Seven Qataris from different industries in the country have made it to Forbes 2022 list of top 100 chief executive officers (CEOs) in the Middle East, which was published recently. The Qataris recognised in Forbes Middle East ‘Top 100 CEOs in the Middle East 2022’ represented a variety of sectors, including energy, aviation, banking, telecommunications, logistics, and insurance. HE the Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad bin Sherida al-Kaabi, who is also president and CEO of QatarEnergy, ranked fifth in the list and was followed by Qatar Airways Group chief executive HE Akbar al-Baker (6th rank), concurrently the chairman of Qatar Tourism. Next on the list at rank 11 is Abdulla Mubarak al-Khalifa, CEO of QNB Group, followed by Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo (40th), who is managing director and CEO of Ooredoo Group. The following Qataris were also recognised in the Forbes Middle East list of top 100 CEOs in the region: Abdullah al-Sulaiti of Nakilat (72nd), Khalid al-Subeai (Dukhan Bank, 75th), and Salem Khalaf aI-Mannai (QIC Group, 77th). Aside from the seven distinguished Qatari CEOs, Forbes Middle East also feted Bassel Gamal, Group CEO of Qatar Islamic Bank, who ranked 50th on the list. Explaining the methodology used for the list, Forbes Middle East stated: “To create this ranking, we sent out questionnaires and collected information from stock market disclosures, industry reports, annual reports and financial statements, and other primary sources. “We ranked the CEOs based on the impact that they have had on the region, their country, and the markets that they serve; the CEO’s overall experience and time in their current role; the size of the company in terms of revenues, assets, and market cap; the achievements and performance of the CEO in the last year; and the innovations and initiatives that the CEO has implemented.” Forbes also stated: “When we released our first Top CEOs ranking in 2021, the mood among the Middle East’s CEOs was focused on safety and the protection of business. This year has seen a reversal in fortunes, with record profits, new investments, large IPOs, and mega deals taking centre stage. It added: “This year’s list of the Top 100 CEOs in the region consists of leaders from 26 nationalities. Emiratis dominated with 19 entries, followed by Egyptians with 16, and Saudis with 15. “Banking and financial services is the most represented sector on the list with 27 CEOs, followed by eight telecom CEOs, and seven that each head energy and logistics companies. Combined they managed revenues of over $1tn last year. Their companies are collectively worth more than $5tn.”
LuLu Group’s various sustainability initiatives in Qatar in the last two decades have been recognised during Sunday’s 10th anniversary celebration of the National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed). The Tarsheed awards feted exceptional companies and institutions in Qatar that achieved the targeted water and electricity consumption goals in an effort to preserve the environment and the country’s natural resources. Dr Althaf with LuLu Hypermarket Qatar regional director Shaijan M O and regional manager Shanavas P M. LuLu Group International director Dr Mohamed Althaf received the “Tarsheed Award for Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in the Commercial Sector” from HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani during the event. In a statement to Gulf Times, Dr Althaf noted that the LuLu Group was recognised in the “Tarsheed Conserving Building Competition” category for its excellence in the field of energy conservation and other related programmes during the event, which was organised by the Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) under the theme *Towards Sustainability and Energy Efficiency. “LuLu Group is proud to be the only private sector business in Qatar to achieve the targeted reduction of resource consumption,” the official said. “LuLu Group is very proud of winning this prestigious award, which shows our commitment and dedication to reducing electricity and water consumption throughout our business operation chain.” “It was very impressive and a special moment for me to receive the award from HE the Prime Minister,” said Dr Althaf, who noted that the LuLu Group adopted a slew of smart technologies throughout its facilities, greatly reducing electricity and water consumption. He explained that LuLu’s efforts in reducing electricity and water consumption were made possible by a combination of smart technologies, introduction of best scientific practices and training, rigorous monitoring, and auditing by third party organisations like the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). “The award is a recognition of our commitment to the circular economy,” Dr Althaf said. “It is also a culmination of LuLu Group’s accelerated efforts to reduce carbon emission to 50% by 2030, and to achieve zero carbon footprint by 2045.” “LuLu Group has framed its own strategy on sustainability, which is put into practice in all its retail units and supply chains worldwide,” he continued. “LuLu is deeply committed to reducing its impact on the environment and taking real and lasting steps to ensure this.” “As part of our commitment to Qatar National Vision 2030, we have been actively working to reduce carbon emissions, reduce food waste, and promote healthy eating,” Dr Althaf said. Aside from the Tarsheed award, the LuLu Group has also received the Sustainability Award 2019 at the Qatar Sustainability Summit. Dr Althaf said that the group is active in promoting environment-friendly practices in its operations and at its 18 stores in Qatar, as well as in the community. “LuLu Hypermarket in Qatar has become one of the first retailers in Mena (Middle East and North Africa) to achieve sustainable operations certification under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) from GORD,” he pointed out. Alongside its “GSAS-Op Certification”, LuLu Hypermarket in Qatar installed a Building Management System to efficiently manage assets associated with the building’s ventilation and lighting. The hypermarket has also installed the cloud-based Honeywell Forge Energy Optimisation system to efficiently manage and optimise the energy used during the operations. The use of LED (light emitting diode) is being encouraged for LuLu’s upcoming projects and existing projects, which are being gradually shifted to LED from conventional lights. Light control systems assisted with motion sensors are being considered to optimise the use of energy, especially in warehouse operations. LuLu also introduced energy-efficient chillers in its operations to optimise the use of energy and increase cooling efficiency. New projects are being encouraged to use the double flush system to reduce water usage. Outlets are being encouraged to segregate operational waste for easy disposal and collection. Three-compartment bins are placed in all general areas to encourage customers on waste segregation. Food waste digesters are also being used to efficiently manage food waste generated in the operation. An innovative food waste solution called “ORCA” recycles food waste by breaking it down into water (mainly) and some carbs, fats, and proteins, which are then captured or repurposed. This is currently being trialled at LuLu’s Bin Mahmoud store.
LuLu Hypermarket, D-Ring Road branch, hosted Sunday an awareness campaign organised by Doha Municipality to mark the International Plastic Bag Free Day campaign. The event was held within the initiatives of Doha Municipality under the Ministry of Municipality to educate people about the use of plastic bags. The ministry has recently issued a decision to ban single-use plastic bags in Qatar from November 15 onwards. The regulations on the use of plastic bags, which were approved by the Council of Ministers, prohibit institutions, companies, and shopping centres from using single-use plastic bags. Officials from LuLu and Doha Municipality celebrating ‘International Plastic Bag Free Day’ at the D-Ring Road branch The ministry encourages the use of environment-friendly alternatives, such as multi-use plastic bags, biodegradable bags, bags made of paper or woven cloth, and other biodegradable materials to achieve the strategic objectives of Qatar in conserving the environment and optimal investment in waste recycling. The event was attended by senior officials from the ministry, including Ali al-Qahtani, head of the Inspection Unit in the Food Control Section, and Dr Asmaa Abu-Baker Mansour and Dr Heba Abdul-Hakim from the Food Control Section. Many other dignitaries, including Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, also attended the campaign. Shoppers at LuLu Hypermarket along D-Ring Road receiving eco-friendly bags Speaking at the event, al-Qahtani, who is also head of the Health Inspection and Monitoring Unit at Doha Municipality, said the event was held following the decision of Doha Municipality to hold activities at shopping malls for two days (Sunday and Monday) to educate people about uses of plastic bags in line with Ministerial Decision No 143 of 2022. He said the decision bans single-use plastic bags at all food outlets from November 15, and replaces them with eco-friendly alternatives bearing the wine glass and a fork symbol, which is the international symbol for ‘food safe’ material. “Initially, the awareness activities are being held this week at two commercial outlets: LuLu Hypermarket and Carrefour,” said al-Qahtani. A young girl receiving an eco-friendly bag while learning about the importance of protecting the environment by reducing the use of plastics Aligned with the campaign, LuLu Group distributed free reusable bags to shoppers and set up a booth where eco-friendly products are on display. The store was decorated with the cutout of a tree with reusable bags on its branches. LuLu also organised a quiz programme for kids with attractive gifts to inculcate awareness on the risk that plastics cause to the environment. The efforts taken by LuLu Hypermarket and the Ministry of Municipality to impart awareness among the public were very well-accepted and greatly appreciated by the public. Various sustainability initiatives have been implemented by LuLu Group for the last two decades. As a leading retailer in the region, LuLu Group is deeply committed to exercising sustainable best practices to reduce environmental concerns by taking real and demonstrable measures to protect the environment and contribute to reducing carbon emissions and food waste aligned with the Qatar National Vision 2030. The recipient of the Sustainability Award 2019 at the Qatar Sustainability Summit, LuLu Group has highlighted its efforts to promote environment-friendly practices in its operations and 18 stores in Qatar and in the community. As part of its ongoing efforts to reduce energy, water, waste, and to incorporate sustainable practices, LuLu Group has achieved sustainable operations certification for various outlets in Qatar. LuLu introduced reusable bags and promoted them in all the outlets, encouraging customers to reuse their shopping bags by reducing the amount of fresh plastic in the system. Reverse Vending Machines have been procured and implemented in multiple outlets to encourage and educate customers on the segregation and recycling of plastic bottles and cans. Various other measures to reduce the amount of plastic in packaging were introduced, including the introduction of refilling stations, Kraft paper bags, and biodegradable packaging made with sugarcane pulp used for packing in-house kitchen products. With a view to eliminating waste in its operations, LuLu implemented various innovative methods, such as controlled production and controlled ordering of raw materials, among others. Sustainable suppliers and products are also given priority in the company’s operations. Food waste digesters are also being used to efficiently manage the food waste generated in the operation. An innovative food waste solution called ‘ORCA’ recycles food waste by breaking it down into water (mainly) and some carbs, fats, and proteins, which are then captured or repurposed. This is currently being trialed at LuLu’s Bin Mahmoud store. Outlets are being encouraged to segregate the operational waste for easy disposal and collection. Three compartment bins are placed in all general areas to encourage customers on waste segregation. LuLu Hypermarket in Qatar has become one of the first retailers in MENA to achieve sustainable operations certification under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). The hypermarket has installed a Building Management System to efficiently manage assets associated with the building’s ventilation and lighting. Also, the hypermarket has installed the cloud-based Honeywell Forge Energy Optimisation system to efficiently manage and optimise the energy used during the operations. The use of LED is being encouraged for LuLu’s upcoming projects and existing projects, which are being gradually shifted to LED from conventional lights. Light control systems assisted with motion sensors are being considered to optimise the use of energy, especially in warehouse operations. LuLu also introduced energy-efficient chillers in its operations to optimise the use of energy and increase cooling efficiency. Recycling of paper waste and oil waste is also being done and encouraged throughout with the help of recycling partners that efficiently divert these materials from landfills and recycle them back into the system. As a responsible retailer, LuLu Hypermarket always follows an all-inclusive approach in promoting ‘Made in Qatar’ products. LuLu provides dedicated retail space and point-of-sale terminals for locally-manufactured food products. The company has started sourcing its private label products locally, ensuring uninterrupted supplies and stock availability. LuLu engages closely with local farmers through a variety of support schemes and promotional initiatives to enhance supply and demand. The group is known as a trendsetter in the introduction of sustainable best practices in the retail industry in the region. LuLu’s operations cover business divisions in the retail segment for the popular hypermarket brand, shopping mall destinations, food-processing plants, wholesale distribution, hospitality properties, and real estate development.
As an integral element of their operations, 74% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have utilised digital tools to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, an official of Meta has said. In a speech during the recent launching of the ‘Meta Boost’ programme in Qatar, Meta regional director for the Middle East and North Africa Fares Akkad said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been running the largest small business surveys in the world.” According to Akkad, Meta used the data to better understand the evolving needs of SMBs, especially as it relates to online tools and challenges brought on by the pandemic. “We released our latest State of Small Business report, which shows digital tools remain critical to SMB operations…81% of SMBs in this most recent global sample indicated that they had used digital tools in the last month, including 74% of SMBs in Mena. And 31% of global SMBs reported more than half of their sales took place online, including 26% of Mena respondents,” Akkad said. Akkad said helping SMBs thrive and grow is a top priority for Meta, which is especially focused on helping SMBs make the transition online. In partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Meta launched ‘Meta Boost’, a global programme designed to support and accelerate the digitisation of SMBs in Qatar. “For the first time in Qatar, we will be launching a Meta SMB hub dedicated to the community of businesses in Qatar. The hub will feature a series of training webinars and resources to learn about the essentials of digital marketing and sales. It will also showcase local case studies and success stories to drive inspiration. “Meta’s Blueprint Bootcamp will include a series of live trainer-led webinars for digitally inclined SMBs to advance their presence online and accelerate their business growth. This will be a great opportunity for SMBs in Qatar to spend time and connect with Meta experts,” Akkad emphasised. In an earlier statement, the ministry said MCIT and Meta entered into a partnership to support MCIT’s vision of transforming Qatar into a digitally-enabled knowledge economy. As part of this partnership, the ministry will explore opportunities for collaboration with Meta covering key areas like community upskilling, SME digitisation, and economic support. The ministry strives to foster a human-centric vision for the digital economy and society, making digital transformation a fully-inclusive and transformative process for all businesses – from the small to the enterprise. Akkad also said Meta’s work to support SMBs is focused on three areas: free tools, training, and cash and marketing support. “Meta has a number of tools across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to help businesses create an online presence and connect with customers for free,” he pointed out. He added: “Meta offers hundreds of free digital training and resources to help SMBs establish their presence and grow on our platforms…in the early days of the pandemic, Meta provided cash grants and ad credits to SMBs to help them keep the lights on. All of this and more is core to our company principle to promote economic opportunity and helps to illustrate our commitment to SMBs and their success.”
Tech giant Microsoft is keen on driving the transformation of Qatar’s business landscape into a global digital hub that would further fast-track foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow into the country, an official of Microsoft Qatar has said. For the past several years, the Qatari government has launched a slew of initiatives and economic and legal reforms, as well as local and international partnerships, among others, to attract foreign investments. Microsoft is among the major international players that have expanded its footprint in Qatar to become a leading partner in the country’s digital transformation and economic diversification strategy. “We believe we have created a diversified economy for Qatar to become a digital hub for the world,” Microsoft Qatar general manager Lana Khalaf told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a tour of the company’s latest and state-of-the-art office, which recently opened in Lusail city. The opening of Microsoft’s new office, which is located at Burj Alfardan, was celebrated in the presence of HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai and high-ranking officials from the US embassy in Qatar. Asked about Microsoft Qatar’s plans for the country after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Khalaf said: “Post-FIFA, we will be focusing on driving Qatar as a digital hub for the world where we will see global companies and global partners that want to come to this region investing in Qatar as a host of a digital economy and focused on diversifying to a knowledge-based economy, as well. This is definitely where we see the future of Qatar.” Khalaf emphasised that the opening of Microsoft’s fourth and largest office in the country builds on a number of significant investments that the company has already made in Qatar. She said in 2019 the company and the then Ministry of Transport and Communications announced plans to establish a new Microsoft Cloud Datacentre Region to deliver its intelligent, trusted cloud services. Khalaf said this will accelerate digital transformation, create jobs, enable skilling initiatives, empower partners, and drive economic impact across Qatar by empowering businesses and organisations of all sizes across all industries. During the tour of the office, Khalaf stated that Microsoft recently announced that its Cloud Datacentre Region in Qatar will be launched globally in a “few weeks” time. Aside from this, Khalaf said Microsoft also continues to innovate and initiate new programmes to help prepare Qatar’s workforce for the changing digital economy. In March this year, Microsoft, in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), launched the National Skilling Programme and the Digital Centre of Excellence located at Msheireb Downtown Doha. The National Skilling Programme aims to skill 50,000 people across all demographics by 2025. Since the launch of the programme, Microsoft has provided in-demand technology skilling to more than 14,000 individuals.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and American multinational technology conglomerate Meta have entered into a partnership to support MCIT’s vision of transforming Qatar into a digitally-enabled knowledge economy. MCIT Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Society Development Reem al-Mansoori said, “The strategic partnership with Meta will complement and strengthen Qatar’s efforts in supporting our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their digital transformation journeys, which is extremely important for the economic and social development of the country.” Meta regional director for the Middle East and North Africa Fares Akkad said, “We are inspired by the ministry’s efforts in building an integrated digital society. This partnership signifies our commitment to support local SMEs by providing them with necessary digital skills to recover and deliver results online and help further boost a burgeoning start-up ecosystem to positively impact socio-economic growth in Qatar.” As part of this partnership, the ministry will explore opportunities for collaboration with Meta covering key areas like community upskilling, SME digitisation and economic support. The ministry strives to foster a human-centric vision for the digital economy and society, making digital transformation a fully-inclusive and transformative process for all businesses – from the small to the enterprise. As such, the ministry has identified cooperation at an international level as a critical constituent in achieving its vision. The partnership with Meta is one such example where MCIT will collaborate with Meta to leverage its expertise, resources, and best practices. During a launch event held Wednesday at the Sport Accelerator Qatar Business District, MCIT and Meta kicked off a national programme in support of SME digitisation and growth dubbed ‘Meta Boost Qatar’ programme. For the first time, Meta has launched a virtual SME hub in Qatar featuring a series of training webinars. The hub will also include a series of resources and will showcase local case studies and success stories to drive inspiration. Content will include training on how to ‘Creatively Engage your Audience with IG’, ‘Get Started with Meta Business Suite’, ‘Get Creative with Ads’, and ‘Reach your Audience with Personalised Ads’, amongst others. The programme is supported by local partners Aspire Zone Foundation, the Sport Accelerator, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and Qatar Development Bank (QDB). Hilal al-Kuwari, president of Aspire Zone Foundation, said: “Initiatives like ‘Meta Boost Qatar’ will promote SME digitisation to achieve a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive sports sector and unlock limitless opportunities for overall sector growth. Furthermore, this initiative identifies the much-needed training opportunities that best meet the sectors emerging needs and help SMEs acquire in-demand tech skills to become part of the thriving sports sector.” QDB acting CEO Abdulrahman Hesham al-Sowaidi said, “Our partnership with Meta is in line with the digital transformation endeavours taken by QDB, especially now that we have accelerated our digital solutions and e-commerce processes on a wider level due to the Covid-19 outbreak.” He added, “We are offering several initiatives on this front, including the NUMU digital platform and a new, specialised financing product that focuses on digitisation solutions and technological tools for SMEs, among others. We are pleased to collaborate on this initiative with national partners and we look forward to seeing its positive impact on Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem while fulfilling the objectives of the national vision.” To mark the launch of this collaboration, Meta hosted an in-person event on the topics of SME Digitisation and Upskilling at Qatar Business District. The event included guest speaker sessions, experts, and followed by a ‘Meta Boost’ workshop for SMEs to learn about the essentials of digital marketing. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launch event, Akkad said: “Qatar is a very strategic market for us. We see a lot of innovation and eagerness to innovate. We also see a determined startup ecosystem. Meta ‘is in the business of small business’, so any thriving economy that is leaning towards digital is something interesting to us – it’s an initiative that we do across the region but we prioritise and Qatar is up there in our priority list.” On Meta’s presence in Qatar and its role in the development of the country’s SME ecosystem, Akkad said: “Similar to other economies, the SME ecosystem tends to form the majority of the workforce and the GDP for each country. We think that with Covid-19 what has become very apparent is the need to digitise – to have a digital presence whether you go fully digital or partially a mixture of brick and mortar and digital. It is essential for all SMEs to have a digital strategy.” He added: “Meta can help do this very seamlessly because we provide a lot of free products. Most of the users already engage and know how to use our tools, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp or Messenger, so the transition to creating a digital storefront is very seamless. “And then we provide them with the training and the programmes to help them excel in this phase. We believe that we have the highest impact on the economy in the world because of this link between the traditional and digital way of doing business.”
Consumer behaviour in Qatar has changed “completely and sustainably” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, suggests a new study by Roland Berger. In an ongoing effort to build a better understanding of this phenomenon and the extent to which it has affected doing business, Roland Berger in Qatar conducted a “first-ever” Qatar-focused consumer study. Over 300 interviews were conducted covering different segments, such as locals and expats, male and female consumers, and different age groups, among others, to analyse and better understand the lasting effect of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour. Analysis was performed across multiple areas like buying patterns, media consumption, payment solutions, and purchase determiners to determine how these changed during the pandemic and which of these changes will have a lasting impact. “This study has helped us unveil many important consumer behaviour trends that could help businesses in the country adopt effective ways that speak to consumers’ emerging requirements and needs. “For example, our study reveals that the use of social media platforms increased by almost 70% amongst total users. This increase is logical, but what it entails in terms of new trends and dynamics shaping the interaction between brands and consumers is something that businesses might not be fully ready for,” said Dr Fabian Engels, senior partner and managing director at Roland Berger in Qatar. Saumitra Sehgal, partner and head of Consumer Goods & Retail and Financial Services at Roland Berger in Qatar, stated: “In terms of spending trends, for example, and during the first half of 2022, about 15% of all consumers increased spending for food and another 20% have increased spending for hygiene products. Our study revealed that this development is not temporary – food and hygiene products are expected to grow in the future even further. “Another clearly observed change is related to digital payments. The switch to digital is inevitable – shops all over Qatar need to act with the speed at which consumers are changing. Digital payment channels have scaled up rapidly during the pandemic, with 60% of local consumers having increased cashless transactions and 75% of all consumers using the cashless mode. The launch of new modes, such as Apple Pay has positively contributed to this trend.” He added: “In terms of physical shopping, we see split consumer behaviour. A large part of all consumers (40% of total base) have stated that they will continue to decrease their visits to physical stores. This will completely change how and where we shop in Qatar. “Promotional offers, as a commercial tactic, was cited as a top reason to get consumers back in stores, but safety standards came across as the second most important reason for consumers to shop in-person.” On the other end, an equal percentage of consumers (40%) also expressed a desire to go back to visiting physical stores. This may show a form of hesitation that consumers are facing post-pandemic, where they are hesitant between revolting against past habits imposed by the pandemic and continuing with the relatively new but more meticulous practices, the study stated. Engels said, “Businesses will suffer if they don't adopt the new changes – Qatar needs to prove itself resilient and adaptable once more. The world will never again be the same as it was before Covid-19, so businesses must be ready to change and adapt to the new normal taking shape around them.”
In a bid to expand its operations in Qatar, Microsoft has opened its fourth and largest facility in the country at Lusail City as part of a significant investment here, which includes the soon-to-be-launched Microsoft Cloud Datacentre Region. The launch of the new offices reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to establish Qatar as a knowledge and innovation hub and will enable Microsoft to better serve its customers, collaborate with its technology partners, and attract and develop top talent. Microsoft was joined by HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai and high-ranking officials from the US Embassy in Qatar to celebrate the official opening of its new state-of-the-art office in Burj Al Fardan, Lusail City. The inauguration ceremony was live-streamed on Microsoft Teams to allow the company’s employees in the wider Middle East and Africa region to be part of the celebrations. “Microsoft has been deeply rooted in Qatar and our commitment to helping grow Qatar’s innovation economy has never been stronger. With the launch of our new offices and our Customer Innovation Centre, customers and partners will have the opportunity to co-innovate, ideate, and envision groundbreaking solutions that will revolutionise their industries,” said Microsoft Qatar general manager Lana Khalaf. With one side of the office overlooking the Arabian Sea and the other facing the desert, the eye-catching space fuses Microsoft’s global corporate identity with local Qatari flavour to capture the forward-looking, agile, and resilient nature of Qatar. The new Microsoft facility includes a Customer Innovation Centre that will host innovation and ideation workshops aimed at inspiring groundbreaking solutions that spur transformation across industries in Qatar. The office will play a vital role as an innovation hub for leading technology startups, students, and community organisations from across Qatar. It will also serve as a regional hub for the company’s talent, servicing Qatar and the wider Microsoft Middle East Cluster region. Work done at the facility will support the company’s efforts to grow, retain, and recruit the most talented people to build the most cutting-edge solutions. The new office was designed with the evolution of work in mind, presenting an inclusive hybrid workplace that empowers employees to better serve customers and collaborate with partners, whether they are in person or remote. Leveraging the company’s latest future work technologies, the sustainable, smart space facilitates seamless hybrid work that offers employees the flexibility to divide their work time between the office and offsite locations, leading to increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction and enhanced team collaboration. << Microsoft Qatar general manager Lana Khalaf -------------------- The office incorporates a Team Based Space design that pairs the latest technology with modern and collaborative workplaces and is fitted with the latest Microsoft Teams-enabled hardware and software to facilitate seamless hybrid work. Khalaf said, “In designing the new office, we were guided by two main principles. The first was our determination to provide the best workplace for our employees, offering a highly engaging, inclusive, and flexible environment that leverages the latest modern work technologies to create future-proof smart workspaces. “The second was sustainability – to deliver the first office to be certified on the highest sustainability standards in the Middle East. I am extremely proud to say that we delivered on both of those objectives while prioritising the focus on customers with our Customer Innovation Centre.” She added: “I look forward to welcoming customers, partners, visitors, and Microsoft’s team members to our new office and I am confident that this expansion will drive further recruitment and retention of the brightest talent who will be inspired to build cutting-edge solutions for organisations and people in the country.” PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam In 2020, Microsoft announced ambitious commitments to become carbon negative by 2030 and remove more carbon from the environment than it has emitted since its founding by 2050. In line with these sustainability goals, the new facility is fitted with the latest green technologies to drive energy and water efficiency and is the company’s first office in the Middle East to reach Level 1 on Microsoft’s Global Sustainability Standard. The premises have also achieved a C-Grade Global Microsoft Accessibility Standard for extending equal opportunities for all employees to access their workspaces with features such as easily accessible parking spaces, automatic doors, room signs with Braille, and audible and visible alarm systems.
The country’s real estate market is expected to witness some adjustments in rent prices after Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is slated from November 21 to December 18, according to an official of Cityscape Qatar. Cityscape group director Chris Speller told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently-concluded event that the market is anticipating lower rents in 2023, citing the UAE’s post-Expo 2020 experience. “I think there will be an adjustment after the World Cup; the UAE recently hosted the expo and prior to this event, rents and pricing structures are high, and perhaps that will be similar here because after the expo, we’re now seeing a decline and what becomes a new norm,” Speller explained. But Speller also stated that global conflicts, inflation, and supply chain challenges, among other factors, will still have an impact on the real estate market, among other sectors. “I think some areas of the world are continually being impacted because of various situations; global issues like what’s happening in Ukraine and around the supply network of oil and gas – these are elements that are outside of everybody’s control. Also, we still have to import raw materials and around the world, countries are very reliant on each other, so those are also going to continue to have an impact. “What we don’t know is how much of an impact this is going to have. For example, where does our steel come from, where do some of those raw materials come from, and how is that going to impact the real estate market?” Speller explained further. He said: “We have another Cityscape – a very large show over in Egypt. Currently, the developers in Egypt are unsure how much to sell their products because they don’t know how it’s going to cost to build it because of the raw materials; the cost of steel has increased by 300% in Egypt and they also have problems with foreign exchange rates and inflation rates.” Earlier, Speller said new master developments would be announced next year as Qatar shifts its attention from the World Cup to focusing more on its plans to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. He said Qatar will start to announce new projects coming into the market in 2023 and that the government will continue with its economic diversification strategy by bringing in new industries across different sectors, as well as other initiatives that would drive growth and development in the country’s economy.
Qetaifan Projects and JMJ Properties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of Cityscape Qatar 2022 on Wednesday for a QR600mn investment project to rise in Qetaifan Island North. The MoU was signed by Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and JMJ Properties chairman and founder Sheikh Jabor bin Mansour al-Thani. The signing ceremony was attended by Qetaifan Projects officials Hesham Sharaf, chief operating officer, and Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, head of Business Development, as well as Sheikh Faisal bin Mansour al-Thani from JMJ Properties. Qetaifan Projects and JMJ Properties will develop a mixed-use five plots of mid-rise located at the southern area of Qetaifan Island North. The plot area is approximately 25,000sqm with an investment value of QR600mn. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said, “Collaborating with local companies and the private sector is part of our strategy to work on the development of Qetaifan Island North, in addition to being part of the success system that we developed in Qetaifan Projects, which prioritises residents and visitors, and this will also reflect positively on different sectors. “Despite all the challenges, there’s no doubt that the continuous foreign and local investors' interest is only a proof of the investor’s trust in the development of the Qetaifan Island North project, and despite the responsibility that such trust places on us, we are pleased with this local investment on Qetaifan Island North.” Sheikh Jabor said, “Achieving a long-term economic vision through a strategic partnership with Qetaifan Projects and by investing in Qetaifan Island North to enrich Qatar’s sustainable real-estate development market is essential to serve all sectors.” Sharaf said, “Partnerships are a necessity to the success of any real estate development, particularly the promising and sustainable projects such as the Qetaifan Island North project, which provides all the services and facilities that will make it a recreational destination that offers a whole new lifestyle.” Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani said, “We are optimistic about this partnership and there’s no doubt that we will be working together to make this partnership a success, thus contributing to the success of the Qetaifan Island North project, which we seek as a team at all levels.”
Cityscape Qatar, which concluded on Tuesday, produced an increase in international interest amid a raft of new project launches, unit sales, and growing demand, according to Chris Speller, Cityscape’s group director. “We are extremely excited to see such interest across all asset classes both locally and internationally," the official said while referring to the three-day event. "Cityscape Qatar has once again proven to be a catalyst for announcements, investment opportunities, and face-to-face meetings. The new product launches, onsite sales, and new signings are testament to the growth phase the Qatari real estate market is currently witnessing.” On Cityscape’s second day, Turkish ambassador Mustafa Goksu toured the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre and visited the inaugural Turkish pavilion for updates on the latest opportunities being offered in both Qatar and Turkey. Sekib Avdagic, president of Istanbul’s chamber of commerce, said his country’s first participation at Cityscape was “an unmissable opportunity” for Turkey to highlight some of its new projects and attract international investment. Avdagic said, “Cityscape Qatar is a great opportunity for us. For the first time, we are hosting a national pavilion made up of 14 investment and real estate companies all looking for opportunities. This platform is a highly important avenue for the promotion of Turkish real estate projects with the aim of attracting high net worth investors.” Jamal Mourad, CEO of Bin Al Sheikh Real Estate Development, said: “Part of our focus for the company is to rebrand and we now have some large-scale projects to showcase, which is why we decided to exhibit this year. We are showcasing both our QR1.2bn Ramada project, as well as Ain Khalid Mall, which will open in two months. “We are here to finalise reservations of 55 shops and a hypermarket. So far, we have sealed four deals, including a residential area of 70 villas, and we have met with experts from the real estate commercial sector who will support us with insight for our Ain Khalid project.” Mart Real Estate general manager Zakaria Abdullah said, “We managed to sell a full floor in our upcoming project Seville Residences, which is located in the Fox Hills district of Lusail City. We sold nine units to one buyer for a total of QR11.5mn, reinforcing the current appetite for demand and confidence in the short to long-term rental market.” Sana Kheir, managing director of Mayfair Property Group, said: “The lockdown slowed both business activity and investment in the real estate market. We felt that this edition of Cityscape Qatar was a perfect opportunity to get back out there and meet people since we are witnessing an increased appetite for investment in the market. “Also, with the FIFA World Cup approaching, this will create momentum in diversified investment markets. Our greatest strength is that we are coming to the market with high-quality collaborations in different parts of the world and have seen heightened investment opportunities in locations, such as the US, the UK, and the UAE.” Ends
* PM toured various sections of the exhibition and was updated on the most prominent real estate projects HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani toured the 10th edition of Cityscape Qatar 2022, which concluded on Wednesday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). During his visit to various sections of the exhibition, the Prime Minister was updated on the most prominent real estate projects in the country, presented by government agencies and institutions, as well as Qatari and regional real estate companies. He also listened to a briefing on the readiness of real estate projects to host fans of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the commercial and investment opportunities available to visitors of the exhibition. Sheikh Khalid spoke with senior representatives from local firms Qatari Diar, Qetaifan Projects, Bin Al Sheikh Real Estate Development, and Mart Real Estate. The Prime Minister also spoke with international developers DAMAC before proceeding to the Turkish pavilion. The Prime Minister’s visit to Cityscape yesterday also coincided with several signing ceremonies between major companies in the property sector, wrapping up the three-day event, which was rife with several real estate launch rites and foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities. Qetaifan Projects signed a deal yesterday with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to collaborate closely on the integration of international sustainability standards – a key pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030. The signing ceremony was led by Jordan D’Gama, head of insight, strategy and success at RICS, and Hesham Sharaf, chief operating officer at Qetaifan Projects. Speaking about the partnership, Sharaf said stronger collaboration and support “can ultimately produce genuine, tangible results.” He said, “With sustainability high on the agenda for all real estate stakeholders, we are pleased to confirm both RICS and Qetaifan will be pledging their support for the International Property Measurement Standard (IPMS). This is a universal measurement standard that forms the basis of sustainability metrics, valuation, and building efficiency. “IPMS is expected to bring confidence and transparency to international property markets through the introduction of a consistent method for measuring property. It will overcome the existing concerns and confusion that can arise through the use of multiple measurement standards throughout the world. These can lead to deviations of up to 24% in building measurements, so it is no small matter.” Cityscape group director Chris Speller said, “As we close the doors on our 10th edition in Qatar, it is fantastic to see such a buzz around the show floor with real, tangible business being conducted. “As we look forward to the FIFA World Cup and the positive impact it will have on various economies, including real estate, we can’t wait to see what other opportunities will arise for our partners, stakeholders, and visitors at Cityscape Qatar 2023.”
New master developments across the country’s landscape are on the horizon after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is not only a major sports event but also an opportunity to showcase the investment opportunities Qatar has to offer, an official of Cityscape has said. “The vision of the country doesn't change and doesn't falter – the government has Qatar National Vision 2030 … after the World Cup, the country can get back to its focus on driving inbound investment,” Cityscape vice-president Chris Speller told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event’s 10th edition. “They will start to announce all those new projects coming into the market.” Cityscape Qatar was officially opened on Monday by HE the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater. The event, which concludes today (June 22) at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), gathered more than 60 exhibitors from Qatar as well as from Cyprus, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, the UAE, and the UK to highlight the latest real estate project launches in the region ahead of the World Cup. “In 2023, the country will be focusing on its original vision 5-year plan, so it has many different plans for new master developments, how it’s going to be attracting different industries, and how it’s going to focus that economic diversification,” Speller said. “And the only way of delivering diversification is by actually bringing new industries and industry sectors into the market, be that from a technology or a financial side, but the country will get back to focusing on its long term vision and delivering the mission that would drive the country’s growth and economic diversification.” Amid the various challenges of the pandemic, he said the Cityscape exhibition has witnessed growth, which, he described as "an opportunity based on the participation of local and international participants and a balance between the two.” According to Speller, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani requested Cityscape “to move from a local to a more international event.” He said this year’s edition had 70% international exhibitors and 30% from the local market. “There’s a mixture of reasons for that. A lot of the master developers who you’d normally see at Cityscape are not here this year because their focus is on delivering the projects around the World Cup. “Also, we’ve only had around six to seven months to deliver this year’s event, so there’s a short turnaround. This year’s event feels quite different than previous years and I think in 2023 after the World Cup, our direction will go back to seeing both the international and local market, as well,” Speller explained. He said, “Last year, we obviously didn't see many of the international participants because there was still difficulty getting into the country…we hope what's going to be a true reflection is 2019 on 2023 where we believe we’re seeing significant growth into this exhibition. “While many of those master developers were unable to rejoin this year, we’ve already had conversations with them today and there is certainly a real ambition from all of them to be returning in 2023 along with the other international participants, so that gives the show the opportunity for growth,” Speller pointed out. Speller also anticipates that the new development opportunities to be announced next year would be focusing on smart cities, technology, innovation, and lowering carbon footprint, as well as how to support homeowners and the commercial, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
Qetaifan Projects announced on Tuesday the launching of the waterside retail, café, and restaurant units along the canal of Qetaifan Island North on the sidelines of Cityscape Qatar, which concludes today (June 22) at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). The waterside retail and festival plazas are operated by Rixos Hotels, along with the beach club, hotel, and “Meryal” waterpark. The retail services on the island include canal-side cafes and a range of restaurants – from quick service to exotic fine dining. The retail and festival plaza areas include 92 units with a capacity for 6,500 people, including the Meryal waterpark area. It is worth mentioning that the waterside retail, café, and restaurant units are in three adjacent locations around the world-class waterpark Meryal, 5-star luxury hotel run by Rixos Hotels, and at the entertainment and Souq areas, with a total area of 12,300sq m on the banks of the canal, in addition to 1,400sq m of parking spaces. The retail and festival plaza units are important to all regions because it works as an attraction spot, and the attraction increases depending on the region and the facilities surrounding it,” Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said. “The retail plaza and festival plaza units are located at the heart of the island and are among other assets; they are considered as the main engine of the surrounding facilities, perhaps the most prominent of which are the Meryal waterpark, beach club, and hotel, in addition to the facilities that the retail and festival plaza units are providing on the canal-side and the various entertainment events that will contribute effectively to the revitalisation of tourism.” “The retail units are part of Qetaifan Island North real estate development plan, which in turn will also enrich the business assets at Lusail City,” said Qetaifan Projects chief operating officer Hesham Sharaf. “We are very proud to announce the release of the restaurant, café, and retail units, which lie at the heart of Qetaifan Island North,” said Rixos retail director Adrian Camps. “This will support the incredible iconic water park and Rixos 5-star hotel, and will provide the most amazing canal-side retail and dining experience in the Middle East.”
Whilst most of the establishments in the retail industry during the last couple of years have based their focus on developing business strategies for expansion, LuLu Hypermarket is aiming to set a benchmark for the company’s carbon reduction targets and circular economy best practices. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, stated that LuLu Group has achieved sustainable operations certification for various outlets in Qatar as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce energy, water, and waste, and to incorporate sustainable practices. “A team was formed with a broader vision to reduce LuLu’s carbon footprint by 50% before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The project and the operations team started working on this broader dream by taking appropriate measures of studying and identifying the areas for reduction opportunities in energy, water, and waste. “The knowledge gained during the study was used to identify and quantify the savings gained from both the project and the operations. A central repository of data was created to store and review the cost incurred for energy and water procurement and waste removal during the operations. This data helped to justify the importance of adopting new sustainable practices and quantify the value of such practices,” Althaf explained. A leading retailer exercising sustainable best practices, Althaf said LuLu paved the way in its commitment to sustainability by taking “real and demonstrable measures” to protect the environment and contribute to reducing carbon emissions and food waste. As a recipient of the Sustainability Award 2019 at the Qatar Sustainability Summit, LuLu has highlighted its efforts to promote environment-friendly practices in its operations and 18 stores in Qatar, as well as in the community at large. The conglomerate has strong CSR policies to bring a reduction in the increased environmental concerns, he pointed out. Althaf said LuLu Group has framed its own strategy on sustainability, which is put into practice in all its retail units and supply chains worldwide. “LuLu is deeply committed to reducing its impact on the environment and taking real and lasting steps to ensure this. As part of our commitment to Qatar National Vision 2030, we have been actively working to reduce carbon emissions and food waste, as well as promote healthy eating,” Althaf stressed. LuLu Hypermarket, the retail division of multidimensional and multinational conglomerate, Lulu Group International, has always been known as a trendsetter of the retail industry in the region, Althaf emphasised. He said LuLu’s operations cover business divisions in the retail segment for the popular hypermarket brand, shopping mall destinations, food processing plants, wholesale distribution, hospitality properties, and real estate development. “The group has proved resilient despite the challenges caused by the pandemic. Two new stores were opened in 2020 in the region amidst the pandemic, and with that, LuLu in Qatar today symbolises quality retailing with 18 stores and is immensely popular with the discerning shoppers in the region. It is stated that the firm’s retail portfolio in Qatar will reach 22 stores by the last quarter of the current fiscal year,” Althaf emphasised. He added: “As an ardent promoter of ‘Made in Qatar’ products, LuLu provides dedicated retail space and point-of-sale terminals for locally-manufactured food products. The company has started sourcing its private label products locally, ensuring uninterrupted supplies and stock availability. LuLu engages closely with local farmers through a variety of support schemes and promotional initiatives to enhance supply and demand.” Ends Some of the sustainable best practices implemented by the LuLu team are as follows: • GSAS-Op certification - LuLu Hypermarket in Qatar has become one of the first retailers in MENA to achieve sustainable operations certification under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). • Building Management System - BMS has been installed for buildings to efficiently manage the assets associated with the building ventilation and lighting; • Cloud energy optimisation system - Honeywell forge has been installed to efficiently manage and optimise the energy used during the operations; • LED - Use of LED is being encouraged for upcoming projects and existing projects are gradually being shifted to LED from conventional lights; • Light control system - Light control systems assisted with motion sensors are being considered to optimise the use of energy, especially in the warehouse operations; • Designing new buildings with energy efficiency in mind; • Energy efficient chillers - Procurement of new energy-efficient chillers that optimise the use of energy and increase the cooling efficiency; • Submeter for tenants - To manage the water consumption and energy submeters are being implemented in tenant spaces; • Dual flush system for WCs - New projects are being encouraged to use the double flush system to reduce the water usage; • Waste segregation and separation from the source - Outlets are being encouraged to segregate their waste for easy disposal and collection. Three compartment bins are implemented in all general areas to encourage customers in waste segregation; • Food waste digesters - Food waste digesters are being used to efficiently manage the food waste generated in the operation. An innovative food waste solution called ‘ORCA’ recycles food waste by breaking it down into water (mainly), and some carbs, fats, and proteins, which are then captured or repurposed. This is currently being trailed at LuLu’s Bin Mahmoud store; • Reverse vending machines have been procured and implemented in multiple outlets to encourage and educate customers on the segregation and recycling of plastic bottles and cans; • Reusable bags have been introduced and promoted in all the outlets, encouraging customers to reuse their shopping bags thereby reducing the fresh plastic in the system; • Recycle - Recycling of paper waste and oil waste is done and encouraged throughout with the help of recycling partners that efficiently divert these materials from landfills and recycle them back into the system; • Setting in place a policy around the correct collection and disposal of used cooking oil; • Reduce the amount of plastic in packaging. - Introduction of Refilling Stations - Introduction of Kraft paper bags - Biodegradable Packaging made with sugarcane pulp, used for packing in-house kitchen products; • Be efficient and eliminate waste in our operations - Controlled production - Controlled ordering of raw materials; • Increase in the consumption of locally sourced ingredients; • Promoting sustainable suppliers and products; and • Introduction of plant-based food options. 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Qetaifan Projects on Monday unveiled the name of the Qetaifan Island North Waterpark – ‘Meryal’, including a live visual of the attraction, highlighting the opening of Cityscape Qatar’s 10th edition, which will run until June 22 at the Doha Convention and Exhibition Centre (DECC). The unveiling ceremony was led by Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani in the presence of Qetaifan Projects business development head Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, and COO Hesham Sharaf, as well as the Qetaifan Projects team. Qetaifan Projects is a real estate development company fully owned by Katara Hospitality and the developer of Qetaifan Island North. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani said: “The name Meryal comes from our love for the Arabic language. It showcases our history and culture that we take pride in and it carries a word from the Qatari dialect to the world, which we hope will resonate worldwide with the promising future of Qetaifan Island North as a touristic haven and the waterpark as an entertainment and a cultural landmark added to other landmarks in Qatar.” The emblem and the name of the waterpark were inspired by the Qatari culture, while the design of the waterpark was inspired by the history of the oil and gas discovery in Qatar. The name of the waterpark is easy to pronounce by everyone despite differences in language. “The dream of Qetaifan Island North is about to become a reality: a project that started as a development of a waterpark that reflects our culture and history of the oil and gas discovery to the world and a contribution to the exposure of our identity that we take pride in. “We are truly happy with what we have accomplished so far, especially given the challenges we have faced over the past couple of years. On behalf of Qetaifan Projects, we are proud to be working on this huge national project and we aspire to compete with and promote this distinct real estate project to international levels as the first recreational touristic destination that contributes to the promotion of our culture, as well as working to serve the country’s different sectors – perhaps the most prominent of which is the tourism and hospitality sectors,” Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani added. The waterpark area is approximately 281,000sq m, which comprises 36 waterslides and the Icon Tower – up to 85m high with 12 waterslides for the adventurous and excitement enthusiasts, leading as the world’s tallest waterslide by Guinness World Records. It will also include a discovery game with a 3D display and augmented reality technology that will take visitors on a historic journey back in time to learn more about the history of oil and gas discovery in Qatar and experience it first-hand. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani said, “The design of the waterpark was inspired by the history of the oil and gas discovery in Qatar, adding to it a historical and a cultural aspect, and establishing the identity of the waterpark. “The colours used in the waterpark are rusty to give the visitors an idea and the feel of the oil and gas fields but in the form of a waterpark. There is no doubt that there is nothing better than the history of the discovery of oil and gas in Qatar, which is actively contributing to the development of our country, as well as promoting and showcasing our history and culture.”
Cityscape Qatar is shining the spotlight on the future of the region’s real estate as the 10th edition of the event was officially opened on Monday by HE the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry Sultan bin Rashid al-Khater. The event, which will run until June 22 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), is highlighting the latest real estate project launches in the region ahead of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. More than 60 exhibitors from Cyprus, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, the UAE, the UK, and Qatar are prepared to meet visitors to discuss the region’s real estate industry and unveil a variety of prominent development projects. Following the undersecretary’s tour of the exhibition hall, Qetaifan Projects announced during an unveiling ceremony that ‘Meryal’ is the name of the Qetaifan Island North Waterpark. Qetaifan head of Business Development Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani said, “Over the next three days at Cityscape, we will be officially announcing our waterpark name and launching our Retail Plazas project. Alongside the launches, visitors will have the final chance to purchase the last remaining villa plots for sale ahead of fully selling out our latest projects.” Also taking place yesterday was the first of a series of free ‘Cityscape Talks’ conference sessions, which is aligned with the four pillars of Qatar’s National Vision 2030: sustainable, resilient, affordable, and liveable. The agenda included talks on the digitalisation of Qatar’s real estate sector by Aqarco leadership; a look at the green legacy for Qatar by hospitality leaders Raffles & Fairmont Doha, InterContinental Doha the City, and Cundall; as well as a strong focus on sustainable construction and how the country’s real estate market may look after this year’s FIFA World Cup by Qatar ValuStrat. Speaking at the conference, Orjan Lundberg, sustainability expert, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), said: “We see that the FIFA World Cup has been and is still a catalyst for national development on many fronts, including carbon incentives. Sustainability has been a core topic for this event from the planning stage. “The feedback we have received so far from FIFA is that this is the most comprehensive sustainability programme they have had to date. However, we do need the support of the wider real estate and hospitality sectors to support us in achieving a big sustainability push nationwide.” For the duration of the event, visitors can meet leading developers, including DAMAC, Regal London Properties, Aqarco, and Akam Developments. The industry is gearing up for a busy event season in Qatar with new projects offering investors state-of-the-art residential developments, commercial units, and luxury hospitality projects. Aqarco chairman Dr Ahmad al-Khulaifi said, “The importance of bringing together investors, developers, and government entities for better collaboration ahead of the country’s busy international event schedule is essential.” He added: “Cityscape Qatar is the right platform for us to introduce Aqarco into the market after our launch earlier this year. The platform allows real estate developers, investors, and potential clients to meet and understand the demands of the market as we approach a busy period for Qatar. Ends
talabat Qatar has been a strong supporter of the ‘Made in Qatar’ trademark. Not only is the company active in the local distribution of National Products but also in the regional markets. In an interview with Gulf Times, Francisco De Sousa, the company’s managing director, gives a brief rundown of talabat Qatar’s plans in the pipeline – pre- and post-FIFA World Cup 2022, as well as its recent achievements, including the ‘Great Place to Work in Qatar’ 2022 certification. Gulf Times: Kindly elaborate on talabat Qatar’s initiatives that help promote national products in both the local and international markets? De Sousa: Made in Qatar products have considerably increased. We have witnessed this tremendous growth and we have been following this trend very closely. In 2021, we were able to export ‘Made in Qatar’ products to talabat in Kuwait. These products included major brands such as Batato’s, Doha Dates, QFM flour, and Qatar Pafki, among others. This initiative, which took around nine months to complete, led to an interest in Qatari products from importers in Kuwait. At least 30% of Qatari companies started to do business with their counterparts in Kuwait after the launch of this initiative. What are the company’s recent achievements? As the only tech organisation to be awarded the certification of ‘Great Place to Work in Qatar’ in 2022, talabat has been an active contributor to the Qatari economy and beyond through many different initiatives. We’re really proud to be the first tech organisation in Qatar to receive this prestigious certification and to be rated in the top 5 rank of the Best Places to work in Qatar in 2022. And what’s more important is that to receive it, talabat’s own employees need to rate the organisation, and as any business owner knows, their employees are often their harshest critics. We are very lucky to have a committed tight-knit team that works together and works hard to put our entire ecosystem – our riders, vendors, customers, and community – at the heart of everything we do. It is also a testament to our culture – that while we grew immensely when everyone was working from home, our values and our collaborative spirit remained strong. We’re a youthful and energetic team with a ‘make-it-happen’ mindset, bringing innovative solutions to benefit our stakeholders. For us, a key to success has always been our ‘talabatys’. We are a team of over 200 talabat employees here in Qatar, from logistics to sales, to marketing, communications, tech support, and people operations…our team works relentlessly to serve our community. What about customers and the wider community, how important are they for talabat? Experience is paramount for us. Whether it be customer, vendor, or rider experience, we strive to have the best experience possible for all three parties. We’re proud to be the flag bearers for experience in Qatar. We’re also so thankful to have such a generous, amazing society in Qatar. Last year, our customers and the wider community contributed over QR2mn worth of donations to Qatar Charity, and region-wide, contributing QR1.93mn to support humanitarian efforts in Palestine. It is truly humbling to live in this society and to be able to impact the community and have a positive influence for change. I’d also like to thank our Qatari customers for riders’ tips. Since we launched cashless tipping in May 2021, Qatari customers per capita have been by far the most generous in the whole region. When choosing to tip, Qatari customers tip on average QR8 per order. Talking about contributions to the Qatari society, how is talabat contributing to the growth of the country? When it comes to our contributions in Qatar, we are equally serious about our commercial growth and our community impact. During the pandemic, our contribution to the diversification of the economy was extremely important. Our platform provided a consistent revenue source in a time of uncertainty, which helped to keep tens of thousands of people at work across the country, especially in the F&B industry. In many cases, revenue from talabat makes up a significant portion of a vendor’s balance sheet and it is our responsibility to make sure that we are helping them to grow sustainably. We take commercial growth very seriously, but also the growth of the community impact. For example, before and during the pandemic, our contribution to the diversification of the economy was tremendous, mostly with our restaurants, shops, and hotel partners. talabat has also set several partnerships with universities, corporates, and public institutions to impact the community as an agent of change. More than an asset, it is a duty for us to serve the country as best as possible. talabat is a Mena brand, but it offers different features that are not available in other countries, such as T-dine. Kindly explain why. At talabat, we use different markets to launch different products, and Qatar is seen as a great market for many new products. talabat dine is a made-in-Qatar feature and is crucial to the ecosystem as it is helping connect vendors and customers through dine-in, which is a vital aspect of the success and profitability of restaurants. While we are a tech company that focuses primarily on delivery, we are pragmatic enough to understand that for our business to be successful, we need restaurants to be successful in all of their sales avenues and we create products that will accordingly protect and advance our ecosystem. talabat was confirmed as one of the major sponsors of the Qatar Football Association. Tell us a bit more about this. At talabat, we love football! Currently, we are sponsoring the National Football and e-Sport Team of Qatar with QFA, as well as the Amir Cup. We understand that just as sharing a meal has the ability to bring people together, football also has the ability to bring people together through teamwork, camaraderie, and a shared goal. We’re proud to be sponsoring the Qatar National Team as they make their maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup, after having had some outstanding results in recent years. For Qatari fans, we cannot wait to bring you some outstanding creative campaigns and activations for you to enjoy. What are talabat’s plans after the 2022 FIFA World Cup? Our vision is aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030 and we follow this consistently. Along the way, we want to continue the initiatives that we have implemented on environmental, social, human, and economic diversification. What we anticipate post-FIFA 2022 is the same as our vision. We strongly believe in the Qatari market and are confident that we will continue driving this change and positively impact the local market, through innovation, and our commitment to the ecosystem in Qatar