Wednesday, April 17, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos
Peter Alagos reports on Business and general news for Gulf Times. He is a Kapampangan journalist with a writing career of almost 30 years. His photographs have been published in several books, including a book on the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption launched by former Philippine president Fidel V. Ramos. Peter has also taught journalism in two universities.
Farhan al-Sayed, Qatar-Indonesia Business Council president.
Qatar seen to play ‘pivotal role’ in GCC, Middle East manufacturing, logistics sectors

Qatar is expected to emerge as a major player for key industrial sectors in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Middle East this year, according to a Qatari entrepreneur. Speaking to Gulf Times on Sunday, Farhan al-Sayed, who is also the president of the Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC), said not only is the State of Qatar considered “one of the most attractive nations globally,” but many countries had been gravitating towards Qatar as an investment destination. Since it was announced that Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, al-Sayed said many countries and international companies have benefited from the multi-billion projects related to the staging of the games – a first in the Middle East. “Qatar’s ability to attract many international partners will play a pivotal role in the GCC region and the Middle East as a business hub in redistribution, manufacturing, logistics, and other key sectors. “Aside from the state-of-the-art Hamad Port, Qatar also has the world-class Hamad International Airport, which provides connectivity to different cargo and passenger destinations worldwide.” Al-Sayed lauded the government for passing new laws and other legal reforms, as well as streamlining policies to make doing business in the country easy and attract foreign direct investments (FDI). By raising its liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity, Qatar’s energy sector places a significant contribution to the country’s GDP, said al-Sayed, adding that the “economy will grow faster than expected.” “Qatar is definitely witnessing an economic boom this year, assisted by high oil and natural gas prices. Not only is GDP expected to grow this year, but Qatar’s population is also on the rise as the country gears up for the World Cup games,” al-Sayed pointed out, adding that the hospitality, retail, and tourism sectors, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, are bracing for the influx of tourists in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup. “Under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar was able to withstand the challenges of a tough and prolonged pandemic. This has been achieved by having one of the highest standards of healthcare, one of the highest vaccinated populations in the world, uninterrupted supply chain of goods, which kept the markets stocked, complemented by the services and support of Qatar Airways and Hamad Port,” he said.    

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International.
LuLu to build first robotic fulfilment centre in Qatar, says top official

A major hypermarket chain in Qatar will establish the country’s first robotic fulfilment centre as part of plans to offer fully-automated services and solutions for consumers here, according to a top official. “LuLu is also now almost in the final stages of negotiations with one of the most advanced, cutting-edge robotics companies in Europe. We want to make this first robotic fulfilment centre in Qatar,” said Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International. Speaking to Gulf Times, Althaf said the fully-automated facility is expected to be completed before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The project was borne out of LuLu’s digital transformation strategy, he stressed. “LuLu has been quick to adapt to the needs of the market since the 2017 Gulf crisis and, especially, during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have added more delivery vehicles and we are upgrading our digital platforms almost on a monthly basis. “But we know that this is not sufficient to keep pace with whatever is happening in the market, so right now we are going for fully-automated, robotic solutions. We have already identified a space along Salwa Road. We are also in negotiations for a location in the Qatar Free Zones,” Althaf explained. He said the digital transformation of the business is LuLu’s largest project in Qatar this year. The company is targeting that at least 20% to 25% of its transactions should be through e-commerce and omnichannel platforms. Althaf said he believes the move would even support and complement LuLu’s brick-and-mortar services. “LuLu is not a digital-native company, so we are not only focusing on e-commerce. It’s about being omnichannel. Other than ‘last minute delivery’, we are also looking at ‘curbside delivery’, ‘order-from-home and pick-up from store’, and other solutions. We are working with some of the world’s leading cutting-edge solution providers to achieve this,” he pointed out. Althaf said the facility has a scalable model, giving it sufficient room for expansion in the future. Also, the project aims to address key issues, such as the picking speed for items ordered by customers. “Currently, our picking speed is a major challenge, which is why we are building an automated shopping assistant to better improve our picking speed by 40% to 50%. And because this facility is fully-automated, we can refocus and maximise our manpower to other essential operational tasks,” he emphasised. Althaf noted that around 10 to 15 years ago, the grocery and retail industry, including consumers, were slow to adapt to digitalisation. However, the Gulf crisis and the pandemic accelerated Qatar’s digital transformation “10 times faster than what was anticipated,” he said. “There were a couple of things that we understood from these challenges. The first one is scalability, while the second is that economic headwinds offer opportunity and a sense of urgency. We also realised that digital transformation is essential for our business,” Althaf added.

Spendwisor co-founder Khalid Easa N A al-Kaabi (Left) and co-founder & CEO Safarudheen Farook
Qatar-based fintech startup seeks to revolutionise retail industry via digital transformation

* A Qatar-based fintech startup seeks to redefine retail ecosystem A Qatar-based fintech startup is aiming to redefine the retail ecosystem through innovative business-to-customer marketing and to revolutionise the retail industry through digital transformation. Spendwisor, which is part of the Qatar Financial Centre’s (QFC) fintech circle, has introduced a retail industry-led mobile wallet, and mobile POS (mPOS) integrated loyalty programme that transforms the retail ecosystem by providing an innovative digital platform that accepts mobile payments and rewards shoppers with points and cashback. Data from Spendwisor indicated that many consumers globally are unaware that they hold “$360bn” worth of unused loyalty points in their wallets. Spendwisor co-founder & CEO Safarudheen Farook noted that the company’s mission is to democratise the reward points and provide freedom for shoppers and profit for retailers. With Spendwisor, retailers can use the app to accept mobile payments, create cashback campaigns, and issue loyalty points, said Farook, who was one of the industry experts participating in a panel discussion during the ‘1st Arab Fintech Forum’ held in Doha last year. “Our algorithm tailors the reward programme according to a customer’s shopping habits. Combining payment and loyalty programmes into a single platform lets merchants use the payment data to target the right shoppers and reach them directly,” Farook explained. Spendwisor co-founder Khalid Easa N A al-Kaabi said, “We are on the verge of revolutionising the retail industry and the entire shopping experience by introducing a one-of-its-kind mobile payment platform where every shopper earns a cash reward instantly after shopping for their favourite brands. “Furthermore, the reward shoppers earn is ‘brand agnostic’ and can be used or redeemed at any brand, thus providing the complete freedom to earn and spend their rewards.” Spendwisor has been registered in Qatar Financial Center since July 2020 with a presence in the US and the UK, and offers a unique experience to customers and retailers, said Farook, who added that the company has achieved significant milestones, such as winning the 2nd prize in DIC’s ‘Idea Camp’ competition in 2021, and has established itself as a leading fintech startup in Qatar and the Middle East region.

Indonesia-Qatar Business Council (IQBC) president Hendra Hartono Turman, left, and Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed.
Business dialogue planned to enhance Qatar-Indonesia ties

Qatar and Indonesia’s respective business councils are working to stage a business dialogue slated this coming March aimed to enhance bilateral trade and economic ties of both countries, according to officials. Indonesia-Qatar Business Council (IQBC) president Hendra Hartono Turman told Gulf Times on Monday that his team is working with Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed to conduct the dialogue under the theme ‘Optimising Bilateral Collaboration Between Indonesia & Qatar: Recover Together – Recover Stronger’. According to the event’s Terms of Reference (TOR), the event will be held on the occasion of Indonesia’s assumption of the G20 presidency this year. “Departing from various other multilateral forums, the G20 agenda and activities are established by the rotating presidencies, in co-operation with the membership. As agreed at the Riyadh Summit 2020, Indonesia will assume the G20 presidency in 2022, with the baton passed from Italy at the Rome Summit in October 30-31, 2021. Through the theme ‘Recover Together – Recover Stronger’, Indonesia invites the whole world to work together, recover together, and grow stronger and sustainably together,” the TOR stated. The TOR noted that the priority agenda of the Indonesian G20 presidency in 2022 includes the following objectives: exit strategy to support recovery, addressing the scarring effect to secure future growth, payment system in the digital era, sustainable finance, and digital financial inclusion. Turman said the IQBC supports these objectives and the success of the G20, adding that the council sees the potential for co-operation in the fields of Shariah and non-Shariah investments, FDI, and green investment; creative economy and digital economy applications to provide easy access and increase the economy; Medical tourism, education, and sports to improve the quality of these sectors for both parties; and trade of industrial products, especially products of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and co-operative actors. Turman said the 2022 FIFA World Cup is an opportunity for Indonesia to participate in various supporting roles. “It is hoped that after this business dialogue, concrete agreements could be forged. The results of the agreements will be conveyed at a business summit scheduled in August 2022,” he said. The business dialogue will be held using hybrid platforms with the participation of IQBC and QIBC members, government officials and representatives, and the Indonesian and Qatari business community, Turman explained. Some of the objectives of the dialogue would include the following strategies and initiatives: ways for all parties to collaborate on strategies needed on sustaining economic activity, as well as a recommendation for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and agreement on several key initiatives between all parties, Turman said. “Indonesia is ready to contribute to the success of the World Cup by fulfilling its supporting needs. The business council can provide selected products, human resources, and support services so that the World Cup and Qatar's economic activities can run well. “In terms of trade with Qatar, Indonesia hopes to reach the 2020 figure of $200mn and maintain an average growth of 38% in 2022. Several initiatives that will be carried out in 2022 are related to strengthening self-sufficiency programmes and e-commerce,” Turman added. Al-Sayed said, “We would like to create stronger and vibrant connectivity between Indonesia and Qatar, whose investments in the Southeast Asian nation are also growing, especially in the telecoms sector. “We are inviting Indonesian investors to explore Qatar’s business climate. Staging regular business forums will bolster further trade relations and create a platform for companies to connect and forge agreements leading to economic growth.”    

Panel of experts during the virtual forum titled u2018Womenu2019s Roundtable: Starting, Growing, Scaling a Businessu2019, hosted by the Founder Institute.
Industry experts tackle challenges facing women in business

Access to funding, balancing work and family life, and gender disparity are among the many challenges facing women in business, according to female industry experts during a recently held webinar. Hosted by the Founder Institute, the virtual forum titled ‘Women’s Roundtable: Starting, Growing, Scaling a Business’, “aims to give women a space to share and join conversations on the challenges of male-dominated entrepreneurial ecosystems,” said Dr Hanan el-Basha, founder, empowering business strategist, The Business Doctor. El-Basha, who moderated the discussion, was joined by Nadine Zerrini, Innovation Fund manager, Harvard University; Astrid Chedid, regional director for LAC and Spain, Annual Investment Meeting; Sophie Smith, founder and CEO, Nabta Health; Dr Luana Ozemela, founder and investor, DIMA; and Sondos Alkhraisha, founder, Educarso. Citing a report on investment into female-founded companies in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, Smith said that while the region had “a record year” in 2021 with over $2bn in investments, “only a measly 1.2%” went into female-founded companies. “And about an additional 7% went to co-led companies, which is, from a female-founded perspective, roughly half proportionately what it was two years ago,” continued Smith, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic also had an adverse effect on the ability for women to secure venture capital. “At the moment, there’s a real problem in the ecosystem with women finding it very difficult to secure funding at the pre-seed and seed stages, which is when, as a business and as a founder, you’d be judged purely based on your potential. Smith added: “We need to get women through the pre-seeding stages and to make sure that they stick to their guns in terms of how they value themselves and their companies and the amounts they want to raise – the better it would be for female-founded businesses in the region.” According to Chedid, access to funding is “one of the biggest challenges” for female entrepreneurs. She said the issue has been a longstanding obstacle for women “to the point that it is almost accepted by everyone.” She further stressed that aside from the financial aspects of running a business, other challenges include managing family and other domestic responsibilities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Chedid stressed that sharing information and best practices on internal and external business dynamics are important to prepare other female entrepreneurs for the variety of challenges that women would encounter when running a company. Citing statistics from the World Economic Forum, Ozemela said it would take “108 years” to achieve global gender parity. In the Mena region, she said gender parity would take “153 years” and “165 years” in North America. Ozemela said a recent presentation made in Qatar showed that “about 48%” of graduates of STEM fields are women. “We know that it’s no longer a ‘pipeline problem’ – we have the pipeline. But now, how do we effectively tap the talent pool that we are producing?” she asked. Citing cultural values and age-old traditions, Zerrini said it is very difficult for women to find a career-oriented mindset. “I don’t think that this is encouraged. We do need more role models in the Mena region for us to show that this can be done,” she said. Zerrini added that there is “a very big disparity” between the male and female gender gap in terms of digital information or digital skilling and up-skilling, AI, and access to the Internet and mobile Internet, among others. Alkhraisha also added that among the main challenges for female entrepreneurs is looking for the right amount of funding to scale or accelerate the growth of their respective businesses.    

Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar's growing economy seen giving Sri Lankan SMEs access wider Gulf market

Qatar’s growing economy and population are providing farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from the South Asian country access to a wider market in the Gulf region, Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen has said. “There is a huge demand for Sri Lankan exports to Qatar, as well as even from a labour point of view because the economy here is expanding, so our exports, especially in the agriculture sector, will continue to grow,” Mohideen told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently launched ‘Taste of Sri Lanka’ festival, which will run until February 11 at all LuLu Hypermarkets across Qatar. The ambassador said Sri Lanka’s partnership with LuLu is providing Sri Lankan SMEs and farmers access to the Qatari market, which is expected to keep growing in the coming period. He said LuLu’s warehouse in Colombo gives the hypermarket chain direct access to producers and farmers, enabling LuLu to tap into the industry and pay farmers and SMEs fair market value. “And we've seen this business grow year-on-year; throughout the pandemic, it grew 100%, so there's every reason to believe that this business can grow multiple folds in the coming years. “As Qatar’s economy and population grow, so does the demand, which is why there's no reason why Sri Lankan manufacturers and traders shouldn't expect business to expand across many different sectors. If you’re taking the wider economy here, I'm hoping other products and sectors like rubber and gems could come and play a big part, as well, in the coming years, he said. According to Mohideen, Sri Lanka sees the 2022 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity for the South Asian nation to boost bilateral trade relations with Qatar. In 2021, Qatar-Sri Lanka bilateral trade stood at $90mn, he said. In terms of food security, Mohideen said exporting Sri Lankan produce to Qatar will help stabilise the country’s food market. “Through the pandemic, Sri Lanka and LuLu were able to work with Sri Lankan producers without any interruption. I hope in the coming years we're able to add to this business and hopefully grow it,” he said. In LuLu, more than 350 Sri Lankan items are being sold in their hypermarkets across the country. This year, Mohideen said saris from Sri Lanka are now available in LuLu stores. “That’s a great addition not only to the range of Sri Lankan brands in Qatar, but it also gives another manufacturing sector the opportunity to come here and, hopefully, create a new market,” he added.    

Dr Mohamed Althaf and Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen lead the inauguration of the Sri Lankan Festival at LuLu, D-Ring Road branch, under the theme u2018Taste of Sri Lankau2019, in the presence of guests and dignitaries. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
LuLu launches ‘Taste of Sri Lanka Festival’

LuLu Hypermarket is looking to boost imports from Sri Lanka across a wide range of goods and food products, a top official said on Sunday. “We will enhance efforts to import more products from Sri Lanka under LuLu’s plan to diversify its sources for imports as demand is growing because of the rising population and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, on the sidelines of the opening of the Sri Lankan Festival at LuLu, D-Ring Road branch, under the theme ‘Taste of Sri Lanka’. Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen inaugurated the festival in the presence of Dr Althaf and many other distinguished guests from banks, retail and FMCG sectors, including officials from other LuLu outlets. The festival is running in all LuLu Hypermarkets until February 11. The event promotes the unique culinary heritage of Sri Lanka, which is a blend of different colonial influences - the British, Dutch and Portuguese - as well as pan-Asia and Indian, especially southern and Indonesian influences. According to Dr Althaf, LuLu is now operating its sourcing facility at the Colombo Special Economic Zone in Sri Lanka. “We are now sourcing fresh fruits and vegetables through this facility for the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Qatar and other consumers." Plans are afoot to add more products, such as food and non-food items, to the list of LuLu's exports from Sri Lanka, he said, adding that Sri Lanka is an ideal partner for Qatar from a food security point of view because of food products similar to those produced in Asian countries. Sri Lanka and the Arab world share a rich culinary experience, which nurtured the spice trade of olden days and is still a vibrant presence in Arab kitchens today, LuLu said in a statement. Addressing the media, Mohideen said LuLu is one of the top supermarket brands in the region and the world, which offers Sri Lankan food and non-food items. “Sri Lanka and LuLu have a longstanding relationship. The group has an export distribution centre in Sri Lanka for the sourcing of goods. The facility provides opportunities to Sri Lankan farmers to market their products,” he said. Mohideen said more than 350 Sri Lankan products are being sold in LuLu outlets across the country, enabling the Sri Lankan community in Qatar and other shoppers to enjoy a wide range of consumer items. Most of the popular Sri Lankan food brands are available at LuLu outlets, the ambassador said. Aside from food, Sri Lankan textiles, sarees and similar products are on display at the festival, said Mohideen, who added: “This is a great addition, giving another sector the opportunity to join the market.” Mohideen said the festival offers a wide range of Sri Lankan products from groceries to ‘super foods’ not only to the Sri Lankan community but to other people in Qatar who are looking for alternative types of foods. Dr Althaf said while the festival is offering a wide range of Sri Lankan food and non-food products, it is the first time during the festival that LuLu has introduced high-quality textile products. “The festival mainly exhibits Sri Lankan ethnic and grocery items, as well as agricultural and organic produce,” explained Dr Althaf, noting that the event highlights the diverse culture and culinary heritage of Sri Lanka. “LuLu Group has organised the festival in co-operation with its export unit, YAS Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The unit was set up in 2017 to boost sourcing operations and bring in high-quality products for LuLu’s chain of hypermarkets across the world." LuLu Group boasts of a huge amount of annual imports in fruits, vegetables, groceries, spices, and other commodities from Sri Lanka. YAS Lanka’s exports have gone up considerably since its opening. LuLu Group has similar export distribution centres in 22 countries, including the UK, the US, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, China and countries in Africa. The festival offers shoppers the opportunity to stock up on top-quality spices that Sri Lanka is known for, such as cloves, pepper, cinnamon, which are all packaged for hygiene, aroma, and convenience. Also available are a variety of tea and tea-based herbal infusions with turmeric, chamomile and other herbs and "amazing" teas from signature plantations around Sri Lanka. A wide range of Sri Lankan commodities and agricultural produce is now on display at discounted prices; special counters have been set up to facilitate tasting and sampling for customers. Many varieties of organic and healthy coconut products, such as coconut cream, coconut milk and virgin and cold-pressed coconut oil are showcased in the ‘special deals section’, while the vegetable racks will be filled with the goodness, colour and juicy flavours of Sri Lankan farm produce.    

Shedu Consulting managing partner Deniz Kutlu.
Robust Qatar-Turkey business ties to continue post-FIFA World Cup

While the hosting of the upcoming FIFA World Cup has created many investment opportunities for Qatar's international partners, such as Turkey, the transcontinental country is expecting robust business ties with Qatar to continue post-2022, an official of a Turkish consulting firm has said. Asked what other investment opportunities Turkey could maximise from a major sporting event such as the World Cup, Deniz Kutlu, managing partner at Shedu Consulting, said the 2022 FIFA World Cup created new business opportunities for Turkish companies in the Qatari market. “These areas include, but not limited to, construction projects (both infrastructure and superstructure), construction materials, furniture and furnishings. But now the subways, stadiums, and the hotels are ready for the World Cup and these industries do not seem to be as promising as they used to be five years ago. “However, the World Cup still offers some other opportunities for Turkish companies interested in the Qatari market. These opportunities are mainly in the services industries like software, catering, lodging, and security. I believe World Cup will create many business opportunities in these fields and also help the Qatari business community to increase their know-how in these industries,” Kutlu told Gulf Times. Post-FIFA 2022, Kutlu emphasised that will Qatar continue to remain as an attractive market for Turkish investors, citing several factors describing the country as an investment destination for Turkey. “The 2022 FIFA World Cup has been one of the factors that made Qatar an attractive market, not only for Turkish companies but also other international companies. But it is not only the factor behind the current level of bilateral trade and economic relations between Turkey and Qatar,” he explained. Kutlu said both Qatar and Turkey have managed to establish deep economic relations, which include major bilateral investment in both countries. “And these ties will not be affected after the World Cup. Also, Qatar is a vibrant market and is capable of attracting similar giant sports and major cultural events. A recent example has been the Formula One Grand Prix held from November 19 to 21 last year. “Hence, I believe that Qatar will continue to attract similar international organisations, and Turkish companies will continue their support and presence in the Qatari market without being much-affected post-FIFA World Cup,” Kutlu pointed out.

Dr Tejinder Singh, chapter director of Startup Grind Doha.
Growth of Qatar’s startup ecosystem ‘on track’, says industry expert

Backed by extensive private and public sector support, Qatar’s startup ecosystem is witnessing steady growth, according to an industry expert. Dr Tejinder Singh, the chapter director of Startup Grind Doha, said agencies like Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Qatar Business and Incubation Centre (QBIC), Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), and the Digital Incubation Centre (DIC), as well as the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT) have been instrumental in supporting the growth of the country’s entrepreneurship culture. “These agencies and government institutions are all trying to bring in their expertise together in full force and they’ve been doing a great job in the past so many years. I am closely associated with what QDB is trying to do in terms of tech and angel investments. “In particular, QSTP and DIC are churning out and trying to focus on startups and building them up. There are some promising startups that are coming up in the future and they have great ideas,” Singh told Gulf Times. Singh also emphasised that “there is more work to be done,” but noted that he remains optimistic in the further development of Qatar’s startup ecosystem. “There is still more that is always required; more work is still needed. But we don’t have to worry about it because everything takes time. This is part of the evolution of the startup industry. “Any startup industry in every part of the world takes time; it is trying to cultivate a new vertical and a new space. Everything takes its time to develop, so we have seen a lot of progress in the last three years – from just being startups to a whole ecosystem awareness now in Qatar – and a lot of people are involved in it,” he pointed out. According to Singh, there have been a lot of discussions happening, forums, panel discussions, and a lot of content building, as well as many people joining hands to meet with startups to help them evaluate their companies and investments, among other forms of assistance. “All of that is shaping up but we need to give it some time, and I think we should be in the list of some of the top startup ecosystems in the region,” said Singh, who further explained that Startup Grind has many plans in the pipeline to help startups grow their businesses and identify avenues that provide access to funding. On January 31, Startup Grind Doha will be hosting a 6pm virtual session, which carries the theme ‘Deep Dive into Angel Investing’. The panel discussion, which will be moderated by Business Startup Qatar founder Steve Mackie, is comprised of subject matter experts like co-founder Munera al-Dosari, Doha Tech Angels CEO Sara Daniel, and Singh, who is also the founder and chairman of 360 Nautica. “We just had one masterclass done by QDB, along with the Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH). When more people understand it, angel investment makes a lot of sense for us to bring in more subject matter experts from the industry who will talk about the angel investment landscape. “I think this is one of the prime things that QDB is driving at, and we want to contribute as much as we can in terms of thought leadership and, of course, driving angel investment and angel investors, as well,” stressed Singh, who added that Startup Grind Doha will also tackle other topics in the future, such as fintech, sportstech, other verticals of investments, including e-commerce and digital evolution, as well as the digital ecosystem.

USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat and Qataru2019s commercial attachu00e9 to the US Fahad al-Dosari virtually meet with Lieutenant Governor of Colorado Dianne Primavera (upper right of TV screen) during a recently-held business visit (left) and USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat and Qataru2019s commercial attachu00e9 to the US Fahad al-Dosari join Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
Qatar, Colorado officials discuss bilateral business opportunities

The State of Colorado and the State of Qatar share a slew of investment opportunities as valuable international business partners in a wide range of sectors, according to the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC). Only recently, officials of USQBC, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and World Trade Centre Denver, collaborated on a business visit to Denver, Colorado to engage with key policy makers and the local business community to expand and enhance economic partnerships between Qatar and Colorado. During the business visit, Qatar’s commercial attaché to the US Fahad al-Dosari and USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board of directors Mohamed Barakat met separately with Dianne Primavera, Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, and Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver, to discuss enhancing business ties. Upon the occasion of the event, Rashid al-Deheimi, consul general of the State of Qatar, said: “Qatar sees many opportunities to further increase bilateral business and investment opportunities with Colorado. This event illuminated the many areas where we can enhance commercial partnerships between Colorado and Qatar, and we look forward to furthering these discussions.” Primavera said: “Colorado’s economy is building back stronger so there is tremendous opportunity, across a variety of industries, to expand our international reach for increased commercial partnerships between our two communities.” Hancock added: “These exchanges present opportunities for increased bilateral trade and investment in synergistic industries that Denver and Qatar share, from technology and agriculture to professional services, cleantech, smart cities, and many more. We also see this as another indicator that Denver’s reputation as a thriving global city and international market continues to grow.” During a business seminar hosted at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, participants were able to network, learn, and explore business opportunities between Colorado and Qatar. The event included several presentations. Al-Dosari presented on Qatar’s attractive economic environment, while Barakat discussed the strength of the US-Qatar business relationship. “The State of Qatar is committed to expanding the economic partnership with Colorado. We look forward to further conversations on how our business communities can work together in areas, such as manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, and infrastructure and engineering,” said al-Dosari. Barakat added: “Colorado and Qatar have already shared a flourishing trade relationship, which is evidenced by Colorado having exported $11.97mn worth of goods to Qatar in 2019. This visit demonstrates the commitment both sides have to increasing investment and commercial ties across their many overlapping industries.” There is significant overlap between key industries in Qatar and Colorado, including manufacturing, defence, financial services, energy, infrastructure, transportation, logistics, and technology. Colorado ranks in the top 10 for solar energy jobs and has the fourth highest concentration of tech jobs in the country, both of which are significant areas of interest for Qatar’s expanding economy. “Colorado companies are some of the nation’s best and true leaders in their respective industries. We are proud to welcome organisations like the US-Qatar Business Council to our community to build relationships and share opportunities,” said Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO J J Ament. Karen Gerwitz, president of World Trade Centre Denver, said: “We look forward to many new partnerships and commercial opportunities between the State of Qatar and the State of Colorado. Both Qatar and the US are some of the best places in the world for business, and we see many opportunities for Colorado companies in Qatar and welcome Qatari investment in Colorado.” Denver is home to one of the largest American IT companies, Palantir Technologies, which specialises in Big Data Analytics and already has strong ties to Qatar. The company recently relocated its headquarters to Denver, which reinforces Denver’s position as a leading technology hub in the country.   Virtual session highlights Qatar’s investment opportunities, incentives       Doha Venture Capital (DVC) CEO Mohamed al-Abdulla and Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) Business Development manager Hamad al-Mohannadi delivered presentations on recent developments and incentives for foreign investors in Qatar Free Zones, as well as DVC’s strategic investment priorities during a special virtual session held in collaboration with Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and Colorado Cleantech Industry Association. The virtual session highlighted a seminar that was part of a recent business visit to Denver, Colorado under the collaborative efforts of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and World Trade Centre Denver. Al-Mohannadi said: “Qatar offers investors a package of incentives that include benefiting from trade ties, bilateral investment protection, tax and free trade agreements, right to properties ownership, and labour laws that give foreign companies a competitive advantage.” He added: “In addition, Qatar Free Zones Authority offers attractive investment benefits to registered companies, such as tax exemptions, exceptional services and modern facilities, and partnership opportunities with large companies in the country to maximise production benefits.” Qatar Free Zones are designed to provide investors with a global competitive advantage across various key sectors, in addition to providing a business-friendly environment and world-class services that contribute to enhancing the financial and operational performance of companies. The State of Qatar is also an increasingly large investor in the US having pledged over $45bn in investment over the coming years with key investments already having been made across multiple sectors, including oil and gas, financial technology, real estate, food production, and hospitality, among others.        

From left: Qataru2019s commercial attachu00e9 to the US Fahad al-Dosari, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson, and USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat during a business meeting hosted by USQBC recently to discuss enhancing the business ties.
Dallas seeks robust Qatar-US trade, investment ties, says city official

Officials of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) and Dallas, Texas have met recently to discuss ways of enhancing and expanding investment opportunities between the State of Qatar and the US, USQBC has announced. This was evident during a business visit to Dallas hosted recently by USQBC. The visit looked to engage key policymakers and the local business community to expand and enhance economic partnerships between Qatar and the State of Texas. Leading the business visit were Qatar’s commercial attaché to the US Fahad al-Dosari and USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board of directors Mohamed Barakat, who both met with Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson to discuss enhancing business ties. Johnson said: “Dallas is a welcoming city that boasts world-class assets and attractions, and serves as the economic engine of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. “We are also an increasingly international city, and we look forward to working closely with Qatar to deepen our ties and to promote trade and investment between their country and our booming city.” During the visit, USQBC hosted a business seminar at La Cima Club in Irving, Texas and a private reception at Hotel Crescent Court in Dallas, which provided a platform for participants to network, learn, and explore business opportunities between Texas and Qatar. “The State of Qatar looks forward to building upon the already flourishing bilateral business relationship with the State of Texas,” said Rashid al-Deheimi, consul general of Qatar to Texas, on the occasion of the event. He added: “The event highlighted a number of untapped investment and partnership opportunities between Texas and the State of Qatar, which are pivotal to further integrating the two economies.” The business seminar comprised several presentations, including al-Dosari’s, which delved into Qatar’s attractive investment environment for US companies. Barakat, on the other hand, discussed the strength of the US-Qatar business relationship. Al-Dosari said: “The State of Qatar is committed to expanding the economic partnership with Texas. We look forward to further conversations on how our business communities can work together in areas within and beyond the traditional oil and gas sector, including advanced manufacturing, business and financial services, renewable energy and clean technology, logistics, and defence, among others.” Barakat added: “Our visit to Texas consolidates and enhances the historical and ever-growing business relationship between Texas and the State of Qatar. There continues to be incredible business synergies and untapped commercial opportunities between the two, and we expect even more investment and trade between them going forward.” The delegation also visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Centre with Rosewood Resources Executives for a tour. The Centre focuses on environmental sustainability and is a unique public-private partnership between North Texas Municipal Water District and the Rosewood Corporation to provide education, research, and conservation opportunities pertaining to water reuse and supply, wetland systems, and wildlife habitat. Environmental sustainability and water conservation are primary concerns for Qatar and this visit highlighted the importance of environmental sustainability, according to the USQBC. US is Qatar’s largest foreign direct investor with $110.6bn total FDI   There is significant overlap between key industries in Qatar and Texas, including oil and gas, defense, financial services, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, and technology, according to the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), which recently hosted a business visit to Dallas, Texas. Given Qatar’s prominence in the energy sector, Texas is a prime partner since it is the largest energy-producing state in the US and had the second-highest state GDP in the US in 2021, the USQBC stated. The bilateral business ties between the US and Qatar continue to solidify with the total economic relationship between them exceeding “$200bn” as of 2019. The US is Qatar’s largest foreign direct investor with a total of “$110.6bn” in FDI and is the largest single source of exports to Qatar at “$6.5bn” in goods in 2019. In the past five years, Qatar has imported over “$23bn” worth of goods from the US, and more than “850” US companies now operate in Qatar. Qatar has an outstanding relationship with Texas. In the oil and gas industry, QatarEnergy has partnered with ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, McDermott International, Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPC), and Excelerate Energy, all of which are headquartered in Texas. In 2019, QatarEnergy and CPC announced a joint venture to develop the largest ethylene production plant in the Middle East. The Golden Pass LNG export project is a “$10bn” joint venture between ExxonMobil and QatarEnergy in Sabine, Texas and is expected to be operational in 2024. Qatar is also an increasingly large investor in the US having pledged over “$45bn” in investments in the coming years, with key investments already having been made across multiple sectors, including oil and gas, financial technology, real estate, food production, and hospitality, among others.

Deniz Kutlu, Shedu Consulting managing partner
Turkey’s exports to Qatar may return to $1.2bn levels in 2022, says Turkish consultancy firm

The value of Turkish exports to Qatar is expected to return to $1.2bn levels this year as the international community tries to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a Turkish consultancy firm. Citing figures from the Turkish Statistical Institute, Shedu Consulting managing partner Deniz Kutlu told Gulf Times Wednesday that Turkey’s exports to Qatar “were at a historic high in 2019.” However, Turkey recorded a decrease in trade figures between both countries compared to 2020 as a consequence of the impact of Covid-19 on global economies. “We can clearly see the impact of Covid-19 in 2020 when Turkey’s exports dropped below the $1bn threshold. In 2021, Turkey’s exports to Qatar jumped back to the $1bn levels, and in 2022, we estimate to have annual exports to be around the $1.2bn levels again,” Kutlu explained. Like many other countries, Kutlu emphasised that Turkey tried its best to adapt to new pandemic-related policies on international trade, including travel restrictions and other measures. “But 2021 turned out to be a better year compared to 2020 when Covid-19 suddenly hit national economies. Hopefully, 2022 will be a much better year for Turkey, Qatar, and the rest of the global markets,” he noted. According to Kutlu, while Shedu Consulting is expecting an increase in bilateral trade between Turkey and Qatar this year, “the magnitude of this increase” is closely tied to the spread of Covid-19 and the travel restrictions imposed by relevant authorities in both countries. “Currently, some of the measures like quarantine upon arrival act as a kind of non-tariff barrier restricting the true potential of bilateral trade. On the other hand, countries with relatively flexible travel policies enjoy an increase in trade and tourism income at the expense of countries with relatively stricter travel policies,” he further explained. Kutlu pointed out that natural gas remains as Qatar’s top export product to Turkey. He said natural gas and mineral fuels accounted for more than 60% of Qatar’s total exports worth $450mn in 2021. ‘Aluminium and aluminium articles’, on the other hand, is the second major export item, which accounted for nearly 20% of Qatar’s total exports to Turkey, said Kutlu, citing data from the International Trade Centre (ITC). “Apart from trade in goods, Qatar has been a major exporter of foreign direct investments (FDIs) in Turkey. Qatar’s investments in Turkey are quite diversified and include industries like real estate, services, manufacturing, and finance. So, many business people do not consider Qatar as a trade partner only but also as a possible joint venture partner,” Kutlu added.

Dr Tejinder Singh, the chapter director of Startup Grind Doha
Vertical specific parks key to growing Qatar’s startup ecosystem, says industry expert

Similar to the establishment of the Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH), setting up investment and tech hubs would be essential to the growth of Qatar’s startup ecosystem, according to an industry expert. Dr Tejinder Singh, the chapter director of Startup Grind Doha, underscored the need to set up more tech companies in Qatar to serve sectors in the country. “We need to lay our focus on tech; I think that is what we’re missing right now. We’re missing out on two things: creating vertical specific parks. These two are essential pillars of any startup ecosystem unless you want to build an ecosystem that is non-tech, which is out-of-date right now,” Singh told Gulf Times yesterday. He said, “Startups are predominantly based on tech. What you need is angel funding or seed funding, so you need to set up investment and tech hubs; in that way, more tech players would come, thus enhancing the ecosystem. We still need to see more people focusing on blockchain and other advanced technologies. As of now, we don’t have that, so you need to bring these capabilities in place. “Among tech startups, fintech is the most promising sector, but we also have to see startups in sectors, such as public identity and in government and semi-government services. There are a lot of startup areas where tech would enable them, but still, we’re far away from that as of now,” said Singh, who is also the founder and chairman of 360 Nautica. On his forecast for tech startups this year, as well as for Qatar's startup sector in 2022, Singh said: “We should also come up with a tech park or a media park in Qatar. Unless we have those types of dedicated incubation hubs, we would not be able to complete the full circle in the startup ecosystem. It may be too early to happen in 2022, but I believe all of this will come up in the coming years.” Asked if the experiences of tech startups in 2020 and 2021 would be enough to equip them in better serving the market this year, Singh said: “Tech startups have definitely progressed but we have to give them a discount on the pandemic that we’re having. They did not have much of the exposure in terms of reaching out and maturing their product, but yes, they are there – they are definitely far ahead. They have progressed, undoubtedly, but there is still a long way to go.” He added: “The whole ecosystem should mature. What we need to do is to develop a fintech ecosystem. We’ve yet to see a mature wallet playing in the market; we still don’t have that. We need to see a mature player or a promising startup in the market, such as a startup or wallet focusing on loyalty solutions or deals like ‘buy now, pay later’. “In terms of fintech and technology, we still need to see more partnerships coming across the border from tech giants of the world. Unless that comes, knowledge enhancement will be challenging.”    

Panellists during the virtual forum titled u2018Middle East Venture Fairu2019, organised recently by KiwiTech.
Globalisation, technology among growth drivers for VCs, says industry expert

Rapid globalisation and connectivity through technological advancements are among the factors that contributed to the increase in venture capitalists (VCs) in the Middle East region, according to an industry expert. “There has been a collective awareness in terms of the growth of the number of VCs in the Middle East region,” said Dr Hanan el-Basha, co-director at the Qatar Chapter of Founder Institute, during the ‘Middle East Venture Fair’, a virtual forum organised recently by KiwiTech. “The collective vision right now of the region is to create more unicorns that come out of the Middle East,” said el-Basha, who was joined co-panellists Awdesh Chetal, venture partner, Risin Ventures; Mohsin Syed, EVP & chief startup officer, KiwiTech; and Steve Mackie, founder and co-owner, Business Startup Qatar, as panel moderator. According to el-Basha, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which constitute “90% to 99% of worldwide economies,” are driving innovation, employment, and agility of the markets. “And what we have seen during the pandemic in the last couple of years was that agility and adaptability were the secret ingredients to survivability. Startups are important for having a role within the international and global markets, but it is also driven by technology, funds, and support. “If we look at the overall entrepreneurial ecosystems within the region that are coming up, we can divide them into three Es: entice, educate, and enablers. I think the rise in VCs is because of globalisation or because of connectivity through technology,” she explained. El-Basha said the trend has gone beyond the fields of energy and real estate since the 2008 financial crisis, “which created a lot of lessons.” She noted that the financial crisis also showed that it was necessary to expand to different sectors and segments. “That’s where the variety of different options and segments that technology-based businesses are starting to become viable and attractive.” El-Basha also explained that businesses that are “sustainable and scalable” are what VCs are looking for in the Middle East. “Scalable means that the business could be expanded into other markets or whether it could be localised to other markets or not. In terms of sustainability, VCs will not invest in a company that could disappear; the concept of it becomes untrendy or it disappears within one to three years. These are the two basic elements,” she said. She added: “Beyond that, what would VCs be looking for? In the region, there is a rise in the fields of ‘edtech’ and ‘healthtech’. Within Qatar, there is ‘sportstech’, which is an up-and-coming field because Qatar’s vision has been focusing on education and sports as main pillars. Of course, everything fits in fintech; if you don’t have fintech, all other tech-based businesses will not be able to function to the best of their ability.”    

Digitally generated image of  the Commercial Bouldevard in Lusail.
Qatar Chamber chairman hails Lusail as ‘city of the future’

Lusail city, hailed as the country’s “city of the future,” is seen as a prime destination for both local and foreign investors owing to its state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure, according to Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani. Not only for its world-class amenities, Lusail city is also known to offer a wide range of investment opportunities and projects for businessmen, specifically along Lusail’s Commercial Boulevard, which will be the location of the chamber’s new headquarters, Sheikh Khalifa stated in Al Moltaqa, Qatar Chamber’s monthly economic magazine. Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that the private sector will benefit from Qatar Chamber’s new Lusail headquarters as the establishment would be “properly equipped” to provide various services to businesses and companies in the country. Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani Qatar Chamber initially announced the location of its new headquarters during a signing ceremony held between Sheikh Khalifa and engineer Abdulla bin Hamad al-Attiyah, Qatari Diar CEO, on the sidelines of the opening of Cityscape Qatar 2021. During the signing ceremony, Sheikh Khalifa lauded government efforts to shoulder the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s real estate market, which, according to him, managed to surpass the challenges of the pandemic. According to Al Moltaqa, al-Attiyah “expressed his contentment for signing a purchase contract for Qatar Chamber's new headquarters in Lusail.” He added: “The chamber's shifting to Lusail is an important addition to the services provided by the city in line with Qatari Diar’s vision about Lusail to become the economic capital city of the country.” As early as 2020, Qatar Chamber led a delegation that conducted a two-day field tour of the Lusail Commercial Boulevard project, which aims to promote investment opportunities for Qatari and foreign investors. Sheikh Khalifa led the delegation comprising Qatar Chamber senior officials, several board members, and other leading Qatari businessmen. Under the city’s master plan, Lusail boasts of 19 designated districts that offer residential, entertainment, sports, medical and education, and corporate and commercial projects spread across strategic areas. According to its website, Lusail city “will be home to more than 200,000 residents of its scenic surroundings, 170,000 professionals in its 19 districts, and 80,000 visitors to its entertainment, recreation and retail and hospitality facilities; a population of nearly 450,000 people. “Each of Lusail’s districts features an array of residential, commercial, hospitality, and retail destinations, integrating communal living in a self-contained model, complete with schools, mosques, medical facilities, as well as sport, entertainment and shopping centres.”

HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani hands over a copy of his new book, u2018Qatar We Lived: Its History, People and Rulersu2019, to HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, as Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press executive director Bachar Chebaro looks on. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Sheikh Faisal's book sheds light on Qatar's history, people, rulers

A new book, ‘Qatar We Lived: Its History, People and Rulers’, by Qatari entrepreneur HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani was launched on Sunday as part of the activities of the Doha International Book Fair. The launch ceremony was held in the presence of HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, Minister of State and president of Qatar National Library, during a press conference at the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) headquarters. HE Sheikh Faisal said, “I am honoured by the presence of HE Dr Hamad al-Kawari at the book’s inauguration ceremony, and I appreciate his continuous support for the cultural movement in the region and the world. Dr Hamad is one of the most prominent diplomats and intellectuals in the world. “My inspiration for writing the book came from my desire to testify and document Qatar’s history, making use of historical documents and rare photographs since its inception until today, basing this history on authentic sources, in addition to my testimony of information and events that I heard and witnessed in the majlis of Qatar’s people and rulers alike.” “I have lived through six out of the eight rulers of Qatar, and Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, the Founder of the State of Qatar, is my great great grandfather, and that I lived in different times and eras for more than seven decades. Not to mention that my father was the Prince of Dukhan, the area in which the first oil wells were discovered in the late forties of the past century,” HE Sheikh Faisal said. On his part, HE Dr al-Kawari said, “It is not a surprise that my dear friend, Sheikh Faisal, consolidates such valuable information in his book, which we consider an important treasure for us, the future generation of Qatar’s leaders, citizens, and residents. And with the efforts of every member of the publishing team headed by Sheikh Faisal, we look forward to seeing ‘Qatar We Lived’ reach all homes and libraries in Qatar to make sure that the wider community is aware and being educated on this valuable history.” HE Sheikh Faisal said the book consists of 10 chapters and is being translated into English, French, Spanish, German, Turkish, Mandarin, Hindi, Persian and Portuguese. He said the book documents how the founding fathers of the nation, since the reign of Sheikh Mohamed bin Thani onwards, have established a communal life in Qatar where there was no difference between the ruler and the ruled as it was through facing hardships as a community that the voluntary role played by ‘the-to-be-rulers of Qatar’ set them apart in a position of leadership that became a stabilising factor to the country. He stressed that back in the day the ruler was the centre of everything as ministries and governmental institutions were not yet established, so much so that the responsibility of issuing power and water permits, and driving permits fell upon the ruler. “What is remarkable about the people of Qatar,” HE Sheikh Faisal said, “was their friendliness, humbleness, and hospitality, where visitors and foreigners are made to feel at home. They would be found side by side, from the highest position to the lowest without any distinction between tribes or any competition other than their love for their homeland.” HE Sheikh Faisal explained that the book emphasises the role of Qatari women in the State’s journey, pointing out that from the time of tents and tribes, all the way to the age of modernity and skyscrapers, the Qatari society has treasured and maintained a set of deeply-rooted traditions and customs that have preserved its identity, blending traditional values and modernity together. Further, the book mentions the years of struggle and strife that the Qatari people experienced and the battles they fought, as a reminder of the importance of peace and stability for the peoples of the region, as history has proven that ‘history repeats itself in similar ways’, and that shying away from dealing with history does not prevent conflict. “Therefore, it was imperative to include this history of conflict, in order to avoid its causes, and move forward with pure intentions and a desire for peace. Finally, the last chapter includes facts about Qatar, and pictures of Qatar old and current, that showcase the extent of development that the country underwent,” said HE Sheikh Faisal, who will hold a book signing event today on the sidelines of the Doha International Book Fair at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.    

(From left) Sheikh Mohamed bin Faisal al-Thani, HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and Bachar Chebaro during the launch of HE Sheikh Faisalu2019s new book, u2018Qatar We Lived: Its History, People and Rulersu2019. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam.
New book chronicles Qatar’s journey to victory, says Sheikh Faisal

From its pearl diving roots to becoming one of the richest countries in the world per capita, Qatari entrepreneur HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani’s new book, ‘Qatar We Lived: Its History, People and Rulers’, chronicles Qatar’s phenomenal transformational journey. According to HE Sheikh Faisal, his book describes the inception of Qatar, which went through so many hardships and harsh years that are inconceivable before it made it to the list of richest countries per capita annually, possessing the best airport and airline, plus being the largest exporter of liquified natural gas in the world at the beginning of the 21st century. Indeed, those challenges and achievements make for an inspirational journey and transformation, he said. The book was launched yesterday as part of the activities of the Doha International Book Fair. The launch ceremony was held in the presence of HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, Minister of State and president of Qatar National Library, during a press conference at the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) headquarters. HE Sheikh Faisal said the book demonstrates with documents, photographs, and numbers the huge scale of development and achievements happening under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and how His Highness the Amir had to face extraordinary circumstances that have boosted his ability to govern the State and protect its sovereignty, with the historic support from the people of Qatar around him. “Furthermore, his leadership during such difficult period has not only been crucial for his reign, but rather was crucial in the history of Qatar and its destiny forever. His Highness came out of that challenge as a young leader defending his country in a very wise and civilised manner, with an enhanced position on the international stage. “Thus, in a couple of years, we have accomplished what otherwise requires decades to achieve. It is said that the skill is hitting a target that others cannot hit, but brilliance is hitting a target nobody else can see, and that is what has been accomplished in the reign of His Highness Sheikh Tamim, the defender of sovereignty and the leader of development,” HE Sheikh Faisal stressed. He continued, “The book also confirms that great achievements can only be charged by an ambition that transcends reality, and as such, Qatar has shined by the vision of His Highness the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the founder of the modern State, as we were in a race with time to catch up with his ambitions that became reality in a brief period.” History shall remember how he transformed Qatar’s character and positioned it as an active and respectable player on the world stage, how he developed and diversified Qatar’s economy to the point that Qatar became a leader in the field of energy, in addition to his ability to find a solution to the unsolvable questions where he found the balance between modernity and openness, while holding firmly and adhering to its origins and roots, HE Sheikh Faisal emphasised. He said the book showcases Qatar’s distinctive character since long ago, as it understood correctly its geographical situation and scarce population, for which it dealt with by maintaining balanced relations with the outer world, and by forging strategic partnerships on bases that fortified its security and sovereignty throughout history until today. Moreover, the book narrates the dangerous foreign meddling and conspiracies against the Founder, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohamed bin Thani, had to face supported by his people, struggling for Qatar’s independence. It also shows how the third ruler, Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim al-Thani, led the country through a series of crises, including a worldwide pandemic, a recession in pearl markets, and two world wars that interrupted world trade, earning his reign, “the reign of endurance”. The book also talks about the entry into the age of oil, with the first shipment of Qatari oil in 1949 during the reign of Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah al-Thani, and the transition from the Bedouin life to that of civility and then independence, passing by the discovery of oil in the sea during the reign of Sheikh Ahmed bin Ali al-Thani, who was the first to bear the title of 'Amir of Qatar'” and the decision maker for many important decisions that drove the country’s growth and added to the development of society in sectors vital for building the State and people. The book also discusses the discovery of natural gas, with the start of production of the North Field – the largest free gas field in the world in 1991 during the days of Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani. Sheikh Khalifa drew the features of the State in its modern sense after inaugurating a new phase of governmental and administrative organisation. After being appointed as the first Minister of Foreign Affairs, he established diplomatic relations with states of the world over, in addition to the inauguration of the first university in the country, Qatar University, in 1973. The book is already on sale at the ongoing Doha International Book Fair, which is taking place at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. Bachar Chebaro, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Press executive director, said the book is the top-seller among the HBKU Press publications available at the book fair.    

DTI secretary Ramon Lopez
Qatar-Philippines trade for 9M 2021 stands at $179.02mn

Bilateral merchandise trade between Qatar and the Philippines in the first nine months of 2021 stood at $179.02mn, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines. Based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data as cited and processed by the Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), the DTI also recorded an upward trajectory in Qatar-Philippines bilateral trade from $214.02mn in 2019 to $232.89mn in 2020. In a statement to Gulf Times Friday, the DTI noted that the Philippines’ total exports to Qatar in 2020 amounted to $45.19mn. The top Philippine commodity exports to Qatar in 2020 include bananas, including plantains, fresh or dried, which amounted to $13.86mn or a 30.66% share of the total exports. Also included are “other bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits and other baker’s wares, whether or not containing cocoa; communion wafers, empty cachets of a kind suitable for pharmaceutical use, sealing wafers, and rice paper and similar products," amounting to $6.02mn or a 13.32% share of the total exports. This was followed by “other sauces and preparations thereof; mixed condiments and mixed seasonings; mustard flour and meal and prepared mustard" ($2.97mn, 6.57% share), as well as “other pasta, whether or not prepared” ($1.52mn, 3.36%) and “other parts of seats, of heading No 94.01” ($1.47mn, 3.26%). Conversely, the Philippines’ total imports from Qatar in 2020 amounted to $187.70mn. The Philippines’ top commodity imports from Qatar in 2020 were “light petroleum oils and preparations thereof,” which amounted to $52.15mn and a 27.79% share of the total imports. This was followed by “urea, whether or not in aqueous solution,” which reached $48.39mn and a 25.78% share of the total imports, as well as “semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel, containing by weight less than 0.25% of carbon of rectangular (including square) cross-section, the width measuring less than twice the thickness” ($35.18mn, 18.74% share); “polyethylene having a specific gravity of less than 0.94, in primary forms” ($19.05mn, 10.15%); and “petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude” ($17.03mn, 9.07%). In a recent statement, DTI secretary Ramon Lopez announced that the DTI will be leading a series of export promotion activities in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region as part of its initiatives to seize opportunities in key sectors and markets. Lopez also said DTI will be participating in various international events and expos to promote Philippine companies and their products to further sustain the growth in Philippine exports. Next month, DTI and Philippine exporters will be participating in Gulfood 2022 or the ‘Gulf Food Hotel and Equipment Exhibition and Salon Culinaire’, a renowned international platform dedicated to food and beverage processing in the Mena region, he said. Lopez also said cumulative Philippine exports grew by 15.2% from January to November 2021 to $68.4bn compared to the same period in 2020 despite continued disruptions in the global economy due to Covid-19-related restrictions. Philippine merchandise exports increased by 6.6% year-on-year amounting to $6.3bn in November 2021 from $5.9bn in November 2020. Lopez pointed out that “the 2021 figure also grew by 4.91% compared to the same period in 2019, which amounted to $65.17bn. This reflected a better export performance compared to the prep-pandemic level.” November 2021 PSA data also showed that coconut oil recorded the highest annual increase of 95% out of the 10 major commodity groups in terms of export value. The country accounts for 60% of US coconut oil imports and 73% of US crude coconut oil imports. The rise in demand was due to changes in US trade policy, market trends, and dietary guidelines, he said. Lopez added: “To improve the country’s competitiveness in international markets, the Department of Trade and Industry is leading the drafting of the Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) 2022-2027 with an overarching goal of transforming the country from an exporter of commodities and intermediate goods to an exporter of high-value products and services. The new PEDP is envisioned take an industry development approach to boost export competitiveness i.e. by attracting export-oriented investments in innovation driven-sectors to increase product and service diversification.”