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Monday, February 26, 2024 | 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 former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos. Peter has also taught journalism in two universities.
Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee Chairman Sheikh Jassim Bin Mansour Bin Jabor Al-Thani And Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher During A Press Conference Thursday. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
PM to address opening session of Web Summit on February 26 

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani will address the opening session of the four-day Web Summit Qatar 2024 on February 26 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). He will be joined by other key speakers, including Emmy-winning South African comedian Trevor Noah, Bollywood actress and singer Nora Fatehi, WPP CEO Mark Read, Whoop CEO Will Ahmed, astronaut and Deep Space Initiative founder Sara Sabry, Replit co-founder and CEO Amjad Masad. This was announced by Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor alThani, the chairman of Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee, in the presence of Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher at a press conference Thursday. For the first time, Qatar will be hosting Web Summit, the world’s largest technology conference, wherein the Prime Minister will take the centre stage to discuss Qatar’s growing tech ecosystem, and how technological developments can be used for the benefit of all humanity across the globe. According to Sheikh Jassim, 12,000 participants are expected to attend the summit but the Organising Committee is anticipating that the numbers would exceed “20,000” by the end of the event, which is Web Summit’s fi rst soldout edition in the region. The event, running until February 29, will welcome the largest and most globally diverse cohort of startups to ever gather in the region – more than 1,000 startups from 80 countries, alongside over 500 investors and LPs from around the world seeking investment opportunities in the region. The startups and partnership programmes sold out four weeks before the event.The top themes during the summit are entrepreneurship, venture capital, Artifi cial Intelligence, energy, advertising and marketing, space exploration, and fi ntech, while a wide range of topics will be discussed by a distinguished panel of speakers and industry experts at the event. Maher emphasised that the Web Summit comes out of a tradition of supporting and elevating startups that are representative of what is new and most exciting in the world of technology. She noted that the event will witness the participation of more than 1,000 startups, which is twice the number that was expected.“In fact, of those start-ups, 50% or around 500 will be attending from the broader Middle East, 10% are attending from Qatar, 30% are women-founded start-ups, and 10% are what we consider impact start-ups, that is, start-ups with a focus on improving the world and the lives of those around us. And about one-fifth or 20% of those start-ups are coming from Africa,” Maher explained, adding that gender diversity and representation “is tremendously important to us,” especially in the summit’s Women in Tech programme.She said, “The technology sector as a whole has historically been dominated more by male participants, and yet we recognise the incredible opportunity that technology affords women to participate in the economy and society, and to address very real needs across our commercial, economic, and social interests. Women in Tech is a flagship initiative of Web Summit.”Maher added: “We’re very much committed to this programme as a way of addressing improving gender ratio and participation in all of our events. And our Women in Tech programme this year is incredibly well attended. We have strong participation from across Qatar, the Middle East, and internationally, and in fact that programme, where we offer incentives for tickets for female participants in technology, sold out.”

Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor al-Thani, chairman of Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Business
Qatar’s startup sector to gain from upcoming Web Summit

Local startups that would be participating in the first-ever Web Summit Qatar are expected to benefit from the exchange of ideas and expertise with their international counterparts during the highly anticipated “world’s largest technology conference.”This was revealed by Sheikh Jassim bin Mansour bin Jabor al-Thani, the chairman of Web Summit Qatar 2024 Organising Committee, who, along with Web Summit CEO Katherine Maher, recently met with the media to discuss the latest developments of the event, which is slated from February 26 to 29 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).Addressing questions from reporters, Sheikh Jassim said there is an equal number of participating startups from Qatar and from around the globe. He noted that the interaction between these startups would result in the exchange of ideas and expertise, even as he urged local startups to maximise the networking opportunities during the summit.“We want these local firms to benefit from the experiences of foreign companies attending the Web Summit; this would provide them a glimpse and a forward vision of what is going on outside the country,” Sheikh Jassim pointed out.He emphasised that the Organising Committee is anticipating a year-on-year increase in the number of participants of Web Summit Qatar, adding that bigger and more companies will be attending future Web Summits here with a focus on startups.“This is why the Organising Committee and Web Summit want to have substantial attendance and participation from local startups to give them the opportunity to meet investors and discover opportunities outside the country, as well,” Sheikh Jassim added.Similarly, Maher emphasised that Web Summit events around the world tend to have a “tremendously positive impact” on both the market and the entrepreneurial activity in areas that are hosting the event.“Since we’ve started hosting Web Summit in Lisbon, the city of Lisbon and the country of Portugal have become a very attractive destination for startups – not just in Portugal in terms of entrepreneurs who are starting their own companies, but also in terms of attracting international talent to partake in the country’s environment for a startup ecosystem,” Maher explained.She added: “At this point, a number of what are known as unicorns are companies that are valued at more than a billion dollars and an increase in economic activity around those events, so we’re very excited that this is very much what we anticipate happening here in Doha, as well.“And we know that Qatar has been incredibly supportive of putting in place the conditions to enable Qatari startups to be more successful and numerous, but also to attract others from overseas to ensure that Qatar is the home for those startups.”

Yasser Dhouib
Qatar
Canadian firms keen to tap Qatari AI market

As many as 25 Canadian firms are expected to participate in the upcoming Web Summit Qatar, which is seen as a platform to explore, exchange, and open opportunities for collaboration in different tech-related sectors.Yasser Dhouib, executive director of the Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF), told Gulf Times that the participating Canadian firms are specialising in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and high technology, among other industries. The summit will be held at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) from February 26 to 29.Dhouib noted that the CQBF delegation is “a diverse mix of startups, visionary investors,” and established businesses that are keen to explore “the untapped potential on both sides of the partnership.”He said the delegation is set to make a significant mark at Web Summit Qatar, which serves as “a pivotal moment” for CQBF, “marking the beginning of its journey to facilitate robust business connections between Canada and Qatar.”Dhouib said: “The forum’s participation in Web Summit Qatar is certainly an important opportunity to in bring several Canadian companies to the country for a full-fledged outreach in the Qatari business market and beyond the region. It demonstrates how CQBF can catalyse growth. From technology to healthcare, energy to finance, the forum envisions a comprehensive collaboration that transcends industries.”He emphasised that Canadian companies are keen to open up to more promising markets in Asia and the Gulf region, “here many opportunities are awaiting the Canadian label and technology.”According to Dhouib, the global flavour of the Web Summit is seen as a channel for “promising prospects” between Canada and Qatar considering that the event is seen as “the world’s largest gathering” for new technologies of the future, “which would certainly create an impact on how the business environment is going to change radically.”“The CQBF is ready to offer networking and expertise in the country to get both Canadian and Qatari entrepreneurs to meet and exchange what’s best for their businesses.“Of course, this entails challenges but also opportunities that should bind both countries, which are leaders in their respective regions and are interesting role models for many nations. AI and high technology will carry for the next years the interest of many business leaders and young entrepreneurs for the new shaping of an intelligent economy,” he pointed out.Dhouib stressed that CQBF “places a strong emphasis” on talent development by connecting aspiring individuals with seasoned Canadian entrepreneurs. He noted that this focus on mentorship and collaboration aims to propel innovation and create a sustainable business landscape.He said, “Canada and Qatar share a longstanding relationship built on mutual respect and cooperation. Recognising the untapped potential for economic collaboration, CQBF emerges as a bridge between the two nations, poised to unlock a new era of bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The forum aims to foster a thriving ecosystem where Canadian and Qatari businesses can seamlessly connect, collaborate, and prosper.“CQBF aims to provide a platform for Canadian businesses to secure contracts in Qatar and explore export opportunities. Simultaneously, it opens doors for Qatari enterprises to expand their footprint in the Canadian market.”

Dr Musafiri: Together, we will forge pathways that are resilient to climate change, strive for carbon neutrality, and encourage innovation in green economics.
Qatar
Rwanda holds business forum; celebrates National Day at Expo 2023 Doha

The Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha (Expo 2023 Doha) has provided Rwanda with an opportunity to engage with “new, like-minded partners” who champion the “green agenda”, according to the country’s Agriculture and Animal Resources Minister Dr Ildephonse Musafiri.The minister, who made the statement during the “Rwanda National Day & Business Forum” held recently at Expo 2023 Doha, added: “Together, we will forge pathways that are resilient to climate change, strive for carbon neutrality, and encourage innovation in green economics.”In a speech, Expo 2023 Doha commissioner-general Bader bin Omar al-Dafa said that Rwanda’s participation in the expo will foster mutual relationships in fields like agricultural and trade investment, civil, aviation, logistic services, and financial services, as well as opportunities to explore other areas of co-operation.“On a multilateral framework level, Expo 2023 Doha provides the public-private sector a platform for advertisement and marketing of Rwanda’s investment opportunities like mining, real estate development, touristic facilities, technologies, and communication,” he said. “I hope that Rwanda will reach its goals by participating in Expo 2023 Doha because its distinctive, brilliant pavilion is a message of strong unwavering message for its milestones.”The forum was graced by the presence of HE the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie, HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiya, HE the Director of the Department of Protocol Ibrahim Yousif Fakhro, Expo 2023 Doha secretary-general Mohamed Ali al-Khouri, and Rwandan ambassador Igor Marara.Highlights of the event included a panel discussion on *A Conversation on Sustainable Resilient Food Systems & Sustainable Production*, featuring the speakers Torba Market & Torba Farm co-founder Fatma Ali al-Khater, LuLu Group International operations manager Simon Alexander, Rwanda National Agricultural Export Development Board chief executive Claude Bizimana, and Baladna head of communications and sustainability Francis Higgins.It was moderated by Food Action Alliance executive director Adam Gerstenmier.Presentations were delivered by Snoonu founder and chief executive Hamad al-Hajri, who spoke on *Technology & Agribusiness: A fruitful enabler* and Khaled al-Rayes, who discussed *Spotlight: My Rwanda Journey.

Johnny Archer addressing the seminar Wednesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Transparency, robust regulations key to boost property investments

Promoting an environment of transparency and well-defined regulatory policies will play a crucial role in attracting real estate investments into Qatar, an executive of Cushman and Wakefield has said.Johnny Archer, head of Consulting and Research at Cushman and Wakefield, made the statement Wednesday during the firm’s regular real estate ‘Breakfast Seminar’, where he was joined by other speakers Edd Brookes, GM & head of Middle East, and Mairead Hughes, Country Manager Qatar, Oman & Kuwait, RICS.Archer lauded the recent measures implemented by the Qatari government, such as the online real estate platform, the establishment of a new Real Estate Regulatory Authority, and the inaugural meeting of Qatar Chamber’s Real Estate Committee.He emphasised that a transparent and well-regulated market is imperative in attracting real estate investment. "Qatar’s real estate market adjusts and matures following years of strong growth ahead of the World Cup, and receiving advice from real estate professionals has never been more important.”Discussing the firm’s ‘Q4 Real Estate Market Review’, Archer pointed out that recent months have seen increased activity in the government sector."We understand that in excess of 70,000sqm of office space across West Bay and Msheireb has either been leased or is under offer to various government entities. These transactions will see the availability of vacant office space in West Bay reduce to approximately 15%, while overall availability in the prime office districts of Msheireb, Lusail, and West Bay is approximately 21%."The fall in availability in recent years is reflective of a number of large-scale leases by government entities or the oil and gas sector. This includes the vast Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah District, occupied in its entirety by Qatar Energy."According to Archer, “The current oversupply of office space in Qatar will continue to be a drag on office rent. The supply of purpose-built office accommodation in Qatar has reached approximately 5.4mn sq m in 2024 with an estimated 1.3mn to 1.4mn sqm of vacant space available.”Archer said new apartment buildings have attracted strong demand from residents looking to upgrade. This demand means that many new buildings in good locations often reach full occupancy “within three months,” he noted.“While tourist arrivals have increased significantly, occupancy rates fell from 58% in H1 2022 to 53%, due largely to an increase in hotel room supply over that period. Between June 2022 and June 2023, the supply of hotel rooms increased by 27% to 38,754."While the unprecedented increase in supply in the approach to the World Cup has put pressure on performance metrics, ADRs remained stable at QR425 for the first six months of the year. Over the second half of the year, figures from the Planning and Statistics Authority showed that occupancy rates remained stable between 52% and 58% with a spike to 66% in October.On the retail market, Archer added: “Some of Qatar’s main malls have indicated that footfall and spending have remained consistent this year. The increase in supply over recent years has, however, seen both footfall and occupancy drop in some of Doha’s older malls, as properties compete for a finite number of retailers and F&B operators. While there is an increasing disparity between malls, Cushman and Wakefield estimate that there is now an overall vacancy rate of more than 20% (by unit) in Qatar’s 20 largest malls.“Retail mall managers have reported the noticeable impact that international geopolitics has had in Q4. A number of international brands have seen a downturn in trade due to the war in Gaza. It is unclear what impact geopolitics and associated consumer behaviour will have on Qatar’s retail market in 2024.”

The Dolce & Gabbana booth at DJWE 2024. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Dolce & Gabbana celebrates DJWE

Dolce & Gabbana is celebrating its participation in the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) 2024 by showcasing a bespoke collection designed exclusively for Alfardan Jewellery.The collection on display at the exhibition, which will run until February 11 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), resonates with local preferences and meets the taste of the luxury community in Qatar.In a statement to Gulf Times, Alfonso Dolce, CEO of Dolce & Gabbana, said: “Dolce & Gabbana renews its focus on the watches and jewellery category after 15 years of activity in the sector, a category which Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana care a lot about, because it represents another soul of the value of handmade, bringing to light some of the lost or undervalued artisanal workmanship of Italian goldsmithing, further enhanced thanks to the use of the best quality natural materials and precious stones.“Dolce & Gabbana wants to give creative independence to the watches and jewellery category: for example, in June 2023 the brand opened the first stand-alone boutique in Milan. We are honoured to be guests and partners of the Alfardan family, a leader in the market, and happy to have had the opportunity to participate in the DJWE to offer the unique creations of high jewellery, limited edition jewels, and fine jewellery to an extremely demanding and prepared public, who can appreciate the beauty and the authenticity of these creations.He added: “The local market has already known Dolce & Gabbana fashion for around 25 years, but today bringing the complete experience of the brand to specific and designated environments, such as the DJWE allows us to open new horizons and new dialogues with customers. This partnership allowed us to work together on some dedicated unique pieces: watches that enrich our collection and adapt our product to the desires and tastes of the local market.”Similarly, Dolce & Gabbana’s jewellery and watches collections on showcase at DJWE narrate a unique story, in which the finest Italian goldsmith traditions dialogue with the brand's technical expert craftsmanship and creative strength.Thanks to priceless gems, original shapes and the refined techniques used in their designs, these creations celebrate beauty, art and the love for expertise. From rings to bracelets, and sautoirs to timepieces, the Dolce & Gabbana fine jewellery and watches and the unique creations of the ‘Alta Gioielleria’ (high jewellery) and ‘Alta Orologeria’ (high watchmaking) collections stand out for their extraordinary wealth of craftsmanship, attention to detail, technical excellence, and surprising colour harmonies.On the occasion of this year’s exhibition, Dolce & Gabbana presents some of its most emblematic creations: from the one-off Alta Gioielleria Sicilia necklace, featuring its exceptional 100.10-carat yellow pear-shape diamond, to the Kosmos Invisible Setting watch characterised by the proprietary DG 01.01 calibre assembled by hand by master watchmakers in Geneva and by the precious diamonds adorning the case, dial, crown, and deployant clasp.Rings with delicate dangling charms, earrings, and bracelets with classic shapes or more unusual compositions: the Dolce & Gabbana fine jewellery collections – ‘Devotion’ and ‘Easy Rainbow’, among others – are a dream to wear every day, thanks to its original design that combines the brand’s most iconic codes and a hint of playful irony.

Christophe Ramel, the Middle East Regional Brand Director of Vacheron Constantin. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Vacheron Constantin celebrates history, heritage at DJWE

The 20th edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) stands as a testimony to the robust partnership between Alfardan Jewellery and Vacheron Constantin, which is showcasing its latest collection and services to the Qatari collectors’ community.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the exhibition, Christophe Ramel, the Middle East regional brand director of Vacheron Constantin, emphasised that the brand is “a maison for connoisseurs” – for people who appreciate the art and tradition of fine watchmaking and who are part of a select group of “one of not many.”Ramel pointed out that Vacheron Constantin’s production is “very limited” and caters to people who are fond of traditional watchmaking and savoir-faire (know-how). According to Ramel, the brand connects with its clientele on a deeper level by preserving its know-how and values and by catering to their preferences and culture.He said, “Vacheron Constantin values preserving its know-how and its values, and connects with the Qatari collectors’ community, who share the same passion and appreciation for the brand.”With a 269-year history and a proud heritage of watchmaking excellence, innovation, and tradition, Ramel said Vacheron Constantin has been careful at protecting and transmitting its savoir-faire from one watchmaker to another while remaining relevant to today’s clients. The brand has always been creative and pushed for excellence in its products, he noted.Ramel said Vacheron Constantin has preserved the importance of craftsmanship in its maison, such as its handmade straps for collectors, which are on display at DJWE. The straps are made with high-quality materials and techniques, and reflect the brand’s attention to detail and aesthetics, he said, adding that the brand’s Overseas retrograde and the Overseas midsize could also be viewed at Vacheron Constantin’s boot inside the Alfardan Jewellery Pavilion.He said, “The retrograde, is a complication that is very dear to Vacheron Constantin; we have it in our collection for more than 100 years. On the other hand, the midsize watches, with a diameter of around 35mm in steel and pink gold, have a lovely design and an interchangeable straps collection, making them versatile and elegant for both men and ladies.”

Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan during the unveiling of the one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg, adorned with elegant natural pearls. PICTURE: Feroze Ahamed.
Qatar
Alfardan Jewellery unveils one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg at DJWE 2024

A unique Faberge Egg was unveiled Tuesday in the Alfardan Jewellery Pavilion, marking another milestone in the luxurious history of the company, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.Ali Alfardan, vice chairman of Alfardan Group and president of Alfardan Jewellery, announced that Alfardan Jewellery and Faberge have collaborated to showcase a one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg as one of the major highlights of the 20th edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which will run until February 11 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).What makes this latest Faberge Egg special is that it is adorned with different natural pearls, which combines the allure of the Faberge Egg – the ultimate symbol of artistic excellence, and the natural pearl – known as a source of pride, joy, and wealth for Qataris.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan revealed that the pearls adorning this Faberge Egg are from his vast collection of natural pearls, which highlights Qatar’s rich pearling heritage.Before the discovery of oil and gas in the country, the main source of livelihood for Qataris was pearl diving, which, today, is an essential part of Qatar’s colourful history and tradition. For the past two centuries, the Faberge Egg not only hails as the epitome of decorative art but has captivated many of the most influential and affluent collectors from royalty to business tycoons.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Italy supports Qatar’s innovation and sustainability strategy, says envoy

The ongoing International Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha Qatar and the Italian Pavilion reflect the close relations between the country and Italy, which is a partner in Qatar’s strategy to innovate and achieve sustainability, Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi has said.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently held ‘Italian Day’, which was organised by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), in co-operation with FederUnacoma – the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation, Toschi said Italy’s presence at the expo signifies a commitment to a sustainable future.“The expo and the Italian Pavilion are a testimony of how our countries look at these challenges as a priority. However, they are also seen as an opportunity for investing more, innovating, and going beyond the current landscape of what is available on the market. We are bringing in scientists, companies, and government together to come up with solutions that are needed in the future,” Toschi explained.The ambassador stated that the name of the Italian Pavilion is ‘Garden of the Future’, which is synonymous with how Italy views Expo 2023 Doha “as a laboratory of the future.”Toschi said topics, such as agriculture, innovation, and sustainability are no longer limited to farmers and other stakeholders specialising in the industry, but they also concern the general society.“Today, there's more awareness of what we eat, the way we farm, the way we ship our products, and where we buy it from. This all affects our lives and livelihood.“So, in all of this, I think Italy brings to the table a holistic sense. We want to bring these visions together, including culture, science, innovation, and farming in a sustainable way, combining traditional techniques and the latest technologies,” Toschi emphasised.The ambassador noted that Italy has a complete vision of providing different solutions, which are also congruent with the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. “And that’s where we find eye-to-eye conversations with Qatar because they also do not want to isolate these elements,” Toschi pointed out.In a speech during the event, Toschi lauded HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani for the recent announcement of the Third National Development Strategy (NDS3) 2024-2030. The NDS3 is the final stage on the path to achieving Qatar National Vision 2030.“Qatar has decided to continuously invest in its future with a very clear vision. A strategic production and growth vision has been presented by the Prime Minister; Italy believes that this is the right way to go – to focus a strategy of growth and development on sustainability.“We also feel that we can contribute to it. We can be part of it. We want to support and encourage that development and today, we do it by focusing on the very important field of agriculture and agricultural technology,” he stated.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
‘Made in Italy’ technologies for Qatari agriculture on show at 2023 Expo Doha

Qatar is investing in quality agriculture and exploring opportunities for co-operation with the Italian agro-mechanical industry, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) announced Wednesday at the 2023 Expo Doha.The most advanced machines and equipment to cultivate arid soils and to create highly automated farming models are on show at the 2023 Expo Doha, stated the ITA during a press conference to present the 2024 edition of the EIMA International, the world’s largest exhibition of agricultural mechanics to be held in Bologna from November 6 to 10.The presentation of the EIMA International was one of the highlights of ‘Italian Day’, which was organised by the ITA, in co-operation with FederUnacoma – the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation.In his remarks during the presentation of EIMA International, Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi said: “Italy’s official participation in 2023 Expo Doha is enriched by the presentation of the 46th edition of EIMA International.“The trade fair and the calendar of workshops and conferences that will take place will showcase the most advanced technologies and cutting-edge solutions for modern agriculture, respecting the environment and ensuring sustainability. This technology is showing us the future of agriculture and we are proud to enhance it in Doha.”Ricci said the upcoming EIMA International is divided into 14 product category sectors and five thematic showcases, making it one of the largest sectorial exhibitions in the world with several exhibiting companies that should largely exceed 1,530 of the previous edition and an audience of 327,000 attendees.He said, “EIMA 2024 will show all the world innovations in terms of tractors, implements, equipment, components, but also advanced electronic systems, drones, and agricultural robots to cultivate every type of territory.”Another highlight of Wednesday’s event was the discussion of the ‘Marginal Areas and Extreme Territories: The New Challenges of Agricultural Mechanisation’, which featured FederUnacoma deputy general manager Fabio Ricci, Lorenzo Iuliano of the Technical Office of FederUnacoma, and Lorenzo Marconi of the University of Bologna.The discussion was moderated by ITA commissioner in Doha, Paola Lisi, who said: “The quality of ‘Made in Italy’ products are not only referred to fashion and agri-food sectors but also highly technological sectors, such as the agricultural mechanics, which represents the excellence of the Italian industry, which is systematically promoted by the ITA through specific events addressed to selected journalists and businesspeople.”The discussion focused on the new frontiers of agricultural mechanics, which explored and promoted the technologies produced by Italian industries that best suit Qatari agriculture, as well as new prospects of mechanisation for agriculture in Arab countries.Ricci explained a report that offers technologies that can reconcile the increase in agricultural yields with the conservation of natural resources.Iuliano, on the other hand, focused on the vast product categories made by the Italian industries, including those for minimum tillage, speciality crops in open fields and within greenhouses, and irrigation, which have developed to reduce the impact on the soil, the use of pesticides, and water consumption. These are increasingly sophisticated machines, governed by precision electronic devices, he said.Marconi said agriculture is strongly projected towards full automation of functions and the use of fully autonomous robots. He said one of the departments at the University of Bologna has been designing and testing agricultural robots capable of carrying out automated complex activities in the vineyard and other crops.“The department’s task is to bring these prototypes to the level of industrial production to reach those markets that focus on the quality of production and self-governing farming models,” Marconi added.

Indian ambassador Vipul. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Envoy lauds significant Qatari FDI into major Indian firms

Qatar-India ties in the areas of trade, investments, and energy have been witnessing robust growth, according to Indian ambassador Vipul.Speaking to Gulf Times recently, Vipul said trade between the two countries stood at $18bn last year, while in the last five to six months, Qatar committed “substantial investments” in two large Indian companies, Reliance Retail and Adani Green Energy, as well as other companies.“Majority of Qatar-India trade comprises Qatari LNG exports, but India’s exports to Qatar have also increased during that period. I'm quite sure that we will continue to do very well on the trade front.“But connected to it, I would like to mention is also the investments. So, our trade and investment ties, as well as our energy ties, are very important and have continued to move forward, which is why my outlook for both countries is very positive,” he said.Vipul recently inaugurated the grand ‘India Utsav’ organised by LuLu Group, where he lauded the global retailer for its “vital” role in Qatar-India trade relations. He said not only is LuLu Hypermarket catering to Qatar’s burgeoning Indian expatriate population, but also to South Asians, Arabs, and Qataris.“I’m very happy that with the presence of LuLu, it plays a very important role in that dimension of promoting the food products, but also other lifestyle products of India in Qatar,” he stressed.Vipul also said there are “tremendous opportunities” in terms of further co-operation in the Information Technology (IT) sector, as well as in emerging technologies, whether it be artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, or all other technologies.“Indian IT companies are already doing work in Qatar. They are associated with a lot many organisations in the country. And I’m sure we can continue partnering with Qatar as we go forward.“And we must do that because we’ve seen that in the ‘Third National Development Strategy’ (NDS3) 2024-2030 that Qatar recently announced, they place a lot of importance on innovation, on startups, and moving ahead with technology,” the ambassador pointed out.Vipul added: “India has the human resource and India has those companies with which those partnerships can be built, so I’m sure that this will continue to happen. And we had launched a startup bridge between India and Qatar last year.“India has a lot of strength in startups. And the foundation of these startups is technology, especially IT. And I’m sure that with the large Indian market and Qatar having the financial capital, that also makes it a win-win situation for both countries, so I’m optimistic that we will continue to make progress in that regard.”

 Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdul Latif al-Misnad
Business
Education is vital in Qatar’s transformation into major financial centre

Qatar Chamber is working with both the public and private sectors to develop the country’s education sector to achieve the country’s vision of becoming a financial hub in the Middle East and the Gulf region, an official has said.According to Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdul Latif al-Misnad, the chamber has several committees specialising on different sectors of the country, one of which includes the field of education.He said the chamber recently collaborated with Oryx Universal College (OUC) in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University in Qatar, to launch the ‘Investment Catalyst Scholarship Award 2024’ as part of Qatar Chamber’s major initiatives to foster educational excellence in the finance sector.Al-Misnad explained that the initiative offers a scholarship grant worth 30% of the tuition fees for the ‘MSc Investment and Finance Programme’. Upon completing the entire programme in Qatar, the students will graduate with a master’s degree from Liverpool John Moores University, he noted.During the launch event, where he was joined by OUC officials, Professor Mohamed Najdawi, Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Chief Academic, and Dr Moheeb AbouAlqumboz, the dean of Leadership and Business College, al-Misnad underscored the programme’s potential boost the country’s investment, finance, and business landscape. “The government’s entire strategy for 2030 is focused on the development of Qatar’s economy, so it is important to gain professional experience and best practices from our partners in the education sector, which is why the chamber is encouraging everyone to avail these programmes. The chamber is keen to serve as a bridge between the education sector and the public and private sectors,” al-Misnad told Gulf Times.Al-Misnad also expressed confidence that Qatar “is on track” with its initiatives to establish the country as a major financial centre in the Middle East and in the Gulf region as part of Qatar National Vision 2030.“We are absolutely on track. And this is why it is very important that major players and industry stakeholders should regularly meet, discuss, and address the challenges in meeting the objectives of the 2030 national vision, thus strengthening the country’s economy,” he added. Speaking at the launch event, Najdawi said: “In light of plans to transform Qatar into a strong financial centre over the next few years, Qatar is going to need many qualified financial analysts and investment professionals. We would like people to have the tools, the skills to make informed decisions regarding investment.“We need to understand how the global economy is working and how global decisions are made among different commodities and different financial centers. Therefore, this programme will provide professionals with the skills and competencies in portfolio management, market analysis, and different markets management, among others.”

Indian ambassador Vipul leading the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the inauguration of India Utsav 2024 in the presence of Qatari dignitaries and community leaders, including representatives from various Indian organisations. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
LuLu Hypermarket Qatar holds ‘India Utsav’ to commemorate 75th Republic Day

LuLu Group has recently organised the grand ‘India Utsav’ at LuLu Hypermarket in Gharafa to commemorate the celebration of India’s 75th Republic Day.India Utsav, a 10-day festival, which will run until February 2, is showcasing a diverse array of Indian food, spices, fruits, vegetables, authentic dishes, and ethnic clothing. It also honours India’s rich culture and heritage while promoting the highest quality products from the South Asian nation.The festival was inaugurated by Indian ambassador Vipul in the presence of Qatari dignitaries and community leaders, including representatives from various Indian organisations like ICC, ICBF, ISC, IWA, and IBPC.LuLu Group has been organising this annual festival for the past two decades, not only to mark India’s Republic Day but to pay tribute to longstanding trade relations between Qatar and India. This year holds special significance as both nations celebrate 50 years of bilateral relationship.In a speech, Vipul said: “It is an honour to stand before you on this auspicious Republic Day of India here at LuLu Hypermarket. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the distinguished members of the Qatari society and the Indian community who have joined us today.“As we celebrate the 75th Republic Day of India, it is a momentous occasion to reflect on the incredible journey of our nation. India stands as the fastest-growing economy among the world’s largest economies – a testament to the success achieved over seven decades.”The inaugural ceremony featured a fusion of traditional art forms from Bengali, Rajasthani, Kathak, and Odissi, enriching the spirit of the festival. A choir from Podar Pearl School sang the Qatar and Indian national anthems, while a dance performance added a touch of cultural diversity.As part of the festival, Vipul inaugurated the ‘Indian Silk and Ethnic Wear Fest’ at the Saree Section, showcasing a wide collection of pure natural and synthetic silk from India, including saris, readymade garments, and dress material at discounted rates.In the past two decades, India has made significant strides in education, science, technology, and IT, culminating in the historic landing of Chandrayaan on the dark side of the moon in 2023 a feat unmatched by any other nation, Vipul announced during his speech.“Here in Qatar, I express sincere thanks to the leadership and people for hosting over 800,000 Indians, forming the largest expatriate community. Our historic and cultural ties have resulted in robust trade relations with over $18bn in trade and a vital long-term gas deal securing India’s energy needs,” he said.Vipul acknowledged the special role played by LuLu Group in Qatar-India trade ties, saying Lulu Hypermarkets cater to diverse communities, especially the Indian community and have become flag bearers in importing Indian goods.“Celebrating India’s Republic Day in this manner fills my heart with pride. I express gratitude to the LuLu Group for their commitment to fostering Indo-Qatari relations through the India Festival. I am confident that our bilateral ties will continue to prosper, reflecting the shared commitment of India and Qatar to progress and cooperation.“I extend warm wishes to everyone present here on the joyous occasion of Republic Day. May the friendship between India and Qatar continue to thrive, and both nations march ahead with vigour in the years to come,” Vipul added.The festival offers a variety of food products, including organic items imported from different parts of India. LuLu Group regularly imports over 4,000 items of Indian origin, encompassing popular fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), LuLu private label products, fruits, vegetables, packaged food products, household goods, kitchen essentials, traditional wear, and other garments, making them available throughout the year in all stores across the region.India Utsav offers an exclusive display of these products at all LuLu stores, providing customers with access to a wide range of choices. Moreover, LuLu Hypermarket's special focus has been placed on showcasing a variety of millets from India, with an exclusive corner dedicated to different types of nutritious grains.The festival also showcases a vast selection of bakery products made from millets and freshly prepared hot foods, including biryanis, curries, popular street foods, traditional sweets, and other delightful delicacies.This celebration not only enriches the cultural diversity of the country but also underscores LuLu Group’s dedication to providing its customers with a diverse and premium shopping experience.LuLu Group is a leading retail chain committed to providing customers with a diverse range of high-quality products. With a focus on international sourcing and cultural exchange, LuLu Group continues to set industry standards through innovative promotions and events.

Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar.
Business
Qatar free zones offer multiple advantages to American SMEs, says USQBC executive

Qatar offers a substantial number of compelling advantages to American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking to establish or expand their operations in the country’s free zones, USQBC official in Doha has said.Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar, said the country’s free zones, such as Ras Bufontas and Umm Alhoul, offer competitive advantages and incentives for American SMEs looking to establish or expand their presence in Qatar and the region.In an interview with Gulf Times, she said: “These zones strategically position SMEs close to major transportation hubs, which facilitates efficient distribution. Their modern infrastructure and advanced technology offer a conducive business environment.“In free zones, regulatory processes have been streamlined, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and expediting the setup process for American SMEs. SMEs navigating local regulations benefit from the supportive business ecosystem, including advisory services and networking opportunities.”Sheikha Mayes pointed out that these free zones serve as a gateway to regional markets, providing access to the broader Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Middle East markets. It is also important to note that the commitment to modern green infrastructure adds to the appeal of the project to investors, she noted.Asked about her outlook on Qatar-US economic relations and what role USQBC can play in enhancing bilateral trade and investment, especially in the context of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the post-World Cup economic opportunities, Sheikha Mayes stressed that both nations’ economic relations “are poised to grow in the future.”She said, “The USQBC could be an important catalyst in maximising bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The council can contribute significantly to the enduring success of the economic collaboration between the two countries by aligning initiatives with the ‘3rd Qatar National Development Strategy 2030’, capturing opportunities and providing essential support and networking platforms.”Sheikha Mayes emphasised that the council is closely collaborating with its partners, such as the US Embassy in Doha and other key players to promote and facilitate business investment between Qatar and the US.“We have established a strong partnership with the US Embassy, as well as with partners and other stakeholders. As part of our efforts to stay informed about business and investment initiatives, we maintain regular communication channels with the Commercial Service section of the US Embassy.“USQBC is engaging in embassy-organised events and exchanging relevant information on business opportunities and market trends, as well as collaborating on the exchange of information to the US and Qatari business communities,” she said.Sheikha Mayes said the council is also organising joint business outreach programmes with the US Embassy to promote networking and collaboration, as well as scheduling regular co-ordination meetings with all stakeholders to discuss ongoing initiatives and plan collaborative activities.“We have also established a collaborative relationship with the Qatar Financial Centre authorities, understanding their priorities and regulations related to foreign investment. Collectively, these strategies contribute to fostering a conducive business environment between Qatar and the US,” she further explained.Shekiha Mayes also said the USQBC is leveraging the presence of six major US universities in Qatar and the thousands of Qatari students studying in the US to foster educational and cultural exchange and co-operation.She said, “We are focused on facilitating joint programmes that facilitate collaboration and partnership between the USQBC and the universities. Our institution provides accredited internship programmes, such as the one we have with Georgetown University Qatar, which enhance cross-cultural experiences for students by providing exposure to a professional business environment.”Sheikha Mayes added: “In advancing these strategies, the goal is to contribute to the development of an interconnected and globally aware community, which can foster a rich environment for mutual learning and cooperation.”

Michael Javier, founder and CEO of fintech firm CWallet
Business
‘Cross-functional tech’ pivotal in enhancing tourism experience, says Doha-based startup founder

Maximising technological advancements currently available in the market could play a pivotal role in enhancing the experience of tourists visiting the country, according to a Doha-based startup founder.Michael Javier, founder and CEO of fintech firm CWallet, stated that visitors to Qatar could benefit from the solutions provided by different startups and tech firms catering to tourists and the tourism industry.“Technology will ease tourists’ worries and simplify their journey while they are enjoying their visit to Qatar. Having cross-functional tech will provide a plethora of information for visitors here, plus various options from accommodations, gastronomy, and simplified payment transactions while staying in Qatar,” Javier told Gulf Times.Javier also emphasised that migrating from cash to digital payments, especially among small retailers, will help boost tourists’ experience considering that they prefer to use credit cards or digital transactions.“Aside from simplified payments and cashless transactions, the rates should also be competitive. Allowing tourists to download and register local apps, such as delivery, wallets, and government, for example, will allow them to access good deals, better options and FAQs to know more about the culture and to explore the best places to visit,” he pointed out.Javier emphasised that tech startups in the country should leverage the partnerships that Qatar has forged with leading global companies as part of the government’s efforts to roll out the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing.Qatar’s collaboration with tech giants like Google and Microsoft has allowed the government and key stakeholders to align with the objectives of global tech players, said Javier, who added that by having local cloud providers, data is now being hosted locally or “on-prem,” which will support local startups and tech providers from a regulatory perspective.Javier also noted that while startups in Qatar “are trailing behind their regional counterparts,” many of these companies have learned a lot from the experience of successful founders, investors, and other stakeholders in the last three to five years.“This is why I believe a breakthrough for the country should be on the horizon. The objective now is to keep pushing forward faster. Keep dreaming big and do not hesitate to solve the problems ahead. In time, this mindset will contribute to discovering different ways to accomplish the task at hand and enhancing sectors like ICT,” Javier explained.

Michael Trick, dean of Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar, bestowing a token of recognition to QBWA vice chairperson Aisha Alfardan, who was the guest speaker during the latest edition of the ‘Dean's Lecture Series’ held on Monday at CMU-Q. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
QBWA official highlights women’s pivotal role in Qatar’s progress

Women in Qatar have been key players in the country's socio-economic development in sectors such as business, government and policymaking, and education, a top official of the Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA) said on Monday.QBWA vice-chairperson Aisha Alfardan delivered meaningful insights on the role of businesswomen in community development during the latest edition of the ‘Dean's Lecture Series’ held at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q).During the lecture, Alfardan presented a video, which enumerated the achievements of Qatari women in several milestones achieved by the country, the latest of which was the 2022 FIFA World Cup.The World Cup highlighted the unique generosity, rich culture, and infrastructure development of Qatar. The global sporting event also emphasised the role of women as leaders, visionaries, and innovators in driving change.Alfardan stressed that Qatari women “often outperform their male peers” and that Qatari educators have gained global recognition for their achievements. Their influence extends beyond classrooms to administrative boards and policymaking domains, she pointed out.She said Qatari women also made great strides in government and policymaking, as well as in the country’s business sector, making a strong presence and serving as a source of new ideas and leadership. Qatari women also help guide corporations and startups, becoming major players in Qatar’s burgeoning economy.Amid these milestones is QBWA, according to Alfardan, who noted that the association has been championing women’s participation and fueling the drive to new achievements and is both a driving force and key contributor to the Qatar National Vision 2013 through various initiatives, programmes, and local and international events.Alfardan emphasised that women are not only the hub of society, “but they are the society itself” because they are in charge of raising and taking care of their children and families, especially in the Arab world, “so, there is no doubt that educating and investing in women benefits the whole community.”Beyond economic development, Alfardan said businesswomen in Qatar also champion gender equality, break barriers, mentor others, and advocate for inclusivity, making the workforce more diverse. She noted that women in Qatar provide fresh ideas that drive innovation and solve societal problems with creative ideas and groundbreaking solutions.Alfardan also lauded the visionary leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and how she provided a “historic opportunity” for Qatari women, enabling them to play a vital role in sustainable development, according to the pillars of the country’s National Vision 2030.She said Her Highness Sheikha Moza has constantly advocated for gender equality and equal opportunity in education and work, allowing Qatari women to make big strides in local financial and business domains, as well as in innovative projects, thus achieving the success stories that are being celebrated in Qatar today.On the sidelines of the event, Alfardan and CMU-Q Dean Michael Trick signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that stipulates collaborative initiatives between QBWA and the university. “We will work together closely to provide quality opportunities for mentorship and our students,” Trick said.

Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar.
Business
Official underscores USQBC role in attracting American SMEs to Qatari market

An official of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has underscored the USQBC’s significant role in providing American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the Qatari market.Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar, said the USQBC’s “crucial role” in aiding the entry of American SMEs into the Qatari market includes providing market intelligence, networking opportunities, and business matchmaking services, and connecting these SMEs with local partners, customers, and suppliers.“The council offers one-on-one counselling that provides insight into Qatari business practices, advocates for American business interests and assists in navigating regulatory processes. The USQBC facilitates access to decision-makers, organises trade missions, and collaborates with local institutions to enhance the visibility and opportunities for SMEs in Qatar.“Furthermore, the council keeps SMEs informed about market developments, policy changes, and trade shows, as well as providing personalised support to address the unique needs and challenges of each business,” Sheikha Mayes told Gulf Times in the context of the USQBC’s role in supporting the upcoming SelectUSA Investment Summit.Earlier, Sheikha Mayes noted that the USQBC is planning a series of events to support Qatari businesspeople who will be participating in the investment summit slated on June 23-26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in National Harbour, Maryland.To evaluate the potential for collaboration between American SMEs and their Qatari counterparts in various sectors, such as technology, health, education, and tourism, Sheikha Mayes explained that a comprehensive assessment is conducted to ensure that SMEs from the US can effectively collaborate on the Qatari market.“This involves assessing market demand, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, and exploring partnership opportunities. It is imperative to adhere to local standards, identify specific needs, and tailor offerings to local cultures and preferences,” she emphasised.Sheikha Mayes also stressed that it is important to consider the following factors: cultural understanding, adherence to regulatory requirements, monitoring of market trends, and active engagement in networking to build relationships.“We ensure successful collaboration and market penetration in Qatar by systematically addressing these factors and tailoring custom-made strategies accordingly,” Sheikha Mayes further pointed out.She said, “The USQBC recognises the difficulties American SMEs may encounter due to cultural differences, regulatory complexity, and market access barriers in Qatar. Despite these difficulties, the USQBC recognises that Qatar’s economic diversification efforts, infrastructure development projects, government initiatives, and the growing demand for education, training, and tourism present significant opportunities.”According to Sheikha Mayes, the council is intended to facilitate collaboration and business continuity for American SMEs in these promising fields. She noted that the USQBC strives to increase the success of American businesses in Qatar by aligning its programmes with Qatar’s economic goals, offering innovative solutions, connecting them and directing them to the proper resources.Based on shared values, interests, and a shared vision for the future, Sheikha Mayes said that Qatar-US ties “are stronger than ever before” and Qatar’s long-term economic development offers ample opportunities for American businesses.Currently, many opportunities for collaboration exist between Qatar and the US, she said, adding that there is a strong focus on the energy sector with Qatar serving as a major natural gas exporter. At the same time, the US has extensive expertise in energy-related technologies.“There are also opportunities in the area of investment and finance, taking advantage of Qatar’s interest in diversifying its investment portfolio and the strength of the US financial sector,” Sheikha Mayes stressed.She added: “Co-operation in the field of defence and security, a historical collaboration area, offers further opportunities for joint projects. Several other areas of collaboration are also encouraged, such as technology, innovation, research and development (R&D), tourism, education, agriculture, and food security.”

(From left) Tarek Biour, Jason Holland, ⁠Saad al-Kuwari, ⁠Dr Eddy Borges-Rey, ⁠Dr Abdulaziz al-Khanji, ⁠Nino Rahal, and ⁠Hicham el-Rawass during the special gathering hosted recently by Alfardan Jewellery inside The Pearl Island. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Alfardan Jewellery hosts intimate gathering for Doha Watch Club

Alfardan Jewellery recently hosted an intimate gathering for the Doha Watch Club, providing an opportunity for its members to engage, as well as share stories and experiences about their favourite timepieces.The event held at Alfardan Jewellery inside The Pearl Island was highlighted by a surprise unveiling of the latest Ulysse Nardin collection, said director of retail operations Tarek Biour.“Alfardan Jewellery hosted the event to engage with members of the Doha Watch Club, allowing them to discuss their passion for watches and share their favourite watch stories,” he said. “We aim to educate people and explore the idea that watches are more than just tools for telling time.”“A watch is a statement: It’s a legacy, a memory, and it carries emotional attachment to the wearer,” Biour told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.“We appreciated the diversity of the club; anyone with a love for watches could join,” he added. “The club is open to growth and potential collaborations, aiming to bring all watch lovers together in one group.”Gulf Times also sat down with the majority of the club’s founding members – Dr Abdulaziz al-Khanji, Nino Rahal, Dr Eddy Borges-Rey, and Jason Holland – who shared their passion for horology and a brief history of the club, as well as its aspirations.Borges-Rey noted that another founding member, Ahmed Kobeissi, was instrumental in bringing together the core members of the club.According to al-Khanji, what makes the Doha Watch Club unique in the country is the international nature of the club, which allows for a rich exchange of cultures.He emphasised that the diverse perspectives presented in the club come from its multinational membership, thus bringing diverse points of view to every discussion or engagement.Holland said that the club offers a unique opportunity for expats in Qatar to find a community and share common interests beyond horology and the love for different types of timepieces.“The club provides an outlet away from work, offering a space to interact with people outside of the professional sphere,” he said. “Members can have a meal, a coffee, and engage in discussions about watches, sports, or any topic with people who share similar interests.”Rahal pointed out that while members of the Doha Watch Club have different preferences, it accommodates collectors and enthusiasts with diverse tastes in watches.Daily active discussions take place, primarily via a messaging platform, which is the main communication channel for the club, he added.“The club is open to all kinds of watch brands and types. Members are always eager to learn about different watch movements, types, and brands,” Rahal said. “There are active discussions about microbrands, including their new releases and the value for money of their watches.”“The Doha Watch Club fosters a non-judgmental environment where members are free to like any kind of watch,” he added. “Members occasionally share pictures of their watches, not to show off, but to share their passion. And this shared passion for watches is humble and varies in intensity and expense among members.”“The club is inclusive and not limited to any specific type of watch or price range,” Rahal stated.Borges-Rey said that the club has experienced exponential growth since its establishment two years ago, with the number of members reaching almost 60, surpassing the regular numbers in other clubs in Qatar.“The club envisions itself as part of a collaborative landscape with other clubs, open to being part of the broader environment of watches and horology in the country, and welcoming initiatives and collaborations,” he added.Al-Khanji said that the Doha Watch Club is anticipating a better presence during the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which will be held from February 5-11 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).“This is the first time that the club is going to the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition as the Doha Watch Club,” Borges-Rey said. “The club has now built a good relationship with various watch brands.”Rahal said one of the advantages of attending the DJWE is that the event provides easy access to various watch brands and showcases new novelties and models that might not be easily found in boutiques.The event offers a hands-on experience where attendees can feel and see the watches, he said, emphasising that “buying a watch should be an experience”.Aside from Ahmed Kobeissi, another Qatari, Saad al-Kuwari, is also considered a key figure who helped propel the Doha Watch Club to its current status, according to Borges-Rey.Al-Kuwari lauded the club’s diverse membership, saying: “The group is not limited to locals but is a mix of expatriates and locals, reflecting the large percentage of expatriates in Qatar.”“Qatar has a significant number of serious watch collectors, whom the group aims to bring together ... establishing the club is greatly aided by recognition from watch brands,” al-Kuwari said. “It’s crucial for the brands to acknowledge the club as a collective entity.”“The Doha Watch Club is going through an exciting chapter, aiming to represent Qatar in the vast watch industry,” he added. “In recent years, the watch industry has grown significantly, with a 300% to 400% increase in people developing a love for watches.”“This growth extends to watchmakers and manufacturers, and the market in Qatar has also seen a surge in interest, particularly during and after the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic,” al-Kuwari said.