Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 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.
Qaiser Nawab, president of the Belt and Road Initiative for Sustainable Development, and Pegasus Wong, chairman of the Belt and Road Group, during the signing of a co-operative agreement between BRISD and Belt and Road Trading and Contracting. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
4 firms under Belt and Road Group to boost Chinese investments in Qatar

The recent Qatar launch of four Hong Kong and China-based international companies under the Belt and Road Group is seen to attract more Chinese investments into the country, according to a top official.Pegasus Wong, chairman of the Belt and Road Group, said Qatar is an ideal gateway to the region due to the proximity to its Gulf neighbours and other countries beyond the region.“After the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we saw that Qatar is an excellent hub and it is near Saudi Arabia, thus we realised that it is ideal to start our businesses here now,” Wong told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the international launch of the Belt and Road Trading and Contracting, Gallery Five International, Fangda Partners, and SW International.Wong also said: “The timing is right. We have come to Qatar to support the country’s enterprises, projects, and government initiatives, as well as to serve as a link between Asia, Hong Kong, China, and Qatar.“Owing to Qatar’s advanced infrastructure, upcoming events, and the business opportunities it would offer both here and in other GCC countries, we believe Qatar is a strategic location for our future development.”Wong emphasised that the Middle East is “a very important region” for China, which intends to promote its Belt and Road Initiative and collaborate not only in infrastructure-related projects but also in the areas of new energy, high technology, artificial intelligence (AI), electric vehicles (EV) and EV chargers, among others.“China has already developed many advanced technologies and we would like to share this with all countries and the Middle East is one of our major partners. We share a strong relationship with countries in this region, so we expect to forge many collaborations going forward,” Wong explained.He noted that the group has already forged partnerships with LuLu Group and Qatar Post. Still, future collaboration is expected in the fields of airport and port development, and business opportunities with middle-sized companies.In a speech, Wong further explained: “We are committed to excellence across various industries, including investment, infrastructure, trading and contracting, engineering design, new energy, high technology, education, e-commerce, culture, professional services, and more.“With 12 subsidiary companies taking pride in our diverse portfolio and international reach, our primary mission is to foster cooperation between enterprises in China, Hong Kong, and Qatar, aligning seamlessly with the Belt and Road Initiative.”Wong added: “We also play an important role in supporting the Qatar government’s economic and local enterprises, facilitating connections and business opportunities between China and Hong Kong. Today, as we come together, let us celebrate the spirit of partnership, innovation and mutual growth. We intend to serve as a bridge connecting nations and industries.”The event’s guest speaker, Qaiser Nawab, president of the Belt and Road Initiative for Sustainable Development (BRISD), stated: “Since its inception in 2013, we have achieved great success, embodying principles like coexistence, mutual benefit, and sustainability. These principles deeply resonate with Pakistan, creating and connecting beyond borders.“China’s remarkable strides in economic growth and poverty alleviation serve as a beacon in illuminating paths for nations facing similar challenges. The six pivotal roots of the BRI hold the key to uplifting communications along the path, impacting global dignity, happiness, and sustainability.”Nawab added: “Qatar’s geo-economic significance offers potential for global business expansion. Through partnerships, we envision playing a significant role in fostering global economic prosperity, creating employment opportunities and elevating poverty.Collaborations across high technology, artificial technology, AI, sustainability, and cultural arts signify a commitment to innovation and global progress.”During the event, Wong and Nawab signed a co-operative agreement between BRISD and the Belt and Road Trading and Contracting for initiatives in the areas of emerging technologies, IT, climate change and environment technologies, and renewable energy, among others.

AFREEQ chairman emeritus Joseph Timothy Rivera (2nd from left), who is also co-chairman of the conference’s organising committee, is joined by (from left) Edgar Boyano, chairman, Overseas Filipino Investors and Entrepreneurs Movement; Adnan Khan, general manager, ABESQ Hotel; Dahlia Agbanlog, chairperson, Kulinarya Qatar; and Jonald Reyes, co-ordinator, Balitang Q, during a press conference held in Doha on Wednesday.
Conference slated to promote Qatar-Philippines investment opportunities

Leaders in the Filipino business community in Qatar are slated to gather this month for an upcoming conference aimed at promoting investment opportunities between the Philippines and Qatar in various sectors, it was announced on Wednesday.The ‘Philippine Wealth & Wellness Conference Qatar’ is being organised by the Association of Filipino Real Estate Executives in Qatar (AFREEQ) and will be held at the ABESQ Hotel on January 19-20, AFREEQ chairman emeritus Joseph Timothy Rivera told Gulf Times in a statement.Rivera, who is also co-chairman of the event’s organising committee, said the conference aims to raise awareness among the Filipino and expatriate communities in Doha on the available investment opportunities between both countries, specifically in the financial and wellness sector.“In line with the objectives of the conference’s predecessor, the Philippine Property & Investment Show – Qatar (PPISQ), this upcoming event is aligned with the current trends on pursuing health and economic resilience in the post-pandemic era,” Rivera explained.Among the highlights of the conference are exhibits and special talks on significant topics like financial literacy, social entrepreneurship, real estate and tourism opportunities between the Philippines and Qatar, which will be delivered by leading captains of industry and government leaders from both countries. It will also be complemented by a trade fair and exhibition, food bazaar, and several cultural presentations, Rivera said.The undersecretary of the Philippines’ Department of Health will be the keynote speaker, Rivera noted, adding that the organising committee is awaiting confirmation from other guest speakers from the health and finance committees of the Philippine Congress.Similarly, representatives from the state-owned Overseas Filipino Bank, one of the conference presenters, will also be providing financial education lectures mostly in digital banking, Rivera pointed out.Rivera said, “Qatar is home to 260,000 Filipino expatriates with many of its entrepreneurs contributing to the nation’s economy. The country is known for its prioritisation of well-being and wellness initiatives with an investment of at least ‘$6bn’ in its healthcare industry since 2017. The country has greatly liberalised its business establishment rules, thus encouraging more startups that support the economic sustainability and diversification objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”He said other highlights of the conference would be the induction of AFREEQ officers for 2024 led by incoming chairperson, Bhem Asperilla of Megaworld International, and the Annual Philippine Gala Night, which will be held on January 19, in partnership with Kulinarya Qatar. This will be followed by the awarding ceremonies of notable Filipino workers in Qatar on January 20, in collaboration with AKO OFW Inc.All leading medical and wellness establishments, as well as business-oriented and entrepreneurial organisations in Qatar, have been invited to attend the conference, Rivera added.

Gulf Times
QBA hosts several high-level delegations in 2023 to boost Qatar’s global ties

The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) has hosted several high-level delegations and top government officials from North America, Europe, and the Middle East for the entire stretch of 2023.The meetings hosted by QBA have played a role in enhancing Qatar’s partnerships and collaboration ties with its partners in the international community to boost trade and explore potential investment opportunities.Earlier this month, QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani led a host of members and officers during a meeting with Arun Venkataraman, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, to discuss investment and trade opportunities between Qatar and the US.According to Sheikh Faisal, the value of Qatar-US trade exchange stood at about $6.7bn in 2022. In the first nine months of 2023, trade volume amounted to $5.55bn, he said.Sheikh Faisal said this value reflects the importance of the Qatari market to the US, adding that the country is full of diversified opportunities that require the presence of American companies. He noted that QBA and the Qatari business community are ready to work together further to develop the economic partnership between the two countries.Describing Qatar as “a strategic and commercial partner to the US,” Venkatraman said: “We are seeking more cooperation with Qatari Companies in various sectors and we also encourage American companies to explore the Qatari market.”He emphasised that the US and Qatar have potential cooperation opportunities in the infrastructure, technology, and services sectors, which aligns with Qatar National Vision 2030’s objectives to diversify the Qatari economy away from the energy sector.Venkatraman also cited great investment opportunities that exist within different US states, saying his team is fully prepared to provide all information about each state with the aim of facilitating cooperation and trade exchange.Similarly in December, QBA hosted a private meeting with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his accompanying delegation of Cuban ministers representing the foreign affairs and tourism, energy, education, health, and investment sectors.Aside from the health sector, there are also new fields to increase potential cooperation in the areas of biotechnology, medicines, tourism, trade, culture, sports, and education, said Sheikh Faisal, who called on Qatari businessmen to cooperate with their Cuban counterparts through bilateral FDI exchange.In November, QBA held a business dinner in honour of a number of ministers and officials accompanying Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was in Qatar on a state visit.The meeting, which was attended by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani, discussed investment opportunities, improving investment relations between the two countries, and enhancing efforts to develop economic and investment ties between Qatar and Brazil.In his welcome speech, the minister underscored Qatar-Brazil investment partnerships in energy, mining, agriculture, food industry, financial services, petrochemicals, logistics services, and real estate and ways to enhance them, as well as opportunities to increase investments by Qatari and Brazilian companies in both countries.In the previous month, QBA held a luncheon in honour of the visit of Lord Alderman Nicholas Lyons, Mayor of the City of London, and his accompanying delegation. Sheikh Faisal said Qatari-British relations have been greatly strengthened in recent years by the increase in Qatari investments in Britain.He added that Qatar is currently “a real opportunity” for many investors around the world as the country enjoys security, in addition to various opportunities to develop many industries other than oil and gas. Qatar’s constantly growing investments in Britain exceeded $40bn, including shares in the Sainsbury’s chain, BAA, which operates four airports in the UK, the London Stock Exchange, Barclays Bank, the Shard building in London, and the Olympic Village.Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, called on Qatar to invest in the country’s agricultural, fisheries, and livestock sectors during a meeting with QBA officials held in Doha last October. The meeting explored Somalia’s agriculture, commercial, real estate, and industrial sectors, which are open for public or private investment.With a population of 14mn, Barre said Somalia has enormous livestock wealth exceeding 40mn heads of cattle, in addition to more than 8.5mn hectares of fertile land and a huge coastline spanning 3,700km with a large fish wealth – all of which are available for Qatari investments.Last February, US Republican Senator Roger Marshall lauded Qatar’s efforts in optimising its oil and gas resources investments in the country during a meeting hosted by QBA.During the meeting, Marshall highlighted the importance of the positive relations between Doha and Washington, which extend for more than 50 years, as the two sides seek to strengthen bilateral relations in the future, supported by the role of the US as the largest direct foreign investor in Qatar and the largest single source of its imports.In the same month, the QBA, in cooperation with the German Embassy in Qatar and the German Industry and Commerce Office in Qatar (AHK), organised a roundtable discussion, which focused on investment opportunities, joint cooperation, and ways to overcome obstacles facing investors, as part of the objectives of the Qatari-German Joint Taskforce that was established on September 7, 2018, during the Qatar-Germany Business and Investment Forum held in Berlin.Other meetings held in February include QBA’s business lunch in honour of Dr Hala el-Saeed, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, and a meeting with Ville Skinnari, Finland’s Minister of Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade, who was in the country to attend the official opening of the Embassy of Finland in Doha.During the meeting with el-Saeed, both parties discussed a number of joint co-operation topics and followed up on a number of previously signed agreements, especially after the successful visit of QBA to Egypt in 2022.Meanwhile, Skinnari praised the close relations between Qatar and Finland and called on Qatari businessmen to explore Finland’s investment opportunities to enhance co-operation in sectors like oil and gas, advanced technological industries, smart cities, maritime industries, and other fields. The meeting also discussed ways to enhance relations in the economic and trade fields and reviewed the investment climate and opportunities available in both countries.

Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdullatif al-Misnad
Qatar Chamber official calls on local private sector to join FIATA Qatar

The private sector will gain from supporting the development of the country’s freight forwarding industry by joining the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) in Qatar, an official has said.Speaking to Gulf Times in an interview, Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdullatif al-Misnad, chairman of the FIATA Qatar, emphasised that a robust logistics sector is a sign of a “very healthy” economy.“Freight forwarding, shipping and logistics, and transportation are among the most important cornerstones in any economy,” explained al-Misnad, who also called on private sector stakeholders in the country and Qatar’s international partners to join FIATA Qatar.According to al-Misnad, Qatar Chamber is committed to prioritising future supply chains, adding that through its activities, the chamber is promoting the development of this sector within the Qatari business community.“Establishing a FIATA chapter through the support of Qatar Chamber and by transforming it as a gateway to the international arena is a very successful step towards enhancing this industry and the activities of the freight forwarding sector, which is very important,” al-Misnad stressed.He said: “Very soon, we will start the activities of FIATA Qatar, so I would like to invite all stakeholders in the local private sector, including Qatar’s international partners, to join us, so we can discuss the challenges of the freight forwarding sector and address the corresponding any issue.”Al-Misnad also emphasised the significance of the interdependent relationship of all FIATA chapters across the globe, particularly those in Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, in addressing the needs of the freight forwarding industry.Last month, al-Misnad participated in the ‘Global Freight Summit 2023’ held in Dubai under the theme ‘Making the Future Supply Chain a Reality’, wherein he underscored Qatar’s substantial investment in the transport sector, propelled the country “to the second-best position in the region for logistics efficiency.”Citing some of Hamad Port’s milestones, al-Misnad said the state-of-the-art port has established “15 direct shipping lines,” linking it to “40 ports” across three continents. He also noted that the port has an annual capacity of “7mn tonnes”, Hamad Port handles “1mn tonnes” of grain, and accommodates the shipment of “500,000” cars, as well as livestock.Aside from Hamad Port, al-Misnad pointed out that Qatar has successfully established itself as an aviation hub, citing the Hamad International Airport, which handles “more than 220,000 flights annually”, facilitating the transportation of over “35mn passengers” and “2mn tonnes” of cargo to “54 destinations worldwide”.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman.
Qatar Chamber caps 2023 with successful showcase of national products

Qatar Chamber capped the year with the successful showcase of many national products during the staging of the ‘Made in Qatar 2023’, with the participation of small and large Qatari companies.Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman, said the participation of 450 companies and factories reflects their keen interest in promoting homegrown products in the local market to achieve the desired self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imports.“The expo mainly aims to promote the Qatari industry and products, encourage the use of domestic products, reduce reliance on imports, and bolster the state's initiatives to support the industry. Additionally, it aims to encourage investors and business owners to invest in industrial projects.“Moreover, the exhibition offers a valuable opportunity to activate the private sector's role in industrial development, expand the productivity of national factories, and foster cooperation and coordination among Qatari firms. It particularly highlights the participation of a select group of Qatari companies and factories that have made significant strides in the industry, along with new exhibitors joining the event for the first time,” he stressed.In other achievements this 2023, Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that the realisation of Arab economic integration remains a paramount challenge for collective Arab endeavours, particularly in light of global economic dynamics and international economic blocs.“Indeed, Arab nations possess the essential elements that can facilitate the integration of their economies, including abundant natural resources, a skilled workforce, capital resources, and a strategic geographical location that serves as a bridge between the East and the West, coupled with linguistic unity.“It is undeniable that achieving Arab economic integration will elevate the economic standing of the Arab world, positioning it as an active and robust economic bloc within the global economy. Such integration is poised to attract investments, generate more employment opportunities, and bolster overall economic growth,” he noted.In this regard, Sheikh Khalifa stressed that chambers of commerce and industry in Arab nations play a pivotal role in working towards this objective, particularly through collaborative efforts under the Union of Arab Chambers (UAC). During a recent meeting convened by the UAC in Manama, he said discussions revolved around revitalising Arab economic integration and fostering a conducive business environment.“This collaborative effort is a fundamental pillar for the economic and social development of Arab nations, enabling them to be more integrated into the global economy and better equipped to address international challenges. Moreover, the efforts undertaken by the Gulf States towards achieving Gulf economic integration are instrumental in the pursuit of Arab economic integration.“In a recent meeting of the Federation of Gulf Co-operation Council Chambers (FGCCC), discussions revolved around bolstering Gulf economic integration and enhancing economic and commercial cooperation among Gulf states, along with supporting public-private partnerships (PPP) across the GCC states,” Sheikh Khalifa said.In May this year, Qatar Chamber held its Second General Assembly Meeting, which was highlighted by the election of the chamber’s seventh council (2023-2028).“We are confident that the new board will focus on strengthening the chamber’s role in supporting the private sector and protecting its interests, promoting the national economy and investment climate, and highlighting Qatar as a leading global investment destination and hub for business and investment, as well as enhancing the ease of doing business and attracting foreign investment,” Sheikh Khalifa said.He said the chamber’s strategy mainly aims to enhance the private sector’s competitiveness, accelerate its growth, and increase its contribution to the state’s economic development, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, whose most important pillar is promoting economic diversification and achieving inclusive economic growth.Sheikh Khalifa said: “During the new council, we will work towards the completion of the chamber’s new headquarters in Lusail City, as we are planning to transfer to a sophisticated and modern building that keeps pace with the state’s economic renaissance in the country.“Furthermore, we will also focus on organising more activities to support the private sector, promoting the national economy, and expanding meetings with various economic and trade sectors to discuss and find solutions to all issues and obstacles facing the private sector.”Qatar Chamber also organised earlier this year the Private Sector Forum (PSF), which was held in Doha on the sidelines of the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).“In partnership with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and Microsoft, the event provided a very important opportunity for us to emphasise the chamber’s tireless efforts in providing all kinds of services to support the private sector and enable it to enhance its contributions to economic activity under the Qatar National Vision 2030,” he said.Sheikh Khalifa added: “The event also highlighted the chamber’s keenness to provide all needed facilitations for private sector companies and institutions to create the best possible environment for businesses."

AHK Gulf Regional CEO Oliver Oehms. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar-Germany partnership seen to accelerate EV market rollout

Owing to robust government-to-government (G2G) partnerships between Qatar and Germany, discussions on hydrogen energy, efficient building technologies, and sustainable modes of transportation, especially e-mobility, are on track, an official of AHK Gulf has said.“For the past couple of years, we have had G2G-driven energy and climate partnerships; the one with Qatar is still quite young compared to the UAE. (But) there’s already an excellent communication channel at the government level.“And we, as AHK, have been, in both cases, mandated by the German government to get the private sector involved,” AHK Gulf Regional CEO Oliver Oehms told Gulf Times in an interview.Unlike Saudi Arabia, which has a nationwide grid of charging stations, Oehms said Qatar presents an interesting case for e-mobility since the country is mostly a city-state with short distances.“We see an interesting case in Qatar. Distances are short; it’s relatively easy and different from other countries like Saudi Arabia. So, there’s an interesting potential for quickly accelerating the market rollout of e-vehicles not only on a commercial but also on a private basis,” Oehms noted.According to Oehms, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is a key shareholder of Siemens, which is one of the leading global companies pushing the topic of electrification and digitalisation.“From this perspective, Qatar plays an active role in that area. And we know that QIA is continuously looking into complementary investment targets in Germany, therefore, Qatar has the potential to play an important role as an equity partner, a strategic partner for these mid- to long-term developments,” Oehms said.Aside from e-mobility, Oehms also noted that climate conditions and the many high-rise buildings across the region, including Qatar, there’s “an interesting potential” in introducing technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of those buildings.Asked about potential partnerships in smart cities, citing Msheireb and Lusail, Oehms said: “There’s a lot of German technology already in those smart cities, making the assets fairly green. This is due to German and other European technology providers.”Oehms said, “I would underline that Qatar, with its robust financial and diplomatic capabilities, has the chance to be not only an influencer but also a role model and, again, an equity partner in green sustainable projects in other parts of the world.He added: “We have seen that Qatar has been starting to play a more active role in Africa. Utilising German technology, Qatari influence and funding, and emerging markets, such as, in this case, Africa, is an interesting business case and this is something that we would love to engage more often.”

Eman al-Kuwari, Director of Digital Innovation Department at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
More tech firms see Qatar as hub to the region

Qatar has been attracting global innovative companies seeking to tap the region by expanding their operations in the country, according to the director of the Digital Innovation Department at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT).According to Eman al-Kuwari, the influx of international companies through the Tasmu Accelerator will also benefit entrepreneurs, startups, and tech founders in Qatar in terms of potential collaboration, thus enhancing the Qatari economy.Only recently, the Tasmu Accelerator, a flagship programme of the MCIT, was able to attract over 540 applicants from 78 countries for its inaugural cohort, al-Kuwari said. She noted that after a stringent selection process, 25 startups participated in the programme’s six-month acceleration phase.“These graduates from the programme’s first cohort have set the bar high, so we anticipate that the next applicants have very high profiles,” al-Kuwari told Gulf Times. Following the conclusion of programme’s 2023 cycle, the Tasmu Accelerator has announced the opening of the early registration phase for the 2024 cohort.In an earlier statement, Reem al-Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Industry Affairs at MCIT, emphasised that the Tasmu Accelerator is set to drive Qatar’s digital economy forward and help position the country as a leader in the global tech industry by providing an all-inclusive, supportive ecosystem for global and local tech startups.This was reiterated by al-Kuwari, who said the Tasmu Accelerator is a smart country programme, which is focusing on entrepreneurs establishing their startups here. It is also geared to support the growth of these companies, she also said.Al-Kuwari pointed out that Qatar has successfully established itself as a tech hub, citing the country’s hosting of the Web Summit in 2024. She noted that startups establishing themselves here will benefit from the country’s strategic location, ease of doing business, and a wide range of complementary programmes.Backed by a 10-year road map, al-Kuwari emphasised that the Tasmu Accelerator is aligned with the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and aims to strengthen the Qatari economy, enhance private sector competitiveness, and broaden the country’s revenue streams by introducing 80 innovative solutions to the local market and generating 800 job opportunities.During the previously held Tasmu Accelerator 2023 Demo Day, the ministry recognised Albert Health, Direk, and Fleetroot for their groundbreaking solutions. The three startups stood out from the accelerator’s healthcare, environment, and logistics tracks, respectively. Each startup received a QR200,000 cash boost from their respective Track Champions to further grow and scale their businesses, all while maintaining 100% equity.The event took place following the inauguration of the Tasmu Accelerator Hub at Ooredoo HQ2, which was officiated by HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai.Designed to nurture startups, the dedicated workspace will welcome graduates of the 2023 cohort. This strategic positioning will provide them with invaluable local market insights, and industry expertise, as well as facilitate their successful entry and growth into the Qatari market.

Megat Iskandar Ahmad Dassilah, MATRADE trade commissioner.
Qatari firms seen to benefit from success of Malaysian halal exhibition

The success of the previously held Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS 2023) could serve as a jump-off point for Qatari businesses seeking to take a chunk out of the burgeoning halal industry, an official of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has said.MIHAS, regarded as “the world’s largest halal exhibition,” recorded $656.1mn (RM3.11bn) worth of sales during its five-day run in Malaysia last September, exceeding its target of $527.4mn (RM2.5bn) by 24%, according to figures provided by MATRADE to Gulf Times.This achievement during the 19th edition of the exhibition further underscores MIHAS’ significance as a premier global trade platform for the halal industry.Dubai-based MATRADE trade commissioner Megat Iskandar Ahmad Dassilah emphasised that Qatari businesses can benefit from the growing interest in the halal industry through MIHAS.“We hope to receive more participation from the Qatari companies in next year’s MIHAS as this event complements the strong development of the halal industry in Qatar,” Dassilah noted.During the exhibition, which was hosted by Malaysia’s Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI) and organised by MATRADE, sales were contributed by business deals concluded from two MIHAS key programmes: the International Sourcing Programme (INSP) organised for Malaysian exporters and the signature trade exhibition involving exhibitors from 44 countries.MIHAS 2023’s focus on elements of sustainability and digitalisation has further enhanced its value to the global halal community by facilitating and accelerating the mainstreaming of the halal ecosystem into global supply chains.Preliminary calculations showed that the INSP, MATRADE’s flagship programme, achieved sales worth $257.4mn (RM1.22bn), while the exhibitors garnered total sales of $398.8mn (RM1.89bn). According to MATRADE, these preliminary sales figures could potentially increase as the virtual INSP business matching lasted until November 30.The exhibition covered 13 halal segments and the business matching involved companies in all sectors, resulting in opening market access for Malaysian companies in some of the largest supermarket chains in the world, including Walmart, Aldi, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Guardian, Sainsbury, and Woolworth. It also provided access to Malaysian companies to global markets where Malaysia currently does not have a strong presence, such as Romania, Poland, and Morocco.The in-person INSP, which occurred at MATRADE, connected 469 Malaysian companies with 231 international buyers from 44 countries, including 11 premium buyers. This initiative facilitated a total of 2,788 business meetings. MATRADE, through its trade office in Doha, had brought in four buyers to this flagship programme.MITI Minister YB Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul said, “Malaysia’s Halal Industry Master Plan 2030 targets an industry contribution of $56.1mn (RM266bn), or 11% of Malaysia’s GDP by 2030. In achieving this, we will continue to build on the momentum generated by MIHAS 2023, particularly in facilitating market access for our Halal industry players to major supply chains globally.”The minister added: “Most importantly, in line with our New Industrial Master Plan 2030’s economic security and inclusivity agenda, platforms like MIHAS also contribute significantly to the government’s objective of internationalising micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and strengthening Malaysia’s position as the halal hub in Asia.”MATRADE chairman YB Dato’ Sri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said, “We are committed to promoting sustainable growth and ensuring that the halal industry continues to thrive in a responsible and environmentally friendly manner.“More than 30 MoUs were exchanged between Malaysian and foreign organisations throughout MIHAS. MATRADE also expended considerable effort to engage other government organisations, resulting in the participation of 34 federal and state agencies in this year’s MIHAS.”He added: “We are proud to have played our part in MIHAS 2023’s success. Not surprisingly more than 800 exhibitors have already expressed their interest in participating in MIHAS 2024 scheduled for September 17-20, 2024, proving its key role in advancing and elevating the global Halal industry.”For its 2024 edition, MATRADE will organise MIHAS under the theme ‘Globalising Halal Innovations’ and will continue its digitalisation initiative for the halal industry through a hybrid manner. Also, MIHAS 2024 will maintain its four major components: the showcase, International Sourcing Programme (INSP), Knowledge Hub, and MIHAS Awards.

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Indonesia eyeing Qatari FDI in dairy sector, says envoy

Indonesia is seeking to attract more Qatari investments in a variety of industries, including the dairy sector, said ambassador Ridwan Hassan, who expressed the embassy’s support for Qatar’s food security strategy.Speaking to Gulf Times recently regarding the southeast Asian nation’s food exports to Qatar, Hassan pointed out that Indonesia is not only working on ramping up trade exchange but also expanding ties in investments and knowledge exchange.“We have been working with Baladna for quite some time. Two Indonesian companies have signed an MoU with them already. Of course, we have to see the progress on more technical details. But at least the communication is already taking place for quite some time,” the ambassador explained.In May this year, Baladna, Qatar’s leading dairy producer, signed memoranda of understanding with Indonesian companies PT Perkebunan Nusantara III and PT Berdikari to cooperate on dairy farming initiatives.PT Perkebunan Nusantara III specialises in crop processing and agribusiness. At the same time, PT Berdikari primarily deals in farming infrastructure and farm management system services, according to a Qatar News Agency (QNA) report.The report stated: “In a statement published on the Qatar Stock Exchange website on Monday, the proposed joint efforts aim to enhance cooperation, exchange of information and experience to identify, assess and initiate projects relating to the dairy sector in Indonesia to reduce dependency on the import of food products by developing its agricultural and livestock industries through building a reliable livestock breeding infrastructure in Indonesia to enhance food security.“Baladna has inked similar agreements with leading companies in the Philippines and Malaysia, as part of the dairy company's efforts to expand its successful business model in other countries to enhance worldwide food security.”Hassan also ensured Indonesia’s support to Qatar’s food security strategy, saying it has already been cooperating with its regional neighbours and other countries through exports of various commodities.“Food security issue is one of the important agendas for many countries. And Indonesia is also doing that and we are cooperating with many countries, as well as with Qatar,” Hassan explained, adding that Indonesia is among the largest fruit exporters to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and China, among others.On Qatar-Indonesia trade, data provided by the Indonesian embassy in Doha revealed that figures stood at $975.3mn in the first six months of 2023. The southeast Asian country’s exports to Qatar in the first half of 2023 reached $368.7mn, while its imports were pegged at $606.7mn.From January to June this year, Indonesia’s exports to Qatar comprised ‘articles of iron or steel’, ‘paper and paper pulp’; ‘electrical machinery and equipment and parts’; ‘vehicles and parts and accessories’; ‘footwear, gaiters’; ‘soap, organic surface-active agents’; ‘furniture, bedding, mattresses’; ‘wadding, special yarns, ropes and cables’; ‘ceramic products’; ‘wood, plywood, wood charcoal’: ‘apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted’; and ‘essential oils and resinoids, perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations’.During the same period, Qatar’s exports to Indonesia included ‘gas, oil and products of their distillation’; ‘aluminium and articles’; ‘plastics and articles’; and ‘organic chemicals’, data from the Indonesian embassy stated.In 2020, trade exchange between the two countries stood at $895mn but slightly dipped the following year to $893mn. Trade between both nations stood at $1.3bn in 2022 comprising $296.8mn worth of Indonesian exports to Qatar and imports amounting to $974mn for a trade balance of $677.2mn in favour of Qatar.

CRA president Ahmad Abdulla al-Muslemani (centre) during a panel discussion at Doha Forum Monday. He is joined by (from left) Dan Murphy, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, Arnoldo André Tinoco, Dr Bruno Lanvin, Keyzom Ngodup Massally, and Selim Eddé. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Strategic government initiatives propel Qatar’s digital transformation, says CRA top official

Qatar’s rapid progress and the advancements it has made in its digital transformation journey have played a crucial role in fostering innovation and enhancement of efficiency, a top official of the Communications and Regulatory Authority (CRA) said Monday.Speaking at the session ‘Building a Digital Economy: Is Your Country Future-Ready?’ held on the sidelines of Doha Forum, CRA president Ahmad Abdulla al-Muslemani shared examples of how Qatar leveraged advanced technology, particularly during the 2022 FIFA World Cup preparation and for modernising communication and information exchange.Al-Muslemani also highlighted other major initiatives done by the Qatari government to migrate to the cloud. He said more than “40%” of consumer services in Qatar today are powered by artificial intelligence (AI).“We recently hosted Microsoft, their regional hub, and also Google, not only to serve the State of Qatar, but also the region,” he pointed out.From a regulatory perspective, al-Muslemani emphasised the importance of empowering businesses to compete effectively in the market workplace. He highlighted the need for regulatory frameworks to evolve harmoniously with technology, ensuring consumer protection and facilitating smooth navigation in the digital environment.Acting as both an innovator and a regulator, al-Muslemani explained how the CRA is balancing between digital technologies, digital transformation, and regulation. He emphasised that the CRA has taken a “comprehensive approach,” noting the authority’s “dynamic and forward-thinking regulatory framework,” which was implemented to foster innovation while ensuring relevance and reliability.“Emphasising the challenges of technology convergence, the CRA adopted an integrated regulatory framework, avoiding separate approaches to telecom, IT, and media regulations,” said al-Muslemani, citing the example of the cloud policy framework, setting guidelines, implementing regulatory measures, and collaborating with industry partners to share knowledge and ideas.Al-Muslemani said, “The CRA has empowered its staff with knowledge and put them with the knowledge that is needed to tackle all the regulatory matters. Awareness and enhancing awareness between the stakeholders are crucial.”According to al-Muslemani, the CRA is also focused on adaptability, collaboration, and proactive engagement within a reliable framework. He also highlighted the significance of striking a balance in the ever-evolving landscape of digital transformation and regulation.During the panel discussion, which was moderated by CNBC anchor and correspondent Dan Murphy, al-Muslemani was joined by Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, President of Zanzibar and chairperson of the Revolutionary Council; Arnoldo André Tinoco, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica; Dr Bruno Lanvin, founder and president of the Descartes Institute for the Future; Keyzom Ngodup Massally, head of Digital Programmes, Chief Digital Office at the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and Selim Eddé, director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets at Google Cloud.

Oman's Minister for Energy & Minerals, Salim bin Nasser al-Aufi (2nd from left), during a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the Doha Forum Sunday. He is joined by (from left) Dr Cinzia Bianco, Gulf Research Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations; Luigi Di Maio, EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the Gulf region; and Dr Elif Calik of Women in Smart Energy - WSE UK. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Oman on track for green hydrogen expansion, says Minister for Energy & Minerals

Oman has accelerated its infrastructure development and the forging of global partnerships for green hydrogen expansion, Salim bin Nasser al-Aufi, the sultanate’s Minister for Energy & Minerals said Sunday on the sidelines of the Doha Forum.Speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘Energy Transition: Powering up Green Cooperation between Europe and the Gulf’, al-Aufi emphasised that Oman is gearing up to become a global hub for green hydrogen production.“Since late last year, we announced that Oman is positioning itself to become a global hub for hydrogen, specifically green hydrogen, both for local and international consumption,” he said, noting that 50,000sq km of land was dedicated primarily for the production of green hydrogen, utilising renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.“We think the area is extremely competitive; it’s probably one of the top four or five locations globally that can offer the lowest possible cost of hydrogen,” al-Aufi explained, adding that Oman has initiated a transparent and open auction system, resulting in signed agreements that position the country to achieve almost 50% to 60% of its 2030 target of 1mn tonnes of hydrogen production.Al-Aufi said, “Our ultimate target, of course, is much bigger than that. We believe if all these lands are consumed in renewable energy production and hydrogen, then we could be potentially producing anywhere between 25mn to 30mn tonnes of hydrogen, which is extremely sizable, even by world demand.”He also discussed Oman’s collaboration with European nations, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Austria. Likewise, he emphasised that the sultanate is also targeting the German market, which he described as the largest in Europe.The minister stressed that Oman’s collaboration with EU nations signifies its commitment to international standards and market demands, establishing the country as a key player in the burgeoning green hydrogen landscape.Al-Aufi said Oman will be utilising green energy to desalinate water, which is a critical element in green hydrogen production. The byproduct, 'reject water', will be repurposed for vertical farming, he noted.According to al-Aufi, Oman has identified industry, electricity generation, mobility, and oil and gas as major CO2 emission sources. However, he also expressed confidence in meeting Oman’s emission reduction target and outlined strategies, including carbon capture and sequestration, capture and use, and innovative capture and mineralisation methods.Al-Aufi also that emphasised Oman is putting attention on workforce upskilling for a sustainable future by recognising the pivotal role of a skilled workforce in meeting the demands of the green transition. He added that traditional skills like electricians, mechanics, and instrument engineers remain crucial, but new skills in data science and system management are identified as vital for the evolving energy landscape.During the panel discussion, al-Aufi was also joined by Luigi Di Maio, EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the Gulf region; Dr Elif Calik of Women in Smart Energy - WSE UK; and Dr Cinzia Bianco, Gulf Research Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, who acted as moderator.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Rapid development in Qatar’s manufacturing industry to propel export of local products, says LuLu top executive

Qatar’s manufacturing industry has witnessed rapid development in recent years, showing potential growth in the export of locally-made products, a top executive of a retail group has said. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, explained that just as the Covid-19 pandemic caused disruptions in the e-commerce industry, the 2017 blockade had a similar positive impact on driving the ‘Made in Qatar’ trademark to the forefront. Dr Althaf noted that there was a shift in Qatar’s Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector from bulk importing and packaging to scratch manufacturing. “Local products are now being manufactured from the very basic components to the most advanced level, including packaging, within Qatar itself,” Dr Althaf pointed out, citing an increase in the number of national products on LuLu Hypermarket shelves. Dr Althaf emphasised that the “remarkable progress” in Qatar’s FMCG sector, particularly in adopting scratch manufacturing and enhancing local production capabilities, would mean that companies in the country will not only be able to meet domestic demand but will also be capable of exporting their products in the future. He said: “As the capacity for this type of manufacturing increases, it is expected that there will be a rise in competition among companies in Qatar, as well. Dr Althaf also emphasised the progress and development among agriculture farms in Qatar, noting that these facilities are performing well commercially. “If you look at the agriculture industry here prior to the 2017 blockade, 50% of the farming activity here was recreational. It was never treated at that time as an important economic activity from a national perspective. Over the years, people understood their priorities and focused on what was important and this was a huge disruption. “It all started with commodity and seasonal products. But now, it has become fairly sophisticated, and in all speciality sectors. There are some 70 farming units in Qatar and they all run on a commercial basis,” Dr Althaf stressed, adding that “even without any other incentive, they can still become profitable, viable operations.” Earlier, LuLu, in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, launched the ‘National Product Week’ initiative, which concludes today, under the theme ‘Together, We Support the Qatari Product’. The initiative was designed to promote locally produced food and non-food items, supporting small Qatari businesses and entrepreneurs. In an earlier statement, Dr Althaf said: “This event has been growing each year, promoting a sense of connection with Qatar’s food heritage and contributing to our food security. Qatar has made remarkable progress in local production, with many items now locally produced. “This initiative is vital in maintaining momentum, especially in times of political crises and climate changes. We are partnering with more than 70 farmers in Qatar, showcasing our commitment to promoting Qatari products.” LuLu Group’s longstanding partnership with local farmers demonstrates its commitment to marketing local agricultural produce and its socio-economic commitment to the nation. The group, with a global presence, has been a pioneer in promoting Qatari products and farm produce, the statement added.

Pakistan Minister of IT & Telecommunication Umar Saif. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Pakistan IT minister sees robust Qatar ties in fintech, cybersecurity & AI

Qatar’s entrepreneurial drive to expand globally presents “a unique opportunity” for companies from Pakistan that are specialising in Information Technology (IT), according to Umar Saif, Minister of IT & Telecommunication.Saif made the statement during the ‘Pakistan-Qatar IT Conference’ hosted on Sunday in Doha by the Pakistan Business Council Qatar, in partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).“Pakistan is all set to become a digital corridor of connectivity for China and Central Asian states. Pakistan is finally beginning to see the political and economic stability that we've long longed for in the country.“We’ve now arrived here to do business and to be part of the growth story that Qatar presents,” Saif explained, adding that some top 30 companies from Pakistan participated in the IT conference.He said, “We’ll get many Pakistani companies to come here, through the Qatar Financial Centre, to become part of this ecosystem, to expand here and do business, but also use this opportunity to partner with businesses in Qatar and expand globally, just as Qatar has expanded globally with their business ambitions.”Saif said the participating Pakistani companies are focusing on different key areas that are of strategic importance for Qatar, such as fintech, cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).“These are strategic tactical technologies that every country must acquire. Qatar has a lot of in-home capacity and they're looking to enhance that. Qatar is looking to expand on that and looking to specifically partner with Pakistani companies in all three domains,” he noted.Pakistan ambassador Dr Mohamed Aejaz said co-operation in the IT sector will open a new, highly potential dimension for fostering a secure technological ecosystem and enhancing mutual trade and economic ties.QFC CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said QFC is dedicated to cultivating an environment that encourages robust knowledge exchange, propels IT development, and embraces the seamless adoption of digital innovations.“With a flourishing economy, a state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure, a favourable business ecosystem, and a robust digital development agenda, Qatar stands out as an ideal destination for IT enterprises and professionals. And in this context, I see a compelling alignment between Qatar and Pakistan,” al-Jaida said in his speech.

German ambassador Lothar Freischlader. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Germany’s new envoy focuses on key priorities in trade, logistics and climate change

Germany’s new ambassador to Qatar, Lothar Freischlader, has emphasised that the embassy here will continue working on several key priorities, such as enhancing trade relations, leveraging logistics, and exploring new avenues for co-operation, especially in climate-related initiatives.Speaking to Gulf Times in an exclusive interview, Freischlader emphasised that Qatar’s geographical significance is a key factor for Germany, citing the importance of global route safety.On strengthening economic ties between Qatar and Germany, the ambassador said: “I believe we’re already on a very good level, but nothing is so good that it can't be improved. So, we are considering steps to push up trade relations in all aspects.”Citing the role of logistics in Qatar-Germany relations, Freischlader emphasised that “this is of utmost importance for the German economy and business.” He said, “We are one of the largest export countries in the world. So for us, logistics and countries like Qatar are centrally located with perfect airports and seaports, among other factors. That is very important for us.”The ambassador also emphasised the embassy’s constant co-operation with the business sector and other different entities, emphasising the traditional and vital role of embassies working closely with local chambers globally.Asked about the potential role of the embassy in forging partnerships between Qatari and German small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Freischlader stressed that the embassy is committed to working towards fostering such partnerships and providing necessary support.On promoting bilateral foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, Freischlader said that there are plenty of opportunities to invest in Germany and that Qatar is utilising these opportunities.“The decision is up to Qatar and other Qatari institutions. Germany is always in favour of opening businesses and investments in both directions. If any obstacles were to arise, Germany is ready to engage in discussions to find suitable solutions. But to my knowledge, there hasn’t been a single case where Qatar faced difficulties or encountered obstacles in pursuing investments in Germany,” Freischlader explained.The ambassador also emphasised the urgency of addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, referring to the severe impacts witnessed globally in the summer of 2023, marked by unprecedented heatwaves, droughts, and floods.“We must strengthen the co-operation where it is necessary to protect livelihood and I can assure you that Germany is serious about keeping the famous 1.5 degrees Celsius in reach and we will do everything in our power to achieve the ambitious outcome of the COP28 conference,” he said.Freischlader also said there is potential for collaboration between Germany and Qatar in aligning with sustainable development goals, emphasising the value of information exchange and dialogue between the two nations.“Germany pays a great value to the concept of sustainability and has its sustainable development strategy, so we want a future in which nature and the climate are protected, few people suffer from hardship, and social cohesion is maintained,” Freischlader pointed out.He added: “Rapid action is required and as the UN Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved in 2030, we are very close to 2024, so there is not so much time anymore and this will require ambitious transformation, which is why Germany plans to take action in important areas, such as the energy sector, climate protection, the circular economy, housing, food, agriculture, and transport.”

Officials of the Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF) during a visit to the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA). From left are CQBF executive director Yasser Dhouib, QBA chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, and CQBF vice chairman Joe Armstrong.
Qatar-Canada projects in the pipeline to propel investments, says CQBF official

Following a recent visit of a business delegation to Doha, the Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF) is looking to concretise and propel new investments between Qatar and Canada to foster robust economic ties and a knowledge-based economy, an official has said.The delegation, led by CQBF vice-chairman Joe Armstrong, held productive meetings with government ministries, the Canadian Embassy in Doha, and private sector leaders, such as the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) and Qatar Chamber, according to the forum’s executive director, Yasser Dhouib.“The business delegation represented more than 20 Canadian companies that are eyeing the Qatari and GCC markets in sectors, such as cybersecurity, defence, logistics, clean energy, healthcare, medical supplies and equipment, bioinformatics, and the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health and software development,” Dhouib explained.In a statement to Gulf Times, CQBF chairman Dr Bruce Mabley emphasised that bilateral relations between the two countries stem beyond commercial or economic exchanges.“They are part of a whole in which the full breadth of a state-to-state relationship receives its just rewards. Specifically, political and social relations provide a vital context in which commercial exchanges can take place with confidence and dynamism. To focus solely on commercial exchanges cannot be the main goal of the mission. It can and should be one of the beneficial results of face-to-face meetings,” Mabley pointed out.According to Mabley, there is a significant number of projects in the pipeline, citing the forum’s mission is to realise some of these projects “while new exchanges will provide an élan for the development of new projects for investment in Qatar and in Canada.”“Most certainly, the majority of these projects, both those on the table and those to come will be related to the knowledge-based economy...the CQBF mission should assist in accomplishing these tasks.“Individual meetings, higher visibility in the corridors of power and a healthy respect for the Arab world will all contribute to the success of the mission. The CQBF arrives in Qatar with an appropriate level of commercial leadership and I applaud the hard work of our CQBF organising team,” Mabley further explained.Mabley said there is also a focus on ‘business-education’ initiatives like the International Faculty of the Future project. Similarly, other initiatives include investments in the film industry, as well as the Qatar-Canada Business Internship project, a training programme that Mabley has developed for Qatari diplomats.“The Qatar course is designed to increase the knowledge of Canadians about the Gulf region and the Middle East. The Qatar course is an opportunity for leaders in the country to frame the region on their own terms. Young and educated Canadians desperately need to know more about Qatar and the region,” Mabley noted.He added: “My values are close to those of my Arab brothers and sisters, a belief in family, freedom for all, democracy for all and not just a few, and a strong belief in people-to-people diplomacy. Diplomacy cannot remain stagnant or become a robotic and technical exchange of messages. What happens when the bilateral relationship comes under strain? Commercial links alone, no matter how developed they are, cannot flourish on their own.“It is here that people-to-people links take over and provide the bedrock for mutual understanding, debate, and rational decision-making. The CQBF mission philosophy is just that – to create the conditions whereby the bilateral relationship does not just depend on bureaucrats and embassies.”

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani during the Made in Qatar exhibition’s opening ceremony yesterday, which was held in the presence of HE the Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, and Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, and other dignitaries. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Commerce minister opens Made in Qatar 2023 exhibition

This year’s edition of Made in Qatar kicked off to a strong start with HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani leading the exhibition’s opening ceremony yesterday.Also participating in the inauguration of the event, which will run until December 2 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), were HE the Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, and Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani.Qatar Chamber first vice-chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari, second vice-chairman Rashid bin Hamad al-Athba, and several board members, including general manager Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi and leading businessmen and key industry stakeholders, were also present at the exhibition.The two ministers then toured the pavilions and met with the participating companies to learn more about their respective products. They also witnessed the inauguration of the Gizaz Glass Container Company, which is under the Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company. The factory specialises in the production of glass containers used in the packaging of water, soft drinks, dairy products, and various foodstuffs.Sheikh Khalifa expressed his sincere appreciation and gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his generous patronage of the exhibition, stressing that this demonstrates His Highness the Amir’s interest in the national industry and its role in the state’s inclusive development.He also thanked the Minister of Commerce and Industry for opening the exhibition and lauded the ministry’s co-operation in organising the event and for supporting Qatar’s industrial sector. He also highlighted its role in resolving all obstacles facing the private sector, allowing it to fulfil its desired role in economic development.Sheikh Khalifa stressed that the participation of 450 companies and factories also reflects their keen interest in promoting their products in the local market with the aim to achieve the desired self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imports.The exhibition boasts of a diverse roster of participating industries in the following sectors: petrochemicals, furniture, foodstuffs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and services, among others, Sheikh Khalifa emphasised.Sheikh Khalifa called on businessmen, investors, and company representatives to visit the exhibition, learn about Qatari products, and meet with Qatari manufacturers. He noted that the event also serves as a platform for bilateral meetings between Qatari investors and their foreign counterparts, facilitating deals, and fostering alliances and partnerships in the industrial sector.

HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai and other dignitaries during the inauguration of the Tasmu Accelerator Hub held yesterday at Ooredoo HQ2.
MCIT honours top-performing startups under Tasmu Accelerator initiative

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) recognised three startups for their groundbreaking solutions during the Tasmu Accelerator 2023 Demo Day held in Doha yesterday.Albert Health, Direk, and Fleetroot, which stood out from the accelerator’s healthcare, environment, and logistics tracks, respectively, each received a QR200,000 cash boost from their respective Track Champions to further grow and scale their businesses, all while maintaining 100% equity.The event took place following the inauguration of the Tasmu Accelerator Hub at Ooredoo HQ2, which was officiated by HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai.Designed to nurture startups, the dedicated workspace will welcome graduates of the 2023 Cohort. This strategic positioning will provide them with invaluable local market insights, and industry expertise, as well as facilitate their successful entry and growth into the Qatari market.During yesterday’s demo day, the programme’s top eight finalists – Albert Health from the UK, Doktorconnect (Nigeria), Evyd Research (Singapore), (the UK), Aspire (Australia), Darbco (Jordan), Fleetroot (the UAE), and LogesTechs (Palestine) presented their solutions to a distinguished audience from Qatar’s thriving innovation ecosystem, including public and private sector industry executives, esteemed investors, and accomplished mentors.With the aim of enhancing deal flows, the event also featured panel discussions focused on the impact of public and private partnerships and how they can nurture Qatar’s start-up ecosystem.The accelerator has made significant strides in cultivating innovation and enabling digital transformation in the country. Open to both local and international start-ups, the initiative plans to introduce annual cohorts, with the overarching vision of propelling Qatar into a world-class smart city. This transformation aims to elevate living standards, enhance global competitiveness, and introduce cutting-edge digital solutions.The Tasmu Accelerator is set to drive Qatar’s digital economy forward and help position the country as a leader in the global tech industry by providing an all-inclusive, supportive ecosystem for global and local tech startups, said Reem al-Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Industry Affairs at MCIT.Al-Mansoori said: “At MCIT, we are looking for more than technological and innovative solutions. Our aim is to find solutions that can seamlessly integrate into our daily lives and meet the varied needs of our community. For us, technology serves as tool to ensure that Qatar is the number one place to live, work, and call home.“Technological solutions are there to help us feel comfortable, supported, and efficient. We are confident these eight start-ups can implement new solutions that will further enhance the overall human-centric approach we want technology to provide to us all living in Qatar.”Speaking on the sidelines of Demo Day, Eman al-Kuwari, Director of Digital Innovation Department at MCIT, told reporters that the programme has attracted over 540 applicants from 78 countries for its inaugural cohort. Of these, 25 startups were selected to participate in a dedicated six-month acceleration phase, she said.To qualify, participants were required to address challenges within three key priority sectors, each sponsored and supported by a Track Champion: Ooredoo (environment), Microsoft (healthcare), and Ericsson (logistics).The Tasmu Accelerator programme has achieved remarkable milestones this year, thanks to the market access and funding support of 85 partners and venture capitalists. Additionally, over 70 workshops have been delivered, equipping startups with the essential skills and resources to develop their projects.Since its establishment, the 2023 cohort startups have been successful in raising $36mn worth of funding and generating sales exceeding $100mn, resulting in a combined portfolio valuation of $500mn.As part of its mission to build capacity and foster networking, the accelerator has also facilitated over 150 sales meetings between startups and key local entities. In addition, over 150 interns from Qatar’s leading universities have been strategically matched with startups, allowing them to gain practical experience in a real business environment while offering startups access to a pool of emerging talent.The Tasmu Accelerator, which announced the opening of the early registration phase for the 2024 cohort, is set to continue its mission through 2030, in line with the country’s national vision.The programme aims to bolster the economy, enhance private sector competitiveness, and broaden Qatar’s revenue streams by introducing 80 innovative solutions to the local market and generating 800 job opportunities.

From left: TBY senior country editor Silvia Lambiase moderates the panel discussion ‘Qatar’s Remarkable Journey: A Vision for Tourism and Infrastructure Development’ featuring Rahul Potdar, director, Portfolio Management Development, Qatari Diar; Khaled al-Suwaidi, director of projects, Katara Hospitality; and Khalid al-Jassim, senior business development officer, Qetaifan Projects, during TBY's ‘Qatar Investment Conference 2023: Qatar National Vision & Beyond’ held on Thursday at the Fairmont Doha. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar is ‘on track’ to meet tourism goals post-World Cup, says panel of experts

Post 2022 FIFA World Cup, which catapulted Qatar into the global stage, the country is “on track” in its transformation into a hub for a wide range of tourism activities, a panel discussion revealed during the ‘Qatar Investment Conference 2023: Qatar National Vision & Beyond’, organised on Thursday by The Business Year (TBY).Moderated by TBY senior country editor Silvia Lambiase, the panel discussion ‘Qatar’s Remarkable Journey: A Vision for Tourism and Infrastructure Development’ featured industry experts Rahul Potdar, director, Portfolio Management Development, Qatari Diar; Khaled al-Suwaidi, director of projects, Katara Hospitality; and Khalid al-Jassim, senior business development officer, Qetaifan Projects.According to al-Jassim, in the pipeline are many events that aim to propel Qatar towards its goal of becoming a tourist destination by 2030. Under the Qatar National Vision 2030, tourism is expected to have around “12%” of Qatar’s GDP, he noted.Between now and the 2030 Asian Games, al-Jassim said many events on the anvil are also expected to utilise the different multi-billion infrastructure that was built for the FIFA World Cup.Aside from sports events, al-Jassim stressed that Qatar is, likewise, excelling in education and entertainment, which will also play a role in generating tourism-related activities across the country.“Qatar has seven of the best universities in the world and many people come to accomplish their educational and career goals and earn their degrees. On the entertainment side, we have the Qetaifan Project,” al-Jassim said, citing the Qetaifan Island North as among the company’s top assets.On a similar note, al-Suwaidi agreed that family tourism is among the key drivers of the sector in the country. He said Katara Hospitality is in line with Qatar’s goal to position itself as a safe family destination.“The government is capitalising on this strength or strong point in our brand and our location on the map. So, being known as one of the safest countries in the world and very family friendly is a big plus; it's actually in line with that brand,” al-Suwaidi said, adding that Katara Hospitality’s assets worldwide are also known for its family-friendly services.Potdar also reiterated that family tourism is a “big key differentiator” for Qatar, which was proven during the country’s successful hosting of the World Cup.“We made it into a very family-oriented, resoundingly successful World Cup to that extent...I think family tourism stands out clearly as being that edge. And I think that's the focus going forward.“And I think everything that we are working on today is oriented towards making sure that we take on the success of the World Cup that we've demonstrated worldwide to take it on and prove that if you want a family holiday or if you want to enjoy with your family, Qatar is the place,” Potdar pointed out.