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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.
Dr Mohamed Althaf explains the importance of millets during the inauguration of India Utsav 2023, which is being celebrated at all LuLu stores. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Health benefits, sustainable farming push global demand for millets, says LuLu top official

Millets, also known as ancient grains grown worldwide, have taken centre stage during the celebration of India Utsav 2023 held recently at LuLu Hypermarket, Barwa Madinatna.According to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, millet is becoming "more and more popular" due to its benefits for health, particularly for diabetics. Similarly, the demand for millet in the agriculture sector is also growing because of its sustainability.Dr Althaf pointed out that India Utsav is an annual event. This year, the festivities also highlight ancient grains as a health product following the UN’s declaration of 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets', he explained.Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal, who inaugurated India Utsav 2023, said: “India is one of the largest producers of millet, which is considered a superfood, and India Utsav 2023 is a good opportunity for visitors to learn about the use millets in day-to-day life.”Regarded as an old grain, millets are small, spherical whole grains that are grown in Nigeria, India, and other Asian and African nations.Mittal said the 10-day India Utsav 2023 is not only focusing on a wide variety of millets and their health benefits, but the festival is also showcasing a wide range of Indian food and spices, authentic dishes, and ethnic clothing.India Utsav 2023, which aligns with India’s Republic Day, will primarily feature and promote top-notch Indian cuisine, as well as the nation’s rich cultural history. The event also strives to highlight India’s prowess in manufacturing and innovation among local and international audiences.The festival offers an exclusive display of these products at all LuLu stores in the region. Moreover, LuLu Hypermarket is also highlighting a huge range of bakery products made of millets, as well as fresh hot foods prepared in-store for the entire promotion – from biryanis to curries, popular street foods, traditional sweets, and many other delicacies.LuLu Group regularly imports more than 4,000 products from India, including popular fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs), products bearing the LuLu private label, fruits and vegetables, packaged food items, household goods, kitchen essentials, and traditional wear and other garments, which are available throughout the year in all stores across the region.The group also has a strong network of food processing and logistics centres across India for exporting bulk products to countries in the Middle East, North-Eastern Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Dr Deepak Mittal leading the inauguration ceremony of India Utsav 2023 at LuLu’s Barwa Madinatna outlet in the presence of Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen and Dr Mohamed Althaf, as well as other public and private sector dignitaries. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
LuLu Group hosts India Utsav 2023

LuLu Group is organising India Utsav 2023, a 10-day festival being held across all LuLu hypermarkets in Qatar, which is also part of celebrations for India’s 74th Republic Day.Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal led the inauguration ceremony of India Utsav 2023 recently at LuLu’s Barwa Madinatna outlet in the presence of Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen and Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, as well as other public and private sector dignitaries.India Utsav 2023, which is aligned with the Republic Day of India, will largely highlight and promote top-quality Indian food and the country’s diverse culture and heritage. The festival also aims to promote among the local and expatriate communities India’s excellence in innovation and manufacturing.The ambassador, who was accompanied by his wife Dr Alpna Mittal, underscored in his inaugural speech that India Utsav “is a very unique initiative by LuLu Hypermarket on the eve of India’s 74th Republic Day”.“The festival is offering a wide variety of food products, including organics, which were imported from different parts of India,” said the ambassador, who congratulated LuLu for organising the festival to introduce “fantastic Indian food items and cuisines in an innovative way to the residents”.Dr Althaf reiterated that the festivities related to India Utsav 2023 underscore the celebration of India’s 74th Republic Day, saying colourful cultural programmes will be held on a daily basis throughout the festival for two weeks.“These activities include artistic performances, a film launch and a celebrity cook, among others, to promote LuLu Hypermarket, Barwa Family Housing, Madinatna. Some events will be held in the morning, while cultural activities will be held in the evenings,” Dr Althaf noted.India Utsav has been an annual celebration by LuLu Group for the past two decades. Not only does it commemorate India’s Republic Day, but it is also a celebration of longstanding Qatar-India trade relations.The inaugural ceremony was highlighted by a cultural extravaganza, including traditional Panchari Melam, Punjabi/Kathak/Bollywood Fusion dance performances, a magic show, Dastangoi by renowned artiste Fouzia, and a team from Delhi. To complete the Indian cultural experience, trendy high-street fashion and a curated collection of Sarees and Churidars are also available at the festival.The festival’s inauguration was also highlighted by the presence of dignitaries from Qatari ministries and representatives and officials of Indian associations, Qatar Chamber, banking and retail institutions, and the fast-moving consumer goods sector.

Philippine commercial attache Charmaine Yalong
Philippine F&B, cosmetics firms seek access to Qatari market

A large delegation of export companies from the Philippines is slated to arrive in Qatar next month for business-to-business (B2B) meetings with their Qatari counterparts, according to the Dubai-based Philippine Trade and Investment Centre (PTIC).The Qatar leg of the B2B meetings will be held on February 15 at the Venus & Earth Hall of Radisson Blu Doha from 10am-2pm as part of the Outbound Business Matching Mission (OBMM) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines.Nearly 20 Philippine export firms representing the food and beverage (F&B) sector and five cosmetic and personal care companies will be participating in the B2B meetings, stated Philippine commercial attache Charmaine Yalong in a media advisory.“The B2B meetings, led by PTIC-Dubai and the DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), seek to create greater opportunities for Philippine brands and products to expand their geographical reach in the GCC region, covering the larger and more segmented markets of the region.“This mission is a positive step towards increasing the global mindshare of Philippine brands through expansion and diversification of the country’s exports and their destinations,” the media advisory further stated.Aside from Qatar, other B2B meetings will be held in Manama, Bahrain on February 12 from 10am-2pm at Tree of Life, Wyndham Grand Manama; Kuwait City, Kuwait on February 14 from 9am-1pm at Movenpick Hotel and Resort, Al Bidaa; and Dubai, the UAE on February 17 from 10am-2pm at Amwaj Ballroom 2, Grand Millennium Business Bay.The DTI is responsible for realising the Philippines’ goal of a globally competitive and innovative industry and services sector that contribute to inclusive growth and employment generation.The EMB is mandated to oversee the development, promotion, and monitoring of Philippine exports. It also provides exporters with the enabling environment to make them globally competitive.PTIC-Dubai is the representative office of the DTI in the UAE and is part of the Philippine Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC) of the DTI’s Office of the Secretary (OSEC).Covering the UAE, the Middle East, and Africa the PTIC-Dubai contributes to increasing and sustaining Philippine exports to the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. It is also involved in promoting increased investments into the Philippines among Middle East and African investors and overseas Filipinos.Interested parties may pre-register through not later than February 10. The list and a brief profile of the Philippine delegates may be accessed through the same link.

Reem Mohamed al-Mansoori and Dr Pablo Martin de Holan at the signing ceremony. PICTURE: Thajudheen
MCIT, HEC Paris sign MoU to support Qatar’s digital transformation

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and HEC Paris in Qatar signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Wednesday to enhance co-operation in supporting Qatar’s digital transformation.The MoU was signed by Reem Mohamed al-Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Society Development at MCIT, and Dr Pablo Martin de Holan, dean of HEC Paris in Qatar.In a statement, MCIT noted that the MoU signing comes within the framework of the ministry’s “tireless efforts” to support sustainable development and digital transformation in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.The MoU stipulates that both parties will support strategic and national plans for the development of the digital sector, initiatives, and methodologies that will support the plans of the Qatar Digital Government and the Smart Qatar Programme (Tasmu), which aims to improve the quality of life of all citizens and residents of Qatar.It also includes specific focus areas within the framework of the development of the digital and technological industry and the programmes and initiatives implemented by MCIT led by the Tasmu and the areas of innovation and research through the creation and exchange of knowledge among stakeholders.Al-Mansoori said: “We are pleased to sign this MoU with HEC Paris, one of the world’s leading business schools, which comes within the framework of MCIT’s mechanisms and efforts aimed at developing and enhancing the competitiveness of the digital and technological industry sector in Qatar, in general, by supporting the fields of entrepreneurship, research, and innovation.She added: “MCIT is committed to supporting and inspiring a strong and smart ICT sector as one of the main pillars in the transformation of a knowledge-based economy, and today’s note is an important step on the way to benefiting from HEC Paris’ great experience and clear interest in supporting Qatar’s digital and technology industry agenda.“Co-operation between MCIT and HEC Paris will be seen in various fields related to technological and economic development in Qatar and the development of a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in all sectors of society.”De Holan said, “HEC Paris in Qatar helps develop the leaders of tomorrow. By training the next generation of leaders in Qatar and the Gulf, we are able to shape the talents that contribute to the development and transformation of the organisations, companies, and the economy of Qatar.He added: “This strategic partnership emphasises HEC Paris’ commitment to supporting national development in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. We are proud of the partnership with MCIT, which highlights their trust in our leadership development programmes and in our mission of having a positive impact on companies, industries, and nation states.“The world is facing serious challenges and we believe these can be solved with good leaders who are well-prepared to navigate uncertain times and have the tools to do so successfully.”

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International
LuLu eyes electric vehicles to upgrade its transport fleet

LuLu Group is planning to upgrade its transport fleet in Qatar with electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its "green strategy" and sustainability efforts, a top official told Gulf Times.“To become net zero, the next focus will be on alternative energy sources to fuel our operations, including solar. We are also looking at electrifying our fleet, as well as our supply chain," Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, said in an exclusive interview.“We are already using a very complex algorithm so that we don’t waste our transportation space: for every container that we bring in, we make sure that transport will be optimised,” he explained.Dr Althaf also stressed that LuLu Group will prioritise energy-efficient options when procuring equipment. It is also looking at phasing out old vehicles and focusing on end-of-life product management.“From this year, we have already put a policy that for anything we buy in 2023, we will look for the electric options first. And then, moving forward, we will phase out whatever old legacy vehicle system that we have.“Also, we want to start reaching out to our own suppliers and stakeholders and ask them where we can work together, either by helping them make their supply chain carbon-neutral or energy efficient. We are exploring ways to do that. We are planning to install EV charging stations in our new outlets and later on in our old stores,” Dr Althaf explained.He further explained that LuLu Group will continue innovating its existing stores to ensure that even old branches will maintain energy efficiency during operations, citing the 18-year-old Al Khor branch.“I always have the empirical data, which shows what we can do. Another strategy is end-of-life product management. Because some of our stores are very old, we want to make sure that our chillers and freezers don’t have any negative impact. How do we extend the life cycle and how do we make them more energy efficient are among the other projects in the pipeline,” Dr Althaf emphasised.He added: “What is significant about our Al Messila branch is that we retrofitted a seven-year-old building. Similarly, Al Meshaf store was a regular-looking building, which was operational for the last five years.“Whereas for all the new stores that we have announced, we have already incorporated sustainability principles in the design stage. And more importantly, we are utilising IoT to achieve energy efficiency, thus making these stores cutting-edge.”

Sheikh Saif al-Thani, CEO of Qatar Central Securities Depository. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Political, economic stability makes Qatar ‘fertile soil for investment & growth’, says finance expert

The successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and optimistic expectations of the country’s economic growth in 2023 reflect the state of Qatar’s political and economic stability, which makes it “a fertile soil for investment and growth,” according to a finance and business administration expert.Ahmad al-Mansoori, board deputy chairman of the Qatar Association of Certified Public Accountants (QCPA), made the statement during the ‘International Credit Rating Agencies Conference’ held in Doha Monday.The event was held through the auspices of HE the Minister of Social Development and Family Maryam bint Ali bin Nasser al-Misnad and in partnership with Moody’s, the Global Compliance Institute, and S&P Global.In his speech, al-Mansoori described 2022 as “an exceptional year,” saying the Qatari economy showed “record performance,” especially during the staging of the FIFA World Cup.Citing the latest World Bank report, al-Mansoori said Qatar’s economy would achieve growth of about “3.4%” this year. He said the World Bank also estimates that the Qatari economy would have achieved a “4%” growth in 2022 compared to initial estimates of “3.2%.”Al-Mansoori also said: “After the World Cup curtain fell, the 2023 budget was issued to confirm the strength and durability of the Qatari economy and its ability to withstand the fluctuations and uncertainty in the global economy, and to prove that the State of Qatar, under its wise leadership, continues to move forward with confidence in building its strong economy and completing its development path.”Similarly, al-Mansoori noted that international rating agencies also confirmed the strength of Qatar’s economy, which shows that the country is maintaining strong creditworthiness.Al-Mansoori also lauded the resiliency of all companies and financial institutions listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange, as well as the goal to achieve a financial surplus of “not less than QR29bn” this year.“Perhaps the most prominent strengths on which these ratings are based on are the high per capita income, huge hydrocarbon reserves, the growth of global demand for oil and gas, the high value of net assets, the private sector’s contribution to economic activities, and the efficiency of monetary and fiscal policies. This confirms the strength, flexibility, and ability of the local economy to face economic challenges and fluctuations,” he said.Al-Mansoori added that Qatar’s financial stability has helped draw foreign investments and that public-private partnerships helped raise the country’s level of economic performance and attractiveness to international financial institutions.For his part, Sheikh Saif al-Thani, CEO of Qatar Central Securities Depository, said the country had to honour to host the FIFA World Cup under the wise leadership and achieved “a distinguished renaissance,” particularly in the social and economic sectors.He also lauded the role of Qatar Central Bank in leading the development of the country’s financial markets in partnership with various agencies, especially the Central Depository, which worked on creating the devices and tools used in the market to reach the necessary levels to achieve planned goals.“The first thing that was worked on was the movable collateral registry, which aims to help small and medium companies to benefit from the tools, equipment, and goods they have to gain access to funding to develop their business. Work is underway to apply lending and borrowing, which will assist and give investors in Doha additional options and tools.“Preparations are being made for central clearing that will increase the volume of transparency in the market while reducing risks, and giving investors the ability to raise the classification of the market as a whole. Qatar Central Securities Depository is keen to develop the applicable plan and strengthen it further during the next stage,” Sheikh Saif added.

South Koran ambassador Lee Joon-ho
Qatar-South Korea trade up 45.3% to $15.4bn in January-November 2022

Qatar and South Korea recorded a 45.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in bilateral trade volume to reach $15.4bn from January-November 2022.South Korea’s cumulative exports to Qatar also grew 21.5% in the same period in 2022 to $450mn. Similarly, imports from Qatar rose 46.2% to $14.9bn, according to South Koran ambassador Lee Joon-ho, who said as of November 2022, Qatar is the 18th largest trading partner to South Korea.In a statement to Gulf Times, Lee pointed out that the increase in the value of both countries’ trade volume is “attributable mainly to the rise in oil prices affected by the conflict in Ukraine.”Asked to give an overview of Qatar-South Korea bilateral economic relations in 2023, Lee said South Korea and Qatar have developed a “close and friendly relationship” since both countries concluded diplomatic ties in 1974.The ambassador noted that Qatar is the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to South Korea and that South Korea is the second largest trading partner to Qatar.“Building on the longstanding co-operation in the fields of LNG, our two countries are working closely together to diversify fields of our cooperation into new areas, such as healthcare, agriculture, and ICT,” he said.In this regard, Lee said Qatar and South Korea had “fruitful” high-level exchanges last year. In March, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum visited Qatar to promote partnerships in the fields of energy, investment, agriculture, and healthcare, he said.Lee also said HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani visited South Korea in August 2022 to further strengthen bilateral relations, especially in the energy, technology, and food security sectors.“In addition, bilateral economic collaboration linked to Qatar’s North Field Expansion plan and the construction of LNG carriers is on track. In particular, South Korean companies won the contract for the construction of 53 LNG carriers and the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for QatarEnergy Renewable Solutions’ 875MW Industrial Cities (IC) solar power plant in 2022.“I believe that our mutually beneficial partnership will continue and step forward to the greater economic collaboration between our two countries in the coming years,” Lee emphasised.

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho
South Korea eyes expanding Qatar economic ties via high-level exchanges, various projects, says envoy

South Korea has slated several initiatives this year to expand and enhance its trade and economic relations with Qatar in various sectors, including semi-conductors, e-mobility, and green energy, among others, the nation’s top diplomat in Doha told Gulf Times.Ambassador Lee Joon-ho said he believes South Korea and Qatar have the potential to deepen further and expand bilateral co-operation in various areas, including trade and investment based on the mutually complementary industrial and trade structure of both countries.“In particular, as Qatar National Vision 2030 aims at transforming Qatar into a more diversified economy, we will seek to expand the scope of co-operation to include semiconductors, electric vehicles, and renewable energy sources, such as hydrogen.“And South Korean companies, based on their excellent technologies and extensive experience, will continue to participate in various projects related to QNV 2030, including Qatar’s North Field Expansion plan and other infrastructure projects, contributing to further strengthening bilateral economic co-operation,” Lee explained in a statement.He said: “Furthermore, we will explore ways to enhance investment between our two countries for mutual benefits on the occasion of high-level exchanges, including the Korea-Qatar High-Level Strategic Co-operation Committee Meeting, as well as the Korea-Qatar Business Forum. By doing so, I believe we can further consolidate bilateral economic relations between Korea and Qatar.”In 2022, the South Korean embassy in Doha, in co-operation with different Qatari government ministries and private sector players like Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra), Qatar Chamber, and Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar), as well as South Korean companies, among others, held different initiatives and events aimed at enhancing bilateral trade and economic relations.These initiatives focused on areas, such as agriculture, smart farming, blue and green hydrogen production, health and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and finance, among others.Speaking at the 2022 South Korea-Qatar Business Forum held in Doha, Lee underscored the need for both countries to expand co-operation ties “in new horizons” and forge close partnerships in various fields.Citing co-operation in digital technology, Lee said the South Korean government’s ‘Digital Strategy’ is seen to cement its leadership in digital infrastructure, which may open new co-operation projects in the digital field.He stressed that both countries could enhance co-operation in sectors like smart farming and healthcare, noting that many South Korean companies are well-equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and are “capable and effective partners” for Qatar’s future development in the smart farming sector.As one of the major pillars of the state’s 2030 national vision, Lee also lauded Qatar’s investments in its public health system. He said the Korea Medical Centre, which is planned to be open this year, may lead to further collaboration on joint medical projects.The ambassador also emphasised the need for Qatar and South Korea to advance co-operation in energy sectors, such as liquefied natural gas and solar power. According to Lee, South Korean companies are joining Qatar’s mega LNG projects like the NFE EPC2, as well as LNG shipbuilding projects.Lee added that South Korea is joining Qatar’s efforts to fight climate change and invest in renewable energy.

Renowned Indian writer Amitav Ghosh is joined by Hessa al-Noaimi, director of strategic partnerships at AYCMQA; Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International; and Qatari author Dr Jabr al-Noaimi during the 'Earth Talk Series' held yesterday at Bin Jelmood House in Msheireb Museums. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
‘Earth Talk Series’ features renowned Indian writer Amitav Ghosh

The staging of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has helped place the Middle East in a positive perspective, according to renowned Indian writer Amitav Ghosh, who spoke Wednesday at the ‘Earth Talks Series’ at the Bin Jelmood House in Msheireb Museums.The ‘Earth Talk Series’, an annual event organised by the Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar (AYCMQA), featured Ghosh, who discussed the ‘Climate of War: Global Geopolitics in the Anthropocene’.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, Ghosh lauded Qatar for doing “a great job” in hosting the World Cup and for delivering “an incredible event with perhaps the greatest soccer match ever played.”Ghosh said: “It really showed that when such events are held in these parts of the world, it creates a completely different atmosphere; it creates new possibilities.”He added: “In the same way, if the Qatari leadership were to approach these other issues with the idea of bringing a different point of view and opening up these global negotiations to voices from the global south, I think that would be an important thing that Qatar could do.”Hessa al-Noaimi, director of strategic partnerships at AYCMQA, said: “The event aims to bring forward thinkers, scientists, writers, and artists mainly from the global south to talk about the environmental and climate crises from their perspective.“We see the need for this because we can tell that most of the information that we receive surrounding these topics comes from the north. And it is also offering a platform for conversations that are not usually discussed in this region as much as we should.”She added: “As AYCMQA, we believe that the programmes we run and the kind of awareness that we raise will bring about some significant change because we believe in research, data, and the necessity of understanding the problem before answering it. We also address the potential young people have in becoming faster and better learners on how to mitigate the climate crisis.”Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, said LuLu sponsored the event as part of its efforts to encourage and promote discussions on environmental protection, sustainable development, and climate change.He said, “LuLu is always trying to be ahead of the game, and our commitment to sustainability is very strong. Only recently, we have announced that LuLu's Al Meshaf store has become the first carbon-neutral hypermarket in the GCC.Althaf added: “Notwithstanding our commitment to address the cause of climate change, we also think that it is very critical to our industry because these environmental crises are directly affecting the food supply chain and other resources.“So, this is part of our community engagement and we will continue to expand this relationship with more non-governmental organisations, schools, and wherever engagement is possible.”

Deniz Kutlu, managing partner of Turkish firm Shedu Consulting.
Furniture tops list of Turkish exports to Qatar in 2022, says Turkish Exporters’ Assembly

Furniture has topped the list of Turkiye’s export products to Qatar in 2022, according to data from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM).Aside from furniture, which was valued at $177.2mn in 2022, Turkiye’s top 10 exports to Qatar last year include electrical products ($123.6mn), fisheries and meat ($123.5mn), chemicals ($119.6mn), iron and other metals ($94.1mn), apparel ($84.9mn), pulses and grain ($70.2mn), steel ($55.4mn), machinery ($48.7mn), and HVAC ($41.1mn).This year, Deniz Kutlu, managing partner of Turkish firm Shedu Consulting, is anticipating that there would be other industries aside from furniture that would witness growth in terms of Turkiye-Qatar trade ties.“Together with the services industry, I believe furniture, along with construction materials, defence, and the consumer goods industries will grow faster than other industries,” Kutlu told Gulf Times in a statement.He said: “Furniture has led Turkiye’s exports to Qatar. Since 2015, Shedu Consulting has organised several furniture B2B events in Qatar, and I believe that even after World Cup, furniture will still be one of the top exports of Turkiye in the Qatari market.”Asked how the 2022 FIFA World Cup played a role in the increase in Turkish exports to Qatar, Kutlu noted that the tournament had a positive impact not only on Turkish exports but on all other countries, as well.“But I think Qatar itself has been the country that had enjoyed most of the benefits from organising a global scale event. Before the World Cup, the Qatari government made huge investments in both infrastructure and superstructure. The World Cup is over but Qatar’s investments will last for decades.“The tournament itself was very well-organised and it contributed a lot to Qatar’s reputation across the world. This may have a positive impact on the eyes of potential foreign investors and may help the Qatari government to attract FDI in the near future, which in turn may positively impact Turkiye and Qatar’s bilateral trade,” Kutlu explained.Kutlu stated that Shedu Consulting has two trade delegations to Qatar in the pipeline. He said the first delegation representing the natural stone industry is slated to explore Qatar’s investment climate in the first half of the year, while another delegation from the furniture sector will be in the country by H2 2023.“We usually focus on consumer and industrial goods. However, we would definitely consider organising trade delegations from the sports and tourism industries, as well. Qatar, which made history by hosting the FIFA World Cup, is home to one of the top global sports channels, beIN Sports, and I am quite sure these sectors will help attract more delegation visits to Qatar,” Kutlu added.

Deniz Kutlu, managing partner of Shedu Consulting
Turkish exports to Qatar up 30% to $1.4bn in 2022, says industry expert

Turkish exports to Qatar witnessed a 30% year-on-year growth to reach $1.4bn in 2022, according to an official of an Istanbul-based consultancy firm.The value of Turkish exports to Qatar breached the $1.2bn level last year, Deniz Kutlu, managing partner of Shedu Consulting, told Gulf Times in a statement.“This increase made Qatar one of the fastest-growing export markets of Türkiye in 2022, together with the Russian Federation, Romania, Georgia, and Lebanon. I think, the main reason for this substantial increase in Turkish exports to Qatar was that 2022 has been a recovery year for many industries,” Kutlu explained.Kutlu further explained that this “drastic recovery” in 2022 stemmed from the continuation of different projects that many companies in both Qatar and Türkiye had to postpone during the pandemic.Citing trade data from the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM), the value of Turkish exports increased in the following industries: furniture (79%), apparel (55%), food and beverage (F&B) (over 50%), automotive (35%), and metals and hardware (34%).“In 2022, our exports increased by 12.9% and exceeded $254bn, which is an all-record level for Türkiye. Hence, we can safely state that Türkiye has recovered from the negative impact of Covid-19 and has not been severely affected by the war in Ukraine.“However, Türkiye’s ultimate goal is to reach the threshold of $500bn in the medium term. Accordingly, Türkiye would like to further increase its exports to global partners, including Qatar, to $500bn. $2bn is an ambitious but achievable goal in the short term,” Kutlu emphasised.With the gradual opening of international markets, Kutlu said he is optimistic to witness further growth in Turkish-Qatari trade and economic relations.“The source of Türkiye’s comparative advantage over China and other Far East countries is not low production costs. Rather, what makes Türkiye a popular source of imports for Qatar and other neighbouring countries is its capability for flexible manufacturing, which allows Türkiye to offer customised products in relatively low quantities compared to China’s mass production of undifferentiated products at low manufacturing cost,” Kutlu pointed out.He added: “Türkiye’s second advantage in the Gulf region market is the relatively short delivery time compared to China. Türkiye’s customised production capability and its geographical proximity to the Gulf region make it possible to offer relatively short delivery times compared to China. Hence, recovery in China and other major economies in Asia will not negatively affect Türkiye’s bilateral trade with Qatar and I expect to witness further increase soon.”

Gulf Times
LuLu eyes EV charging stations in store parking lots

LuLu Group is planning to install charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) in its store parking lots to help decarbonise mobility and to encourage the use of more EVs. The plan came in the wake of LuLu’s announcement that its Al Meshaf store has become the first carbon-neutral hypermarket in the GCC region.As part of its sustainability stewardship, LuLu’s project and operations team is already studying and identifying the areas for reduction opportunities in energy, water, and waste. The group’s ongoing efforts to reduce energy, water, and waste, and to promote healthy eating have achieved sustainable operations certification for various outlets in Qatar.LuLu Hypermarket in Qatar is 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). LuLu Group Qatar also won the Tarsheed Award for Sustainability and Energy Efficiency at the 10th anniversary of the National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed) in the category ‘Tarsheed Conserving Building Competition’ for being the only private sector business in Qatar to achieve the targeted reduction of electricity and water consumption.LuLu also installed a Building Management System to efficiently manage assets associated with building ventilation and lighting, as well as Cloud Energy Optimisation System-Honeywell Forge to efficiently manage and optimise the energy used during the operations.The use of LED is being encouraged for upcoming projects while existing projects are gradually shifting to LED from conventional lights, and light control systems assisted with motion sensors are being considered to optimise the use of energy, especially in warehouse operations. LuLu stated that it will procure new energy-efficient chillers to optimise the use of energy and increase cooling efficiency. To manage water consumption and energy, submetres are being implemented in tenant spaces, while new projects are being encouraged to use a double flush system to reduce water usage.Its outlets across Qatar 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 are being used to efficiently manage food waste generated in operations. An innovative food waste solution, ‘ORCA’, which recycles food waste by breaking it down into water (mainly), and some carbs, fats, and proteins, which are then captured or repurposed, is currently being trailed at LuLu’s Bin Mahmoud store.LuLu procured and distributed reverse vending machines in multiple outlets to encourage and educate customers on the segregation and recycling of plastic bottles and cans. Reusable bags were introduced and promoted in all the outlets to encourage customers to reuse their shopping bags, thereby reducing fresh plastic in the system.Recycling of paper waste and oil waste are being implemented and encouraged throughout with the help of recycling partners that efficiently divert these materials from landfill and recycle them back into the system. LuLu introduced refilling stations, Kraft paper bags, and biodegradable packaging made from sugarcane pulp used for packing in-house kitchen products to reduce the amount of plastic in packaging.To maintain efficiency and eliminate waste in its operations, LuLu is implementing controlled production, controlled ordering of raw materials, increased consumption of locally sourced ingredients, promoting sustainable suppliers and products, and introducing plant-based food options.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, receiving the Carbon Neutral Certification from officials of Clean Globe Consultancy during a recent ceremony in Doha.
LuLu’s Al Meshaf store is GCC’s 1st carbon neutral hypermarket

LuLu’s Al Meshaf store has become the first carbon-neutral hypermarket in the GCC, thus expanding the sustainability stewardship of LuLu Group, which recently received the carbon-neutral certification.The store’s carbon neutrality was achieved in accordance with the UK’s PAS 2060 standard by following a detailed process, including a carbon management plan, reduction of carbon emissions, and offsetting of remaining emissions.LuLu Hypermarket, the retail division of LuLu Group International has been consistently setting trends in the GCC region’s retail industry. 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.Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of Lulu Group International, said: “We are delighted to achieve the carbon neutrality status for LuLu’s Al Meshaf branch. We operate as an environmentally-conscious, one-stop shop for daily essentials and unique product offerings for a multi-ethnic client profile living in and around the area.”“This remarkable achievement is the result of the unwavering commitment of Lulu Group to circularity in our business and has been the result of various path-breaking initiatives undertaken by our store”, noted Althaf, who, along with a dedicated technical team, has been instrumental in driving LuLu Qatar’s sustainability agenda.Clean Globe Consultancy has supported the LuLu Group to achieve this accolade. LuLu currently operates 22 outlets in Qatar and is committed to being more sustainable and climate-friendly across its value chain.As a recipient of the Sustainability Award 2019 at the Qatar Sustainability Summit and as a leading retailer exercising sustainable best practices, LuLu is committed to sustainability by taking real and demonstrable measures to protect the environment and contribute to reducing carbon emissions and food waste. LuLu has always highlighted its efforts to promote environment-friendly practices in its operations and stores in Qatar, and in the community at large.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 lasting steps to ensure this, aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030.

IQBC president Hendra Hartono Turman
Indonesia eyeing robust ties with Qatar in 2023 on investments, MSMEs, says business council official

Indonesia is aiming to enhance its economic and trade relations with Qatar through a set of goals in several areas for 2023, an official of the Indonesia-Qatar Business Council (IQBC) has said.In a statement to Gulf Times, IQBC president Hendra Hartono Turman stressed that the council formed six committees that would enhance Indonesia-Qatar relations in the areas of investment, digital and creative economy, MSMEs, sports, trade, and education.“For 2023, we will strive to continue achieving significant accomplishments in these six areas. Communication efforts can be made both online and offline. As the situation becomes conducive, we will seek direct visits to Qatar at least twice a year with a business delegation,” Turman pointed out.Turman explained that the goals of the committees were thoroughly discussed and finalised during one of the council’s online seminars held last year.“In 2022, IQBC has carried out several online activities, including business matching and seminars. One of the B2B meetings was followed up with direct visits to Qatar by Indonesian companies specialising in paper, tyre, food, construction and building, and other support services for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.“The committees communicated directly with the Qatari side and it is hoped that each of them can benefit the two countries. This progress will continue for 2023 after the implementation of the FIFA World Cup,” he said.Turman’s Qatari counterpart, Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed, emphasised that the World Cup helped boost Qatar-Indonesia trade volume, which stood at almost “$1bn” in 2022, and reinforced Qatar’s status as a “most sought out investment destination.”Al-Sayed said: “Qatar-Indonesia trade is expected to grow further in 2023 in both the hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon sectors. Qatar has invested heavily in Indonesia’s telecom, energy, banking, hospitality, and tourism industries.”He added: “Indonesian connectivity in trade and culture will trigger growth in 2023 as both nations will be celebrating Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture. Indonesia and the Indonesian embassy will be hosting many cultural and also business activities during the year.“Several large business delegations are lining up to visit Qatar to offer investment opportunities in Indonesia. I am also encouraging investors to invest in Qatar’s free zones.”According to Turman, Indonesia is also looking at forging investment partnerships with companies in Qatar in the field of agriculture, the creative economy, and other areas of trade and business.“We also wish to be able to participate in the development of the bonded zone, which is being worked on by the Qatari government. Indonesian companies are interested in being able to open a factory in Doha that would cater to the Middle East market,” Turman said.He added: “We will also invite tourists from Qatar to visit and enjoy the beauty and culture of Indonesia, including the Cirebon culture, which is rich in art and history. The Cirebon kingdom still exists today.“2023 is the year of Indonesian culture in Qatar. For this reason, IQBC will participate in preparing a cultural delegation, as well as in the creative economy. We hope to see more visits and cultural exchanges this year and that trade between Indonesia and Qatar could return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Electric vehicles  are already transforming the Middle East auto industry, which is expected to reach a value of $18.5bn by 2023 and is set to reach mass adoption within the next couple of years.
Qatar’s green transition to push bid as EV manufacturing hub

Qatar has embarked on its green transition journey and its strategic location and resources have been supporting its bid to become a manufacturing hub for electric vehicles (EVs) in the Mena region and beyond, according to an EV sectoral study by Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar).IPA Qatar noted that the global EVs market is witnessing a quantum leap led by the US, China, and Germany from an estimated 3.3mn units in 2020 to an expected 27.5mn units by 2027.On the other hand, EVs are already transforming the Middle East auto industry, which is expected to reach a value of $18.5bn by 2023 and is set to reach mass adoption within the next couple of years.Industry leaders in EV manufacturing, from Volkswagen to Gaussin and Yutong, have already partnered with government entities to transform Qatar’s and the region’s mobility, IPA Qatar stated.“Similarly, international transportation company and IPA Qatar partner, Accord Pitch Doha (APD), has set several milestones in the local EV market, becoming the first company to deliver the Mercedes EQV Class and hybrid Mercedes S class in Qatar, whilst also planning to invest $10mn in 2023 to expand its fleet of electric vehicles,” stated IPA Qatar.IPA Qatar’s EV sectoral study stated that extensive government support, ambitious e-mobility targets, private sector investment in EVs, Qatar’s attractive market for EV manufacturers, and ready infrastructure and incentives are the key foundations supporting the growth of the country’s EV industry.“It comes as no surprise that foreign investors are highly motivated, Bloomberg has projected the EV market to be worth $53 trillion by 2050. For many, Qatar, with its ambitious e-mobility targets, future-ready infrastructure, and extensive government support, offers a valuable and competitive business climate to tap into the EV market. Next to consumer sentiment, commercial viability, and OEM vehicle strategy, government policies have emerged as a major driving force behind EV mass adoption.“In Qatar, the country’s national vision provides a roadmap for its social, economic, environmental, and human development. By extension, initiatives to transition to green mobility received strong government backing in a country that has already set a target to achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and convert all public buses to EVs,” IPA Qatar stated.Qatar’s relatively new ‘Electric Vehicle Strategy 2021’ aims to go a step further and create long-term opportunities for EV investors and businesses. By 2030, it foresees EV sales to reach 10% of total vehicle sales numbers in Qatar, stated IPA Qatar.IPA Qatar stated: “In a region of 49mn vehicles, an innovative approach to the automotive industry will be imperative to drive us towards a sustainable future. One study found that emissions from EVs are up to 43% lower than diesel vehicles, effectively playing into the Paris Agreement’s CO2 reduction targets.“The current investment flow into the EV market focuses on battery access, light-weighting, safety, and charging accessibility. However, the value pool increases significantly when looking at auxiliary sectors, from battery recycling businesses to the semiconductor market.”It added: “For Qatar, the green transition has begun. EVs will add an important fiscal layer to the second most competitive economy in the Arab World and the fourth globally by GDP per capita. About 2bn people, worth $6tn in combined GDP, live within 3,000km of Qatar’s borders, yet, in the years and decades to come, the country’s unparalleled EV market access and connectivity will reach well beyond this mark.”

Gulf Times
Qatar’s full 2023 calendar seen to boost hypermarket sales

Owing to a full calendar of events announced by authorities in Qatar this year, stakeholders in the local retail sector, particularly hypermarkets, are projecting robust sales growth for 2023, it is learnt. Only recently, Qatar Tourism and the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) announced their respective calendar of events for this year. Events like the Geneva International Motor Show, AFC Asian Cup, Formula 1, and Expo 2023 Doha are expected to draw many tourists to the country. Similarly, sports events lined up this year will also attract many fans and visitors. According to the QOC, Qatar will be hosting 81 events, including 14 major international tournaments in 2023. LuLu Group International regional manager Shanavas P M noted that in anticipation of Qatar’s economic growth in the coming period, LuLu opened several stores across Qatar last year, bringing the hypermarket chain’s total number of branches to 22. “We are optimistic that we would be able to achieve positive growth in 2023,” Shanavas told Gulf Times Saturday. Similarly, Safari Mall procurement manager Rajesh Nair also said Qatar’s full calendar events lined up for this year will push growth in the local retail industry. “Qatar has announced a lot of events for 2023, so we are expecting good growth in our sales because of this. To cater to the increasing demand of our customers, we opened new malls in Al Wakra and in the Industrial Area,” Nair noted. The influx of tourists and visitors during the FIFA World Cup in December last year had a positive impact on sales in Qatar’s retail sector, prompting many stores to expand operations to cater to customer demand. “Our sales in the metro stations were ‘superb’, especially when fans trooped to the stadiums to watch the matches,” Shanavas said, citing LuLu’s three temporary convenience stores in the Lusail QNB, National Museum, and Ras Bu Abboud metro stations. Shanavas said World Cup fans mostly bought snacks, beverages, and other food items from LuLu hypermarkets. Shortly before the inaugural kick-off, LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A led the official opening of Barwa Madinatna in Al Wakra, which catered to the needs of tourists and other visitors living in the Fan Zone, as well as residents of the community and adjacent areas. Nair also said the arrival of FIFA World Cup fans helped push sales during the tournament. But they also pushed demand for a wide range of World Cup-related souvenir items and other goods like perfumes, especially before they left Qatar after the matches. “Aside from official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 products, which were sold out, we experienced excellent sales for souvenir products, such as ‘I Love Qatar’ shirts, small figurines and statues, magnets, and key chains, among other similar items from the fans,” he said.

Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar president Palma Libotte
Italian chamber official lauds Qatar’s evolving tourism sector

The successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has helped ensure that the tournament would remain a memorable event “for many years,” especially among fans, tourists, and the people of Qatar, an official of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar has said.According to Palma Libotte, the country’s tourism sector is “constantly improving,” thus providing stakeholders and players in the industry the opportunity to contribute to its development and growth.The World Cup helped cement Qatar’s place in the global tourism map, said Libotte, who noted that the training provided to staff of important sectors across the country, such as transport, services, and hospitality, among others, was a key factor to ensuring that tourists and visitors enjoyed the matches and their stay here.“The training offered to all industry professionals before the FIFA World Cup worked out fantastic and everyone – from the metro stations, bus drivers, restaurants to the hotels and ushers – were all so helpful with the visitors. This was trending on social media and clearly gave Qatar an amazing promotion.“Overall, I am happy to witness this exciting transition phase of Qatar, which is now becoming a popular tourist destination, thanks to all the visibility it obtained from the 2022 FIFA World Cup and to the positive feedback that all the football fans will share in their home countries. Word of mouth is always the best promotion and Qatar won everyone’s hearts through the World Cup,” Libotte emphasised.Earlier, Qatar Tourism announced an “action-packed” 2023 calendar of activities, which includes the Geneva International Motor Show, AFC Asian Cup, and Formula 1, as well as the Expo 2023 Doha, which is poised as “the second-largest global event in Qatar after the World Cup.”Only recently, the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) announced its calendar of sports events for this year, which will see 81 events, including 14 major international tournaments.According to Libotte, the World Cup provide stakeholders and players in the local tourism sector, such as destination management companies (DMCs), the added experience to operate successfully during these upcoming events this year.“The FIFA World Cup served as an intense training course for DMCs to understand what is most appreciated by visitors. It also taught them how to improve and how to set tourism-related rules for the future in Qatar,” Libotte explained.She added: “I am looking forward to Formula One as it will draw many Italians. Also, the Geneva Motor Show will be interesting to combine with some scenic trips to Doha. The stopover packages offered by Qatar Airways are also incredible and they will also encourage many people to visit Qatar before going on holiday in Asia.”

Palma Libotte
‘Modern infrastructure to push growth in Qatar’s tourism sector’

Qatar’s modern and world-class infrastructure, such as hospitality-related facilities that opened in time for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, would play a key role in the growth and development of the country’s tourism sector.According to Palma Libotte, president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, one of the “strong points” of Qatar’s tourism sector is that the country boasts of many new and modern hotels that offer “very competitive rates” both for leisure and corporate tourism.The recently-concluded World Cup opened many opportunities for destination management companies (DMCs) and tour agencies in Qatar to showcase the country’s best tourism gems.Libotte noted that stakeholders and key players in Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector stand to gain from current weather conditions that allow more tourists to visit a variety of scenic outdoor locations across the country.While the revelry brought by the World Cup is over, Libotte noted that there are still many reasons for tourists to visit the country and enjoy Qatar’s long tourism season for “eight fabulous months” from October to May.“Now is a great time to enjoy the desert and the northern areas of Qatar, such as Al Zubara Fort and the nearby abandoned Al Jumail Fishing Village, the mangroves of Purple Island, and the recently-installed ‘Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day’ by Olafur Eliasson.“From a product perspective and having worked in many fields of the tourism sector through Doha-based Italian DMC, QTours, I can say that the country’s main competitive advantage with Dubai is that the traditions and culture in Qatar are still strongly perceived by tourists, and this contrast with ultramodern infrastructure makes it a really appealing destination,” Libotte emphasised.During the World Cup, Libotte noted that desert tours were the “main draw” and the “most sold” packages, as well as the Dhow cruise. “Everyone wanted to ride the camels and the quad bikes, as well as enjoy the spectacular view that Khor Al Udaid offers. Many tourists loved the food and highly admired Qatar’s safe environment.She also lauded how the staff of the Doha Metro handled passengers, which helped made Souq Waqif, Lusail Boulevard, and Katara – the Cultural Village very accessible to tourists.“The programme of concerts and the series of activities in the fan zones encouraged people to go out every day; it was like a never-ending festival with an incredible energy and atmosphere,” Libotte explained.