Thursday, February 02, 2023 | 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.
Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar president Palma Libotte
Italian chamber official lauds Qatar’s evolving tourism sector

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

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

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

The arrival of the cruise ship 'Le Bougainvilie' at Doha Port on December 25, 2022, signalled the start of the 2022-2023 cruise season. According to Malabar Gold & Diamonds regional head Santhosh T V, following the influx of millions of fans to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, jewellery stores may expect a new wave of customers as the cruise season would bring in more tourists to the country.
Qatar jewellery shops expect brisk trade as cruise season begins

Jewellery stores in Qatar had made profitable sales from the influx of millions of tourists during the World Cup, but while fans have gone back home, merchants here expecting to make brisk business from the cruise season, it is learnt.According to Malabar Gold & Diamonds regional head Santhosh T V, following the influx of millions of fans to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, jewellery stores may expect a new wave of customers as the cruise season would bring in more tourists to the country.He noted that the World Cup was a “great opportunity” for the country to promote itself to the international community as millions of tourists arrived in Doha to watch the tournament.The arrival of the cruise ship 'Le Bougainvilie' at Doha Port on December 25, 2022, signalled the start of the 2022-2023 cruise season, according to a tweet from Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar).“Managed by the French company Ponant Cruises, the first ship of the season is 131m long and 18m wide, and can accommodate 294 people, including crew members. #MwaniQatar,” Mwani Qatar tweeted on December 25, 2022.The next day, Mwani Qatar tweeted again saying, “In total 58 cruises are scheduled to call #DohaPort in the new 2022/’23 cruise season. Six cruise liners will make their maiden calls to #Qatar during the season which will continue until April 2023.”Similarly, Shine Gold & Diamonds marketing head – Gulf Region, Sameer Adam noted that they are expecting more tourists and visitors to continue to push demand for jewellery during the cruise season.Asked how jewellery stores in Qatar performed during the World Cup, Adam said, “Generally, jewellery stores in Qatar had an excellent performance during the World Cup, especially for shops that are located in areas where many tourists came to visit.”“For us, we had the advantage of being primarily located at the Gold Souq and Souq Najada, and this has helped us because these areas are where most of the foreign tourists used to stay or visit after attending the matches,” Adam explained.He said their shops recorded high sales growth during the group matches when most of the fans from the 32 nations competing at the World Cup were in the country to cheer for their home teams.“As the tournament progressed and came to an end, our sales dipped slightly but the peak sale was during the first 15 days of the World Cup. Our additional sales from World Cup fans for the entire duration of the tournament would be around 50-60% more,” he said.

The FIFA World Cup 2022 attracted more than 1.4mn football fans from across the globe. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar
‘Bright outlook’ for Qatar's retail sector

Brisk business during the 29-day FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has created a positive impact on the country’s retail sector, ushering a “bright outlook” this year amongst stakeholders and players in the industry.Malabar Gold & Diamonds regional head Santhosh T V emphasised that aside from the world-class stadiums and other infrastructure, fan experience during the World Cup will play an important factor in attracting more tourists to the country.“Because many visitors have witnessed for themselves what Qatar has to offer during their stay for the FIFA World Cup, this creates a positive impact on the retail industry, as well as other sectors in the country,” he explained.Santhosh pointed out that Qatar’s delivery of a successful FIFA World Cup helped cement its reputation as a world-class tourism and sports hub in the region and showcases the country’s ability to host a variety of large-scale events and tournaments.“It was a great year for Qatar and its people. This World Cup milestone will create a trickledown effect on different sectors and industries in the country, thus enhancing the business climate. The retail sector will be among the direct beneficiaries as more tourists arrive here,” Santhosh told Gulf Times Sunday.According to Santhosh, hosting the FIFA World Cup was one of the “best opportunities” for Qatar to promote the country before the international community not only in terms of its investment climate but also the country’s culture, tradition, heritage, and people.“We may not expect an immediate influx of tourists in the coming days or weeks in the wake of the World Cup, but the benefits of this international exposure after Qatar hosted the tournament is for the long-term,” he said.Official data released by authorities recently showed that more than 1.4mn fans from across the globe have visited Qatar for the FIFA World Cup. In November 2022 alone, the country welcomed more than 600,000 international visitors, Qatar Tourism reported.To maximise the presence of a large international audience during the World Cup, Malabar Gold & Diamonds focused on its branding strategy by increasing advertisements in different platforms, including print and online media, as well as billboards across strategic outdoor areas in Qatar, including the metro stations, Santhosh explained.“Our investments in advertising and company branding during the FIFA World Cup were worth it considering that it was a good opportunity for the company to promote our brand to millions of tourists and visitors. Brand-wise, more people across the globe have been made aware of the company because of our marketing strategy during the tournament,” he said.

Qatar’s delivery of a carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup is seen to underline the country’s ambition to successfully showcase the tournament “as a catalyst for sustainable, long-term change.” PICTURE: AFP/FIFA
1st carbon-neutral World Cup seen to reinforce Qatar’s circular economy goals

Qatar’s delivery of a carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup is seen to underline the country’s ambition to successfully showcase the tournament “as a catalyst for sustainable, long-term change.”Two years prior to hosting the World Cup, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), FIFA, and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC (Q22) published a sustainability strategy, which “includes a comprehensive set of initiatives to mitigate the tournament related emissions, including energy-efficient stadiums, low emission transportation, and sustainable waste management practices.”These efforts, among other environment protection-related strategies from state authorities, fall under the Qatar National Vision 2030, which is supported by four pillars: economic, social, human, and environmental development.In a policy paper on Circular Economy (CE), the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) stated sustainable development “is most explicit” in the economic development and environmental development pillars.According to the paper, Qatar, along with other economies in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), “have already embarked on the sustainability transition.” The paper stated: “Balancing economic development and environmental conservation is a common theme in their national visions. Thus, incorporating CE principles across sectors would further support the diversification agendas and help build circular sectors.”It stressed that implementing a CE strategy, among other advantages, provides governments with the necessary tools to address issues, such as climate change – “a challenge that needs a global solution.”“Qatar has taken significant steps to address this challenge, both in the national and international arenas. Internationally, Qatar is among the first countries to accede to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (1996), the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes (1995), and the Paris Agreement (2016),” the paper stated.Aside from the country’s national vision, authorities launched Qatar’s second National Development Strategy (2018-2022), which also sets concrete targets to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.According to the paper, some of these targets include: reducing the per capita consumption of water by 15% through the national programme ‘Tarsheed’, reducing per capita electricity consumption rate by 8%, increasing the share of recycled materials used in construction projects to 20% of total materials used, and increasing the recycling rate of solid waste to 15%.Aside from hosting the first carbon-neutral World Cup, Qatar has other sustainability initiatives, such as smart city technology at Msheireb Downtown Doha, QatarEnergy’s carbon capture roadmap for the energy sector in Qatar, the world-class Hamad Port, district cooling technology, and green transportation targets, among others.“Furthermore, ongoing sustainability projects with guidance from Qatar National Vision 2030, such as hosting the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup ever in 2022, are clear manifestations of the government’s commitment to maintaining harmony between economic development and environmental sustainability,” the paper stated.

According to the strategy, the projects will help increase production (based on 2019 figures) of the following food sources: fish (from 74% to 90% in 2023), vegetables (24% to 70%), red meat (18% to 30%), and eggs (28% to 70%).
Qatar on way to meet 2023 food security goals

The projects will help increase production of fish (from 74% to 90% in 2023), vegetables (24% to 70%), red meat (18% to 30%), and eggs (28% to 70%). Qatar will become 100% self-sufficient in shrimp production by 2023. •Green fodder production growth is expected to rise from 56% to 63%.Qatar is expected to meet its goals of becoming self-sufficient in several food sources in the coming period, which is part of a roadmap that aims to increase food production by 2023.As Qatar bids goodbye to 2022 with the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup, the country is aiming to boost food production in areas, such as fish, greenhouse-produced vegetables, red meat, and eggs, as part of the government’s ‘Strategic Food Security Projects 2019-2023’.According to the strategy, the projects will help increase production (based on 2019 figures) of the following food sources: fish (from 74% to 90% in 2023), vegetables (24% to 70%), red meat (18% to 30%), and eggs (28% to 70%).The official statistics had also mentioned that Qatar will become 100% self-sufficient in shrimp production by 2023. Similarly, green fodder production growth is expected to rise from 56% to 63%.In a previous report, which touched on food security in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Oxford Business Group (OBG) stated that the six nations imported around “85%” of their food at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.“Almost all rice consumed in the region was imported, as well as some 93% of cereals, approximately 62% of meat, and 56% of vegetables. Supply chain disruption triggered by the pandemic had an immediate impact in the region, spurring GCC countries to step up existing programmes to boost food security,” OBG further noted.In May 2022, OBG released a report stating that among GCC countries, Qatar is leading its Gulf neighbours in the Global Food Security Index 2021.Qatar was listed in the 24th spot (out of 113) in the global ranking and garnered an overall score of 73.6 (out of 100). Kuwait followed with a global ranking of 30 and an overall score of 72.2.According to the Covid-19 Response Report, produced by OBG, in partnership with the Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development, the Global Food Security Index 2021 listed other GCC countries as follows: UAE (35th global ranking, 71 overall score), Oman (40th, 70), Saudi Arabia (43rd, 68.5), and Bahrain (44th, 68.1).Qatar’s interdependent food security strategy rests on four pillars: international trade and logistics, domestic self-sufficiency, strategic reserves, and domestic markets, according to a January 2020 report by the Food Security Department.These pillars ensure that Qatar’s food import strategy is resilient against potential trade shocks and disruptions and that the country can quickly react to the loss of trade partners or a drop in self-sufficiency, the report stated.It also ensures Qatar’s self-sufficiency in strategic commodities, such as perishables that Qatar can produce competitively, and shift production towards best practice technologies to drive yield improvement.

QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani
World Cup is Qatar’s ‘strong point’ in attracting FDI, says Sheikh Faisal

The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) spent an eventful year meeting with different heads of state and hosting top government officials from other countries, organising trade delegations here and abroad, and participating in a variety of conferences tackling key issues.In February, QBA organised a business lunch in honour of Sir Gerald Grimstone, the UK’s Minister of State for Investment, and Simon Penny, Commercial Commissioner for the Middle East. Both officials were received by QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani and other officials and members of the association.The meeting discussed the current investment opportunities in the UK and plans for Qatar as a strategic economic partner. Sheikh Faisal underscored the need to develop partnerships and cooperation, noting the importance of Qatar’s private sector as an important and strategic partner for the UK.In the same month, QBA met with Mozambique President Felipe Jacinto Nyusi on the sidelines of his visit to Qatar. HE Sheikh Faisal expressed his interest in exploring the available investment opportunities in Mozambique.The president of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, also met with QBA in February when he visited Qatar for the ‘6th Summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum’. Sheikh Faisal lauded Algeria for its “great natural and economic potential.” He also highlighted the keenness of Qatari businessmen to discuss with their Algerian counterparts the potential cooperation and investments in both countries.The sixth GECF summit also witnessed QBA’s meeting with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi where discussions focused on activating the Iranian Commercial House in Qatar and raise trade exchange between both countries.In March, QBA, along with the Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA), met with Assila bint Salem bin Suleiman al-Samsamiya, undersecretary of Oman’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.During the meeting, Hussain Alfardan, QBA first deputy chairman, stressed Qatar’s keenness to develop economic relations with Oman, which is also seen as an ideal hub for tourism and real estate investments.Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Thani al-Thani, QBA second deputy chairman, lauded Qatar-Oman ties and described the Sultanate as a “second home” for Qataris. He also expressed interest in learning more about offered investment projects in the industrial and financial sectors.QBA also met with German Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, Dr Robert Habeck, who visited Qatar in March with a high-level economic delegation. The visit aims to strengthen the economic relations between the two countries and explore new opportunities in both Doha and Berlin.This was followed by QBA’s meeting with Jane Harman, former member of the US House of Representatives and her accompanying delegation on the sidelines of the Doha Forum. During the forum, QBA also organised a business dinner at the majlis of Sheikh Dr Khalid in honour of the visit of the Global Advisory Council of the Wilson Centre headed by CEO Mark Green.The Prime Minister of Mali, Shugel Maiga, was also in Doha last March and discussed with QBA the possibility of organising a Qatari-Mali Economic Forum to review all investment opportunities available in both countries.QBA participated in the Qatari-Spanish Business Forum, which was held on the sidelines of the official visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Madrid in May. The meeting was attended by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani, and Spain’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Reyes Maroto.QBA participated in the 2022 Hannover Messe, which was held from May 30 to June 2 in Germany. Hannover Messe is considered a substantial fair in the world of technology and industry.The association met with Counselor Mohamed Abdel Wahab, CEO of the Egyptian General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) in June and discussed ways to develop the investment ties of both two countries. The two sides agreed to organise bilateral visits for the Qatari and Egyptian business communities.During QBA’s meeting with Ali Reza Beyman, Deputy Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade of Iran and Head of the Iranian Trade Promotion Organisation, in June, Alfardan confirmed the interest and keenness of both sides to enhance economic and trade relations and develop trade exchange.QBA organised a business lunch in honour of the June visit of a Swiss delegation comprising companies and hospitals specialising in medical tourism and medical services.In the same month, QBA held separate meetings with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his Deputy Prime Minister, as well as with Algerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mohamed Abdel Hafeez Hani, to discuss co-operation opportunities and develop economic relations.QBA also met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his ministers of tourism, transport, agriculture, science and technology, during their visit to Doha in June. In the same month, QBA travelled to Algeria and met Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Yassin Hammadi and Minister of Housing, Urbanisation and the City Mohamed Tariq Belaribi to discuss investment opportunities in tourism and real estate.Also, in the second meeting of the Algerian-Qatari Business Council, both sides agreed to develop trade and economic relations and discussed ways to boost Qatari investments in Algeria in various economic sectors.QBA organised a business lunch for Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Nevin Gameaa and her accompanying delegation. During the meeting, Sheikh Faisal stressed the importance of strengthening joint cooperation between Qatar and Egypt in various economic sectors, especially in the new industrial zones.In August, QBA held a meeting with Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, who visited Qatar with his accompanying delegation to strengthen bilateral relations and support economic cooperation.In the same month, QBA met with the US Women’s Global Initiative delegation during a business dinner organised in cooperation with the Qatari embassy in Washington. The dinner was also joined by board members of QBWA.In October, QBA met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouly on the sidelines of the First International Forum and Exhibition for Industry held in Cairo.QBA also celebrated the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which coincided with the celebration of Qatar National Day recently. Sheikh Faisal emphasised that Qatar National Day “will remain unforgettable” because of the major achievements during the reign of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.Sheikh Faisal said: “The World Cup will be a strong point for attracting foreign investment, which is what we are currently working on through our external presence and efforts to promote Qatar and it will reflect positively on the country’s future as an investment and tourism destination capable of rising to the challenges of competition.”Alfardan stressed that the infrastructure built in preparation for the World Cup will have a major role in achieving the sustainable development goals included in Qatar National Vision 2030. He said this will have a direct and indirect reflection on trade, transport, and services, in addition to promoting Qatar as a global sports capital and related specialisations, such as training and rehabilitation centres for sports teams before the start of the sporting seasons and during rest periods, in addition to medical tourism, among others.Sheikh Dr Khalid said: “The state has launched projects in various fields during the past 10 years and today, we are proud of the crowds amidst the fascination of everyone who visited Qatar and the infrastructure that was built, which is not limited only to the World Cup but beyond. In light of huge projects in the field of LNG production, this would provide financial resources that can be used to diversify the economic fabric of the country.”He added that the World Cup will be Qatar’s gateway to broader growth prospects in various economic and social fields and will contribute to further promoting Qatar’s image globally.

Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
​​​​​​​Qatar Chamber posts robust private sector performance in 2022

Qatar’s private sector has played a variety of key roles that contributed significantly in the country’s economic development in 2022, including other achievements in international trade growth and the recently concluded FIFA World Cup.Qatar Chamber Chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani stated that the success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will enable Qatar to position itself as a global business and investment destination amid several attractive legislative and regulatory reforms implemented prior to the tournament and advanced infrastructure.“The national economy will continue its growth and development after the country hosts the tournament, considering the great leaps it has achieved over the past years, in light of the presence of attractions that enhance its growth process and increase global confidence,” stated Sheikh Khalifa’s exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), which was published in Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s economic magazine.Citing a post-World Cup Qatar, Sheikh Khalifa stressed that growth drivers from 2023 onwards will include sectors, such as tourism, knowledge economy, agriculture, and industry, among others.He emphasised that the World Cup will have a positive impact on the tourism and trade sectors. Aside from witnessing significant growth, these sectors will attract more investors and tourists to Qatar, citing the role of the hospitality and tourism sectors, F&B, and sports facilities and stadiums as “important sources of income for the state.”Sheikh Khalifa’s QNA interview also stated that the non-oil sector will record a “2.8% to 4.7%” growth rate in 2022 as a result of World Cup-related activities. He said the non-oil sector achieved an average growth of about “2.9%” in the first nine months of 2021 buoyed by growth in the manufacturing, transport, and trade sectors.Sheikh Khalifa noted that manufacturing was among the leading industries of the private sector. This was enhanced by government efforts to support the competitiveness of national products, including other sectors in trade, industry, and building and construction. The agriculture sector was also at the forefront following the State’s keenness to enhance Qatar’s food security.In the second quarter of 2022, private sector exports stood at QR8.92bn, representing a 21% year-on-year growth. “This surge clearly confirms the ability of the private sector and the Qatari economy to adapt to normal and abnormal economic conditions and to achieve rising growth rates, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic,” Al Moltaqa reported.Al Moltaqa also published Sheikh Khalifa’s interview with Oxford Business Group (OBG) where he stated that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 97% of registered private sector companies in Qatar and account for some 15-17% of non-oil GDP.Sheikh Khalifa stressed to OBG the need for banks to offer solutions to entrepreneurs seeking to launch or expand their businesses. He also underscored the importance of enacting legislation that protects, promotes, and empowers SMEs, as well as services that facilitate the launch of businesses and provide training services, consultations, orientation, and incubation opportunities for entrepreneurs.He said the chamber is keen to help SMEs to compete in the national economy, citing the three editions of the ‘SMEs Conference’ and shared best practices from foreign partners. The chamber also supports owners of family businesses by promoting their products through exhibitions, such as the ‘Made in Qatar’ expo.Sheikh Khalifa also lauded the efforts of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for launching the ‘1,000 Opportunities Initiative’ during ‘National Product Week’, offering SMEs the opportunity to develop their products and services and become more competitive in the Qatari market.“This gives the private sector a good advantage to play a larger role in Qatar’s economic development,” Sheikh Khalifa emphasised.

Shareef BC, CEO of Grand Mall Hyper Markets Qatar.
Qatar retail sector's World Cup gains seen to offset impact of Covid-19

Qatar’s retail industry’s “positive performance” during the World Cup could achieve a growth rate that could offset the impact of Covid-19 on the local market, an industry stakeholder has said.According to Shareef BC, CEO of Grand Mall Hyper Markets Qatar, some of the indirect beneficiaries of Qatar’s successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup were sectors in the business community specialising in the production, distribution, and, service industries, among others.To capitalise on the influx of millions of tourists and fans of the World Cup, Shareef said Grand Mall Hyper Markets Qatar launched several promos, including a year-long campaign titled ‘Let’s Football’, as well as cash prizes, among other initiatives.In the wake of the World Cup, which concluded on Qatar National Day, Shareef said “a smaller decline in demand is natural.”“But the basic economic situation prior to the World Cup still will be there and all retailers have their respective plans of action to retain business. To attract customers, there will still be overaggressive daily and weekend promotions and on different occasions to fill the gap. Retailers will also ensure prompt product availability and variety to attract more customers,” Shareef told Gulf Times.Shareef also stressed that Grand Mall Hyper Markets Qatar was well-prepared for a larger customer footfall, especially from World Cup fans and other foreigners visiting the country.“Like other retailers in the country, we also had done enough homework to meet the special demands expected during the World Cup. We always co-ordinated with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and suppliers during the preparatory period in terms of policies and other actions for ensuring that products are sufficient and delivered on time. Our external sourcing chains were also kept on alert to ensure that there are no gaps and buffer stocks were available. We also rented new warehouses and maintained optimum utilisation of existing facilities,” Shareef said.He added: “To meet these demands, we even extended our operations to 24 hours. We opened new outlets at Barahat Al Junoob, exclusively for the FIFA international security and volunteers staying in the UCC accommodation based on the demand by the authorities.“This outlet catered to people staying there who had no other option to source their needs, earning us the praise of concerned authorities. Our outlets at Asian Town, Barwa Affordable, and Mekaines were fan zones. Though there were some restrictions during match days, we also met the demands of customers there.”

IPA Qatar has noted that a major highlight of Q4 is Qatar’s surging economy, “which reflected greater resilience as Qatar entered a historic phase by organising the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the Middle East.”
IPA Qatar sees Q1 2023 as ‘springboard to further success’

Buoyed its achievements in 2022, which witnessed the country’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) is looking at Q1 2023 as “a springboard to further success in another year.”“Let us hope that the quarters ahead bring prosperity to investors and promise more success to Qatar,” IPA Qatar stated in its Fourth Quarter Newsletter, which enumerates the agency’s accomplishments during the period.IPA Qatar stated: “The past few months have seen Qatar shine on the global stage as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, bringing the world together in one city to experience the region’s welcoming hospitality and culture.”While Qatar was in the global focus courtesy of a hectic World Cup schedule, IPA Qatar noted that it was equally busy in Q4 with the launch of three new ‘How to Guides’ for setting up business, hiring, and living in Qatar, as well as 12 new sectoral studies highlighting the many lucrative opportunities across sectors in the country.“Our global outreach efforts took us to Asia to participate in the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). IPA Qatar hosted a panel discussion and an interactive booth, in collaboration with QFZA and Media City, underscoring the role of Qatari business and licensing platforms in supporting companies within Qatar’s business ecosystem.“In an effort to give back to the community we serve, IPA Qatar employees participated in beach cleaning efforts near Al Zubarah, Qatar’s largest archaeological site. With the help of volunteers from the Doha Environmental Actions Project (DEAP), the IPA Qatar team removed hundreds of kilos of plastic, glass, and other trash from the beach next to the Unesco World Heritage Site in early November,” the newsletter stated.The agency also noted that a major highlight of Q4 is Qatar’s surging economy, “which reflected greater resilience as Qatar entered a historic phase by organising the 2022 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the Middle East.”Citing Fitch Solutions, IPA Qatar stated the country “will experience a ‘net positive impact’ resulting in a boost to its economy, trade relations, and investments while the world turns its focus to the region.”IPA Qatar added: “Trying to leverage the opportunities offered by this grand sporting festival, our team has been working to promote Qatar’s supportive business climate among potential investors and partners.“The Planning and Statistics Authority’s latest estimates of GDP for the second quarter of 2022 show solid growth of 6.3% y-o-y due to strong non-hydrocarbon sector growth of 9.7% y-o-y, namely in construction, trade, transportation, and real estate, a testament to the fertile investment environment of Qatar.”

Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed
‘World Cup fan experience to boost Qatar’s image’

The memorable experiences that fans and tourists got from Qatar’s successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will significantly boost the country’s image under the international spotlight.At the same time, Qatar’s travel and tourism industry is expected to witness growth next year in the wake of the “best World Cup ever,” which was effectively delivered by Qatar and its hospitable citizens and residents, according to Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed.Syed pointed out that the positive response of fans and tourists from their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 also provides added value to different businesses and companies in Qatar’s tourism, travel, and hospitality, as well as commercial and retail sectors.“After a successful tournament, I strongly believe that this has given Qatar the right to boost its image. Fans and visitors enjoyed every moment of their presence in Qatar and they even applauded the facilities extended by the authorities,” Syed told Gulf Times.He said: “We had very positive feedback from our customers and they wanted to come for a longer duration to enjoy and explore this wonderful country; it was very evident in this short time. Souq Waqif has become the talk of the town. Similarly, the guests want to come back and explore many more places in Qatar.”Syed also expressed optimism that by hosting a world-class and memorable FIFA World Cup, Qatar has effectively cemented its place on the global map as a tourist destination.“In times to come, I am confident that Qatar will become a destination for tourists to explore and a meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) destination for many corporates,” he emphasised.Syed also forecasts a bright 2023 for the country’s travel and tourism industry: “If the government continues to extend seamless travel and opens up the country to visitors without any restrictions, we can look forward to a strong 2023 with nothing but only growth, growth, and more growth.”He added: “I believe this is the year we should be able to cross our pre-Covid-19 levels and raise the bar. There are already several events lined up to lure visitors to Qatar next year, such as Doha Expo, World Table Tennis Championship, Qatar Tennis Open, Formula One, Qatar Travel Mart, and several construction-related projects and exhibitions.”

KV Abdul Nazar, chairman & managing director of Akbar Travels of India & Akbar Group.
Stakeholders hopeful for robust Qatar travel industry in 2023

Key stakeholders and players in Qatar’s travel and tourism sector are hopeful that 2023 would usher in more industry-related activities, such as tours and meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE), among others.KV Abdul Nazar, chairman & managing director of Akbar Travels of India & Akbar Group, told Gulf Times Tuesday that the movement in the travel and tourism market has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.“There is a post-Covid-19 demand, which is consistent, but still travel has not reached pre-pandemic levels. I hope in this coming year, we would expect high volume group movements, such as shutdown projects, tourism groups, and MICE traffic, as well as wedding groups from India,” Nazar explained.In the wake of Qatar’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup, Nazar noted that the tournament had a positive impact on the performance of the country’s travel and tourism industry as millions of fans and visitors arrived here to witness “the world’s greatest sports event,” which was held for the first time in the Middle East and the Arab world.“We had very positive results on our bottom lines as we had catered to the demand from our vast network of offices. I am sure it was the same with my industry colleagues; we were all overwhelmed by the demand,” Nazar pointed out.Nazar also noted that Qatar’s travel and tourism industry performed well for the entire year resulting from the gradual uptick in passenger movement in airports worldwide amid limitations from Covid-19 policies.“The travel industry is seeing a recovery, which has been termed as ‘revenge travel’. We have seen growing demands for travel to many destinations, which is something positive and it will be an ongoing trend. The World Cup definitely was a demand we had seen coming. Apart from that post-Covid period, we are seeing a surge in travel,” Nazar emphasised.According to Nazar, while it is too early to gauge if the travel and tourism industry in Qatar has recovered completely from pandemic-related losses, “nevertheless, the World Cup had definitely created a demand for the travel industry.”He added: “As there is a travel surge worldwide, the ripples will also be seen in Qatar in the coming years, and we are very optimistic about it.”

Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed
‘Successfully concluded World Cup a boon to Qatar’s travel industry’

Major players in Qatar’s travel industry, including stakeholders, such as agents engaged in operating destination management companies (DMCs), benefited greatly from the recently concluded FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, an industry expert has said.“The recently concluded FIFA World Cup has been phenomenal and a boon to the travel industry in Qatar, especially for the agents who have been engaged in DMC operations. Although outbound travel has seen a slump, inbound travel in Qatar, however, has seen considerable growth in the last three months,” Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times Monday.He said: “The start of 2022 was not that good for the industry since the initial few months were impacted by the Omicron variant. But with summer travel, the entire fraternity has seen tremendous growth way above our expectations compared to last year. However, the last quarter saw a drop again in outbound travel due to the restrictions on travel from various organisation to manage FIFA requirements.”According to Syed, Qatar has seen “a major recovery” in 2022 compared to last year, adding that overall, “it has been a mixed year” for the country’s travel and tourism industry.“The numbers are encouraging. However, we have still not managed to go beyond the pre-Covid-19 levels. In the initial months and pre-FIFA period, there has been a slowdown with expats opting to stay back in Qatar to experience the World Cup rather than travelling abroad. One of the other major factors that impacted outbound travel has been soaring airline prices,” Syed explained.Asked if the FIFA World Cup helped the travel and tourism industries make up for their losses from the Covid-19 pandemic, Syed said: “No, we still have not managed to reach the pre-Covid-19 levels.”He said: “However, the 1.4mn visitors experiencing Qatar’s hospitality did give us a boost during the last month during the FIFA World Cup. The local industry was further impacted by the fans opting to stay in other GCC countries and doing shuttle flights. The non-availability of hotel rooms during the initial period caused a major dent in the business.“Since most of the inventory was taken over by match hospitality, we, as local agents, couldn’t get our hands on the hotel rooms. Generally, fans coming from western countries seem to confirm their travel arrangements in advance to secure the best deals.”

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International. PICTURE: Thajudheen
LuLu aligns expansion with Qatar’s LNG production growth: Althaf

LuLu Group is aligning its expansion plans alongside the North Field development, the largest ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the world, in anticipation of population growth in the Al Dhakhira area in Al Khor. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, made the statement on the sidelines of the opening of LuLu’s latest and 22nd hypermarket in the country in Al Dhakhira, which was inaugurated in the presence of LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A and several dignitaries and VIPs.“This is the next biggest hydrocarbon expansion happening in Al Khor and we are expecting a huge increase in the population here, so we need to be prepared to serve all communities. We are very excited about this upcoming development and we are quite happy with the response from the community here,” he explained.Dr Althaf said, “The plans to increase LNG production is one of the country’s largest investments in hydrocarbons, so we are expecting that there will be a lot of projects happening in Qatar next year, so we wanted to establish our footprint in this area, which has witnessed an increase in the number of workers’ accommodations. We want to make sure that we are able to take care of their personal requirements.“We are looking at all industrial complexes that are expanding across the country. We want to serve all these communities so that people will not have to travel too far for their daily needs. This is part of LuLu’s mission to bring all things to the local community. Instead of people coming to us, we are coming to them. And this brings to reality the vision of our chairman.”Dr Althaf also noted that business was “very good” during the World Cup, adding that LuLu exceeded its business targets during the tournament. He said LuLu was on point with its targets, ensuring that there was no shortage of food supplies and other commodities, and no price increases during the World Cup.

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A. PICTURE: Thajudheen
LuLu to open six more stores across Qatar in 2023: Yusufali

Capping 2022 with the opening of its 22nd store in Qatar Saturday in Al Dhakhira, Al Khor, LuLu Group is expected to open six new hypermarkets in the country next year, the group’s chairman, Yusufali M A, told 'Gulf Times'. Speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of LuLu’s latest hypermarket and department store, Yusufali said the event culminates the group’s contribution to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which ends Sunday alongside the celebration of Qatar National Day.“LuLu has been a part of this successful event because we have opened more hypermarkets that cater to the needs of the people of Qatar. We successfully managed to meet the demands of both fans and local customers, which is why I would like to thank His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, and the Qatari government for LuLu’s successful operations and for supporting the group’s expansion plans in Qatar, especially during the World Cup,” he emphasised.Yusufali also extended his congratulations and thanked His Highness the Amir, the royal family, and the citizens and residents of Qatar for hosting a very successful FIFA World Cup in the country. He also lauded LuLu’s team comprising some 220 personnel who dedicated their work to serve not only the local customers but also the visitors and fans of the World Cup, stressing that LuLu was able to maintain its commitment to serve all customers without any shortages in food products during the entire duration of the tournament. “There was also no price increase while we served our customers during the World Cup. This was what we promised and we have kept this promise until the conclusion of this global tournament,” he stressed.Yusufali also praised the government for building many world-class infrastructures, such as the World Cup stadiums to meet the requirements of FIFA and the teams of different countries participating in the tournament. “Even FIFA officials have announced that the tournament held in Qatar was ‘the best World Cup ever’ held in its history,” he noted.

Glimpses from the opening of the new LuLu outlet in Al Dhakhira, Al Khor. PICTURES: Thajudheen
LuLu opens 22nd hypermarket in Al Dhakhira, Al Khor

LuLu Group fulfilled its commitment to open 22 branches by the end of 2022 with the opening of a new hypermarket and department store in Al Dhakhira, Al Khor, Saturday. LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A opened the new store in time for the celebration of Qatar National Day and the final of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Lusail Stadium, reflecting the group’s commitment to the “buoyant vision of the progress of the Qatari leadership”.The event was highlighted by a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Ali al-Sada in the presence of Yusufali, group directors Dr Mohamed Althaf and Salim M A, as well as senior management officials. Other dignitaries and VIPs joining the celebrations included Abdulla al-Muhannadi and Khalifa al-Muhannadi. The two-level hypermarket has all the popular LuLu retail features packed into 7,800sqm area. It includes an international variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, choice cuts of meats and seafood, and the popular ‘LuLu Connect’ digital showcase in-store.It also includes popular LuLu shopping stations, such as LuLu Fashion, luggage, stationery, sports and fitness, footwear, toys, and home furnishing, among many others. The hypermarket has 500 dedicated parking spaces and 18 checkout counters, as well as an ATM facility and a telecoms store for customers’ convenience.It will also feature a money exchange facility, travel agency, pharmacy, perfume store, watch shop, gift wrapping section and restaurants, among others. On the sidelines of the event, Yusufali extended his congratulations to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Qatari government, and the people of Qatar “for the big success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup”.Yusufali emphasised that LuLu Group contributed to the success of the World Cup by dedicating a team of 220 employees to serve fans from different countries “in a better way and providing quality foods according to their tastes.” “By the grace of God, we succeeded in our plan as there was not any shortage of food products or a price increase in Qatar during the event. This is what we promised ahead of the World Cup,” Yusufali noted, adding that the new hypermarket in Al Dhakhira is part of LuLu Group’s expansion plan to reach out to communities across the country.Dr Althaf said LuLu’s goal is to serve the maximum number of people in Qatar by opening new stores in their respective localities, saving their travel time.On LuLu’s business during the World Cup, Dr Althaf said: “We received an overwhelming response from customers, especially from the fans. Our prime focus was to serve the fans who came from all over the world by providing quality foods in large quantities. We succeeded in our plan as there was no shortage of food and no price hike was recorded all throughout the event.”

Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café
 ‘Qatar’s startups gain good track record in World Cup-related businesses’

The opportunity for small companies and startups to do business, secure deals, and participate in activities related to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will create a positive impact on their operations, according to an industry expert.“By indicating in your portfolio that your company has participated in the World Cup can open a host of other business opportunities because investors will understand that your company is trustworthy and has the ability to engage in major events and activities,” Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café, told Gulf Times.“Aside from investors, the opportunity to participate in the World Cup can also help startups attract other entities or business partners because an event such as this international tournament will provide the company a good track record, as well,” Malhis explained.He noted that doing business during the World Cup will also open opportunities to access a wider market and expand both regionally and globally, considering that millions of tourists and fans are attending the tournament.“And it’s not only the millions of fans, but there are also many different professional entities that are present in Qatar for ‘the biggest sports event in the world’, so this provides local startups opportunities to widen their network by engaging with international companies,” he stressed.Malhis also lauded the efforts of Qatar in diversifying its economy away from oil and gas to develop other industries in the country’s non-hydrocarbon sectors. He said Qatar has been investing heavily in developing its IT and ICT infrastructure and other technologies, which has given added value to the different stakeholders and major players in the country.He said not only are the big companies benefiting from Qatar’s world-class IT and ICT infrastructure, but also entrepreneurs, owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and different startups across the country.Malhis said the support provided by the Qatari government to local entrepreneurs, was crucial in preparing and establishing their businesses and companies prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.“Qatar is aware that technology is the future. The fact that the government supported the country’s startups earlier made a very big difference. Many local entrepreneurs were able to open up their businesses even before the World Cup, which is a great advantage because the government was there to help and support them and make sure that these companies are able to fully operate, especially during the tournament itself,” he stressed.Malhis emphasised that while Qatar has been very supportive of the different players in its startup ecosystem and the country’s entrepreneurial businesses, he said there is still “a lot of improvement” in terms of access to funding.“Access to funding is the biggest challenge in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and for entrepreneurs, including those from Qatar,” Malhis said, adding that another challenge for entrepreneurs is having the opportunity to secure and close deals.“Not only do you need to attract local talent but also talent from outside the country. Entrepreneurs also need access to markets. If you want to attract talent, particularly from unique technology startups that want to expand their footprint abroad, you have to open opportunities to do business in Qatar,” Malhis explained.

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.
Qatari businesswomen’s investments add to economic growth, says Sheikh Khalifa

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has underscored the role played by Qatari businesswomen in the country’s economic development, saying their investments are significant to the growth of the economy.“Over the recent years, businesswomen’s economic activity has intensified and expanded in many economic sectors,” Sheikh Khalifa said in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic magazine.“Qatari women have benefited from the wise leadership’s support and directives and from the government’s supportive policies, which focus on empowering women and activating their economic participation,” Sheikh Khalifa stressed.According to Sheikh Khalifa, the number of Qatari women who partially or fully own companies registered with Qatar Chamber stood around 7,000. An additional 4,900 women manage their companies and act as authorised signatories, while around 4,700 women are just authorised signatories.He stressed that the growth in the number of Qatari women in the business sector was accelerated by legislation that supports women to establish companies without discrimination, in addition to the facilities provided by the country’s investment environment and policies on ease of doing business.Earlier, Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that the chamber will continue to represent and strengthen the private sector’s role in Qatar’s economic development.It will also address all challenges and obstacles to find the appropriate solutions, as well as promote the national economy and strengthen co-operation with all institutions and chambers worldwide, he stressed.Sheikh Khalifa said: “Qatar Chamber will also contribute to participating in the efforts to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030 by promoting economic diversification and attracting investments to the state.”He stressed that the chamber is keen to enhance communication with all ministries and authorities concerned in order to discuss all challenges and difficulties and to find appropriate solutions. The chamber will also work to provide appropriate recommendations and give its opinion on private sector issues, Sheikh Khalifa added.