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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.
Mari Pearce, vice-president US Division at Alternative Line Real Estate.
Business
US is a ‘strong market’ for Qatari investors, says industry expert

The US remains a strong market for Qataris looking to invest in real estate, said Mari Pearce, vice president US Division at Alternative Line Real Estate, who was one of the expert speakers at Cityscape Qatar 2021. Pearce delivered a presentation on Tuesday titled ‘Investment Opportunities in the US’, which identified key trends in the US residential sector, as well as geographical hotspots and where to invest in the US next year. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of Cityscape Qatar 2021, which concluded yesterday, Pearce said Alternative Line Real Estate aims to be a pioneering company that promotes US properties to investors in Qatar. The top US markets for Qataris looking at residential and commercial real estate investments are California and Miami, Florida. New York is attractive for residential investments, while Texas is ideal for residential and multi-family properties, Pearce said. “Qataris do buy real estate in the US; their investments are spread in both residential and commercial segments. In other States, some Qataris have also purchased residential properties for their children studying in universities in America,” she further explained. Pearce said investors are guaranteed with “strong return on investments” when investing in commercial buildings under specific zoning areas, such as “medical zones,” which she describes as “bulletproof investments” in most US states. She said, “We do work with a lot of commercial assets, which are definitely very strong investments. What I would highly recommend for people interested in these types of investments are medical buildings because they are one of the strongest commercial real estate investments in the US.” “No matter what time of the year and despite fluctuations in the economy, these types of buildings are always occupied, so investors will always make their return on investments,” Pearce explained, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had no impact on the US property market. On the success of Cityscape Qatar’s ninth edition this year, Pearce said the participation of leading local and international real estate development companies, as well as the launching of major projects across Qatar during the event “is a positive indication” post Covid-19. Pearce also assured that Alternative Line Real Estate is working with “trustworthy” property management firms to provide clients with strong ROIs. “We are based in both Doha and the US, and we know what people in Qatar want and we do have knowledge of real estate investments in America, so what we want to do is to give Qataris the best possible experience when buying real estate in America. “Even if they don’t fly out to the US to check on their property, our company guarantees a hassle-free experience right from the beginning,” Pearce said, adding that the company is also an expert in virtual transactions.    

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
LuLu seeks 50% less carbon footprint by 2030, says Althaf

LuLu Group is seeking to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 as part of its sustainable development initiatives. Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International, made the statement on the sidelines of a signing ceremony with United Development Company (UDC) held at Cityscape Qatar 2021 Monday. Althaf signed an agreement with UDC executive director commercial Hussain Akbar al-Baker for the opening of a LuLu Hypermarket in Giardino Mall at The Pearl-Qatar covering an area of 13,000sqm, in addition to a LuLu Supermarket and retail brands on a 700sqm area at Gewan Island. “What we have done now is a part of our expansion strategy for LuLu in Qatar; we are now expanding into all the new settlements and all the new areas. The Pearl-Qatar has a large community that requires a lot of services, so now we already have a plan for a large formatted LuLu Hypermarket inside The Pearl-Qatar, which will be a very major step for us. “The other LuLu store at Gewan Island is the second development that we are signing with UDC. It will be a smaller outlet but it will cater to the needs of all the people around that area, depending on their requirements,” Althaf told Gulf Times. He said, “These two outlets reflect our confidence in Qatar, as well as with Gewan Island and The Pearl-Qatar, which is becoming a very interesting mix of people now; it is probably the most cosmopolitan living area now in the Gulf, so we are very happy and very proud to be present there. As The Pearl-Qatar expands its footprint, we would also like to expand our operations and presence there.” As a retail outlet pioneering in sustainable development in Qatar, Althaf said all new LuLu outlets in the country are based on the principle of sustainability. He said both LuLu and UDC follow the same strategy. “With our outlets in the island, our strategy is very clear that at least by 2030 all our carbon footprint should be reduced by 50%, and by 2050, we definitely want to become net-zero and to become carbon neutral. “So, you will find that it is not only from an energy-efficient perspective, which we will be, but we are targeting about 40% less energy than a conventional hypermarket in The Pearl-Qatar but we will also look at it in terms of our water conservation, a lot of recycling, and then a big target on the reduction of wastage,” he said. Althaf added: “On food wastage, we have some plans now but these will be organised, and we will also conduct zero waste sessions and a lot of other innovations that aim to minimise the impact on the environment.”

UDC signed major leasing agreements with leading international retailers on the second day of Cityscape Qatar 2021. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
UDC signs retail leasing deals for The Pearl-Qatar, Gewan Island at Cityscape

United Development Company (UDC), the master developer of The Pearl-Qatar and Gewan Island, has signed major retail leasing agreements at Cityscape Qatar 2021, which concludes Tuesday at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). Not only did UDC sign deals with leading international retailers, the company is also continuing to achieve remarkable sales on Crystal Residence apartments launched exclusively at the event. UDC signed a contract with LuLu Group to open LuLu Hypermarket in Giardino Mall at The Pearl-Qatar, covering an area of 13,000sqm, in addition to LuLu Supermarket and retail brands at Gewan Island on a 700sqm area. UDC also concluded an agreement with its subsidiary, Hospitality Development Company (HDC), to open Spontini Restaurant at Gewan Island and ‘Burger & Lobster’ in Porto Arabia at The Pearl-Qatar. On Cityscape’s second day, UDC further signed leasing agreements with Ariane Holding to open Qatar’s first Sainsbury Supermarket ‘Mowneh’ in Al Mutahidah Towers at The Pearl-Qatar, which will cover an area of 1,200sqm, and with Al Maha Global to open ‘Kernel & Roast’ gourmet store in Porto Arabia also at The Pearl-Qatar, in addition to a local coffee shop concept ‘Café de Rêve’ at Gewan Island. More retail and F&B concepts will be revealed on the exhibition’s closing day, demonstrating The Pearl-Qatar’s position as a leading leisure and shopping destination and Gewan Island as Qatar’s most exclusive and promising luxury address. The Pearl-Qatar houses more than 350 brands operating across the island’s main retail hubs, each offering a unique experience. The island’s retail offering continues to grow. In 2021, 40 new and diverse retail and F&B brands have opened their doors at The Pearl-Qatar, benefiting from the island’s more than 35,000 residents, in addition to its unique setting of beautiful architecture and scenic views, attracting more than 28mn visitors annually. Gewan Island will also feature a lively outdoor retail hub and Qatar’s “longest climatised” Crystal Walkway, which is characterised by elegant crystal overhead panels and will house 101 retail and F&B brands, spanning an area of 11,000sqm. Crystal Walkway is nestled between Crystal Residence’s 15 buildings where UDC has launched its first phase of apartment sales exclusively at Cityscape Qatar 2021. Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the signing ceremony, UDC executive director commercial Hussain Akbar al-Baker said the majority of the retail outlets coming to The Pearl-Qatar and Gewan Island are new to the Qatari market. “We’re very excited because these retail stores are coming to the Qatari market for the first time, so people will not see them in other malls or retail areas. Apart from LuLu, the other stores are new to the country,” he said.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari during a tour of UDC's pavilion at Cityscape Qatar 2021. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
UDC launches Crystal Residence sales at Gewan Island; showcases properties at The Pearl-Qatar

United Development Company (UDC) inaugurated its 900sqm pavilion at Cityscape Qatar 2021 on Sunday, featuring scale models of its flagship developments, The Pearl-Qatar and Gewan Island. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, UDC president and CEO Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, who is also a member of the board, said the sales launch of UDC’s Crystal Residence at Gewan Island was well-received by property finders. “We’re launching 70 apartments and already we have bookings as much as almost 40% even before we started, and that’s a good sign. The area, which spans 11,000sqm, is air-conditioned. The other side facing Qanat Quartier is also climate controlled and this huge area will provide convenience to the shoppers, buyers, and other visitors of the area,” al-Othman said. At Cityscape, which will run until October 19 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), UDC is showcasing attractive properties for sales and leasing, as well as a range of attractive in-house financing plans and promotional leasing offers. UDC chairman Turki bin Mohamed al-Khater said, “We are excited to be returning to Cityscape after weathering economic uncertainty linked to the pandemic. We will therefore be capitalising on our participation to reconnect with our existing customer base and learn more about the changing needs and preferences of our clients. “UDC’s ongoing strategy is focused on delivering our current inventory of residential units at The Pearl-Qatar. Meanwhile, we are launching the first phase of Crystal Residence sales, which we expect will enthral visitors as another high-quality product that translates UDC’s commitment to crafting unique lifestyle and leisure experiences that our customers have come to expect from us.” Al-Othman said UDC is also announcing the Corinthia Yacht Club, which is an international yacht club inside The Pearl-Qatar. Construction is ongoing, al-Othman said, adding that UDC aims to complete the facility by the third quarter of next year “in time for the FIFA World Cup.” He said UDC has been a long-term and essential participant in Cityscape Qatar and recognises the event’s valuable influence on the local real estate market. “We have therefore chosen this platform to launch one of our most promising projects, Crystal Residence at Gewan Island. As for existing projects, we are presenting exciting sales and leasing offers on our completed projects in various precincts of The Pearl-Qatar, including the recently launched Giardino Gardens villa compound. “We also want to showcase our portfolio of upcoming diversified projects, mainly Giardino Mall, Floresta Galleria, Floresta Gardens’ three residential villa compounds, United School International, and Corinthia Yacht Club at The Pearl-Qatar, in addition to Crystal Walkway’s retail hub and Corinthia Gewan Island Qatar hotel with its connected golf course and beach club at Gewan Island,” al-Othman said. Crystal Residence, which is the highlight of UDC’s participation in Cityscape Qatar 2021, is set to attract a remarkable number of businesses and individual investors from both Qatar and abroad thanks to its amenity-rich, smart, and sustainable features, in addition to the unmatched location at Gewan Island, which promises to be Qatar’s most prestigious and exclusive address. Crystal Residence consists of 15 luxurious mixed-use buildings, six-to-seven-storey high that sit at the heart of Gewan Island within a lively commercial and residential district, arranged around the canopied pedestrian zone and Qatar’s longest climatised ‘Crystal Walkway’. Crystal Residence consists of a total of 586 apartments overlooking the seaside or the Crystal Walkway, including one to three-bedroom units ranging between 90sqm and 240sqm, and four-bedroom duplexes with an area of 365sqm. Residents have also access to exclusive world-class leisure facilities in addition to retail, entertainment, and dining outlets on the ground floor available to the public with ample parking spaces underground.    

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari leading on Sunday the inauguration of Cityscape Qatar 2021, which runs until October 19 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
Cityscape highlights growth of Qatar’s property market, says MoCI minister

Cityscape Qatar 2021 is an important platform to showcase the developments being witnessed by the country’s real estate sector, HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari said. He made the statement on Sunday after inaugurating Cityscape’s ninth edition at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC). The event will run until October 19 to showcase the latest real estate projects by Qatar’s leading developers. The minister emphasised that the growth in Qatar’s property market underscores the “projected positive growth indicators of the national economy and the recovery of real estate markets during the coming period.” Al-Kuwari stressed that Qatar’s interest in Cityscape reflects the State’s belief in the pivotal role played by the real estate sector in supporting the national economy’s diversity and competitiveness. Furthermore, the minister expressed hope that Cityscape Qatar 2021 would achieve “tangible results” that consolidated Qatar’s position as an ideal destination for real estate investment in the region. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, al-Kuwari toured the exhibition hall and visited a number of pavilions. He also witnessed the signing of a contract between Qatar Chamber and Qatari Diar for the purchase of a new building for the chamber’s main headquarters in Lusail Commercial Boulevard. Al-Kuwari witnessed the contract signing between Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani and Engineer Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, the CEO of Qatari Diar. The minister also visited the pavilion of Barwa Real Estate Group to set the foundation stone for the launch of its new residential project, ‘Furjan Wadi Lusail’. Group CEO Abdullah Jubara al-Rumaihi said: “In our fulfilment of the group’s role as a leading national real estate company, we are showcasing non-traditional projects to the Qatari market, such as ‘Madinatna’ and ‘Barahat Al Janoub’ through our participation at this year’s edition of Cityscape Qatar. The Qatari market is still open for many opportunities, especially in the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.” The three-day event will unveil the country’s prominent real estate projects from top Qatari developers. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, head of Business Development at Qetaifan Projects, spoke on the residential market opportunities in the coming months. “We have seen our projects gain great sales over the recent months in our residential sector. Our island project has had great success with FDIs and we believe this trend will continue with the additional projects we will launch later this year to meet market demands,” Sheikh Nasser said. Throughout the event, which is held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, visitors can expect diverse discussions from Qatar’s government ministers and global consultants. Yesterday’s agenda included talks on the rise of digitalisation from top consultants McKinsey & Company, whilst post-pandemic workspace trends were the key focus during a panel discussion featuring speakers from Cushman & Wakefield, Servcorp, and Workinton. Changes in trends remained a key focus for companies at the show with over 30 local and regional exhibitors taking part over the next three days. Developers have taken note of changing demands from buyers both local and international, with new projects offering investors access to luxury developments across a range of price points. Chris Speller, group director of Cityscape, spoke on the diverse range of projects: “Qatar’s developers have responded quickly and effectively to the changing market and investor needs. “The wide range of project launching and on display at this year’s show is testament to that – from luxury waterfront properties to modern commercial developments. We look forward to seeing further launches and initiatives from Qatar’s leading developers over the next three days.” Cityscape, which is supported by Platinum Sponsors, Barwa and Qetaifan Projects, aims to shed light on the most prominent real estate projects across Qatar, as well as provide a platform for communication between residential buyers, investors, and real estate sector specialists in the field of design and construction. Ends    

A view of the Icon Tower under construction. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qetaifan Island North vying for 2 Guinness World Records for its 'Icon Tower'

The Icon Tower, which is one of the main attractions on Qetaifan Island North, is vying for two 'Guinness World Records', said Mustafa el-Cherkawi, senior officer – construction at Qetaifan Projects. Speaking to Gulf Times during a recent site tour of the island, el-Cherkawi said the 85m-tall Icon Tower is registered for two world record attempts: The tallest waterslide and the most waterslides from a single tower.   Engineer Mustafa el-Cherkawi, senior officer – construction at Qetaifan Projects. PICTURE Shaji Kayamkulam He said there are different international vendors and teams from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany that are co-ordinating with the local contractor for work at the tower, which has 12 rides on six levels – two rides on each level of the tower. El-Cherkawi expressed confidence that the Icon Tower will secure the two Guinness World Records, and that the amenities will be open to visitors before the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “We are working hard to get these records. We did our assessments, research, and homework, and hopefully, we will get these two records before the World Cup. We are currently in contact with Guinness World Records and once there is progress in completing the loops, they will come and they will start accessing. “When we compare this to other waterparks in the Gulf or in the Middle East, as well as other waterparks worldwide, this is really a big attraction and a big achievement for Qatar. We have very unique and special attractions and it's not possible to find them anywhere or in other waterparks,” he stressed. El-Cherkawi explained that the teams are currently working on the installation of the fibreglass loops at the Icon Tower, which is expected to be completed “in the next five to six months.” “This is a big challenge but we are managing the work perfectly. The island’s water park has 66 water slides. The slide wheel is one of only three worldwide, making it a unique attraction for visitors and residents of Qetaifan Island North. “Many of the rides are very unique and were built only for this waterpark. There is also a private beach here, as well, so all visitors will have the privilege to use and swim at the beach; this is not possible in other waterparks,” el-Cherkawi said, adding that 2,000 people are working to finish the amenities and other attractions on the island. He said a loop train runs all around the island, as well as exchange stations where people can use the shuttle train to go to the Icon Tower. People may either walk or use the train to get to their favourite destinations all around the island, he noted. “We have 45 cabanas allowing visitors to rent them for different occasions. We have four F&B restaurants – the Icon Tower, Italian restaurant, wave pool bar, and beach bar. All rides will be completed by next year. Now we have 22 complexes. We finished four of them; we finished the ride installations, and we will start testing and commissioning each ride. “At 85m high, people will not only enjoy the Icon Tower’s rides but they will also get a view of the Doha Skyline, Lusail Stadium, West Bay, Porto Arabia, Viva Bahriya, and Lusail City from the tower. The waterpark, which is 60% complete, will be able to accommodate 6,500 visitors every day,” he added.

USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat.
Business
Qatar FDI to California stands at ‘$2.77bn’, says USQBC official

Qatar has poured “$2.77bn” worth of foreign direct investments (FDI) into California, the second-largest Qatari FDI recipient after Texas, according to the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC). Citing data from the US Census Bureau, USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat said California exported “$316.2mn” worth of goods to Qatar in 2019. During the same year, California’s imports from Qatar stood at “$28mn.” The value of Qatari donations to California amounted to “$5mn,” said Barakat. Speaking at a virtual discussion hosted by the USQBC, the Commercial Attaché Office in the US for the State of Qatar, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Barakat said the major exports from California to Qatar are aircraft, spacecraft and parts, nuclear reactors, boilers and machinery, and electric machinery and equipment. The major merchandise California imports from Qatar include aluminum and articles, inorganic chemicals and rare-earth metals, and plastics, Barakat pointed out during the virtual discussion. On US-Qatar trade, the total value of goods imported from Qatar stood at “$1.7bn” in 2019, while the total value of goods exported to Qatar in the same year amounted to “$6.5bn,” said Barakat, citing data from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). Major US exports to Qatar include transportation equipment, defence technologies, and electronics, while the major imports from Qatar include petroleum products, chemicals, and primary metal manufacturing (aluminium), Barakat said. He said US investment opportunities in Qatar belong to diverse sectors, such as ICT and services, infrastructure, energy, healthcare, education, and tourism. The top Qatari FDI sectors in the US are communications, energy, real estate, and financial services. “California has an incredibly diverse economy, with Hollywood, Silicon Valley, manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture all making significant contributions. California contributes to 13% of total agricultural cash receipts in the US. “Large trade shows and conferences, such as Dreamforce and Oracle OpenWorld take place in California, which is home to the largest innovation network in the country, with 16 innovation hubs (iHubs),” said Barakat. Barakat said California, which had a “$3.1tn” GDP in 2019, is the “first largest economy” in the US, and the “fifth-largest economy in the world.” With 17 foreign trade zones in California, the Los Angeles County has the most foreign-owned enterprises, he said, adding that California has the largest investment received by a US state in 2019 at “$22.7bn.” He said select Californian companies doing business with Qatar include multinational energy corporation, Chevron, which has had one of the longest standing presence in Qatar through Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPChem). Among other companies, Barakat said EatJust secured “$200mn” in a 2020 funding round led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), joined by private investment firm Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital. Meanwhile, SoFi closed over “$500mn” in equity financing led by QIA, which values the company at “$4.3bn” on a pre-money basis. Califia Farms completed one of the largest private capital raisings within the natural foods sector through a “$225mn” Series D financing led by QIA in 2020, Barakat said. Through its joint venture with QIA, Douglas Emmett acquired The Glendon, a residential community in Westwood with 350 apartments and approximately 50,000sq ft of retail in 2019 for “$365mn.” They have also invested “$1.3bn” in LA Office Portfolio in 2016. Gigamon Inc is a leader in traffic visibility solutions for cybersecurity and monitoring applications. It was jointly acquired by Elliott Management (Elliott), a leading multi-strategy private investment firm, and QIA for “$1.6bn,” said Barakat.    

Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, head of Business Development at Qetaifan Projects. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Qetaifan Island North is seen to boost Qatar's tourism industry

With over QR15bn worth of investment opportunities available at Qetaifan Island North, the ambitious project is not only expected to put Qatar on the global tourism map, but it will also enhance the tourism activity in the country, a top official of Qetaifan Projects has said. Speaking to Gulf Times during a site tour of the island Wednesday, Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, head of Business Development at Qetaifan Projects, said he is “optimistic” that the company will meet its target completion dates for the island’s four operating assets, which consists of the beach club, linear park, hotel, and water park. “We're very optimistic with reference to the progress of the construction work…moreover, other important packages consist of infrastructure, in addition to community facilities, such as the mosque; so all these seven packages are to be delivered before the World Cup. “Hopefully by Q3 2022, we will have all of these facilities ready, subject to certain authority approvals, in addition to certain testing and commissioning protocols, and then we will be more than happy to welcome all our investors, clients, and residents,” explained Sheikh Nasser. Sheikh Nasser, who was joined by Khalid al-Jassim, business development officer, and construction engineer Mustafa el-Cherkawi during the site tour, also said the island’s Icon Tower is vying for two Guinness world records – the world’s tallest water slide sitting over 85m high and a tower with the most slides. “We’re very proud of these attractions and we’re hoping this would build on the success of Qatar, in general, whether it is catering to the hospitality sector or the real estate development and tourism sectors,” he emphasised. On the island’s role in putting Qatar on the global tourism map, Sheikh Nasser said: “Though Qatar is seen as a business destination where an average visitor would stay around four days, we think that by offering these ‘second-to-none’ services, they would emphasise and also improve our tourism statistics both outbound and inbound.” “Investment opportunities from the island is over QR15bn but the construction of the whole island is going to cost the company just over QR4bn. Once fully operational, the total capacity of the island at one time is 25,000 to 30,000 visitors. “We believe the residents would be around 10,000 to 15,000, in addition to another 10,000 to 15,000 daily visitors. The water park’s capacity is around 6,000 to 6,500 at a given time,” he explained. Sheikh Nasser added: “We’ve already sold the villa plots, all 107 in two phases. We’re currently in negotiations with certain real estate development players in both the local and regional, as well as international markets for the development of community facilities and certain residential components of the island.”

QIBC president Farhan al-Sayed
Business
Businesses in ‘high-velocity’ as Qatar eases Covid-19 rules

The further easing of Covid-19 rules in Qatar has greatly contributed to the “vibrant momentum” being felt by stakeholders and major players in the country’s business sector, according to Qatari entrepreneur Farhan al-Sayed. “Business activities in Qatar are in high-velocity now that the government has further relaxed Covid-19 restrictions; there has been heightened enthusiasm among local businesses and I am positive that this rhythm will continue as the country gears for the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022,” al-Sayed pointed out. He said, “There is increased movement in the market, and many events organisers have been staging local and international exhibitions, such as Project Qatar and Build Your House 2021, as well as upcoming functions like Cityscape Qatar happening next week, and Qatar Travel Mart and Hospitality Qatar next month.” Similarly, local businesses stand to gain from the influx of tourists and other visitors to the country, said al-Sayed, adding that “this has shown a definite growth both in retail and hospitality industries locally.” In recent weeks, Qatar also witnessed “rapid economic growth,” citing “high energy prices globally,” said al-Sayed, who is also the president of the Qatar Indonesia Business Council (QIBC). He said, “The rebranding of Qatar Petroleum to ‘QatarEnergy’ will further contribute to the development of the country’s hydrocarbon sector. As world markets have opened up and the demand for oil and gas increased, energy prices have soared to new highs. This has definitely brought a burst of fresh air to GCC economies. “The Qatari government is doing a tremendous job in maintaining a steady supply of goods and commodities from all over the world during the pandemic, ably supported by Qatar Airways cargo and Hamad Port,” he said. Al-Sayed added: “His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s wisdom and leadership have steered Qatar smoothly past the pandemic stage and brought peace in the GCC with brilliant diplomacy to end the blockade peacefully, as well as strengthening ties with allies in the GCC and the Arab world. Qatar’s role as a peacemaker and its diplomacy has been applauded recently at the UN.”

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation CEO Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz.
Business
Malaysian SMEs seek access to Qatari market; talks underway, says trade official

Plans are in the pipeline to forge partnerships between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Qatar and Malaysia to bolster further growth of Malaysian halal brands in the Qatari market, said Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz, CEO of the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade). Similarly, Abdul Aziz said plans are afoot for knowledge exchange and sharing of best practices between Qatari and Malaysian SMEs, as well as visits between business delegations of both countries to explore investment opportunities related to the halal industry. “Matrade is currently in the midst of discussion with Qatar Chamber to jointly organise a webinar between top management from Matrade and the chamber to promote growing sectors in both countries,” Abdul Aziz told Gulf Times. He said the proposed collaboration is expected to enable direct access and communication between Qatari companies and Malaysian SMEs for knowledge-sharing and exchanges that will allow companies from both countries to leverage business opportunities in the areas of the halal industry, building material, furniture, and services initially through electronic platforms until restrictions for cross-border are relaxed. “We are also planning to collaborate with major hypermarkets in Qatar to expand the variety of Malaysian products, especially in halal food and beverages. This will give the opportunity for the business community in Qatar to reach our products through online and offline platforms,” he explained. During the 17th edition of the ‘Malaysia International Halal Showcase’ (Mihas 2021), the event underscored the potential of Malaysia’s SME sector in becoming “global halal champions.” Abdul Aziz said that in July Matrade co-ordinated a Trade and Investment Mission to Qatar led by Malaysia’s Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry to further strengthen trade ties between Malaysia and Qatar. “We had also arranged high-level meetings with renowned conglomerates in Qatar to pave the way for our SMEs to offer their products and services to the Qatari market,” Abdul Aziz noted. He said Matrade is “currently working closely” with top retailers and Fast-Moving Consumer Good (FMCG) buying houses in Qatar to position the entry of Malaysian halal brands into the country “in a well, orderly manner.” “Generally, we will generate a list of potential brands to the targeted Qatari companies for their shortlisting and we will then arrange an online meeting under our virtual business matching programme ‘eBizMatch’. “Through our eBizMatch programme, Matrade has organised various buyer-seller engagements aggressively via digital platforms to ensure that Malaysian companies have access to international buyers even during the travel restriction periods amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Abdul Aziz added.

Dignitaries during the Doha Bank-hosted webinar titled u2018Bilateral & Synergistic Opportunities between Qatar and Indiau2019.
Business
India’s $60bn energy infra development plan opens investment opportunities for Qatar, says envoy

Investment opportunities are available for Qatar as India aims to develop as a gas-based economy, Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal said, citing the Indian government’s “$60bn” energy infrastructure development plan. Mittal made the statement during a Doha Bank-hosted webinar on ‘Bilateral & Synergistic Opportunities between Qatar and India’. The event, which was moderated by Doha Bank CEO Dr R Seetharaman, also included former Foreign Secretary of India Ranjan Mathai; Shaliesh Haribhakti & Associates chairman Shailesh Haribhakti, and Doha Bank country manager Manish Mathur. On the continuous development of Qatar-India ties, Mittal said the growth of direct shipping lines between the two countries has brought down the cost of logistics. The ambassador also said there has been an increase in co-ordination at the government-to-government levels, citing efforts to set up commerce groups and joint business councils. “The effort is to look partnerships, such as Invest India and Invest Qatar on building investment opportunities. They have decided to set two task forces between countries, one on investment and another on energy. The success is seen through Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA) investments in electricity, renewables, and startups. QIA is looking towards the east,” Mittal said. He added: “Qatar’s efforts to develop ports and public-private partnership, and 2022 FIFA World Cup will give opportunities for the Indian economy. Hospitality is also an area to look at because of the World Cup next year. “The Northfield project of Qatar provides trade and technology opportunities for India. Qatar has successfully won the bid to host the 2030 Asian Games. This also provides opportunities to India. India has the third-largest startup ecosystem and it provides opportunities for Qatar.” Mathai said, “Qatar can emerge as one of our critical partners through the LNG trade, complementarities in supply chains, and investments. India and Qatar are both practitioners of multi-alignment with the autonomy of decision making.” Haribhakti said India and Qatar can work on digital technology. “A digital twin needs to be imagined helping in crafting a strategy, requiring a change of mindset, ability, and willingness to invest,” he said. “Capturing the financial footprint company-wise by using Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning, as well as building blockchain technology will help in trade automation and avoid delays. Rather than ‘Public-Private Partnerships’, it will be ‘Private-Public Partnerships’, and this will enable a tight handshake between India-Qatar,” Haribhakti said. Chandrakanth Salunkhe, founder and president of SME Chamber of India, said, “It is a right time to encourage SMEs, given targets for exports. We have to focus more on various activities. Banking has given proper support to SMEs, which have become digital-savvy. “How can we connect with Qatar and its nearby countries for SMEs? Where we can focus on manufacturing and inviting manufacturing in India? SMEs in India are becoming big; this is the right time to target the global economy. We are given a level playing field.” Seetharaman said the 2022 FIFA World Cup will provide opportunities for Indian companies in infrastructure, trade, and services. “Direct shipping lines between Qatar and India have increased to strengthen logistics for trade co-operation between countries. The Indian startup segment provides great investment opportunities for Qatar,” he added.

Andrew Dahdal (left), associate professor at Qatar University, gestures during a panel discussion, while Hilal al-Kuwari, senior incubation adviser at QDB, and Henk Jan Hoogendoorn, chief of Financial Sector at QFCA, look on. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Arab Fintech Forum highlights need for fintech-bank collaboration

Industry players participating in the 1st Arab Fintech Forum has underscored the need for more collaboration between banks and financial technology (fintech) companies to address the evolving needs of the market. Speaking Sunday at the forum’s session titled ‘Shaping the Future of Fintech in Qatar’, Andrew Dahdal, associate professor at Qatar University, noted that with the introduction of ‘big tech’ companies into the financial sector, “banks need fintechs in order to survive against the introduction of Google, Apple, WePay, and the Chinese equivalents in the markets.” “Not being part of an ecosystem like Apple or Samsung, or Huawei, or Google gives banks an advantage where they can be more flexible and customer-centric,” Dahdal said. “Their lack of having that kind of ecosystem is not a disadvantage for banks. It can actually be an advantage if they learn to leverage the potential of fintechs effectively,” Dahdal emphasised. Hilal al-Kuwari, senior incubation adviser at Qatar Development Bank (QDB), also spoke about QDB’s role in the development of the country’s fintech ecosystem. He said banks in Qatar had approached QDB about fintechs, adding that QDB provides advisory on addressing several challenges, such as digital transformation, focus on cost optimisation and data analytics, and developing systems to increase revenue. Henk Jan Hoogendoorn, chief of Financial Sector at Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority, who was moderator of the session, spoke on the future of fintech in Qatar and called for the setting up of digital SME banks. Banks need to tap the SME sector, said Hoogendoorn, who also underscored the importance of financial inclusion and the need to lessen the cost of sending remittances. Al-Kuwari also discussed the role of the Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH), a key QDB initiative under the leadership of the Qatar Central Bank (QCB). He said QFTH’s vision is aligned with the goals and objectives of the Qatar National FinTech Strategy. He said QFTH is working on a number of new initiatives that would help the sector further strengthen its position. These initiatives include internships for students and young entrepreneurs in Qatar to build human capital. Another initiative is a fintech course based on the latest trends and market needs and forging new partnerships that would open international access to markets. QFTH also facilitates the participation and representation of Qatari fintechs in global events, al-Kuwari said.

One of the carpets that belong to the original collection of Sheel Chandra. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
The Carpet Cellar opens at Msheireb Downtown District

Over a long period, Sheel Chandra, the founder of Delhi-based The Carpet Cellar, collected antiques, many of which are centuries old. In his lifetime, he was able to amass 2,200 antique carpets and textiles in his personal collection. “His idea was not to really sell carpets,” said Sheel’s nephew, Dhruv Chandra, owner and director of The Carpet Cellar, who spoke to Gulf Times at the company’s showroom, which opened only recently at the Msheireb Downtown District in Doha. Dhruv Chandra, owner and director of The Carpet Cellar. PICTURE Shaji Kayamkulam. “We got into the carpet business by accident…my uncle was a private antique collector, and then eventually, once he had so many – around 2,200 antique carpets and textiles in his personal collection – the family eventually decided that we were going to keep 400 for the museum that we plan to establish in Delhi, India, and we've also decided to part with the rest because we're trying to build a corpus for the museum,” Chandra pointed out. Inside the showroom at Msheireb, which is The Carpet Cellar’s first store outside of India, are well-curated recreations of antique carpets and some of Sheel Chandra’s original collections. Prominently displayed there is a 100-year old Agra jail carpet from the time of the great Mughal emperor, Akbar, who introduced jail weaving in India in the mid-1500s. According to Chandra, King Akbar was “a great patron of the arts.” To help reform prisoners from the jails by learning life skills, he brought in master weavers from Iran to teach prisoners how to weave carpets, Chandra said. Some of the carpets curated at The Carpet Cellar in Msheireb. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam. “The Safavids are a very famous dynasty that used to rule Iran in the 16th century. This was the glorious rule of carpet making at any point in history. They used to use the best materials. The best of dyes. The best craftsmanship. In the olden times, carpets were made using vegetable dyes or natural dyes, which are extracted from plants, rocks, minerals, stones, so the quality of colours and dyes is unbelievable. “Today, carpets are generally made at price points. People say a carpet should be $1,000 or $10,000 or $5,000 then you work backward to achieve the price. In the olden times, they use to make it with the labour of love using the best ingredients and the best workmanship over a long period; the skill of the weaver was excellent and you could employ hundreds of people for the job. And there were people who took a lot of pride in their works,” he stressed. The world's most expensive carpet ever sold was for “$34mn” at the Sotheby’s auction in New York, said Chandra, adding that for centuries, carpets have been used as an asset class among art and antique collectors. To understand the value of the carpets at The Carpet Cellar, Chandra said most of the carpets in his uncle’s original collections were taken out on ceremonial occasions. “These are from collections of maharajas in India who used to have enormous palaces, which had 200, 300, 500 carpets, and they were put in galleries, bedrooms, and majiles. They were made in astronomically palatial sizes; some are ranging up to 50m in size. Some carpets could take 10 to 20 years to make by 100 to 200 weavers,” he explained. Chandra also emphasised the immense role and influence of Islamic culture in carpet weaving, citing the Mughal invasion in India. “These kinds of copies are very rare, and I think people need to learn about them: how they were made, what is so special, and what is the quality? “We have examples of carpets from the 16th century, which of course, can now only be put on walls, but basically, they are works of art, and they should be appreciated. And people should understand what went on to make them and how high the standards were in those times,” he said. About 250 carpets, “some of the best of the best,” from Sheel Chandra’s collection are curated in Msheireb. The Carpet Cellar’s offering includes “certified antique carpets, perfectly executed recreations, modern designs, as well as kilims, durries, shawls, and textiles.” “We chose Qatar as The Carpet Cellar’s first store outside of India. And most people would choose New York or London or Paris but we have a lot of patrons in the Middle East.” He said, “As part of the Islamic culture, people here have lived with carpets for years and centuries – for generations. There are also so many knowledgeable collectors in Qatar, in the Middle East, and in other countries, and I feel we had so many patrons from these places who would come to India or we have been in touch with, so we thought that Doha would be a good place for us.”

Bilateral trade between Asean member states and Qatar in 2020 are as follows: Singapore ($4.3bn), Thailand ($2.32bn), Indonesia ($895mn), Vietnam ($500mn), Malaysia ($480mn), the Philippines ($233mn), and Brunei ($48mn).
Business
Qatar-Asean trade volume reaches $9bn in 2020, says ACD

Trade volume between Qatar and Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) countries stood at $9bn in 2020, according to figures provided by the Asean Committee in Doha (ACD). Bilateral trade between Asean member states and Qatar in 2020 are as follows: Singapore ($4.3bn), Thailand ($2.32bn), Indonesia ($895mn), Vietnam ($500mn), Malaysia ($480mn), the Philippines ($233mn), and Brunei ($48mn), the ACD said in a statement to Gulf Times yesterday. The ACD said Qatar is a “key investor in Asean,” with investments in the energy, including alternative energy, financial, real estate, telecommunications, agribusiness, hospitality, and medical sectors. Prominent Qatari companies, such as Ooredoo, Nebras Power, and QNB Group have established a presence in Indonesia. CDC Qatar is leading a seaport project worth $300mn in the Quang Ninh province of Vietnam. Qatari investments into Singapore are estimated at around “$1.5bn,” many of which are in the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) recently established a wholly-owned advisory subsidiary in Singapore to source investment opportunities in Asia. “The 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations enjoy good relations with Qatar, underpinned by cooperation spanning the political, economic, and cultural sectors. Both sides also have excellent people-to-people ties. Around 300,000 Southeast Asian nationals have made Qatar their second home. “As a testament to this strong and growing relationship, Asean welcomes Qatar’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation, which provides a platform to expand co-operation between Asean and Qatar in areas of mutual interest,” the statement said. It also said, “Economic co-operation remains the cornerstone of Asean-Qatar ties. Within the Gulf, Qatar is an important trade and investment partner for the Asean member states, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.” The ACD noted that notwithstanding the excellent co-operation, “there is scope for Asean and Qatar to do more together.” With the third-largest population in the world (650mn people) and a combined GDP of around $3tn, the ACD said Asean presents “a wealth of untapped opportunities.” “The 10 Asean member states are at the centre of a dynamic and fast-developing Asia-Pacific region. The Asean Economic Community, inaugurated in 2016, has paved the way for the bloc to become a competitive, integrated single market, with free flow of goods, services, labour, and investments across the 10 countries. “Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Asean economy is expected to rebound to 5% growth annually, and forecast to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030,” the ACD stressed. The ACD said there are three main driving forces of Asean’s growth. The first is the favourable demographics. According to the ACD, Asean “is young, and filled with potential.” Over 380mn people in Asean are under the age of 35. The second is rising income levels: Nearly two-thirds of the Asean population is expected to be middle class by 2030, while the third is the rapid adoption of digitalisation. Asean is the world’s fastest-growing Internet market, and its digital economy is projected to exceed “$300bn” by 2025, ACD stated. “As an economic bloc, Asean has taken tremendous leaps in recent years. On top of its free trade agreements with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea, Asean is part of the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Once it comes into force, the RCEP will be the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world, covering roughly 30 percent of global GDP and population. It is expected to add $186bn to the global economy. “Amidst this promising backdrop, there is much potential for Asean-Qatar relations to grow stronger. Despite being a small state, Qatar has emerged as a significant political and economic player in the region. Asean welcomes a closer partnership with Qatar,” the ACD also said.    

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari using a tablet to initiate the opening of Project Qatar 2021 at the DECC. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
'Project Qatar to position Qatar as key investment destination'

*Minister opens 17th edition of ‘International Construction Technology and Building Materials Exhibition' The staging of this year’s Project Qatar will have a significant and positive impact on Qatar’s efforts to position itself as a key investment destination, said HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, who inaugurated the event Monday. The 17th edition of the ‘International Construction Technology and Building Materials Exhibition’, which will run until October 7 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), is being held under the patronage of HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani. The minister gestures while touring one of the participating booths at Project Qatar Public Works Authority Ashgal is Project Qatar's strategic partner in this year's exhibition. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam Al-Kuwari, who toured the exhibition hall and visited the booths of participating companies, underscored the importance of Project Qatar 2021, saying the event sheds light on the growth witnessed by major development projects being implemented as part of Qatar National Vision 2030 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. “The exhibition provides an important platform that brings together major international companies and institutions involved in the construction sector. The event provides an opportunity to learn about the latest technologies, specialised equipment, and the best international practices in this field. “Moreover, it offers an opportunity to form fruitful partnerships and new business alliances that add value to the local market, as well as contribute to enhancing the investment environment in Qatar,” al-Kuwari pointed out. Held in partnership with Public Works Authority Ashghal, the construction show is the first to hold an in-person major event in the country with the easing of restrictions associated to Covid-19, welcoming major local and international construction companies, as well as industry professionals to Doha again. Project Qatar 2021 kicked off with more than 150 exhibitors from Qatar and 11 other countries with the aim of connecting leading global industry players to high-ranking decision-makers, as well as key pioneers in the local market. It is also host to the ‘Future Project Qatar Conference’, ‘Heavy Max Exhibition’, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) trainings and workshops, which are all taking place concurrently at DECC. IFP Qatar general manager Haidar Mshaimesh said, “The opportunities for the construction market continue to attract various stakeholders from around the world and Project Qatar is well-positioned to provide the platform for them to connect and network throughout the event and beyond. “We are confident that this event will bring about renewed interest for sector players to share best practices and innovative solutions that support the economic development of the country.” The ‘Future Project Qatar Conference’, themed ‘Raising the New Future of Construction’, opened with a keynote address from engineer Yousef al-Emadi, Projects Affairs director at Ashghal. He hailed the event’s commitment to continuously advance the construction sector amidst global challenges. He provided an overview of the project opportunities in Qatar for 2021 and onwards and urged construction industry stakeholders to take advantage of the key project opportunities in the country. Al-Emadi said, “Being part of Project Qatar in 2021 strengthens our communication with various private sector companies involved in the implementation of the country’s major projects.” Engineer Eisa al-Hammadi, CEO of Qatar Primary Materials Company (QPMC), and Abdelkrim Boukhaf, senior vice president - Regional Solutions and Services of Siemens, also delivered keynote speeches discussing the potentials of the industry and how the sector can benefit from it. Ali al-Kuwari, vice president, Marine & Industrial Equipment at Milaha, added: “Exhibiting in Project Qatar is offering us opportunities to highlight our leading services and products, meet, and network with many local and international exhibitors, and form partnerships to strengthen our brand.” The CPD trainings for professionals also kicked off Monday with industry professionals taking advantage of the learning opportunity free of charge. Several other workshops are set to take place throughout the four days on various topics, such as asset management, funding, financing, and insurance, all of which will be led by experts from a variety of fields. Project Qatar is supported and sponsored by several government entities, such as Ashghal, QPMC, Milaha, and QTerminals, as well as the sponsorship of Al Sraiya Holding Group, Al Jaber Group, Vodafone, and Elegancia Group, among others.

Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas, Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Construction sector plays key role in bolstering trade with Qatar, say top diplomats

Top diplomats of India and Italy in Qatar have lauded the staging of Project Qatar’s 17th edition, stating that the event plays a key role in bolstering both countries' trade relations with Qatar. Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the opening of Project Qatar’s 17th edition at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC) Monday, Italian ambassador Alessandro Prunas said: “Notwithstanding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, Italy is represented by a number of leading Italian companies at this latest exhibition. “Italy has always had an important participation in Project Qatar; the opportunity to participate in this event is a restart. Project Qatar is one of the most important opportunities for Italy because of the nature of the event and the products that are being displayed here, which are of huge interest to the Italian economy and its production system. ITA trade commissioner Augusta Smargiassi PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam Prunas said Qatar is among Italy’s top export destinations for Italian machineries, which, as of September 2021, increased by 45%. Other Italian exports in the following sectors also increased: furniture (42%), fashion (41%), and agri-foods (3%). The overall exchange between Italy and Qatar reached €1.2bn or a 37.5% growth in the first half of 2021, according to figures released previously by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) in Doha. ITA trade commissioner Augusta Smargiassi also stressed that the impact of the exhibition on Italy’s trade relations with Qatar “is very important,” adding that Italy is targeting a year-on-year increase in the number of participating Italian companies in the next editions of Project Qatar. Similarly, Indian ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal said more than 10 companies from India are participating in Project Qatar, which was inaugurated by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari. “India certainly has strength in the construction and industrial sectors, and Indian companies have been doing a bountiful job for entities in Qatar, be it Kahramaa, Ashghal, and QP, among other sectors where they are participating in the development and growth of Qatar. “Events like Project Qatar provides an opportunity for India to showcase its specialisation in fields, such as the services sector, among other areas where existing work is already being done,” Mittal pointed out. “This exhibition also provides an opportunity for people to get to know more about this sector and to build and develop new relations,” the ambassador noted, citing the presence of organisations like the Kerala Business Forum and the Indian Business & Professionals Council. On Qatar-India trade, Mittal added: “In 2021, we have already seen the graph moving up in a positive direction; statistics would be out soon. India and Qatar continue to be among the top five trading partners. “Qatar is concerned in terms of being able to bring goods and commodities to India as an export destination, and to be able to source goods and services from India, so certainly the trade and partnership between both countries are growing and I am confident that this will continue to grow.”

Qatari entrepreneur Farhan al-Sayed.
Qatar
‘Shura Council elections to ensure growth in all sectors’, says Qatari entrepreneur

The recently concluded Shura Council elections, which has earned praise from both the local and international community, is another milestone for Qatar as it strives for economic diversification and good governance, according to Qatari entrepreneur Farhan al-Sayed. “The vision and wisdom of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is taking Qatar to new heights and a wide range of political and economic achievements both at the domestic and international front,” al-Sayed told Gulf Times on Sunday. “Qatar’s first legislative elections is a historical moment for Qatar and its people. With a modest number of participants, women empowerment was among the highlights of the election process. The elections will ensure Qatar’s growth in all sectors, and it will also bring an immense responsibility for the newly-elected members who are expected to steer Qatar towards further growth in social, cultural, and economic development," he said. At the same time, al-Sayed also expressed optimism on Qatar’s economy, which is reported to witness further growth going forward. “Qatar’s economy is mainly hydrocarbon-based, which accounts for 70% of its GDP. The recent high in oil and gas prices will boost the local economy in 2021 and 2022, creating further opportunities for local and international traders and investors. This economic growth will ensure the smooth movement and completion of projects for 2021 and 2022, as well as other projects in the pipeline,” he pointed out. Al-Sayed, who is also the president of the International Walking Football Federation for Asia and Qatar, said the steady easing of Covid-19 protocols in Qatar is attracting foreign visitors to the country, which in turn will create an “economic trickle-down effect” that would benefit the local market and sectors like tourism, retail, and hospitality, among others. “The Amir Cup final between Al Sadd Club and Al Rayyan Club will showcase the state-of-art-stadium designed by local architect Ibrahim Jaidah, who was honoured with a prestigious award at Cannes. "Another big achievement for Qatar is the staging of the first edition of the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup and the signing of a 10-year agreement to host Formula 1 races, which has a huge fan base and following. This will further enhance the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries in the country,” he said. Al-Sayed also said many face-to-face events are being held in Doha, in adherence to health and safety regulations, such as Project Qatar, which opens today at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC) and Cityscape Qatar also this October, as well as the Qatar Travel Mart and Hospitality Qatar next month.    

Qataru2019s commercial attachu00e9 in the US, Fahad al-Dosari.
Business
Qatar offers LA-based firms investment opportunities in manufacturing, logistics, sports

American companies, specifically in Los Angeles, California, stand to gain from the investment opportunities being offered by Qatar in a wide variety of sectors, including manufacturing, sports, logistics, and media, said Qatar’s commercial attaché in the US, Fahad al-Dosari. Speaking at a virtual discussion hosted by the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), the Commercial Attaché Office in the US for the State of Qatar, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, al-Dosari said Qatar has commercial synergies with Los Angeles in the aerospace; biomedical/medical technology; construction, design and engineering; entertainment and tourism; fashion; and finance sectors. Citing the economic pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030, which focuses on diversifying the Qatari economy, al-Dosari said Qatar is enhancing efforts to advance its manufacturing industry. Manufacturing free zones, such as the Airport Free Zone at Ras Bufontas, have been positioned to offer manufacturing companies, ranging from startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to large multinational corporations, access to brand new infrastructure, and specialised logistics services to provide an optimal business environment, he said. In logistics and distribution, al-Dosari said Qatar Airways operates commercial flights between Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles and Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha. “In 2020, Qatar Airways became the world’s largest cargo operator. Similarly, Qatar recently built the Airport Free Zone at Ras Bufontas next to HIA to provide greater access to air transportation and efficient customs processing times,” he said. Al-Dosari also emphasised that both Qatar and Los Angeles have significant footprints in the sports sector on an international scale. “Since Qatar won the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, the country has been investing heavily to grow its sports industry. Qatar’s ambition is to become a global leader in sports and to bring the world together through sustainable sports development,” al-Dosari said, adding that Qatar has hosted more than 500 international sporting events in the past 15 years, across all sports and age groups. He said Qatar has potential commercial opportunities in the following areas in sports and e-sports: games developers and publishers, players/teams, league operators/content producers, distributors, and brand partners and advertising. “In the field of gaming/e-sports, Qatar recently launched the Qatar e-sports Wega Global Games. This global e-sports competition aims to develop the country’s competitive environment, whilst also providing greater opportunities for stakeholders in this industry,” he said. In entertainment and tourism, al-Dosari stressed that Qatar has “a lot to offer” LA-based companies as “entertainment destinations are emerging in Qatar.” “Qatar’s tourism industry is thriving. Potential areas of collaboration include theme parks and other entertainment venues, including cinemas, sports complexes, and family-friendly restaurants,” al-Dosari pointed out. Similarly, al-Dosari said the State’s flourishing media industry is another area for collaboration between Qatar and Los Angeles. On the recent establishment of the Qatar Media City, al-Dosari noted that the film and television industry “is emerging in Qatar,” and the potential areas of collaboration include licensing, production, and distribution. Al-Dosari also said, “Qatar has a lot to offer Los Angeles companies through business-friendly regulations, logistics, market access, infrastructure, investment incentives, favourable taxation, transparency and high standards, and human capital.”