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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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 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.
Sheikha Mayes bint Hamad al-Thani, USQBC Doha managing director.
Business
USQBC to continue its key role in strengthening Qatar-US trade ties

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) will continue to play an important role in fostering collaboration and trade between Qatar and the US, an official of the USQBC Doha Office stated in the wake of the third edition of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Powered by Bloomberg.Sheikha Mayes bint Hamad al-Thani, USQBC Doha managing director, lauded the recently-concluded QEF 2023, saying the forum can serve as a catalyst for further strengthening the council’s efforts to enhance Qatar-US economic ties.She said potential developments expected after the forum may include increased networking opportunities, organising more frequent trade missions and delegations with a focus on selected sectors or regions of interest, sharing of information, and collaborative initiatives.“The forum’s outcomes may facilitate an increase in networking opportunities provided by USQBC. Maintaining the momentum generated by the forum to organise more networking events, business matchmaking sessions, and targeted introductions between Qatari and American companies.“USQBC may expand the number of trade missions and delegations it organises. It is through these missions that companies can expand upon the discussions and connections made during the forum, allowing them to explore trade and investment opportunities in more structured and targeted ways,” Sheikha Mayes told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.According to Sheikha Mayes, USQBC may increase its efforts to provide members with market insights, regulatory updates, and information specific to their industry. The forum’s discussions and expert inputs can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the business landscape in Qatar, which the council can share with its members. USQBC may collaborate with other organisations and industry associations to drive joint initiatives aimed at promoting collaboration and trade between Qatar and the US, she also said.Sheikha Mayes stressed that QEF would have a significant impact on the promotion of business and investment opportunities in Qatar at various levels by inviting global attention, building partnerships and facilitating networking, providing investors with a view of Qatar’s diverse investment opportunities, promoting economic diversification, sharing of knowledge and innovation, and increasing investor confidence.She emphasised that the forum would serve to attract international attention to Qatar by highlighting the country’s economic potential and its commitment to fostering a favourable business environment.By highlighting Qatar's strategic sectors, such as energy, finance, real estate, infrastructure, tourism, and technology, Sheikha Mayes said the forum attracts potential investors and encourages them to consider Qatar as an investment destination.“Qatar has actively pursued economic diversification, aiming to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbon revenues. The forum serves as a platform for communicating Qatar’s economic diversification initiatives, highlighting the government’s commitment to supporting non-oil sectors, and presenting emerging business opportunities. As a result, Qatar can attract investment in new sectors and contribute to its economic sustainability in the long run.“By hosting such an important international event, Qatar’s commitment to promoting a competitive business environment and developing transparency is evident. By increasing investor confidence in the country’s economy, regulations, and stability, more investments can be attracted and long-term partnerships can be fostered,” Sheikha Mayes stressed.On fostering business partnerships and joint ventures, Sheikha Mayes said QEF provides an opportunity for American businesses to explore possible partnerships and joint ventures with Qatari counterparts.“The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Qatar’s robust financial sector and investment opportunities were highlighted at the forum. In addition, by highlighting the opportunities for American businesses to access capital and partners, as well as by investing in diverse portfolios, the forum may attract companies seeking financial assistance or investment opportunities,” she noted.Sheikha Mayes said USQBC will continue to work on matchmaking between Qatari and American businesses through targeted introductions and networking events, and to organise delegations and trade missions, including business events and forums, as well as facilitating information sharing and resources.

British ambassador Jonathan Wilks. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
UK-Qatar trade ‘back to pre-Covid-19 levels’ to $15bn in 2022, says British envoy

Trade between the UK and Qatar is back to pre-Covid-19 levels, which stood at around “$15bn” or about “£12bn” last year, British ambassador Jonathan Wilks told Gulf Times.Speaking on the sidelines of the recently concluded ‘British Food Week’, which was organised by LuLu Group, Wilks said the embassy is expecting trade figures to increase, adding that it is also “looking to the next stage of Qatar’s development.”According to Wilks, there has been a growing demand for British products in Qatar, wherein he lauded LuLu Group for promoting a wide range of food items from the UK in all its outlets across Qatar.This year’s edition of ‘British Food Week’ at LuLu witnessed the “biggest” participation of food suppliers from the UK, the ambassador noted.He said, “British Food Week is always a big boost to our exports and it gives the chance to everybody in Qatar to try some new products or to get to know some of the brands established in the market.“This is all very positive. Trade figures have returned to pre-Covid-19 levels and that’s in part, a sign of the new normal, but it’s also a sign that Qatar itself looks set for a decade of growth and LuLu hypermarkets in the Gulf are also very well-established and therefore, it’s a great platform to sell more and more British products.”Wilks explained that the ongoing discussions for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and GCC states is expected to boost trade. “This matters to the UK because the six GCC states form one of our biggest export markets and there is a will on both sides to increase trade and investment, so we’re working hard,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Potential UK-GCC FTA to boost Qatar exports, says LuLu top exec

The potential free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and the GCC may open more opportunities to boost Qatar’s exports, a top official of LuLu Group has said.“We’re hoping that there would be an FTA between the UK and the GCC states very soon, which will be a huge game-changer,” Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, told Gulf Times during the recently-held ‘British Food Week’, which was launched at LuLu Mall, Giardino – The Pearl Island.Dr Althaf said: “Qatar has always been an open economy; more than British food coming here, I see a lot of potential for Qatari products going towards the UK. Qatar has a world-class port and the country is offering a lot of incentives for smart manufacturing.“I won’t be surprised if many companies from Asia would make Qatar their hub if there is an FTA with the UK. A lot of companies in the UK would definitely come here and set up their operations in Qatar, so I think that would give a huge boost to the trade between the two countries.”According to Dr Althaf, many companies from the UK are realising the potential of Qatar and the wide acceptance of their products in the country.During ‘British Food Week’, around British 24 companies participated directly with LuLu customers, said Dr Althaf, who noted that the majority of the UK food suppliers were first-time exporters to Qatar.“The participating companies from the UK during ‘British Food Week’ were mostly small and medium companies that are innovating their food products and other items,” Dr Althaf explained.LuLu used to buy products from the UK but since food suppliers there now understand the Qatari market, Dr Althaf noted that they want to be present on the ground and explore the market further to increase their exports to Qatar.“LuLu believes in food security and in self-reliance. No country in the world can produce all of its food requirements, so widening our food sources will always give a guarantee for food security in Qatar, so we will look for more opportunities to import what is required in the country,”At the same time, Dr Althaf emphasised that LuLu is also looking closely at localising its food sources. In the last five years, LuLu has increased the number of labels bearing the ‘Made in Qatar’ brand on its shelves, he stressed.On LuLu’s expansion plans in 2023, Dr Althaf said the hypermarket chain is consolidating its resources and “would still continue” opening new branches across Qatar, citing the “high growth potential for the region.”“Qatar has announced the expansion of its LNG production and there are many investments happening across different sectors in the country. All of the infrastructure investments made in Qatar is expected to result in a commercial outcome, which we believe will happen. The population in Qatar is increasing, so the country is continuing to grow, which is why LuLu has four more expansion projects in the pipeline this year,” Dr Althaf revealed.Asked about LuLu Group’s participation in the recently-concluded SelectUSA Investment Summit, Dr Althaf lauded organisers for giving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Qatar access to the US market.“For this latest edition of SelectUSA, there were more than 30 from Qatar’s private sector, which is a very huge delegation from the country. I am sure that all the participants from Qatar benefitted from their interactions in the US.“This is the right time for any small company to venture into the US, especially if these SMEs want to expand or innovate. If they are not looking at the US market, I believe they are doing a huge mistake. The US remains the largest economy. SelectUSA will provide a much bigger boost to Qatar-US trade ties,” he stressed.Dr Altahf also said LuLu has been focusing on automation and maximising the use of robots with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in its facilities in the US.“I was very fascinated with what our current LuLu operations in the US have been working with a startup from MIT. Once that is successful, it would have a huge implication for Qatar.“Qatar is in a stage where digital transformation is very much talked about and a lot of automation is happening; the country is right for it. Qatar is a young country and it has a very high Internet penetration rate. There is a lot of support from tech giants like Google and Microsoft, so the country is right for automation,” Dr Althaf emphasised.

Ali Saeed Bu Sherbak al-Mansouri, the chamber’s assistant general manager for Governmental Relations & Committees Affairs, and Murat Mirzaev, director of the Investment Promotion Agency of Uzbekistan, during a meeting at the chamber's Doha headquarters.
Business
Qatar Chamber reviews cooperation ties with Uzbekistan Investment Promotion Agency

Qatar Chamber recently held a meeting to review its bilateral cooperation with the Investment Promotion Agency of the Republic of Uzbekistan.Ali Saeed Bu Sherbak al-Mansouri, the chamber’s assistant general manager for Governmental Relations & Committees Affairs, and Murat Mirzaev, director of the Investment Promotion Agency of Uzbekistan, reviewed economic and commercial cooperation and investment climate and opportunities between both countries during the meeting.Both officials also discussed attractive investment sectors and the possibility of enhancing mutual investments and establishing commercial partnerships between the private sectors in both countries.Speaking at the meeting, al-Mansouri praised the close relations between both countries, stressing the importance of developing trade exchange through increased cooperation between the Qatari private sector and its counterpart from Uzbekistan, as well as expanding mutual investments.He noted the possibility of organising a joint business forum to review opportunities of cooperation and partnerships, and the most important sectors available for investment, stressing the interest of Qatari businessmen to explore opportunities galore in Uzbekistan.For his part, Mirzaev assured that Uzbekistan welcomes Qatari investments in all sectors, especially in agriculture, industry, tourism, mining, energy, textiles, and food processing. He noted that the agency has developed a single window to facilitate doing business and to help investors find local partners, as well as to promote the investment and business climate in the country.

Qatar Chamber board member Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidli.
Business
QEF 2023 to play key role in Qatar’s PPP strategy, says Qatar Chamber board member

The staging of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Powered by Bloomberg, as well as similar other international events, add value to the country’s economic development, an official of Qatar Chamber has said.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the forum, Qatar Chamber board member Mohamed bin Ahmed al-Obaidli emphasised that the recently-held QEF, which was on its third edition, gathered a large number of participants, including high-level speakers and global leaders.“This is what Qatar needs to expand further and develop its economy,” al-Obaidli stressed, adding that hosting events like QEF 2023 opens up more opportunities for Qatar to network and exchange best practices for doing business with key players in the global economy.Al-Obaidli also underscored the importance of collaborating and bringing “the right partners” to the country, which will play a key role in Qatar’s efforts to develop and promote public-private partnerships (PPPs).“Bloomberg is such an ideal partner to host events like Qatar Economic Forum because, during these events, decision-makers in government and the private sector will learn from each other through discussions on the latest trends and solutions, thus creating opportunities for PPPs,” al-Obaidli explained.According to al-Obaidli, hosting QEF 2023 and other global conferences and events is also an opportunity for Qatar to showcase its economic development, world-class infrastructure, and incentives for foreign investors.“We should capitalise on the success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar was able to deliver ‘the best World Cup ever’ and many visitors during the tournament can attest to this milestone. Many tourists were impressed not only with the stadiums, facilities, and the country’s infrastructure, but most importantly, with Qatar’s people and culture.“By continuing to host large-scale events like the World Cup and QEF 2023, this will also help add value to other sectors in the country, such as tourism and hospitality, as well as other industries. Hosting events will attract more international companies into the country,” al-Obaidli explained.He noted that Qatar Chamber has proposed the staging of a wide range of events to promote international networking between the public and private sectors, including conferences and forums on food security, cybersecurity, entertainment, air shows, and governance, among others.“Hosting different large-scale events will provide direct and indirect returns to the country,” al-Obaili added.QEF 2023 was held from May 23-25 at the Katara Towers in the Lusail Marina District. The forum highlighted and discussed some of the major economic issues facing international CEOs, heads of state, and money markets.

The Ned Doha provides “a personalised experience for all its guests and members.”
Qatar
The Ned Doha: An exclusive blend of luxury and community

The Ned Doha has redefined the country’s hospitality scene not only with the preservation of brutalist architecture from Qatar’s rich, historic past but by becoming a symbol of opulence and sophistication.Gulf Times had the opportunity to sit down with key players from the hotel: General Manager Niels Kristensen, Head of Membership Gabriela Manrique , and Executive Chef Mussa Fatti.In this interview, Kristensen provided valuable insights about The Ned brand and its history, while Manrique shared the unique features of the Membership Club. Fatti, on the other hand, presented the exceptional culinary offerings available in the hotel’s different restaurants.Gulf Times: Can you tell us more about The Ned brand and how it was founded?Kristensen: Soho House founder Nick Jones was asked whether he would be interested in recreating the old Midland Bank in London into a Soho House, which is a typical membership club with members mostly from the creative industry.So, Nick liked the building a lot. It was a unique 240,000sq ft building, which he described as his “blockbuster movie.”He then created a new brand within Soho House; it was called “The Ned” as the building’s architect was Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens.Can you talk more about The Ned Doha and how its presence in Qatar is so unique?The branding and the colour of The Ned came from the verdite marble that was on the 92 pillars inside the old London building. So, that’s why you’ll see a lot of green around this building, as well.Tell us more about the location of The Ned Doha? How has the former Ministry of Interior building’s architecture influenced the design of the hotel?In terms of expansion, the company wanted to ensure that all The Ned buildings have the same DNA.The Ned Doha’s building used to be the former Ministry of Interior, with Qatar Museums Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani keen to repurpose the building; it fitted the pillars that you would normally have in a Ned, and this is how The Ned Doha came about. You will find a lot of similarities between this building and the one in London.What can members expect from The Ned Doha’s membership club?Manrique: Ned’s Club is a membership club that offers a wonderful community, which is a key component of The Ned properties. The club is a community where members can network, both professionally and socially, as well as relax and enjoy the space as their home-away-from-home.Our members include entrepreneurs, creative people, and like-minded professionals that you would love to meet, work, and develop valuable relationships with.How does The Ned Club differentiate itself from other private members’ clubs in the country?I think the big difference is that aside from getting access to a community, we put in a lot of effort in giving our members access to a vibrant events calendar, which is well-curated and exclusively tailor-made for our members. Members can participate in our masterclasses, NedTalks, as well as fitness classes and offsite events. This allows our members to meet like-minded individuals on various occasions and in different settings, all catered to their interests and needs.What are the benefits of being a member of The Ned Club in Doha and abroad?Being part of this community also gives you access to the Global Ned community, which means you can access the exclusive members facilities at The Ned in London and The Ned Nomad in New York, such as the lounge, pool, spa, and gym, among others.Can you give an overview of the benefits that members receive?We are continually adding perks and benefits to our members and recently included complimentary spa treatments, personal training sessions and dedicated parking for our members at The Ned Doha.In all The Ned hotels globally, members get a 20% discount on the best available rooms, as well as a 20% discount on public restaurants and special rates for special events, including brunch. What is most important is the events calendar, which has a variety of events – from food and beverage to music, fashion, fitness classes, and offsite entertainment.We also have a global mobile where members can book rooms, spa treatments, and members’ events. The app also has a tool that allows companies to offer a 20% discount on their services. In Doha, we are working on creating partnerships with local businesses.Can you give an overview of the monthly events and activities that members can participate in at The Ned Club?Overall, we have more than 70 events this month at Ned’s Club, including fitness classes, around four to five classes per week, and for those looking to unleash their inner artist, painting and mirror painting workshops are available to explore. We are also planning to host a cigar station, as well as to organise many different panel discussions on various topics, such as the economy or cybersecurity, among others, which our members can enjoy the most.How does The Ned Doha ensure that members receive personalised attention and service?We ensure that members get the best attention and personalised service from The Ned. To ensure that our services are tailored to our members’ individual needs, we request that they provide us with various details about themselves, their profession, and their hobbies. We make sure that all members feel welcome and that they are part of a community. When new member joins the Membership Club, they will be given a tour of the hotel and its facilities. Additionally, they will receive a welcome box, which includes a platinum membership card, Ned Notes, which outlines the rules and regulations of the club, and a special gift from The Ned.Tell us more about the culinary offerings at The Ned Doha. What makes The Ned Doha restaurants special?Fatti: Some of the restaurants in The Ned Doha are similar to what we have in London, so the concepts moved from London to Qatar. The Ned Doha offers an inviting atmosphere with customised furniture, decor, and layout that create a comfortable and personalised experience. The diverse range of restaurants provides a variety of cuisines from Italian to Japanese, American, European and Levantine.What makes us special is the culinary diversity, the people, the quality of ingredients, and our attention to detail. We provide a personalised experience for all our guests and members, going above and beyond to ensure that no request is ever denied and that anything is possible. This commitment to personalisation is what sets us apart.At Ned’s Club, you can start your day with breakfast, enjoy afternoon tea, or have dinner in our restaurant, or private dining room. We also offer a great space for members to socialise after work.

The first panel comprised Christophe Bavière, co-CEO, Eurazeo; Mohamed al-Sowaidi, CIO, Americas, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA); and Patrick Zhong, founding managing partner, M31 Capital. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Expert panel underpins key role of technology in finance, healthcare

A panel of experts underscored the key role of technology in the finance and healthcare industries during a two-part breakout session held Tuesday on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg.Under the theme ‘Global Investment Opportunities in High-Growth Sectors’, the discussion explored how investors are raising the resilience of their portfolios and navigating complexity to take advantage of opportunities in different geographic markets, as well as investments in the healthcare space to understand the role investors play and their long-term impact of their capital.The first panel comprised Mohamed al-Sowaidi, CIO, Americas, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA); Christophe Bavière, co-CEO, Eurazeo; and Patrick Zhong, founding managing partner, M31 Capital; while the second panel included Christian Angermayer, founder, Apeiron Investment Group; Tasneem Dohadwala, founding partner, Excelestar Ventures; and Dr Mohamed Adel Ghanem, head of Healthcare, QIA.According to Bavière, the digitalisation of financial institutions is “a very strong trend,” noting that industries related to tech-enabled businesses with the digitalisation of mature businesses are among the important areas of investment in the international market today.Al-Sowaidi noted that QIA is working on short to medium-term goals, such as dealing with inflation and addressing supply chain issues like those related to the Covid-19 pandemic or monetary policies.For the long term, al-Sowaidi cited technology industries and other developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the evolution of software and hardware, as well as consumer behaviour and winning business models.“A winning business model and an innovative management team are among the key factors to keep in mind when considering investments,” al-Sowaidi pointed out.Al-Sowaidi noted that investing in human capital by acquiring the best teams and proximity to markets are two factors that will help a company become a potential investor of choice.On the other hand, Zhong cited energy transition, demographics, AI, and the reorganisation of the supply chain as some of the most interesting global themes for China, adding that Bloomberg projected that China will add “22.6%” to global growth in the next five years, while the US will add about “11.3%” between 2023 and 2028.According to Zhong, China made 7mn electric vehicles (EVs) in 2022, representing 60% of the global share, citing BYD Auto, which, he said, has overtaken Tesla in the manufacture of EVs last year.“China led the transition to renewables; 82% of energy storage produced in the world last year was made by Chinese private companies...of the top five most downloaded apps in the US, four are from China,” he said.On healthcare, Dohadwala said the increasing degree of how startups are incorporating customer centricity into their early development cycle is among the key trends to look out for, as well as the personalisation of medical devices.According to Ghanem, other modern breakthroughs in healthcare include the significant drop in the cost of genome sequencing, the massive breakthrough in innovation to understand DNA and its role in addressing ageing and treating diseases, engineering breakthroughs that shorten the time for medical procedures,AI is also playing a vital role in curating massive amounts of data, enabling better decision-making, he also said.Angermayer, however, cautioned that despite the advancements in innovation, technology could also have a negative impact on mental health, especially for many young people, stressing the need to find solutions to address these issues, as well.

Qatari ministers and Google Cloud officials during the ceremonial opening of the new Doha cloud region. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
New Google Cloud region opened in Doha

Google Cloud officially opened its new Doha cloud region in a ceremony held at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) on Monday.Google Cloud officials led the launch ceremony in the presence of HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai and HE the Minister of State and Chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) Ahmad al-Sayed.The new cloud region will meet the growing demand for cloud services in Qatar and the Middle East region and support Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to transform the country into a digital economy through innovation and digital transformation.Research commissioned by Google Cloud and conducted by Access Partnership stated that the new Doha cloud region is expected to drive increased economic activity and is estimated to contribute a cumulative $18.9bn in higher gross economic output to Qatar’s economy between 2023 and 2030 and support the creation of 25,000 jobs in 2030 alone.This new cloud region is the latest significant investment made by Google Cloud in Qatar, following the recent opening of a country office and virtual Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Msheireb.The series of investments in infrastructure and resources demonstrates Google Cloud’s continued commitment to playing a pivotal role in advancing Qatar’s digital future and technological capabilities.The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the Qatari government have helped enable the growth of the cloud across the government through the adoption of cloud policies, which facilitated Google Cloud's market entry.Al-Mannai said: “The launch of the first Google Cloud region in Qatar fits into our comprehensive vision to achieve the desired goals of Qatar National Vision 2030, including the establishment of a strong digital infrastructure with internationally agreed standards and policies that will lead us all towards a more efficient economy based on digitalisation and technology to facilitate quality of life and provide convenient solutions for various sectors.“The new cloud region will contribute to giving impetus to economic and productivity growth, and will allow various government and private companies and institutions within Qatar the opportunity to achieve significant efficiency gains by adopting flexible features in dealing with digital technology.”For his part, al Sayed said: “The launch of the new Google Cloud region in Qatar marks a significant milestone in our growing partnership with Google Cloud that started in 2020 with an agreement to establish Google Cloud’s region in Doha.“We are proud to provide world-class cloud services from the free zones in Qatar, which is in addition to QFZ’s pivotal role in introducing disruptive technologies and advanced digital infrastructure, creating opportunities for businesses to enhance their capabilities, foster innovation, and advance the technology sector in the state.”Al-Sayed added: “This will further accelerate Qatar’s digital transformation and the realization of Qatar National Vision 2030 that aims to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy.”QFZ and Google Cloud’s strategic collaboration agreement to enable in-country Google Cloud presence was announced in early 2020. QFZ’s continued support of the launch of the CoE has helped the growth of the technology ecosystem in Qatar.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said, “Qatar Airways is excited at the opportunity offered by Google setting up its cloud region in Qatar. This gives us the ability to innovate jointly with Google and leverage their rich cloud service offerings.“We are particularly keen to use AI/ML-driven data insights using Google Cloud as a platform for enhancing our world-acclaimed customer service whilst also improving our operational efficiencies. Areas like data-driven predictive maintenance will now be much easier with Google Cloud being in Qatar and our data residing here securely.”Nasser Ghanem al-Khelaifi, chairman of beIN Media Group, said: “We are delighted to enter this major new partnership with Google Cloud, which will help beIN embrace the latest technologies and innovations.“As a proud Qatari media group, we are always looking to innovate as a business and find ways to improve the experience of millions of our subscribers worldwide. In partnership with Google Cloud, beIN will help drive the continued digital transformation of the sports, entertainment and media industry, both in Qatar and globally.”Qatar Financial Centre CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said, “Our partnership with Google Cloud affirms our shared desire to facilitate the growth of local businesses by providing opportunities and solutions that enable them to capitalise on the transformative benefits of technology and digitalisation.“Working with Google in this field builds up the support we provide our clients, particularly those in the financial services sector, and takes us steps forward in our mission to support the transformation of Qatar into a digital and fintech hub and the country's sustainable development in line with the national development plan.”Ahmed al-Fahad, executive director of Technology & Network Operations, Al Jazeera Media Network, stated: “We are delighted to be among the group of companies leveraging Google Cloud’s new cloud region in Qatar. The new region will help Al Jazeera positively impact and empower more customers and partners around the world. Our collaboration with Google Cloud has helped us deliver tremendous value-added services to news readers around the globe.“We are able to capture and analyse how people engage with news in real-time and translate these insights into actions that help us keep the world better informed. We believe that with the cloud region now in Qatar, we are going to be strongly positioned to deliver exceptional news coverage and drive deeper engagement to all the information.”Adaire Fox-Martin, president, Google Cloud Go-to-Market, said: “We are proud to be delivering on the commitment we made in 2020 to the government of Qatar and the business community to open a cloud region in the country. The economy of Qatar holds tremendous growth potential.“The Doha cloud region will be a catalyst for economic development and will create more employment opportunities in the Qatari market as more businesses grow and expand with the power of cloud technologies. We are also humbled by the presence of Qatari Cabinet ministers and leaders from Qatari businesses at the region launch event today, which reflects the endorsement of the new cloud regions' potential.”The new Doha region is part of Google Cloud’s global network of 37 regions and 112 zones that bring cloud services to over 200 countries and territories worldwide. The new region brings high-performance, low-latency services and products to customers of all sizes, from public sector organisations to large enterprises and to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups in Qatar and the Middle East.Organisations in the region will benefit from key controls that allow them to maintain the highest security, data residency, and compliance standards, including specific data storage requirements.

HE Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani (centre) at yesterday's media roundtable with Mubarak Ajlan Mubarak al-Kuwari and Nasser al-Taweel. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Qatar Economic Forum 2023 begins tomorrow

*More than 1,000 global business leaders to attend three-day event * Growing participation of global economic and political decision-makers a testament to forum’s success: Media City Qatar CEOThe third edition of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF), Powered by Bloomberg, with the theme ‘A New Global Growth Story’, will bring together more than 1,000 global business leaders at the Katara Towers in Lusail City for three days from tomorrow (Tuesday).QEF 2023, under the high patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will explore the latest trends in finance, energy, healthcare and technology, and examine their potential to drive future growth, through a series of keynote interviews, panel discussions and interactive workshops. In a statement, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani said: “We recognise that the world is becoming more interconnected and that collaboration between nations and people is essential in driving economic growth.“It is an honour to welcome the international business community back to Doha for the third edition of the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg, a growing platform for knowledge exchange and dialogue on key topics on the global agenda. “Our commitment to shaping the future of economic progress remains as strong as ever, and we look forward to welcoming entrepreneurs, thought leaders and decision-makers to the forum.”Shining a light on the rising south-to-south economy, QEF 2023 will highlight established viewpoints and emerging voices from around the world to identify the latest economic trends.More than 50 regional and international speakers made up of government leaders, CEOs, global investors and influential voices from the worlds of culture, sport and entertainment, will be present during the event.M Scott Havens, CEO of Bloomberg Media, said: “In only three short years, the Qatar Economic Forum has become a unique and powerful platform to discuss the most important issues in business, cover the Gulf’s far-reaching impact, and connect influential voices across global industries and communities. “This year’s forum remains committed to spotlighting the latest trends and technologies defining the next wave of economic development, as well as the major global challenges facing international leaders.”Addressing a media roundtable yesterday, HE Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, Chairperson of the Supreme Committee Organising the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg, and CEO of Media City Qatar, affirmed that the forum is attracting an increasing number of participants.HE Sheikh Ali considered the growing participation of global economic and political decision-makers as a testament to the forum’s success in establishing its agenda as a prominent event on the global economic stage.He emphasised the significance of Qatar’s role as the host of the forum, noting that the event solidifies Qatar’s position as a global platform for dialogue on various economic topics such as inflation, investment in emerging markets, energy transformation, trade and sports, among others.He said launching the Qatar Economic Forum aimed to establish a diverse media platform that brings together global business leaders to formulate actionable steps towards economic growth. He also noted that the forum has achieved this goal with each edition and has grown into a hub for dialogue and knowledge exchange, supported by a selection of distinguished speakers.Further, HE Sheikh Ali said the forum has witnessed significant interest from leading political and economic decision-makers at the international level and from different countries, with more than 2,000 participants, including 1,000 from outside Qatar.The CEO of Media City Qatar anticipates that the 2023 forum will witness the signing of multiple agreements involving both domestic and international entities, which will play a significant role in Qatar’s private and public sectors.The Executive Director to the Permanent Committee for Organising Conferences (PCOC) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and head of logistics for the Organising Committee of the Qatar Economic Forum, Mubarak Ajlan Mubarak al-Kuwari, said their aim is to ensure that all guests in Qatar receive access to excellent facilities and services. They draw upon their extensive experience gained over the years, including the successful organisation of major international events. Al-Kuwari also highlighted the progressive growth in the number of participants attending the QEF from year to year.He noted that the Organising Committee has provided participants with a platform that enables them to carry out various procedures smoothly and easily, in addition to providing all forms of logistical support to guests in Qatar.In turn, Nasser al-Taweel, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee for the Qatar Economic Forum, and Deputy CEO, Chief Legal Officer and Board Secretary, Qatar Financial Centre, confirmed that the forum will bring together global CEOs and business leaders. They include Shou Chew, CEO, TikTok; David Calhoun, President and CEO at The Boeing Company; Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Steven T Mnuchin, former Secretary of the Treasury, US; as well as economics expert Nouriel Roubini; and General David H Petraeus (US Army, retired), Partner, KKR and Chairman, KKR Global Institute, among others.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani officially inaugurating the ‘4th Build Your House Exhibition (supplied picture).
Qatar
MoCI minister opens BYH 2023

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani officially inaugurated Monday the ‘4th Build Your House Exhibition (BYH 2023), which will run until May 18 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).The event is under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani. The opening was attended by Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, event organiser NeXTfairs co-founder and general manager Rawad Sleem, and Al Hattab Holding vice chairman Abdul Aziz bin Hattab al-Kaabi.“This year’s event welcomes more exhibitors and showcases the highest standards from across the world. In addition, we have added another day, increasing the opportunities for attendees to get all the information they need to get their house-building project off the ground,” Sleem said.After the opening ceremony, the minister was accompanied by other dignitaries during a tour of the exhibition, meeting some of the 250 participating exhibitors, including the Ministry of Municipality, Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa), Doha Bank, Décor & More, Living Spirit, Al Hattab Holding, Nabina Group, Nabina Holding, Al Emadi Stones, Rankoussi Group, JA&P Group, Bottega Design, Euro Systems, and other key players from the housing, design, and construction fields.They also visited international companies from Canada, Iran, Italy, Oman, the UK, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, China, Algeria, India, Jordan, and Türkiye, which are showcasing advanced design and leading materials.Sheikh Mohamed and other dignitaries also visited the Education Above All (EAA) booth, which demonstrates the work that the EAA Foundation, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, and its human and social legacy programme, Generation Amazing Foundation, which provides schools for hundreds of displaced Pakistani and Syrian children.Major General Hamad Othman al-Duhaimi, director-general of the General Directorate of Civil Defence-Qatar, said: “The exhibition has rapidly become a collaborative forum for knowledge and practical insight, providing the best procedures for obtaining approvals from license applications, engineering plans, safety systems, and the latest equipment and equipment used in rescue, protection, and security operations.“It is imperative that we at the Ministry of Interior department, support and provide practical guidance to introduce security and safety measures in homes and private facilities. We highlight the effective role of the General Administration and Civil Defense and the efforts made to upgrade our services to the highest levels of excellence and efficiency.”John Robertson, president AIA (The American Institute of Architects), Middle East, said: “The exhibition will be a bigger and better event this year, bringing together local homebuilders, contractors, consultants, and suppliers to provide a forum for communication, networking, and education.”Event partners, Ashghal have supported BYH since its inception in 2020. The event's objectives align with Ashghal's 2018-2023 strategic vision, ‘Excellence in Delivering and Managing Efficient, Sustainable Infrastructure’, and its efforts to make a tangible step towards transforming the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030.Jean Saade, chairman of Living Spirit Interior Design, said: “The people we met at Build Your House exhibition are invaluable. We have generated new potential clients and established business relationships with other exhibitors. We also received inspiring feedback from the visitors on the products and designs we showcased during the exhibit.”The EAA Foundation booth showcases the recent work conducted with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and its human and social legacy programme, Generation Amazing Foundation, in partnership with Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) to donate 27 tents to use as schools, clinics, and temporary shelters for or displaced communities in Pakistan, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen.To aid EAA’s work, Qatar's interior design company, Living Spirit, will host a live mural painting created by the internationally renowned painter Giovanni Bressana. Living Spirit’s stand will showcase the mural and auction this to donate 100% of the profits to EAA.This year's annual student design competition in collaboration with VCUarts University's interior design students allows three shortlisted winners to gain vital industry exposure as they showcase their designs at the exhibition. More than 20 students participated in the design challenge. The winning entries will be announced Tuesday at 3pm.The Ministry of Municipality's booth encourages visitors to test their knowledge with their daily Doha Municipal Competition. Attendees can participate in the competition each day, and a winner will be drawn at 8pm. The winner will receive a prize for a home agricultural area in his garden.Attendees can look forward to an enhanced array of services and products from consultants, contractors, suppliers, smart homes, and general service industry leaders. They can participate in the Knowledge Sharing Conference that offers practical workshops from government entities, live Q&As, and a free self-build course. The Knowledge Sharing Conference is open during the four-day event, with daily talks and sessions starting at 11am.Free event registration for attendees is now available. Visit www.buildyourhouseqatar.com to register.

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani and first vice-chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari join HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani, who led the opening ceremony of the latest edition of the Build Your House (BYH 2023) exhibition, which opened Monday and will run until May 18 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).
Business
BYH 2023 helps enhance Qatar's construction sector, says Sheikh Khalifa

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani lauded the latest edition of the Build Your House (BYH 2023) exhibition, which opened Monday and will run until May 18 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).Sheikh Khalifa, who attended the opening ceremony led by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani, noted in a statement that BYH 2023 offers a good opportunity for Qatari citizens to communicate with specialised building companies that are showcasing their services in the field of construction and interior design.According to Sheikh Khalifa, the exhibition provides a platform for local companies to strengthen their development and growth in the local market and exchange experience and services with participating companies, especially since there are many exhibitors from other countries participating in the expo.He stressed that Qatar Chamber is serving as an Official Sponsor of the exhibition to support the country’s industry and the Qatari private sector, noting that the event also reflects its importance in showcasing the latest developments and innovations in housebuilding.Sheikh Khalifa said the exhibition helps in enhancing the construction sector in Qatar, which has achieved many milestones, especially before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The construction sector is likely to witness steady growth in line with the efforts to accomplish the Qatar National Vision 2030 and its related mega projects, in addition to economic expansion in various sectors, he said.BYH 2023 also showcases a variety of services and products that are presented by a number of consultants, contractors, and suppliers in the construction sector and in housebuilding. He added that the event enhances communication and co-operation between local and foreign companies, as well as between suppliers and contractors.

Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada, chairman, board of trustees at University of Doha for Science &Technology, and Qatar’s former Minister of Energy & Industry, is flanked by dignitaries attending the 'ITeQS 2023', which was hosted by the Indian Business and Professionals Council (IBPC Qatar). PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Al-Sada urges engineers to leverage innovation

Engineers from various disciplines need to constantly work together and leverage innovation to inspire change, Qatar’s former energy minister has said during the recently held IBPC Tech Qatar Summit (ITeQS 2023).“Behind all innovation and solutions, tools, and technologies, there is a mastermind. Thanks to a strong and wise leadership, Qatar, in this regard, has made great achievements,” said Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada, chairman, board of trustees at University of Doha for Science &Technology, and Qatar’s former Minister of Energy & Industry.The Indian Business and Professionals Council (IBPC Qatar) hosted ITeQS 2023 under the theme ‘Engineering Innovation for a Resilient World’ to mark ‘World Engineering Day for a Sustainable World’ and 50 years of bilateral relations between India and Qatar.In his keynote address, al-Sada continued: “Ever since Qatar has adopted and promoted innovation in various fields, such as education, healthcare, and the environment, the government of the State of Qatar managed and mitigated the risks of the pandemic, built engineering marvels, and addressed all sorts of challenges that face an emerging economy.“Most notably and most recently, Qatar delivered the world’s most successful and sustainable 2022 FIFA World Cup – a major success story that showed the world how capable, efficient, and resourceful Qatar is. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is a legendary achievement and is a legacy that will always remind future generations of the value of having a leadership with the wisdom, resilience, and determination of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.”ITeQS 2023 was a deep dive into the latest technological advances like Artificial Intelligence (AI), ChatGTP, Machine Learning (ML), and exploring the parallel between technology, innovation, and sustainability, with emphasis on Qatar’s ecosystem.During the event, al-Sada also led the official launch of the ‘Engineering and Innovation Awards’ for corporates and professionals. It was also highlighted by the launching of the IBPC Qatar app, as well as the launch of a ‘digital wall’ bearing the faces of engineers who contributed to the development of Qatar.The event also witnessed speeches from other dignitaries in Qatar, including Jaikrishnan Menon, IBPC chairman, and Angeline Premalatha, charge d’affaires, Indian embassy.Another highlight of ITeQS 2023 was a panel discussion, which included the following experts from Qatar: Dr Hessa al-Jaber, chairperson, Es'hailSat and Malomatia, and Qatar’s former Minister of Information & Communication Technology; Ibrahim al-Jaidah, Group CEO, Arab Engineering Bureau; Sheikh Mansoor bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairman, MBK Holding; and Khalid Abdulla al-Mana, executive director of Qatar Export Development, Finance & Promotion Agency (Tasdeer).The panelists stressed the importance of business innovation, early adaptation of technology, sustainable development strategies, and opportunities for transformation in the context of Qatar’s engineering sector.IBPC Qatar, an apex body operating under the aegis of the Embassy of India in Qatar, provides a platform for empowering its members and creating enrichment opportunities for Indian businesses and professionals to enhance Indo-Qatar trade and professional relations.

CQBF executive director and board member Yasser M Dhouib.
Business
CQBF seeks to enhance Qatar-Canada trade ties during Qatar Economic Forum

The Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF) is gearing up for its participation in the third edition of the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) Powered by Bloomberg slated in Doha from May 23-25, an official has said.Executive director and board member Yasser M Dhouib told Gulf Times that CQBF has held several meetings to discuss its participation, which would include the presentation of a working paper “focusing on the pioneering Canadian economic experience in North America and the world.”“Bloomberg has invited the board of directors of CQBF to attend the Qatar Economic Forum. More than one meeting was held with officials from Bloomberg during which we discussed the importance of our participation in the forum,” he explained.Dhouib said: “The visit programme will include, in addition to attending the conference, holding several meetings with government institutions and groups of businessmen and businesswomen aimed at exchanging experiences and consolidating trade relations between the two countries.”According to Dhouib, CQBF’s meetings during the forum will also discuss its preparations for a major visit of a high-level Canadian economic delegation to Qatar early next year.Dhouib said the QEF is an opportunity to elaborate the Canadian point of view “on the rising south-to-south economy and the new growth opportunities.”“CQBF will identify global economic prospects and policies that will lead towards a new global growth and will present a summary of the Canadian experience and expertise,” he said.To promote international capacity and knowledge, Dhouib said CQBF is working to help tap into Canada’s connections and relationships worldwide, including cooperation on network-building among Canadians abroad.CQBF also aims to encourage Canadians to participate in initiatives in the GCC region, Africa, and Asia that will help Canadians better understand the importance of these regions to Canada.“Canada’s most important international networks are those that have been built by Canadian businesses and other globally-connected citizens and our post-secondary and research institutions. Capitalising on these connections remains one of the most effective tools for enhancing Canadian influence and competitiveness globally, and premiers endorse a number of ways to do this.“Initiatives like Qatar Economic Forum that bring regions together help to deepen ties. For example, the recently held Canada-EU Innovation Forum highlighted the importance of collaboration between Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial governments and the EU as a fundamental building block of international cooperation in research and innovation,” Dhouib stressed.He added: “Business delegations in the south would contribute to the development. Additional support for Canadian business delegations in specific regions would contribute to the development of Canada’s capacity and would make excellent use of the Canadian diplomatic and international trade network around the world.”In a previous interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, the chairperson of the Supreme Committee Organising the Qatar Economic Forum (QEF) and CEO of Media City, said the QEF’s 2023 edition will focus on prominent global challenges that affect societies and economies around the world.The QEF is also expected to attract more influential business leaders, academics, and heads of government to highlight the necessary innovations to move the global economy forward.“However, the most important objective of all editions of the forum has been strengthening interdependence as an international community. Therefore, the 2023 edition will revolve around global growth and establishing a new roadmap for global growth in this challenging economic environment,” Sheikh Ali said.He added: “Any event or disturbance that occurs in one part of the world has successive consequences at the global level. Similarly, holding a dialogue here in the heart of the Middle East enables us to connect thought leaders and decision-makers from different societies to reach globally applicable solutions for a secure and sustainable future for all.”

Qatar Tourism chairman & Qatar Airways Group CEO HE Akbar al-Baker during the UFI MEA Regional Conference Wednesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
Qatar’s 2030 tourism strategy ‘on track’, says QT chair

In the wake of a successful 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar Tourism (QT) will continue “to push strongly ahead” to deliver the country’s 2030 tourism strategy in a bid to transform Qatar into the Middle East’s fastest-growing travel destination, chairman & Qatar Airways Group CEO HE Akbar al-Baker said Wednesday.He was making the opening remarks at the three-day UFI MEA Regional Conference, which concludes in Doha Thursday.According to al-Baker, Qatar has been firmly established on the world stage as a leading international tourism destination following the incredible success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament.In his speech, al-Baker said, “Focusing efforts on developing speciality sectors, such as meetings, conferences, and exhibitions, is key to how the country plans to achieve its long-term goals.”He noted that Qatar possesses all the essential ingredients required for safe, seamless, and productive business travel.“Ideally positioned at the centre of the world, Doha’s multi-award-winning Hamad International Airport is a six to eight-hour flight from most of the world’s major cities.At the same time, visitors can be confident that they will encounter smooth travel to and around the country.“Qatar Airways’ unrivalled facilities and service levels have seen the country’s official air carrier awarded the world’s best airline seven times – a truly remarkable achievement,” al-Baker stressed.Qatar is also officially “one of the world’s most open countries” in terms of visa facilitation, al-Baker said, citing Qatar Tourism’s recent announcement of the unified e-visa processes through the Hayya platform.“Once inside the country, guests have various transportation options open to them, including the new, state-of-the-art metro and tram network,” he pointed out.Al-Baker also emphasised that Qatar is committed to developing and maintaining the country’s “already impressive suite” of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) infrastructure.“Sleek and modern meeting and conference facilities exist across 128 properties, plus an exhibition capacity of 70,000sq m – between the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, and Qatar National Convention Centre.“On an annual basis, some of the region’s most prominent events are hosted in these venues, ranging from much-loved Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition to globally recognised medical conferences and this year’s first: The Geneva International Motor Show Qatar,” he stressed.He said, “Qatar offers a varied and world-class selection of accommodation options in which to relax after a business meeting, ranging from beachfront resorts to world-renowned five-star hotels in the heart of the city like today’s hosting venue, the Fairmont & Raffles Hotel.“After hours, business travellers are sure to find something to suit their preferences amongst our industry-leading leisure and hospitality facilities. And with a spate of upcoming leisure attractions and a dynamic pipeline of events taking place throughout the year, Qatar is an ideal choice for business travellers from around the world.”The UFI MEA Regional Conference was held in Doha for the very first time and hosted by QT. The annual event by the UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, is the Middle East’s largest gathering of business event professionals.Hosting the event marks an important step for QT, which regards speciality tourism sectors, such as MICE as essential to achieving its long-term goal of increasing the number of visitors.Al-Baker said, “We are delighted to host such a highly regarded conference in Qatar for the first time. Qatar has bold ambitions to become a global leader in business events, which Qatar Tourism views as central to achieving its 2030 tourism goals.“Qatar’s strategic location, multi-award-winning airline and airport, open visa facilitation and industry-leading selection of conferencing and exhibition facilities, make it an ideal choice for seamless, productive, and enjoyable business travel.”This year’s conference centred on the theme ‘Towards a Sustainable Growth,’ and delved into actionable strategies and solutions that can assist business leaders in fulfilling their climate goals. The event also featured a diverse range of thought-provoking interviews and stimulating panel discussions, all led by highly respected figures within the industry.

Eman al-Kuwari, director of Digital Innovation Department at MCIT.
Business
Digital Incubation Centre opens 7th edition of ‘Idea Camp’

Startups under the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC) of the Ministry of Communications and Technology (MCIT) have collectively secured QR224mn worth of investments since DIC’s inception, an official has said.Eman al-Kuwari, director of Digital Innovation Department at MCIT, made the statement at the opening of the seventh edition of ‘Idea Camp’, which was held Saturday at Alwadi Hotel Doha.Idea Camp is a programme designed to support entrepreneurs, developers, and designers with innovative ideas that align with the direction of MCIT. The opening ceremony gathered representatives from DIC partners from state institutions and the digital entrepreneurship community in Qatar and abroad, as well as promising entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.In her opening speech, al-Kuwari said DIC received more than 340 applications and selected 150 ideas from different business sectors. Those selected for the latest Idea Camp will undergo a six-week training and mentoring programme, which will provide the participants with the knowledge and skills required to embark on their entrepreneurial journey.This year’s edition is based on three main themes: transportation and mobility technology, healthcare technology, and renewable energy technology, according to al-Kuwari.She said DIC was established in 2011 to boost the active role of digital innovation and to provide integrated support to aspiring entrepreneurs during the initial and pivotal stages of establishing or expanding their digital projects.DIC took upon itself the responsibility of promoting a thriving practical environment that nurtures ambitious talents and shapes the future of technology and business in the country. Al-Kuwari explained that since its inception, DIC has been supporting 270 startups, of which 165 companies have successfully completed their incubation journey. These incubated startups have collectively achieved more than QR224mn worth of investments, she noted.The opening ceremony was also highlighted by a keynote speech by Dr Latifa al-Darwish and a panel discussion, which carried the topic ‘The Transformative Power of Incubation: Support and Benefits in the Startup Life Cycle’.The panel was composed of Hadi Alshakhori, Ecosystem Developer, KSA; Mohamed Zebian, programmes manager, QSTP; Saif Qazi, founder & CEO of Urban Point; and Mohamed Hammoud, Computer Science professor at CMU & founder-CEO at Avey. The discussion was moderated by Majed Lababidi, acting CEO at Rawi Alkotob.It is expected that 40 emerging ideas will be selected at the end of the latest Idea Camp. They will compete on the project presentation day before a specialised jury and 25 winning ideas will receive the support and guidance of DIC throughout the incubation period, including office space for two years and a package of free digital services from Oracle Cloud services, Amazon Web services, and a suite of programmes from Adobe. At the end of the programme, the most creative ideas will have the opportunity to be incubated at DIC, in addition to winning prizes totaling QR300,000. The first prize is QR150,000, QR100,000 for the second prize, and QR50,000 riyals for the third prize. Since 2011, DIC has been building a supportive environment for digital entrepreneurs that enables them to achieve their dreams and makes them active contributors to the diversification of the digital economy of the State of Qatar.DIC, through its strategic partnerships, seeks to raise the level of digital entrepreneurship in Qatar and empower a generation of promising people with innovative ideas to harness emerging technology to overcome contemporary challenges.

Consul general Cassandra Sawadjaan and other officials of the Philippine embassy during the celebration of 'Filipino Food Month' held in one of the nine participating restaurants located in Doha. PICTURE: Courtesy of Sky Gonzales.
Business
‘Enormous potential’ seen for Qatari FDI in Philippine halal industry, says embassy official

The embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Doha is eyeing to further strengthen the southeast Asian nation’s investment ties with Qatar, an official has said, citing “enormous opportunities in the Philippine halal industry.”Consul general Cassandra Sawadjaan said: “The Philippine government recommends technical co-operation between the Philippines and Qatar on halal to include important provisions, such as mutual recognition of accreditation and certification bodies, harmonising of halal certification processes and standards, exchange of information on best practices, and training of halal auditors.”According to the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar), Qatar and the GCC region are emerging as major players in the global halal economy, which is poised to experience a massive growth spurt, with revenues seen to hit $7.7tn by 2025.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the embassy’s ‘Filipino Food Month’ celebration at the Maharlika Park Restaurant, Sawadjaan said there is also potential in private sector investments in the halal industry, including Islamic banking that would cater to the under-serviced Filipino Muslim population, halal slaughterhouses and dressing plants, and halal laboratories.Monica Remsy Calangian, third secretary and vice consul, also said Philippine ambassador Lillibeth V Pono has been meeting with several entities in Qatar to enhance economic and investment ties between the two countries.Calangian stressed that “one of the marching orders from the Philippine government” to Pono is to drive Qatari foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow into the Philippines and strengthen Filipino businesses in Qatar.She also said the celebration of Filipino Food Month in Qatar has been receiving positive responses from the participating Filipino-owned restaurants operating in the country and their patrons.Calangian noted that the Philippine Embassy has been maximising the celebration of the initiative to engage with owners of Filipino restaurants and learn about the history of their establishments, as well as to showcase the different Filipino dishes being served there.On Filipino Food Month’s impact on Filipino entrepreneurs in Qatar, Calangian said: “There may be some Filipinos in Qatar who also want to venture into the restaurant business, but lack the courage or motivation, so we at the Philippine embassy are hoping that by featuring Filipino-owned restaurants this might also encourage more Filipino entrepreneurs here to venture out into this industry.”She said under the leadership of Pono, the embassy has been forging a wide range of collaborations and partnerships with different Filipino organisations here to explore and tap businesses, including Filipino restaurants, among others.Allan De Ocampo, owner of Maharlika Park Restaurant, lauded the Philippine embassy’s efforts in celebrating Filipino Food Month in Qatar. He stressed that showcasing Filipino-owned restaurants and their signature cuisine is helping them tap a much wider customer base.“This initiative will really help enhance the Philippines’ brand in terms of good food and speciality dishes that can even compete internationally. While there are many restaurants in Qatar that are serving Filipino food, the distinction and excellence of our cuisine is enough to encourage more Filipino entrepreneurs to establish their own food businesses here,” he stressed.

The panel featured Sheikh Ahmed Eid al-Thani, QFIU head; Xolisile Khanyile, chair of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and director of the Financial Intelligence Centre of South Africa; Jerome Beaumont, executive secretary of Egmont Group; and Riadh al-Fayech, chief Financial Crime Compliance and Governance at QNB. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
PPPs crucial in combating financial crimes: QFIU panel

The Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU) has hosted a panel discussion, which tackled the role of private-public partnerships (PPPs) in helping curb financial crimes and illicit funding.The event titled ‘PPP Toward Balancing the Needs of the Public and Private Sectors to Fight Financial Crime’ was held at the Ned Hotel Doha as part of QFIU’s prominent national role in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.The panel featured Sheikh Ahmed Eid al-Thani, QFIU head; Xolisile Khanyile, chair of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and director of the Financial Intelligence Centre of South Africa; Jerome Beaumont, executive secretary of Egmont Group; and Riadh al-Fayech, chief Financial Crime Compliance and Governance at QNB.During the discussion, Sheikh Ahmed shared QFIU’s experience in PPPs, stressing the importance of this partnership in strengthening the financial crimes combating system.Khanyile, on the other hand, discussed the South African Anti-Money Laundering Integrated Task Force (SAMLIT), while Beaumont highlighted PPPs in International Standards from the perspective of Egmont Group.Al-Fayech elaborated on the advantages of PPPs and stressed that aside from traditional players, such as banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions, more players like telecommunications firms, fintechs, and startups, have joined the fight against financial crimes.In a statement, QFIU noted the significance of the panel discussion, saying it aims at strengthening PPPs against financial crime and provides a forum for the relevant Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) stakeholders, QFIU representatives, supervisory authorities, and the private sector to discuss and share experiences on matters of common concern involving money laundering and terrorism financing.The panel discussion also examined the links between the public and private sectors in terms of accessing Financial intelligence (FININT) to protect the domestic and global economy and financial system, identifying the good practices and challenges in the area of sharing information between the two sectors, and proposing measures to develop effective PPPs.Salem al-Kuwari, director of the Financial Crime Compliance Department at Qatar Central Bank (QCB), delivered a speech underlining QCB’s keenness to promote and maintain effective cooperation between the public and private sectors, and ensure the implementation by the financial institutions of QCB’s instructions in order to improve the reporting process and submit high-quality Suspicious Transactions Reports (STRs) to QFIU.

Dr Olga Revina, QUBF chairperson.
Business
Fintech, AI seen to boost Qatar-Ukraine economic ties, says QUBF executive

The Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF) is eyeing advanced technology as a key sector to further advance economic ties between the Gulf country and the Eastern European nation, an official has said.“Since its registration in Qatar in 2018, QUBF has been promoting business diplomacy by serving as a reliable source of information for Ukrainian and Qatari companies to establish sustainable partnerships,” QUBF chairperson Dr Olga Revina told Gulf Times Sunday.According to Revina, some of the areas of potential interest for Qatar-Ukraine co-operation are in financial technology (fintech), green technology (greentech), information technology (IT), and artificial intelligence (AI) “where Ukraine has advanced expertise.”Revina also explained that QUBF’s portfolio has accumulated several “attractive projects” to address the needs of Ukraine’s Qatari counterparts to further enhance business development in the tech industry, cultivate a thriving ecosystem, and foster innovative solutions.“QUBF has a well-established collaboration with the Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Qatar and united efforts in expanding the forum’s e-digest, the ‘QUBF Overview’, as well as the launching the Ukraine Business Group in Qatar.“Discussions on promising trade prospects between Qatar and Ukraine across the food and agriculture sectors remain on track as a result of Ukraine’s participation in the 10th Qatar International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ 2023)," Revina pointed out.According to Revina, QUBF is currently working on identifying suitable Qatari partners for Ukrainian companies, such as the high-tech slaughterhouse complex, and Halal Meat Company, among others. Even during these challenging times, Ukraine is continuing to supply globally as one of the world’s leading agricultural and food producers.“Acting in line with business priorities, QUBF catalyses its efforts to foster bilateral relations. Despite the current situation in Ukraine, we try to find new niches for developing joint partnerships,” Revina said.Aside from enhancing economic partnerships with Qatar, Revina said that under the umbrella of the QUBF brand programme, ‘Partnership for Prosperity,’ the forum is focusing on promoting Qatar-Ukraine collaboration in the education, scientific, and tech industries.“There are a number of promising proposals from leading Ukrainian educational and scientific institutions, such as Dragomanov Ukrainian State University, Polytechnic University of Ukraine, and the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in the areas of the joint research programme, expertise exchange, and internship, which were discussed on a recent meeting with senior management of the University of Doha for Science and Technology (UDST) and representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine.“Facilitating Qatar-Ukraine partnership in the educational sector will be a valuable step in the practical implementation of the strategic agreements signed in the framework of the Joint Commission on Economic, Commercial, and Technical Co-operation between the Government of Ukraine and the Government of the State of Qatar,” Revina stressed.Asked about other QUBF milestones and programmes, Revina said: “The latest edition of QUBF Overview reflected the spectrum of business proposals for Qatar-Ukraine co-operation, as well as QUBF’s contribution to various events.“These include serving as keynote speaker at the ‘2nd International Women’s Day Colloquium’ at the CUC Ulster University in Qatar and presenting QUBF activities and current trends to succeed in global business alliances.“Also, QUBF’s founders joined the ‘3rd Katara International Exhibition for Kahraman," where Ambra Simha, a leading Ukrainian brand in the amber industry, showcased its unique artworks. Ambra Simha’s unique creations definitely added exclusivity to the exhibition,” Revina added.