, smart-farm, renewable energy, and finance. During the forum, Mohamed Hassen al-Malki, Deputy Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, called for joint efforts to expand Qatar-South Korea strategic co-operation and include new and diverse sectors, such as health and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). “In this context, we praise the advanced level of trade exchange between our two nations. Qatar-South Korea trade exchange has grown by 67.2% compared to 2020. It reached $11.57bn in 2021 and $5.98bn in the first five months of this year,” al-Malki said. Also in October, several key South Korean firms specialising in agriculture and smart farming presented solutions that could assist Qatar in its food security and self-sufficiency initiatives. These solutions were raised during the ‘Qatar-Korea Smart Farm Initiative Seminar’ held in Doha through the collaboration of the South Korean embassy in Qatar, the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and the Ministry of Municipality.

Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO of GWC
Business
MSMEs to ‘supercharge’ Qatar’s economy in coming decades, says GWC official

Qatar’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) “will supercharge” the country’s economy in the coming decades as it leverages hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup – “the biggest sporting event on the planet,” Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO of GWC, has said. “The World Cup is bringing new opportunities to Qatar and enabling businesses across a range of sectors to grow,” Menon stated in a brochure distributed to participants of the recently concluded GWC Forum 2022 titled ‘Ready for the Game’. The second edition of the annual GWC Forum aims to champion and empower MSMEs in Qatar by giving them a platform to showcase and grow beyond 2022, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, stated Menon, adding that “empowering Qatar’s burgeoning MSMEs sector is one of our core goals.” The brochure also highlighted that MSMEs are benefiting significantly from Qatar’s position as a global sports hub. Also, the country’s MSMEs represent “97%” of private sector companies and contribute “16%” to Qatar’s non-energy GDP. It stated that hosting the World Cup has created numerous opportunities for domestic and regional enterprises in a range of sectors, including construction, events management, tourism, hospitality, and sports-related industries, and has also helped Qatar form strategic alliances and connect global value chains. Staging the World Cup has also presented the region with opportunities for innovation in areas, such as cooling technology, energy efficiency, waste management, health and safety, public transportation, and information technology. In terms of economic impact, the tournament’s economic sustainability can be measured by the impact on MSMEs and the long-term use of infrastructure, the brochure further stated. The post-legacy use of infrastructure built for the World Cup, including stadiums and training sites, must consider the impact both economically and socially. It is vital the facilities are utilised long after the tournament and benefit local communities, it noted. The brochure also quoted Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), saying: “The power of this tournament as a force for a transformative legacy has always been our guiding light. For Qatar, this tournament has always represented far more than a month of football. “We are committed to ensuring that this World Cup leaves a truly transformational social, human, economic, and developmental legacy, and is remembered as a landmark moment in the history of our region.” He added: “Across different sectors, the country is working tirelessly to develop a knowledge-based economy – reducing the reliance on hydrocarbons and supporting Qatar’s social, economic, and environmental journey – and the World Cup is a vital catalyst for accelerating that vision.”

FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura, Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO, GWC
Business
GWC hosts successful GWC Forum 2022

GWC recently concluded a successful ‘GWC Forum 2022’ titled ‘Ready for the Game’, wherein industry experts highlighted how Qatar’s economy will continue to flourish after the World Cup. In a video address, FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura said: “Micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) represent the backbone of a successful and diverse economy. They create jobs and foster innovation. Qatar has been a hive of innovation in recent years – developing cooling technologies for stadiums and state-of-the-art public transport infrastructure, including the Doha Metro and light rail tram systems. “GWC, its partners, and stakeholders are utilising the assets and experience of hosting the FIFA World Cup to deliver an economic legacy that is aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030. One of Qatar’s great strengths is its determination to leverage the power of hosting the FIFA World Cup like no other country in history. And it is heartening to see that legacy being delivered even before the big kick-off.” The forum was highlighted by a panel session on ‘Direct and Indirect Impact of Qatar 2022 on MSMEs’, which included inputs from Jose Dhooma, head of Event Logistics and Transport, FIFA; Fatma al-Nuaimi, Communications & Media executive director, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC); Nazli Berberoglu, general manager, The Coca-Cola Company; and Syed Maaz, chief business development officer, GWC. Dhooma said hosting the FIFA World Cup in Qatar had raised the bar for a vast number of businesses. “There is a better understanding of international requirements as a result of the World Cup,” he said. “Many businesses now have FIFA on their CV. This helps them to grow. When they work with FIFA, they’re working to an international standard. It is great for whatever Qatar does in the future – whether it is sporting events, conferences, or anything else. “You should also consider the people involved in the organising committee – they will be thinking about how they can create companies and take their services around the world. Working on a World Cup gives people confidence,” Dhooma said. Al-Nuaimi said the SC had worked closely with MSMEs in Qatar and the region on a large number of infrastructure projects, including stadium developments. “We have been engaging MSMEs from the start, whether it is building stadiums or training sites. A number of businesses will be involved in the entertainment and fan experience activations during the World Cup, including event companies and food and beverage businesses. Whenever we have opportunities, we make sure to involve MSMEs – many businesses have been developed here since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup,” she said. Berberoglu commented on Coca-Cola’s commitment to working with MSMEs: “We support a large number of businesses and help them take advantage of opportunities. We always try to take a long-term approach and build a sustainable ecosystem. “One example came during Covid-19 when we helped small businesses create home delivery strategies and worked with them to digitise their businesses so they could better serve their customers.” Berberoglu also spoke about two main issues addressing the 21st century: women empowerment and recycling, as well as waste management. “Under the directives of Coca-Cola, we have been driving our market under these guidelines and empower women and also make sure we pay careful attention to the recycling industry of our bottling plants across the world,” she stressed. Maaz outlined GWC’s contribution to the MSME sector, including the development of 4mn sq m of logistics infrastructure and an ever-expanding ecosystem for small enterprises. “The MSME sector has grown a lot in the last 10 years and is now a major driver for the economy. GWC has created an infrastructure to make it easy for MSMEs to set up in business. We are now managing a huge amount of warehousing in the country, including Al Wukair Logistics Park, which was built specifically to support MSMEs,” said Maaz. The second panel session, titled ‘The Way Forward’, looked into the trends and challenges faced by MSMEs. Participants included Charles Nahas, regional general manager, Microsoft; Dr Manal al-Zaidan, director of Pharmacy, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC); Dr Christos Anagnostopoulos, assistant professor, HBKU; and Dr Kamilla Swart, associate professor, HBKU. The panellists discussed the impact of the FIFA World Cup on their various sectors and outlined the trends they expected to see after the tournament. Nahas spoke on three points related to MSMEs namely startups, homegrown businesses, and commercial/small shop owners: “We go out of our way to assist all three levels of MSMEs with innovative ideas to equip them for the current and future build of their company.” Anagnostopoulos said HBKU has been doing research for the last 10 years and will continue to use this in the development not only for potential World Cup organisers, but also the MSMEs in their quest for market intelligence, which will equip them on the global stage. “They will also help MSMEs to leverage their geographical location of Qatar to the region and the Middle East,” he noted. Hamad al-Abdan, director of Business Development & Investment Promotion, Ministry of Commerce of Industry, gave a presentation about the 1,000 Opportunities initiative, which invites businesses in the private sector to partner with global brands. He also discussed the business ecosystem in Qatar, describing the FIFA World Cup as a golden opportunity for the country’s economy to prosper in the future. Aysha Khalifa al-Romaihi, manager of Special Programmes – Incubation, Qatar Development Bank (QDB), gave a presentation about Scale7 – the country’s first fashion and design incubator, set up to support creative entrepreneurs. The final workshop was led by Dr Adel Elomri, assistant professor, HBKU, and Dr Laoucine Kerbache, professor, HBKU. The workshop focused on the research undertaken to track the impact of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup and how the education sector can work with industry to support students and alumni. Following the event, Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO, GWC, said: “GWC is proud to be at the forefront of MSME development – helping the current and next generation of businesses in Qatar as the country aims to deliver the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.