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Thursday, February 02, 2023 | 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.
A view of the store
Qatar
QDF plays significant role in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, says official

Qatar Duty Free (QDF), which recently launched the first FIFA Store inside the Hamad International Airport (HIA), has been playing a key part in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, an official has said.QDF vice-president Thabet Musleh said, “This has been an extraordinary period for our beloved home Qatar, and we are proud to have played a significant role in this year's FIFA tournament.”On Monday, QDF officially launched the first FIFA Store inside HIA – named by Skytrax as the 'World’s Best Airport' – and showcases an impressive collection of FIFA Official World Cup merchandise, souvenirs, collectibles and team jerseys.The official opening of the FIFA Store was officiated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker, HIA Chief Operating Officer Badr al-Meer, and Musleh.The FIFA Store, which spans over 185sq m and operates 24/7, features a collection of FIFA merchandise, including football jerseys, sports attires, accessories, the Official FIFA World Cup Al Rihla Ball, souvenirs and collectibles.In addition, fans are offered a premium selection of official team jerseys and accessories to show support for their favourite teams. Unique items sold at the FIFA Store include the Al Hilm Pro Final Official Match Ball and Retro FIFA collection items. The stores also feature trophy World Cup replicas and FIFA 2022 branded attire.Musleh said, “Launching the first FIFA Store worldwide at our brand new expansion in Hamad International Airport is a great honour. As the tournament is coming to an end, we look forward to welcoming thousands of fans travelling through HIA to explore the FIFA Store and shop for memorable souvenirs to mark an unforgettable experience.”QDF, the Official Retail Partner for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, is also operating all the official FIFA stores located in different locations throughout the iconic eight stadiums of Qatar and the mega store at the FIFA Fan Festival.

CIELTECH chairman and president Dr Salah A Rustum.
Business
Qatar’s robust cybersecurity ensures safe financial transactions during World Cup, says industry expert

Qatar’s rapid progress in cybersecurity has been an essential element in ensuring that financial transactions, especially during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, are safe and protected, according to an industry expert.“The ministerial vision of the State of Qatar had long foreseen the necessity of cybersecurity and the role it plays,” Dr Salah A Rustum, the chairman and president of cybersecurity solutions provider CIELTECH, told Gulf Times Tuesday.Dr Rustum explained that cybersecurity plays a major role in assuring the protection of private data, B2B businesses, and the encryption process, which protected all Internet communication and activities, including the Know Your Customer (KYC) of users.Given the volume of financial services and transactions that require digital technology during the World Cup, Dr Rustum lauded the State of Qatar’s efforts in stepping up its digitalisation strategy.“It would have been practically impossible to cope with 4mn visitors and their respective payments and or collection of cash – the least to say! Not to mention opening the doors to money laundering without being able to interfere. Can you imagine the different reporters being efficient if it were not for the State of Qatar to digitise the operating systems?” Dr Rustum emphasised.He also underscored how tech startups and fintech companies in Qatar, and even financial technology, had catered to the needs of tourists and visitors to Qatar during the World Cup.Dr Rustum said: “What is crucial in my opinion are the online applications in general that facilitated the question and answer to the ordinary visitor and local layman, coupled with the important role played by those companies and databases that made it possible and easy for the visitor to reach the sought data. This will not change and people will go forward with it.”On the advantages Qatar had achieved in its digitalisation strategy and its impact on the World Cup, he said: “I think that it is more digitising than digitalisation in as much as the systems applied were made available to facilitate the running needs of visitors and were not issued by respective governmental decrees.”“In fact, the State of Qatar is fully aware of digitalising processes and had a planned foreseen vision of the propelled activities,” Dr Rustum also noted.According to Dr Rustum, the country’s banks and its related services, including the security sector, Qatar Red Crescent Society, hospitals, as well as the municipality of the City of Doha have been the prime beneficiaries of the services provided to Qatar’s tech startups and fintechs followed by house renting, hotels, coffee houses, travel agents, and taxis, among others.

MATRADE trade commissioner Megat Iskandar Ahmad
Business
Campaign launched to boost global visibility of Malaysian FMCG

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has launched the ‘Malaysian Products to the World’ campaign in Doha as part of the ongoing efforts to promote Malaysian products globally.The campaign, which was organised via MATRADE’s overseas offices in Doha and Duba, aims to increase market awareness about Malaysian products, particularly fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and to strengthen Malaysia’s brand presence in the local FMCG segment.This strategy provides cost-effective and sustainable solutions for Malaysian exporters to seize new business opportunities and generate higher export sales contributed by new sales leads resulting from extensive promotion activities, according to MATRADE trade commissioner Megat Iskandar Ahmad.The campaign was launched in collaboration with Ansar Group and supported by the embassy of Malaysia in Qatar. It is being conducted both online and in-store at Ansar Gallery Barwa Branch. The in-store promotion will run until December 17, while the online promo will continue until December 30, 2022.The promotion features food and beverages, household items, and personal care products from Malaysian brands like Julies, Kawan, Cocon, and Alicafe. Other Malaysian products, such as furniture will also be showcased during the campaign.Ahmad said: “The ‘Malaysian Products to the World’ promotion will take shoppers on a journey of discovering Malaysia through its products. The event provides customers with an array of exciting offers on a wide range of Malaysian products and has managed to attract strong interest from Qatari consumers. Combined with the online promotion, we believe more sales can be generated and will create more opportunities for other Malaysian products to enter the Qatari market.”Qatar is Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner in the GCC. The total trade value of both countries stood at $990.4mn as of October 2022 from $485.1mn in 2021. “Moving forward, MATRADE will continue to embark on various promotional activities, enriching Malaysian companies’ exports in the global market,” Ahmad added.The Malay heritage varies from north to south in terms of taste, food preparation, and names of cuisine. Essentially, Malay heritage food is influenced by a myriad of cultures, such as Arab, Indian, Chinese, Siamese, Javanese, and Minangkabau, among others.Different regions in Malaysia are known for their unique or signature dishes, such as beef rendang, laksa, nasilemak, and tapai. Malay food is identical in terms of its spiciness, which can be seen from the preparation, methods of cooking, and availability and use of prominent ingredients, such as local aromatic herbs and spices.

(From left) C V Rappai, director & CEO of Jumbo Electronics Qatar; Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International; and Dr Abdullah Faraj, who moderated the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Veteran expatriates laud Qatar for being their second home

Two industry leaders from the Indian expatriate community have shared their experiences as longstanding residents of Qatar during a seminar organised by the Ministry of Culture at the Darb Al Saai main stage on Saturday.Titled ‘Experiences of Long-Term Expatriates in Qatar’, the event was moderated by Dr Abdullah Faraj and featured a panel discussion with Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, and C V Rappai, director & CEO of Jumbo Electronics Qatar.During the event, Dr Althaf lauded His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, saying that his wise leadership guided Qatar in its preparation to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and for the highly-successful organisation of the tournament.“By far, this is the most well-organised, safest, and family-friendly World Cup that I have personally seen. The leadership of Qatar, including residents and citizens of this country, can be very proud of this achievement,” he stressed.Dr Althaf said: “We have shown the world what we could give back and achieve through unity, hard work, and resilience, regardless of the silly propaganda hurled at Qatar. Today, every visitor to Qatar will testify how the people living in this country had opened their homes, their minds, and hearts to the millions of World Cup fans who came here.“All good things happened in my life when I came to Qatar 22 years ago. This is where I got married and raised my children. I have been so fortunate to witness the progress that Qatar has made over the years.”Dr Althaf added: “When I arrived in Qatar, the country was preparing for a lot of transformations. But even then, I could feel a tremendous energy, positive attitude, and enthusiasm of the people. Qatar is very unique in the sense that it extended its generosity to all the people living in the country.“We witnessed this while Qatar was preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. I consider myself very fortunate to be living in this country, which is arguably the largest sovereign wealth fund, and the safest country worldwide, and while it is a small country, Qatar was more than able to successfully host the largest sporting event in the world.For his part, Rappai said he arrived in Qatar in 1980 and considers himself “one of the luckiest persons from India” to be living “in this blessed land” for the past 42 years.“Words cannot describe how I have witnessed the growth of this county. Qatar continues to progress daily in infrastructure and in different sectors, such as education, health, and sports, among many other landmark achievements.“The Qatari government and its wise leadership were able to successfully convert different challenges into opportunities, which we have witnessed in the past three decades,” Rappai pointed out.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, speaking during the event. PICTURE: Thajudheen.
Qatar
Qatar dispels ‘silly propaganda’ vs World Cup, says industry leader

By staging a safe and well-organised tournament, Qatar has successfully dispelled “silly” FIFA World Cup-related propaganda, which had only exposed “racial and Islamophobic undertones,” according to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.Speaking at the ‘Experiences of Long-Term Expatriates in Qatar’ seminar, which was organised by the Ministry of Culture at the Darb Al Saai main stage, Dr Althaf said there are some critics who cannot accept that a Gulf state, such as Qatar, was selected to host a major global sporting event like the World Cup.“This upset a lot of people who thought that this is their right to host anything in the world. But despite the propaganda, Qatar gave a rightful response in a very graceful manner by continuing with its many reforms and hard work,” he explained.Dr Althaf said despite the concerns about Qatar’s preparations to host the FIFA World Cup, the government started early on to address different issues, such as workers’ rights, among many other reforms.“These efforts and reforms were repeatedly recognised by the International Labour Organisation, and the ILO had always congratulated Qatar for improving the living and working conditions of labourers here. Today, Qatar can rightfully claim that it is one of the leading countries in terms of labour reforms.“These World Cup-related propaganda only exposed racial and Islamophobic undertones and intolerance towards a country coming forward to host this event,” Dr Althaf emphasised.He also stressed that throughout the tournament, Qatar did not witness “any drunken brawling across the country or hooliganism,” making it safe for fans to even bring their children to the stadiums to watch and enjoy the games.“Qatar has some of the highest specified stadiums today in terms of mobility and public transport, thus setting a very high standard for the next World Cups to be staged in different host countries.“The World Cup also witnessed the intermingling of different nationalities during the games or even outside the stadiums and in the fan zones, especially among Indians. This shows the affection of Indians towards Qatar and the generosity of the Qatari people to those who made this country their second home,” he said.Dr Althaf also lauded His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s speech in Davos where he declared that while Qatar welcomes everybody, it is also expected that visitors should respect the country’s values and culture.“We have succeeded in making World Cup fans and visitors feel welcome and that they are all being serviced properly. When it comes to food, I can assure you that LuLu has considered all types of dietary habits and preferences, as well as the food requirements of fans and visitors during their stay in the country.“We have fulfilled their expectations and even more. Similarly, on infrastructure and entertainment, Qatar has shown that we could do all this without compromising the core values of our culture,” Althaf said, adding that this paved the way for fans and tourists to experience the Arab and Qatari culture.Dr Althaf said: “Qatar has showcased inclusivity and tolerance for people of all races, nationality, faith and religious beliefs, and cultures. Everyone is welcome in Qatar as long as they extend the same respect given to them by this beautiful country.“Qatar is not only economically successful but it also managed to build solid institutions for culture, sports, welfare, and human rights. Qatar has extended generosity not only with the people here, but also for millions of people abroad, such as out-of-school youth, children in conflict zones, and disaster-hit areas.”Dr Althaf added: “We also witnessed Qatar’s intervention at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the transportation of vaccines and other essential materials, as well as the country’s leadership during the evacuation of people during the Afghanistan crisis.”

AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland.
Business
US firms in World Cup projects to continue in Qatar, says AmCham exec

US companies involved in World Cup-related projects will continue doing business in Qatar for the long term, an official of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) has said.AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland underscored the successful staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, saying the tournament has highlighted the celebration of 50 years of US-Qatar diplomatic relations, making 2022 “an iconic year” for both nations’ business ties.“It’s important to recognise that many of the US businesses that played a role in the World Cup are here in Qatar for the long term. Most of those companies will continue to do business here.“At AmCham Qatar, we have several initiatives up our sleeves to explore further opportunities for businesses that are unique to Qatar, including engaging further with our American university members at Education City,” Holland told Gulf Times, adding that more announcements are expected to be made in Q1 2023.She said AmCham Qatar is focused on American companies based in Qatar. As an advocate and representative of the American private sector, Holland said the chamber’s priority is its members in Qatar.“We work closely with the US Chamber of Commerce, the embassy, and other business organisations who support our members stateside. We support them and those US ventures for our members where we can, but our plan is to continue the great work we’re doing here and support our members and American companies on the ground. Our plan is to build on our 2022 foundation and continue to engage here locally,” Holland emphasised.She describes AmCham’s activities in 2022 as “engaging,” adding that this year witnessed many engagements with its members on new levels “and in ways we haven't connected with them before.”“Coming out of Covid-19 and the blockade, our members were hungry for thoughtful engagement physically in Qatar. Between hosting our partnering organisation, the US Chamber of Commerce out of Washington, DC, attending the AmCham Mena executive council conference, routine industry committee, and member initiative meetings, as well as fun events like ‘Headshots and Happy Hour’, we've worked very hard to deliver a mix of business and social activities to our members,” she explained.Holland said 2022 also witnessed the chamber’s significant growth as an organisation, doubled its membership, re-elected a new board of governors, elected a new chairman for the first time in its history, implemented member-driven committees, and hosted ministry roundtables to open further dialogue between AmCham’s Qatari business counterparts on the role of the US private sector as a stakeholder in the Qatar National Vision 2030.“We've strengthened ties with our partners in the GCC with the signing of the GCC AmChams MoU, and we’re engaging more deeply with our colleagues within AmCham Mena. We’re forging relationships with our local partners like Qatar Financial Centre and our relationship with the US Chamber of Commerce in DC is thriving,” Holland added.

Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café.
Business
Industry expert lauds role of local tech startups, fintechs during World Cup

Homegrown tech startups and fintech companies have been playing a significant role in catering to the needs of tourists and visitors of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, according to an industry expert.Hefzi Malhis, partnerships manager at Innovation Café, told Gulf Times that some of the local fintechs have been very successful in securing deals with payment gateways, allowing smooth digital financial transactions for visiting foreigners.“These fintech companies, among many others that are based in Qatar, have enabled seamless and safe transactions during this global event, which added to the success of the country in hosting an international sports tournament, such as the World Cup,” Malhis emphasised.Other homegrown tech companies were also significant players in helping visitors book their hotels in Qatar by giving them access to special payment links, according to Malhis, citing cases wherein some websites are unable to provide extensive information about hotel vacancies here during the World Cup.“By providing important services and vital information to visiting fans and tourists, Qatar’s tech startups and fintechs, among others, are playing a very significant part in promoting the country, not only as a sports destination but also a leading tourism and entertainment hub in the region,” Malhis pointed out.According to Malhis, one of the advantages of utilising local technology companies over international payment gateways is their expertise, familiarity, and knowledge of the local market, as well as better rates.“International event organisers also gain a lot of advantages from working with local fintechs and tech startups because these companies are on the ground – they know the terrain – and, most importantly, they are trustworthy,” he explained.Malhis noted that many Qatari entrepreneurs in the food and beverage (F&B) sector wanted to open their businesses before the World Cup.He said fintechs and other startups also played an important function by offering F&B companies the option to use different innovations and technologies to maximise the benefits of operating a business during the tournament, such as delivering food and other services to fan zones and other World Cup-related areas.Malhis also lauded the assistance provided by the Qatari government to local entrepreneurs, saying strong and early public sector support was crucial in preparing and establishing these businesses prior to the tournament.“Many local entrepreneurs were able to open up their businesses even before the World Cup, which is a great advantage because the government was there to help and support them and make sure that these companies are able to fully operate, especially during the tournament itself,” he added.

AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland.
Business
AmCham to continue role as private sector voice & catalyst for US companies in Qatar, says official

In the wake of the 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue held recently in Qatar, the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar (AmCham Qatar) will continue to enhance its role in facilitating trade and investments between US companies and their Qatari counterparts, an official has said.“AmCham Qatar has always been a strategic dialogue partner and given the mission of our organisation we’re even more excited that it’s being held right here in our backyard,” AmCham Qatar executive director Brooke Holland told Gulf Times Wednesday.She said: “As the primary local organisation for the American private sector and given our close relationship with our US embassy in Doha, our role is to continue to be that private sector voice and catalyst for US companies here...all of our leadership is excited about the ongoing dialogue.”Asked how the strategic dialogue will help AmCham Qatar facilitate business, trade, and commerce between Qatar and the US, Holland said: “The strategic dialogue is one of the few times, if not the only time, where you get everyone together at the table. It’s important to have this dialogue with government and business organisations, as well as stakeholders, among others, to really talk about the nuts and bolts of what’s happening in Qatar and abroad.“At the end of the day, we all share a lot of common goals. The strategic dialogue brings us out of our silos. I think it’s also clear that Qatar National Vision 2030 will be a key discussion point, of which, business, trade, and commerce are crucial to some of that success.”Holland also said US ambassador Timmy T Davis has AmCham Qatar’s support in promoting the US embassy’s sub-national diplomacy campaign, which aims to open the Qatari market to American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).“As the primary American private sector organisation here in Qatar, we are incredibly fortunate to have such a longstanding and great relationship with our US embassy in Doha. This relationship has only strengthened with the appointment of our incredible new ambassador, Timmy Davis.“The senior commercial officer even holds an honorary board seat within AmCham Qatar, which helps ensure our mutual goals of trade, commerce, and investment are achieved and maximised to the private sector in Qatar,” Holland explained.She said: “We will continue to work with the US embassy to support the ‘2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit Delegation’, and we are exploring new ways the Commerical Law Department and other embassy/state department programmes can benefit our member initiatives here.“This year has shown that visiting delegations are back in full swing and we will continue to work with the embassy on ensuring these delegations leave with a full understanding and resources into what it means to do business in Qatar.”Holland added: “In 2023, we plan to take this a step further by partnering on the Clean Tech Trade mission stop-off in Doha, hosting our inaugural Sustainability Summit in March 2023.“Working with the embassy here in Doha has and will continue to be at the centre of our strategic dialogue, and we are proud of the work we do collectively here on the ground together to help American companies.”

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
Business
 ‘Qatar Chamber to continue supporting Qatar’s economic growth post-World Cup’

The State of Qatar is celebrating the success of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which has already entered its halfway mark. In line with this milestone, Qatar Chamber will continue supporting the country’s economic development even after the tournament, according to its chairman, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.Qatar’s economy is expected to continue to grow at an accelerating pace after the tournament, Sheikh Khalifa stated in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic magazine.He noted that the country will still gain the attention of the international community “for a long time” and will continue to benefit from the World Cup by cementing itself on the global investment map. This, he continued, is in line with the efforts made to achieve the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030.Sheikh Khalifa said the chamber will continue to represent and strengthen the private sector’s role in Qatar’s economic development. It will also address all challenges and obstacles to find the appropriate solutions, as well as promote the national economy and strengthen co-operation with all institutions and chambers worldwide, he stressed.“Qatar Chamber will also contribute to participating in the efforts to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030 by promoting economic diversification and attracting investments to the state,” Sheikh Khalifa pointed out.The chamber is keen to enhance communication with all ministries and concerned authorities in Qatar’s private in order to discuss all challenges and difficulties and to find appropriate solutions. The chamber will also work to provide appropriate recommendations and give its opinion on private sector issues.Sheikh Khalifa also affirmed the pivotal role of the private sector in preparing for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, noting the strong participation of Qatari companies in the tournament’s projects and their support services during the event in all sectors.He stressed the need for concerted efforts by citizens and residents to make this global event a success, adding that the tournament “will leave a unique imprint in the history of the FIFA World Cup.”“The State of Qatar has become a leading global investment destination,” he said, noting that international institutions had been commending the Qatari economy, which is expected to grow by 4.9%, according to the International Monetary Fund.Sheikh Khalifa said the promotion of the State of Qatar is one of the most important gains from the World Cup, citing the positive impact of the tournament on the development of infrastructure, tourism, hotel facilities, transportation, and communication services.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi and Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
ITA Doha office to hold more B2Bs for Qatari, Italian companies

Plans are in the pipeline to network Qatari buyers and Italian suppliers during the horticultural event Expo Doha 2023, which carries the theme ‘Green Desert, Better Environment’ to be held in Doha in 2023, an official of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) has said.The ITA Doha Office will be organising many events next year involving different Italian delegations, including Coldiretti, Italy’s main institutional organisation of agricultural entrepreneurs and farmers based in Rome, Italian Trade Commissioner Paola Lisi told Gulf Times.Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi also said Coldiretti is very focused on territory and how a single piece of territory can express itself not only in agro-food but also in terms of culture.“The bottom line is that these farmers represent the local community effectively and reflect Italian culture. Expo Doha 2023 will see the participation of Italian players that represent the territory,” the ambassador said.He noted that Coldiretti specialises in organising markets that illustrate how a community represents itself in the agri-food sector.“They do this beautifully in Rome and I’m sure we can also do something similar here in Qatar. The difference between the Coldiretti markets and the traditional access to these services and products is that in these markets you develop a direct connection with the producers or the farmers.“This initiative provides small, family-owned businesses, as well as well-established companies, access to international markets, such as Qatar in particular. There’s a balance between small and big players. We know that the public likes to perceive the farmer as an individual because that gives you a customised experience, which you don’t get from a larger platform,” Toschi explained.The ambassador also said Expo Doha 2023 will also open areas of collaboration between Italy and Qatar in the field of sustainability.“A large endeavour that awaits Qatar next year is the Expo Doha 2023, which is a specialised international exhibition devoted to topics like sustainability in dry lands and how to irrigate and produce in dry lands, among others.“Another area that we recognise and appreciate is Qatar’s interest in the diversification of energy resources, which is something Italian engineers and scientists are working really hard to identify new solutions. Some of our players are leaders in global markets on several solutions. But there’s a lot that we could do together with Qatar going forward,” Toschi emphasised.Lisi added: “We can also cooperate in the area of the circular economy. Italy has a strong experience in that field. We are looking forward to cooperate with Qatari companies and authorities in all possible fields.”

USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
USQBC keen to promote Qatar further in 2023 among US firms, SMEs

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) is keen to enhance its promotion of Qatar among American companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2023, an official has said.The council has been busy visiting different cities and states in the US this year and is expected to cap 2022 with the release of a print version of its report ‘50 Years of Partnership: The State of Qatar and the United States of America’, said USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat.In 2023, Barakat said USQBC intends to double its efforts to promote Qatar by organising more events that would highlight specifically what the country has to offer to American companies.“The Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) has joined USQBC, so there would be more events across the US to promote Qatar and to promote the opening of potential manufacturing operations in Qatar.“We will also try to attract small and medium companies by engaging more with SMEs in their own cities and states in the US. There will be a lot of that as we build on these initiatives in the pipeline,” Barakat told Gulf Times.He said, “The upcoming year will not only witness many events but also one or two congressional delegations to Qatar similar to what we did in 2021, including trade missions that we could perhaps tie in with a specific event that is happening in Qatar, such as ‘Expo 2023 Doha’ or other activities.“These events will continue to highlight how USQBC could help companies and how the council could assist in building on this relationship. We will continue our collaboration with the US and Qatari embassies, and with visiting delegations to reach out to more cities; it’s similar to a roadshow but it’s more sector-specific and promoting engagements.”According to Barakat, USQBC is also looking to publish many reports, especially on specific sectors that put emphasis on investment opportunities in both the US and Qatar. He said the council will also work on increasing its membership next year. After USQBC president Scott Taylor’s visit to Qatar last September, several Qatari and American companies were added to the council’s roster of members, Barakat noted.On USQBC’s operations in both Washington, DC and Qatar next year, Barakat said: “USQBC will continue at the same level as we had done in 2022. There will be some engagements for the ‘Expo 2023 Doha, Qatar’. We plan to work with more potential companies or perhaps build a trade mission related to the event.“While there is nothing clear yet, we want to see if we can bring a delegation, which will be very helpful to American companies to engage and find common ground during the event. It’s a big event, which is why it would be very helpful for American companies to be part of it considering that agriculture is a major sector that Qatar is focusing on.”Barakat noted that a post-World Cup Qatar would open opportunities not only in sustainability but also in tourism and tourism-related services, as well as other areas such as esports and gaming.“Qatar has built massive infrastructure that feeds into tourism and tourism-related services, so there would be a lot of focus on these sectors. By default, this would create another sub-sector, which is facilities management and operations.“These windows of opportunities will start opening up after the staging of a major event, such as the World Cup. And we will see how this could translate into potential future events that Qatar would be hosting. The idea of hosting major sports events in the country also opens opportunities in the area of esports and gaming; there would be a potential increase in focus on these areas, as well,” he stressed.He added: “USQBC maintains its regular engagements with companies specialising in ICT and telecommunications, as well as data centres, among others. And these engagements will keep on expanding. The council will work on making sure that the services actually fulfil the needs of a lot of these companies coming in.“Some of the bigger companies understand the market because they’ve been present for much longer, but second-tier and third-tier companies might need more hands-on and more tailored services to understand how to enter the market. USQBC is very fluid; we can immediately adjust to fulfil a specific need that companies require. We can adjust our services to cater to their needs and that allows us to operate in a better way.”

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani
Business
‘Qatar's private sector is a key player in comprehensive economic development’

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has assured the capability of the country’s private sector to play a key role in achieving comprehensive economic development.Sheikh Khalifa’s statement came in the wake of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s speech during the 51st annual session of the Shura Council where he declared milestones and defined Qatar’s direction moving forward.“Qatar Chamber highly values and appreciates His Highness the Amir’s keenness to develop and maximise the private sector’s role in development, especially since it has seen great growth in recent years and has become a responsible partner of the public sector in implementing economic development projects,” Sheikh Khalifa stated in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s economic magazine.According to Sheikh Khalifa, the chamber is certain that the private sector can play an important role in achieving comprehensive economic development, which is Qatar’s top priority.He said Qatar has been steadfast in fulfilling the requirements of comprehensive development “at all levels” in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 “and its desired objectives.”Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that His Highness the Amir’s speech also focused on enhancing Qatar’s investment climate through amendments in legislation on foreign investment and by removing barriers that prevent FDI, as well as highlighting Qatar as a global incubator for FDI and improving the country’s investment environment.He said the Amir’s speech emphasises his keenness to bolster the contribution of the private sector in economic activity and to create more public-private partnerships (PPPs).Sheikh Khalifa reiterated the Amir’s call to allow GCC citizens to launch trade activities, including shipping services, advertising, stock trading, and company establishment, as well as the development of the energy sector and expanding gas production in the North Field.“All these directives confirm that the Qatari economy will see further development and growth in the coming years,” Sheikh Khalifa said, highlighting the Amir’s statements on a “QR47.3bn” budget surplus triggered by the increase in energy prices in the first half of 2022 despite speculations of a deficit at the beginning of the year.Sheikh Khalifa said: “His Highness the Amir’s speech showed the great interest he attaches to the national economy. His Highness emphasised the strength of the Qatari economy, which continued to grow in 2022 after a decline in 2020, with the preliminary data indicating a 4.3% GDP growth during the first half of this year, supported by a 7.3% growth in the non-oil sector – a large percentage amid the current international circumstances.”He added: “His Highness also stressed the importance of activating the provisions of the law regulating partnership between the public and private sectors in all related projects, especially in the health, educational, and tourism sectors.“His Highness further highlighted the In-Country Value Programme, which gives preference in tenders and bids to companies that further depend on the local economy to procure goods and services to the public sector.”

USQBC president Scott Taylor. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
USQBC ensures ‘pivotal role’ in achieving Qatar’s 2030 vision, says official

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has ensured its support to realise the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, its president Scott Taylor told Gulf Times in the wake of the recently held 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue.“USQBC will play a pivotal role in helping Qatar achieve its vision because we’re always on the ground both in Doha and in Washington, DC, listening and proactively engaging our members and new members to create commerce,” Taylor emphasised.Taylor explained that USQBC is engaging with different public and private sector agencies and entities, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and working as a “very specific and bespoke organisation.”“We understand what the opportunities are by listening and specifically meeting with ministers and heads of agencies to understand what their goals are. We then get back to our members to help them thrive and understand what the government is looking for, as well as reach out to new businesses and see how they can participate, as well,” he said.Taylor also noted that USQBC is also fully supporting the initiative of the Embassy of the United States in Qatar in providing American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the Qatari market.“Ambassador Timmy T Davis is very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030. He specifically speaks about supporting SMEs and having them come here and do commerce with Qatari businesses, as well as forge people-to-people relationships.“Obviously, that’s where the USQBC could come in and play a significant role in connections, in corporate diplomacy, and in making sure businesses from Qatar and the US have the ability to operate in both countries, as well as supporting the US and Qatari embassies and the businesses on the ground,” Taylor said.On USQBC’s participation in the strategic dialogue, Taylor said, “The US and Qatar are celebrating 50th year of diplomatic relations, and the relationship between these two countries will be a very pivotal one in the next century.“The underpinning of our relationship is defence and national security, but it is also commerce, as well. And this is where corporate diplomats like the USQBC come in. The US is going to be very supportive of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and commerce, through our support, will help fulfil those goals.”Taylor said USQBC is looking forward to participating in strategic dialogue-related workshops next year.“We still don’t have the specifics of that workshop but USQBC will be partnering with the US embassy and entities and ministries here. I’m not sure what the framework exactly looks like but it’s something that we want to be intimately involved with,” he stressed, adding that sectors of interest would include sustainability, climate change, defence and national security, energy and energy security, healthcare, education, and tech.He said, “We have a broad base of members, which we can also increase and bring to the table, and we’re constantly speaking to businesses in both the US and Qatar, including the ministries and understanding their vision alongside the Qatar National Vision 2030. When you look at these sectors, they’re so broad but we’re going to be bringing a lot of tools to the table to help them achieve Qatar National Vision 2030.”Taylor also said USQBC was able to expand its membership base during his trip to Qatar in September this year.“The goal of that trip was to listen to the ministries and people working on the ground and understand their goals inside the Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as the opportunities for USQBC and how we can extend support.“The other part of the trip was to speak to potential members here who could join our council and not only add value to our membership but allow us to add value to them. This trip helped provide our new members quality leads to doing business,” Taylor added.

Hyunsun Hong
Qatar
Official lauds World Cup’s role in driving tourism to South Korea

The Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) has lauded the successful staging of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, stating that the tournament, which has been receiving more and more fans from abroad, is helping drive tourists’ enthusiasm to visit South Korea.South Korea’s embassy in Qatar and KTO hosted the ‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ at Doha Corniche from November 20 to 25 as part of World Cup-related activations to celebrate the return of travel to South Korea.‘Travel to Korea, Cheer Together!’ is an opportunity to attract GCC nationals and World Cup visitors from all over the world to reboot and promote tourism in South Korea after fully reopening in October 2022, said Hyunsun Hong, regional director of KTO – Dubai Office.“The Korean Pavilion is a great opportunity to attract visitors from the GCC and the rest of the world to South Korea during this World Cup in Qatar. We have seen a great crowd at the pavilion, who witnessed the various entertainingperformances, the South Korean traditional craft zone, the game zone, and a South Korean-style sticker and photo booth.“We are seeing the enthusiasm of people to visit South Korea, and we are pleased to provide all the travel consultations, travel brochures, and information needed at our pavilion,” Hong told Gulf Times in a statement Tuesday.According to Hong, the Korean Pavilion will remain open until the end of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on December 18. It will be an opportunity for visitors to come and explore some of the fun-filled activities and collect all the necessary information, she noted.On November 24, the Korean Pavilion held another special event dubbed ‘Team Korea, Cheer Together!’ in the presence of South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo-gyoon to cheer for the South Korean team competing in the World Cup.The Korean Pavilion also showcased different cultural, tourism, and traditional experiences with a host of shows and performances, as well as entertaining activities like wearing traditional clothing (Hanbok), hands-on experience with arts and crafts, tourism support, Taekwondo performance, the art of South Korean calligraphy, and K-Pop performances.Hong added: “The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the world’s largest sporting event, is being held in the Middle East region for the first time and therefore this is an opportunity to present South Korea and reboot tourism through the fun experiences and entertaining performances happening at the pavilion.“South Korea opened its borders to foreign visitors in a phased manner early this year after a two-year lockdown. Qataris, GCC, and several other nationalities can travel to South Korea by applying for a K-ETA 48 hours prior to travel.”

Mohamed Barakat
Qatar
World Cup fans will be ‘ambassadors for Qatar’, says USQBC official

Two top officials of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC), currently in Qatar for the recent 5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue and the FIFA World Cup, have lauded Qatar's achievement in hosting the mega event.USQBC president Scott Taylor and USQBC managing director and treasurer of the board Mohamed Barakat shared their views with Gulf Times and their aspirations for the US team.Taylor: “I am here as a fan; I brought my family to Doha to see the World Cup. I think having the World Cup here is massive for the region, as well as the world. It’s a World Cup for a reason – to highlight different cultures and different places around the world.“In this country you’re able to go to multiple games because the stadiums are so close. The next World Cup is going to be in North America: Mexico, Canada, and the US. You’ll have to fly between stadiums. Here, you can drive; it’s crazy!“But I think having the World Cup in Qatar has been so massive for the spotlight on this country. It’s well-run; they’re executing it really well. It’s safe and family-oriented. The fans, including myself and my family, are excited to be here. We had a great time.“I think there have been some unfair criticisms quite frankly in international media but I guarantee you that all the folks and the fans that have come here would be ambassadors for this country moving forward because they’ve had a great time.”Barakat said: "What a wonderful experience! Coming from the airport and going to the hotel, we’re seeing all these fan zones and a lot of people partying, celebrating, and enjoying each other’s company. People wearing jerseys from different teams are all together having a good time."In the souq, you can also see fans engaging and hearing so many languages. In the stadiums, people are cheering and engaging each other. I think the close proximity of these engagements and being around each other created this energetic atmosphere to enjoy the World Cup. And hopefully, fans will continue to enjoy the tournament till the end. As Americans, we are very excited for the US team and we’re looking forward that the team would advance. Maybe we’ll stay longer to watch them play."The fans who arrived here and others who will still be arriving will see how much Qatar has done to deliver a World Cup that will be a lasting legacy for the future. And I think the World Cup will deliver a great message about what Qatar has done, which is something that the US, Canada, and Mexico can learn from and engage with Qatar when we host the World Cup."

 Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of YouGotaGift.com
Business
Gift card e-commerce to help merchants in Qatar scale business

Merchants in Qatar stand to gain from the solutions being offered by digital gift cards marketplace, YOUGotaGift, allowing them to capture new business and retain customer loyalty.YOUGotaGift, with its catalogue of more than 700 regional brands, distributes its eGift cards or digital gift cards through a broad network of clients across loyalty, incentives, online and retail, and other international networks, according to Sarah al-Rahim, country manager of Dubai-based YouGotaGift.com“We know that businesses in Qatar, from hospitality to retail, are realising the importance of having a digital presence and offering gift cards to increase revenues. We’ve made it easy for companies to process their own gift cards on their website by empowering them with multiple ways to extend their brand’s reach,” al-Rahim told Gulf Timesin an interview.She explained: “Our first offering is gift card e-commerce, which allows merchants to sell their own gift cards on their website without complex integration with our white-label solution. We offer hassle-free no-code integration.“Secondly, we offer omnichannel gift card programme (SaaS) solution, which empowers their brand with our end-to-end management of processing services and leveraging our systems that provide secure, flexible, and scalable architecture.”Al-Rahim said the gift card industry continues to thrive worldwide. The global gift card business is speculated to cross “$2tn” by 2027 with the Mena market witnessing the growth of gift card purchases and giving, especially after the pandemic, she said, citing data from Globenewswire.com.“Our vision since our pioneering beginnings in 2012 is to lead the cultural shift to eGifting among Gulf consumers.The purpose of YOUGotaGift.com has always been simple – to celebrate life’s special moments and reward, motivate and show appreciation to friends, loved ones, employees, customers, and partners, wherever and whenever, with seamless gifting and lifestyle solutions.“It’s all about ‘YOÜ’ and your happiness. With our new services and branding, YOÜ is poised to provide an even bigger and more innovative suite of digital solutions delivered through APIs, web services, and apps to power major businesses across loyalty, employee and customer rewards, and become the digital gift card provider for gifting happiness in the region,” she said.Al-Rahim said YOUGotaGift.com features more than 700 integrated brands across Mena, along with extended international coverage. Additionally, YOUGotaGift.com has added more than 2,000 international brands to its suite of regional and international programmes.“With strategic operations in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, as well as Egypt, Lebanon, and India, YOUGotaGift.com is a market leader in the sector in the Mena and is poised for an accelerated growth in eGift card adoption,” she added.

US ambassador Timmy T Davis. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
5th Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue to expand trade, economic ties, says US envoy

The fifth Qatar-US Strategic Dialogue, which kicked off in Doha recently, is expected to further expand both nations’ trade and economic ties, according to US ambassador Timmy T Davis.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the launching of the 2022 edition of ‘Discover America’ festival held Sunday at LuLu Hypermarket, Giardino, The Pearl Island, Davis said the United States’ strategic dialogue with Qatar “is a model not just for the region but for the world.”“When we talk during the workshops of the strategic dialogue about trade and commerce, we’re going to be talking about opportunities, about Qatari priorities, and how we can support those.“If you think about the goals for each nation with regard to trade and commerce, there’s a huge overlap and intersect; we want to identify the ways in which we can encourage investment in both countries,” Davis pointed out.Davis also said the strategic dialogue will help the US and Qatar lay out a plan, citing the Qatar National Vision 2030 and how the US “wants to be part of part of that vision” through trade and commerce.“We’ve got to get beyond energy and massive corporations, and we’ve got to build engagement with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as people-to-people. The more our people engage, the better they are to create opportunities that we don’t see now and the strategic dialogue helps with that,” the ambassador said.In terms of agreements in the pipeline between both countries, Davis said: “I think you’ll see a lot in the first quarter of 2023 and a lot out of the strategic dialogue.”On the volume of US-Qatar trade exchange, Davis said trade relations between the US and Qatar are growing and that the US is looking at other sectors outside the energy industry.“There is a real emphasis now on our part in sub-national diplomacy. All 50 states in the US provide an opportunity for Qatari companies to invest. But we also want SMEs in the US to find opportunities here. The opportunities are growing and I would expect to see far more trade for SMEs from Qatar and the US into next year,” he stressed.On US-LuLu partnership and its role in enhancing trade with Qatar, Davis said: “Trade relations between Qatar and the US is fantastic; what we want that relationship to do is to grow and to build a strong foundation.”He added: “Walking through LuLu Hypermarket today, it’s clear that not only are they focused on bringing popular American products, but they’re focused on bringing produce and organic products and other sorts of things that people don’t know are American, such as fresh meat.“This is an example of how we support building a foundation because it’s not just big corporations doing this work. There are small companies, small farms, and small organisations providing much of this food and many of these products, so it supports not only the American economy but the Qatari economy, as well.”

YouGotaGift.com country manager Sarah al-Rahim.
Business
Dubai-based firm to add more Qatari brands to its eGift cards marketplace

Patrons of eGift cards may expect to see more Qatari brands at YouGotaGift.com, an official has said. Speaking to Gulf Times on the company’s ongoing or proposed expansion plans for Qatar, country manager Sarah al-Rahim said YouGotaGift.com is entering more heavily in the loyalty space offering banks, telcos, and all loyalty programmes access to its ever-expanding portfolio of popular brands.“Additionally, we continue to bring onboard local Qatari brands that are unique to this market. We wish to support Qatar National Vision 2030 and accelerate the adoption of our fintech solution to support local businesses.“We will be offering gift card processing so that companies today that desire to capture greater market share can leverage our secure scalable technology to offer their customers gift cards. These are a few of the services in the pipeline,” al-Rahim pointed out.Al-Rahim noted that these enhancements offer unique scalability and speed to market through gift cards whose ease and flexibility “are being loved more and more by people.”She said gift card solutions for businesses vary based on business objectives. eGift cards serve businesses' need to conveniently reward their employees, customers, or business partners instantly without the hassle of logistics and order fulfilment, she noted.Similarly, eGift cards are extensively offered in top-tier loyalty programmes as a redemption option for loyalty points. They are easy to integrate, provide a great choice of brands, can be instantly delivered, and allow customers to redeem the lower value of points, increasing engagement and loyalty, she explained.Al-Rahim said gift cards present a streamlined, convenient method for corporations to incentivise and reward employees and build additional revenue streams by selling branded gift cards.YOUGotaGift’s brand identity reimagines the company’s customer-centric products as digital gift cards that bring happiness to individuals and businesses alike, al-Rahim emphasised.“Driven by the motto ‘Simply Happy’, the platform has refreshed core elements of its visual identity, including the logo and the colour palette, in its journey to be popularly known as ‘YOÜ’. The logo, presented in an enhanced and impactful font and a bright new colour palette, marks the latest milestone as YOUGotaGift.com evolves from an eGift Card pioneer to become the region’s leading provider of best-in-class business solutions for incentives and commerce.“The ‘HappyYOÜ’ multi-brand gift card is an innovative super gift card redeemable at all our partner brands in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt. For the first time in the region, the HappyYOÜ card enables added benefits, in addition to the redeemable amount on the card, offering bonus value to customers. This is the region’s first multi-brand e-gift card, providing freedom of choice for our customers,” she said.Asked about Qatar’s aggressive development of ICT-related solutions and its fintech industry, and its impact on YouGotaGift’s operations in the country, al-Rahim said the tremendous efforts from the government to push digitisation in every aspect of life have contributed to a “never-before” level of interest for eGift cards amongst consumers.“Our relentless effort to create a seamless and exciting customer experience has helped in garnering customer confidence and all the programmes we support have benefited in increased customer engagement.“Over the last 18 months, corporates and individual customers have both identified various ways to use eGift cards - from traditional incentives and rewards to sending Eidiya, or just helping the ones in need during the pandemic. It’s a clear sign that eGift cards are here to stay,” al-Rahim added.