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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
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 Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos reports on Business and general news for Gulf Times. He is a Kapampangan journalist with a writing career of almost 30 years. His photographs have been published in several books, including a book on the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption launched by former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos. Peter has also taught journalism in two universities.
Gulf Times
Business
South Korean firm in talks with Qatar, GCC companies on vertical farming, says official

A South Korean food manufacturer is currently in discussion with potential companies in Qatar and its Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) neighbours that have expressed interest in its automated vertical farming technology. Nongshim is South Korea’s leading instant noodles and snack manufacturer, and a global name in the food and beverages market, according to Y J Bae, manager at Nongshim. He said, “Nongshim is a conglomerate with all the essential subsidiaries to be the leader in its field. By identifying key elements, Nongshim is making vertical farming less human-intensive and easier to maintain through its subsidiary, Nongshim Engineering.” As Qatar progresses towards establishing vertical farms, Nongshim is keen to play a key role in providing vertical farming technology to interested entities, as well as the training of personnel, Bae pointed out. “In the near future and with the right collaboration with local entities, a training centre could be established to address the education and training needs of the people in the region. “Our training is done on-site with actual professionals to help trainees experience the actual day-to-day operational experience necessary to properly manage a vertical farm. We have an exclusive programme where one will need to pass the qualifications to be a Nongshim-certified vertical farmer,” Bae explained. He said, “While everyone is talking about vertical farming and its benefits, at Nongshim, in co-operation with Star Farm Enterprise in the US, we would like to provide education and training to help find talent and certify them to be key players in any vertical farms that would be set up in Qatar, the Middle East, or anywhere in the world.” Bae noted that the discussions with Qatari and GCC companies are a follow-up to talks held during the ‘9th Qatar International Agricultural and Environmental (Agritech and Envirotech) Exhibition 2022’ where several Qatari officials requested their South Korean counterparts to support Qatar in terms of advanced vertical farming technology. Earlier, Bae told Gulf Times that agriculture was among the key topics of the meeting held between HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani and South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum in Doha in March this year. “Currently this programme will be initiated for Nongshim clients while they wait for their vertical farms to be ready. Nongshim is part of a consortium that has been awarded the first smart farm project in Oman by the government’s smart farm initiative,” Bae noted.

HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani and other officials at Hamad Port Saturday. Supplied picture
Qatar
First vessel arrives at Strategic Food Security Facilities Terminal, Hamad Port

HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti and HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani witnessed Saturday the arrival of the first vessel at the Strategic Food Security Facilities (SFSF) Terminal located at Hamad Port. The vessel was loaded with two LHM 280 mobile harbour cranes and their accessories after German company Liebherr completed their manufacture. The event signals the countdown to the operating of the State’s SFSF at Hamad Port as scheduled. The arrival of the vessel, which was loaded with two LHM 280 mobile harbour cranes and their accessories, signals the countdown to the operating of the State’s Strategic Food Security Facilities at Hamad Port as scheduled. PICTURE: Thajudheen HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani and other officials during the arrival of the first vessel at the Strategic Food Security Facilities (SFSF) Terminal located at Hamad Port. PICTURE: Thajudheen “The total percentage of work progress carried out at the site of the project, which the Ministry of Transport was charged with overseeing its construction, exceeds 93%. In addition, the documentation for the facilities’ operator has been prepared in cooperation with an international consulting firm in accordance with best practices in this field, and in conjunction with the committee for following up on the implementation of food security policies in the government and private sectors,” HE al-Sulaiti said. He noted that he was proud of such a high percentage of work accomplished despite the repercussions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected several economies around the world directly and indirectly, as well as contractors of megaprojects and suppliers. The ship at Hamad Port. PICTURE: Thajudheen He said the construction of the State’s SFSF follows the best global standards and manufacturing practices and deployed the latest technologies to raise the capabilities of storage, packing, transportation, and handling operations. For his part, HE Sheikh Mohamed said: “This vital project comes in line with the Qatar National Food Security Strategy, and will contribute to enhancing the State’s reserve capabilities, as well as securing, strengthening, and developing the strategic stock system for food, consumer, and catering goods. “This feat would further consolidate Qatar’s position as a regional leader in the area of strategic stock sufficiency, and reaffirm its ability to achieve food security and meet its people’s needs.” He added that Qatar has launched many initiatives aimed at implementing integrated mechanisms that would enhance and raise its strategic stock, and support its development of food security policies, especially since the latter is key to the State’s security and economic independence. The LHM 280 is designed for rapid, versatile and efficient cargo handling up to a maximum lifting capacity of 84 tonnes and a 40 metre maximum radius for multitasks and necessary usage in operations. Nabil AlKhaldi, executive director of the Hamad Port Project, said the LHM 280 is the right solution for all cargo rapid handling needs for food products, such as containers, general cargo, bulk materials, or heavy lifts. It also features a special multi-axle undercarriage system, superior cruciform supporting base, Liebherr Litronic crane control and management system, an ergonomically designed operator’s tower cabin and a unique Liebherr anti-corrosion treatment. Further, each crane is equipped with a headset telephone system, a generator, a central lubrication system, a video monitoring system, an anti-collision system for the jib, a lightning rod and aircraft warning lights. The SFSF project at Hamad Port, which stands on a 53-hectare area with an estimated cost of QR1.6bn, supports the country’s self-sufficiency plans and aims to create sustainable development for the coming generations. It is also a new addition to Hamad Port’s record of achievements, thus boosting its huge potential capabilities, modern facilities, and advanced systems for increasing Qatar’s trade with the world. The set plans to complete the development and readiness stages of the SFSF have taken into account the latest and most advanced methodologies. The facilities constitute an independent terminal with a docking berth of 575m (quay wall) in length and 12.5m in depth; standalone and fully functional for unloading, storing, loading, transporting, processing, refining, and packing preparation of three main food commodities: sugar, rice, and edible oils; and includes a production line for animal feed ingredients. In addition, this project is unique within the region with a storage capacity for a period of two years for the three main commodities, as it contains silos for long-term storage and huge warehouses with infrastructure and exceptional equipment to maintain such storage capacity to meet the needs of 3mn people, in accordance with relevant international standards.

Gulf Times
Business
‘Significant progress’ seen among country’s sports startups, says IPA Qatar official

Qatar has been witnessing positive developments among startups that are focusing on the sports sector, an official of the Investment and Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) has said. Speaking to Oxford Business Group (OBG) on the opportunities that Qatar has gained as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, IPA Qatar CEO Sheikh Ali al-Waleed al-Thani emphasised that prior to the tournament, which will be held in the latter part of the year, the country had already proven its capability to host large international events. He also noted that the Qatari government implemented a series of mega-infrastructure projects, such as sports stadia and the expansion of the Hamad International Airport, as well as the development of hotels and tourism-related facilities. “The upcoming football tournament will undoubtedly help draw more international attention to Qatar and will consolidate the country’s longstanding efforts to become a centre for sports, tourism, and culture. “There has also been significant progress related to entrepreneurial and startups involved in sports. We remain confident that hosting the event will have a positive effect on Qatar’s long-term economic growth prospects,” said Sheikh Ali in OBG’s ‘The Report: Qatar 2022’. In sectors that have the most potential to support growing levels of foreign investment, Sheikh Ali pointed out that the pandemic hastened digital transformation in economies worldwide. “Qatar is no exception, and this shift has been aided by pre-existing efforts and investments made by the government in this area in recent years. These factors have supported several areas of growth, key among them is ICT. The industry’s development is gaining traction and attracting both local and foreign investors, especially in emerging segments, such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cybersecurity, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. “Another promising area is the domestic food and agro-processing industry. We have seen remarkable development in this area in recent years, which bolstered Qatar’s self-sufficiency in food and, in turn, minimised the country’s reliance on imported food,” Sheikh Ali said. According to Sheikh Ali, the healthcare sector is also attracting significant international interest, supported by Qatar’s advanced healthcare infrastructure. Building on this, he stressed that there are opportunities for expansion in promising segments, such as medical tourism. “Similarly, the logistics sector continues to perform at international standards. We have one of the largest seaports and busiest airports in the region. These two facilities have proven to be a key driver of growth for the local logistics industry and the broader economy. “Moreover, Qatar is making strides in advanced manufacturing through the use of technology to increase productivity and sustainability. The value proposition of companies operating in this space is very attractive, thus presenting notable opportunities for investment,” Sheikh Ali stated.

Christian Hirt, Raffles and Fairmont Doha managing director.
Business
‘Strong focus’ on leisure seen to boost Qatar’s tourism

Qatar has been steadily cementing itself on the global tourism map by leveraging a strong focus on various leisure activities being offered across the country, an official of Raffles and Fairmont Doha has said. The country’s entire hospitality sector is fully-committed to supporting Qatar Tourism’s aim to increase the number of visitors to 6mn by 2030, according to managing director Christian Hirt. “Hotels in Qatar, including the Raffles and Fairmont brand, are working closely with Qatar Tourism, which has been a wonderful and supportive partner in spreading the word about the country’s hotel industry,” Hirt told Gulf Times in an interview. Hirt also pointed out the need to further promote the “diverse and interesting experiences” that Qatar is offering to visitors. “We have great museums and we need to further develop other activities like ‘the whale sharks of Qatar’ and activities for the younger generation, such as kite surfing, among others. “The desert and inland sea are beautiful, and a lot can be developed around this, so all of these will help make this destination even more attractive in the future,” Hirt emphasised, citing some of the wide range of leisure activities in the country, which would-be visitors could explore at the Visit Qatar website when booking trips here. According to Hirt, Qatar’s hotel and hospitality industry has witnessed “a significant amount of development” in the past years. “This is very important because a lot of hotels here will focus on marketing not only of their respective facilities but also the marketing of various destinations in the country, which translates to added value. “There is amazing infrastructure here. There is a strong focus on leisure facilities right now,” Hirt pointed out, citing the rise of different touristic destinations in Lusail and West Bay, among other areas across the country that would help drive leisure tourism into Qatar. He said, “If we all work together towards achieving the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030 to bring up the tourism number to 6mn, the mega projects that were delivered and that are still being built will all help to drive leisure tourism to Qatar. “As for the World Cup, Qatar would gain a great reputation of being not only a wonderful host but having the right infrastructure for other mega events that could be hosted by the country in the future.” On the role of Raffles and Fairmont Doha in Qatar’s tourism sector, Hirt reiterated: “We are bringing a lot of innovation. In general, the overall focus was on innovation, and there was a lot of creativity that went into this project. “Certainly, across the board, this is a destination that will drive significant awareness in the future, not only for Raffles and Fairmont as a brand but particularly for Qatar. The Raffles and Fairmont will be one of the most iconic hotel destinations in the world and I think this would be very beneficial to the country’s tourism industry.”

Gulf Times
Business
Climate change actions put Qatar at forefront of sustainability initiatives, says Invest Qatar report

Various commitments to fighting climate change have positioned Qatar at the forefront of sustainability initiatives, particularly in major areas of urban planning, transportation, energy, and ESG reporting, according to a report from Invest Qatar. In ‘Road to ESG Investing: Financing Sustainable Growth in Qatar’, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar), the agency overseeing investment promotion activities under the Invest Qatar brand, stated that the country has achieved major milestones in urban planning, among other areas. These include the hosting of the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup, development of Lusail and Msheireb townships, adoption of Global Sustainability Assessment System standards in buildings, and the efforts of Public Works Authority (Ashghal) in waste recycling, emission monitoring, tree plantation, and reclamation projects. In energy, some of the milestones include Qatar Petroleum’s transition to QatarEnergy, the establishment of the 800MW capacity Siraj solar power plant, the Tarsheed programme of Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa), and the technological innovations by Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) and Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). Similarly, in transportation, the then Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC) plans to have 25% of total public buses go electric by 2022, Kahramaa’s establishment of 400 electric vehicle charging stations by 2022, and the Doha Metro’s transformation into the backbone of Qatar’s public transportation system. This also includes Lusail and Education City trams offering eco- and user-friendly commuting options, electric tractors with zero-carbon emissions for Hamad Port, Hamad International Airport’s efforts towards achieving 30% carbon efficiency, and Qatar Airways’ achievements in waste reduction, biodiversity, and energy consumption. In ESG reporting, the report mentioned the release of ESG guidance by Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE), the launch of Qatar Sustainability Platform to monitor publicly listed companies, and the MSCI QSE 20 ESG Index, as well as plans for mandatory ESG disclosures for public companies. “The driving forces of Qatar’s national development – National Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 2018-2022 – rest on fundamental pillars of environmental and social development. The recent launches of the National Climate Change Action Plan 2030, National Environment and Climate Change Strategy 2021, and the setting up of a dedicated Ministry for Environment and Climate Change further strengthen Qatar’s commitments to fighting climate change on a global scale. “Qatar has also been a signatory to all major international agreements and conventions related to sustainable development. In 2021, the country has submitted its Voluntary National Review for UN SDGs and enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution targets for the Paris Agreement, a non-binding national plan highlighting climate action. For example, the National Climate Change Action Plan is the most ambitious in the region and sets major targets for the state including a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030,” the report stated.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Qatar’s gold market seeing upward sales trend as World Cup nears

Qatar’s gold market is steadily witnessing an upward sales trend in the lead-up to the country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is slated from November 21 to December 18. While the summer months are considered off-season as schools are closed, temperatures are high, and many people are out of the country on vacation, Shine Gold & Diamonds marketing head – Gulf Region Sameer Adam told Gulf Times Wednesday that there has been a surge in crowds in Doha. “For the coming period, we feel very positive…if you’re getting good business during the off-season, then we are definitely feeling upbeat about the business during the peak season. On top of that, we are expecting many people to travel in for the World Cup,” Adam explained. He said the World Cup is an opportunity to push further growth in the gold and jewellery market. “Many people will be browsing around and visiting a lot of places during the tournament, so there is always a chance for tourists to buy,” he explained. Considering the category of people coming into the country for the World Cup, Adam noted that they would be mostly from the younger age group “who may not be serious gold buyers.” “We are not expecting all of them to buy gold jewellery but at least if, say, 10% of the more than 1.5mn World Cup visitors and fans would be willing to buy, then that is a big quantity. “Naturally, the months of November to February are considered as peak season, but since the World Cup will be attracting more people into the country, it is expected that sales would be really high,” he also said. According to Adam, jewellery shops would be capitalising on the influx of tourists during the World Cup by offering different promotions. He said raffle draws and ‘scratch and win’ promos are usually offered in the winter season, but there would also be different promos related to the World Cup, as well. In the first half of 2022, Adam pointed out that gold sales surged 40% to 50% higher over 2020 and 2021 because of pandemic-related issues that had affected the market in the past two years. “The usual year-on-year growth trend would be around 10% to 15% but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the market witnessed a slowdown,” he said. Adam also said Ramadan and the Eid holidays are favourite occasions for people to buy gold, irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Peak months for jewellery stores in Qatar are from November to February, while the ‘slack period’ is between June and August, he said. “But in between, if there is Ramadan and Eid, there would be good business during that period. However, during the slack period – when schools are closed and when people are on vacation abroad, we still generate business because when these people travel, they still buy jewellery,” he said. Adam emphasised that it is “definitely a good time” to buy gold in Qatar: “Gold is not just an ornament but it is also an investment any time. If you look at gold prices, the graph usually shows an upward trajectory. It is also easy to liquidate unlike other investments, such as real estate, for example. You can sell gold right then and there.”

Gulf Times
Qatar
Qatar exchange houses record remittance growth

Exchange houses in Qatar have recorded an increase in remittance volume in the first six months of 2022 compared to the same period last year. Dr Zubair Abdulrahman, operations manager of Al Zaman Exchange, told Gulf Times Monday that the exchange house posted a 20% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in remittance volume for H1 2022. He explained that the steady drop in Covid-19 cases and further easing of health and safety restrictions were among the factors in remittance volume growth. “The movement of people is slowly returning to pre-Covid-19 conditions, which greatly benefitted many businesses,” Abdulrahman pointed out. Similarly, Trust Exchange general manager KNS Das said the company witnessed a 10% surge in the total volume for its digital transactions in the first half of the year. “Even month-on-month, we have been recording an increase in activity through our online platforms because of its convenience and ease of use,” he noted. On the other hand, Das said the role of banks in facilitating remittance services had affected remittance volume causing a slight 2% y-o-y drop “as more and more people are utilising digital applications and services, as well as other cashless transactions.” During Eid al-Adha, which was observed last month, Abdulrahman said Al Zaman Exchange witnessed a 22% y-o-y increase in the first half of the year as many residents in Qatar took advantage of the occasion to send money to their respective families back home. According to Das, Trust Exchange saw an 8% growth in remittance outflow from Qatar during this year’s Eid al-Adha. For the summer season, as many residents and citizens went abroad for vacation, both exchange houses saw high demand for the US dollar, euro, and the British pound. Other fast-moving foreign currencies during the period included the Turkish lira, Indian rupees, Saudi riyal, Philippine peso, and Jordanian Dinar. “Not only were the US dollar, euro, and the British pound in demand this vacation season, they were also seen as investments or as a ‘safe currency’ because of their higher exchange rates,” Abdulrahman pointed out. Al Zaman Exchange posted a 40% y-o-y increase in its digital transactions during H1 2022, he said while adding that the exchange house will continue to strengthen its digital platforms and services, as well as to continue offering different promotions to encourage customers to transact business online.

Saad bin Ahmad al-Muhannadi, president, Ashghal
Business
Small companies awarded QR189mn in contracts in 2022, says Ashghal official

Small-scale companies in Qatar’s construction sector have received contracts worth QR189mn ($51.9mn) as of January 2022 as part of the Ta’heel initiative of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), an official has said. “We are expecting to award additional contracts worth QR120m ($32.9m), Ashghal president Saad bin Ahmad al-Muhannadi told Oxford Business Group (OBG) in an interview, which was published in its ‘The Report: Qatar 2022’. The Ta’heel initiative was launched in 2018 with the aim to help small-scale companies compete in the local market, as well as in the global market over the longer term. It also provides support to new contractors through training on best practices in project implementation, the report further explained. Through Ta’heel, Ashghal is able to provide continued support to small-scale Qatari contractors working on road improvement projects, thus establishing an enabling environment for local companies to grow, according to al-Muhannadi. “Relying on local materials and manufacturers for most of the authority’s projects, it is expected that the increased opportunities will boost the competitiveness of the local industry over time,” al-Muhannadi told OBG. He said the share of primary local materials used in Qatar has increased from 38% in 2016 to 70% in 2020. The local market has benefited from about QR20bn ($5.5bn) worth of investment in infrastructure projects and building works since 2017, he noted. “Between 2022 and 2027, the value of local materials needed for such upcoming projects is estimated at QR25.6bn ($7bn),” al-Muhannadi also pointed out. On Ashghal’s efforts to raise environmental and social standards in Qatar’s construction sector, al-Muhannadi said that in 202 Ashghal received the ISO certification 45001:2018 for its occupational health and safety management system and ISO certification 14001:2015 for the authority’s environmental management system. Al-Muhannadi emphasised that Ashghal is committed to adopting high standards in environmental protection, recycling, health, and sustainability across all programmes and projects. He said promoting and complying with environmental and social standards is an essential goal in line with the efforts of various institutions towards achieving the objectives outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030. “To this end, the Global Sustainability Assessment System is being implemented in public educational and health buildings, while in 2020 Ashghal’s motorway and road projects used a high proportion of recycled materials, exceeding the 20% target set by the National Development Strategy. “At the same time Qatari companies are being empowered to expand their participation in local infrastructure projects, which is contributing to job creation and human capital development,” al-Muhannadi said. On Qatar’s Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Law, al-Muhannadi noted that PPPs play a vital role in developing the private sector and will be an important mechanism for future projects. Al-Muhannadi said Ashghal is extending the PPP model across its upcoming projects, in line with Qatar’s efforts to increase the participation of the local and international private sector in the country’s plans. Within the framework of the PPP Law, he said feasibility studies have been co-ordinated with the relevant government entities for some works. “We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to implement the Qatar PPP Schools Development Programme, which will follow international PPP best practices. “As part of the first phase of the programme, in 2021 Ashghal signed contracts to build eight new schools. Overall, 47 new schools are scheduled to be built with the help of private sector participation by 2027,” he said. Al-Muhannadi added: “These projects will benefit from the private sector’s experience in project management and implementation, and knowledge-sharing between the two sectors will be facilitated. The programme will also encourage best practices and efficiency, in addition to supporting economic diversification.”

South African ambassador Ghulam Hoosein Asmal.
Business
Envoy sees potential South Africa-Qatar tie-ups in food security, technology sectors

On the back of its technological advancements in a wide range of sectors, South Africa would be a reliable partner for Qatar in the development of different areas of mutual concern, South African ambassador Ghulam Hoosein Asmal has said. Speaking to Gulf Times, Asmal said: “As developing countries, technology is a sector that both Qatar and South Africa may share. South Africa is the most technologically-advanced country in the African continent.” He emphasised that the technology available in South Africa “is suited for developmental purposes” and “is suited for conditions in Qatar,” citing the exchange of technologies in addressing water scarcity for example. “One area that we are very excited about is agro-processing and new methods related to food security. Food security, which has become a very topical issue today, is caused by both natural causes like climate change and man-made issues, such as the situation in Ukraine, so both have emphasised the need for food security and I think we can cooperate with regard to that,” the ambassador stressed. Similarly, Asmal said South Africa has made tremendous advances in the field of veterinary sciences and agronomics. He said the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute is “among the 10 best in the world” and is producing vaccines for animals, as well as various technological researches, “so there is a lot of scope for improvement in that area.” According to Asmal, such advancements that South Africa has achieved in this field is reflected in its exports of a variety of high-quality meat to Qatar, such as beef and lamb. He also noted that the proximity between Qatar and South Africa is an advantage for both countries in terms of imports and exports. The ambassador stressed that South Africa also has advanced technologies in the field of hydroponics and how to grow foodstuffs “in the conditions of drought.” He said the seeds and other agricultural materials developed in South Africa “are hardy for harsh conditions.” “In terms of desalination, I believe we are very keen to learn from Qatar about this process and how to use that in South Africa. Our country is uniquely positioned that we have two oceans – the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, so knowing how to use and develop cost-effective ways of desalination to provide water is very important. He noted that proximity, particularly the frequency of flights between Qatar and South Africa, is considered an added value.“We have 31 flights a week between both countries. In Johannesburg alone, there are three flights a day, so I think the infrastructure is there for imports and for quality organic meat from South Africa,” he explained. While meat has been a dominant export commodity from South Africa to Qatar, Asmal noted that there is a need to expand trade exchange to other products, as well, citing other sectors on technology. “Besides agriculture, our banking technology is among the best in the world, so there is also scope for collaboration in this sector. Similarly, there is another great area for partnerships in the IT and services sector. “We have already seen a number of South African teachers here. In fact, the bulk of the South African expatriate population in the country are teachers and professionals. In South Africa’s accounting sector, we have a very credible and vigorous workforce, so there is also great potential for collaboration in that area,” he said. He said other growing areas for collaboration are in environmental sciences and waste management: “I’ve noticed that there is some consciousness about caring for the environment here. Caring is one thing but using scientific and technological advancements to secure a better world for our future is of utmost importance for us.” Asmal added: “South Africa also offers Qatar an opportunity to be part Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, designed to enable transformational science that will change our understanding of the universe. One of the sites of the powerful SKA telescope that is able to detect very faint radio signals emitted by cosmic sources billions of light years away from earth is located in South Africa.”

QIBC president Farhan al-Sayed (centre) presenting a token of appreciation to members of an Indonesian delegation, which visited Doha recently. From left are Indonesian businessman and philanthropist, Dr Rusli Bintang, and Dr Phil Suraiya IT MA, vice chair of Kadin Aceh, who headed the delegation.
Business
Indonesian chamber’s economic development plan to boost ties with Qatar

The Aceh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin Aceh) will be establishing an economic development plan aimed at building stronger bilateral relations between Indonesia and Qatar in a wide variety of sectors, an official has said. Dr Phil Suraiya IT MA, vice chair of Kadin Aceh, told Gulf Times that the chamber’s economic development plan includes the following industries: oil and gas (energy), agriculture and fisheries, halal tourism, and connectivity and transportation “through a collaboration with Qatar Airways.” According to Suraiya, who recently led an Indonesian business delegation in the country, the plan will be initially presented to the Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) and to the respective embassies of both countries. “Kadin Aceh is also planning to forge cooperation ties with Qatar Chamber to establish a sustainable mechanism of dialogue and platform for discussion and other development plans. “We are also in talks with Farhan al-Sayed, the president of Qatar-Indonesia Business Council, in order to develop strong institutional, trade, and business relations between our chamber and QIBC,” she explained. Suraiya added: “Our visit to Doha was also to meet colleagues and to follow up on a potential collaboration between Qatar and Aceh in the fields of education, culture, and economic development. “We also look to collaborate with Qatar in the field of education as we have universities and colleges focused on nursing and health. The province of Aceh, in particular, and the island of Sumatra, in general, could have positive prospects for partnership in the field of health.” QIBC president Farhan al-Sayed further explained that the Indonesian delegation arrived in Doha to enhance cooperation between Qatar and Aceh, a semi-autonomous Indonesian province on the northwest tip of Sumatra Island. Aside from Suraiya, who is also a senior advisor of the Human Resource Development of Aceh, al-Sayed said he also met with other members of the delegation, such as Indonesian businessman and philanthropist, Dr Rusli Bintang, as well as Dr Harmani Harun, vice rector of Malahayati University. “The delegation’s objectives on this visit were to improve connectivity between Qatar and Indonesia and how to take it to a higher level in the field of general trade, education, the export of coffee, fruits, vegetables, and halal food, as well as various other projects. Aside from investment opportunities in agriculture and infrastructure, al-Sayed said discussions were held with Korina Refinery Aceh director Said Malawi, who was also a member of the delegation representing Aceh’s oil refinery sector. According to Malawi, the Indonesian government is inviting investors from Qatar to explore Aceh’s refinery sector and forge joint projects for different downstream products, such as jet fuel, diesel, and lube oil, among others.

AmCham executive directors signing the MoU. From left: Rebecca Olson (OABC AmCham Oman), Liz Beneski (Abu Dhabi), Mary McGinnis (Bahrain), Cara Nazari (Dubai), Brooke Holland (Qatar), and Paola de la Roche (Kuwait).
Business
American chambers in GCC sign MoU to boost ties, partnerships

Officials of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) based in their respective host countries in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening partnerships with each other. The MoU was formally signed in March during the ‘Annual AmCham Mena Conference’ held in Aman, Jordan, but was officially approved recently by the AmCham boards in their respective countries, AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland told Gulf Times yesterday. “We’re extremely excited to see all GCC AmChams come together as a family to develop strong relationships and build bridges,” Holland also stressed in a press statement, which noted that AmChams in the GCC officially signed the MoU to signify “unity across borders in upcoming events and collaborations.” The statement said: “AmCham strives to discuss and pursue common commercial interests and maintain relations with commerce and other commercial organisations. AmCham Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, and Qatar are committed to coming together and hosting events and initiatives as a consortium within the GCC for the purpose of ensuring collaboration and building strong relationships amongst their members. “After two years of countrywide shutdowns due to the 2020 pandemic, there is no better time for this announcement. Mere months before the FIFA World Cup, AmChams across the GCC continue supporting their members by hosting events and initiatives together for the benefit of their members and friends.” Holland explained that AmChams across the globe are the arms of the US Chamber of Commerce, and part of their mission is to promote trade, commerce, and investment within member organisations in the US. “As part of this mission, we do events on a weekly to a monthly basis,” Holland further explained, citing the ‘Networking Across Borders’ event, which was held yesterday. The event not only paired key executives with AmCham members, but also facilitated collaboration aimed at promoting regional growth, she pointed out. The list of AmCham members includes Fortune 500 US companies that are “among the largest companies in the entire region,” Holland stressed, noting that organising business delegations is also an integral part of AmCham’s service to its members. “If you look at AmCham at its core, part of what we do is to bring business delegations together. We take our members and help facilitate commerce, trade, and investment between the US and the region – a service that all AmChams offer. “This only further solidifies that between the regions here...this is a way for us to become a unified front and hopefully help our member businesses together,” Holland emphasised. On the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Holland said AmCham Qatar is “very much involved” with the tournament, which is slated from November 21 to December 18. “Not only are several of our member companies active with the World Cup, the biggest of which is Jacobs since they are instrumental in delivering the stadiums, but AmCham Qatar also works very closely with Team USA to bring that value and do our part to make sure this World Cup is successful,” Holland added.

Inspired by the crossed swords of the countryu2019s seal, the architecture and interiors incorporate design features inspired by Qatari culture and landscape
Business
Raffles and Fairmont Doha add splendour to Qatar’s hospitality landscape

Raffles and Fairmont are the latest hospitality brands to grace the Qatari market, adding luxury and splendour to the country’s hospitality landscape. Gulf Times recently met with Christian Hirt, managing director of Raffles and Fairmont Doha, for an exclusive interview. Gulf Times: You arrived in Qatar at an auspicious time and at a very historic moment in the country’s history being the host of the Middle East’s very first FIFA World Cup. How does this make you feel considering that this is your first time in the region, and how will this opportunity define you as managing director of Raffles and Fairmont Doha?   Christian Hirt, managing director of Raffles and Fairmont Doha Hirt: Qatar isn’t new to me. I’ve spent a significant amount of my time in the country over the past seven years as it was a key feeder market for my previous hotel. However, there couldn’t be a more exciting time to be in Doha, or indeed the region, as 2022 FIFA World Cup is a momentous event for the entire Middle East being the first World Cup to be held in an Arab nation. My entire team and I are extremely excited about the tournament and the opening of our two hotels. This is an assignment of a lifetime for us all. There’s a lot of expectation for our offering, which we live up to, so the responsibility is great. We are fully aware that all eyes will be on us as both brands are debuting in the Qatari market and Raffles Doha is the nation’s first all-suite property. On a personal level, this is one of my biggest challenges to date and most certainly, a career high point. Raffles and Fairmont Doha is an iconic and imposing structure, commanding the attention of those visiting Lusail City. Kindly enlighten our readers on the shape of this establishment. Why was it built that way, what does it represent, and what role will it play in promoting Qatari culture and heritage? The towers will be one of the world’s most iconic destinations – a striking and innovative landmark that celebrates Qatari culture and hospitality as the nation looks to the future. It’s an incredible project, which embodies Qatar’s national pride and ambition, and is designed to be enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Inspired by the crossed swords of the country’s seal, the architecture and interiors incorporate design features inspired by Qatari culture and landscape. It’s an architectural marvel which will fast become one of the most photographed buildings in the region, if not the world, particularly during the World Cup. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and the country is expecting some 1.5mn tourists and fans to arrive in Qatar for the tournament. Please share more information on the hotel’s preparations for this influx and how it will impact operations. We scheduled the opening of both hotels to coincide with the World Cup and we anticipate receiving numerous distinguished guests. Our opening teams are working flat out to ensure our facilities live up to expectations, that our staff is fully trained, our food and beverage (F&B) of an exceptional standard, and that when we open, we deliver to an entirely new hospitality benchmark. We recruited exceptional hospitality and culinary professionals from all corners of the world who are bringing a level of innovation and creativity not previously seen in this market, if not the region. Our operations team began work 18 months ago and we are now onboarding over 1,200 staff members of more than 75 nationalities. We also engaged haute couture designers for our colleagues’ wardrobes and have developed immersive guest room and suite concepts and aim to deliver service that goes beyond imagination. The stand-out features of the properties, including an awe-inspiring, 30-metre-high kaleidoscopic atrium, a collection of specially commissioned artworks, and a hidden garden are likely to win fans globally by going viral on social media.

Gulf Times
Qatar
Go-karting facility, driving school up for lease in Madinat Al Mawater

Waseef has announced that it is inviting service providers to lease areas for a driving school and a go-karting area in Madinat Al Mawater. According to an advertisement by Waseef in the local media, which is Barwa Real Estate Group’s leading real estate, utilities and assets management company, the go-karting facility will span a total area of 21,780sqm. Also, Waseef is leasing a driving school with a total area of 56,979sqm, including car parking. The driving school is expected to have 3,500-4,000sqm built-up area/GFA, allowing G+1 floor arrangement. Located along Salwa Road, Madinat Al Mawater, Exit 31, the go-karting facility and driving school site is located 20 minutes away from the Al Wakra and Jabr Bin Ahmed Intersection (Ramada signal), include a Woqod petrol station, and boasts of 20 car services as well as 119 car showrooms. For both the go-karting track and driving school, Waseef has saidt interested companies may submit a proposal within 15 days with the price and operational plan through a QR code. The following documents are also needed: letter of intent, commercial registration, computer card, trade licence, Credit Bureau report, QID copy of the authorised signatory, six months' bank statement, licence to operate the go-karting facility and licence to operate a driving school. “Other terms and conditions will be available upon receipt of the above requirements. Incomplete applications will not be accepted,” Waseef emphasised, adding that two numbers - 55005310 and 66628904 - are available for enquiries. In an earlier statement, Barwa Real Estate Group had announced the completion of construction works to develop the automotive service centre in the first part of the current phase. The group stressed that it has developed Madinat Al Mawater as the “most competitive platform in the region for the sale, purchase, and maintenance of used vehicles, as well as the main destination in Qatar for these activities”. This is pursuant to its strategy to build and develop sustainable specialised cities that support the various economic, industrial, and service sectors in the country, the statement noted. Owing to increasing turnout, Barwa Real Estate has made strides in the development of the third phase of this pilot project, which extends over a land area of approximately 340,000sqm. The completion rate in the second part of Phase III is about 67%. It has 119 used car showrooms with spaces ranging from 400sq m to 1,000sq m and 344 one- and two-bedroom apartments, in addition to 123 multi-space offices and 100 shops, 10 car maintenance workshops, four car washers, as well as other service facilities.

Korina Refinery Aceh director Said Malawi.
Business
Qatari investments sought for refinery projects in Indonesian province of Aceh

A delegation from Indonesia is seeking Qatari investments in a wide range of sectors, such as agriculture, education, and sports, as well as in energy, particularly in the country’s refinery sector, an official has said. Korina Refinery Aceh director Said Malawi, who was part of the delegation to Qatar, told Gulf Times that the Indonesian government is inviting investors from Qatar to explore its refinery sector and forge joint projects for different downstream products, such as jet fuel, diesel, and lube oil, among others. Aside from the refinery sector, Indonesia is also seeking Qatari capital for various projects related to the agriculture, meat production, and halal sectors, Malawi also pointed out. In terms of trade, Malawi emphasised that the regular arrival of business delegations to Qatar forms an integral part in the further development of both countries’ bilateral relations, most importantly, the growth in Qatar-Indonesia trade volume. According to Malawi, Indonesia has played a significant and pioneering role in Qatar’s LNG industry, which reflects both countries’ longstanding relations and robust bilateral ties. “Indonesia prides itself as a major partner in Qatar’s LNG journey. But aside from the hydrocarbon industry, we are supporting the State’s diversification strategy by continuing to export Indonesian products to the Qatari market,” Malawi stated. “Not only is Indonesia focused on Qatar’s retail industry, but we are also supporting the State’s food security efforts by exporting different types of agriculture and halal food products, as well as other similar items,” he also said. Malawi said the delegation is scheduled to visit the Indonesian Embassy in Qatar and meet with a variety of companies in Qatar to explore different ways to promote Indonesia to investors and encourage them to expand their footprint in Southeast Asia. “The Indonesian embassy has detailed information on the needs of the Qatari market and our ambassador could guide us to the right investors and businesses that we could work with going forward,” he emphasised. Malawi added that Indonesia could play a key role when Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup, which is slated from November 21 to December 18, by exporting more food products and other exports during the event.

HE the Minister of State and Qatar Free Zones Authority chairman Ahmad al-Sayed said QFZA will establish a new diamond centre that will serve as a cornerstone for the growth and development of the high-potential gem and jewellery trading industry in the region
Business
Transport, logistics sector ‘best positioned’ to benefit from digitalisation

The transportation and logistics sectors stand to gain from the digitalisation efforts being implemented in the country, according to HE the Minister of State and Qatar Free Zones Authority chairman Ahmad al-Sayed. In an interview with Oxford Business Group’s (OBG) ‘The Report: Qatar 2022’, al-Sayed said the emergence of new technologies has generated more economic activity online and enabled a significant increase in the demand for logistics, e-commerce, and cloud data services. This result, according to al-Sayed, has redoubled QFZA’s efforts to boost the transport and logistics segments through an investment attraction approach. “In transportation, segments that have benefited from digitalisation are mainly related to innovative mobility solutions and autonomous vehicles. This segment is well established to facilitate the movement of goods and people within closed environments. “Digitalisation benefited logistics by improving tracking, tracing, and creating transparency for critical products like pharmaceuticals and food through the blockchain and telematics. This is supported by the ongoing investment in smart government and digital incubators, among other initiatives,” he explained. The minister also said Qatar is also investing in key emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and aerospace. “With the presence of tech giants, such as Google and Microsoft in Qatar’s free zones, and the creation of e-commerce and logistics regulations, we will be able to contribute significantly to the development of the startup ecosystem,” he further said. On supporting industrial growth and how Qatar intends to attract investments and capitalise on emerging opportunities, al-Sayed said: “The recent push by Qatar to diversify away from hydrocarbons will ensure long-term sustainable growth. At the same time, the government is leading various projects to localise some key industries. “The pandemic highlighted the necessity for digital transformation to drive industrial growth. We have therefore worked to increase opportunities in our digital ecosystem for local and international companies working in the industrial and emerging technology sectors.” Al-Sayed pointed out that the country also considers research institutions and incubators looking to attract local and global talent as “good drivers” for the growth of industries. “In this sense, to attract investment, Qatar has offered companies the necessary supporting laws, legislations and licensing, quality transport infrastructure, robust telecoms connectivity, and a developed education system that forms the basis for a skilled domestic workforce,” he stressed. On key developments and most promising projects taking place in Qatar’s free zones, al-Sayed said: “To date, we have attracted around 250 investors, including technology leaders like Google, Microsoft, and Thales; logistics players, including DHL, UPS, Gulf Agency Company, and Gulf Warehousing Company; and vehicle manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Gaussin, and Yutong. This has helped to create more than 3,100 new skilled jobs, leading to total employment of 6,400. Moreover, the leasing area in the free zones has reached approximately 700,000sq m and will reach more than 1mn sq m by the end of 2022.” The minister added that QFZA will establish a new diamond centre that will serve as a cornerstone for the growth and development of the high-potential gem and jewellery trading industry in the region after Qatar joined the Kimberley Process in 2021.

South African ambassador Ghulam Hoosein Asmal. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qatar, South Africa post QR646mn trade in H1 2022, says envoy

Bilateral trade between Qatar and South Africa in the first six months of 2022 stood at QR646mn, South African ambassador Ghulam Hoosein Asmal has told Gulf Times in a recent interview. According to figures provided by the South African embassy in Doha, South Africa exported goods worth QR502mn and imported products, mainly petrochemicals from Qatar, totalling QR144mn during H1 2022. In 2021, Qatar and South Africa recorded a total trade volume of QR1.25bn, comprising QR868mn worth of exports and QR387mn in imports. Qatar is South Africa’s 10th-largest trading partner in the Middle East in terms of exports and the 5th-largest in terms of imports, Asmal pointed out. He said South African exports vegetables, live animals, chemicals, vehicles, aircraft and vessels, textiles leather, precious metals, and medical equipment, among others, to Qatar. “Diplomatic relations between South Africa and Qatar were established in May 1994, just a few weeks after the new South Africa was established. The trade surplus is in favour of Qatar because of petrochemicals exports to South Africa. One of South Africa’s largest investments in the Middle East is a partnership between SASOL and QatarEnergy,” the ambassador explained. Asmal stressed that South Africa is an attractive investment destination and that the country is ready to forge stronger trade relations with Qatar. He said South Africa’s economy is estimated to be worth “$417.9bn” and is the 32nd largest in the world with GDP estimated to account for “12%” of Africa’s GDP. Exports of goods and services represent “31.2%” of the GDP in 2021, he further said. Citing several reasons why South Africa is an ideal destination for investments, Asmal said the country is a vibrant emerging market, it has the most developed economy on the African continent, and it has the largest presence of multinational corporations in Africa. Asmal also said South Africa has a progressive constitution and independent judiciary, possesses abundant natural resources, and boasts of world-class infrastructure and logistics, including a young and willing labour force, as well as an excellent quality of life. Aside from South Africa’s advanced financial services and banking sector, Asmal said the country also provides investors access to global markets. “South Africa has concluded several trade agreements that support export market growth prospects. The best example is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), which was founded in 2018 with trade commencing in 2021. “It creates a single market for goods and services to deepen economic integration in Africa; 54 of the 55 African countries have signed the ACFTA and the combined GDP of its members is approximately $3.4tn and a population of about 1.5bn people,” Asmal added.

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
Business
Chamber official underlines vital role of banks in growth of Qatar’s SMEs

Banks will have a significant role to play in the development and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Qatar, which represent 97% of the country’s private sector institutions, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has said. In an interview in ‘The Report: Qatar 2022’ published recently by Oxford Business Group (OBG), Sheikh Khalifa stressed the need to encourage banks to offer solutions to entrepreneurs seeking to expand or launch new businesses. Sheikh Khalifa also emphasised the importance of enacting legislation that protects, promotes, and empowers SMEs, as well as offering services that facilitate the launch of businesses and providing training services, consultations, orientation, and incubation opportunities for entrepreneurs. According to Sheikh Khalifa, SMEs in Qatar account for “some 15% to 17%” of non-oil GDP, describing these businesses as the “backbone of any economy” and “important drivers” of economic diversification and GDP growth. The Qatar Chamber official noted that various initiatives have been launched in Qatar to support SMEs, such as funding programmes through governmental institutions and guarantee mechanisms like the Al Dhameen programme. “The country also has several incubation programmes targeting SMEs and startups,” he said. On its role in supporting SMEs, Sheikh Khalifa said Qatar Chamber has been keen on helping SMEs compete in the national economy. The chamber hosted three editions of the ‘SMEs Conference’ and shared best practices of its foreign partners, he further said. Qatar Chamber is also supporting entrepreneurs and owners of family businesses by promoting their products during exhibitions, primarily through its highly-successful ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition, he noted. Similarly, the chamber forged a partnership with Qatar University and Qatar Development Bank (QDB) for the establishment of the ‘Ma’an’ (“together” in Arabic) initiative to support entrepreneurs, Sheikh Khalifa explained. Through this initiative, Sheikh Khalifa said four editions of the ‘Best Innovative Ideas of Entrepreneurs’ competition were held to support the most forward-thinking start-ups. The ‘SMEs Excellence List Award’ was another partnership with QDB in which 50 high-achieving enterprises from the local private sector were recognised, he said. On sectors that offer the best potential to accelerate economic diversification, Sheikh Khalifa said many sectors have seen significant growth during the pandemic, such as the industrial and food security sectors. "The industrial sector has witnessed great development and the number of factories in Qatar has reached 835 with investments amounting to QR293bn", he said. Sheikh Khalifa also underscored Qatar’s progress in the food security sector, affirming that this is a top priority for Qatar and one of the main pillars of sustainable development under Qatar National Vision 2030. “Apart from these two areas, other sectors most likely to accelerate the country’s economic diversification are construction, tourism and hospitality, ICT, retail, and real estate,” he explained. On the impact of developing environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards on the international business community, Sheikh Khalifa said strong ESG practices could help companies improve their reputation, increase competitiveness, and attract investments. “Other benefits include boosting revenue by raising productivity and reducing costs, protecting shareholder value, creating opportunities for growth and innovation, retaining talent, and setting the foundations for long-term success. Businesses with effective ESG policies can contribute to safeguarding the environment and improving society, all the while enhancing their own performance. “The growing focus on ESG standards is compatible with Qatar’s development and diversification strategies. Promoting ESG among investors, companies, and the wider business community will contribute to the realisation of the economic, human, and environmental goals laid out in Qatar National Vision 2030.” Sheikh Khalifa added.

ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong.
Business
Group ONE Holdings to guide Qatar youth in charting career paths, says official

Singapore-based global sports media platform Group ONE Holdings (ONE) is not only keen to support the diversification of Qatar’s economy and labour force but also to help chart the career paths of the country’s youth, an official has said. ONE is expanding its reach in the Middle East via Qatar with the goal of establishing a world-class media industry in the LNG-rich Gulf country, according to ONE chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. Backed by a highly professional and creative team, Sityodtong said ONE is bringing martial arts, esports, and general entertainment to Qatar following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Media City Qatar during the ‘Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg’ held recently in Doha. Sityodtong pointed out that ONE is working “very closely” with Media City Qatar, describing the relationship as “a very profound, deep, and long-term partnership.” This collaboration, however, also extends beyond building a world-class media industry in the country, he explained. ONE’s presence in the country could play role in helping Qatar’s youth chart their career paths, noted Sityodtong, who has been training in martial arts daily and teaching Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. “I’ve been doing Muay Thai for the past 38 years and Jiu-Jitsu for the past 11 to 12 years,” he told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview. As a teacher who knows the value of passing on skills and knowledge, Sityodtong said: “Because of our martial arts and gaming properties, and because of our approach to media, I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for the youth to think of their career path – whether in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or otherwise – it could be media-related or creative-related, but again it is a diversification of Qatar’s economy and labour force.” He said: “And hopefully, I think ONE is going to make a significant impact on the future of these industries and these job functions, so yes, we will create more career paths for the youth. We’ve done that in Singapore, so we’re going to do that in Qatar, as well.” Sityodtong also lauded the ICT infrastructure of Qatar, saying this would play a key role, especially in ONE’s esports and gaming content, which has a strong demand among the country’s next generation. He stressed that ONE’s formula of values, heroes, and stories is “perfect” for the Middle East. “Not only do we want to bring values of integrity, humility, honour, respect, courage, discipline, and compassion, but also heroes who will genuinely inspire the world, as well as stories of overcoming tragedy, adversity, or poverty, to unleash their potential,” he added.