Author

Sunday, April 21, 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.
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.”

The German Business Council Qatar (GBCQ) recently elected a new board. They are (from left) Herbert Klausner (Siemens Energy); Bahman Dastvareh (IST Platform); Elias Chedid (Seib Insurance & Reinsurance); Peter Neuschaefer (Dorsch Qatar); Henning Zimmermann (Schenker Logistics); Marzooq Tareq al-Shamlan (Marzooq Shamlan Al Shamlan Holding), and Oliver Moritz (private member).
Business
Business council keen to bolster Qatar-Germany ties

The German Business Council Qatar (GBCQ), which recently held its general assembly and election of board members, is keen to bolster Qatar-Germany relations by exchanging best practices and forging co-operation ties in a variety of sectors. “The council is determined to further strengthen the bilateral economic ties between both countries and to organise business events that facilitate knowledge exchange, as well as to focus on creating platforms that build new partnerships. “Special focus will be put on the following sectors: recycling, wastewater treatment, sustainability, renewable energy solutions, and energy efficiency,” the council said in a statement to Gulf Times. Citing its leadership role in smart and green technology, the council further stated that its goal is to bring German technology and know-how to the Qatari market and create “valuable and long-lasting partnerships.” Henning Zimmermann of Schenker Logistics remains as chairman, while Peter Neuschaefer of Dorsch Qatar was elected vice chairman. Another addition to the board is Herbert Klausner of Siemens Energy. Both Marzooq Tareq al-Shamlan (Marzooq Shamlan Al Shamlan Holding) and Elias Chedid (Seib Insurance & Reinsurance) were re-elected for another term. Zimmermann, who presided over the general assembly meeting, lauded the council for a “successful business year” in 2020, even if most of the organisation’s events were held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid the pandemic, it was noted that there was only “a slight drop” in the council’s membership “as the board decided to reduce membership fees to support GBCQ members and encourage them to keep active.” “The beginning of the new business year has already seen the addition of new corporate members, such as Talabat and Siemens Energy,” Zimmermann announced during the meeting. Germany’s deputy ambassador to Qatar, Andreas Berg, who joined the mission in Doha only recently, also attended the meeting and chaired the elections. After delivering a welcoming note, Berg gave an overview of current political and economic developments and reiterated the embassy’s support for the council’s upcoming activities. The council was founded in December 2002 by private representatives of the German business community in Doha. Being a non-governmental and non-profit seeking association, its aim is to provide a local networking platform for German and local companies in Doha. GBCQ is managed by the German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK). The council organises social and business events on a regular basis for members and non-members. GBCQ’s Premium Partner is Qatar International Automobiles (MAN). AHK, on the other hand, represents the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and is part of the main pillars of foreign investment promotion of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani, and British ambassador Jon Wilks. PICTURES: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
World-class projects key in attracting FDI to Qatar, says Qetaifan Projects official

Ambitious undertakings, such as the QR634mn (£1275mn) British school and medical facility to rise in Qetaifan Island North, reflect the keenness of the Qatari government’s bid to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI), an official of Qetaifan Projects said on Tuesday. Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani, managing director of Qetaifan Projects, said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) and partnership he signed with UK specialist real estate developer, Fenton Whelan, and UK investment and development firm, Aplomado Investments Ltd, “shows the concerted efforts of government bodies and institutions in the country.” Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sheikh Nasser said Qatari government bodies and institutions “have worked and are still working to provide an attractive investment environment for foreign investments. “And perhaps the most prominent of these efforts is starting to implement the freehold law for non-Qataris, which would provide the local market with international standards and options that work on developing and revitalising sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment, and, of course, real estate development,” he said. Sheikh Nasser said, “We do not consider the medical centre and the school as just an addition to the residents of Qetaifan Island North, but we treat this type of facility as an addition to the whole local real estate development market, which would increase investment opportunities, improve the quality of projects, and allow the real estate developer to focus on the investor by providing appropriate livelihoods and providing projects with the services and facilities necessary to provide an exceptional lifestyle, which in turn will positively affect the value of the investment plots and will encourage entering into more partnerships, whether local, regional, or international.” He said not only is Qetaifan Island North the first entertainment destination in Qatar that has world-class facilities, but behind it is a “distinguished team” and “ambitious young Qatari cadres with a promising future.” British ambassador Jon Wilks said, “I am delighted that Qetaifan Projects, and UK investors Fenton Whelan and Aplomado Investments, have formed a partnership to develop a British school and a British medical centre on Qetaifan Island North. “I look forward to seeing our high-quality British healthcare and education institutions establishing themselves as leaders in their field in Qatar at one of Qatar’s most desirable new residential and leisure areas. The UK is proud to support this project in Qatar as a symbol of partnership and confidence between our two countries.” Qetaifan Island North has been developed to be a touristic destination and the first choice for tourists as the first entertainment destination overlooking the waterfront of the State of Qatar, and the project’s masterplan includes residential and commercial real estate, a luxury 5-star hotel, a beach club, and a state-of-the-art waterpark under the management of the international chain of Rixos hotels, in addition to retail and festival plazas. The establishment of a private K-12 school and a medical centre at the heart of the island is one of the company’s most prominent development plans. Qetaifan Island North is one of the most important factors in attracting investments that Qetaifan Projects worked on and culminated in the agreement. Qetaifan Island North is a 1.3mn sqm development, which will provide a new waterfront destination for Qatar and is considered a unique development because of its diversified projects, including a linear park and a 1.2km salt canal linked to the sea, waterfront shopping and restaurants promenade, a 129,296sqm waterpark complementing the theme of the oil and gas industry, a 15,400sqm retail plaza and a 5-star hotel comprising 335 keys and 10 chalets. Alongside these retail and leisure facilities, there will be mixed-use residential buildings, including 107 villas and over 3,650 apartments and penthouses, in addition to the school, medical centre, and mosque.    

Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani joins Aplomado Investments CEO Jeremy Bussey and James Van Den Heule, director at Fenton Whelan, during the signing ceremony held in Doha on Tuesday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Qatar
Qetaifan Projects, UK firms sign QR634mn MoU for school, hospital

Qetaifan Projects, the master developer of Qetaifan Island North, signed yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and entered a partnership with leading companies in the UK for the development of two projects worth QR634mn (£1275mn) in Qatar. Qetaifan Projects managing director Sheikh Nasser bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani signed the MoU with Aplomado Investments CEO Jeremy Bussey and James Van Den Heule, director at Fenton Whelan, for the establishment of a British 5-star healthcare facility and British private school, which will be located on Qetaifan Island North. International Hospitals Group (IHG) is advising the partnership in identifying the operating partner for the healthcare facility. To contribute to the implementation and success of the new development partnership between British and Qatari companies, Aplomado Investments and Fenton Whelan are working with UK Export Finance, the UK government’s export credit agency, which is providing an export credit loan to assist with project procurement and logistics. Located on a 6,010sq m plot, the premiere healthcare centre will provide 8,500sq m of state-of-the-art medical facilities and cutting-edge healthcare services. The new British school will provide a 30,245sq m campus with a built-up area of 17,000sq m, comprising classrooms, main school hall, campus library with lounge areas, science and technology building, sports hall, and school canteen/restaurant. The school’s extensive playing fields, tennis courts, and grounds will front the waters of the salt canal; envisaged in true British style, students will be able to learn Oxford/Cambridge style competitive rowing and leisurely riverboat punting on the canal. Construction of both projects will start in Q1 2022 and each will have a 24-month construction programme. During the press conference, Sheikh Nasser was joined by Aplomado Investments UK COO Samer Malaeb, Fenton Whelan director Sanjay Sharma, British ambassador Jon Wilks, the British commercial attaché, and a delegation from the British embassy. Qetaifan Projects board member Jamal Sharida al-Kaabi, engineers Mohamed al-Meer and Nasser al-Mawlawi, as well as Abdullah al-Ateyya, Qetaifan Projects COO Hesham Sharaf, Qetaifan Projects head of Business Development Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulaziz al-Thani, Rixos Hotel Qetaifan Island North-Doha managing director Stefano Capaccetti, and Accor Middle East senior vice president Francois Baudin also attended the event. Sharaf said, “We are working in Qetaifan Projects on the consolidation of the real estate development value chain, which in turn aims to benefit all parties, starting with the developer and ending with the investor and tenant. “Today and after this agreement, we can say that during the past three years and since the establishment of Qetaifan Projects, our efforts have been crowned by bringing the best investment opportunities to contribute to the development of Qetaifan Island North. We are happy with this partnership and we look forward to adding more accomplishments to Qetaifan projects.” Bussey said, “We are excited to expand our operations in Qatar. Qatar and the UK share a long history of close ties and we are thrilled to be part of its future by contributing to its 2030 vision.” Malaeb added: “With our new project on Qetaifan Island North, we are bringing unique UK content to Qatar. At Aplomado, we believe that education and healthcare are pillars of economic growth and Qatar is well-positioned in the region to lead in these sectors, by being a regional educational and healthcare hub.” Sharma said, “Fenton Whelan is delighted to have entered this global partnership with Qetaifan Projects to bring medical and educational facilities to Qetaifan Island North. Fenton Whelan is already building an outpatient facility at our new Park Modern development in London, and we have chosen to expand and develop in Qatar because we were captivated by the clarity of vision for Qetaifan Island North. “This unique island destination combines entertainment attractions, residential neighbourhoods, luxurious hotels and world-class facilities creating a community and destination for tourists and local visitors alike.” Van Den Heule added: “The new school and medical centre will provide a unique offering to the Qatari market. Fenton Whelan and its partners chose to invest and develop in Qetaifan Island North because we believe that the Qatar economy, tourism, and inward investment will continue to thrive and grow as the preparations to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup build.” Ends    

Officials announcing the details of Project Qatar at a press conference Monday. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Sustainability key to building smart cities, say Project Qatar participants

* More than 50 international exhibitors from 10 countries taking part in event from October 4 to 7 Sustainability and smart solutions will play a key role in the construction industry of Qatar as it gears towards building cities of the future, according to industry experts participating in the upcoming 17th edition of Project Qatar. Qatar’s construction market, valued at $42.19bn in 2020, continues to drive growth with leading projects in line with 2022 FIFA World and Qatar National Vision 2030, stated Haidar Mshaimesh, general manager of IFP Qatar, which is organising the event in partnership with the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) from October 4 to 7 at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event will be the first major in-person international trade exhibition and conference in Qatar since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the organisers said. More than 50 international exhibitors from 10 countries, and 150 exhibitors in total, will take part in the event. Industry experts report that the Qatari construction market will reach $76.98bn by 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.54% for the period 2021-2026, Mshaimesh said at a press conference Monday. Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) director Meshal al-Shamari stressed that sustainability “is becoming an important topic that needs to be considered and addressed in the construction industry”. German Industry & Commerce Office Qatar (AHK) representative Kathrin Lemke also emphasised that green and smart solutions “will be of particular interest for the industry”. “Being a global leader in energy efficiency and sustainability, especially in buildings, German know-how and technology can help Qatar in its long-term diversification efforts. The ongoing implementation of major development projects in various sectors as part of Qatar National Vision 2030 will continue to drive Qatar’s economic development even beyond the FIFA World Cup next year,” Lemke added. “The trend is going towards smart concepts, smart infrastructure and smart cities… the trend is better concepts and sustainable buildings,” said Adrian Wood, CEO of Siemens Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain, which is the smart district sponsor of this year’s edition. Wood said, “Qatar is one of the leading countries in the race to build the cities of the future, and therefore we at Siemens are excited to present our vision for smart districts and participate in Project Qatar. We focus on sustainability, innovation, and safety, and work with our customers and partners to co-create infrastructure that enhances the way people live and work and supports Qatar’s development for generations to come.” Yousef al-Emadi, director of Projects Affairs at Ashghal, the strategic partner of the exhibition, said: “The Public Works Authority will be participating in Project Qatar for the fifth year in a row through our dedicated booth, where we will showcase our achievements in infrastructure projects and plans for the important future projects. “Our strategic partnership with Project Qatar is in line with our vision to enhance communication and partnership with various private sector companies to facilitate the implementation of projects in the country. We look forward to making the event an opportunity to communicate with a wide number of consultants, contractors and suppliers and explore areas of co-operation.” Mohamed al-Mahmoud, head of Human Resources and Administrative Affairs at Qatar Primary Materials Company (QPMC), said: “We are pleased to sponsor and participate in the 17th edition of Project Qatar, given the major role that this exhibition plays in promoting local products and the role of the Qatari industry in the national economy.” He said the exhibition provides an “excellent opportunity” for QPMC to showcase its leading products to visitors and business owners and invited them to come to the company’s pavilion to learn more about how their products and its important contribution to meeting the needs of the local market. Mshaimesh said Qatar’s easing of restrictions and the reopening of the country to international visitors indicate the gradual return to normalcy in terms of various economic activities across the country, “and construction is a vital aspect to realising the development projects of various sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, transportation and infrastructure, among others.” He added, “Amid the global challenges, Qatar has remained committed to meeting its national and international goals of providing world-class development and we are confident that the return of Project Qatar this year will drive the momentum towards the achievement of these goals, as we continue our role of facilitating the meeting of investors, suppliers, and buyers in Qatar.” Project Qatar’s 17th edition will feature special functions and product zones, including ‘The New Future of Construction’ Conference, the Heavy Max Showcase, the Wholesale Market and a series of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)-certified professional training and workshops. The four-day multi-themed conference will be focusing on green and sustainable building, smart cities, and supply chain and logistics, highlighting the opportunities available for foreign investors in the Qatari market, while at the same time serving as a venue for discussion on leading trends and explore the future of the Qatari market. Day 3 of the conference, titled ‘Smart City Qatar’, will cover the latest trends and solutions for smarter cities, including the role of Artificial Intelligence, 5G and other technologies that will shape the future of construction. Industry professionals will have the opportunity to avail of the CPD training and several other workshops free of charge, which will run throughout the four days of the event. The workshops will focus on leading best practices and innovation aimed at improving the sector especially in areas of asset management, funding, financing and insurance. This year’s event is also supported and sponsored by several government entities, such as QPMC, Milaha, and QTerminals, as well as through the sponsorship of several major private sector companies, such as Al Sraiya Holding Group, Al Jaber Group and Elegancia Group, among others.

u201cThere are many tech entrepreneurs in Qatar with great ideas and the existence of QSTP is very important in providing support for their projects and for the companyu2019s growth, u201d says al-Yafie.
Business
QSTP plays key role in attracting local and international tech firms, says Qatari entrepreneur

An official of a Qatari e-commerce solutions provider has underscored the role of Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) – part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation – in attracting tech companies not only from the domestic market but from the international community, as well as. “It is very important to have a hub for innovation and technology that would incubate and accelerate innovative ideas and make them live,” said Waleed al-Yafie, co-founder and chief technology officer of Fatora.io, an incubated startup operating within QSTP’s free zone. Speaking to Gulf Times in an exclusive interview, al-Yafie said: “There are many tech entrepreneurs in Qatar with great ideas and the existence of QSTP is very important in providing support for their projects and for the company’s growth.” According to al-Yafie, his team’s journey with QSTP started in 2014 after pitching an idea to build a cloud solution. “We started from QSTP’s first accelerator programme. After we got good traction, the team was able to graduate to the incubation programme and we have been there ever since,” he said. Al-Yafie said Fatora.io was established in 2018 with the aim to provide Qatar’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with e-commerce solutions to enable SMEs to build virtual stores and do business online. He stressed that QSTP played a significant role in the development of Fatora.io and other tech companies in Qatar: “Once we had the idea and presented it to the QSTP team, they provided us with all the support we needed, including funding, incubation, and other types of assistance like mentoring and subsidised services for legal and accounting, among others. This enabled to compete and provide better service.” Following Fatora.io’s introduction to the market, al-Yafie emphasised that the company was able to help an online store with “more than 27,000 merchants inside and outside Qatar.” According to al-Yafie, there was a spike in the growth of Qatar’s e-commerce industry since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. To cope with the challenges of the pandemic, al-Yafie advised e-commerce store owners and operators to “evaluate the damages to the business, consider financial and non-financial plans, explore new revenue streams, evaluate cost structure, reactivate relations with stakeholders in the value-chain, and create an emergency plan for the next crisis.” He added: “In consideration of the impact of Covid-19 on Qatar’s business sector, it has to be pointed out that SMEs have played a very important role in the country’s recovery from a crisis in a historical context.”

MoTC Assistant Undersecretary, Digital Society Development, Reem Mohamed al-Mansoori.
Business
Access to digital infrastructure, Internet seen vital to online journey of Qatar SMEs

Qatar’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) stand to gain from today’s wide range of technological advancements, especially those available within the country, according to an official of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC). “The availability of digital infrastructure in Qatar, deploying the Internet on a large scale, and consumers’ relying on technology, such as social media and smartphones, are all factors that help SMEs enter the digital world and benefit by enhancing their potential,” said MoTC Assistant Undersecretary, Digital Society Development, Reem Mohamed al-Mansoori. Al-Mansoori’s made the statement in light of the ministry’s sixth virtual forum held yesterday, in collaboration with Qatar Development Bank (QDB), to support Qatar’s SMEs. The forum, titled ‘Importance of Digitisation – Shifting Business Models’, is part of a series of fora the MoTC organises under the umbrella of its ‘Digital Transformation of SMEs programme (DTSME), which aims to support SMEs by introducing them to latest technologies. MoTC also aims to provide new development opportunities and innovative entrepreneurship sources. Al-Mansoori noted that the past two years saw “massive changes” in the global economy and each industry has undergone “some sort of change compared to the previous years, something that caused a significant shift, altering the course of both large, small, and emerging companies.” The forum’s three sessions discussed the importance of digitisation and shifting business models, starting the digital journey and the impact digitisation is making on the national and global levels. A QDB presentation addressed the two facets of digitisation. The first facet focuses on the success factors SMEs must account for and the business models they need to adopt to address various challenges. Emphasis has been placed on the importance of digital transformation as a proactive strategic choice in an enterprise’s journey to excellence, in contrast to a reactive style of responding to disruption and change. QDB’s role in developing a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem was also highlighted. In a presentation, Amna al-Mazroei, customer experience manager at QDB, said Qatar is witnessing growth towards digitisation not only among SMEs but also among the home-based businesses in the country. “The willingness is definitely there. The appetite is there. The growth is actually happening across different sectors for different sizes of businesses,” according to al-Mazroei. She added: “SMEs are the most spoken about customer segment. The economy of Qatar is hugely based on SMEs. Besides MoTC and QDB, there are other entities that are pushing the agenda of supporting SMEs and digitisation. And these are winning cards to represent Qatar and to succeed not only locally but at a global context.” The forum also featured the journey of an SME, EButler, and how it successfully benefited from the digital tools for developing and expanding its business during the pandemic and working with partners on the Qatari market to achieve real digital transformation. Omar Ashour, co-founder and CEO of EButler, said digitisation has provided people the opportunity and “more freedom to work in any space.” He said companies may not survive if they will not upgrade their operations digitally. “Many people are not leaving their homes and are getting what they need from their smartphones. If a business will not diversify its income streams and channels, it’s going to be a big problem for them. That’s why educating themselves is important,” he said.    

Ooredoo deputy Group CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulla al-Thani.
Business
Ooredoo sees emerging markets as potential to expand footprint

Emerging markets have the potential for telecommunications giant Ooredoo to expand its footprint in other territories worldwide, according to Ooredoo deputy Group CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulla al-Thani. Sheikh Mohamed made the statement at a media conference Tuesrday in the wake of the recent agreement signing to merge PT Indosat Tbk (Indosat Ooredoo) and PT Hutchison 3 Indonesia (H3I). Asked about other expansion plans in the pipeline, Sheikh Mohamed cited Ooredoo’s strategic plan, which also complements the telecommunications company’s digital journey. “Ooredoo has a strategy of looking at any opportunity that could expand and enhance the financial position of our shareholders either through mergers or acquisitions across our footprint in the Middle East or Southeast Asia or in countries where we are present,” Sheikh Mohamed told Gulf Times. He continued, “Ooredoo has a presence in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa region, among other areas. These emerging markets are always a potential for any merger, acquisition, or asset-light. We always see that there are opportunities; our footprint shows that we have these potentials, which are subject to further review for our next strategy.” During the media conference, Sheikh Mohamed reiterated that the merged company will be called Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison, and will consolidate its position as a stronger number two player in the Indonesian mobile market with revenues of around $3bn. According to Sheikh Mohamed, the transaction “is perfectly in line with Ooredoo’s group strategy to operate as the top two player in each of our markets and will generate enhanced returns for the group, resulting in sustainable profitability to elevate future dividend potential.” He stressed that the move already received “a very positive response” from the market and financial analysts, citing Reuters, which reported the transaction as being “placed to deliver a higher return on investment for all shareholders.” Reuters Breakingviews also described it as “could be one of those rare deals where everyone wins something,” Sheikh Mohamed said. “This transaction is indeed positive for Ooredoo and strengthens the group’s market position,” said Sheikh Mohamed, who noted that the merger will deliver “great benefits” for Ooredoo Group and Indosat Ooredoo shareholders, customers, employees, and for Indonesia. He added: “With this agreement now in place, we can turn our attention to closing the transaction in the coming months and then working with CK Hutchison to build a world-class digital telecoms company for Indonesia. “Of course, completion of the transaction will be subject to the approval of Ooredoo Group, CK Hutchison, Indosat Ooredoo shareholders, regulatory approvals, and other customary terms and conditions. Assuming all approvals are received, the proposed combination is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.”  

Waleed al-Yafie, co-founder and chief technology officer of Fatora.io.
Business
Local SMEs ‘capable’ to supply needs for Qatar’s future projects

Optimism remains high on the capability of Qatar’s burgeoning small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector to deliver the needed requirements for future projects in the country, according to an official of Fatora.io, an incubated startup operating within the free zone of Qatar Science and Technology Park’s (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation. SMEs are at the forefront of Qatar’s economic diversification and are playing an important role in the country’s development, said Waleed al-Yafie, co-founder and chief technology officer of Fatora.io. “More than 96% of the 25,000 businesses in the private sector currently registered in the country are classified as SMEs. It is anticipated that local firms could supply up to 90% of goods required for public projects in the future,” al-Yafie told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview. Since its establishment in 2018, al-Yafie noted that Fatora.io has been creating a positive impact on Qatar’s SME sector by providing e-commerce solutions that allow small businesses to create a web store and start selling online. “We started the company some three years ago after we noticed that there is a big need for an invoicing and online payment system in Qatar. After we released Fatora.io, we understood that there is a similar demand from outside Qatar, as well. “The company was able to transform the SMEs in Qatar from non-digital to digital ecosystems, giving them the opportunity to start their business online and enable e-commerce,” al-Yafie explained. Al-Yafie further explained that e-commerce adoption “is growing globally” as more consumers expect delivery of products and services to be “digital, seamless, and timely.” “Businesses are racing to compete and join the e-commerce trend. In Qatar, the e-commerce market is showing healthy growth over the coming years, especially in the services sector,” al-Yafie stressed when asked about the value of the e-commerce industry in Qatar and in the wider GCC region. By providing diverse and flexible payment solutions to SMEs and other specialised products, al-Yafie said Fatora.io helps companies expand their footprint in local and regional markets, and even abroad. “Many of our merchants are also providing their services outside Qatar because we are able to facilitate in payment receiving; our payment gateway helped them acquire international transactions easily,” emphasised al-Yafie, citing Fatora.io’s aspirations to contribute to the growth of SMEs in Qatar.

SkipCash founder and managing director Mohamed al-Delaimi
Business
Qatar ready to move towards ‘cashless society’, says Qatari fintech company

On the back of world-class IT infrastructure and high mobile penetration, as well as a diverse range of solutions providers in the market, Qatar is ready to move towards a “cashless society,” an official of a Qatari fintech company has said. SkipCash founder and managing director Mohamed al-Delaimi made the statement during a recent media briefing at the company’s headquarters in Lusail where he announced the latest partnerships with local entities and its short and medium-term plans. SkipCash is a mobile payment app that has proven its position within the local financial technology (fintech) sector as a licensed firm by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and regulated by the Qatar Central Bank (QCB). Al-Delaimi said, “SkipCash is a national company with a global vision that contributes to Qatar's digital transformation and the financial technology sector.” He said the mobile application has seen exponential growth since its official launch in December 2020. It now has more than 26,000 users with more than 9,000 successful payment transactions. According to al-Delaimi, the application “has been the ideal contactless secure payment solution during the pandemic.” “We have achieved tremendous growth in a short period; we thank all our partners and users for trusting us and look forward to continuing to strengthen our partnerships with them and offering our utmost support,” he noted. Al-Delaimi said the company has partnered with over 250 brands in various sectors locally. This includes a new partnership with Capstone Real Estate, which allows the real estate company’s clients to pay their monthly rent through the application and obtain many other benefits. The company also partnered with Regency Travel, allowing customers to complete their bookings through SkipCash and Starlink. Customers may also pay through the application for their purchases. “All payments are completed securely and safely, without the need to visit any branch,” al-Delaimi stressed. He said SkipCash is currently finalising new partnerships with telecommunication companies. “Moreover, SkipCash will have its dedicated loyalty programme offering customers additional benefits and points and allowing them to leverage more from their purchases,” he said. SkipCash recently announced the closing of a QR7mn ($1.92mn) seed round funding from private Qatari investors. The funding represented the second round of investments SkipCash received, following an awarded product development fund of QR700,000 in July 2020 from the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), in recognition of its offerings that address a key market need in the local economy, al-Delaimi said. SkipCash provides consumers and merchants with a convenient and efficient payment experience. Using QR codes, the App facilitates secure digital payment by eliminating cash, physical cards, and point-of-sale (POS) devices, al-Delaimi explained. “Users can securely add their credit card to the App, monitor their spending via visual spending reports, organise their payment receipts, and enable virtual accounts for their children and other family members. It also gives them access to vouchers and coupons from different merchants,” said al-Delaimi, who added that the application may be downloaded at www.skipcash.app

Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz, CEO, Matrade
Business
Qatar-Malaysia trade up 33.5% to reach $345mn in January-July 2021

Goods exchange between Qatar and Malaysia increased by 33.5% in the first seven months of 2021 despite the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on international trade, an official of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) has said. From January to July 2021, both countries’ trade volume stood at $345.06mn, registering a 33.5% growth compared to $258.48mn recorded in the same period in 2020, according to Matrade CEO Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz. Abdul Aziz said Malaysia’s major exports to Qatar include special-purpose ships, hot-rolled iron bars, food products, electrical appliances and electronics, electrical control boards, copper wire, furniture, and jewellery. Conversely, the main products that Malaysia imports from Qatar are refined petroleum, raw aluminium, ethylene polymers, raw zinc, and hydrogen, Abdul Aziz told Gulf Times in a statement. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Abdul Aziz stressed that Malaysia “regularly received” business enquiries from companies in Qatar. He said Matrade held discussions with these companies and connected Qatari firms “with the right potential partners in Malaysia.” At the height of the pandemic, Abdul Aziz noted that Matrade took the necessary precautions by training staff on how to work and network properly and safely, and how to communicate remotely with individuals, corporations, and companies. “Matrade has developed new business programmes to increase efficiency and accessibility to targeted markets using customised remote applications, advanced online communication tools, and virtual online events like the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (Mihas). “Internally, we have emphasised on the management principles, which focuses on safety as a first priority and allow staff to work and communicate smoothly and regularly with all entities,” he explained. He added: “Indeed, we have not found any difficulty in the application of our new programmes and procedures in Qatar because Malaysia and Qatar have common business aspects other than the developed business infrastructure and community in Qatar.”

Dr Mohamed Althaf
Business
‘Knowledge-based business’ key to maintaining efficiency as companies adapt flexible work schedules, says LuLu exec

Running a “knowledge-based business” is a key factor to maintaining employee efficiency and optimum operations as companies are steadily adopting flexible work schedules, said Dr Mohamed Althaf, director, LuLu Group International. Althaf made the statement in a panel discussion during the ‘Commonwealth Trade & Investment Summit 2021: Build Back Business’, a virtual business-to-government Commonwealth summit hosted Tuesday from London with participation from across the 54 member nations. During the discussion, which carried the theme ‘The Shape of the 21st Century Workplace: New challenges, New opportunities’, Althaf emphasised that aside from IT companies, “every business today is part of a knowledge-based economy.” Althaf also noted that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced companies to allow employees to ‘work-from-home’, flexible working was becoming “increasingly acceptable” with many organisations. He stressed that this was driven by “workforce globalisation” and technologies that allow people to work “anytime and anywhere.” “The need to attract and retain top talent has been another factor that has pushed many organisations into offering more flexible working options. Covid-19 has accelerated this transition. Lockdown restrictions around the world meant that those who could had to work from home; this has created challenges, opportunities, and problems. “The shift to a fully flexible working model forced by Covid-19 was so sudden that many organisations and many employees were not prepared for it. As a result, there are now several challenges to overcome to ensure this model works for all,” Althaf explained. But while ‘flexible work’ has been described as “the way of the future,” Athaf maintained that ‘face-to-face’ customer interaction is a big component in the retail industry. “A flexible work environment with the option to work remotely is often not an option. While work-life balance may seem like one of the biggest benefits of flexible working, it can also be one of the greatest challenges. “The struggle to separate peoples’ personal lives from their work commitments and switch off at the end of the day is leading to more stress and anxiety among some employees,” Althaf emphasised. But Althaf believes “some part of the retail jobs will be flexible and will become remote.” “The success and expansion in online retail have made location less important than talent. Instead of being on the shop floor as a sales representative, one can be an online personal shopper or an online customer service representative, and if your company has adopted a modern IT infrastructure, you can also work from home and analyse buying patterns or keep track of sales trends using real-time data,” said Althaf. He emphasised: “But the emergence of e-commerce is not the only factor. A major part that every business, including the retail sector, has become is ‘knowledge-based business’ – it has become data-driven; every business uses some degree of analytical, machine learning, artificial intelligence. For a knowledge-based economy, location is not important.” According to Althaf, flexible work schedules “can definitely increase” female labour participation and senior workers participation, citing longer life expectancy and advancements in health. “They say if you are healthy and fit to work when you are 65, chances are you can continue to work till your mid-'80s. This will drive overall productivity and prosperity upwards. “It is very hard to future proof skills, training, and education. No innovation is possible without a good foundation and fundamentals. They must be prepared for lifelong learning and engagement. But education will also become more flexible and more modular and far more accessible to everyone,” Althaf pointed out.

Martin Breidsprecher
Qatar
Los Angeles chamber exec lauds Qatar’s ‘business-friendly’ environment

Qatar is seen as a key destination for doing business for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations in the US, according to Martin Breidsprecher, the chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Speaking at a virtual discussion titled ‘Business Synergies and Opportunities Between Southern California Companies and Qatar’, Breidsprecher said: “There are many shared areas of interest among Southern Californian companies and those of Qatar.” “For companies in the Los Angeles area looking to expand to new markets or gain a foothold in the wider region, Qatar offers a business-friendly environment for SMEs and large corporations alike,” he stressed during the event, which was 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. Major American multinationals from Microsoft to Raytheon to Boeing have chosen Qatar as the “go-to place of business” in the Middle East for its location, economic benefits, and infrastructural support that helps businesses get up and running quickly in a new market, it was stressed during the event. During the virtual discussion, Breidsprecher was joined by the following speakers: Mohamed Barakat, managing director of USQBC; Antonio Villaraigosa, the 41st mayor of Los Angeles; Fahad al-Dosari, Commercial Attaché in the US for the State of Qatar; and Peter McPartlin, executive vice president, Strategic Planning and Business Operations, Paramount Pictures. Villaraigosa said, “Los Angeles area companies and Qatar have shared a long-lasting lucrative partnership over the years across a diversity of business interests. Many Southern California companies stand to benefit as Qatar continues to enhance its economic incentives and infrastructure to facilitate new investors.” Qatar and the Los Angeles area share many economic commonalities with one of the major areas of focus being sports and entertainment. In addition to the “more than 500 international sporting events” being held in Qatar over the last 15 years, Qatar is poised to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, and the country’s sports industry is expected to grow to “$20bn” in the coming years. Qatar is also an increasingly large investor in the US having pledged “$45bn” in investment over the coming years. One of Qatar Investment Authority’s (QIA) key investments was in Miramax Films, which is now jointly owned by Doha-based beIN Media Group and ViacomCBS, the parent company of Paramount Pictures. “We were very pleased to acquire our stake in Miramax last year, along with distribution and first look agreements relating to its film library and IP. Our dealings with Doha-based beIN Media Group went very well, and we were impressed with the sophistication of beIN and its representatives,” said McPartlin. Los Angeles area companies also have synergies with Qatar in many other areas, including aerospace, biomedical and medical technology, construction, design and engineering, entertainment and tourism, and finance.

Key speakers of the virtual discussion titled u2018Business Synergies and Opportunities Between Southern California Companies and Qataru2019, which was hosted yesterday by USQBC, the Commercial Attachu00e9 Office in the US for the State of Qatar, and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Qatar
US firms, technology play ‘key role’ in Qatar’s economic diversification, says Qatari envoy

The State of Qatar’s Commercial Attaché in the US, Fahad al-Dosari, has underscored how American companies play a significant role in Qatar’s diversification strategy and the welfare of the country’s citizens and expatriate communities. “US companies and their technology have been critical to Qatar’s efforts to drive sustainable economic diversification and improve the quality of life for its residents, and we are proud to offer strong advantages and incentives for companies looking to establish a presence in the Middle East,” said al-Dosari during a virtual discussion held yesterday. Titled ‘Business Synergies and Opportunities Between Southern California Companies and Qatar’, the virtual discussion was 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. The online event aims to highlight areas of interest and opportunities to further economic cooperation between Qatar and companies based in Southern California. The discussion comes as Qatar drives ambitious, economic diversification by investing in strategic sectors that include sports and entertainment, ‘cleantech’, smart cities, e-sports, and gaming. “Qatar and the US share a long history of partnership with an emphasis on creative industries, and we look forward to many new partnerships going forward,” said al-Dosari during the event, whose speakers also included USQBC managing director Mohamed Barakat, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce chief operating officer Martin Breidsprecher, the 41st mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, and Paramount Pictures executive vice president, Strategic Planning and Business Operations, Peter McPartlin. Qatar imported more than “$23bn” worth of goods from the US over the last five years. Today, the total economic value of the partnership between the two countries exceeds “$200bn”, and Qatar stands as one of the few countries with which the US runs a trade surplus. The US has more than “850” companies, including joint ventures (JVs), operating in Qatar in a wide variety of industries and sizes, with investments totaling over “$110.6bn” to date, making the US the country’s largest foreign direct investor. “US investment in Qatar continues to increase year-on-year due to Qatar’s ambitious pro-business reforms and infrastructure investment,” said Barakat. He added: “From leading the international community in sports to pioneering smart city projects like Lusail and Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar stands ready for US businesses looking to expand their international footprint in the country and wider region.”

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) Chief executive officer Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz noted that Matrade u201cis working closelyu201d and regularly communicates with a wide range of entities and corporations doing business in Qatar.
Qatar
Halal expo seen to foster growth in Qatar-Malaysia ties, says Malaysian trade official

The current staging of the ‘Malaysia International Halal Showcase’ (Mihas 2021) 17th edition would play a role in fostering growth in Qatar-Malaysia trade and economic relations with the import and export of halal products between both countries, an official of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) has said. Chief executive officer Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz noted that Matrade “is working closely” and regularly communicates with a wide range of entities and corporations doing business in Qatar. “We have previously invited most of these companies in Qatar to visit Malaysia and they have attended the previous editions of Mihas. Indeed, most of them had good experiences when they attended Mihas and they were able to meet Malaysian companies and other exhibitors,” Abdul Aziz told Gulf Times in a statement. Mihas, which kicked off recently, facilitates business meetings between Qatari and Malaysian companies in which both parties could discuss views and potential common cooperation aspects, he said. Abdul Aziz said, “Mihas is really considered as an effective means for Qatari and Malaysian companies to maximise the time in finding the right partners, especially since most of the related communication processes are followed up by Matrade.” He stressed that Matrade realises the degree of which halal and other high quality products are recognised in Qatar. He noted that Matrade has been “very selective” not only in the participating exhibitors at Mihas but also with “all inputs” related to the event. “Not only are quality and cost the main factors in determining the efficiency of business deals but trust and respect should also come first. The business relation between Malaysia and Qatar is witnessing high levels of respect and trust other than the high-quality products and services that our Malaysian companies are very keen to introduce to the Qatari Market,” Abdul Aziz explained. He stressed that Matrade also considered the impact of Covid-19, as well as the fluctuations the pandemic caused in business and international markets. “However, we have found that Qatar is one of the countries that is moving steadily to control and minimise the negative consequences of the pandemic. Indeed, we have a common area of business thinking and then we can move and cooperate together to overcome any negative results in terms of business,” Abdul Aziz emphasised. He added: “The combination of the above elements and factors will yield in an effective cooperation between Malaysia and Qatar, and accelerate the joint cooperation in different business fields.” Mihas is the halal industry’s “leading business platform,” according to Matrade. The event gathers international visitors and traders to the forum, which offers opportunities across the global halal markets in food & beverage (F&B), pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, logistics, Muslim-friendly tourism, Islamic finance, e-commerce, education, modest fashion, food technology, and franchise.

BYH 2021 would gather around 150 companies specialising in various services in the fields of contracting, architecture, and interior design, said Rawad Sleem, co-founder and general manager of NeXTfairs for Exhibitions and Conferences during a press conference Monday.
Business
‘Build Your House 2021’ to attract deals worth QR400mn, says organiser

The ‘Build Your House’ (BYH) 2021 is expected to attract deals worth more than QR400mn from September 20 to 22 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). BYH 2021 would gather around 150 companies specialising in various services in the fields of contracting, architecture, and interior design, said Rawad Sleem, co-founder and general manager of NeXTfairs for Exhibitions and Conferences during a press conference Monday. “We are expecting the exhibition to attract QR400mn worth of deals during the event as diversified entities would participate, including government, local, and international companies specialised in various sectors,” Sleem said. The second edition of BYH would include the latest technologies and sustainable materials in the fields of contracting, architecture, and interior design, especially for clients who plan to create or add new designs and features to their houses or real estate projects. BYH 2021 would also provide an opportunity to discover hundreds of smart and modern options that are both cost-effective and of great quality for designing, building, renovating, maintaining, and developing houses. “The exhibition has also become an important platform that connects visitors with contractors and consultants to enable them to determine their options and make decisions related to the construction process,” Sleem said. The event would include workshops and panel discussions that would bring together a host of experts to help visitors plan, procure, design, and build homes fit for the 21st century with a sustainable future and smart home solutions. It would introduce visitors to the various procedures and stages of building their houses, including how to get the necessary licenses for construction, the required documents, and all the information about the space standards for building a house, in addition to the state’s role in distributing lands over to citizens. Sleem said a conference titled ‘Knowledge and Technology Area’ will feature 40 speakers discussing the latest trends in the industry and sharing their insights on various topics: designing furniture, eco-friendly interior design, infrastructure, and engineering. During the press conference, Sleem was joined by Mohamed Hasan al-Naimi, Director of Technical Affairs Department in Doha Municipality, Ministry of Municipality and Environment; engineer Jarallah Mohamed al-Marri, Assistant Director of Building Projects, Ashghal; Mohamed Ali al-Muhannadi, Director of Public Relations and Communications, Kahramaa; lieutenant-colonel Jaber Mohamed al-Marri, head, Preventive Education Department, Civil Defence; Omar Halawa, Business Development Manager, Tadmur Trading; Emad Makarem, general manager Al Mana Maples; Shovan Das, general manager, Jotun Paints Qatar; and engineer Hamdi Mohamed Abdelatif, Technical Department Manager, Coolex Al Jaber. Sleem said the Ministry of Public Health has identified a set of precautionary guidelines to ensure the health and safety of exhibitors and visitors: allowing only fully vaccinated and aged 18-year-old and above to enter the event, ensuring that all employees received a second dose vaccine, and allocating an isolation area for suspected cases. Ends

Gulf Times
Business
Land development, infra projects to boost design, contracting sectors

The development of citizens’ lands, completion of the infrastructure projects, and projects related to 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as the momentum of government spending on projects, would stimulate the recovery of the construction, design, and contracting sectors. Rawad Sleem, co-founder and general manager of NeXTfairs for Exhibitions and Conferences made the statement during a press conference Monday on ‘Build Your House’ (BYH) 2021 exhibition. He also said the private sector, which is considered a major partner in the development process, would “actively participate” in these projects supported by the government. Sleem underscored that the 2021 state budget has a list of new approved projects, in coordination with Public Works Authority Ashghal at a value of QR53.9bn scheduled to be awarded from 2021 to 2023. Citing figures from the Ministry of Finance, Sleem said 5,045 plots in new citizens’ subdivisions were delivered with integrated infrastructure, including roads, sewage networks, traffic management, surface, and underground water drainage networks, lighting poles, and communication networks, water and electricity networks by Kahramaa within 2020. “The 2021 budget puts the development of citizens’ lands at the top of its priorities through two phases at a total cost of QR37bn. The cost of the first phase of developing citizen’s lands is QR16.5bn, which includes a total of 11,989 plots in 13 areas, while the cost of the second phase is QR20.5bn, which includes 21,424 plots distributed over 19 areas, in addition to projects in health and education,” Sleem said. Speaking on BYH 2021, Sleem said raffle draw prizes will also be given during the exhibition for the first time with one visitor winning a 2021 Ford Ranger XLS grand prize. Furthermore, winners of the interior design competition will showcase their designs to the public. An online pre-registration will be required to attend the exhibition, said Sleem, adding that the wearing of masks and social distancing would be maintained during the event.