Sunday, April 21, 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.
Each Lusail Tram station contains a customer information centre, Travel Card vending machines, live digital service updates, separate male and female prayer facilities and restrooms that cater for people with mobility impairments.
New tram lines expected to spur local tourism growth

The recent opening of two more lines of the Lusail Tram is expected to spur “exponential growth” in local tourism, particularly within the vicinity of Lusail City, a Qatar Rail executive has said.Lusail City has been attracting thousands of local and international visitors in recent years as it is home to several touristic destinations, such as world-class malls and theme parks. It is also a hub for luxury residential homes, retail and food outlets, and offices for public and private sector entities.Only recently, Qatar Rail announced the launch of the Pink Line and the completion of all Orange Line stations. According to Qatar Rail, once the full tram network opens, it will connect various government offices, residential towers, leisure and sports facilities, avenues, marinas and other major attractions across Lusail City.Engineer Ahmed al-Saleh, senior director of the Lusail Tram Project at Qatar Rail, spoke to the media earlier and pointed out that the transport agency’s focus is on encouraging more people to utilise the tram, thus increasing ridership.Not only will this drive tourism growth in the Lusail area, but the expanded operations of the Lusail Tram will also help entice more people to relocate and live in Lusail City’s residential neighbourhood, al-Saleh emphasised.Engineer Jassim al-Ansari, chief of Programme Delivery at Qatar Rail, also said plans are in the pipeline to add tram links, similar to the Metro Link, to augment the transportation needs of the riding public.“A study, as well as preparations for a tram link, are being put in place. But this will always be subject to the number of ridership. In Lusail, particularly, we need to be more careful, and we need to know exactly where we can have more catchment of population and ridership to have effective operation of a tram link,” al-Ansari told Gulf Times.He added: “We are in favour of increasing ridership and encouraging more people from the surrounding neighbourhoods to use our network, considering that the Lusail Tram is also connected to the Doha Metro network.Ajlan Eid al-Enazi, chief of Strategy and Business Development at Qatar Rail, underscored the importance of both the Doha Metro and the Lusail Tram, saying both transport networks help the riding public save on travel time.Both networks also provide accessibility to key destinations, such as government offices, corporate buildings, commercial shops and malls, restaurants, and other tourism-related establishments.Citing Qatar Rail’s successful experience during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, al-Enazi said the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram served as a vital mode of transportation for many sports fans. He said both networks will continue to ferry passengers quickly and safely during future sporting events to be hosted in Qatar.

QDB CEO Abdulrahman Hesham al-Sowaidi.
QDB keen on building sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem

Among its key objectives, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) is keen on building a sustainable, advanced ecosystem for entrepreneurship, chief executive officer Abdulrahman Hesham al-Sowaidi has said.Forging strategic collaborations, fostering technological infrastructure growth, and setting up successful incubators and hubs are among the key pillars QDB is seeking to utilise in building a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, al-Sowaidi stated in an interview published in ‘The Business Year: Qatar 2024’.“Supporting the growth of a technological infrastructure and contributing to Qatar’s position as a centre of innovation through impactful partnerships are part of that roadmap,” stated al-Sowaidi, who noted the significance of collaborating with local and international partners, such as Microsoft, among others.He also said tech and software partnerships will enable startups to develop digital skills, as well as leverage cloud technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) “to plan and launch successful and scalable businesses that are on par with rapidly growing innovative businesses around the world.”“We have had a long-term partnership between Ooredoo and Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC), which has produced the Digital & Beyond incubator, helping entrepreneurs launch new technology-focused businesses in the country.“We have also launched other successful incubators across Qatar, including the creative hub Scale7, with M7 and Qatar Museums, as well as Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) with the support of Qatar Central Bank (QCB),” al-Sowaidi pointed out.He said QDB is also supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through agreements signed with leading international entities, such as the Startup Genome and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).Similarly, QDB’s partnership with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) paved the way for the launch of the country’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB), al-Sowaidi noted.“We are highly optimistic about these partnerships, due to their benefit for entrepreneurs and the avenues they open for future collaborations, as well as the impact they will have on Qatar’s economic diversification goals,” he said.Al-Sowaidi said QDB is providing a wide range of initiatives and programmes that would help entrepreneurs develop their ideas, launch products, and access international markets.“For example, we are leading various business incubators and accelerators, including QBIC, QFTH, Scale7 Fashion & Design Incubator, Qatar SportsTech, and Jahiz industrial factories, which provide dedicated mentoring and coaching for aspiring entrepreneurs through our network of leading experts.“Our Export Development and Promotion Agency (Tasdeer) provides workshops for local SMEs to enhance their business know-how and improve their export operations. Tasdeer also enhances entrepreneurs’ exposure to international markets via our successful Go-Global programme, which supports local businesses participation in the most promising global exhibitions,” al-Sowaidi said.He added: “QDB’s partnership with educational institutions, such as Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), for The Education City Innovative Entrepreneurship Programme, aligns with our three-pillar strategy of providing access to finance, access to capability, and access to local and international markets.“We also have long-standing Learning and Development collaborations in place with Qatar University and are the development partner of the University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST), supporting the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. In addition, the Learning & Development Department provides a series of training courses and workshops focusing on digitisation, AI, supply chain, and others.”

Nasser al-Naama, Zumra Group founder.
'Qatar leverages tourism, ICT to diversify economy'

Qatar has made significant strides in enhancing two critical areas — tourism as well as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) — since the country’s successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.“The Qatari government has shown commendable dedication to bolstering the country’s tourism sector, leveraging the global spotlight from hosting the World Cup,” Zumra Group founder Nasser al-Naama told Gulf Times.On the back of strategic investments in infrastructure, hospitality, and cultural attractions, al-Naama emphasised that Qatar has positioned itself as a premier destination for travellers worldwide.These initiatives also include expanding the capacity of the Hamad International Airport (HIA), developing world-class hotels, and promoting cultural events, which have contributed to the growth of Qatar’s tourism sector, al-Naama pointed out.Earlier this year, Qatar Tourism (QT) announced that Qatar had crossed the 4mn visitor mark in 2023, exceeding the annual numbers of the past five years. The latest figures highlighted the positive momentum of the World Cup and the country’s ongoing efforts and initiatives to promote its tourism sector, QT also stated.Figures previously released by QT had revealed that since the beginning of 2023, “Saudi Arabia (25.3% of total international arrivals) topped the list of visitors to Qatar, followed by India (10.4%), Germany (4.1%), the UK (3.9%), and Kuwait (3.5%). To date, 85% of visitors chose to arrive by air, followed by land (14%), and sea (1%).”Al-Naama also emphasised that Qatar has simultaneously recognised the pivotal role of ICT in driving economic diversification and innovation, citing the government’s launch of comprehensive digitalisation programmes aimed at modernising various sectors, fostering entrepreneurship, and empowering citizens through digital literacy initiatives.“Qatar’s massive investments in advanced telecommunications infrastructure, smart city projects, and digital government services underscore the country’s commitment to becoming a regional digital powerhouse,” he noted.According to al-Naama, the country’s private sector has also demonstrated readiness and enthusiasm to participate in government-led initiatives aimed at advancing the tourism and ICT sectors.“Businesses are eager to collaborate with the government in achieving Qatar’s vision for sustainable growth owing to the government’s supportive regulatory environment and incentives for private investment,” he said.Al-Naama also called for “continued dialogue and collaboration” between key players in the public and private sectors, which is essential in addressing any challenges and ensuring alignment with stakeholders’ needs, noting Zumra Group’s efforts in realising these objectives.He emphasised that Zumra Group is “deeply committed” to contributing to Qatar’s tourism sector and digitalisation journey through programmes, such as tourism enhancement and digitalisation initiatives.“Zumra is actively involved in promoting sustainable tourism practices and enhancing visitor experiences through innovative technology solutions. We are collaborating with local stakeholders to develop immersive digital platforms that showcase Qatar’s rich business environment attractions, ensuring chances and connections for investors,” he said.Al-Naama added: “Zumra is at the forefront of supporting Qatar’s digital transformation agenda. We are developing cutting-edge digital solutions to address various challenges across sectors, including e-commerce, education, healthcare, and government services. Through partnerships with local and international tech firms, Zumra aims to accelerate Qatar’s journey towards a knowledge-based economy.”

Each tram train consists of 64 seats and a comfortable capacity of 209 passengers in both Standard and Family Class. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
Lusail Tram network stations 80% open to public

Around 80% of the Lusail Tram network’s stations are now open to the public, engineer Ahmed al-Saleh, senior director of Lusail Tram Project at Qatar Rail, announced. "Approximately 21 out of the total 25 stations in the network are now operational," he told the media on the sidelines of a tour of the Pink and Orange lines.Earlier, Qatar Rail announced the launch of the Pink Line and the completion of all Orange Line stations. This, al-Saleh pointed out, will encourage the riding public, including visitors to the country, to utilising the tram, thus maximising their regular commute.For the first time, the services of the tram network now included the operation of at-grade stations and the tram moving alongside traffic and pedestrians in Lusail City, noted al-Saleh, who reminded the public to always use the validators to ‘Tap In & Tap Out’ upon boarding and alighting the tram.“Furthermore, Qatar Rail has coordinated with various partners in the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Interior to conduct awareness campaigns aimed at introducing the tram system and emphasising the importance of pedestrians and drivers adhering to traffic safety guidelines, signs, and signals.“As a result, we've joined forces with our partners to initiate awareness campaigns focused on promoting road safety and responsible interaction with tram trains in Lusail City. This is particularly important considering that the tram system differs from other vehicles on the road. Trams run on fixed tracks at a steady speed and cannot stop as quickly as cars,” al-Saleh stressed.He also underscored the Lusail Tram’s eco-friendly features, providing a greener and more efficient alternative to cars. The tram relies on ground-level electric power supply, uses LED lighting systems, and state-of-the-art electric braking systems, he emphasised.Al-Saleh said: “Additionally, trams are much more efficient in terms of road usage, as one train can replace about 40 cars, which occupy a significantly larger area of road space, contributing to reducing the negative impacts of transportation, especially Co2 emissions.”He added: “We are dedicated to providing sustainable and safe transportation for the residents and visitors of Lusail City. We remain committed to continuing our efforts in ensuring the highest standards of safety in the tram network to ensure safe and efficient operation at all stations and facilities.”Lusail Tram factsOnce the full tram network opens, it will connect various government offices, residential towers, leisure and sports facilities, avenues, marinas and other major attractions across Lusail City.The Lusail Tram trains were manufactured in France by Alstom, which is one of the largest train manufacturers in the world. The Lusail Tram fleet consists of 28 ‘Citadis X05’ trains that use ground power supply technology.Each tram train consists of 64 seats and a comfortable capacity of 209 passengers in both Standard and Family Class. The trains have six screens to display travel information and around 20 USB ports.The tram differs from the metro in that each tram has a driver and its maximum speed is approximately 60km/h. Trams are considered environmentally friendly systems, using LED lighting and electric brake systems.Travel cards work across both the tram and the metro with no additional costs; however, customers must always remember to Tap In & Tap Out using the validators onboard the tram to avoid paying twice.Each station contains a customer information centre, Travel Card vending machines, live digital service updates, separate male and female prayer facilities and restrooms that cater for people with mobility impairments. The stations also include clear directional signages to help customers navigate throughout their journey easily.All stations are equipped with CCTV and a first-aid room to maintain the security and safety of all customers.The design of the Lusail Tram was inspired by ‘Al Mehmel’, which signifies ‘The Dhow’ – a traditional Qatari boat used for pearl fishing. The concept focused on the sea and dhow pearl fishing, incorporating calm, cool, elegant, and tranquil elements into the design.Inspired by the local Qatari heritage and its historical legacy, the interior design of the stations was developed on 3 levels; colours imitating the local traditional handcrafted textiles and the stained glass used in local windows.Patterns are derived from gypsum engravings used in local houses, majlis and palaces. Textures of clay used in historical fortresses, towers, and souqs are reflected on walls and floors and vintage geometrical ornaments are accentuated and used in multiple locations.Existing Doha Metro travel cards will allow customers to seamlessly move throughout the metro and tram networks as well as provide access to Metroexpress and Metrolink services.

Ajlan Eid al-Enazi
Lusail Tram users reach 5.5mn since January 2022

Approximately 5.5mn passengers have already utilised the Lusail Tram since its operations in January 2022, Ajlan Eid al-Enazi, chief of Strategy and Business Development at Qatar Rail, has said. The tram was a significant mode of transport within Lusail City, particularly during 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup, as well as other major events Qatar has hosted over the past two years, he said.“We are pleased to expand the Lusail Tram services in Lusail City through the completion of operations for all Orange Line stations and the launch of the Pink Line. The current phase represents a significant milestone and a qualitative leap in our journey towards developing the public transportation system in Lusail City.“We are proud of the efforts made by the teams working on this important project, and we look forward to continuing to enhance tram services, expanding their scope, and opening the remaining lines to serve the residents and visitors of Lusail City. In January 2022, the operation of Lusail Tram services began gradually, and since then, it has been increasingly popular,” he said.Al-Enazi said the Lusail Tram network’s remaining stations and lines will be opened concurrently with the completion of ongoing development works in the Lusail area, in co-ordination with the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Interior, and Qatari Diar Company.He added: “By providing high-standard and reliable transportation services for customers, we aim to meet the needs of Lusail City’s residents and visitors and enhance sustainable travel while reducing traffic congestion in the city.“We also advise all visitors to Lusail City to exercise caution, vigilance, and adhere to traffic signs, especially as this new phase has seen the opening of at-grade stations and tram operations on streets alongside vehicles and pedestrians.”Engineer Jassim al-Ansari, chief of Programme Delivery at Qatar Rail, noted that while the expansion of the Lusail Tram services includes completing the operation of all Orange Line stations and the launch of the Pink Line service, the Al Sa’ad Plaza station has yet to be opened.Al-Ansari noted that Qatar Rail has successfully conducted operational testing for the Orange and Pink Lines to ensure that the expansion further supports Lusail City’s public transportation system and providing safe and sustainable transportation services.He said: “All stations on the Orange Line are now fully operational with the opening of the new 10 stations, including Naifa, Fox Hills - South, Downtown Lusail, Al Khayl Street, Fox Hills-North, Crescent Park-North, Rawdat Lusail, Erkiyah, Lusail Stadium, and Al Yasmeen.“The current service expansion also includes the opening of all Pink Line stations, starting from Legtaifiya and reaching Seef Lusail–North, excluding Al Sa’ad Plaza station, which will be announced to be operational at a later time.”Al-Ansari explained that the Lusail Tram operates during the same service hours as the Doha Metro. He said the Lusail Tram network spans 19km and comprises four lines: Orange, Pink, Purple, and Turquoise, which connect various government offices, residential towers, leisure and sports facilities, avenues, marinas, and other major attractions across Lusail City.He added: “This phase marks a significant milestone for both Qatar Rail and Lusail City. It witnessed the launch of twice the number of stations opened in January 2022, with the addition of stations located at-grade covering residential, commercial, and new destinations within the city. The newly opened stations give direct access to several key attractions in Lusail City, including Al Seef area, Crescent Park, Lusail Boulevard, and Al Maha Island.“Travel cards allow passengers to travel between the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram networks without any additional fees. Passengers can use the interchange station, Legtaifiya, which currently connects the two networks, in addition to using accompanying services, such as Metrolink and Metroexpress.”

Felix Ochefu, Kahana founder and CEO. PICTURE: Ramsey Cardy/Web Summit
Global startup founders eyeing Qatar’s tech ecosystem, says Kahana CEO

Startup founders across the globe are eager to do business in Qatar, according to Felix Ochefu, the founder and CEO of an all-in-one group travel solution app: Kahana.Ochefu was referring to a “unique opportunity” the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) offered to participants at the ‘Startup Qatar’ pavilion during the Web Summit Qatar 2024, which Doha successfully hosted last February.The event, held of the first time in the Middle East, attracted more than 1,000 international startups, including Kahana, the Web Summit stated in a recent tweet on X, which chronicled Ochefu’s first Web Summit event.According to Web Summit, “Kahana is a travel co-ordination app that allows groups to plan and book trips together seamlessly. It connects travellers through a single API, bringing together more than 300 airlines and 1mn accommodation options.”It added: “Users can search for flights and hotels, build itineraries using AI and communicate with their group, all in one place, allowing for an integrated collaborative experience. Kahana’s goal is to eliminate fragmentation for group travellers by providing an end-to-end AI-powered solution.”Ochefu told Web Summit, “While meeting a couple of really smart founders at the Startup Lounge, I was made aware of an opportunity from the Qatar Financial Centre, which had launched a Web Summit-only opportunity for startups to set up a company in Qatar.“I found this intriguing, so I went to get some more information and was shocked at how many companies were signing up on the spot. It just showed how serious the Qatari government is about working with the best founders in the world, and how excited the founders are about being part of Qatar’s technology ecosystem.”He also said, “We’ve been working on an angel round since Q3 last year as part of a wider $1mn pre-seed round we’re launching very soon. So, we’re very much in fundraising mode, and I was excited to meet and talk to interested venture capital and angel investors attending Web Summit, especially Qatari and other Middle East-based investors, as they are serious about leading the world when it comes to creating the future of travel and tourism.”Web Summit Qatar 2024 was part of the Qatari government’s efforts to achieve the Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030, the QFC stated on its website.“During its participation in this world’s largest technology conference, the QFC offered a unique opportunity for companies to register and obtain licences to do business in Qatar on the spot, in addition to exclusive benefits, including waived registration fees and annual fees for the first five years, and a tax exemption in line with international standards.“During the summit, QFC managed to attract more than 100 companies operating in various industries, including finance, digital, and fintech, to enter the Qatari market, one of the leading investment destinations in the region,” QFC further stated.Speaking on the QFC’s active participation in the summit, CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, said: “Hosting this world’s biggest technology event comes within the nation’s efforts to enhance the digital and tech ecosystem, boost innovation, build capabilities, and support entrepreneurs and startups, which are essential to building a diversified knowledge-based economy.“As part of our commitment to enhancing Qatar’s booming business ecosystem, we offered exclusive facilities and benefits for companies that registered during the Web Summit as our contribution to attracting foreign investments, diversifying the national economy, and supporting the nation’s efforts to become an advanced tech hub in the region.”

Musa Asvat, Panama's ambassador to Qatar.
Envoy showcases Panama as ‘attractive hub’ for technological initiatives

Panama is keen on elevating its trade and economic ties with Qatar via investment opportunities in various sectors, such as the semiconductor industry, the Central American nation’s top diplomat to Qatar, Musa Asvat, has said.In a statement to Gulf Times on Monday, Asvat noted that the US Department of State has recently identified Panama as one of its seven partner countries in strengthening the semiconductor value chain.According to Asvat, the collaboration was initiated under the International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund and puts the focus on the country’s strategic advantages, such as the Panama Canal and a conducive business environment.Citing these developments, Asvat said this assigns a pivotal role to Panama in the global semiconductor landscape, encouraging economic benefits, and technological advancements.“Panama is a friend of Qatar and is ready to offer investment opportunities that will lead to consolidating the bilateral relationship,” the ambassador emphasised, adding that the country is also an appealing investment destination for a broad range of sectors, including technology, financial services, logistics, tourism, communications, and manufacturing.Asvat noted that Panama has several free trade zones, including an attractive tax structure that is conducive to international investments. “What’s more, its pivotal geographical location makes it a global transport and trade hub,” he also pointed out.Tech giants, such as Google, are eyeing Panama for new submarine cable projects, making it a major hub for marine cable convergence, noted Asvat, who also cited Telecom Sparkle Italia, which plans to connect the US to Chile via Panama, thus leveraging the country’s unique position to link multiple submarine cables. The country’s data centres, well-equipped to host new cables, offer reduced latency, enhancing efficiency, he said.In the pipeline is the development of a technology free trade zone (FTZ), attracting major players like Google, Amazon, and Facebook to Panama, said Asvat, adding that this is coupled with the private sector’s wider digital transformation.Underscoring this new industrial alliance in terms of significant prospects for mutual advantages, Asvat said the agreement opens new avenues for the US to diversify its sources in the semiconductor supply chain. “This helps in decreasing the US’s dependence on a single producer and reducing its vulnerability to potential disruptions,” he explained.Asvat said Panama’s strategic geographical position as a centre of international trade emphasises the country’s potential as a bridge for US companies seeking to improve their semiconductor manufacturing and distribution networks within Latin America and the Caribbean.This partnership, according to Asvat, will provide tax and labour opportunities, raising the country’s potential to attract a greater volume of foreign direct investment (FDI), increase GDP, and bring Panama into the global technological arena.Asvat said: “This is just one example of the multiple opportunities that Panama can offer to strategic allies, such as Qatar. Our journey as an investment destination is marked by economic resilience, strategic initiatives, and a commitment to sustainable development.”He added: “While the recent global developments pose challenges, Panama’s strengths in diverse sectors, diplomatic ties, and pro-business policies position it as a nation poised for continued growth and investment. As the country navigates both economic opportunities and political uncertainties, the global business community watches Panama’s trajectory with keen interest.”

Gulf Times
Qatar’s digital investments expected to reach ‘$5.7bn’ in 2026, says report

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT)’s Tasmu Smart Qatar, which aims to develop various priority technology areas with a total market value of “$1.65bn” reflects Qatar’s dedication to digital transformation, according to an Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (Invest Qatar) report.Qatar’s digital investments across different priority technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, cybersecurity systems integration, hardware & software deploy and support, cloud computing, big data analytics, enterprise resource planning, AR & VR, drones, IT consulting, Blockchain, custom application design, and artificial intelligence (AI), is expected to grow from “$1.65bn” in 2022 to “$5.7bn” in 2026.Invest Qatar revealed this in its report, ‘Smarter Qatar: Embracing Emerging Technologies and Innovation, Improving Lives and Driving a Sustainable Digital Economy’, which it prepared in collaboration with the MCIT.The report also stated that Tasmu is leveraging emerging technology to drive the Smarter Qatar Strategy.“Key technology areas have been identified that will be the focus of enhancement in platform functionality to nurture startups, given the proposed increased interconnectedness across the Tasmu programme.“Key functionality focus areas and microservices are identified based on alignment with national strategies, scan of global smart city/nation platforms, and relevance to proposed platform role,” the report stated.The functionality focus areas include IoT, cloud, analytics, and AI, while the potential microservices are IoT sensors, marketplace, generative Al, multi-cloud, operation command centre, chatbots, predictive analytics, payment gateway, voice interface, and hybrid-cloud, among many others.According to the report, the integration of emerging technologies in a smart country landscape leads to transformative changes, enhancing sustainability and the quality of life of citizens, ensuring seamless connectivity, and data-driven decision-making.The report noted that AI can help improve access to infrastructure and services like health, education through AI-driven diagnostics, early disease detection, and personalised learning, among others.On the other hand, as smart cities progress, widespread adoption of 5G will enable seamless access to 3D data, such as 3D maps, connected traffic infrastructure, and VR environment, among others, with very low latency for all users, it was also reported.Additionally, the integration of IoT with AI-powered traffic management helps analyse real time traffic data and coordinates signals leading to a decrease in congestion, enhanced transit efficiency, and lowered greenhouse gas emissions. On data analytics, the report stated that gathering big data from people, infrastructure, and vehicles empowers city planners to optimise buildings, enhance energy efficiency.

Dr Olga Revina, chairperson of the Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF).
Ukrainian startups keen to access Qatar’s investment programme

Talks are underway to enable Ukrainian startups to benefit from the Startup Qatar Investment Programme administered by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), a business forum official has said.Dr Olga Revina, chairperson of the Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF), the Startup Qatar Investment Programme has attracted the attention of Ukrainian startups, many of which were in the country during the highly successful Qatar Web Summit 2024 in February.Revina told Gulf Times selected 10 promising Ukrainian startups to participate in the web summit, in collaboration and with the support of Qatar’s Government Communications Office (GCO) and the Ukrainian partners, such as the Ukrainian Startup Fund, UNIT.City, and the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.These startups included Melt Water Club, Mantis Analytics, Uspacy, GetOrder, Knopka, ShareSpot, Gigawatt, DEV Challenge, Rising UA Startups, and Ukrainian Tech Ecosystem Overview.She also said the entire Ukrainian delegation had very productive meetings held with many key stakeholders in the country, such as QDB, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Council, and the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (Invest Qatar), in addition to several meetings with private sector players that provide seed and growth funding.Revina said, “It was also important to know that the Startup Qatar programme launched at the web summit offers seed funding and incentives for startups willing to establish themselves in Qatar. QUBF communicates with QDB for startups from the participating delegation to apply for this programme. This is exactly the outcome we targeted through the Ukrainian delegation's participation in the summit.”According to Revina, all members of the participating delegation from Ukraine established “useful contacts,” which the QUBF will facilitate to develop into potential partnerships.For the next year’s edition of Web Summit Qatar, Revina noted that QUBF plans to organise a nationwide competition before the event to determine the best startups to represent Ukraine at the summit, including plans to organise a Ukrainian pavilion “for greater visibility.”Revina also told Gulf Times that QUBF collaborated with the Ukrainian Startup Fund and UNIT.City, the first innovation park in Ukraine, in selecting “attractive Ukrainian startups” to be introduced in Qatar.“The strategy of the Ukrainian Startup Fund is focused on supporting early-stage startups through funding and promoting access to support services, as well as solidifying globally competitive incubation and acceleration programmes. As QUBF founders, we were very confident in organising this trip because we believe that Ukrainians have plenty to offer and contribute,” she said.Revina added: “QUBF, in collaboration with UNIT.City – one of the biggest innovative platforms in Central and Eastern Europe, agreed to jointly form the Tech and Innovation Committee under the umbrella of QUBF to create a portfolio of innovative tech startups from Ukraine that will be able to realise numerous opportunities offered by Qatar’s startup ecosystem.”

Gulf Times
Qatar eyes digital transformation across 6 key sectors, says Invest Qatar report

Qatar is capitalising on strategic and innovative programmes to propel the digital transformation of six integral sectors in the country, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (Invest Qatar) stated in its latest report.Titled ‘Smarter Qatar: Embracing Emerging Technologies and Innovation, Improving Lives and Driving a Sustainable Digital Economy’, the report was prepared by Invest Qatar, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT).The report stated that the government is gunning for a “smarter Qatar” by digitalising the following sectors: Tourism, economy, energy and environment, health, transport, and education.According to the report, Qatar has placed tourism among its key sectors to drive sustainability and economic diversification. It also said utilising innovation and digital technology will open more tourism-related opportunities “to enhance inclusivity, empower local communities and achieve efficient resource management.”“Smart tourism sector is about actively offering a range of tourist services to meet tourist’s unique and personnel demands...the ecosystem of digital services has expanded within the tourism sector to include a generation of QR codes for tourist sites to enhanced Virtual Reality (VR) experience for specific destinations and 360-degree tourist customer service,” stated the report.In another fundamental smart sector, Invest Qatar further reported that the Qatari government has embarked on numerous projects to promote digital health and smart healthcare.The report stated that artificial intelligence (AI) and big data have been beneficial to Qatar’s objectives in developing “smart health,” making virtual consultations possible.“Patients and clinicians can communicate without physically visiting the hospital or medical facility owing to IoT-based healthcare apps that use remote health monitoring. Several advanced economies, including Qatar, are building their healthcare infrastructure and are relying on the use of technologies to enhance patient experience, operational efficiency and sustainability,” the report noted.In the realm of smart transport, Invest Qatar reported that this sector is “putting people at the core of transport services, offering them tailored mobility solutions based on their individual needs in order to travel without losing time in a comfortable way.”The report stated: “Addressing mobility emerges as a primary concern requiring prompt attention. In dense urban environments, smart transportation plays a crucial role in ensuring people reach their workplaces safely and punctually.“Smart transport systems include intelligent traffic management systems, smart charging for EVs and intelligent public transportation systems. Investments in intelligent traffic management systems have increased as the system plays a crucial role in heavy-traffic cities.”Invest Qatar also reported that “smart cities will enable a smart or digital economy by attracting talent, enabling creativity, and encouraging disruptive thinking. By enabling digital economies, cities are able to increase employment opportunities and activate local economic growth and competitiveness.”“This ultimately benefits a city by lowering the cost of innovation and addressing real community challenges by delivering better services through innovation. Tasmu has developed a comprehensive digital innovation ecosystem through an innovation model approach and a combination of physical and digital elements,” the report added.

QUBF chairperson Dr Olga Revina joins Wtech co-founder and founding partner of TA Ventures Viktoriya Tigipko and other dignitaries during the launch of the Wtech Qatar Chapter, chaired by QUBF vice chairperson Daria Revina. Photo courtesy: Dr Olga Revina
Business forum official underscores need to empower women in tech

The Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF) has taken a major step towards empowering women in technology and online businesses with the recent launching of the Wtech Qatar Chapter, an official has said.“Wtech is an international community for women leaders involved in technology and online businesses, which united more than 5,000 founders of startups, as well as representatives of fintech, edtech, blockchain, cybersecurity, e-commerce, and other IT-related areas,” QUBF chairperson Dr Olga Revina told Gulf Times.Wtech’s objectives are well-integrated with QUBF’s commitment to developing women’s leadership across diverse sectors. Revina noted that Wtech co-founder and founding partner of TA Ventures, Viktoriya Tigipko inaugurated the Wtech Qatar Chapter.“With Qatar joining as our 32nd country and 46th chapter, we’re so overjoyed about this global expansion! We’re looking forward to witnessing the success of this new chapter,” Tigipko stated on her Instagram account.Revina emphasised that the launch ceremony of the Wtech Qatar Chapter, chaired by QUBF vice chairperson Daria Revina, signals Qatar’s focus on diversity and inclusion as key enablers for its economic diversification and establishment as an international tech and entrepreneurship hub.She also noted that the presence of Wtech, through its Qatar Chapter, is expected to provide more opportunities for women to take leading roles and drive innovation in Qatar’s rapidly growing technology ecosystem.Revina said the launch of the Wtech Qatar Chapter is part of QUBF’s action plan for the year, which included the participation of 10 QUBF-hosted Ukrainian startups in the recently concluded Web Summit Qatar 2024.“The summit, which attracted participants from 118 countries, was a truly international gathering with very insightful sessions, active discussions, and an indispensable platform for startups from around the world to meet partners, customers, and investors,” Revina pointed out.She noted that the QUBF selected Ukrainian startups from numerous sectors to take part in Qatar’s Web Summit to explore opportunities offered by Qatar’s startup ecosystem.“We were able to host these 10 promising startups in collaboration and with the support of Qatar’s Government Communications Office (GCO) and our Ukrainian partners, such as the Ukrainian Startup Fund, UNIT.City, and the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine,” Revina said.She said the Ukrainian Startups represented at Web Summit Qatar 2024 included Melt Water Club, Mantis Analytics, Uspacy, GetOrder, Knopka, ShareSpot, Gigawatt, DEV Challenge, Rising UA Startups, and Ukrainian Tech Ecosystem Overview.“Despite the difficulties Ukraine is facing in the ongoing war, the country is still able to create an outstanding startup ecosystem that is both scalable and global. This attests to the country’s talented and resilient workforce. Some examples of impressive startups turned unicorns that originated in Ukraine are, Grammarly, Gitlab, Genesis, Bitfury, and Firefly Aerospace – all with massive global member bases,” Revina emphasised.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi receiving the award from HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiyah in the presence of Expo 2023 Doha commissioner-general ambassador Bader Omar al-Dafa and Italian trade commissioner Paola Lisi.
Italy’s ‘Garden of the Future’ wins ‘Best Programming’ as Expo 2023 Doha concludes

Italy’s pavilion at the recently concluded Expo Doha 2023, ‘Garden of the Future’, was honoured with the ‘Best Programming’ award for its innovative and hi-tech structure and design.Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi and Italian trade commissioner Paola Lisi received the award from HE the Minister of Municipality Abdullah bin Hamad bin Abdullah al-Attiya and Expo 2023 Doha commissioner-general ambassador Bader Omar al-Dafa in a recently held ceremony.The pavilion was one of the flagships of the exhibition, thanks to its cutting-edge water-saving technologies which, if used together, allow water consumption for agricultural purposes to be reduced by approximately 96%, the Italian embassy noted in a press statement.The technological equipment was paired with a rich programme of activities in science, culture, and business fields; as many as 45 events were hosted in the pavilion, thanks to the involvement of public entities, business associations, universities and prestigious speakers, the embassy further stated.During the expo, the Italian pavilion witnessed the presence of the following dignitaries from Italy: Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry Francesco Lollobrigida, Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Maria Tripodi, and the President of the Permanent Commission of the Senate of the Italian Republic for Agriculture, Tourism, Industry, and Agricultural Food Production Luca De Carlo.“We are proud of the award received by the Italian Pavilion and of the results achieved by our presence at Expo Doha 2023,” the ambassador stated.He added: “In the last six months, the Italian Pavilion has been not only a beacon for our institutions, companies, and research bodies in Doha, but also a bridge with stakeholders from Qatar and the entire Middle Eastern region, promoting the cooperation between institutions, businesses, and research bodies on the issues of sustainability and the relationship between man and nature.“This is a fundamental step for the future development of bilateral relations and the joint search for solutions to the challenges of climate change, food security, and the fight against desertification.”

Andrew Edward
Snoonu sets success example via collaboration with innovative partners

A Qatari tech company and ultra app is actively collaborating with new enterprises and innovative partners in the country, fostering a supportive ecosystem and setting an example of success.Amid Qatar’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, homegrown brand Snoonu has taken an innovative approach to fostering local entrepreneurship through its unique strategy of partnering with local startups, according to Snoonu’s Product Marketing Manager, Andrew Edward.“We’re currently collaborating with several local startups, providing them with mentorship and partnership opportunities. This approach not only supports the growth of these startups but also enhances Snoonu’s service offerings,” Edward told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.Citing Snoonu’s recent collaborations with Ooredoo as an example, Edward said the partnership has enabled Snoonu to integrate Ooredoo Money into their app, providing users with a seamless payment experience. “This is just one way of how we’re working with local businesses to enhance our app and support the local economy,” Edward said.However, Edward underscored that the company’s commitment to local startups extends beyond mere partnerships, saying Snoonu is actively involved in mentoring these startups and helping them navigate the challenges of growth and market expansion.Edward emphasised that this stems from the broader vision of Snoonu founder and chief executive Hamad Mubarak al-Hajri to support the local economy and serve as an example of a successful Qatari startup.“Mr al-Hajri is particularly passionate about this vision. One of his goals is to show everyone that a Qatari local startup can do it and can be an example to many others,” Edward stressed.As the company continues its collaborations with local startups, Edward said Snoonu is currently developing a comprehensive loyalty programme that will engage customers on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, which is expected to further enhance user engagement and accelerate the company’s growth.“Snoonu’s initiative to partner with local startups is not just a business strategy – it’s a commitment to fostering a vibrant and innovative tech ecosystem in Qatar. As Snoonu continues to grow and evolve, it’s clear that the company is not just delivering products; it’s delivering on its promise to support local entrepreneurship,” Edward pointed out.Asked to provide an outlook for the country’s startup community for 2024, Edward said he believes that the growth of the startup culture in neighbouring GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE “will not overshadow Qatar.”“Instead, it will create a ripple effect, sparking more interest and investment opportunities in the region. The competition between these three countries is fueling growth in their respective startup cultures. This will benefit the local startup ecosystem here in Qatar, attracting more interest and investments,” Edward further explained.He added: “Snoonu is not just observing these developments. It is actively participating in them through the company’s current collaborations with several local startups and by providing mentorship and partnership opportunities.”

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.
Qatar Chamber chairman lauds NDS3; underscores PPPs in key areas

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has underscored the importance of strengthening public-private partnerships (PPPs) in key areas, such as petrochemicals, tourism, and education, in light of the Third National Development Strategy (NDS3) 2024-2030.In the latest issue of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic magazine, Sheikh Khalifa stated that the launch of NDS3 reflects the country’s commitment to achieving Qatar National Vision 2030. The national vision was launched in 2008 with ambitious goals aimed at transforming Qatar into a developed nation capable of achieving sustainable development, he pointed out.Sheikh Khalifa said, “The Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030 represents the final stage in realising the objectives outlined in this ambitious vision, which focuses on four key pillars: human development, social development, economic development, and environmental sustainability.“The strategy assures the state’s interest in empowering the private sector and enhancing its role in driving economic growth. It underscores the development of the government’s role to enable the private sector to lead and drive economic growth.”According to Sheikh Khalifa, the NDS3 aims at creating highly productive, specialised, and competitive economic groupings, which includes adopting rapid reforms in the business environment.He said the strategy also encourages the active participation of leading national companies, foremost among which is the Qatar Investment Authority, to support the development of economic diversification groupings and quality innovations led mainly by businesses.Sheikh Khalifa said, “Undoubtedly, the Wise Leadership provides significant and sustained support for the private sector as a genuine partner in the country’s overall development of the national economy. Therefore, the state’s incentives to support the private sector are essential drivers of its development and its role in the development process.”Highlighting the private sector’s progress, Sheikh Khalifa noted: “In recent years, the private sector has demonstrated its capabilities and efficiency, achieving remarkable progress in industrial and agricultural projects. These projects have successfully enhanced the provision of strategic commodity needs and supported the flow of goods and products to the Qatari market.“Additionally, providing more incentives for private sector enterprises in the industrial sector is fundamental. In fact, the development of the state's infrastructure provides an environment conducive to the private sector's progress and growth. This stimulates the private sector to forge new partnerships and alliances with global technology transfer companies and implement projects that add value to the national economy.”Sheikh Khalifa added: ‘In this context, Qatar Chamber is committed to effectively engaging with relevant official and private authorities. It strives to provide all necessary facilities to private companies and institutions, aiming to create a pro-business environment. This consequently enables the private sector to pursue its active role in the development process and be an integral part of achieving the goals outlined in the Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030.”

QUBF chairperson Dr Olga Revina.
QUBF prioritises tech, partners with Ukrainian innovation hub

The Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF) is making technological advancements a key priority as part of its 2024 action plan, aligning closely with the country’s Third National Development Strategy (NDS3) 2024-2030, an official has said.“Acting in line with Qatar’s Third National Development Strategy, the QUBF intends to make its possible contribution by prioritising the potential industries in Qatar-Ukraine partnerships,” QUBF chairperson Dr Olga Revina told Gulf Times on Sunday.In a move to strengthen ties between Qatar and Ukraine’s tech sectors, Revina said QUBF has announced a new collaboration with UNIT.City, one of the largest innovation parks in Central and Eastern Europe based in Ukraine.“QUBF, in collaboration with UNIT.City – one of the biggest innovative platforms in Central and Eastern Europe – agreed to jointly form the ‘Tech and Innovation Committee’ under the umbrella of QUBF. The goal is to create a portfolio of innovative tech startups from Ukraine that will be able to realise numerous opportunities offered by the Qatari ecosystem,” Revina pointed out.According to Revina, the partnership aims to identify promising Ukrainian startups and connect them with the vibrant startup environment of Qatar, which is positioning itself as a global business hub.“QUBF’s Action Plan 2024 outlined a number of events with a primary focus on technological advancements,” said Revina, who also lauded Qatar for remaining focused on diversifying its key economic sectors, fostering a business-friendly climate, and attracting foreign investment along with skilled talent.Citing potential partnerships with startups in Qatar, Revina said Ukraine has developed an impressive startup ecosystem despite the ongoing war, producing several unicorn companies like, Grammarly, and Gitlab, among others, with massive global user bases.UNIT.City plays a vital role in nurturing this ecosystem as the first innovation park in the country, Revina noted. “As QUBF founders, we were very confident in this collaboration because we believe that Ukrainians have a lot to offer and contribute. UNIT.City helps us select attractive Ukrainian startups to be introduced in Qatar,” Revina emphasised.Revina also pointed out that the Tech and Innovation Committee will leverage resources and expertise from both QUBF and UNIT.City, whose focus has been on supporting early-stage startups through funding, facilitating access to support services, and bolstering globally competitive incubation and acceleration programmes.She also underscored the strategic partnership between Qatar and Ukraine in the technology domain holds immense potential, saying that by tapping into Ukraine’s robust tech talent pool, the collaboration could open new avenues for innovation, entrepreneurship, and cross-border investments aligning with Qatar’s economic diversification ambitions.

Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO and co-founder of, on centre stage during the recently held Web Summit Qatar 2024. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit Qatar via Sportsfile.
Tech entrepreneur underlines Qatar’s potential as R&D hub and talent pool

The government’s focus on education and the drive of Qatar’s young, ambitious workforce is an opportunity for the country to position itself as a research and development (R&D) hub in the region.Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO and co-founder of, lauded the world-class institutions and visiting professors at Education City, which reflects Qatar’s commitment to creating a knowledge-based economy.In an interview with Gulf Times, Duggal emphasised that these factors create an ideal environment for, a London-based next-gen app development platform, to establish an R&D service that can contribute to the growth and development of the local talent pool.Following’s announcement of a Qatar Investment Authority-backed Series D funding of over $250mn, Duggal shared with this paper that the firm’s ambitious expansion plans in the region by establishing an office in the country.“We want to also think about Qatar as an R&D hub. What I really found very different here compared to many other countries that I have visited is the country’s strong focus on education,” explained Duggal, adding that aims to leverage the local talent pool and contribute to its growth, taking advantage of Qatar’s focus on nurturing a world-class educational ecosystem.According to Duggal, Qatar can leverage the use of AI to tackle complex challenges, such as in healthcare and other sectors through advanced technologies like large language models analysing DNA data.Citing Qatar’s small local population and large ambitions, Duggal pointed out that Qatar can utilise AI to bridge the gaps between supply and demand, as well as boost productivity across different sectors.The country’s strong educational framework combined with an “outsized ambition” approach to AI gives Qatar an edge over other regional AI hubs, reiterated Duggal, adding that AI is viewed as pivotal for Qatar’s economic diversification and cultivating a new generation of globally impactful entrepreneurs.“Ultimately, AI would allow Qatar to overcome population constraints and foster not only Qatari entrepreneurs but a new breed of global entrepreneurs operating at a different technological scale,” he noted.Amid plans to establish an office here, Duggal emphasised that could play a crucial in fostering entrepreneurship and in facilitating comprehensive digital transformation across Qatar’s businesses and other sectors, such as banking and healthcare, among others, as well as with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).“What’s most impressive in this country is that there’s a real drive to build a knowledge economy, or almost an AI economy, a non-energy economy,” Duggal pointed out.

Professor Lorenzo Marconi of the University of Bologna is one of the co-founders of FieldRobotics. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Italian tech firm showcases use of robotics during Expo 2023 Doha

An Italian technology company has showcased a revolutionary autonomous field robot at the International Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha Qatar, including its versatile applications beyond agriculture.Professor Lorenzo Marconi of the University of Bologna, who is co-founder of FieldRobotics, presented the ‘HammerHead’, an autonomous ground rover vehicle designed for agricultural applications in orchards, vineyards, and even in remote environments with poor GPS signals.“The HammerHead is like a small tractor, where we could attach, plug any kind of conventional or even futuristic implements aimed at bringing robotics and industrial automation into the field, and not only in indoor settings,” Marconi told Gulf Times.Marconi explained that the idea is to bring indoor automation utilised in industrial, logistics, and manufacturing settings, among others, to outdoor applications. “And so we put a lot of emphasis and attempts in creating a platform that is reliable, robust, and attractive to enable all these technologies outdoors,” Marconi said.According to Marconi, the HammerHead is equipped with AI algorithms, cameras, laser scanners, and sensor fusion for robust environmental mapping and precise autonomous navigation, further describing it as a “perfect example of a mechatronics system.”He noted that one of the advantages of the HammerHead is FieldRobotics’ focus on smaller, distributed robotic solutions rather than larger, single vehicles, reducing environmental impact and increasing efficiency.Instead of making larger tractors, Marconi said deploying teams of HammerHeads reduces soil compaction by spreading the load over a larger area using multiple small robots.He also emphasised that the electric, emissions-free design makes the HammerHead suitable for greenhouse operations and aligns with sustainability goals. “It offers a flexible, open platform like a ‘power bank in the field’ that can accommodate future robotic implements and technologies,” Marconi said.Asked about the HammerHead’s other potential uses, especially in Qatar’s hydrocarbon industry, Marconi also explained that the innovative robot, while designed for agriculture, can also have immense potential in sectors like oil and gas, logistics, military, and search/rescue operations. Its autonomous capabilities, high payload, and remote operation can also be utilised in hazardous environments that pose a safety risk for humans, he stressed.“We are also trying to push the idea of ‘cobotics’ and human-robot interaction, where humans have a central role in the task and not necessarily all the robots. And then, of course, in terms of search and rescue, which is not by chance; this idea of field robotics started in the search and rescue setting.“I was the coordinator of a few big European projects in the past dealing with search and rescue, and so again, field settings, settings that are hostile and unfriendly, and with a certain kind of features that ask for new technologies to be robust and industrial,” Marconi stressed.

Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO and co-founder of
Business eyeing expansion plans in Qatar, says chief executive, a London-based next-gen app development platform, is charting an ambitious expansion strategy in Qatar, according to the company’s top executive.The plan promises to revolutionise Qatar’s entrepreneurial landscape and drive digital transformation across various sectors in the country, Sachin Dev Duggal, CEO and co-founder of, told Gulf Times.Duggal, who believes in the country’s potential to become a global hub for innovation and economic diversification, emphasised that is poised to forge strategic collaborations with local entities, thus contributing to the realisation of the Qatar National Vision 2030.He said, “We’re building a customer case study here across different markets and that’s immensely important. We want to get involved with the small business and I think that’s powerful because we can make an impression and support the country’s development plans.”Duggal believes that establishing a local office presence in the country will help the company become better at serving customers in the market, citing Qatar as an additional home for in the region.But the company’s aspirations extend far beyond mere customer support, noted Duggal, adding that not only aims to collaborate with small businesses, but to foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem and develop applied academic skills.According to Duggal, understands that entrepreneurship is vital in driving growth and economic diversification. He pointed out that the company aims to support entrepreneurs and startup founders in Qatar to realise their growth plans by providing them with accessible technological solutions.“Among the challenges that we want to address is how could help the local entrepreneurial ecosystem realise their vision and dreams faster and how to build the relevant applied academic skill. ‘Applied’ is the key here: to investing in students, graduates, and PhD candidates in Qatar,” explained Duggal, who highlighted the importance of developing practical, industry-relevant skills.Duggal also explained that this approach aims to open more avenues for Qataris pursuing higher education abroad to return to Qatar and address local challenges by utilising’s platform.“There’s problems to be solved here. We’re here also trying to solve those problems,” Duggal emphasised.