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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, director of LuLu Group International, speaking during the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar dispels ‘silly propaganda’ vs World Cup, says industry leader

By staging a safe and well-organised tournament, Qatar has successfully dispelled “silly” FIFA World Cup-related propaganda, which had only exposed “racial and Islamophobic undertones,” according to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.Speaking at the ‘Experiences of Long-Term Expatriates in Qatar’ seminar, which was organised by the Ministry of Culture at the Darb Al Saai main stage, Dr Althaf said there are some critics who cannot accept that a Gulf state, such as Qatar, was selected to host a major global sporting event like the World Cup.“This upset a lot of people who thought that this is their right to host anything in the world. But despite the propaganda, Qatar gave a rightful response in a very graceful manner by continuing with its many reforms and hard work,” he explained.Dr Althaf said despite the concerns about Qatar’s preparations to host the FIFA World Cup, the government started early on to address different issues, such as workers’ rights, among many other reforms.“These efforts and reforms were repeatedly recognised by the International Labour Organisation, and the ILO had always congratulated Qatar for improving the living and working conditions of labourers here. Today, Qatar can rightfully claim that it is one of the leading countries in terms of labour reforms.“These World Cup-related propaganda only exposed racial and Islamophobic undertones and intolerance towards a country coming forward to host this event,” Dr Althaf emphasised.He also stressed that throughout the tournament, Qatar did not witness “any drunken brawling across the country or hooliganism,” making it safe for fans to even bring their children to the stadiums to watch and enjoy the games.“Qatar has some of the highest specified stadiums today in terms of mobility and public transport, thus setting a very high standard for the next World Cups to be staged in different host countries.“The World Cup also witnessed the intermingling of different nationalities during the games or even outside the stadiums and in the fan zones, especially among Indians. This shows the affection of Indians towards Qatar and the generosity of the Qatari people to those who made this country their second home,” he said.Dr Althaf also lauded His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s speech in Davos where he declared that while Qatar welcomes everybody, it is also expected that visitors should respect the country’s values and culture.“We have succeeded in making World Cup fans and visitors feel welcome and that they are all being serviced properly. When it comes to food, I can assure you that LuLu has considered all types of dietary habits and preferences, as well as the food requirements of fans and visitors during their stay in the country.“We have fulfilled their expectations and even more. Similarly, on infrastructure and entertainment, Qatar has shown that we could do all this without compromising the core values of our culture,” Althaf said, adding that this paved the way for fans and tourists to experience the Arab and Qatari culture.Dr Althaf said: “Qatar has showcased inclusivity and tolerance for people of all races, nationality, faith and religious beliefs, and cultures. Everyone is welcome in Qatar as long as they extend the same respect given to them by this beautiful country.“Qatar is not only economically successful but it also managed to build solid institutions for culture, sports, welfare, and human rights. Qatar has extended generosity not only with the people here, but also for millions of people abroad, such as out-of-school youth, children in conflict zones, and disaster-hit areas.”Dr Althaf added: “We also witnessed Qatar’s intervention at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the transportation of vaccines and other essential materials, as well as the country’s leadership during the evacuation of people during the Afghanistan crisis.”

AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland.
US firms in World Cup projects to continue in Qatar, says AmCham exec

US companies involved in World Cup-related projects will continue doing business in Qatar for the long term, an official of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) has said.AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland underscored the successful staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, saying the tournament has highlighted the celebration of 50 years of US-Qatar diplomatic relations, making 2022 “an iconic year” for both nations’ business ties.“It’s important to recognise that many of the US businesses that played a role in the World Cup are here in Qatar for the long term. Most of those companies will continue to do business here.“At AmCham Qatar, we have several initiatives up our sleeves to explore further opportunities for businesses that are unique to Qatar, including engaging further with our American university members at Education City,” Holland told Gulf Times, adding that more announcements are expected to be made in Q1 2023.She said AmCham Qatar is focused on American companies based in Qatar. As an advocate and representative of the American private sector, Holland said the chamber’s priority is its members in Qatar.“We work closely with the US Chamber of Commerce, the embassy, and other business organisations who support our members stateside. We support them and those US ventures for our members where we can, but our plan is to continue the great work we’re doing here and support our members and American companies on the ground. Our plan is to build on our 2022 foundation and continue to engage here locally,” Holland emphasised.She describes AmCham’s activities in 2022 as “engaging,” adding that this year witnessed many engagements with its members on new levels “and in ways we haven't connected with them before.”“Coming out of Covid-19 and the blockade, our members were hungry for thoughtful engagement physically in Qatar. Between hosting our partnering organisation, the US Chamber of Commerce out of Washington, DC, attending the AmCham Mena executive council conference, routine industry committee, and member initiative meetings, as well as fun events like ‘Headshots and Happy Hour’, we've worked very hard to deliver a mix of business and social activities to our members,” she explained.Holland said 2022 also witnessed the chamber’s significant growth as an organisation, doubled its membership, re-elected a new board of governors, elected a new chairman for the first time in its history, implemented member-driven committees, and hosted ministry roundtables to open further dialogue between AmCham’s Qatari business counterparts on the role of the US private sector as a stakeholder in the Qatar National Vision 2030.“We've strengthened ties with our partners in the GCC with the signing of the GCC AmChams MoU, and we’re engaging more deeply with our colleagues within AmCham Mena. We’re forging relationships with our local partners like Qatar Financial Centre and our relationship with the US Chamber of Commerce in DC is thriving,” Holland added.

Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café.
Industry expert lauds role of local tech startups, fintechs during World Cup

Homegrown tech startups and fintech companies have been playing a significant role in catering to the needs of tourists and visitors of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, according to an industry expert.Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café, told Gulf Times that some of the local fintechs have been very successful in securing deals with payment gateways, allowing smooth digital financial transactions for visiting foreigners.“These fintech companies, among many others that are based in Qatar, have enabled seamless and safe transactions during this global event, which added to the success of the country in hosting an international sports tournament, such as the World Cup,” Malhis emphasised.Other homegrown tech companies were also significant players in helping visitors book their hotels in Qatar by giving them access to special payment links, according to Malhis, citing cases wherein some websites are unable to provide extensive information about hotel vacancies here during the World Cup.“By providing important services and vital information to visiting fans and tourists, Qatar’s tech startups and fintechs, among others, are playing a very significant part in promoting the country, not only as a sports destination but also a leading tourism and entertainment hub in the region,” Malhis pointed out.According to Malhis, one of the advantages of utilising local technology companies over international payment gateways is their expertise, familiarity, and knowledge of the local market, as well as better rates.“International event organisers also gain a lot of advantages from working with local fintechs and tech startups because these companies are on the ground – they know the terrain – and, most importantly, they are trustworthy,” he explained.Malhis noted that many Qatari entrepreneurs in the food and beverage (F&B) sector wanted to open their businesses before the World Cup.He said fintechs and other startups also played an important function by offering F&B companies the option to use different innovations and technologies to maximise the benefits of operating a business during the tournament, such as delivering food and other services to fan zones and other World Cup-related areas.Malhis also lauded the assistance provided by the Qatari government to local entrepreneurs, saying strong and early public sector support was crucial in preparing and establishing these businesses prior to the tournament.“Many local entrepreneurs were able to open up their businesses even before the World Cup, which is a great advantage because the government was there to help and support them and make sure that these companies are able to fully operate, especially during the tournament itself,” he added.

AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland.
AmCham to continue role as private sector voice & catalyst for US companies in Qatar, says official

In the wake of the 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue held recently in Qatar, the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) will continue to enhance its role in facilitating trade and investments between US companies and their Qatari counterparts, an official has said.“AmCham Qatar has always been a strategic dialogue partner and given the mission of our organisation we’re even more excited that it’s being held right here in our backyard,” AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland told Gulf Times Wednesday.She said: “As the primary local organisation for the American private sector and given our close relationship with our US embassy in Doha, our role is to continue to be that private sector voice and catalyst for US companies here...all of our leadership is excited about the ongoing dialogue.”Asked how the strategic dialogue will help AmCham Qatar facilitate business, trade, and commerce between Qatar and the US, Holland said: “The strategic dialogue is one of the few times, if not the only time, where you get everyone together at the table. It’s important to have this dialogue with government and business organisations, as well as stakeholders, among others, to really talk about the nuts and bolts of what’s happening in Qatar and abroad.“At the end of the day, we all share a lot of common goals. The strategic dialogue brings us out of our silos. I think it’s also clear that Qatar National Vision 2030 will be a key discussion point, of which, business, trade, and commerce are crucial to some of that success.”Holland also said US ambassador Timmy T Davis has AmCham Qatar’s support in promoting the US embassy’s sub-national diplomacy campaign, which aims to open the Qatari market to American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).“As the primary American private sector organisation here in Qatar, we are incredibly fortunate to have such a longstanding and great relationship with our US embassy in Doha. This relationship has only strengthened with the appointment of our incredible new ambassador, Timmy Davis.“The senior commercial officer even holds an honorary board seat within AmCham Qatar, which helps ensure our mutual goals of trade, commerce, and investment are achieved and maximised to the private sector in Qatar,” Holland explained.She said: “We will continue to work with the US embassy to support the ‘2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit Delegation’, and we are exploring new ways the Commerical Law Department and other embassy/state department programmes can benefit our member initiatives here.“This year has shown that visiting delegations are back in full swing and we will continue to work with the embassy on ensuring these delegations leave with a full understanding and resources into what it means to do business in Qatar.”Holland added: “In 2023, we plan to take this a step further by partnering on the Clean Tech Trade mission stop-off in Doha, hosting our inaugural Sustainability Summit in March 2023.“Working with the embassy here in Doha has and will continue to be at the centre of our strategic dialogue, and we are proud of the work we do collectively here on the ground together to help American companies.”

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
 ‘Qatar Chamber to continue supporting Qatar’s economic growth post-World Cup’

The State of Qatar is celebrating the success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which has already entered its halfway mark. In line with this milestone, Qatar Chamber will continue supporting the country’s economic development even after the tournament, according to its chairman, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.Qatar’s economy is expected to continue to grow at an accelerating pace after the tournament, Sheikh Khalifa stated in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic magazine.He noted that the country will still gain the attention of the international community “for a long time” and will continue to benefit from the World Cup by cementing itself on the global investment map. This, he continued, is in line with the efforts made to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.Sheikh Khalifa said the chamber will continue to represent and strengthen the private sector’s role in Qatar’s economic development. It will also address all challenges and obstacles to find the appropriate solutions, as well as promote the national economy and strengthen co-operation with all institutions and chambers worldwide, he stressed.“Qatar Chamber will also contribute to participating in the efforts to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030 by promoting economic diversification and attracting investments to the state,” Sheikh Khalifa pointed out.The chamber is keen to enhance communication with all ministries and concerned authorities in Qatar’s private in order to discuss all challenges and difficulties and to find appropriate solutions. The chamber will also work to provide appropriate recommendations and give its opinion on private sector issues.Sheikh Khalifa also affirmed the pivotal role of the private sector in preparing for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, noting the strong participation of Qatari companies in the tournament’s projects and their support services during the event in all sectors.He stressed the need for concerted efforts by citizens and residents to make this global event a success, adding that the tournament “will leave a unique imprint in the history of the FIFA World Cup.”“The State of Qatar has become a leading global investment destination,” he said, noting that international institutions had been commending the Qatari economy, which is expected to grow by 4.9%, according to the International Monetary Fund.Sheikh Khalifa said the promotion of the State of Qatar is one of the most important gains from the World Cup, citing the positive impact of the tournament on the development of infrastructure, tourism, hotel facilities, transportation, and communication services.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi and Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
ITA Doha office to hold more B2Bs for Qatari, Italian companies

Plans are in the pipeline to network Qatari buyers and Italian suppliers during the horticultural event Expo Doha 2023, which carries the theme ‘Green Desert, Better Environment’ to be held in Doha in 2023, an official of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) has said.The ITA Doha Office will be organising many events next year involving different Italian delegations, including Coldiretti, Italy’s main institutional organisation of agricultural entrepreneurs and farmers based in Rome, Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi told Gulf Times.Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi also said Coldiretti is very focused on territory and how a single piece of territory can express itself not only in agro-food but also in terms of culture.“The bottom line is that these farmers represent the local community effectively and reflect Italian culture. Expo Doha 2023 will see the participation of Italian players that represent the territory,” the ambassador said.He noted that Coldiretti specialises in organising markets that illustrate how a community represents itself in the agri-food sector.“They do this beautifully in Rome and I’m sure we can also do something similar here in Qatar. The difference between the Coldiretti markets and the traditional access to these services and products is that in these markets you develop a direct connection with the producers or the farmers.“This initiative provides small, family-owned businesses, as well as well-established companies, access to international markets, such as Qatar in particular. There’s a balance between small and big players. We know that the public likes to perceive the farmer as an individual because that gives you a customised experience, which you don’t get from a larger platform,” Toschi explained.The ambassador also said Expo Doha 2023 will also open areas of collaboration between Italy and Qatar in the field of sustainability.“A large endeavour that awaits Qatar next year is the Expo Doha 2023, which is a specialised international exhibition devoted to topics like sustainability in dry lands and how to irrigate and produce in dry lands, among others.“Another area that we recognise and appreciate is Qatar’s interest in the diversification of energy resources, which is something Italian engineers and scientists are working really hard to identify new solutions. Some of our players are leaders in global markets on several solutions. But there’s a lot that we could do together with Qatar going forward,” Toschi emphasised.Lisi added: “We can also cooperate in the area of the circular economy. Italy has a strong experience in that field. We are looking forward to cooperate with Qatari companies and authorities in all possible fields.”

USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
USQBC keen to promote Qatar further in 2023 among US firms, SMEs

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) is keen to enhance its promotion of Qatar among American companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2023, an official has said.The council has been busy visiting different cities and states in the US this year and is expected to cap 2022 with the release of a print version of its report ‘50 Years of Partnership: The State of Qatar and the United States of America’, said USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat.In 2023, Barakat said USQBC intends to double its efforts to promote Qatar by organising more events that would highlight specifically what the country has to offer to American companies.“The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) has joined USQBC, so there would be more events across the US to promote Qatar and to promote the opening of potential manufacturing operations in Qatar.“We will also try to attract small and medium companies by engaging more with SMEs in their own cities and states in the US. There will be a lot of that as we build on these initiatives in the pipeline,” Barakat told Gulf Times.He said, “The upcoming year will not only witness many events but also one or two congressional delegations to Qatar similar to what we did in 2021, including trade missions that we could perhaps tie in with a specific event that is happening in Qatar, such as ‘Expo 2023 Doha’ or other activities.“These events will continue to highlight how USQBC could help companies and how the council could assist in building on this relationship. We will continue our collaboration with the US and Qatari embassies, and with visiting delegations to reach out to more cities; it’s similar to a roadshow but it’s more sector-specific and promoting engagements.”According to Barakat, USQBC is also looking to publish many reports, especially on specific sectors that put emphasis on investment opportunities in both the US and Qatar. He said the council will also work on increasing its membership next year. After USQBC president Scott Taylor’s visit to Qatar last September, several Qatari and American companies were added to the council’s roster of members, Barakat noted.On USQBC’s operations in both Washington, DC and Qatar next year, Barakat said: “USQBC will continue at the same level as we had done in 2022. There will be some engagements for the ‘Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar’. We plan to work with more potential companies or perhaps build a trade mission related to the event.“While there is nothing clear yet, we want to see if we can bring a delegation, which will be very helpful to American companies to engage and find common ground during the event. It’s a big event, which is why it would be very helpful for American companies to be part of it considering that agriculture is a major sector that Qatar is focusing on.”Barakat noted that a post-World Cup Qatar would open opportunities not only in sustainability but also in tourism and tourism-related services, as well as other areas such as esports and gaming.“Qatar has built massive infrastructure that feeds into tourism and tourism-related services, so there would be a lot of focus on these sectors. By default, this would create another sub-sector, which is facilities management and operations.“These windows of opportunities will start opening up after the staging of a major event, such as the World Cup. And we will see how this could translate into potential future events that Qatar would be hosting. The idea of hosting major sports events in the country also opens opportunities in the area of esports and gaming; there would be a potential increase in focus on these areas, as well,” he stressed.He added: “USQBC maintains its regular engagements with companies specialising in ICT and telecommunications, as well as data centres, among others. And these engagements will keep on expanding. The council will work on making sure that the services actually fulfil the needs of a lot of these companies coming in.“Some of the bigger companies understand the market because they’ve been present for much longer, but second-tier and third-tier companies might need more hands-on and more tailored services to understand how to enter the market. USQBC is very fluid; we can immediately adjust to fulfil a specific need that companies require. We can adjust our services to cater to their needs and that allows us to operate in a better way.”

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
‘Qatar's private sector is a key player in comprehensive economic development’

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has assured the capability of the country’s private sector to play a key role in achieving comprehensive economic development.Sheikh Khalifa’s statement came in the wake of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s speech during the 51st annual session of the Shura Council where he declared milestones and defined Qatar’s direction moving forward.“Qatar Chamber highly values and appreciates His Highness the Amir’s keenness to develop and maximise the private sector’s role in development, especially since it has seen great growth in recent years and has become a responsible partner of the public sector in implementing economic development projects,” Sheikh Khalifa stated in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s economic magazine.According to Sheikh Khalifa, the chamber is certain that the private sector can play an important role in achieving comprehensive economic development, which is Qatar’s top priority.He said Qatar has been steadfast in fulfilling the requirements of comprehensive development “at all levels” in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 “and its desired objectives.”Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that His Highness the Amir’s speech also focused on enhancing Qatar’s investment climate through amendments in legislation on foreign investment and by removing barriers that prevent FDI, as well as highlighting Qatar as a global incubator for FDI and improving the country’s investment environment.He said the Amir’s speech emphasises his keenness to bolster the contribution of the private sector in economic activity and to create more public-private partnerships (PPPs).Sheikh Khalifa reiterated the Amir’s call to allow GCC citizens to launch trade activities, including shipping services, advertising, stock trading, and company establishment, as well as the development of the energy sector and expanding gas production in the North Field.“All these directives confirm that the Qatari economy will see further development and growth in the coming years,” Sheikh Khalifa said, highlighting the Amir’s statements on a “QR47.3bn” budget surplus triggered by the increase in energy prices in the first half of 2022 despite speculations of a deficit at the beginning of the year.Sheikh Khalifa said: “His Highness the Amir’s speech showed the great interest he attaches to the national economy. His Highness emphasised the strength of the Qatari economy, which continued to grow in 2022 after a decline in 2020, with the preliminary data indicating a 4.3% GDP growth during the first half of this year, supported by a 7.3% growth in the non-oil sector – a large percentage amid the current international circumstances.”He added: “His Highness also stressed the importance of activating the provisions of the law regulating partnership between the public and private sectors in all related projects, especially in the health, educational, and tourism sectors.“His Highness further highlighted the In-Country Value Programme, which gives preference in tenders and bids to companies that further depend on the local economy to procure goods and services to the public sector.”

USQBC president Scott Taylor. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
USQBC ensures ‘pivotal role’ in achieving Qatar’s 2030 vision, says official

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has ensured its support to realise the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, its president Scott Taylor told Gulf Times in the wake of the recently held 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.“USQBC will play a pivotal role in helping Qatar achieve its vision because we’re always on the ground both in Doha and in Washington, DC, listening and proactively engaging our members and new members to create commerce,” Taylor emphasised.Taylor explained that USQBC is engaging with different public and private sector agencies and entities, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and working as a “very specific and bespoke organisation.”“We understand what the opportunities are by listening and specifically meeting with ministers and heads of agencies to understand what their goals are. We then get back to our members to help them thrive and understand what the government is looking for, as well as reach out to new businesses and see how they can participate, as well,” he said.Taylor also noted that USQBC is also fully supporting the initiative of the Embassy of the United States in Qatar in providing American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the Qatari market.“Ambassador Timmy T Davis is very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030. He specifically speaks about supporting SMEs and having them come here and do commerce with Qatari businesses, as well as forge people-to-people relationships.“Obviously, that’s where the USQBC could come in and play a significant role in connections, in corporate diplomacy, and in making sure businesses from Qatar and the US have the ability to operate in both countries, as well as supporting the US and Qatari embassies and the businesses on the ground,” Taylor said.On USQBC’s participation in the strategic dialogue, Taylor said, “The US and Qatar are celebrating 50th year of diplomatic relations, and the relationship between these two countries will be a very pivotal one in the next century.“The underpinning of our relationship is defence and national security, but it is also commerce, as well. And this is where corporate diplomats like the USQBC come in. The US is going to be very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and commerce, through our support, will help fulfil those goals.”Taylor said USQBC is looking forward to participating in strategic dialogue-related workshops next year.“We still don’t have the specifics of that workshop but USQBC will be partnering with the US embassy and entities and ministries here. I’m not sure what the framework exactly looks like but it’s something that we want to be intimately involved with,” he stressed, adding that sectors of interest would include sustainability, climate change, defence and national security, energy and energy security, healthcare, education, and tech.He said, “We have a broad base of members, which we can also increase and bring to the table, and we’re constantly speaking to businesses in both the US and Qatar, including the ministries and understanding their vision alongside the Qatar National Vision 2030. When you look at these sectors, they’re so broad but we’re going to be bringing a lot of tools to the table to help them achieve Qatar National Vision 2030.”Taylor also said USQBC was able to expand its membership base during his trip to Qatar in September this year.“The goal of that trip was to listen to the ministries and people working on the ground and understand their goals inside the Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as the opportunities for USQBC and how we can extend support.“The other part of the trip was to speak to potential members here who could join our council and not only add value to our membership but allow us to add value to them. This trip helped provide our new members quality leads to doing business,” Taylor added.

Hyunsun Hong
Official lauds World Cup’s role in driving tourism to South Korea

The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) has lauded the successful staging of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, stating that the tournament, which has been receiving more and more fans from abroad, is helping drive tourists’ enthusiasm to visit South Korea.South Korea’s embassy in Qatar and KTO hosted the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ at Doha Corniche from November 20 to 25 as part of World Cup-related activations to celebrate the return of travel to South Korea.‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ is an opportunity to attract GCC nationals and World Cup visitors from all over the world to reboot and promote tourism in South Korea after fully reopening in October 2022, said Hyunsun Hong, regional director of KTO – Dubai Office.“The Korean Pavilion is a great opportunity to attract visitors from the GCC and the rest of the world to South Korea during this World Cup in Qatar. We have seen a great crowd at the pavilion, who witnessed the various entertainingperformances, the South Korean traditional craft zone, the game zone, and a South Korean-style sticker and photo booth.“We are seeing the enthusiasm of people to visit South Korea, and we are pleased to provide all the travel consultations, travel brochures, and information needed at our pavilion,” Hong told Gulf Times in a statement Tuesday.According to Hong, the Korean Pavilion will remain open until the end of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on December 18. It will be an opportunity for visitors to come and explore some of the fun-filled activities and collect all the necessary information, she noted.On November 24, the Korean Pavilion held another special event dubbed ‘Team Korea, Cheer Together!’ in the presence of South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon to cheer for the South Korean team competing in the World Cup.The Korean Pavilion also showcased different cultural, tourism, and traditional experiences with a host of shows and performances, as well as entertaining activities like wearing traditional clothing (Hanbok), hands-on experience with arts and crafts, tourism support, Taekwondo performance, the art of South Korean calligraphy, and K-Pop performances.Hong added: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the world’s largest sporting event, is being held in the Middle East region for the first time and therefore this is an opportunity to present South Korea and reboot tourism through the fun experiences and entertaining performances happening at the pavilion.“South Korea opened its borders to foreign visitors in a phased manner early this year after a two-year lockdown. Qataris, GCC, and several other nationalities can travel to South Korea by applying for a K-ETA 48 hours prior to travel.”

Mohamed Barakat
World Cup fans will be ‘ambassadors for Qatar’, says USQBC official

Two top officials of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), currently in Qatar for the recent 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue and the FIFA World Cup, have lauded Qatar's achievement in hosting the mega event.USQBC president Scott Taylor and USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat shared their views with Gulf Times and their aspirations for the US team.Taylor: “I am here as a fan; I brought my family to Doha to see the World Cup. I think having the World Cup here is massive for the region, as well as the world. It’s a World Cup for a reason – to highlight different cultures and different places around the world.“In this country you’re able to go to multiple games because the stadiums are so close. The next World Cup is going to be in North America: Mexico, Canada, and the US. You’ll have to fly between stadiums. Here, you can drive; it’s crazy!“But I think having the World Cup in Qatar has been so massive for the spotlight on this country. It’s well-run; they’re executing it really well. It’s safe and family-oriented. The fans, including myself and my family, are excited to be here. We had a great time.“I think there have been some unfair criticisms quite frankly in international media but I guarantee you that all the folks and the fans that have come here would be ambassadors for this country moving forward because they’ve had a great time.”Barakat said: "What a wonderful experience! Coming from the airport and going to the hotel, we’re seeing all these fan zones and a lot of people partying, celebrating, and enjoying each other’s company. People wearing jerseys from different teams are all together having a good time."In the souq, you can also see fans engaging and hearing so many languages. In the stadiums, people are cheering and engaging each other. I think the close proximity of these engagements and being around each other created this energetic atmosphere to enjoy the World Cup. And hopefully, fans will continue to enjoy the tournament till the end. As Americans, we are very excited for the US team and we’re looking forward that the team would advance. Maybe we’ll stay longer to watch them play."The fans who arrived here and others who will still be arriving will see how much Qatar has done to deliver a World Cup that will be a lasting legacy for the future. And I think the World Cup will deliver a great message about what Qatar has done, which is something that the US, Canada, and Mexico can learn from and engage with Qatar when we host the World Cup."

 Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of
Gift card e-commerce to help merchants in Qatar scale business

Merchants in Qatar stand to gain from the solutions being offered by digital gift cards marketplace, YOUGotaGift, allowing them to capture new business and retain customer loyalty.YOUGotaGift, with its catalogue of more than 700 regional brands, distributes its eGift cards or digital gift cards through a broad network of clients across loyalty, incentives, online and retail, and other international networks, according to Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of Dubai-based“We know that businesses in Qatar, from hospitality to retail, are realising the importance of having a digital presence and offering gift cards to increase revenues. We’ve made it easy for companies to process their own gift cards on their website by empowering them with multiple ways to extend their brand’s reach,” al-Rahim told Gulf Timesin an interview.She explained: “Our first offering is gift card e-commerce, which allows merchants to sell their own gift cards on their website without complex integration with our white-label solution. We offer hassle-free no-code integration.“Secondly, we offer omnichannel gift card programme (SaaS) solution, which empowers their brand with our end-to-end management of processing services and leveraging our systems that provide secure, flexible, and scalable architecture.”Al-Rahim said the gift card industry continues to thrive worldwide. The global gift card business is speculated to cross “$2tn” by 2027 with the Mena market witnessing the growth of gift card purchases and giving, especially after the pandemic, she said, citing data from“Our vision since our pioneering beginnings in 2012 is to lead the cultural shift to eGifting among Gulf consumers.The purpose of has always been simple – to celebrate life’s special moments and reward, motivate and show appreciation to friends, loved ones, employees, customers, and partners, wherever and whenever, with seamless gifting and lifestyle solutions.“It’s all about ‘YOÜ’ and your happiness. With our new services and branding, YOÜ is poised to provide an even bigger and more innovative suite of digital solutions delivered through APIs, web services, and apps to power major businesses across loyalty, employee and customer rewards, and become the digital gift card provider for gifting happiness in the region,” she said.Al-Rahim said features more than 700 integrated brands across Mena, along with extended international coverage. Additionally, has added more than 2,000 international brands to its suite of regional and international programmes.“With strategic operations in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, as well as Egypt, Lebanon, and India, is a market leader in the sector in the Mena and is poised for an accelerated growth in eGift card adoption,” she added.

US ambassador Timmy T Davis. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue to expand trade, economic ties, says US envoy

The fifth Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue, which kicked off in Doha recently, is expected to further expand both nations’ trade and economic ties, according to US ambassador Timmy T Davis.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launching of the 2022 edition of ‘Discover America’ festival held Sunday at LuLu Hypermarket, Giardino, The Pearl Island, Davis said the United States’ strategic dialogue with Qatar “is a model not just for the region but for the world.”“When we talk during the workshops of the strategic dialogue about trade and commerce, we’re going to be talking about opportunities, about Qatari priorities, and how we can support those.“If you think about the goals for each nation with regard to trade and commerce, there’s a huge overlap and intersect; we want to identify the ways in which we can encourage investment in both countries,” Davis pointed out.Davis also said the strategic dialogue will help the US and Qatar lay out a plan, citing the Qatar National Vision 2030 and how the US “wants to be part of part of that vision” through trade and commerce.“We’ve got to get beyond energy and massive corporations, and we’ve got to build engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as people-to-people. The more our people engage, the better they are to create opportunities that we don’t see now and the strategic dialogue helps with that,” the ambassador said.In terms of agreements in the pipeline between both countries, Davis said: “I think you’ll see a lot in the first quarter of 2023 and a lot out of the strategic dialogue.”On the volume of US-Qatar trade exchange, Davis said trade relations between the US and Qatar are growing and that the US is looking at other sectors outside the energy industry.“There is a real emphasis now on our part in sub-national diplomacy. All 50 states in the US provide an opportunity for Qatari companies to invest. But we also want SMEs in the US to find opportunities here. The opportunities are growing and I would expect to see far more trade for SMEs from Qatar and the US into next year,” he stressed.On US-LuLu partnership and its role in enhancing trade with Qatar, Davis said: “Trade relations between Qatar and the US is fantastic; what we want that relationship to do is to grow and to build a strong foundation.”He added: “Walking through LuLu Hypermarket today, it’s clear that not only are they focused on bringing popular American products, but they’re focused on bringing produce and organic products and other sorts of things that people don’t know are American, such as fresh meat.“This is an example of how we support building a foundation because it’s not just big corporations doing this work. There are small companies, small farms, and small organisations providing much of this food and many of these products, so it supports not only the American economy but the Qatari economy, as well.” country manager Sarah al-Rahim.
Dubai-based firm to add more Qatari brands to its eGift cards marketplace

Patrons of eGift cards may expect to see more Qatari brands at, an official has said. Speaking to Gulf Times on the company’s ongoing or proposed expansion plans for Qatar, country manager Sarah al-Rahim said is entering more heavily in the loyalty space offering banks, telcos, and all loyalty programmes access to its ever-expanding portfolio of popular brands.“Additionally, we continue to bring onboard local Qatari brands that are unique to this market. We wish to support Qatar National Vision 2030 and accelerate the adoption of our fintech solution to support local businesses.“We will be offering gift card processing so that companies today that desire to capture greater market share can leverage our secure scalable technology to offer their customers gift cards. These are a few of the services in the pipeline,” al-Rahim pointed out.Al-Rahim noted that these enhancements offer unique scalability and speed to market through gift cards whose ease and flexibility “are being loved more and more by people.”She said gift card solutions for businesses vary based on business objectives. eGift cards serve businesses' need to conveniently reward their employees, customers, or business partners instantly without the hassle of logistics and order fulfilment, she noted.Similarly, eGift cards are extensively offered in top-tier loyalty programmes as a redemption option for loyalty points. They are easy to integrate, provide a great choice of brands, can be instantly delivered, and allow customers to redeem the lower value of points, increasing engagement and loyalty, she explained.Al-Rahim said gift cards present a streamlined, convenient method for corporations to incentivise and reward employees and build additional revenue streams by selling branded gift cards.YOUGotaGift’s brand identity reimagines the company’s customer-centric products as digital gift cards that bring happiness to individuals and businesses alike, al-Rahim emphasised.“Driven by the motto ‘Simply Happy’, the platform has refreshed core elements of its visual identity, including the logo and the colour palette, in its journey to be popularly known as ‘YOÜ’. The logo, presented in an enhanced and impactful font and a bright new colour palette, marks the latest milestone as evolves from an eGift Card pioneer to become the region’s leading provider of best-in-class business solutions for incentives and commerce.“The ‘HappyYOÜ’ multi-brand gift card is an innovative super gift card redeemable at all our partner brands in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt. For the first time in the region, the HappyYOÜ card enables added benefits, in addition to the redeemable amount on the card, offering bonus value to customers. This is the region’s first multi-brand e-gift card, providing freedom of choice for our customers,” she said.Asked about Qatar’s aggressive development of ICT-related solutions and its fintech industry, and its impact on YouGotaGift’s operations in the country, al-Rahim said the tremendous efforts from the government to push digitisation in every aspect of life have contributed to a “never-before” level of interest for eGift cards amongst consumers.“Our relentless effort to create a seamless and exciting customer experience has helped in garnering customer confidence and all the programmes we support have benefited in increased customer engagement.“Over the last 18 months, corporates and individual customers have both identified various ways to use eGift cards - from traditional incentives and rewards to sending Eidiya, or just helping the ones in need during the pandemic. It’s a clear sign that eGift cards are here to stay,” al-Rahim added.

Aerial dance performance is one of the highlights of the event.
UDC unveils captivating Qarnevale Quartier at The Pearl Island

United Development Company (UDC) launched Qarnevale Quartier at The Pearl Island’s little Venice precinct Qanat Quartier Friday. Spectators were given a taste of the charm and fanfare of the Venice Carnival during the event, which will run until December 4. The Venice-like festival is organised by UDC, the master developer of The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, in co-operation with Festi Group, the founder and organiser of the popular Venice Carnival.Visitors will experience the international flavour of Italy as a roaming parade recreates the spirit of one of the most famous festivals in the world via elaborate masquerade shows, human statues, and dazzling floating arts. The carnival features enchanting performances, including street artist performances, aerial dancing show, laser music show, and a roaming parade.UDC executive director commercial Hussain Akbar al-Baker, said The Pearl Island has been hosting a variety of events, including its latest activity, Qarnevale Quartier.“We have borrowed the concept from Italy and it is being supervised by Festi Group, the same company that organises the famous Venice Carnival," al-Baker told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.“The Pearl Island is a unique destination in Qatar, which is why we decided to hold Qarnevale Quartier here. It is only type of event being held in Doha,” he pointed out.Aside from activities at Qanat Quartier, al-Baker said UDC is also hosting other fun-filled, family-oriented entertainment at Porto Arabia and Medina Centrale “for people of all ages, from children to adults.” “We cater to different types of people by offering a variety of events,” he explained.On hosting FIFA World Cup fans coming to The Pearl Island, al-Baker said: “The Pearl Island is one of Doha’s greatest landmarks for tourists.Over the past few days, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of tourists and visitors, and the island’s footfall is increasing on a daily basis.”He added: “We are in the process of collating data in terms of the number of people and vehicles coming to the island and we shall announce these figures in the coming period.”Residents of The Pearl Island, as well as tourists arriving in Qatar for the World Cup, will enjoy 11 days of art, time travel magic, and limitless excitement from major international attractions. The Qarnevale Quartier show will run according to the following schedule, street artist performances: 4pm - 4.40pm | 6.30 pm - 7.20 pm; aerial dancing show: 4pm - 4.40pm |7.20pm - 7.30pm; laser music show: 5.10pm - 5.20pm | 7.30pm - 7.55pm; and parade: 5.20pm – 6pm | 8pm – 8.40pm.

HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali preparing to putt during the inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club held yesterday at Gewan Island; looking on are UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and other dignitaries. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Sports minister inaugurates Corinthia Golf Club at Gewan Island

HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali inaugurated Corinthia Golf Club in Gewan Island Tuesday in the presence of UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO, and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and other senior UDC and Corinthia officials.The inauguration of United Development Company’s (UDC) new state-of-the-art sporting facility falls in line with its efforts to improve and diversify recreational and sports offerings at its flagship developments, The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, to provide an integrated residential and leisure experience that fulfils the aspirations of all residents, visitors, and tourists alike.UDC had also recently introduced a series of new facilities and attractions at The Pearl Island, which have been strategically launched in parallel to Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup.Al-Khater said: “The opening of Corinthia Golf Club fulfils UDC’s sustainable growth strategy, which aims at developing hospitality and entertainment sectors, given the promising prospects they hold for The Pearl Island and Gewan Island, in light of the increase in the number of visitors and demand for UDC properties and investments, which in turn drives UDC to provide comprehensive entertainment facilities and services.”Al-Othman said: “The inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club reaffirms that our projects and developments are proceeding in full swing as planned and demonstrates the depth and comprehensiveness of our entertainment vision through integrated facilities and leisure destinations, which include Corinthia Hotel Gewan Island and its annex beach club, the air-conditioned Crystal Walkway and seaside promenade, and of course the recently completed Corinthia Yacht Club on The Pearl Island.”Matthew Dixon, managing director of Corinthia Doha, stated: “We are delighted to be launching the next phase of the wider Corinthia development in Doha. Bringing another tier to our launch following on from the Corinthia Yacht Club.”The golf course consists of nine holes spread over sprawling greens of 32,000sq m surrounded by 616 trees and 96 palm trees and adorned by two sizable lakes within a total facility area of 57,980sq m.The golf club also provides a temporary building to host players until the completion of the main facility within Corinthia Hotel, where the current building includes a majlis and a rooftop terrace in addition to washrooms and lockers for storing personal belongings.Gewan Island, UDC’s latest real-estate project, is a reclaimed island situated next to The Pearl Island, spanning 400,000sq m. Once completed, the island will be home to 659 residential units, including 586 apartments, 20 standalone villas located along a placid beach in a quiet and gated seaside community, as well as 21 beachfront villas with private beach, 26 waterfront villas that are equipped with private pontoons for private boats, and six independent island mansions, in addition to 11,000sq m of retail spaces and 15 multi-use buildings.Gewan Island will feature in addition to Corinthia Golf Club, the five-star Corinthia Hotel and beach club, an air-conditioned outdoor – Crystal Walkway, a seaside promenade, parks, and green areas. The island will also be home to entertainment facilities, a clubhouse, and a mosque.Corinthia is a growing family of luxury hotels founded in Malta in 1962 by the Pisani family. The company has grown over the years into a multinational investor, developer, and operator of hotels and real estate.Corinthia Hotels is a member of Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), which brings together a unique collection of independent hospitality brands with GHA Discovery, a multi-brand loyalty programme leveraging a shared technology platform. Through membership in GHA, brands expand their global reach, drive incremental revenue, and reduce dependence on third-party channels, all while maintaining management independence and individual positioning.Corinthia Hotels’ portfolio includes award-winning hotels in cities, such as London, Budapest, Lisbon, St Petersburg, and the Island of Malta. Current developments underway in various stages of design and construction include landmark, trophy hotels in Rome, New York, Brussels, Bucharest, Doha, and a new resort in Malta.

UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar is keen to host all types of sports events, say UDC chairman

The State of Qatar is taking a diverse approach to hosting different games and other sports activities, according to UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater.Al-Khater made the statement on the sidelines of the inauguration of Corinthia Golf Club held yesterday at Gewan Island in the presence of HE the Minister of Sports and Youth Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali.“The golf club is part of the Corinthia Resort, which consists of a hotel and a beach club slated for completion by the end of 2023. We decided to inaugurate the golf course in time for celebrations of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup. This proves that the State of Qatar is taking sports very seriously, not just football, but all types of sports and sporting events,” al-Khater told Gulf Times.UDC president and CEO and member of the board Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman also explained that the 9-hole golf course is now operational for amateur and professional golfers, as well as all types of visitors, including families.“The location of the golf course is phenomenal because it is surrounded by The Pearl Island on one side, while people can view the developments happening at the Ritz-Carlton and adjacent areas on the opposite side.“Indeed, it is the first time to see a golf course situated on an island and this is something unique in Qatar. In the future, it will be connected to the hotel, which is located just behind the golf course and this could be added value for residents and tourists, as well as to the investors, elevating the lifestyle of both Gewan Island and The Pearl Island,” he stressed.Al-Khater noted that The Pearl Island has been staging a wide range of daily events in different locations on the island until the end of the tournament. He said most destinations on the island were packed, citing Medina Centrale and Porto Arabia, among others.Al-Othman noted that visitor footfall at The Pearl Island is increasing daily, adding that the host of entertainment events happening there, especially the upcoming carnival along the channels of Qanat Quartier, will also drive people to the island.

Natalia Ansell, VP, head of Visa Business Solutions (VBS), CEMEA. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Visa assures richer, safer digital payment experience, says top exec

At the recently concluded IATA World Financial Symposium (WFS) held in Doha, Natalia Ansell, VP, Head of Visa Business Solutions (VBS), CEMEA, participated in a panel focused on the future of airline payments where she discussed ‘Digital Payments Are Powering a New Future for Travel’.On the sidelines of the event, Ansell spoke to Gulf Times to elaborate on the latest trends in digital payments and Visa’s crucial role in making a safer and more secure experience with payments available to customers.Gulf Times: Given the rapid growth in travel, aggregators, online travel agencies, and metasearch sites face unique challenges. What can they learn from the pandemic experience and how can they automate, streamline, and digitise payments for suppliers while adding big data?Ansell: There are many ways to make payments and to do it fast. An important aspect of this is verifying the payment and validating if there are funds available to make the payment.Transactions in Visa Network offer real-time authorization. Other forms of payment, such as a cheque, for example, would take days or longer to validate. Advancements in virtual cash technology create more seamless experiences and boost efficiency and security, they help to reduce fraud, improve transparency of transactions and deliver cost savings by reducing manual back-office processes. Unlike cheques or cash that can be stolen, or payment documents that can be forged, digital transactions offer more security and robustness. Obviously, security and trust remain critical, particularly as travel adapts to a digital-first world and people use their cards overseas more frequently. Today’s demand for digital money movement requires a refreshed security approach. Visa invests in security and fraud prevention. In fact, Visa, over the last five years, has invested $9bn in cybersecurity and fraud control to make sure that the platform is robust.How can Visa’s B2B virtual card payment solutions solve pressure points in the GCC travel industry?Every country and every region is unique. And at the same time, there are global trends. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in contactless payments by travelers since the pandemic - these new habits will persist especially as we see faster, simpler payment experiences. This is vital for the travel sector and for travelers for many reasons, most notably as it removes the old, often troublesome payment hurdles that people face when they first arrive in a new country regarding a foreign currency, taxis, and train tickets.The GCC is obviously a very interesting region. It is now under the spotlight because of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But also, it is wonderful to look at the UAE, which is building its tourism industry; and Dubai which is diversifying financial services and tourism and investing in technology. With concerns over COVID still in people’s thoughts, services that eliminate the need for physical contact during a journey are boosting traveler confidence – they are also becoming expected as a new norm. In the UAE, we have seen contactless and mobile payments surge in popularity - they are up 60% and 67% respectively since the pandemic shifted people’s attitudes towards cash and cards. As a global company, we’re bringing all of these different trends to see how we can leverage them and what we can give to consumers and businesses here in the GCC.Visa is constantly investing in innovative ways to make commerce more convenient for travelers - from tap to pay to click to pay and digital wallets. Digital payment solutions are there to improve cities’ urban mobility, making their transportation systems efficient, sustainable, and appealing. As part of our ongoing push for innovation and client ease of service, we’re enabling a new era of lightweight payment acceptance tech that requires nothing more of a merchant than owning a mobile phone.We're looking at all of the use cases and everything that we believe is an interesting trend or something that makes experiences richer and more efficient for clients here, who I believe are very savvy and well financially educated.One of the things that we’re noticing is that governments in the GCC, especially after the pandemic, are very focused on wanting to migrate cash and cheques to digital. We applaud governments around the GCC for being so focused on security, building trust, and validating information in nearly real time.I think Qatar is very focused on making sure that it leverages the experience from the World Cup, for example, allowing multiple daily flights from Dubai to Qatar just for the matches. Such big scale sports events are immensely important because they become a big catalyst for what happens afterward with infrastructure, including payments. That just shows that it’s not only about Qatar but making sure that the experience is broader; that there is collaboration. And other countries will definitely benefit from that, which is a win-win for everybody because people will keep coming back. It is a wonderful example of how to anchor, build, and highlight Qatar, but also to embrace the broader GCC and make sure that the overall experience stays a positive one.Expand more on the current situation in payments related to the airline business. For example, the current benefits that airline customers are seeking in payment instruments. Is the payment market more fragmented by country or is consolidation taking place?It’s a little bit of both. Travelers have been swift in their embrace of new digital solutions. With digital solutions top of people’s mind right now. Particularly new B2B solutions and contactless options. Global spending on travel is bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels with leisure travel leading the way, including airlines and travel services that lagged in 2021. If there’s anything that the pandemic highlighted, it’s that the world is a global place. And that is exactly what’s happening with technology, as well as with payments. Nowadays, every business is in the payments business - because payments are everywhere and are expected to be easy and secure by everyone. As an industry leader that prides itself on innovative solutions and products, we understand that consumers have evolved to expect to make payments digitally with ease. If you’re so passionate about a business or a great idea but want to keep it within the borders of one country, that is just not going to happen. In regards of travel, we’ve seen a blurring of boundaries between online and physical experiences with new options becoming available.As a global company with much experience in local dynamics, Visa is able to deliver on a global scale. This responsibility is also a privilege to be the platform that scales local innovations with the right technologies and helps them go global.Kindly discuss alternative forms of payment, such as instant transfers and buy now, pay later (BNPL). Is it possible for them to work together (or not) with card products?Buzzwords like ‘BNPL’ and ‘instant payments’ are common in our industry, and it’s good when people get excited about payments; however, it’s all about presenting consumers with choice. We like to think that as Visa, we don’t pick winners and losers, but are here to present options to businesses and end-users. At the end of the day, it’s the consumers who pick the technologies they most want and need. As Visa, we enable BNPL, which is one of the many ways that help make the experience richer and provides people access to certain experiences.From Visa’s perspective, I would highlight two examples of our recent partnerships powering global money movement. The first is directly related to open banking and open architecture. We all love digital experiences and apps tend to be omnipresent. This is why earlier this year, Visa acquired Tink, a leading Open Data and Open Banking platform in Europe – enabling us to lead innovation through data and insights and expansive new partnerships. Collaborations such as this are crucial to building a strong, sustainable, and secure open data ecosystem.The second partnership is about cross border and global currency – our acquisition of Currencycloud, a business that provides complete transparency of sales. Currencies are still here to stay and when customers make those payments in different currencies, it involves a big deal of decision-making, foreign exchange comes into play and people don’t want that to be a barrier when they sell or buy in currencies with which they are not familiar and want the exact price to be clear. Currencycloud is a fintech that enables clients and partners to offer digital-first travel payment solutions, including multi-currency wallets and real-time notification of exchange rates, ultimately making it a more aware and better experience.