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Saturday, May 18, 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.
Yousef al-Shelash, chairman, Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company, delivering a speech. He expressed confidence in the Qatari market, citing the countryu2019s rapid economic development. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Qatar
World Cup puts Saudi-based property developer in ‘sweet spot’ for real estate investment in Qatar

A Saudi-based property developer has described Qatar as a “sweet spot” for investments, citing the 2022 FIFA World Cup as an opportune time to expand into the Qatari market. Yousef al-Shelash, chairman, Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company, expressed confidence in the Qatari market, citing the country’s rapid economic development. “We believe in the Qatari market, which is why we are bringing our business here. We also believe that we are in the ‘sweet spot’ considering that in a few months, Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, giving us a really good opportunity to expand in this country because we have been looking at this market for a long time,” al-Shelash told Gulf Times. In March, al-Shelash signed an agreement with Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani during the exclusive unveiling of Les Vagues residences by ELIE SAAB. Qetaifan Projects and Dar Al Arkan launched the premium residential and lifestyle project on Qetaifan Island North marking Dar Al Arkan’s first entry into Qatar with the aim of driving the development of the luxury property market and supporting the growth of Qatar’s real-estate sector. In an earlier press statement, Qetaifan Projects noted that work on the development will start in the second quarter of this year and total sales are expected to reach over QR1bn. Qatar will be the first country in the Middle Eastern to host the FIFA World Cup, which is slated this year from November 21 to December 18. According to al-Shelash, the tournament also serves as a key element in marketing Les Vagues residences by ELIE SAAB to prospective buyers. “The whole world is coming to Qatar for the World Cup, so this event is absolutely an opportunity for us to promote this project, and it also presents perfect timing for our sales and marketing teams,” al-Shelash pointed out. During the launch event, Sheikh Nasser previously said: “Following our concerted efforts to provide the local market with international standards that work on developing and revitalising sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment, and, of course, real estate development, we are happy to bring a new innovative project to Qatar. “We’re looking forward to working with Dar Al Arkan and ELIE SAAB, a global pioneer in design, on this premium project that is unlike any other in the region. Qetaifan Island North is being developed as the first touristic entertainment destination in Qatar, which will put the country on the regional and global tourism map, and Les Vagues residences is an integral project within the master plan of the development.” Qetaifan Island North is emerging as a thriving waterfront hub representing a new, modern lifestyle. Inspired by the rich culture and nature of the region, the distinct island will feature a thrilling waterpark, a luxurious hotel, unrivalled accommodation, exceptional retail options, and world-class facilities that make it a vibrant and attractive community. The island is also a symbol of the vision, insight, and aspiration to develop into an internationally acclaimed and recognised landmark location and Qatar’s future iconic destination.    

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A and Qatari dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
LuLu Group continues expansion in Qatar with 18th store launch

* Group opens new outlet in Ain Khaled   LuLu Group opened on Wednesday its 18th hypermarket in Qatar, located in the Ain Khaled district, as part of its chain of future expansions for the 2022 FIFA World Cup season, thus positioning itself as a catalyst for economic growth. The expansion of the group’s retail footprint in Qatar comes in line with the country’s preparations for a major business boost with the upcoming World Cup, which Qatar will be hosting this November. The new store was jointly inaugurated by Sheikh Falah bin Ali bin Khalifa al-Thani and Sheikh Abdullah bin Hassan al-Thani, in the presence of LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A and other officials. The event was also attended by Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah al-Thani, Nabil Abu Issa, Adil Abdul Razak, Nasar al-Ansari, C V Rappai, Dr R Seetharaman, Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal, and the ambassadors of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Georgia and Armenia. The new store is spread over 150,000sft on two levels and designed to offer shoppers the best LuLu brands and retail experience. It also includes an extensive grocery section, the LuLu Connect electronics store, the glamorous LuLu Celebrate designer fashion line, the high-street REO fashion brand, BLSH – the branded perfumes, cosmetics, make-up and beauty line, and eyewear brand Eyexpress. Yusufali said the new store opening comes in line with LuLu Group’s commitment to the Qatari leadership’s vision and energy for a bright future. The group is already planning more store openings in the country this year in Barwa Al Khor, Giardino Mall at The Pearl-Qatar, and Barwa Madinat in preparation for the further development of the economy. “LuLu’s expansion is a reaffirmation of the group’s confidence in Qatar’s leadership and part of a global expansion plan, and also a sign of the group’s support of the region’s recovery after a harsh business setback during the pandemic.   “Qatar is gearing up for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, football’s biggest tournament and also for the Asian Games 2030. We are confident in the upward development trajectory of the nation. We promise to match our capacity and vision with that of Qatar’s blueprint for a bright future,” Yusufali said. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, said: “The opening of LuLu Hypermarket at Ain Khaled brings the number of LuLu stores in Qatar to 18, and this would not have been possible without the help and support of government authorities and our valued customers. This phenomenal growth is a solid proof of the strategic importance of Qatar to our business plans and our confidence in the resilience and future of Qatar’s economy.” LuLu Qatar operations have set the bar high for the hypermarket chain in the country and won awards for its innovative spin on healthy grocery and fresh food deliverables. The LuLu Ain Khaled store will also showcase award-winning features, such as Planet Y, the selection of plant-based meat substitutes and foods, organic and super food selections, an extensive ‘free-from’ range, and a zero-waste refill station where eco-conscious shoppers can refill reusable containers with dry goods including pasta, grains, and other items. The Ain Khaled hypermarket is making it even easier for vegetarian and vegan shoppers to find plant-based groceries in one place by introducing Planet Y. The new store will also have a dedicated area to support local initiatives and stock all Qatari products on a priority basis. Fresh juices are also available throughout the day at the Juice Station, including a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood. This will encourage shoppers to eat healthily and learn new cookery tips from experts through a series of in-store cookery classes. The new hypermarket will also have a dedicated area for eco-friendly products. Children will benefit from the Toys Section, which features a specially chosen collection of ‘STEMtainment’ toys to stimulate young minds in line with the latest STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) educational principles. For adults, there is a useful and extensive Internet of Things (IoT) section to facilitate smart homes. There are ample dedicated car parking spaces for LuLu customers and checkout is made easier with green check-out counters, wheelchair access, elevators and ATM facilities. A pharmacy and three popular fast-food eateries are on the premises: Starbucks, McDonald's and Papa John’s Pizza. The new hypermarket also boasts of a wide tenant mix, such as Ooredoo counter managed by RPTech, V EYE P Optics, Jawhara Jewelry, and Doha Beauty Centre, among others.    

LuLu Group chairman Yusufali M A answering questions from the media while Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, looks on. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
LuLu eyes more ‘next-gen, carbon-neutral stores’ in Qatar, says group chairman Yusufali

As Qatar prepares to host the first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup of its kind, LuLu Group is set to establish more of its next-generation and carbon-neutral stores across the country, chairman Yusufali MA told Gulf Times. “The world is rapidly changing towards digitalisation, new transformations, and innovation, so we have to keep pace with the market demand. This is why we have introduced a wide variety of sections in our new stores. “We will also upgrade our previous hypermarkets to become ‘green stores’,” he explained yesterday on the sidelines of the opening of LuLu’s 18th store in Qatar, located in the Ain Khaled district. According to Yusufali, LuLu is targeting a “massive expansion” plan. He said LuLu was able to open four stores during the pandemic, citing the “wholehearted support” extended by the government and Qatari leadership. Aside from its expansion plans, LuLu will continue to offer a wide range of premium products, good pricing, and quality service, Yusufali emphasised, adding that the Qatari market is a major contributor to LuLu’s expansion growth. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, also stressed that the Ain Khaled hypermarket is among LuLu’s next-generation stores. “In all our stores, we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint. By 2030, our target is to reduce the carbon footprint by 50%, and going forward it would be carbon neutral,” he explained. Yusufali added that before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, LuLu will be opening three more stores in Qatar. The LuLu Hypermarket Ain Khaled branch offers different key features, such as Planet Y, making LuLu the first retailer to open a vegan hypermarket destination with a service counter entirely dedicated to plant-based products with meat-free options and meat-free butchery. Planet Y makes it easier for vegetarian and vegan shoppers to find plant-based groceries in one place. The new store has a dedicated Refill Station area where shoppers can buy refillable containers, use a paper bag, or bring their own container. Customers can refill products, such as tea, cereals, pasta, and other essentials. The initiative will encourage customers to reduce and recycle. Major brands like 24 Matra, Organic Tattva, Agrofino, Somerset, White’s, and Pasta Toscana are currently available in the refill aisles. The ‘Free From Worries’ section offers the very best products sourced from around the globe. Customers can also find items for specific diets, including keto, gluten-free, and vegan, among others. LuLu Ain Khalid is also the go-to for smart home accessories. A smart home means a smarter and more comfortable lifestyle. The ‘Thing’ section, LuLu’s IoT department, helps customers wanting to update, upgrade, and convert appliances and homes to be energy efficient. Similarly, the store has a dedicated branded digital marketplace – ‘LuLu Connect’, for digital accessories, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, smart home appliances, and more. The store is also implementing full-fledged recycling initiatives to efficiently manage and recycle food, plastic, paper, and other wastes generated. As part of LuLu’s ongoing efforts and commitment to sustainability, the hypermarket chain has installed a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) to encourage and educate customers on segregation and the recycling of plastic bottles and metal cans. Other amenities being offered at the Ain Khaled branch are ‘Fashion-forward Glamour’, value for money LuLu fashion brands, a dedicated area for eco-friendly products, the ‘STEMtainment’ section for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) toys, and the Juice Station, which offers fresh, fruity, and healthy juices. Ends    

Addressing the Arab regionu2019s challenges in the Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright ecosystem would help spur growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), innovation, and entrepreneurship, according to Kareem Hassan, executive director, ESCWA Technology Centre for Development.
Business
Hurdling IP, copyright barriers seen to boost innovation, entrepreneurship in Arab region

Addressing the Arab region’s challenges in the Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright ecosystem would help spur growth in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), innovation, and entrepreneurship, according to Kareem Hassan, executive director, ESCWA Technology Centre for Development. Hassan made the statement in his opening remarks during the recently-held ‘Intellectual Property for Promoting Innovation and SMEs in the Arab Region’ online workshop organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE). He explained that the Arab region faces “a considerable challenge” with the IP and copyright ecosystem, which leads to “a significant brain drain of Arab innovators, and reflects on the number of inventions and IP registrations.” The gap in IP creation protection and enforcement resulted in the lagging of Arab states behind other countries, according to Hassan. He also noted that only a few countries in the Arab region have an IP national strategy in place and that not all of them have access to international conventions. Hassan said, “Moreover, internal political discourse delays the enactment of new laws. The ecosystem challenges reflect on Arab startups and SMEs, as well, that are facing weaknesses in the patent drafting, registering trademarks, and competitive intelligence, in addition to the lack of IP registration professions, in terms of attorneys and agents.” However, Hassan pointed out that there are several solutions for solving the IP challenges in the Arab region. He said, “[these] revolve around investing in the human and knowledge capital, making IPs accessible to the business world and facilitating effective partnerships, in addition to identifying in a participatory manner clear goals and strategies to increase the number of innovations that serve the national and regional SDGs.” Hassan noted that the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) works on solidifying legal frameworks that foster public-private partnerships and link up local and international agendas that capitalise on the technology commercialisation outcomes and knowledge transformation into capital. Citing the significant role of ICC, WIPO, and other partners, Hassan said the event gives a clear understanding and overview of the critical topics related to IP for promoting innovation and SMEs in the Arab region. The ‘Intellectual Property for Promoting Innovation and SMEs in the Arab Region’ workshop provided an overview of the status and challenges of IP systems in the Arab region and the role of IP in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also discussed best practices and lessons learnt from select Arab countries on advancing IP systems in their ecosystems and presented the WIPO IP Diagnostics tool to improve the IP-readiness of innovators and SMEs.      

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Business
Experts focus on intellectual property challenges among Arab startups, SMEs

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship (CoE) have recently organised a workshop titled ‘Intellectual Property for Promoting Innovation and SMEs in the Arab Region’. The workshop provided an overview of the status and challenges of intellectual property (IP) systems in the Arab region and the role of IP in promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Also, the online event discussed best practices and lessons learnt from select Arab countries on advancing IP systems in their ecosystems and presented the WIPO IP Diagnostics tool to improve the IP-readiness of innovators and SMEs. Joelle Yazbeck, executive co-ordinator, ICC-ESCWA Centre of Entrepreneurship; Catherine Foster, lead, ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship; and Kareem Hassan, executive director, ESCWA Technology Centre for Development, delivered the opening and welcoming remarks. The panel discussion titled ‘Overview of Intellectual Property in Arab Countries’ saw the participation of Dr Sacha Wunsch-Vincent, head of section, Economics and Statistics Division, and co-editor of The Global Innovation Index (GII), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO); and Dr Pierre el-Khoury, IP specialist lawyer, Law School Professor, and director of the Lawyers Institute at the Beirut Bar Association (Lebanon). Joining the second panel discussion ‘Success Stories: IP for Promoting Innovations and SMEs’ were Souad Boussaid, technology transfer manager, National Agency for Scientific Research Promotion; and Dr Mohamed Hegazy, senior legal advisor, Chamber of Communications and Information Technology; and Dr Mamoun Taher, founder & CEO, Graphmatech. The webinar discussed the following points: the status of intellectual property systems in the Arab region, the GII developed by WIPO, the relationship between intellectual property and innovation, the role of intellectual property in promoting entrepreneurship and SMEs, challenges and opportunities in IP systems in the Arab region, recommendations, country experiences, and the WIPO IP Diagnostics Tool. Foster said the ICC launched the ICC Centre of Entrepreneurship in 2020 to support, prepare, connect, and mobilise the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. The centre focuses on four key tracks: inspiring future entrepreneurs, digitising SMEs, scaling up startups, and fostering inclusive entrepreneurship. She said the centre works with global, regional, and local partners to ensure that the programmes being offered are both relevant locally and regionally but also able to scale up successful programmes globally. “The Center of Entrepreneurship is pleased to be partnering with WIPO to help entrepreneurs navigate IP regulation and better manage their intangible assets. We have great asset in the WIPO IP diagnostics tool to help entrepreneurs better understand and use intellectual property regulations. “This is in recognition of the fact that entrepreneurs face a particular set of challenges when it comes to intellectual property issues. IP can be a complex area and obtaining protection and advice on IP can be very expensive. The lack of information on IP can make it difficult for entrepreneurs to know when they should ask for help,” Foster said. She added: “For those reasons, we believe that capacity building is crucial and that SMEs should receive all the support they can get. An adequate IP protection strategy can make all the difference for entrepreneurs bringing innovative solutions to market and to receive a return on their investment.”    

Qataru2019s ambassador to Indonesia Fauzia Edrees al-Sulaiti.
Business
Qatar-Indonesia share ‘promising’ investments in agriculture, transport, energy and tourism, says envoy

Exploring “promising” investment opportunities in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture and energy, could further bolster Qatar-Indonesia economic relations, a top Qatari diplomat has said. Speaking at a recently-held webinar, Qatar’s ambassador to Indonesia, Fauzia Edrees al-Sulaiti, also noted that Qatari businesses are looking forward to investing in Indonesia following the successful projects by Ooredoo, QNB, Nebras Power, and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Qatar and Indonesia are looking forward to increasing cooperation in the field of investments, al-Sulaiti said in a speech, adding that “Indonesia is a strategic partner of Qatar.” “There is a strong desire between both sides to further develop investment relations between Qatari and Indonesian companies to help promote investment and share economic benefits. “I hope we can create a stronger and vibrant continuity between Qatar and Indonesia. We are encouraging more companies to explore potential investments and opportunities available. In our view, the most promising sphere of co-operation is in agriculture, fisheries, transport, electrical, energy, oil and gas, tourism, and sciences and education,” al-Sulaiti said. During the webinar, Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan said Indonesia-Qatar economic relations, particularly in trade and investment, have been showing an increasing trend. Trade between both countries, especially pre-Covid-19, has almost reached “$1bn,” he noted. “We have witnessed excellent bilateral relations between Qatar and Indonesia in different fields, thanks to the visionary leadership of both countries that cement the solid foundations of relations through high-level visits between 2015 and 2019 before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. “One of the recent achievements is the signing of a Letter of Intent by both countries’ foreign ministers to provide humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan. Even though this is mostly political, I believe that through this endeavour, economic co-operation will also flourish,” Hassan pointed out. Hassan said the webinar is one of the initiatives that aim to expand the bilateral cooperation between Qatar and Indonesia, especially in the economic field. He said both countries’ sovereign wealth funds “are in discussion for a possible project that would be established in Indonesia.” “Investment co-operation can easily be seen from the solid presence of quality investments from three Qatari companies in Indonesia: Ooredoo, QNB, and Nebras Power,” Hassan emphasised, adding that “there are also potential projects in the tourism sector with Qatar and hopefully in other areas.” He added: “We are following closely and enthusiastically the progress in the plan to develop an integrated dairy facility in Indonesia by Qatari firm, Baladna Food Industries (BFI), replicating what the company has successfully accomplished in Qatar in terms of producing milk and dairy products.”    

HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali bin Mohamed al-Mannai handing over the award to CWallet CEO and founder Michael Javier and CWallet co-founder and COO Dr Abdulmohsin al-Yafei during the Qatar Digital Business Awards 2021 held recently.
Business
Qatar's world-class IT infra is key to empowering local startups, attracting international investors, says Doha-based fintech exec

Qatar’s massive investments in its IT infrastructure, coupled with a solid digital strategy and a wide range of entrepreneurship programmes, will play a key role in cementing the country’s place on the global map as a startup destination, an official of a Doha-based fintech company has said. “I believe that Qatar’s digital infrastructure, its capabilities, strategic innovation, and aspiration in becoming a regional digital hub and IT leader by empowering local tech startups will definitely attract international stakeholders – from investors to fellow aspiring startups, CWallet CEO and founder Michael Javier told Gulf Times Saturday. Javier’s statements came in the wake of the Qatar Digital Business Awards 2021 held recently at the Smart City Expo Doha 2022. The event honours companies and entrepreneurs for their valuable contribution to the growth and development of the digital sector in Qatar. During the business awards, CWallet won the award for ‘Innovative Fintech Solution of the Year’, which “recognises a company that entered the financial technology industry by implementing new and innovative solutions, challenging the status quo and contributing to a landscape change in the sector.” The other winners of the Qatar Digital Business Awards 2021 were App Lab (ICT Service Provider of the Year), Advancya Technologies (Systems Integrator of the Year), Sajdah (Mobile App of the Year), Meeza (Cloud Solution of the Year), Redlogik Solutions (Digital Startup of the Year), Matar – Hamad International Airport (Smart Solution of the Year), Ostrichess Branding & Marketing (SME Digital Transformation of the Year), Fatora (E-Commerce Solution of the Year), and Meddy (Most Valuable Innovation Response to Covid-19). Javier lauded the support being provided by the government to aspiring entrepreneurs and startups owners across various sectors in Qatar, and for the initiatives and programmes provided to CWallet by the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC), Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), and Qatar Financial Centre (QFC). “The CWallet team is beyond grateful to Qatar’s citizens, residents, and the government for allowing us to thrive and fulfil our mission of creating high in-country value in Qatar’s business ecosystem. A smart city is a cashless and inclusive society,” Javier pointed out. Dr Abdulmohsin al-Yafei, CWallet co-founder and COO, said: “We would like to share the recognition to ‘Team CWallet’, its investors and business partners, especially the Qatari co-founders that are working behind the scenes of CWallet’s ongoing achievements. Such success wouldn’t be possible without the government’s initiatives in supporting Qatari entrepreneurs.” Javier also noted that the recently-held Smart City Expo Doha 2022 not only exposed CWallet to local and international partnerships, but also to various decision-makers in Qatar both in the private and public sectors that are willing to support tech startups on various opportunities that allowed them to validate their business approach.    

QSTP executive director Yosouf al-Salehi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Growth seen in Qatar’s women entrepreneurs, says QSTP official

There has been an increase in the number of women in Qatar who are pursuing entrepreneurship through the various programmes being offered by Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development & Innovation (QF RDI), according to a top QSTP official. “Over the last three years, there has been steady growth among females in startups at QSTP. It is clearly happening in that area not only among non-Qataris but with Qatari women, as well,” QSTP executive director Yosouf al-Salehi told Gulf Times. He said, “We have noticed in the past period, that there are more and more women trying to join the different programmes being offered at QSTP, such as in the accelerator programme. They also want to discuss how to open their businesses through the incubation programme. Al-Salehi explained that the approach across all sectors in the country is to encourage women to open up their own businesses. These initiatives have “greatly inspired” more females to step up and become entrepreneurs, he also pointed out. “The journey towards entrepreneurship is not without challenges, and they come in all forms across all sectors. Having said that, we are trying to persuade them to venture into tech. “There are many women in Qatar whose companies are specialising in the F&B sector or food supply business. However, we are trying to unlock the area of tech to have more female entrepreneurs in this field. And we are working on having more women in Qatar to focus on tech startups,” al-Salehi emphasised. In the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), it was previously reported that “Qatari women outnumber men in higher education, and participation of women in STEM education fields in Qatar is nearly 50% higher than the global average.” Al-Salehi pointed out that this is a very significant achievement in Qatar. But he noted that while being knowledgeable in STEM is an advantage, it is, likewise, important that an entrepreneur has the skills in running a business or a company. He stressed that entrepreneurs must be well-informed in areas, such as finance, leadership, and human resources how to manage people and recruit the right workforce, in order to successfully run their businesses. On its website, QSTP’s acceleration programmes include ‘XLR8’ and ‘ELV8’. XLR8 is a unique programme that helps promising innovators and entrepreneurs determine if their tech-based ideas have commercial viability, by giving entrepreneurs the tools needed to assess market fit, customer traction, and investor awareness. On the other hand, ELV8 is a 12-month growth accelerator programme that serves as a launchpad for the global growth of Qatar’s tech startups in order for them to expand their business into new international markets and will be delivered in partnership with Silicon Valley-based Plug and Play. Last year, QSTP announced a pioneering new partnership with Qatar Development Bank (QDB), which aims to enhance Qatar’s economy, boost RDI within the private sector, and support the nation’s start-up community. The partnership, which is targeting start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), will see QSTP and QDB leverage both organisations’ incubator and accelerator initiatives through specialised workshops, boot camps, hackathons and investor pitching sessions. Co-investment opportunities will be explored for tech start-ups looking to deploy solutions locally and scale up globally, according to a previous report.      

Dr Teuku Faizasyah, acting head of Foreign Policy Strategy Agency at Indonesiau2019s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Business
Indonesian companies welcome investment ties with Qatari firms

Private and public sector players and stakeholders from Indonesia “are ready” to discuss investment projects with their counterparts in Qatar, according to an official of Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). Dr Teuku Faizasyah, the acting head of MoFA’s Foreign Policy Strategy Agency, made the statement during a recently-held webinar titled ‘Promoting Investments of Qatar in Indonesia: Challenges, Experiences, & Opportunities’. “The objectives of this webinar are two-fold: First, we wish to gain insight from businessmen and champions of industry from our respective countries, particularly in the experience of doing business and investing in Indonesia. We wish to understand more about the challenges that you have encountered, if any, and at the same time, the opportunities that we have observed. “Second, we hope to facilitate more of Qatar’s investments in Indonesia. I am confident that through this webinar we would be able to identify ways and means to attract more investments from Qatar,” Faizasyah explained. According to Faizasyah, three major companies are investing in Indonesia: QNB, Ooredoo, and Nebras Power. “In addition, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has expressed interest to invest in the tourism sector in Indonesia,” he also said. Citing figures from Indonesia’s Ministry of Investment, Faizasyah said Qatar’s total investment in Indonesia stands at “$23.3bn” in six projects. He said: “This number is rather modest if you look at Qatar’s strong economic and financial capacity. Your economic statistics speak volumes. Qatar’s gross national income per capita of around $88,000 in 2020 is among the highest in the world. “The Qatar Investment Authority has a total asset of $115bn, ranking 12th among sovereign wealth funds globally. Qatar has diversified its overseas investment destinations. We can find a wide range of Qatari investments in the US, Europe, and China from the banking sector to oil and gas, as well as in sports.” Faizasyah pointed out that “it is a matter of time for Qatar to double or even triple its investments in Indonesia…we hope to have you as a partner in economic development and progress.” He invited participants of the webinar to explore investment opportunities in areas, such as energy, mining, banking, agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, telecommunications, and green industries. Faizasyah also emphasised that local businesses are also ready to collaborate with Qatari companies that wish to make Indonesia their hub in Southeast Asia, as well as for those that aim to expand their operations across the Asia Pacific region.    

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 3rd Build Your House expo alongside NeXTfairs co-founder and general manager Rawad Sleem and Abdul Aziz bin Hattab al-Kaabi, the vice chairman of Al Hattab Holding board of directors, and other dignitaries.
Business
Signed deals at BYH to breach QR600mn mark, says organiser

The value of deals to be signed in this year’s edition of Build Your House (BYH) Exhibition is expected to reach over QR600mn, according to an official of NeXTfairs for Exhibitions and Conferences, which is organising the event until March 30 at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) Halls 8 and 9. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of Monday’s inauguration ceremony, Petula Rahme, Sales and Programmes manager at Nextfairs, said the deals signed in two previous BYH exhibitions stood at an estimated QR400mn per edition. “The market is much stable now and people are less apprehensive about the Covid-19 pandemic, so we’re expecting to secure more than QR600mn worth of deals considering that there are 150 exhibitors participating in this year’s event,” Rahme explained. She added: “Many of the participating companies will be launching innovative and smart technologies through the exhibition. Visitors arriving here are interested to know about the latest technologies in the market and Build Your House is a great platform to introduce these trends in sustainable development.” BYH 2022 was inaugurated by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani, who toured the exhibition hall, visited various pavilions and learned about the different services and products offered by the participating companies and institutions, alongside NeXTfairs co-founder and general manager Rawad Sleem and Abdul Aziz bin Hattab al-Kaabi, the vice chairman of Al Hattab Holding board of directors. In a statement, the minister stressed that BYH “reflects the important role played by the construction sector in supporting the construction boom in Qatar, in light of its aims to complete various development projects under the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030.” “The exhibition represents an opportunity to learn about prominent technological developments and the best international practices in the field of engineering, construction, and design. It also forms a key platform to strike fruitful and successful partnerships with specialist companies and consultants in the field, in support of the national economy,” he said. Sleem said, “This extremely special day for BYH Exhibition and NeXTfairs demonstrates our growth and expertise. As we continue to gain government and private sector support, we can strengthen our offering to visitors and exhibitors, creating a platform for networking, collaboration, innovation, and knowledge sharing. “We are proud to create a destination where local housebuilders can gain the practical advice they need to build their dream homes and also play a contributing factor to boosting the local real estate and construction industry.” Five main sectors – consultants, contractors, suppliers, general services, and smart solutions – will enable visitors to build a network of contacts, source consultants, and discover all the materials they need. BYH will hold the second ‘Junior Interior Designer Competition’, in conjunction with VCUarts Qatar. Ten students joined the design challenge; the winning entries will be announced Tuesday from 3pm. The Knowledge Sharing Conference and Future and Smart Living Conference will feature 28 speakers from the following institutions: Civil Defence, Ashghal, the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, AIA Middle East, Jaidah Group, Qatar University, and VCUarts Qatar. Many international companies, most of which are from Portugal and Turkey, are also participating in the event, while Ashghal, Kahramaa, Qatar Development Bank (QDB), and Commercial Bank are also in attendance.

Turkish ambassador to Qatar Dr Mustafa Goksu.
Business
Envoy underscores Turkey’s role in growth of Qatar’s infrastructure, building sector

Turkish construction companies have participated in infrastructure-related projects in Qatar worth $18bn since 2015, Turkey’s top diplomat here told Gulf Times on the sidelines of Build Your House (BYH) 2022 Exhibition. Turkish ambassador to Qatar Dr Mustafa Goksu said many companies from Turkey have been part of major infrastructure projects of both the government and private sector, including projects related to the country’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Turkish companies are also known for their products and services in building materials, furniture, construction, and the hospitality sector. He noted that more than 10 Turkish companies are part of BYH 2022, which is running until March 30 at Halls 8 and 9 of the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). “Aside from the construction of major thoroughfares and other multi-billion projects in the State of Qatar, Turkish companies have participated in the building of many hotels and restaurants, as well as facilities in the hospitality industry here,” the ambassador explained. He also said, “As the country nears the World Cup, many Turkish companies are still arriving in Qatar to complete the remaining work in different projects related to this major event.” On Qatar-Turkey bilateral trade, Goksu said the value of both countries' trade volume stood at over $1bn despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said, “As the global economy eases out of the pandemic, we are expecting to witness growth in Qatar and Turkey’s bilateral trade in the coming period.” BYH 2022 is being held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani. Monday’s opening was officially inaugurated by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani. The minister was joined by Rawad Sleem, co-founder and general manager, NeXTfairs for Exhibitions and Conferences, and Abdul Aziz bin Hattab al-Kaabi, the vice chairman of Al Hattab Holding board of directors.

Portuguese Association of Wood and Furniture Industries (AIMMP) president Vitor Pou00e7as and other dignitaries at the Build Your House (BYH) 2022 Exhibition.
Business
Portugal showcases luxury furniture brands at BYH 2022

Portugal is participating for the first time at the Build Your House (BYH) 2022 Exhibition, showcasing best-in-class luxury branded products during the event, which will run until March 30 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) Stand I 26. In a statement, the Portuguese Association of Wood and Furniture Industries (AIMMP), under the auspices of which Portuguese companies will showcase their products, said the participation aims to pave way for enhanced exports of wood and furniture products to Qatar. “Portugal already is on a strong wicket of growth in exports to Qatar, which grew 68% during 2020-2021 compared to 59% in the corresponding previous period. We believe that there is tremendous untapped potential for further expansion in the wood and luxury furniture products in Doha in line with the country’s surging economic growth,” said AIMMP president Vitor Poças. Portugal’s debut in BYH is also consistent with the policy of AIMMP and the Portuguese wood and furniture sector to showcase the country’s eclectic array of branded European products in the Middle East region being part of the ‘Inter Wood & Furniture’ strategy, an internalisation programme of the sector managed by AIMMP. Twenty-one top-notch brands from Portugal are taking part at BYH, looking to market their products, as well as find distribution partners in Qatar to enhance market footprints. Poças said, “We are excited about our debut participation in Doha and we look forward to building the presence of Portuguese furniture and wood products here where there is high demand for European-made furniture. There is a strong affinity for Portuguese wood and furniture products in Qatar already and we believe it is time that we endeavour further to expand our presence.” AIMMP said Portugal has been very active in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) markets and in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), highlighting the country’s ubiquitous product range in the wood, furniture, and construction sector. “We believe that the post-pandemic market resurgence in Qatar and the region bodes well for European manufacturers in the interior and home furnishing industry since traditionally there is a high preference for luxury brands from Europe in these markets,” Poças added.

HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai speaking at u2018Qatar IT Roundtableu2019, Wednesday by the CRA. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil.
Qatar
ICT contributes 1.9% of Qatar’s GDP, says minister

Qatar’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP is 1.9%, according to HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai. Speaking to the media yesterday on the sidelines of the ‘Qatar IT Roundtable’, organised by the Communications and Regulatory Authority (CRA), al-Mannai underscored the importance of ICT role in other sectors of the country, as well as in Qatar’s economic diversification. Al-Mannai noted that the ministry is working on developing an integrated plan with new goals to develop the field of ICT, which would be ready in the first quarter of 2023. Speaking on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the minister said Qatar’s ICT infrastructure “is almost ready” and that “work is currently underway on some recent services with the organisers.” The CRA earlier stated that the roundtable was organised in line with its keenness to engage directly with stakeholders and key players in the IT sector to exchange views and experiences about the local industry development. The event was held in the context of the IT sector as a crucial enabler of economic growth and diversification, social prosperity, and environmental sustainability, considering the global rapid technological development and Qatar’s ambition to become a digital hub for the region, the CRA added. In his speech at the event, al-Mannai said, “We are also undertaking various government initiatives to support the information technology sector to enable it to reach its full potential in the future, making Qatar a regional digital centre. These initiatives include providing new job opportunities for the local industry, stimulating local and foreign investment, and developing the necessary digital skills by providing education and training. “We are also rapidly progressing in developing a comprehensive national roadmap for the adoption of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine technology, and blockchain technology. We are developing all relevant regulatory tools to create a solid foundation for the IT sector and an innovative digital economy.” Al-Mannai said the government has listed the IT sector as a top priority in its national agenda, stressing the importance of communicating with stakeholders and other major players in the information technology ecosystem. He said, “From this standpoint, the importance of our meeting today lies in getting acquainted with the various opinions on the current situation of the sector, and the high-level requirements necessary for the development of the information technology sector in the State of Qatar, especially in light of the rapid and continuous technological development globally. “Your valuable opinions and experiences will contribute to supporting the process of developing plans and visions for the future of the information technology sector, and developing effective organisational tools to organise it, which in turn will contribute to creating a solid foundation for the sector.”

From left: Grantly Mailes, partner & associate director, Emerging Technologies; Marwan Marouf Rafiq Mahmoud, chairman and CEO of MOSECO Qatar and founding board member at Doha Tech Angels; Yosouf al-Salehi, executive director of QSTP; Nayef al-Ibrahim, founding partner and CEO at Ibtechar; and Hamad al-Hajri, co-founder and CEO of Snoonu, during the high-level panel discussion at u2018Qatar IT Roundtableu2019, organised by the CRA Wednesday. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil
Business
Information technology sector key to economic growth, says minister

The role of information technology in Qatar’s national agenda has become more prominent as an enabling factor for economic growth, social prosperity, and environmental sustainability, HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai said Wednesday. In his speech at the ‘Qatar IT Roundtable’, organised by the Communications and Regulatory Authority (CRA), HE al-Mannai said the ministry is seeking to benefit from the achievements, capabilities, and resources currently available to enhance Qatar's attractiveness and competitiveness at the regional and global levels. Al-Mannai noted that Qatar has established a strong telecommunications infrastructure, in which the quality of performance and network coverage comply with relevant global standards. This, according to the minister, enabled all residents and local companies to access high-speed mobile broadband and fibre-optic services, indicating that the support is provided for the vision and strategy of the telecommunications and information technology sector and its acceleration process due to the pandemic, as well as the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Al-Mannai also said the ministry continues to set goals and develop policies that promote the growth of the telecommunications sector in Qatar. At the same time, it continues to develop and update strategies and policies aimed at providing innovative services and adopting the latest global technology trends and innovations that will support digital transformation, smart living, and diversification of the local economy. Through these strategies and policies, al-Mannai said the goal is to develop digital use cases for smart Qatar and to redesign the Qatar Digital Government programme to be more customer-centric and to enable fully digital transactions. Qatar IT Roundtable was highlighted by a high-level panel discussion by the following industry experts: Marwan Marouf Rafiq Mahmoud, chairman and CEO of MOSECO Qatar and founding board member at Doha Tech Angels; Yosouf al-Salehi, executive director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP); Nayef al-Ibrahim, founding partner and CEO at Ibtechar; and Hamad al-Hajri, co-founder and CEO of Snoonu. The discussion was moderated by Grantly Mailes, partner & associate director, Emerging Technologies. The roundtable featured a presentation of a set of development initiatives and success stories of local companies. The CRA also provided an overview of the information technology sector and its current related initiatives, in addition to discussing the prospects for the local market with the participation of industry leaders in the State of Qatar and participants from the academic community.

Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, managing director, Qetaifan Projects, and Yousef al-Shelash, chairman, Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development Company, during the signing ceremony. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Qetaifan Projects, Dar Al Arkan unveil premium sea-front residences in Qetaifan Island North

Qetaifan Projects and Saudi-based real estate development company, Dar Al Arkan, recently unveiled Les Vagues residences by Elie Saab during an exclusive event held in Qetaifan Island North. The exclusive residences reflect the sophisticated elegance and exceptional detailing that Saab is known for in the haute couture world, setting new standards for modern luxury living in Qatar. Taking inspiration from the beauty and serenity of the sea, grand shores, and infinite horizons surrounding Qetaifan Island North, Les Vagues, which means waves in French, was exquisitely designed as an ode to luxury island life with clean and contemporary lines softened by carefully selected palms and tropical foliage. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, managing director, Qetaifan Projects, said: “Following our concerted efforts to provide the local market with international standards that work on developing and revitalising sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment, and real estate, we are happy to bring a new innovative project to Qatar. “We’re looking forward to working with Dar Al Arkan and Elie Saab on this premium project that is unlike any other in the region. Qetaifan Island North is being developed as the first touristic entertainment destination in Qatar that will put the country on the regional and global tourism map, and Les Vagues residences is an integral project within the masterplan of the development.” Hesham Sharaf, chief operating officer, Qetaifan Projects, said: “Through our partnership with Dar Al Arkan, Qetaifan Island North will offer unique and luxurious residential units designed by Elie Saab. We are very pleased of the achievements Qetaifan Projects has made in the span of four years. “Undoubtedly, innovation has become an important competitive advantage that should be integrated within the real estate value chain. Qetaifan Projects aims to deliver unrivalled real estate innovative projects and to create safe and sustainable investments that will carry the name of Qatar, as well as to revitalise different sectors in the country contributing to Qatar’s economy and in line with the vision 2030.” Ziad el-Chaar, vice chairman of Dar Al Arkan Properties, said: “After our successful project launch with Elie Saab in Riyadh, we’re collaborating for a second time on a premium residential project in one of the region’s most sought-after developments. “Our project on Qetaifan Island North is unique and builds on Dar Al Arkan’s strategic aspirations of regional and global expansion through superior, high-quality real-estate projects that cater to discerning clientele from across the world.” Elie Saab said, “We are delighted to collaborate with Qetaifan Projects and Dar Al Arkan on this premium residential project that is inspired by the natural beauty of the island and its magnificent surroundings.” Les Vagues feature opulent one, two, and three-bedroom sea-front residencies with a variety of majestic balconies and terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows for residents to enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views of the sea. The interiors perfectly embody the beauty of Elie Saab’s designs leaving a lasting impression of refined elegance and spectacular grace where shapes and colours blend harmoniously. Special attention has been given to the finishes with exquisite craftsmanship rarely seen delivering an exceptional level of quality, aesthetic appeal, and tactical performance in pure Elie Saab style. The amenities at Les Vagues are tailored to the residents’ needs featuring a la carte concierge services as well as, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, an infinity swimming pool, landscaped community courtyard with sea views, 24-hr reception desk, and public areas furniture designed and selected by Elie Saab, luxury retail outlets, and parking for all residential units. Qetaifan Projects and Dar Al Arkan launched the premium residential and lifestyle project on Qetaifan Island North, marking Dar Al Arkan’s first entry into Qatar with the aim of driving the development of the luxury property market and supporting the growth of Qatar’s real-estate sector. Work on the development will start in Q2 2022 and total sales are expected to reach over QR1bn Qatari Riyal. Qetaifan Island North is emerging as a thriving waterfront hub representing a new, modern lifestyle. Inspired by the rich culture and nature of the region, the distinct island will feature a thrilling waterpark, a luxurious hotel, unrivalled accommodation, exceptional retail options, and world-class facilities that make it a vibrant and attractive community.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International.
Business
‘Buy local’ helps lessen carbon footprint of food products, says top retail executive

A ‘buy local’ strategy is a key element in helping retailers reduce the environmental impact of transporting food products, a top executive of a leading hypermarket chain has said on the occasion of ‘National Product Week’, which concludes on Saturday. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, lauded the recently-launched National Product Week, which was organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), in collaboration with Qatar Development Bank (QDB), saying that the event was the culmination of a long-term strategy of the Qatar government to localise products. “There are two aspects to this. First, for every country in the world today, food security has become an important objective. People want to produce things locally for strategic and food security reasons. “Second, we also recognise as retailers that globally the goal is towards buying local; this has become a huge trend. And people like to reduce what we call ‘food miles’, which is one of the ways to test the carbon footprint of transporting food and other things,” Althaf told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event. Althaf said LuLu has been steadily increasing its local food products portfolio in the last five years according to the “firm strategy” of MoCI. “We have identified key priority areas. It is necessary to localise some of our product lines, so we started with fresh produce, which was a major concern. I think today Qatar has got almost ‘80%’ self-sufficiency in fresh produce in its production lines. In dairy, Qatar is close to ‘100%’ self-sufficient,” Althaf explained. He also said, “Going forward, we want to source and secure fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). So, in the last five years, there have been many initiatives; the Qatar government started giving initiatives to people and businesses to localise food production. “We are very happy to partner with local firms because our business is about servicing customers and selling products. Our business is not logistics. We don’t want to transport food from far away countries.” Althaf stressed that MoCI has implemented many matchmaking initiatives between retailers in Qatar and companies that are capable of producing locally, “according to our international standards.” “As part of this matchmaking strategy, we have identified close to 50 products today, which are under the LuLu private label. These private labels follow LuLu standards but are produced entirely in Qatar. “Every year, we are now trying to increase that number. There is a lot of interaction between us and the local manufacturing companies. We not only provide them with the orders but we also give them the necessary consumer data, consumer demand, trends, and the quality standards that we require,” he said. He added: “LuLu Group is very proud to be associated with the National Product Week and we are giving special displays to locally-manufactured products. Biannually, we hold our own LuLu-Qatar national product week celebrations; we have partnerships with various other companies that are operating in Qatar. We wish this will continue, especially this coming Ramadan. Ends    

A snapshot from the launch of the National Skilling Programme and the opening of the Digital Centre of Excellence at Msheireb Downtown Doha. PICTURES: Thajudheen
Qatar
National skilling initiative to enhance digital proficiency of 50,000 by 2025

* Launch coincides with opening ceremony of first-of-its-kind in the region Digital Centre of Excellence at Msheireb Downtown Doha The National Skilling Programme, launched Tuesday by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in collaboration with Microsoft, aims to train 50,000 people across all demographics by 2025. The programme will also empower people with advanced digital skills needed to drive innovation and contribute to boosting the country's regional and global competitiveness. A key objective of the programme is to accelerate sustainable human development and digital transformation in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. The launch coincided with the opening ceremony of the first-of-its-kind in the region Digital Centre of Excellence at Msheireb Downtown Doha. HE the Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai led the launch ceremony in the presence of ministers and government officials, as well as private sector executives. The Digital Centre of Excellence is part of the National Skilling Programme, in partnership with Elev8, and expands the joint efforts of the MCIT and Microsoft to create a highly-skilled workforce for a rapidly growing, diversifying, and technologically advanced economy in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. The centre is expected to play a key role in building the talent pool that will help accelerate the digital transformation of government institutions and private sector companies in Qatar. Engineer Mashael Ali al-Hammadi, Acting Assistant Undersecretary of Information Technology at MCIT, said: “The human development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030 motivates us on a daily basis to empower and equip the people of Qatar with the skills needed to develop the country into an advanced society capable of sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for its people. “The launch of the National Skilling Programme and the opening of the Digital Centre of Excellence will be key to this effort, providing advanced knowledge of modern technology and cloud computing that will empower all demographics.” In a video message, Microsoft executive vice president Jean-Philippe Courtois said: “Digital transformation will drive new economic opportunities for the people of Qatar – that’s why we must ensure that everyone has access to the skills needed to succeed in the digital era. “The Digital Centre of Excellence will play an important role in this effort by empowering the nation’s digital workforce to leverage the power of the cloud to build a digital economy that is both advanced and sustainable.” Lana Khalaf, general manager of Microsoft Qatar, said the official launch of the National Skilling Programme and the launch of the Digital Centre of Excellence are major milestones in the tech company’s ongoing partnership with MCIT. “Our efforts represent our joint commitment to unlock opportunities for the people of Qatar in the digital era by developing the technical skills of students as well as those already in the workforce,” she said. As part of this partnership, Khalaf said more than 13,000 people in Qatar have been trained and certified across a variety of roles and audiences in just 18 months. These include students, teachers, IT professionals, developers, and business leaders. “This is an extremely significant achievement we have made toward advancing skilling and fostering a culture of tech intensity in Qatar, and we look forward to building on this momentum with the launch of the Digital Centre of Excellence and other initiatives as part of the National Skilling Programme,” she said. Msheireb Properties CEO Nasser Matar al-Kuwari said, “As a smart community built on intelligent, state-of-the-art technology systems, our goal has always been to establish Msheireb Downtown Doha as a centre of innovation. Within this goal, we aim to become the home of various Information and Communications Technology (ICT) institutions that enhance the technical capabilities of the people of Qatar and unlock the potential of the next generation of digital pioneers. “Hosting the Digital Centre of Excellence in Msheireb Downtown Doha aligns strongly to this vision as the centre will equip not only the next generation workforce but also the current workforce with the skills needed to establish Qatar as a knowledge and innovation hub in line with National Vision 2030.” elev8 president Maria Balbas said, “The partnership with Microsoft and MCIT marked a pivotal moment in Qatar’s digital transformation journey to create a highly-specialised workforce with the essential digital skills to succeed in the fourth industrial revolution.” She added, “elev8 supports a culture of lifelong learners and fosters curiosity and passion for learning. We take an innovative approach, applying elev8’s active learning methodology so that learners gain knowledge through hands-on experiences and real-life scenarios. From students to professionals, to business leaders, the Digital Centre of Excellence will empower people in Qatar with the skills needed in cutting-edge technologies for a new digital world.” The Digital Centre of Excellence aims to develop the technical skills of students, as well as those already in the workforce. Through globally-recognised, industry-endorsed role-based skilling tracks, the centre offers individuals and organisations a professional advantage by providing a range of training and certifications that skill, upskill, and reskill professionals, developers, business leaders, and current students on advanced technologies, such as cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cybersecurity. In cooperation with a number of leading international universities, such as MIT xPro, the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD), and HEC Paris in Qatar, the Digital Centre of Excellence will offer world-class training programmes. LinkedIn is also partnering on this initiative to complement the learning journeys of participants through dedicated workshops aimed at supporting and enabling them in their current and future jobs. The official launch of the National Skilling Programme and the opening of the Digital Centre of Excellence come ahead of the launch of a new Microsoft Cloud data centre region in Qatar, which will avail enterprise-grade cloud services, combined with data residency, security, and the broadest compliance for organisations and companies in Qatar. Ends

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.
Business
Qatar Chamber chairman lauds competitiveness of national products

The ‘1,000 Opportunities Initiative’ launched on Sunday by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) on the occasion of ‘National Product Week’ allows local investors to secure investment opportunities from major international and local companies operating in Qatar. This was according to a statement by Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, who participated in the launch ceremony of National Product Week, organised by MoCI, in collaboration with Qatar Development Bank (QDB), at the ministry’s headquarters in Lusail city. He explained that the ‘1,000 Opportunities Initiative’ offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to develop their products and services and become more competitive in the Qatari market. Sheikh Khalifa also said that enhancing the level of competitiveness will be advantageous to stakeholders in the private sector, allowing them to play a larger role in Qatar’s economic activity. According to Sheikh Khalifa, national products have proven their competence in both the local and international markets. He stressed that the competitiveness of local products is now at par with their international counterparts in terms of pricing and quality. This has contributed to increasing the level of the State’s self-sufficiency, he also emphasised. Sheikh Khalifa also lauded the efforts made by the ministry to support the local market, especially SMEs, and affirmed that this will “reflect positively” on the national economy. He also underscored the ministry’s role in enhancing the communication between SMEs and government bodies and praised the interest of government entities to increase their procurement of locally-manufactured products.