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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.
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.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi, Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar, Italy post over 140% y-o-y trade growth in Jan-Aug 2022

Qatar and Italy recorded a more than 140% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in trade volume to reach €4bn in the first eight months of 2022, according to data provided by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) Doha Office.“It is worth pointing out that the total bilateral trade in 2021 was approximately €3.3bn.Italy ranks fourth among Qatar’s supplier countries after India and before Germany, and it is the ninth destination market of Qatari exports,” Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi told Gulf Times.On both countries’ top export products, Lisi explained that Italy exported more than €1.1bn in machinery, furniture, fashion, semi and finished products, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals to Qatar in the first eight months of 2022, registering a more than 45% y-o-y increase. Conversely, Qatar’s exports to Italy were mainly oil and gas, and plastics, she noted.ITA Doha Office is the Trade Promotion Section of the Italian embassy in Qatar. The ITA concluded the second part of its ‘Week of Italian Cuisine in Qatar’ initiative, which was held in Cucina Friday. The first part of the initiative was launched in Pizzeria Spontini.Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi said: “Italian cuisine is one of our ways of transmitting values, along with services and products. Among these values are sustainability and the understanding and empowerment of local traditions that are expressed in cuisine as they are in other forms.“We know that there is appreciation in Qatar for these values and endeavours, and it goes beyond the simple provision of goods and services, so we’re delighted to have Qatari friends explore Italian cuisine.”Regarding the ‘Week of Italian Cuisine in Qatar’ event, Lisi said a wide range of Italian food products are being exported to Qatar, such as pasta, bakery products, cheese, dairy products, vegetable sauces and preserves, chocolate products, and olive oil.“The variety of Italian food production is so extensive that we believe it is possible to increase the offer of our products on this market. The total value of Italian food products exported to Qatar during the first eight months of 2022 exceeded €39mn with an increase of more than 75% compared to the same period in 2021,” Lisi stressed.Asked about ITA’s partnerships with different hypermarkets in Qatar and the agency’s role in increasing Italian food exports here, Lisi said the ITA signed a cooperation agreement with LuLu Group International in 2020 and 2021.“This is part of continuing efforts to increase knowledge and raise the consumption of authentic Italian products in Qatar. The partnership was fruitful not only for Lulu and the Italian Trade Agency but also for Qatari consumers who now have a wider choice of Italian food products. We are always looking forward to strengthening the cooperation and partnership with Qatari companies in all fields,” Lisi said.She added: “To continue raising awareness and grow the consumption of authentic Italian products in Qatar, we will organise business missions for Qatari buyers to the main international exhibitions that will be held in Italy in 2023, such as Tuttofood, Cibus, and Sigep, among others. We also plan to sign another partnership agreement with a major food retailer in Qatar to bring in more Italian food suppliers here.”

Dignitaries and VIPs join LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. PICTURES: Thajudheen.
LuLu Group opens 20th store in Qatar at The Pearl Island ahead of World Cup

LuLu Group opened a new hypermarket, its 20th store in Qatar, at Giardino Mall inside The Pearl Island yesterday, reaffirming the group’s strong presence in the region. “We are very happy to inaugurate our flagship hypermarket at The Pearl Island and we are thankful to the authorities of United Development Corporation (UDC) for shortlisting us, so we can serve the residents and visitors of this luxurious community,” LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.He said: “We would also like to express our utmost gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, and HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, as well as the government for their wholehearted support.”The two-level, 150,000sq ft store featuring state-of-the-art amenities was inaugurated in the presence of Yusufali and Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International. The inaugural ceremony was also attended by dignitaries, including Sheikh Hassan bin Khaled al-Thani, UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater, UDC president and CEO Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, Sheikh Mohamed bin Ahmed M A al-Thani, Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan, Fahad Alfardan, Fardan Alfardan, Hussain al-Baker, Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham, and the ambassadors of India, Spain, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Panama, and Georgia, as well as the senior commercial officer of the US embassy in Qatar.The new store offers shoppers all the conveniences from the group’s hypermarket chain, such as an abundant range of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood from around the world. It also features an in-house bakery for fresh-baked breads and cakes, as well as shopping options for new award-winning trends. These include LuLu’s celebrated Planet Y, which showcases a wide selection of plant-based meat substitutes and foods, special organic and superfood selections, an extensive ‘free-from’ range, and a zero-waste refill station where eco-conscious shoppers can refill reusable containers with dry goods, including pasta, grains, and other items.The store also includes popular LuLu shopping stations, such as LuLu Fashion, the electronics section – LuLu Connect, EyeXpress, the beauty and cosmetics division BLSH, and an extensive section dedicated to the latest IoT appliances and electronics. The new hypermarket boasts 500 parking spaces, self-check-out counters, and green check-out counters in-store. LuLu is also committed to delivering the same level of excellence in customer service and quality to its valued customers in this new hypermarket.For shoppers’ convenience, the mall offers amenities, such as ATM counters, food courts, money exchange, a pharmacy, and a beauty salon. The hypermarket also provides wheelchair services, a sitting area, and gift wrapping, among others. As a sustainability initiative, the new store is also equipped with a reverse vending machine (RVM) for recycling plastic bottles.Giardino inside The Pearl Island is a futuristic project that extends over an artificial peninsula having vast leisure destinations with public marinas, avenues, hotels, several multi-purpose residential, mixed-use, entertainment, and commercial facilities. Yusufali said, “The Pearl Island features so many unique attractions, making it a key destination for both tourism and investment. Considering that many fans and tourists are coming to Qatar for the World Cup, we are hoping to attract them to The Pearl Island so they can visit our hypermarket here and other branches across the country.”He added: “LuLu is ready to serve residents of the country and the millions of World Cup fans and visitors arriving here. This is LuLu’s contribution to ensuring that the country will host a memorable and very successful World Cup.”Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, lauded the support provided by government authorities to help the hypermarket chain cater to specific and essential needs of the market, especially now that millions of fans and tourists will be arriving in the country for the FIFA World Cup.Althaf emphasised that LuLu has a large workforce that is ready to address the needs of customers coming from different countries, explaining that LuLu is well-prepared to provide the necessities of diverse nationalities, especially their dietary preferences. He added that LuLu will offer a wide range of dining menus and will continue to change and adapt to customers’ essential needs on a daily basis.

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A and Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, show off some of the official FIFA World Cup merchandise available at Barwa Madinatna.
LuLu opens Barwa Madinatna store for World Cup fans, local community

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A led on Tuesday the official opening of Barwa Madinatna, the group’s 19th store in Qatar, which is situated at the heart of a residential community in Al Wakra district.Spanning 10,750sqm, Barwa Madinatna will cater to the needs of tourists and other visitors living in the Fan Zone, as well as residents of the community and adjacent areas.Yusufali said, “We are very happy in this ‘FIFA era’ because a lot of people from all over the world are coming to Qatar. We are thankful to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, and the government for all their support.“They shortlisted us to open this mini hypermarket and cater to the needs of the people who will stay in this area. We appreciate the fact that HE the Prime Minister visited the area, so we are very thankful for the government and FIFA authorities.”Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, Yusufali said: “Qatar is ready for the World Cup, and LuLu is also ready to serve the people, especially the fans and tourists who will be attending the tournament. This is LuLu’s contribution to ensuring that Qatar will host a very successful World Cup.”According to Yusufali, LuLu has already opened a number of stores inside Doha Metro stations, including one at the Hamad International Airport station. Today, LuLu will open its 20th store at Giardino Mall on The Pearl Island, he informed.On the influx of fans from different countries for the World Cup, Yusufali said all hypermarket managers and their respective teams have been instructed to cater to people of different nationalities.“The food patterns will change according to the needs of the people, so we also constituted a task force to make sure that our customers get the appropriate items that they are buying from the hypermarket,” he explained.According to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, the hypermarket chain has worked closely with authorities in the country to determine the specific needs of fans and tourists coming to Qatar for the World Cup.“Because of this collaboration, we know the nationality and dietary preferences of the people coming here. So accordingly, we are fully geared to change and adapt to meet their essential needs on a daily basis,” he said.Dr Althaf added: “There is a big workforce capable to address the demand of our consumers. There is also ready-to-eat food and a wide range of dining menus according to different countries. We will keep changing our offerings here, so we are fully prepared to serve the 6,500 apartments that comprise this community.”

Toschi: Italy will help ensure great success for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Italy fully supports Qatar for successful World Cup, says new envoy

Italy has ensured its support for the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, which runs from November 20 to December 18, ambassador Paolo Toschi said. “We are rooting for Qatar. Italy is here to help ensure great success for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the envoy explained Tuesday in a media statement. “The four-time champion Italian national football team will not be on the green pitch during the long-awaited FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, but Italy will definitely be present in the tournament,” Toschi said. “Indeed, many of the features on display in Doha for international fans will include the ‘Made in Italy’ expertise and reflect the partnership between Rome and Doha.” According to the ambassador, there are many Italian contributions to this year’s World Cup, citing Italian fashion and design exhibitions in M7 (Forever Valentino) and in Msheireb Downtown (Olivetti). This includes contemporary art on show, the professionalism behind the organisation of many events and ceremonies, and work that contributed to the development of infrastructures, such as the Doha Metro and the iconic Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, as well as a strong presence in high-end food and beverage establishments. Toschi emphasised that Italy’s expertise in the field of security is among the highlights of the country’s contribution to Qatar 2022. He noted that 560 men and women in uniform are stationed in Qatar as part of operation “Oryx” to guarantee safety and security, in full co-ordination with Qatar’s armed forces. The envoy explained that the Italian contingent will be placed alongside their local counterparts and employ some of the most cutting-edge technologies in the field of defence. The operation will employ resources from all of Italy’s armed forces, including experts on the ground from the army, the air forces with radar capabilities, a contingent specialising in public safety from the Carabinieri military police, and even a ship – the high-tech offshore patrol vessel, Thaon De Revel, ensuring security at sea. “The presence of our armed forces and of so many Italian skills and expertise during the World Cup is a product of the strategic relationship between our two countries,” said the ambassador, who recently took office in Doha. “Today, Italy and Qatar enjoy a partnership based on high-level institutional and political dialogue, solid trade figures, successful investments, and rich cultural bonds,” he added. “A spearhead of such collaboration is the defence sector, thanks to the mutual trust built between our armed forces.” “Of course, the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 presents challenges,” Toschi said. “Qatar recognised them and is addressing them, and Italy supports this important effort.” “We are here to do our best and help our Qatari friends achieve maximum success for the World Cup,” he added.

tarlink's board of directors and top company officials during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Starlink holds grand opening of its Manarat Lusail offices

Tech distributor and business-to-business solutions provider Starlink recently held the grand opening of its Manarat Lusail Offices in the presence of its board of directors and other top officials of the company. Located on the 21st floor, the Manarat Lusail Offices feature state-of-the-art training rooms, high-tech meeting rooms, lounging areas, and displays of the company news, offers, and the latest updates, which reflect the company’s open communication, collaboration, and group work philosophy. Starlink has become the cornerstone in tech and solutions by expanding to more than 20 stores across Qatar, managing services, and bridging the gap between top clients and global solutions. Its continued growth has resulted from meeting and exceeding its customers’ needs in a customer-centric/cost-effective approach focused on bridging the gap between new tech and those interested in exploring them. Starlink CEO Munera al-Dosari said, “The opening of this new office represents a strategic expansion. In line with the opportunities arising from economic development in Qatar, the new office will enable us to create a cohesive service network and further strengthen our service capabilities in Qatar and the region.” Starlink offices in Manarat Lusail in Lusail will also be the headquarters for Starlink’s regional expansion into Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Starlink has quickly scaled up to be a leader in the corporate and business sectors covering effective connectivity, managed services, and ICT. Quickly becoming a key component in Qatar’s accelerated infrastructure development, Starlink has built extensive experience in contact centre operations, employing over 500 agents, and running Ooredoo’s flagship contact centre since November 2014. Currently, Starlink is contributing to a digital transformation project with Ooredoo, which will enable the company to provide the first digital contact centre solutions in Qatar today.    

Anshad Ebrahim, regional manager of Akbar Travels of India.
‘Influx of World Cup fans to put Qatar on global tourism map’

The expected arrival of millions of FIFA World Cup fans and other visitors for the tournament will play a key role in cementing Qatar’s position on the global tourism map, a travel agency official has said. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off on November 20 and will culminate in spectacular fashion on December 18 when Qatar celebrates its national day, authorities have announced previously. For Anshad Ebrahim, regional manager of Akbar Travels of India, the month-long tournament provides ample opportunity for Qatar to showcase not only its culture and heritage but its scenic and unique destinations across varied locations in the country. “Football is a much-loved sport around the world; needless to say, this event will be followed by millions throughout the tournament until the championship, which will be added value for Qatar as a country and as a tourist destination,” Ebrahim told Gulf Times yesterday. He said: “I am sure Katara, Lusail, and the Sealine beach areas would be some of the most attractive spots and must-see destinations to explore, among the many other places tourists would be visiting when they are not watching the tournament.” Similar to other travel agencies in the country, Ebrahim noted that Akbar Travels has been gearing up to prepare for the influx of tourists for the World Cup, as well as after the tournament. “The World Cup is such a popular event and the highlight that Qatar is hosting this football tournament this year is a proud moment for all of us. As a travel agent, we have been preparing for this event for a while now. “As Akbar Travels, we are able to market the World Cup via packages through our extensive network of offices. This event will boost the tourism potential of the country and propel Qatar to one of the must-see destinations in the region,” Ebrahim explained. He also expressed optimism about the gains and benefits that businesses in the travel and tourism industry, as well as the hospitality sector, would reap after Qatar successfully hosts football’s biggest tournament. “We are extremely optimistic that this event will be a saving grace for every vertical of the tourism industry, especially the hospitality industry, which has been preparing extensively, so that the tourists can have a memorable experience and that we get repeat customers, as well to develop a robust tourism industry,” Ebrahim stressed. He added: “As a key player in Qatar’s travel and tourism sector, we have always focused on developing the tourism potential of the country. We should make sure that the popularity that we would enjoy during the World Cup should be maximised, and that we showcase Qatar as a preferred destination for tourists wanting to visit the Middle East.”

HE the Governor of Qatar Central Bank Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani with FIFA President Gianni Infantino during the unveiling ceremony. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar unveils QR22 commemorative banknote, coins for World Cup

The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Wednesday unveiled the QR22 commemorative banknote and coins for the 2022 FIFA World Cup during a ceremony in Doha. HE the QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani and FIFA President Gianni Infantino presented the special banknote before ministers, dignitaries, state officials, and ambassadors, as well as other guests. In his speech, Sheikh Bandar emphasised that the commemorative banknotes reflect the identity and legacy of Qatar and its football history. He also explained the different stages that led to the issuance of the banknotes, which were designed by an elite team at the QCB. This is the first commemorative banknote issued by QCB in polymer. They can last for “hundreds of years as a witness to this historic achievement of Qatar,” he stressed. SC Secretary-General HE Hassan al-Thawadi with Gianni Infantino. Supplied picture The QCB Governor said the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 commemorative banknotes signify an “essential contribution” from the banking sector, and an endeavour to ensure the success of this historic event, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East and the region. Sheikh Bandar said the banknotes are a source of pride for all people in Qatar and support the efforts of the State to successfully host the World Cup and affirm the unity and integration of various entities in the country’s public and private sectors. QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and other dignitaries at the unveiling of the banknotes and coins. The QCB governor emphasised that the commemorative banknotes will be available at the national local banks and exchange houses. Sheikh Bandar lauded the collaboration of QCB, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and FIFA for the preparation and issuance of the commemorative banknotes. In a press statement, QCB's Monetary Department director, Khalid al-Kuwari, said the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament is a source of pride for Islamic countries and the Arab world. Al-Kuwari noted that QCB has also minted coins, which feature some of the most important stadiums in the tournament: Al Bayt, Lusail, Al Thumama, Khalifa International and Al Janoub. He said these are the first commemorative coins and banknotes issued by QCB, adding that he hopes that this will be a legacy that will be passed on to future generations. Al-Kuwari noted that the banknote’s selling price will be QR75, while its nominal value will be QR22. QCB has also minted coins featuring some of the most important stadiums in the tournament: Al Bayt, Lusail, Al Thumama, Khalifa International and Al Janoub stadiums. The banknote’s selling price will be QR75, while its nominal value will be QR22. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam In a press statement, SC official spokesperson Khaled al-Nama explained that “the coins and banknotes were one of the main means of documentation, and that the presence of such coins and banknotes commemorate this pivotal historical event, not only in the history of Qatar but also the Arab world.” Al-Nama said this was the “fruit of co-operation” between QCB, the SC and FIFA, pointing out that the commemorative banknote not only immortalises the development of the sports industry through the World Cup stadiums, but also immortalises the number 22, and reflects Qatari culture and the tournament’s brand. Sheikh Bandar also presented the measures taken by QCB to develop the infrastructure and logistics of payment systems in the country to provide the best financial and banking services to citizens, residents, and visitors of Qatar. He said QCB recently issued the first prepaid national payment card bearing the registered Qatari trademark, Himyan, a card named after a money bag. He said the Himyan card will provide many advantages as it can be issued to banking and non-banking customers. The Himyan card does not require a minimum account balance and can be issued by banks operating in the country, which will facilitate the payment transactions for all the visitors in Qatar, the QCB governor pointed out.

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho.
South Korea eyes FIFA World Cup Qatar to boost its tourism sector

South Korea is maximising Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to attract visitors to the East Asian nation and boost its tourism industry, according to the Korea National Tourism Organisation (KTO). KTO will be organising the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ event from November 20 to 25 at the Corniche as part of World Cup-related activations being held there and to celebrate the return of travel to South Korea, said KTO regional director Hyunsan Hong. It can be recalled that the Government Communications Office previously announced that from November 1 to December 19, the Doha Corniche remains closed to vehicular traffic and is allocated for pedestrians only as part of preparations for the FIFA World Cup. “The event is organised by KTO during World Cup Qatar 2022, which is the first World Cup hosted in the Middle East, and with that comes the chance to attract GCC nationals and World Cup visitors from all around the world to reboot and promote tourism in Korea after fully reopening in October 2022,” Hong told Gulf Times in an invitation letter to the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ event. He said the event will showcase different cultural experiences and performances and will offer tourism information and entertaining activities, such as traditional clothes experience (Hanbok), South Korean crafts, taekwondo performance, calligraphy performance, AR Trick Eye experience, and K-Pop performances. Aside from cultural exchange and the tourism industry, South Korea has been actively organising dialogue and forums between the public and private sectors of both countries, as well as sending different South Korean delegations to Doha to further enhance its relations with Qatar in a wide range of sectors. During the recently held ‘2022 South Korea-Qatar Business Forum’ held last month in Doha, South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho, called for the expansion of South Korea-Qatar economic co-operation. The ambassador emphasised the need for South Korea and Qatar to expand co-operation ties to “a new horizon” and establish a close partnership in various fields like digital technology, healthcare, smart-farm, renewable energy, and finance. During the forum, Mohamed Hassen al-Malki, Deputy Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, called for joint efforts to expand Qatar-South Korea strategic co-operation and include new and diverse sectors, such as health and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). “In this context, we praise the advanced level of trade exchange between our two nations. Qatar-South Korea trade exchange has grown by 67.2% compared to 2020. It reached $11.57bn in 2021 and $5.98bn in the first five months of this year,” al-Malki said. Also in October, several key South Korean firms specialising in agriculture and smart farming presented solutions that could assist Qatar in its food security and self-sufficiency initiatives. These solutions were raised during the ‘Qatar-Korea Smart Farm Initiative Seminar’ held in Doha through the collaboration of the South Korean embassy in Qatar, the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and the Ministry of Municipality.

Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO of GWC
MSMEs to ‘supercharge’ Qatar’s economy in coming decades, says GWC official

Qatar’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) “will supercharge” the country’s economy in the coming decades as it leverages hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup – “the biggest sporting event on the planet,” Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO of GWC, has said. “The World Cup is bringing new opportunities to Qatar and enabling businesses across a range of sectors to grow,” Menon stated in a brochure distributed to participants of the recently concluded GWC Forum 2022 titled ‘Ready for the Game’. The second edition of the annual GWC Forum aims to champion and empower MSMEs in Qatar by giving them a platform to showcase and grow beyond 2022, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, stated Menon, adding that “empowering Qatar’s burgeoning MSMEs sector is one of our core goals.” The brochure also highlighted that MSMEs are benefiting significantly from Qatar’s position as a global sports hub. Also, the country’s MSMEs represent “97%” of private sector companies and contribute “16%” to Qatar’s non-energy GDP. It stated that hosting the World Cup has created numerous opportunities for domestic and regional enterprises in a range of sectors, including construction, events management, tourism, hospitality, and sports-related industries, and has also helped Qatar form strategic alliances and connect global value chains. Staging the World Cup has also presented the region with opportunities for innovation in areas, such as cooling technology, energy efficiency, waste management, health and safety, public transportation, and information technology. In terms of economic impact, the tournament’s economic sustainability can be measured by the impact on MSMEs and the long-term use of infrastructure, the brochure further stated. The post-legacy use of infrastructure built for the World Cup, including stadiums and training sites, must consider the impact both economically and socially. It is vital the facilities are utilised long after the tournament and benefit local communities, it noted. The brochure also quoted Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), saying: “The power of this tournament as a force for a transformative legacy has always been our guiding light. For Qatar, this tournament has always represented far more than a month of football. “We are committed to ensuring that this World Cup leaves a truly transformational social, human, economic, and developmental legacy, and is remembered as a landmark moment in the history of our region.” He added: “Across different sectors, the country is working tirelessly to develop a knowledge-based economy – reducing the reliance on hydrocarbons and supporting Qatar’s social, economic, and environmental journey – and the World Cup is a vital catalyst for accelerating that vision.”

FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura, Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO, GWC
GWC hosts successful GWC Forum 2022

GWC recently concluded a successful ‘GWC Forum 2022’ titled ‘Ready for the Game’, wherein industry experts highlighted how Qatar’s economy will continue to flourish after the World Cup. In a video address, FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura said: “Micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) represent the backbone of a successful and diverse economy. They create jobs and foster innovation. Qatar has been a hive of innovation in recent years – developing cooling technologies for stadiums and state-of-the-art public transport infrastructure, including the Doha Metro and light rail tram systems. “GWC, its partners, and stakeholders are utilising the assets and experience of hosting the FIFA World Cup to deliver an economic legacy that is aligned with Qatar National Vision 2030. One of Qatar’s great strengths is its determination to leverage the power of hosting the FIFA World Cup like no other country in history. And it is heartening to see that legacy being delivered even before the big kick-off.” The forum was highlighted by a panel session on ‘Direct and Indirect Impact of Qatar 2022 on MSMEs’, which included inputs from Jose Dhooma, head of Event Logistics and Transport, FIFA; Fatma al-Nuaimi, Communications & Media executive director, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC); Nazli Berberoglu, general manager, The Coca-Cola Company; and Syed Maaz, chief business development officer, GWC. Dhooma said hosting the FIFA World Cup in Qatar had raised the bar for a vast number of businesses. “There is a better understanding of international requirements as a result of the World Cup,” he said. “Many businesses now have FIFA on their CV. This helps them to grow. When they work with FIFA, they’re working to an international standard. It is great for whatever Qatar does in the future – whether it is sporting events, conferences, or anything else. “You should also consider the people involved in the organising committee – they will be thinking about how they can create companies and take their services around the world. Working on a World Cup gives people confidence,” Dhooma said. Al-Nuaimi said the SC had worked closely with MSMEs in Qatar and the region on a large number of infrastructure projects, including stadium developments. “We have been engaging MSMEs from the start, whether it is building stadiums or training sites. A number of businesses will be involved in the entertainment and fan experience activations during the World Cup, including event companies and food and beverage businesses. Whenever we have opportunities, we make sure to involve MSMEs – many businesses have been developed here since Qatar won the rights to host the World Cup,” she said. Berberoglu commented on Coca-Cola’s commitment to working with MSMEs: “We support a large number of businesses and help them take advantage of opportunities. We always try to take a long-term approach and build a sustainable ecosystem. “One example came during Covid-19 when we helped small businesses create home delivery strategies and worked with them to digitise their businesses so they could better serve their customers.” Berberoglu also spoke about two main issues addressing the 21st century: women empowerment and recycling, as well as waste management. “Under the directives of Coca-Cola, we have been driving our market under these guidelines and empower women and also make sure we pay careful attention to the recycling industry of our bottling plants across the world,” she stressed. Maaz outlined GWC’s contribution to the MSME sector, including the development of 4mn sq m of logistics infrastructure and an ever-expanding ecosystem for small enterprises. “The MSME sector has grown a lot in the last 10 years and is now a major driver for the economy. GWC has created an infrastructure to make it easy for MSMEs to set up in business. We are now managing a huge amount of warehousing in the country, including Al Wukair Logistics Park, which was built specifically to support MSMEs,” said Maaz. The second panel session, titled ‘The Way Forward’, looked into the trends and challenges faced by MSMEs. Participants included Charles Nahas, regional general manager, Microsoft; Dr Manal al-Zaidan, director of Pharmacy, Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC); Dr Christos Anagnostopoulos, assistant professor, HBKU; and Dr Kamilla Swart, associate professor, HBKU. The panellists discussed the impact of the FIFA World Cup on their various sectors and outlined the trends they expected to see after the tournament. Nahas spoke on three points related to MSMEs namely startups, homegrown businesses, and commercial/small shop owners: “We go out of our way to assist all three levels of MSMEs with innovative ideas to equip them for the current and future build of their company.” Anagnostopoulos said HBKU has been doing research for the last 10 years and will continue to use this in the development not only for potential World Cup organisers, but also the MSMEs in their quest for market intelligence, which will equip them on the global stage. “They will also help MSMEs to leverage their geographical location of Qatar to the region and the Middle East,” he noted. Hamad al-Abdan, director of Business Development & Investment Promotion, Ministry of Commerce of Industry, gave a presentation about the 1,000 Opportunities initiative, which invites businesses in the private sector to partner with global brands. He also discussed the business ecosystem in Qatar, describing the FIFA World Cup as a golden opportunity for the country’s economy to prosper in the future. Aysha Khalifa al-Romaihi, manager of Special Programmes – Incubation, Qatar Development Bank (QDB), gave a presentation about Scale7 – the country’s first fashion and design incubator, set up to support creative entrepreneurs. The final workshop was led by Dr Adel Elomri, assistant professor, HBKU, and Dr Laoucine Kerbache, professor, HBKU. The workshop focused on the research undertaken to track the impact of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup and how the education sector can work with industry to support students and alumni. Following the event, Ranjeev Menon, Group CEO, GWC, said: “GWC is proud to be at the forefront of MSME development – helping the current and next generation of businesses in Qatar as the country aims to deliver the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.  

Industry experts during a panel discussion at the GWC Forum 2022 titled u2018Ready for the Gameu2019 held in Doha. PICTURE: Thajudheen
World Cup helped ‘raise bar’ for MSMEs international requirements

The micro-small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector in Qatar, which has been one of the country’s major economic drivers in the last 10 years, has “greatly benefited” from the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, an official of GWC has said. Syed Maaz, chief business development officer, made the statement at a panel discussion during the GWC Forum 2022 titled ‘Ready for the Game’ held in Doha yesterday. The panel session examined the direct and indirect impact of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup on MSMEs in various sectors of the Qatari economy. Maaz was joined by Jose Dhooma, FIFA head of Logistics; Nazli Berberoglu of The Coca-Cola Company; and Fatma al-Nuaimi, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) Communications & Media executive director. Maaz stressed that there has been significant growth in terms of what MSMEs have been providing to the economy: “In the last four years, there has also been a significant growth in terms of what MSMEs have been providing to the economy, which ties in with Qatar National Vision 2030 of diversifying away from the dependence on fossil fuel, and creating a self-sustaining economy.” Dhooma pointed out that “in terms of logistics, we’re slightly ahead of where we need to be,” adding that the World Cup helped raise the bar for MSMEs to better understand international requirements. According to al-Nuaimi, the government of Qatar has invested heavily in different mega projects, such as sports infrastructure and even SMEs, emphasising the importance of the participation of different players in both the public and private sectors. With the investments and knowledge acquired from hosting the World Cup, al-Nuaimi noted that all companies that have worked with the SC could engage in knowledge transfer, build their profiles, and expand to markets beyond Qatar. Maaz also said GWC has created an infrastructure to make doing business easy for new entrepreneurs and MSMEs, citing the 1.5mn sq m Al Wukair Logistics Park, which was launched in March this year. Aside from funding or initial seeding, one of the major hurdles for MSMEs is logistics, said Maaz, stressing that GWC initiatives and facilities, such as the logistics park in Al Wukair, created a whole ecosystem for small enterprises. “If MSMEs are on their own, they face different challenges, such as bringing in raw materials and manufacturing the finished product. So, we created an ecosystem where the park serves as an integrated logistics facility offering workshops and storage space, among other benefits,” he said. Berberoglu said: “Supporting MSMEs means growing our business; worldwide, we have different programmes for supporting small enterprises to help them grow alongside the company. At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, we supported small companies in their digitalisation journey to continue their businesses.” She added: “We have been collaborating with small businesses in Qatar to create more opportunities for them during and even beyond the FIFA World Cup, as well as how they can leverage this period and the investments for the tournament, and grow their businesses on a long-term basis.”

Shelldince Victor, senior manager u2013 business development at Kotra, delivering a presentation. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar has ‘great potential’ in hydrogen production, says South Korea expert

As Qatar is gradually increasing its investment in Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) and has a climate environment suitable for solar energy generation, the country has great potential for blue and green hydrogen production, the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) has said. During the 2022 Korea-Qatar Business Forum held in Doha recently, KIEP senior researcher Kwangho Ryou delivered an online presentation along the lines of the forum’s theme ‘Future Strategy for Diversifying Economic Co-operation Between South Korea and Qatar’. The business forum was organised by the South Korean embassy and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra), Qatar Chamber, and Invest Qatar. Ryou presented several topics, which include South Korea’s investments in Qatar and contracts awarded from the country, as well as possible co-operation sectors in various fields like petrochemicals, renewables and food security, food security rankings in Mena, and military equipment and hydrogen, among others. According to Ryou, hydrogen is one of the industries that have “a big potential for cooperation expansion.” He said Qatar signed MoUs for co-operation with advanced technological countries with South Korea and Germany, “but there is still no government-led development plan yet.” Ryou pointed out that co-operation opportunities in the field of logistics infrastructure building also could be created in the future. Similarly, there is huge potential for co-operation expansion between both countries in military equipment, Ryou stressed, noting that South Korean military equipment “is considered technologically advanced but not as expensive as other nations like the US.” “South Korea’s export of military equipment is increasing dramatically in recent years, and stable South Korea-Qatar diplomatic relations could be a good condition for co-operation in this field,” he stressed. Ryou also said trade, technology exchange, and infrastructure building in the petrochemicals sector may open “huge possibilities” for Qatar’s economy in the long term. “Qatar’s interest in the petrochemicals sector has been growing at a faster pace in recent years. Developing the petrochemicals sector is one of the clear trends of economic diversification in the GCC,” he explained. Ryou noted that renewables and food security, in which Qatar has placed high interest, are sectors that South Korea has global competitive advantages. “On environment development under Qatar National Vision 2030, it is possible to enhance generation efficiency thanks to the geographical features of Qatar. The winning of Samsung C&T for two solar power plants in August this year is an encouraging factor. Ryou said South Korea would be a reliable partner in Qatar’s national food security strategies like domestic self-sufficiency and the domestic market, as well as in infrastructure building and technology exchange in the field of smart farming, greenhouse, and water security. “A tripartite cooperation is also possible in Qatari-owned agricultural lands in other countries,” Ryou emphasised. During the forum, Shelldince Victor, senior manager – Business Development at Kotra, also delivered a presentation. He said Kotra is the centre of economic development in South Korea, stressing that the agency has been playing a key role in the further enhancement of South Korea-Qatar relations. Among its major businesses, Victor said Kotra specialises in global marketing and global partners, inbound investment promotion, outbound investment support, sustainable growth, and global market information. “Kotra delivers customised marketing services and opportunities to South Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the global market and finds the ideal partner to strengthen one’s global value chain. “We play a vital role in positioning South Korea at the centre of global business. By creating an attractive investment environment and supporting domestic investments by foreign companies, Kotra raises the value of South Korea as a successful business partner,” Victor said. He added: “Based on overseas investment information gathered from Korea Business Centres (KBCs) in 84 countries, Kotra supports South Korean companies by making their advancement overseas easier and more convenient.”

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Envoy calls for expansion of Qatar-South Korea co-operation in ‘new horizons’

South Korean ambassador Lee Joon-ho has called for the expansion of economic co-operation between his country and Qatar amid diverse social, financial, and even environmental challenges worldwide. Speaking at the 2022 South Korea-Qatar Business Forum held in Doha yesterday, Lee said: “We are facing new challenges like worldwide inflation, energy and climate crisis, and the digital divide. “Under these circumstances, South Korea and Qatar need to expand the co-operation into a new horizon and establish a close partnership in various fields like digital technology, healthcare, smart-farm, renewable energy, and finance.” On enhancing co-operation in digital technology, Lee said South Korea has a world-renowned competitive edge in digital innovation industries like semi-conductor, batteries, and electric vehicles. He said: “Last September, the South Korean government unveiled its ‘Digital Strategy’ to increase its investment in R&D for artificial intelligence, 6G networks, quantum, metaverse, and cybersecurity. “We are expecting this strategy will cement South Korea’s leadership in digital infrastructure. Today, South Korean digital innovation companies of South Korea like SAMJUNG Solution, ONPOOM, and HURA are attending this forum. I hope that today’s forum provides great opportunities for the business people of South Korea and Qatar to find new co-operation projects in the digital field.” The ambassador also stressed that South Korea and Qatar can enhance cooperation in new sectors like smart farm and healthcare. Lee said many South Korean companies are well-equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and achieved great success in their smart farm projects. He ensured that South Korean companies can be capable and effective partners for Qatar’s future development in the smart farming sector. “Public health is also an important sector. Qatar has been investing to enhance its public health system, which is also one of the major goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030. “In this sense, the Korea Medical Centre which is planned to be open next year can be an important stepping stone towards the two countries’ further collaboration on the joint medical projects,” Lee stressed. Lee also emphasised the need to advance both countries’ co-operation in energy sectors like LNG and solar power. Recently, South Korean companies are joining Qatar’s mega LNG project like NFE EPC2 and LNG shipbuilding projects, he noted. “I believe that enhancing co-operation in the whole value chain process of LNG will benefit both countries. I am sure renewable energy is another prominent field where the two countries can expand their co-operation. “Qatar is working on the plan to generate 5 gigawatts of solar power by 2035, reducing its carbon footprint and achieving carbon neutrality. And South Korea is joining Qatar’s efforts to fight climate change and invest in renewable energy. Last August, a South Korean company’s winning of the contract to build 875 megawatts solar power plants showcases the close co-operation between the two countries,” he emphasised. Lee added: “The South Korean government is trying to host the 2030 Busan World Expo. Busan is the second largest city in South Korea and boasts abundant experience in hosting many global events like Asian Games. I believe Busan is an ideal place for the 2030 World Expo and I would like to ask for your attention and support for Busan’s candidacy to host the 2030 World Expo.”

Mohamed Hassen al-Malki, Deputy Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar, South Korea achieve $5.98bn trade in Jan-May 2022, says MoCI official

The 2022 South Korea-Qatar Business Forum held in Doha Wednesday marked the comprehensive strategic partnership between both nations, whose trade exchange in the first five months of 2022 stood at $5.98bn, an official has said. In his welcome address, Mohamed Hassen al-Malki, Deputy Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, called for joint efforts to expand Qatar-South Korea strategic co-operation and include new and diverse sectors, such as health and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). “In this context, we praise the advanced level of trade exchange between our two nations. Qatar-South Korea trade exchange has grown by 67.2% compared to 2020. It reached $11.57bn in 2021 and $5.98bn in the first five months of this year. “Moreover, the South Korean private sector is playing a significant role in supporting the Qatari economy. Qatar is home to 179 South Korean companies, including leading economic establishments that have contributed to implementing important infrastructure projects that form part of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” al-Malki stressed. Al-Malki also pointed out that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been diversifying Qatar’s foreign investment portfolio in South Korea. This, he said, reflects Qatar’s keenness to support the economies of its strategic partners and to mutually share expertise in areas that serve Qatar’s development trends. This sharing of expertise, especially at the levels of industry and technology are “two fundamental factors in the renaissance and progress of the Republic of South Korea,” al-Malki explained. He said the agreements and memoranda of understanding signed between the two sides have contributed to strengthening and consolidating joint trade and investment co-operation. “In this regard, we call for establishing the needed mechanisms to enact and enhance this co-operation in all areas. We cannot fail to appreciate here both sides’ initiative to sign a bilateral agreement last August to waive the entry visa requirement for nationals of both countries. “We express our full confidence in this step, which is bound to strengthen the bridges of communication and dialogue between our two friendly countries and peoples, and allow establishing more successful joint ventures,” al-Malki said. He stressed that under the guidance of the country’s wise leadership, Qatar maintains its efforts to enhance its economic openness and support co-operation with all its trading partners worldwide, “especially the friendly Republic of South Korea.” Al-Malki said: “To this end, we have implemented systematic development policies that have boosted investor confidence in the Qatari economy and instilled our nation’s leading position in the regional and global economic scenes. These policies, moreover, stressed the State of Qatar’s strategic role as a starting point toward the Mena region’s markets. “To accelerate the implementation of all measures aimed at supporting the investment sector, we introduced public-private partnership projects and we also put in place incentive programmes to attract foreign direct investments, such as passing the Law on the Regulation of Investment of Non-Qatari Capital in the Economic Activity and the Law on Investment Free Zones, which allows foreign investors ownership up to 100%. Additionally, non-Qatari individuals and commercial companies were allowed real estate ownership in several vital economic and tourist areas in Qatar.” He added: “Moreover, Qatar has been keen to provide an advanced network of free zones, logistics zones, and industrial units to accommodate all investor needs, as well as support investors’ expansion in the local, regional, and global markets.”

Farhan al-Sayed, Qatar-Indonesia Business Council president.
More Qatar-Indonesia delegations, B2B meetings in the pipeline, says business council official

Following the successful working visit of Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan to Qatar recently, more business dialogues and B2B meetings are in the pipeline for the continued enhancement of both countries' economic ties. This was according to Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed, who recently hosted several delegations from Indonesia eyeing to increase exports from the southeast Asian country to Qatar and other countries in the Gulf region. Al-Sayed told Gulf Times that Dewi Astian, chief, International Relations at Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, visited Qatar to coordinate a possible high-level business dialogue and B2B meeting in Doha. He said Astian also proposed to create a mini pavilion during the event to showcase premium Indonesian products like jewellery, clothing, bags, shoes, scarfs, furniture, and coffee, and to promote tourism in more than 10 destinations in Indonesia, including Bali. “Indonesia is a strong and one of the most reliable trade partners of Qatar. The bilateral trade volume of both countries from January to July this year stood at $758mn and is expected to grow further in the coming months. “Qatar receives regular visitors from Indonesia’s public and private sectors, such as ministers, chambers of commerce, business council delegates, and general traders who are able to secure successful deals and partnerships in various fields with different companies in Doha,” al-Sayed explained. Another delegation, which was led by Radhi Darmansyah from the Indonesian province of Aceh, also visited Doha to offer investment opportunities, such as block of exploration in Andaman 1 and in the Strait of Malacca in Aceh. “Currently, Repsol, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Premier Oil are involved in various projects. Aceh could be the strategic regional hub in southeast Asia for agro-related commodities, fisheries, tourism, halal products, and oil and gas,” al-Sayed said. Al-Sayed also lauded Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan’s successful trade mission to Qatar, which secured potential transactions worth QR5.5mn (23.2bn Indonesian rupiah). In an earlier statement, Hasan said business matching sessions held in Doha during the trade mission helped secure the potential transactions in the following areas: beauty and hospitality products, spices and seasonings, snacks and processed foods, frozen fish, garments, and handicrafts. The minister said 11 Indonesian companies and 42 Qatari businesses participated in the business matching event. Palm oil and its derivatives, paper products, automotive, batteries, food and beverages, home decorations, handicraft products, garments, and beauty products are among Indonesia’s major products, he said. “The trade mission to Qatar managed to record potential transactions worth IDR23.2bn from this business matching initiative. This value has the potential to further increase, considering that the participating businesses are still following up on requests from potential partners who were brought together during the event,” the minister said.

Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Nasser al-Thani, chief commercial officer at Ooredoo at press conference and Colin Smith, FIFA chief operating officer World Cup and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 managing director.
World Cup transport buses get web connectivity via Ooredoo

Ooredoo is supplying seamless and reliable Internet connectivity to more than 350 FIFA World Cup transport buses, enabling officials, players, and media representatives to stay connected while on the move. This was announced Wednesday by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Nasser al-Thani, chief commercial officer at Ooredoo at press conference where he was joined by Colin Smith, FIFA chief operating officer World Cup and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 managing director. Sheikh Nasser said Ooredoo will provide its managed Wi-Fi along with mobile broadband to ensure seamless, reliable Internet access, so players, FIFA officials, and media representatives can stay connected even while travelling to and from tournament venues. Ooredoo will provide connectivity for more than 350 buses via mobile broadband, while 300 of these buses will also offer transportation-grade managed Wi-Fi services. These Wi-Fi services will be monitored and managed in real-time utilising systems hosted in the Ooredoo Qatar Data Centre. Sheikh Nasser said, “Our strategic commitment to invest in innovation and to partnering with world-leading technology providers stands us in excellent stead as we step up to provide our state-of-the-art products and services to this phenomenal event. “Players and FIFA officials need to stay connected to ensure the smooth running of the tournament and associated events, and our media partners need to be able to share the event with the world, no matter where they are. We’re proud that our investment in innovation and technology, and our vast experience and expertise, will make sure they can.” Ooredoo, the Official Middle East & Africa Telecommunications Operator of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, will use technology, such as Quick Response codes to ensure fast, easy, and efficient access to Wi-Fi onboard each bus. Powering the buses with mobile broadband and managed Wi-Fi will ensure connectivity for players and FIFA officials, while media representatives will be able to upload files and video content and share broadcasts even when travelling between venues. Ooredoo’s efforts enabled Qatar to become the first country in the world to operate a commercial 5G network in 2018, with the company testing 5G broadband in moving vehicles shortly after. Its ongoing transformation journey is a testament to its commitment to supporting the country as it works to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030, including digital transformation and development into a truly smart nation. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the press conference, Sheikh Nasser said Ooredoo will continue to announce and roll out more services in the period leading to the World Cup and during the tournament to provide customers with a memorable fan experience. Meanwhile, Smith lauded Ooredoo’s partnership with FIFA and for providing world-class and innovative services during the World Cup, which is slated from November 20 to December 18.

HE Akbar al-Baker, Nasser al-Khater and Badr al-Meer at the press conference
Qatar Airways, Qatar Tourism reveal FIFA-related entertainment projects

  * Daily concerts at multiple venues make Qatar home for Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Post Malone, Robbie Williams and many more * MATAR unveils plans for Passenger Overflow Area at DIA & HIA   Qatar Airways Group and Qatar Tourism unveiled Tuesday a series of major events to provide football fans with world-class entertainment, including Qatar Live, which will host more than 60 international artistes throughout the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The FIFA-related entertainment activities were announced by Qatar Tourism Chairman and Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker during a press conference, where he was joined by Nasser al-Khater, CEO of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and Badr al-Meer, MATAR Chief Operations Officer. The press conference displayed synergy between travel and tourism as Qatar Airways revealed over 10 projects developed with partners, including Qatar Tourism, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), and Qatari Diar. HE al-Baker announced the development of beach clubs, fan zones and theme parks, in addition to hosting Qatar Live, Daydream Music Festival, the Lusail Boulevard brand activation, Qatar Airways Sky House, Winter Wonderland and the naming ceremony for the ;MSC World Europa; cruise ship. He said, “Today, we see the breadth of what can be accomplished when aviation and tourism work together. We are very proud to announce a wide range of world-class live entertainment coming to Qatar to celebrate the most exciting tournament that will take place in the Middle East. We look forward to our locals and tourists alike having the best of the entertainment industry readily available for their enjoyment.” Al-Khater noted, “Qatar is ready to welcome the world and host a unique edition of the FIFA World Cup – the first to take place in the Middle East and Arab world. Fans can expect top-class international football and a vast array of entertainment options. The live acts announced today by Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism are sure to excite fans from everywhere as they prepare to descend on our country for an unforgettable festival of football, fun and entertainment.” Al-Meer added, “MATAR is ready for the much anticipated FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and we look forward to welcoming fans for the mega event. We are introducing exciting activations at Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Doha International Airport (DIA), which will embody the spirit of football and make this truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” * FIFA Onboard Experience The Official Airline Partner for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 sets the stage with a unique onboard cabin experience. Passengers will have much to look forward to when travelling with Qatar Airways during the football season, with a special range of FIFA World Cup-themed products and activations. The football-inspired cabin includes FIFA limited edition amenity kits, souvenir cushions, headphones, dining menus and football jersey-styled loungewear. Young traveller packs and plush toys have been especially curated for the younger fans. The Official Airline of the Journey Qatar Airways Oryx One In-flight Entertainment system will be home to more than 180 football-related titles, including an exclusive interview with FIFA president Gianni Infantino. During FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, passengers can enjoy complimentary livestreaming of World Cup matches and other major sporting events directly from passengers’ personal devices. * Beach Clubs Fans visiting the peninsula can spend time on newly developed beaches. Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism recently inaugurated the family-friendly B12 Beach Club with Ayla Oasis Development, which offers a range of activities, exceptional dining options, premium services and live family entertainment. Doha Sands is one of Qatar’s newest beaches where live music, dancing and dining come together for an unforgettable experience. Locals and tourists can enjoy Doha’s classic food kiosks for a range of culinary options. Named after Doha’s prominent district, West Bay Beach is a public beach shoreline that is set to offer families a range of water sports activities, and accommodate up to 1,500 guests. Sports fans can also enjoy the first-of-its-kind Fuwairit Kite Beach, built on Qatar’s northern coast, the resort offers thrill seekers spaces to relax and unwind after a day’s activities. * Fuwairit Kite Beach Resort Situated on pristine coastline next to a natural lagoon, the resort offers kite surfers an ideal setting to practice their sport. With a total of 50 rooms, the resort offers 40 beach-front rooms, where guests can enjoy various facilities, including a pool, a yoga pavilion, padel courts, an outdoor cinema and a state-of-the-art gym. *Qatar Live Qatar Live, a series of concerts, will engage audiences with performances from Enrique Iglesias, Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, Post Malone, J Balvin and Robbie Williams. Alongside these world-renowned artistes, Qatar Live will bring back the Daydream festival with this year’s new stage, the Magic Lantern. Daydream Qatar 2022 will be headlining the biggest DJ lineup seen in the Middle East, with Alesso, Alok, Armin Van Buren, DVLM, John Newmam, Major Lazer, Tiesto and Tinny Trumpet, with many more global artistes to be announced ahead of the tournament. Additionally, the airline and its partners will schedule family theatre circus musical performances, including 'The Enchanted Prince' and 'Pinocchio'. The Qatar Live series has been organised by the international event management company, Alchemy Project. The Coca-Cola Company will be sponsoring Qatar Live allowing attendees to sip on their favourite beverage while enjoying the various shows. Nazli Berberoglu, general manager for the FIFA World Cup 2022 at The Coca-Cola Company, said: “We are extremely happy to partner with Qatar Airways as a sponsor of Qatar Live. Coca-Cola has a long legacy with both sports and music as it allows us to connect with consumers through their shared passions. As a long-standing partner of FIFA, this was a great opportunity for us to celebrate the real magic and shared passion for both music and football through supporting unforgettable local experiences.” Ooredoo executive director (Marketing) Sarah al-Dorani added, "At Ooredoo, our aim is to upgrade our customers’ experience by giving them more. We’re proud to be an Official Partner of Qatar Live 2022, where our customers will access exclusive discounts to exciting events during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. We look forward to continuing to provide amazing benefits to our customer base.” * MSC On November 13, Qatar Airways welcomes invited guests to attend the naming ceremony for MSC Cruises’ largest ship, the 'MSC World Europa'. The ship will be docked at the Grand Terminal, Doha Port, throughout the duration of the FIFA World Cup, acting as a floating hotel. The 'MSC World Europa' ship includes six stunning pools and 14 whirlpool baths with views of the ocean, a Balinese-style wellness centre and spa, a beauty salon, a fully equipped gym and 13 dining venues. With a capacity of 2,626 guest cabins, tourists and locals will experience unique accommodation and a multitude of entertainment possibilities. * Qatar Airways Sky House To welcome travellers to the beautiful country, the award-winning airline will soon introduce Qatar Sky House, a pavilion at Al Bidda Park, which will include interactive activities such as face painting, Qverse experience, Swing the World, foosball and the Neymar challenge. For those looking for a moment to sit back and relax, the pavilion will include two lounge areas, a Qatar Airways Privilege Club lounge and a space dedicated to relaxation. * Qatar Airways House At Qatar Airways House located in Hyatt Regency Oryx Hotel, the airline is extending its hospitality to its VIP clients and guests. The national carrier will be delivering live match streaming, conferences, events as well as an introduction to the country’s culture. * Qatar Airways Stadium Activation Football fans will also have the opportunity to visit the Qatar Airways Booth in each of the iconic stadiums and on the scenic Corniche, where they can take part in the events by visiting the fan zones before or after their respective matches or when sightseeing the promenade. Each booth will include virtual football games starring Neymar, face painting, giveaways and more. * Passenger Overflow Area MATAR, Qatar’s company for Airports Operation and Management, announced that it will be extending its hospitality to travellers in need of a resting area before their flights. Qatar Airways will be providing dedicated Passenger Overflow spaces outside of Hamad International Airport and Doha International Airport, at no cost, where football festivities and live entertainment can be enjoyed while also providing storage space for luggage and carry-ons. This space will give fans the opportunity to continue to enjoy the celebrations as they wait to enter the airport where they can experience HIA’s new tranquil and nature-inspired terminal. * Doha International Airport DIA recently reopened enabling 13 regional and international airlines to carry 4,000 additional passengers per hour to Qatar. The DIA terminal will offer passengers retail as well as food and beverage products and services. * Lusail Boulevard In partnership with Qatari Diar, Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism will officially inaugurate the Darb Lusail Festival, which will be held from November 3 to 5, located in the Lusail Boulevard. The three-day festivities will represent the Middle East, Southern Asia and North Africa with headline talents, drone light shows and artistic performances. * Winter Wonderland Additionally, Qatar Airways has recently announced that it will be the Official Airline Partner and the Presenting Partner of Lusail Winter Wonderland, an original world-class entertainment and leisure destination in Qatar that will deliver unforgettable experiences to fun seekers. Lusail Winter Wonderland is a remarkable theme park located on Al Maha Island, in the heart of Qatar's entertainment district, which is set to open to the public in November. This unique theme park will feature more than 50 exhilarating rides and attractions, including the Qatar Airways Forest Train inside the Qatar Airways Festive Forest, the Flume ride Arctic Splash, a giant Ice Slide, The Galleon, the Ooredoo 5G Rollercoaster and the Ain QNB which is a 150ft Ferris Wheel.