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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.
Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan during the unveiling of the one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg, adorned with elegant natural pearls. PICTURE: Feroze Ahamed.
Qatar
Alfardan Jewellery unveils one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg at DJWE 2024

A unique Faberge Egg was unveiled Tuesday in the Alfardan Jewellery Pavilion, marking another milestone in the luxurious history of the company, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.Ali Alfardan, vice chairman of Alfardan Group and president of Alfardan Jewellery, announced that Alfardan Jewellery and Faberge have collaborated to showcase a one-of-a-kind Faberge Egg as one of the major highlights of the 20th edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which will run until February 11 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).What makes this latest Faberge Egg special is that it is adorned with different natural pearls, which combines the allure of the Faberge Egg – the ultimate symbol of artistic excellence, and the natural pearl – known as a source of pride, joy, and wealth for Qataris.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, Alfardan Group chairman Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan revealed that the pearls adorning this Faberge Egg are from his vast collection of natural pearls, which highlights Qatar’s rich pearling heritage.Before the discovery of oil and gas in the country, the main source of livelihood for Qataris was pearl diving, which, today, is an essential part of Qatar’s colourful history and tradition. For the past two centuries, the Faberge Egg not only hails as the epitome of decorative art but has captivated many of the most influential and affluent collectors from royalty to business tycoons.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Italy supports Qatar’s innovation and sustainability strategy, says envoy

The ongoing International Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha Qatar and the Italian Pavilion reflect the close relations between the country and Italy, which is a partner in Qatar’s strategy to innovate and achieve sustainability, Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi has said.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the recently held ‘Italian Day’, which was organised by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), in co-operation with FederUnacoma – the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation, Toschi said Italy’s presence at the expo signifies a commitment to a sustainable future.“The expo and the Italian Pavilion are a testimony of how our countries look at these challenges as a priority. However, they are also seen as an opportunity for investing more, innovating, and going beyond the current landscape of what is available on the market. We are bringing in scientists, companies, and government together to come up with solutions that are needed in the future,” Toschi explained.The ambassador stated that the name of the Italian Pavilion is ‘Garden of the Future’, which is synonymous with how Italy views Expo 2023 Doha “as a laboratory of the future.”Toschi said topics, such as agriculture, innovation, and sustainability are no longer limited to farmers and other stakeholders specialising in the industry, but they also concern the general society.“Today, there's more awareness of what we eat, the way we farm, the way we ship our products, and where we buy it from. This all affects our lives and livelihood.“So, in all of this, I think Italy brings to the table a holistic sense. We want to bring these visions together, including culture, science, innovation, and farming in a sustainable way, combining traditional techniques and the latest technologies,” Toschi emphasised.The ambassador noted that Italy has a complete vision of providing different solutions, which are also congruent with the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030. “And that’s where we find eye-to-eye conversations with Qatar because they also do not want to isolate these elements,” Toschi pointed out.In a speech during the event, Toschi lauded HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani for the recent announcement of the Third National Development Strategy (NDS3) 2024-2030. The NDS3 is the final stage on the path to achieving Qatar National Vision 2030.“Qatar has decided to continuously invest in its future with a very clear vision. A strategic production and growth vision has been presented by the Prime Minister; Italy believes that this is the right way to go – to focus a strategy of growth and development on sustainability.“We also feel that we can contribute to it. We can be part of it. We want to support and encourage that development and today, we do it by focusing on the very important field of agriculture and agricultural technology,” he stated.

Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
‘Made in Italy’ technologies for Qatari agriculture on show at 2023 Expo Doha

Qatar is investing in quality agriculture and exploring opportunities for co-operation with the Italian agro-mechanical industry, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) announced Wednesday at the 2023 Expo Doha.The most advanced machines and equipment to cultivate arid soils and to create highly automated farming models are on show at the 2023 Expo Doha, stated the ITA during a press conference to present the 2024 edition of the EIMA International, the world’s largest exhibition of agricultural mechanics to be held in Bologna from November 6 to 10.The presentation of the EIMA International was one of the highlights of ‘Italian Day’, which was organised by the ITA, in co-operation with FederUnacoma – the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation.In his remarks during the presentation of EIMA International, Italian ambassador Paolo Toschi said: “Italy’s official participation in 2023 Expo Doha is enriched by the presentation of the 46th edition of EIMA International.“The trade fair and the calendar of workshops and conferences that will take place will showcase the most advanced technologies and cutting-edge solutions for modern agriculture, respecting the environment and ensuring sustainability. This technology is showing us the future of agriculture and we are proud to enhance it in Doha.”Ricci said the upcoming EIMA International is divided into 14 product category sectors and five thematic showcases, making it one of the largest sectorial exhibitions in the world with several exhibiting companies that should largely exceed 1,530 of the previous edition and an audience of 327,000 attendees.He said, “EIMA 2024 will show all the world innovations in terms of tractors, implements, equipment, components, but also advanced electronic systems, drones, and agricultural robots to cultivate every type of territory.”Another highlight of Wednesday’s event was the discussion of the ‘Marginal Areas and Extreme Territories: The New Challenges of Agricultural Mechanisation’, which featured FederUnacoma deputy general manager Fabio Ricci, Lorenzo Iuliano of the Technical Office of FederUnacoma, and Lorenzo Marconi of the University of Bologna.The discussion was moderated by ITA commissioner in Doha, Paola Lisi, who said: “The quality of ‘Made in Italy’ products are not only referred to fashion and agri-food sectors but also highly technological sectors, such as the agricultural mechanics, which represents the excellence of the Italian industry, which is systematically promoted by the ITA through specific events addressed to selected journalists and businesspeople.”The discussion focused on the new frontiers of agricultural mechanics, which explored and promoted the technologies produced by Italian industries that best suit Qatari agriculture, as well as new prospects of mechanisation for agriculture in Arab countries.Ricci explained a report that offers technologies that can reconcile the increase in agricultural yields with the conservation of natural resources.Iuliano, on the other hand, focused on the vast product categories made by the Italian industries, including those for minimum tillage, speciality crops in open fields and within greenhouses, and irrigation, which have developed to reduce the impact on the soil, the use of pesticides, and water consumption. These are increasingly sophisticated machines, governed by precision electronic devices, he said.Marconi said agriculture is strongly projected towards full automation of functions and the use of fully autonomous robots. He said one of the departments at the University of Bologna has been designing and testing agricultural robots capable of carrying out automated complex activities in the vineyard and other crops.“The department’s task is to bring these prototypes to the level of industrial production to reach those markets that focus on the quality of production and self-governing farming models,” Marconi added.

Indian ambassador Vipul. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Envoy lauds significant Qatari FDI into major Indian firms

Qatar-India ties in the areas of trade, investments, and energy have been witnessing robust growth, according to Indian ambassador Vipul.Speaking to Gulf Times recently, Vipul said trade between the two countries stood at $18bn last year, while in the last five to six months, Qatar committed “substantial investments” in two large Indian companies, Reliance Retail and Adani Green Energy, as well as other companies.“Majority of Qatar-India trade comprises Qatari LNG exports, but India’s exports to Qatar have also increased during that period. I'm quite sure that we will continue to do very well on the trade front.“But connected to it, I would like to mention is also the investments. So, our trade and investment ties, as well as our energy ties, are very important and have continued to move forward, which is why my outlook for both countries is very positive,” he said.Vipul recently inaugurated the grand ‘India Utsav’ organised by LuLu Group, where he lauded the global retailer for its “vital” role in Qatar-India trade relations. He said not only is LuLu Hypermarket catering to Qatar’s burgeoning Indian expatriate population, but also to South Asians, Arabs, and Qataris.“I’m very happy that with the presence of LuLu, it plays a very important role in that dimension of promoting the food products, but also other lifestyle products of India in Qatar,” he stressed.Vipul also said there are “tremendous opportunities” in terms of further co-operation in the Information Technology (IT) sector, as well as in emerging technologies, whether it be artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, or all other technologies.“Indian IT companies are already doing work in Qatar. They are associated with a lot many organisations in the country. And I’m sure we can continue partnering with Qatar as we go forward.“And we must do that because we’ve seen that in the ‘Third National Development Strategy’ (NDS3) 2024-2030 that Qatar recently announced, they place a lot of importance on innovation, on startups, and moving ahead with technology,” the ambassador pointed out.Vipul added: “India has the human resource and India has those companies with which those partnerships can be built, so I’m sure that this will continue to happen. And we had launched a startup bridge between India and Qatar last year.“India has a lot of strength in startups. And the foundation of these startups is technology, especially IT. And I’m sure that with the large Indian market and Qatar having the financial capital, that also makes it a win-win situation for both countries, so I’m optimistic that we will continue to make progress in that regard.”

 Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdul Latif al-Misnad
Business
Education is vital in Qatar’s transformation into major financial centre

Qatar Chamber is working with both the public and private sectors to develop the country’s education sector to achieve the country’s vision of becoming a financial hub in the Middle East and the Gulf region, an official has said.According to Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdul Latif al-Misnad, the chamber has several committees specialising on different sectors of the country, one of which includes the field of education.He said the chamber recently collaborated with Oryx Universal College (OUC) in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University in Qatar, to launch the ‘Investment Catalyst Scholarship Award 2024’ as part of Qatar Chamber’s major initiatives to foster educational excellence in the finance sector.Al-Misnad explained that the initiative offers a scholarship grant worth 30% of the tuition fees for the ‘MSc Investment and Finance Programme’. Upon completing the entire programme in Qatar, the students will graduate with a master’s degree from Liverpool John Moores University, he noted.During the launch event, where he was joined by OUC officials, Professor Mohamed Najdawi, Vice-President of Academic Affairs & Chief Academic, and Dr Moheeb AbouAlqumboz, the dean of Leadership and Business College, al-Misnad underscored the programme’s potential boost the country’s investment, finance, and business landscape. “The government’s entire strategy for 2030 is focused on the development of Qatar’s economy, so it is important to gain professional experience and best practices from our partners in the education sector, which is why the chamber is encouraging everyone to avail these programmes. The chamber is keen to serve as a bridge between the education sector and the public and private sectors,” al-Misnad told Gulf Times.Al-Misnad also expressed confidence that Qatar “is on track” with its initiatives to establish the country as a major financial centre in the Middle East and in the Gulf region as part of Qatar National Vision 2030.“We are absolutely on track. And this is why it is very important that major players and industry stakeholders should regularly meet, discuss, and address the challenges in meeting the objectives of the 2030 national vision, thus strengthening the country’s economy,” he added. Speaking at the launch event, Najdawi said: “In light of plans to transform Qatar into a strong financial centre over the next few years, Qatar is going to need many qualified financial analysts and investment professionals. We would like people to have the tools, the skills to make informed decisions regarding investment.“We need to understand how the global economy is working and how global decisions are made among different commodities and different financial centers. Therefore, this programme will provide professionals with the skills and competencies in portfolio management, market analysis, and different markets management, among others.”

Indian ambassador Vipul leading the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the inauguration of India Utsav 2024 in the presence of Qatari dignitaries and community leaders, including representatives from various Indian organisations. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
LuLu Hypermarket Qatar holds ‘India Utsav’ to commemorate 75th Republic Day

LuLu Group has recently organised the grand ‘India Utsav’ at LuLu Hypermarket in Gharafa to commemorate the celebration of India’s 75th Republic Day.India Utsav, a 10-day festival, which will run until February 2, is showcasing a diverse array of Indian food, spices, fruits, vegetables, authentic dishes, and ethnic clothing. It also honours India’s rich culture and heritage while promoting the highest quality products from the South Asian nation.The festival was inaugurated by Indian ambassador Vipul in the presence of Qatari dignitaries and community leaders, including representatives from various Indian organisations like ICC, ICBF, ISC, IWA, and IBPC.LuLu Group has been organising this annual festival for the past two decades, not only to mark India’s Republic Day but to pay tribute to longstanding trade relations between Qatar and India. This year holds special significance as both nations celebrate 50 years of bilateral relationship.In a speech, Vipul said: “It is an honour to stand before you on this auspicious Republic Day of India here at LuLu Hypermarket. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the distinguished members of the Qatari society and the Indian community who have joined us today.“As we celebrate the 75th Republic Day of India, it is a momentous occasion to reflect on the incredible journey of our nation. India stands as the fastest-growing economy among the world’s largest economies – a testament to the success achieved over seven decades.”The inaugural ceremony featured a fusion of traditional art forms from Bengali, Rajasthani, Kathak, and Odissi, enriching the spirit of the festival. A choir from Podar Pearl School sang the Qatar and Indian national anthems, while a dance performance added a touch of cultural diversity.As part of the festival, Vipul inaugurated the ‘Indian Silk and Ethnic Wear Fest’ at the Saree Section, showcasing a wide collection of pure natural and synthetic silk from India, including saris, readymade garments, and dress material at discounted rates.In the past two decades, India has made significant strides in education, science, technology, and IT, culminating in the historic landing of Chandrayaan on the dark side of the moon in 2023 a feat unmatched by any other nation, Vipul announced during his speech.“Here in Qatar, I express sincere thanks to the leadership and people for hosting over 800,000 Indians, forming the largest expatriate community. Our historic and cultural ties have resulted in robust trade relations with over $18bn in trade and a vital long-term gas deal securing India’s energy needs,” he said.Vipul acknowledged the special role played by LuLu Group in Qatar-India trade ties, saying Lulu Hypermarkets cater to diverse communities, especially the Indian community and have become flag bearers in importing Indian goods.“Celebrating India’s Republic Day in this manner fills my heart with pride. I express gratitude to the LuLu Group for their commitment to fostering Indo-Qatari relations through the India Festival. I am confident that our bilateral ties will continue to prosper, reflecting the shared commitment of India and Qatar to progress and cooperation.“I extend warm wishes to everyone present here on the joyous occasion of Republic Day. May the friendship between India and Qatar continue to thrive, and both nations march ahead with vigour in the years to come,” Vipul added.The festival offers a variety of food products, including organic items imported from different parts of India. LuLu Group regularly imports over 4,000 items of Indian origin, encompassing popular fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), LuLu private label products, fruits, vegetables, packaged food products, household goods, kitchen essentials, traditional wear, and other garments, making them available throughout the year in all stores across the region.India Utsav offers an exclusive display of these products at all LuLu stores, providing customers with access to a wide range of choices. Moreover, LuLu Hypermarket's special focus has been placed on showcasing a variety of millets from India, with an exclusive corner dedicated to different types of nutritious grains.The festival also showcases a vast selection of bakery products made from millets and freshly prepared hot foods, including biryanis, curries, popular street foods, traditional sweets, and other delightful delicacies.This celebration not only enriches the cultural diversity of the country but also underscores LuLu Group’s dedication to providing its customers with a diverse and premium shopping experience.LuLu Group is a leading retail chain committed to providing customers with a diverse range of high-quality products. With a focus on international sourcing and cultural exchange, LuLu Group continues to set industry standards through innovative promotions and events.

Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar.
Business
Qatar free zones offer multiple advantages to American SMEs, says USQBC executive

Qatar offers a substantial number of compelling advantages to American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) seeking to establish or expand their operations in the country’s free zones, USQBC official in Doha has said.Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar, said the country’s free zones, such as Ras Bufontas and Umm Alhoul, offer competitive advantages and incentives for American SMEs looking to establish or expand their presence in Qatar and the region.In an interview with Gulf Times, she said: “These zones strategically position SMEs close to major transportation hubs, which facilitates efficient distribution. Their modern infrastructure and advanced technology offer a conducive business environment.“In free zones, regulatory processes have been streamlined, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and expediting the setup process for American SMEs. SMEs navigating local regulations benefit from the supportive business ecosystem, including advisory services and networking opportunities.”Sheikha Mayes pointed out that these free zones serve as a gateway to regional markets, providing access to the broader Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Middle East markets. It is also important to note that the commitment to modern green infrastructure adds to the appeal of the project to investors, she noted.Asked about her outlook on Qatar-US economic relations and what role USQBC can play in enhancing bilateral trade and investment, especially in the context of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the post-World Cup economic opportunities, Sheikha Mayes stressed that both nations’ economic relations “are poised to grow in the future.”She said, “The USQBC could be an important catalyst in maximising bilateral trade and investment opportunities. The council can contribute significantly to the enduring success of the economic collaboration between the two countries by aligning initiatives with the ‘3rd Qatar National Development Strategy 2030’, capturing opportunities and providing essential support and networking platforms.”Sheikha Mayes emphasised that the council is closely collaborating with its partners, such as the US Embassy in Doha and other key players to promote and facilitate business investment between Qatar and the US.“We have established a strong partnership with the US Embassy, as well as with partners and other stakeholders. As part of our efforts to stay informed about business and investment initiatives, we maintain regular communication channels with the Commercial Service section of the US Embassy.“USQBC is engaging in embassy-organised events and exchanging relevant information on business opportunities and market trends, as well as collaborating on the exchange of information to the US and Qatari business communities,” she said.Sheikha Mayes said the council is also organising joint business outreach programmes with the US Embassy to promote networking and collaboration, as well as scheduling regular co-ordination meetings with all stakeholders to discuss ongoing initiatives and plan collaborative activities.“We have also established a collaborative relationship with the Qatar Financial Centre authorities, understanding their priorities and regulations related to foreign investment. Collectively, these strategies contribute to fostering a conducive business environment between Qatar and the US,” she further explained.Shekiha Mayes also said the USQBC is leveraging the presence of six major US universities in Qatar and the thousands of Qatari students studying in the US to foster educational and cultural exchange and co-operation.She said, “We are focused on facilitating joint programmes that facilitate collaboration and partnership between the USQBC and the universities. Our institution provides accredited internship programmes, such as the one we have with Georgetown University Qatar, which enhance cross-cultural experiences for students by providing exposure to a professional business environment.”Sheikha Mayes added: “In advancing these strategies, the goal is to contribute to the development of an interconnected and globally aware community, which can foster a rich environment for mutual learning and cooperation.”

Michael Javier, founder and CEO of fintech firm CWallet
Business
‘Cross-functional tech’ pivotal in enhancing tourism experience, says Doha-based startup founder

Maximising technological advancements currently available in the market could play a pivotal role in enhancing the experience of tourists visiting the country, according to a Doha-based startup founder.Michael Javier, founder and CEO of fintech firm CWallet, stated that visitors to Qatar could benefit from the solutions provided by different startups and tech firms catering to tourists and the tourism industry.“Technology will ease tourists’ worries and simplify their journey while they are enjoying their visit to Qatar. Having cross-functional tech will provide a plethora of information for visitors here, plus various options from accommodations, gastronomy, and simplified payment transactions while staying in Qatar,” Javier told Gulf Times.Javier also emphasised that migrating from cash to digital payments, especially among small retailers, will help boost tourists’ experience considering that they prefer to use credit cards or digital transactions.“Aside from simplified payments and cashless transactions, the rates should also be competitive. Allowing tourists to download and register local apps, such as delivery, wallets, and government, for example, will allow them to access good deals, better options and FAQs to know more about the culture and to explore the best places to visit,” he pointed out.Javier emphasised that tech startups in the country should leverage the partnerships that Qatar has forged with leading global companies as part of the government’s efforts to roll out the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing.Qatar’s collaboration with tech giants like Google and Microsoft has allowed the government and key stakeholders to align with the objectives of global tech players, said Javier, who added that by having local cloud providers, data is now being hosted locally or “on-prem,” which will support local startups and tech providers from a regulatory perspective.Javier also noted that while startups in Qatar “are trailing behind their regional counterparts,” many of these companies have learned a lot from the experience of successful founders, investors, and other stakeholders in the last three to five years.“This is why I believe a breakthrough for the country should be on the horizon. The objective now is to keep pushing forward faster. Keep dreaming big and do not hesitate to solve the problems ahead. In time, this mindset will contribute to discovering different ways to accomplish the task at hand and enhancing sectors like ICT,” Javier explained.

Michael Trick, dean of Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar, bestowing a token of recognition to QBWA vice chairperson Aisha Alfardan, who was the guest speaker during the latest edition of the ‘Dean's Lecture Series’ held on Monday at CMU-Q. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
QBWA official highlights women’s pivotal role in Qatar’s progress

Women in Qatar have been key players in the country's socio-economic development in sectors such as business, government and policymaking, and education, a top official of the Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA) said on Monday.QBWA vice-chairperson Aisha Alfardan delivered meaningful insights on the role of businesswomen in community development during the latest edition of the ‘Dean's Lecture Series’ held at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q).During the lecture, Alfardan presented a video, which enumerated the achievements of Qatari women in several milestones achieved by the country, the latest of which was the 2022 FIFA World Cup.The World Cup highlighted the unique generosity, rich culture, and infrastructure development of Qatar. The global sporting event also emphasised the role of women as leaders, visionaries, and innovators in driving change.Alfardan stressed that Qatari women “often outperform their male peers” and that Qatari educators have gained global recognition for their achievements. Their influence extends beyond classrooms to administrative boards and policymaking domains, she pointed out.She said Qatari women also made great strides in government and policymaking, as well as in the country’s business sector, making a strong presence and serving as a source of new ideas and leadership. Qatari women also help guide corporations and startups, becoming major players in Qatar’s burgeoning economy.Amid these milestones is QBWA, according to Alfardan, who noted that the association has been championing women’s participation and fueling the drive to new achievements and is both a driving force and key contributor to the Qatar National Vision 2013 through various initiatives, programmes, and local and international events.Alfardan emphasised that women are not only the hub of society, “but they are the society itself” because they are in charge of raising and taking care of their children and families, especially in the Arab world, “so, there is no doubt that educating and investing in women benefits the whole community.”Beyond economic development, Alfardan said businesswomen in Qatar also champion gender equality, break barriers, mentor others, and advocate for inclusivity, making the workforce more diverse. She noted that women in Qatar provide fresh ideas that drive innovation and solve societal problems with creative ideas and groundbreaking solutions.Alfardan also lauded the visionary leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and how she provided a “historic opportunity” for Qatari women, enabling them to play a vital role in sustainable development, according to the pillars of the country’s National Vision 2030.She said Her Highness Sheikha Moza has constantly advocated for gender equality and equal opportunity in education and work, allowing Qatari women to make big strides in local financial and business domains, as well as in innovative projects, thus achieving the success stories that are being celebrated in Qatar today.On the sidelines of the event, Alfardan and CMU-Q Dean Michael Trick signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that stipulates collaborative initiatives between QBWA and the university. “We will work together closely to provide quality opportunities for mentorship and our students,” Trick said.

Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar.
Business
Official underscores USQBC role in attracting American SMEs to Qatari market

An official of the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) has underscored the USQBC’s significant role in providing American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the Qatari market.Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar, said the USQBC’s “crucial role” in aiding the entry of American SMEs into the Qatari market includes providing market intelligence, networking opportunities, and business matchmaking services, and connecting these SMEs with local partners, customers, and suppliers.“The council offers one-on-one counselling that provides insight into Qatari business practices, advocates for American business interests and assists in navigating regulatory processes. The USQBC facilitates access to decision-makers, organises trade missions, and collaborates with local institutions to enhance the visibility and opportunities for SMEs in Qatar.“Furthermore, the council keeps SMEs informed about market developments, policy changes, and trade shows, as well as providing personalised support to address the unique needs and challenges of each business,” Sheikha Mayes told Gulf Times in the context of the USQBC’s role in supporting the upcoming SelectUSA Investment Summit.Earlier, Sheikha Mayes noted that the USQBC is planning a series of events to support Qatari businesspeople who will be participating in the investment summit slated on June 23-26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in National Harbour, Maryland.To evaluate the potential for collaboration between American SMEs and their Qatari counterparts in various sectors, such as technology, health, education, and tourism, Sheikha Mayes explained that a comprehensive assessment is conducted to ensure that SMEs from the US can effectively collaborate on the Qatari market.“This involves assessing market demand, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, and exploring partnership opportunities. It is imperative to adhere to local standards, identify specific needs, and tailor offerings to local cultures and preferences,” she emphasised.Sheikha Mayes also stressed that it is important to consider the following factors: cultural understanding, adherence to regulatory requirements, monitoring of market trends, and active engagement in networking to build relationships.“We ensure successful collaboration and market penetration in Qatar by systematically addressing these factors and tailoring custom-made strategies accordingly,” Sheikha Mayes further pointed out.She said, “The USQBC recognises the difficulties American SMEs may encounter due to cultural differences, regulatory complexity, and market access barriers in Qatar. Despite these difficulties, the USQBC recognises that Qatar’s economic diversification efforts, infrastructure development projects, government initiatives, and the growing demand for education, training, and tourism present significant opportunities.”According to Sheikha Mayes, the council is intended to facilitate collaboration and business continuity for American SMEs in these promising fields. She noted that the USQBC strives to increase the success of American businesses in Qatar by aligning its programmes with Qatar’s economic goals, offering innovative solutions, connecting them and directing them to the proper resources.Based on shared values, interests, and a shared vision for the future, Sheikha Mayes said that Qatar-US ties “are stronger than ever before” and Qatar’s long-term economic development offers ample opportunities for American businesses.Currently, many opportunities for collaboration exist between Qatar and the US, she said, adding that there is a strong focus on the energy sector with Qatar serving as a major natural gas exporter. At the same time, the US has extensive expertise in energy-related technologies.“There are also opportunities in the area of investment and finance, taking advantage of Qatar’s interest in diversifying its investment portfolio and the strength of the US financial sector,” Sheikha Mayes stressed.She added: “Co-operation in the field of defence and security, a historical collaboration area, offers further opportunities for joint projects. Several other areas of collaboration are also encouraged, such as technology, innovation, research and development (R&D), tourism, education, agriculture, and food security.”

(From left) Tarek Biour, Jason Holland, ⁠Saad al-Kuwari, ⁠Dr Eddy Borges-Rey, ⁠Dr Abdulaziz al-Khanji, ⁠Nino Rahal, and ⁠Hicham el-Rawass during the special gathering hosted recently by Alfardan Jewellery inside The Pearl Island. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Qatar
Alfardan Jewellery hosts intimate gathering for Doha Watch Club

Alfardan Jewellery recently hosted an intimate gathering for the Doha Watch Club, providing an opportunity for its members to engage, as well as share stories and experiences about their favourite timepieces.The event held at Alfardan Jewellery inside The Pearl Island was highlighted by a surprise unveiling of the latest Ulysse Nardin collection, said director of retail operations Tarek Biour.“Alfardan Jewellery hosted the event to engage with members of the Doha Watch Club, allowing them to discuss their passion for watches and share their favourite watch stories,” he said. “We aim to educate people and explore the idea that watches are more than just tools for telling time.”“A watch is a statement: It’s a legacy, a memory, and it carries emotional attachment to the wearer,” Biour told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.“We appreciated the diversity of the club; anyone with a love for watches could join,” he added. “The club is open to growth and potential collaborations, aiming to bring all watch lovers together in one group.”Gulf Times also sat down with the majority of the club’s founding members – Dr Abdulaziz al-Khanji, Nino Rahal, Dr Eddy Borges-Rey, and Jason Holland – who shared their passion for horology and a brief history of the club, as well as its aspirations.Borges-Rey noted that another founding member, Ahmed Kobeissi, was instrumental in bringing together the core members of the club.According to al-Khanji, what makes the Doha Watch Club unique in the country is the international nature of the club, which allows for a rich exchange of cultures.He emphasised that the diverse perspectives presented in the club come from its multinational membership, thus bringing diverse points of view to every discussion or engagement.Holland said that the club offers a unique opportunity for expats in Qatar to find a community and share common interests beyond horology and the love for different types of timepieces.“The club provides an outlet away from work, offering a space to interact with people outside of the professional sphere,” he said. “Members can have a meal, a coffee, and engage in discussions about watches, sports, or any topic with people who share similar interests.”Rahal pointed out that while members of the Doha Watch Club have different preferences, it accommodates collectors and enthusiasts with diverse tastes in watches.Daily active discussions take place, primarily via a messaging platform, which is the main communication channel for the club, he added.“The club is open to all kinds of watch brands and types. Members are always eager to learn about different watch movements, types, and brands,” Rahal said. “There are active discussions about microbrands, including their new releases and the value for money of their watches.”“The Doha Watch Club fosters a non-judgmental environment where members are free to like any kind of watch,” he added. “Members occasionally share pictures of their watches, not to show off, but to share their passion. And this shared passion for watches is humble and varies in intensity and expense among members.”“The club is inclusive and not limited to any specific type of watch or price range,” Rahal stated.Borges-Rey said that the club has experienced exponential growth since its establishment two years ago, with the number of members reaching almost 60, surpassing the regular numbers in other clubs in Qatar.“The club envisions itself as part of a collaborative landscape with other clubs, open to being part of the broader environment of watches and horology in the country, and welcoming initiatives and collaborations,” he added.Al-Khanji said that the Doha Watch Club is anticipating a better presence during the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), which will be held from February 5-11 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).“This is the first time that the club is going to the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition as the Doha Watch Club,” Borges-Rey said. “The club has now built a good relationship with various watch brands.”Rahal said one of the advantages of attending the DJWE is that the event provides easy access to various watch brands and showcases new novelties and models that might not be easily found in boutiques.The event offers a hands-on experience where attendees can feel and see the watches, he said, emphasising that “buying a watch should be an experience”.Aside from Ahmed Kobeissi, another Qatari, Saad al-Kuwari, is also considered a key figure who helped propel the Doha Watch Club to its current status, according to Borges-Rey.Al-Kuwari lauded the club’s diverse membership, saying: “The group is not limited to locals but is a mix of expatriates and locals, reflecting the large percentage of expatriates in Qatar.”“Qatar has a significant number of serious watch collectors, whom the group aims to bring together ... establishing the club is greatly aided by recognition from watch brands,” al-Kuwari said. “It’s crucial for the brands to acknowledge the club as a collective entity.”“The Doha Watch Club is going through an exciting chapter, aiming to represent Qatar in the vast watch industry,” he added. “In recent years, the watch industry has grown significantly, with a 300% to 400% increase in people developing a love for watches.”“This growth extends to watchmakers and manufacturers, and the market in Qatar has also seen a surge in interest, particularly during and after the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic,” al-Kuwari said.

CWallet CEO and founder Michael Javier.
Business
Enhancing digital solutions for tourists seen to benefit small businesses

Tourists arriving in Qatar will stand to gain from potential collaborations forged by local tech startups and tourism stakeholders, which could help enhance visitors’ experience in the country.Among these collaborative initiatives would be providing tourists with more options to transact cashless payments whilst visiting Qatar’s various tourism destinations, said Doha-based entrepreneur Michael Javier, the CEO and founder of fintech firm CWallet.According to Javier, a “big synergy” exists between local startups and tourism stakeholders in the country’s private and public sectors that could play a key role in digitising commercial transactions.“Tourists will be able to conduct digital payments that are not currently available in some areas of Qatar like Souq Waqif. This will increase domestic payment transactions,” Javier told Gulf Times.Visitors to Qatar will also get access to special offers, discounts, and buy-one-get-one promos when using local wallets in the country, such as CWallet, Javier stressed, adding that this will not only enhance the trust mark for tourists but also expand opportunities for key players in the business ecosystem.Aside from enhancing digital payments and transactions, Javier said there are other main trends to anticipate in Qatar’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector this year, such as the ever-evolving technology of artificial intelligence (AI).“Nonetheless, innovative ways of conducting offline and online transactions will still be on the rise. Climate tech and the focus on sustainability tech would probably surpass edutech and healthtech this year,” Javier predicted.He also said that while there are challenges to anticipate going forward, opportunities are awaiting local solutions providers, which they could offer to the country’s tourism sector, thus elevating the domestic tourism experience.“The booming tourism industry is already a huge opportunity for local service providers. Tourists are meant to have fun, relax, and enjoy, thus they are willing to spend, which is good for domestic players.“One of the challenges in the sector is that there are still cash-oriented retailers in Qatar and tourists are limited only in spending inside big establishments, such as malls or hotels. Providing tourists with the ability to access digital solutions like digital or cashless transactions will be a big support to local businesses and small players,” Javier explained.

Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
USQBC gears up to support participating firms in SelectUSA Investment Summit

The US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC) is planning a series of events to support the participants of the upcoming SelectUSA Investment Summit, an official has said.In an interview with Gulf Times, Sheikha Mayes al-Thani, managing director of USQBC in Qatar, elaborated on the benefits that Qatari businesspeople would gain from participating in the summit, which is slated on June 23-26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Centre in National Harbour, Maryland.She said the SelectUSA Investment Summit provides businesses with valuable networking opportunities, including opportunities to speak with investors, professionals, and experts. She noted that it also exposes businesses to a broader audience and enhances their visibility through media mileage.Sheikha Mayes said the event facilitates knowledge sharing through a series of panel discussions and workshops, which will provide insight for strategic decision-making. She noted that companies can explore opportunities to secure deals, form partnerships, establish credibility by associating with reputable events, and gather market intelligence, which is crucial to remaining competitive and adhering to laws and regulations.“The USQBC reiterates what has been recently announced, the signing of the US Trade and Investment Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Agreement between the International Trade Administration (ITA), the US Department of Commerce, and the US-Qatar Business Council. Having experienced SelectUSA 2023’s success, we are very excited about this collaboration.“Through our collaboration with ITA and the American embassy in Doha, we are planning a series of events to support SelectUSA Investment Summit participants. The events will offer a lot of information about how to navigate and get the most out of attending, as well as various insights and strategies,” Sheikha Mayes pointed out.According to Sheikha Mayes, a comprehensive strategy was proposed to raise awareness of bilateral trade and investment between Qatar and the US. She said the plan involves active engagement with local business networks, government agencies, and industry groups through event participation and collaborative workshops.“Educational seminars will be organised, featuring insights from experts and officials from both countries. Efforts are also focused on connecting with business associations, participating in forums, and collaborating on initiatives promoting bilateral trade. Partnerships with US economic development agencies and trade promotion platforms will provide valuable resources and support.“Virtual events and webinars are conducted to bring stakeholders together to discuss market trends and regulatory environments. Building strong relationships with key stakeholders in both countries and a commitment to continuous monitoring and adaptation ensure the strategy’s effectiveness over time,” she explained.Asked about the main sectors and industries that have the most opportunities for growth and partnerships between Qatari and American firms, Sheikha Mayes said collaboration between both countries’ companies holds significant potential across various sectors.Sheikha Mayes said Qatar’s strong presence in the energy sector, particularly in natural gas and petrochemicals, can be leveraged through technological collaboration and mutual investment. In technology and innovation, she emphasised that there are opportunities for American firms to contribute expertise, while Qatari firms provide investment and market access.“The healthcare sector offers avenues for collaboration in medical research, pharmaceuticals, and infrastructure development. In aerospace and defence, considering Qatar’s interest in bolstering its defence capabilities, collaboration in aviation and military equipment is promising.“Both countries’ vibrant tourism industries provide room for growth through collaborations in tourism infrastructure, hospitality management, and cultural exchanges. Additionally, addressing challenges in agribusiness, food production, and food security through collaborative initiatives contributes to sustainable development in these sectors,” Sheikha Mayes added.

Qaiser Nawab, president of the Belt and Road Initiative for Sustainable Development, and Pegasus Wong, chairman of the Belt and Road Group, during the signing of a co-operative agreement between BRISD and Belt and Road Trading and Contracting. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
4 firms under Belt and Road Group to boost Chinese investments in Qatar

The recent Qatar launch of four Hong Kong and China-based international companies under the Belt and Road Group is seen to attract more Chinese investments into the country, according to a top official.Pegasus Wong, chairman of the Belt and Road Group, said Qatar is an ideal gateway to the region due to the proximity to its Gulf neighbours and other countries beyond the region.“After the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we saw that Qatar is an excellent hub and it is near Saudi Arabia, thus we realised that it is ideal to start our businesses here now,” Wong told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the international launch of the Belt and Road Trading and Contracting, Gallery Five International, Fangda Partners, and SW International.Wong also said: “The timing is right. We have come to Qatar to support the country’s enterprises, projects, and government initiatives, as well as to serve as a link between Asia, Hong Kong, China, and Qatar.“Owing to Qatar’s advanced infrastructure, upcoming events, and the business opportunities it would offer both here and in other GCC countries, we believe Qatar is a strategic location for our future development.”Wong emphasised that the Middle East is “a very important region” for China, which intends to promote its Belt and Road Initiative and collaborate not only in infrastructure-related projects but also in the areas of new energy, high technology, artificial intelligence (AI), electric vehicles (EV) and EV chargers, among others.“China has already developed many advanced technologies and we would like to share this with all countries and the Middle East is one of our major partners. We share a strong relationship with countries in this region, so we expect to forge many collaborations going forward,” Wong explained.He noted that the group has already forged partnerships with LuLu Group and Qatar Post. Still, future collaboration is expected in the fields of airport and port development, and business opportunities with middle-sized companies.In a speech, Wong further explained: “We are committed to excellence across various industries, including investment, infrastructure, trading and contracting, engineering design, new energy, high technology, education, e-commerce, culture, professional services, and more.“With 12 subsidiary companies taking pride in our diverse portfolio and international reach, our primary mission is to foster cooperation between enterprises in China, Hong Kong, and Qatar, aligning seamlessly with the Belt and Road Initiative.”Wong added: “We also play an important role in supporting the Qatar government’s economic and local enterprises, facilitating connections and business opportunities between China and Hong Kong. Today, as we come together, let us celebrate the spirit of partnership, innovation and mutual growth. We intend to serve as a bridge connecting nations and industries.”The event’s guest speaker, Qaiser Nawab, president of the Belt and Road Initiative for Sustainable Development (BRISD), stated: “Since its inception in 2013, we have achieved great success, embodying principles like coexistence, mutual benefit, and sustainability. These principles deeply resonate with Pakistan, creating and connecting beyond borders.“China’s remarkable strides in economic growth and poverty alleviation serve as a beacon in illuminating paths for nations facing similar challenges. The six pivotal roots of the BRI hold the key to uplifting communications along the path, impacting global dignity, happiness, and sustainability.”Nawab added: “Qatar’s geo-economic significance offers potential for global business expansion. Through partnerships, we envision playing a significant role in fostering global economic prosperity, creating employment opportunities and elevating poverty.Collaborations across high technology, artificial technology, AI, sustainability, and cultural arts signify a commitment to innovation and global progress.”During the event, Wong and Nawab signed a co-operative agreement between BRISD and the Belt and Road Trading and Contracting for initiatives in the areas of emerging technologies, IT, climate change and environment technologies, and renewable energy, among others.

AFREEQ chairman emeritus Joseph Timothy Rivera (2nd from left), who is also co-chairman of the conference’s organising committee, is joined by (from left) Edgar Boyano, chairman, Overseas Filipino Investors and Entrepreneurs Movement; Adnan Khan, general manager, ABESQ Hotel; Dahlia Agbanlog, chairperson, Kulinarya Qatar; and Jonald Reyes, co-ordinator, Balitang Q, during a press conference held in Doha on Wednesday.
Business
Conference slated to promote Qatar-Philippines investment opportunities

Leaders in the Filipino business community in Qatar are slated to gather this month for an upcoming conference aimed at promoting investment opportunities between the Philippines and Qatar in various sectors, it was announced on Wednesday.The ‘Philippine Wealth & Wellness Conference Qatar’ is being organised by the Association of Filipino Real Estate Executives in Qatar (AFREEQ) and will be held at the ABESQ Hotel on January 19-20, AFREEQ chairman emeritus Joseph Timothy Rivera told Gulf Times in a statement.Rivera, who is also co-chairman of the event’s organising committee, said the conference aims to raise awareness among the Filipino and expatriate communities in Doha on the available investment opportunities between both countries, specifically in the financial and wellness sector.“In line with the objectives of the conference’s predecessor, the Philippine Property & Investment Show – Qatar (PPISQ), this upcoming event is aligned with the current trends on pursuing health and economic resilience in the post-pandemic era,” Rivera explained.Among the highlights of the conference are exhibits and special talks on significant topics like financial literacy, social entrepreneurship, real estate and tourism opportunities between the Philippines and Qatar, which will be delivered by leading captains of industry and government leaders from both countries. It will also be complemented by a trade fair and exhibition, food bazaar, and several cultural presentations, Rivera said.The undersecretary of the Philippines’ Department of Health will be the keynote speaker, Rivera noted, adding that the organising committee is awaiting confirmation from other guest speakers from the health and finance committees of the Philippine Congress.Similarly, representatives from the state-owned Overseas Filipino Bank, one of the conference presenters, will also be providing financial education lectures mostly in digital banking, Rivera pointed out.Rivera said, “Qatar is home to 260,000 Filipino expatriates with many of its entrepreneurs contributing to the nation’s economy. The country is known for its prioritisation of well-being and wellness initiatives with an investment of at least ‘$6bn’ in its healthcare industry since 2017. The country has greatly liberalised its business establishment rules, thus encouraging more startups that support the economic sustainability and diversification objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”He said other highlights of the conference would be the induction of AFREEQ officers for 2024 led by incoming chairperson, Bhem Asperilla of Megaworld International, and the Annual Philippine Gala Night, which will be held on January 19, in partnership with Kulinarya Qatar. This will be followed by the awarding ceremonies of notable Filipino workers in Qatar on January 20, in collaboration with AKO OFW Inc.All leading medical and wellness establishments, as well as business-oriented and entrepreneurial organisations in Qatar, have been invited to attend the conference, Rivera added.

Gulf Times
Business
QBA hosts several high-level delegations in 2023 to boost Qatar’s global ties

The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) has hosted several high-level delegations and top government officials from North America, Europe, and the Middle East for the entire stretch of 2023.The meetings hosted by QBA have played a role in enhancing Qatar’s partnerships and collaboration ties with its partners in the international community to boost trade and explore potential investment opportunities.Earlier this month, QBA chairman HE Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani led a host of members and officers during a meeting with Arun Venkataraman, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets, to discuss investment and trade opportunities between Qatar and the US.According to Sheikh Faisal, the value of Qatar-US trade exchange stood at about $6.7bn in 2022. In the first nine months of 2023, trade volume amounted to $5.55bn, he said.Sheikh Faisal said this value reflects the importance of the Qatari market to the US, adding that the country is full of diversified opportunities that require the presence of American companies. He noted that QBA and the Qatari business community are ready to work together further to develop the economic partnership between the two countries.Describing Qatar as “a strategic and commercial partner to the US,” Venkatraman said: “We are seeking more cooperation with Qatari Companies in various sectors and we also encourage American companies to explore the Qatari market.”He emphasised that the US and Qatar have potential cooperation opportunities in the infrastructure, technology, and services sectors, which aligns with Qatar National Vision 2030’s objectives to diversify the Qatari economy away from the energy sector.Venkatraman also cited great investment opportunities that exist within different US states, saying his team is fully prepared to provide all information about each state with the aim of facilitating cooperation and trade exchange.Similarly in December, QBA hosted a private meeting with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his accompanying delegation of Cuban ministers representing the foreign affairs and tourism, energy, education, health, and investment sectors.Aside from the health sector, there are also new fields to increase potential cooperation in the areas of biotechnology, medicines, tourism, trade, culture, sports, and education, said Sheikh Faisal, who called on Qatari businessmen to cooperate with their Cuban counterparts through bilateral FDI exchange.In November, QBA held a business dinner in honour of a number of ministers and officials accompanying Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was in Qatar on a state visit.The meeting, which was attended by HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani, discussed investment opportunities, improving investment relations between the two countries, and enhancing efforts to develop economic and investment ties between Qatar and Brazil.In his welcome speech, the minister underscored Qatar-Brazil investment partnerships in energy, mining, agriculture, food industry, financial services, petrochemicals, logistics services, and real estate and ways to enhance them, as well as opportunities to increase investments by Qatari and Brazilian companies in both countries.In the previous month, QBA held a luncheon in honour of the visit of Lord Alderman Nicholas Lyons, Mayor of the City of London, and his accompanying delegation. Sheikh Faisal said Qatari-British relations have been greatly strengthened in recent years by the increase in Qatari investments in Britain.He added that Qatar is currently “a real opportunity” for many investors around the world as the country enjoys security, in addition to various opportunities to develop many industries other than oil and gas. Qatar’s constantly growing investments in Britain exceeded $40bn, including shares in the Sainsbury’s chain, BAA, which operates four airports in the UK, the London Stock Exchange, Barclays Bank, the Shard building in London, and the Olympic Village.Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, called on Qatar to invest in the country’s agricultural, fisheries, and livestock sectors during a meeting with QBA officials held in Doha last October. The meeting explored Somalia’s agriculture, commercial, real estate, and industrial sectors, which are open for public or private investment.With a population of 14mn, Barre said Somalia has enormous livestock wealth exceeding 40mn heads of cattle, in addition to more than 8.5mn hectares of fertile land and a huge coastline spanning 3,700km with a large fish wealth – all of which are available for Qatari investments.Last February, US Republican Senator Roger Marshall lauded Qatar’s efforts in optimising its oil and gas resources investments in the country during a meeting hosted by QBA.During the meeting, Marshall highlighted the importance of the positive relations between Doha and Washington, which extend for more than 50 years, as the two sides seek to strengthen bilateral relations in the future, supported by the role of the US as the largest direct foreign investor in Qatar and the largest single source of its imports.In the same month, the QBA, in cooperation with the German Embassy in Qatar and the German Industry and Commerce Office in Qatar (AHK), organised a roundtable discussion, which focused on investment opportunities, joint cooperation, and ways to overcome obstacles facing investors, as part of the objectives of the Qatari-German Joint Taskforce that was established on September 7, 2018, during the Qatar-Germany Business and Investment Forum held in Berlin.Other meetings held in February include QBA’s business lunch in honour of Dr Hala el-Saeed, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development, and a meeting with Ville Skinnari, Finland’s Minister of Development Co-operation and Foreign Trade, who was in the country to attend the official opening of the Embassy of Finland in Doha.During the meeting with el-Saeed, both parties discussed a number of joint co-operation topics and followed up on a number of previously signed agreements, especially after the successful visit of QBA to Egypt in 2022.Meanwhile, Skinnari praised the close relations between Qatar and Finland and called on Qatari businessmen to explore Finland’s investment opportunities to enhance co-operation in sectors like oil and gas, advanced technological industries, smart cities, maritime industries, and other fields. The meeting also discussed ways to enhance relations in the economic and trade fields and reviewed the investment climate and opportunities available in both countries.

Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdullatif al-Misnad
Business
Qatar Chamber official calls on local private sector to join FIATA Qatar

The private sector will gain from supporting the development of the country’s freight forwarding industry by joining the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) in Qatar, an official has said.Speaking to Gulf Times in an interview, Qatar Chamber board member Ali bin Abdullatif al-Misnad, chairman of the FIATA Qatar, emphasised that a robust logistics sector is a sign of a “very healthy” economy.“Freight forwarding, shipping and logistics, and transportation are among the most important cornerstones in any economy,” explained al-Misnad, who also called on private sector stakeholders in the country and Qatar’s international partners to join FIATA Qatar.According to al-Misnad, Qatar Chamber is committed to prioritising future supply chains, adding that through its activities, the chamber is promoting the development of this sector within the Qatari business community.“Establishing a FIATA chapter through the support of Qatar Chamber and by transforming it as a gateway to the international arena is a very successful step towards enhancing this industry and the activities of the freight forwarding sector, which is very important,” al-Misnad stressed.He said: “Very soon, we will start the activities of FIATA Qatar, so I would like to invite all stakeholders in the local private sector, including Qatar’s international partners, to join us, so we can discuss the challenges of the freight forwarding sector and address the corresponding any issue.”Al-Misnad also emphasised the significance of the interdependent relationship of all FIATA chapters across the globe, particularly those in Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, in addressing the needs of the freight forwarding industry.Last month, al-Misnad participated in the ‘Global Freight Summit 2023’ held in Dubai under the theme ‘Making the Future Supply Chain a Reality’, wherein he underscored Qatar’s substantial investment in the transport sector, propelled the country “to the second-best position in the region for logistics efficiency.”Citing some of Hamad Port’s milestones, al-Misnad said the state-of-the-art port has established “15 direct shipping lines,” linking it to “40 ports” across three continents. He also noted that the port has an annual capacity of “7mn tonnes”, Hamad Port handles “1mn tonnes” of grain, and accommodates the shipment of “500,000” cars, as well as livestock.Aside from Hamad Port, al-Misnad pointed out that Qatar has successfully established itself as an aviation hub, citing the Hamad International Airport, which handles “more than 220,000 flights annually”, facilitating the transportation of over “35mn passengers” and “2mn tonnes” of cargo to “54 destinations worldwide”.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman.
Business
Qatar Chamber caps 2023 with successful showcase of national products

Qatar Chamber capped the year with the successful showcase of many national products during the staging of the ‘Made in Qatar 2023’, with the participation of small and large Qatari companies.Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman, said the participation of 450 companies and factories reflects their keen interest in promoting homegrown products in the local market to achieve the desired self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on imports.“The expo mainly aims to promote the Qatari industry and products, encourage the use of domestic products, reduce reliance on imports, and bolster the state's initiatives to support the industry. Additionally, it aims to encourage investors and business owners to invest in industrial projects.“Moreover, the exhibition offers a valuable opportunity to activate the private sector's role in industrial development, expand the productivity of national factories, and foster cooperation and coordination among Qatari firms. It particularly highlights the participation of a select group of Qatari companies and factories that have made significant strides in the industry, along with new exhibitors joining the event for the first time,” he stressed.In other achievements this 2023, Sheikh Khalifa emphasised that the realisation of Arab economic integration remains a paramount challenge for collective Arab endeavours, particularly in light of global economic dynamics and international economic blocs.“Indeed, Arab nations possess the essential elements that can facilitate the integration of their economies, including abundant natural resources, a skilled workforce, capital resources, and a strategic geographical location that serves as a bridge between the East and the West, coupled with linguistic unity.“It is undeniable that achieving Arab economic integration will elevate the economic standing of the Arab world, positioning it as an active and robust economic bloc within the global economy. Such integration is poised to attract investments, generate more employment opportunities, and bolster overall economic growth,” he noted.In this regard, Sheikh Khalifa stressed that chambers of commerce and industry in Arab nations play a pivotal role in working towards this objective, particularly through collaborative efforts under the Union of Arab Chambers (UAC). During a recent meeting convened by the UAC in Manama, he said discussions revolved around revitalising Arab economic integration and fostering a conducive business environment.“This collaborative effort is a fundamental pillar for the economic and social development of Arab nations, enabling them to be more integrated into the global economy and better equipped to address international challenges. Moreover, the efforts undertaken by the Gulf States towards achieving Gulf economic integration are instrumental in the pursuit of Arab economic integration.“In a recent meeting of the Federation of Gulf Co-operation Council Chambers (FGCCC), discussions revolved around bolstering Gulf economic integration and enhancing economic and commercial cooperation among Gulf states, along with supporting public-private partnerships (PPP) across the GCC states,” Sheikh Khalifa said.In May this year, Qatar Chamber held its Second General Assembly Meeting, which was highlighted by the election of the chamber’s seventh council (2023-2028).“We are confident that the new board will focus on strengthening the chamber’s role in supporting the private sector and protecting its interests, promoting the national economy and investment climate, and highlighting Qatar as a leading global investment destination and hub for business and investment, as well as enhancing the ease of doing business and attracting foreign investment,” Sheikh Khalifa said.He said the chamber’s strategy mainly aims to enhance the private sector’s competitiveness, accelerate its growth, and increase its contribution to the state’s economic development, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, whose most important pillar is promoting economic diversification and achieving inclusive economic growth.Sheikh Khalifa said: “During the new council, we will work towards the completion of the chamber’s new headquarters in Lusail City, as we are planning to transfer to a sophisticated and modern building that keeps pace with the state’s economic renaissance in the country.“Furthermore, we will also focus on organising more activities to support the private sector, promoting the national economy, and expanding meetings with various economic and trade sectors to discuss and find solutions to all issues and obstacles facing the private sector.”Qatar Chamber also organised earlier this year the Private Sector Forum (PSF), which was held in Doha on the sidelines of the 5th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5).“In partnership with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and Microsoft, the event provided a very important opportunity for us to emphasise the chamber’s tireless efforts in providing all kinds of services to support the private sector and enable it to enhance its contributions to economic activity under the Qatar National Vision 2030,” he said.Sheikh Khalifa added: “The event also highlighted the chamber’s keenness to provide all needed facilitations for private sector companies and institutions to create the best possible environment for businesses."