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.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas managing director Arifa A Ala, Peza Investment Promotions Partner Joseph Timothy Rivera and Peza director general Charito B Plaza
Philippines seeks Qatari expertise in Islamic finance

The Philippines is looking to Qatar and its other partners in the Middle East as it strives to accelerate the growth of Islamic finance in the country, an official of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) has said. This prospect, among others, will be explored and discussed during the online forum ‘Shariah Governance Framework and Guidelines on the Establishment of Islamic Banks and Islamic Banking Units in the Philippines’ slated on Thursday, July 23, at 9am. The virtual event is the third in a series of ‘Business Continuity Forums’ organised by Peza, headed by director general Charito B Plaza. The first forum was held in collaboration with the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), while the second was a collaboration with Peza’s Investment Promotions Partners in the Middle East.j The forum will highlight the discussion on Islamic finance as a “vehicle to economic recovery,” and will feature Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) managing director, lawyer Arifa A Ala, who will share the recent development on Republic Act (RA) 11439 or “An Act Providing for the Regulation and Organisation of Islamic Banks” signed by Philippine President Rodrigo R Duterte on August 22, 2019. The focus of discussion will be the ‘Guidelines on the Establishment of Islamic Banks and Islamic Banking Units’ (BSP Circular No 1069 series of 2019) and ‘Shariah Governance Framework for Islamic Banks (IB) and Islamic Banking Units (IBU) BSP Circular 1070’. Plaza, in the previous forum, highlighted Peza’s 10-point programme, citing plans to build ‘eco-towns’, ‘eco-cities’, and new metropolitan areas in every region in the Philippines. During the forum, co-organised by the Philippine Business Council-Qatar (PBC-Q), Plaza said Peza is currently identifying areas to be developed as halal hubs for potential investors from the Middle East. “To support said investments is to welcome foreign Islamic banks to extend its operations in the Philippines, including local commercial banks to open an Islamic bank and/or Islamic banking units/windows,” Plaza said. Peza had invited panelists/reactors from distinguished institutions from the Philippines, Singapore, Dubai, and Qatar “to provide a holistic discussion,” said Doha-based Peza Investment Promotions Partner Joseph Timothy Rivera, who added that the virtual conference “will attract a bigger audience as the coverage will now span across all GCC countries to include most Middle Eastern and Asian countries.” “This would be the first time that an in-depth discussion on the potentials of Shariah-compliant Islamic banks in the Philippines would be presented in a global setting,” Rivera added.

CB Euromoney Speakersrnrn
Covid-19 presents ways to accelerate client experience in digital banking, says Commercial Bank CEO

While the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic posed a myriad of challenges to economies worldwide, it has also opened an opportunity for Commercial Bank to ramp up its digital capabilities to meet the needs of its clients, a top official has said. Speaking at the "Euromoney LiveStream" event held recently, Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham said: “As a leading Qatari bank we believe the future is digital and we have experienced a fundamental change in customer behaviour, with many more clients using digital banking channels for the first time.” “Covid-19 has, therefore, presented a window of opportunity for us to accelerate our client experience of digital banking and our digital agenda, both in terms of how we interact with our customers at the front-end but also embedding digital throughout our organisation,” he continued. Aside from Abraham, the co-hosted Euromoney/Commercial Bank webcast titled "Qatar: Navigating the New Normal", also featured United Development Company president, CEO and member of the board, Ibrahim Jassim al-Othman, and Commercial Bank executive general manager, Wholesale Banking, Raju Buddhiraju. The participants highlighted how Qatar’s experience of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2017 blockade had prepared it for the sudden shock of the pandemic and lockdown. The interviewees each stressed, however, that Qatar was on the road to recovery and, though demand patterns will change, the strategic direction of the nation was unchanged. Streamed live to a global audience of over 500 attendees, the webcast took questions on subjects ranging from the prospects for Qatar’s real estate sector, through the impact of Covid-19 on the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the critical role digital technology plays in the "new normal". It also featured exclusive real-time footage of both The Pearl-Qatar and Gewan Island developments – another first for a Euromoney webcast. During the event, al-Othman said: “We were equipped with liquidity from financial institutions to get us through the first three months of the pandemic. We did not stop our construction business throughout the lockdown.” Each of the three leaders pointed towards rapid and effective action by the Qatari government, in particular the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and the Ministry of Finance, as being a vital competent of the country’s response. They also highlighted how cooperation between the corporate and the financial sector and clear communication have been essential to managing the challenge of the pandemic. Buddhiraju said, “While there are challenges in the short term arising out of Covid-19, we must realise that five years from now, Qatar is very well-placed with many investments, including but not limited to NFE projects increasing the gas production capacity by 65%, and the Hamad International Airport capacity of 60mn passengers. This presents a tremendous opportunity in Qatar, and companies that invest in technology will develop a distinct competitive advantage.” Whilst balanced in their view on the near future, the panel agreed that Qatar’s medium and long-term prospects remain bright. The webcast drew a record audience of international business, analysts, and financial professionals during the event. “We were overwhelmed with the level of interest and interaction – more than anything we’ve seen since launching our digital stream in March,” said Richard Banks, editor of Euromoney LiveStream.

Avila: Strengthening links.
Costa Rica eyes PPPs with Qatar in various sectors

The Embassy of the Republic of Costa Rica in Qatar is looking towards playing a significant role in forging Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the State of Qatar in various sectors, the Central American nation’s top diplomat here has said. “The role of the embassy is to strengthen the links between Costa Rican companies and companies in Qatar, whether public or private, under the guidelines of the foreign policy that the country determines in its development plan.  “The real estate, agricultural, technological and tourist sectors would be the ones with the greatest potential to be developed under this project, Costa Rica ambassador Alvaro Mariano Segura Avila told Gulf Times. Avila’s statement underpins Law No 12 of 2020, issued by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to regulate the partnership between public and private sectors, and its role in economic development. Asked in what ways could Costa Rica maximise the law in terms of further enhancing its trade and economic ties with Qatar, Avila said Costa Rica already has “great experience” with infrastructure works and projects that have been developed through the PPP model. “Therefore, the execution of projects of this type with companies from Qatar can take advantage from the experience of Costa Rica and the capacity that Qatar has to carry out these types of projects. “Likewise, the investment environment that Qatar companies would find to carry out this type of investment in Costa Rica offers many advantages that can be profitable for the capital destined for these alliances, among which are the capacity of human resources, security, natural resources, and the country’s experience in these types of projects,” the ambassador explained. Avila also lauded Qatar Free Zones Authority’s (QFZA) active role in forging partnerships with different countries to boost FDI inflow into the country. Citing ways, the embassy could assist Costa Rican companies and QFZA secure ties or partnerships to meet their respective objectives, Avila noted, and stressed that “the embassy’s contribution to this process is as a mediator between the parties.” “From our perspective, we can facilitate the environment so that companies from both the countries can start with projects of this type, organise trade missions, and be the consultation channel to take advantage of most of the benefits that can be derived from the established regulations,” he continued.

The Qatar Chamber headquarters in Doha. Qatar Chamber has reported that the countryu2019s manufacturing industry witnessed u201cconsiderable growthu201d in the number of facilities and production in the past five years.
Food industries sector posts QR4.4bn capital investments in five years: Qatar Chamber

Capital investments in Qatar’s food industries sector in the past five years stood at QR4.4bn, reflecting a 35% jump in the total growth of the country’s manufacturing sector, according to the latest issue of Al Moltaqa, Qatar Chamber’s monthly economic magazine. The magazine reported that the growth recorded in the country’s food industries’ capital investments was gleaned from an ongoing study by Qatar Chamber’s Research and Industries Department. The study, titled ‘Production Capacities and Degree of Utilisation as an Input to Enhance the Growth of the Manufacturing Industry in Qatar’, revealed that based on the type of manufacturing industries, they are distributed over the entire branches of manufacturing industries even if a large percentage is distributed among different food industries. Previously, Qatar Chamber reported that the country’s manufacturing industry witnessed “considerable growth” in the number of facilities and production in the past five years. Citing data provided by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Qatar Industrial Gateway), the study showed that the number of food production facilities grew by 103% — “the largest growth rate among all other manufacturing industries including oil and gas-related industries.” The study said the quantitative and qualitative development contributed significantly to increasing industrial diversity, according to the plans adopted by the country to achieve economic stability through diversifying sources of income, as well as increasing the attractiveness of the Qatari economy to domestic and foreign investments. It said the rise in market shares of Qatari manufacturing industries in local markets to “satisfying levels near to achieving the relative self-sufficiency” would help provide the national economy with a solid basic foundation for the next planning stage for the industry’s future. Similarly, the study showed that machinery and equipment manufacturing has grown significantly as their facilities also increased by 82% in the last five years. Meeting domestic demand for basic products, even if it is sufficient in the short term, “will not be so in the medium and long terms, especially when markets reach the saturation stage and the continued targeting of Qatari market by current and potential competitors that leads to a high level of competition,” the study emphasised. “Qatari industries have to effectively control over the various cost elements to improve the level of competitiveness of their products at the local and foreign markets,” the study also recommended. The Chamber stressed that the interest in studying productive capacities in the non-oil manufacturing sector “is of special importance” as it helps in shaping the future policy for this sector within a long-term strategy.

Gulf Times
Exchange houses expect footfall increase as lockdown curbs ease

Exchange houses in Qatar are expecting customer footfall to increase further amid the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as the observance of Eid al-Adha, according to officials. According to Trust Exchange general manager K N S Das, the money exchange industry in Qatar faced several challenges as branches across the country were temporarily shut down because of the health crisis. “As with other businesses here and abroad, one of the main challenges we faced because of the novel coronavirus was the restricted movement of people, especially at the onset of the health crisis when many governments had implemented their respective lockdowns,” Das told Gulf Times. “Customer footfall was severely affected when exchange houses were closed as part of the government’s health and safety regulations, which was why we focused on digitisation and strengthened our online platforms,” he said. Das said that “the industry is recovering” now from the impact of the pandemic. And, as the government started easing lockdown restrictions, business operations are “steadily going back to normal”, he added. In May, the government lifted the temporary shutdown of all in-person money exchange and transfer service offices in the country. Since then, Das said the company has witnessed “a more than 50% increase in the volume of transactions”. Al Zaman Exchange finance manager Santhosh Kesavan said the company addressed the challenges of the pandemic by focusing on its online platforms, which, he noted, played a significant role during the lockdown. Aside from its mobile app and other online platforms, Kesavan emphasised that Al Zaman Exchange had forged a partnership with Ooredoo to allow customers to continue sending remittances back home. Despite the lockdown, Kesavan said customers were able to send remittances via the Ooredoo Money service. In a statement released in March, Ooredoo said it “has seen a rise in the use of its Ooredoo Money service since the temporary closure of exchange houses, and a rise in the number of remittances being sent.” “Because of our digital platforms, we were able to assist our customers. When exchange houses were allowed to reopen in May, we made sure that our branches are strictly complying with government regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19. “Compared to last year, business had come down because of the health crisis; but compared to the months of April and May this year, the volume of transactions is expected to improve in the coming period,” Kesavan said.

Tanzanian ambassador to Qatar Fatma Mohamed Rajab.
Envoy eyes growth in 2020-2021 Tanzania-Qatar trade

The Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania is seeking to boost the country’s trade volume with Qatar by promoting investment opportunities being offered by the East African nation in various sectors, according to its top diplomat. Citing figures from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzanian ambassador to Qatar Fatma Mohamed Rajab said trade volume between both countries stood at $38.2mn in 2018. In 2018, Rajab said Tanzania’s exported bran, sharps and other residue, wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, beans, pigeon peas (cajanus cajan), coffee, roses, and chickpeas to Qatar worth $16.5mn. Tanzania’s imports from Qatar stood at $21.6mn in 2018, comprising polyethylene, kerosene type jet fuel, mixed alkylbenzenes and mixed alkylnaphthalenes, illuminating kerosene (IK), propylene copolymers, and semi-finished products of iron, according to Rajab. “The embassy, in collaboration with Qatari company KON, is intending to increase the trade volume for 2020-2021 by organising more business forums and investment promotions to provide more information on investment and trade opportunities available in Tanzania, as well as the general investment climate, which includes investment procedures, incentives, and regulations,” Rajab told Gulf Times. “Using the platform of KON, the embassy will be able to showcase its products for the Qatari market and outline potential areas for investments and business in various sectors in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, livestock, ICT, tourism, services sector, economic infrastructure, education, health, and transportation,” the ambassador continued. According to Rajab, the embassy is “in full communication” with Tanzanian companies and business communities by maintaining a direct line with the country’s One Stop Centre, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), and Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA), as well as the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. The embassy has direct communication with the Ministry of Trade and Investment in Tanzania and all other sectoral Ministries. It is also in direct contact with government and private institutions that are responsible for co-ordinating, encouraging, promoting, and facilitating trade and investments in Tanzania, Rajab pointed out. “The embassy would like to assure the Qatar business community and investors that Tanzania has a good environment for business and investment because of its peace and stability, strategic location, attractive incentives, abundant natural resources, market potentials, investment guarantees, and dynamic workforce that will never disappoint your decision to invest in Tanzania. Don’t miss these opportunities, we are ready to welcome you to Tanzania,” Rajab emphasised. In managing the Covid-19 global health crisis, Rajab said Tanzania has been pursuing comprehensive reform programmes in health since 1995 with government and private hospitals that were designed to improve the function and performance of this sector. “With these reforms, Tanzania has successfully managed to combat the health crisis with positive results during the pandemic. Also, the embassy has played a vital role to bring awareness and to educate its community living in Qatar to follow the rules and guidelines issued by the country’s health authorities amid Covid-19,” she stressed.

PBC-Q chairman Greg Loayon.
Business council official echoes call to prioritise digitalisation of operations

An official of the Philippine Business Council-Qatar (PBC-Q) has reiterated calls for companies to remain proactive and embrace digitalisation amid the operational challenges being imposed by the Covid-19 health crisis. “The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the world of business to have a long hard look at their business continuity plans, and for many it was a rude awakening – some companies were more ready than others; however, more companies were caught off-guard, and had to scramble to put together a plan on how to respond,” said PBC-Q chairman Greg Loayon. “For years, many companies have been talking about their Fintech and Regtech, and other digital innovations for their own organisations, however, many have not really taken the leap towards technological innovation,” Loayon said during the ‘Philippine-Qatar Investment Forum 2020’ held virtually on Thursday. During the forum, which carried the theme ‘Business Continuity Post Covid-19 Outbreak’, Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) director general Charito B Plaza discussed the latest sustained and strategic business opportunities in Philippine ecozones, such as halal hubs, Islamic finance, IT, and agro-industrial exports for potential investors from Qatar. Loayon explained that the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic had hastened the conversation on digital innovation, and how companies now need to be proactive with regards to their approach to establishing their digital footprint. “Covid-19 put many companies on an even playing field wherever they may be in the world, irrespective of industry – and the call of the times is for your company to embrace the new normal, that technology will now play a bigger role in the world of business,” Loayon stressed. Loayon called on participants of the forum “to take this digital platform well beyond the internal teleconferencing that we do within our companies.” He said, “Companies now need to be proactive and use the digital conferencing platform to reach out to its various audiences – these could be your customers, your business partners, or potential investors…if your company is not proactive in reaching out to your customers, partners, or potential investors, you will not survive in this accelerated digital revolution.” Speaking to Gulf Times earlier, Loayon noted that from a preparedness perspective, some companies conduct regular simulation exercises or drills to train employees on how to operate off-site or during ‘work from home’ scenarios. “To assure that there is business continuity, some drills, aside from working from home, also simulate work operations from an ‘emergency office’ in the event of disasters, wars, or different types of calamities that prevents access to offices,” he said. He added: “Business continuity planning is not a normal exercise, which is why there are still many companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and even some large companies that do not have contingency plans.”

Peza director general Charito B Plaza.rnrn
Peza eyes Qatar as investment partner in halal hubs, other sectors

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) is currently identifying areas to be developed as halal hubs for potential investors from the Middle East, particularly in Qatar, an official announced in a virtual conference held on Thursday. In her keynote address during the "Philippine-Qatar Investment Forum 2020", Peza director general Charito B Plaza underscored the latest sustained and strategic business opportunities across ecozones in the Philippines in the fields of eco-, medical, and wellness tourism; halal food processing; Islamic finance; IT and business process outsourcing (BPO), and agro-industrial exports. This was echoed by Bureau of Muslim Economic Affairs director Saleha Sacar in a presentation that highlighted the importance of investments on halal hubs, as well as the promotion of Islamic finance as part of the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan. Plaza also updated prospective investors on the expanded benefits and advantages on investing in the Philippines either as an ecozone developer or locator. She invited Qatari businessmen to invest in “island-city developments,” with up to 75-year leaseholds, as well as in education and technology ecozones similar to Qatar Foundation’s Education City. She stressed that despite the pandemic, Peza remained “100% Covid-19-free,” offering competitive incentives, such as tax holidays and zero customs duties. Peza is the Philippines largest one-stop-shop government agency accounting for 64% of the country’s exports, contributing to 16.28% of the country’s GDP, Plaza noted. During the event, Philippine commercial attache Charmaine Yalong discussed the current trade and investment relations between the Philippines and Qatar. She emphasised that both countries have “promising potential” in investments relations. Yalong said Qatar ranks as the 38th market for Philippine exports, valued at $55.19mn in 2019, while Philippine imports from Qatar stood at $147.99mn in the same year. In the same conference, Philippine Business Council-Qatar (PBC-Q) president Greg Loayon stressed that Covid-19 “has put companies on an even playing field wherever they may be in the world, irrespective of industry.” “As such, the call of the times is for companies to embrace the new normal where technology will now play a bigger role in the world of business. Peza, therefore, is in the right space by being early in embracing this and reaching out to a global audience as they have today. The Philippine Business Council, as Peza’s Investment Promotions Partner in the Middle East and Europe, looks forward to more collaborations,” Loayon stressed. Peza Investment Promotions Partner for the Middle East Joseph Timothy Rivera said the virtual event witnessed the participation of Qatari and Filipino entrepreneurs based in Qatar, with representatives from various international business councils and some major companies in Qatar, and other business groups from neighbouring GCC countries. Rivera also presented the highlights of recent Arab business delegations to the Philippines. He invited all participants for the next business mission to the Philippines either in November 2020 or in April 2021. He added that the business delegations provide organised immersions to various Philippine business and government institutions and on-site visits to potential ecozone sites by potential investors. With the theme ‘Business Continuity Post Covid-19 Outbreak’, Peza organised the online forum, in coordination with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Philippine Trade & Investment Centre for the Middle East, and the PBC-Q.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwarirnrn
PPP law to enhance govt-private sector integration: minister

*Law to allow for a bright future for the coming generations HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari has said the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law would play a significant role in enhancing the integration of government and private sector. “The issuance of the law regulating partnership between public and private sectors at this time constitutes a crucial step in providing the appropriate legislative framework for regulating the private sector’s contribution to the implementation of major development projects,” al-Kuwari said in his opening address during the inaugural ‘Developing Partnership between Public and Private Sectors’ conference held virtually on Tuesday. According to al-Kuwari, Qatar has adopted the partnership model “for several years,” especially in implementing projects in the logistics, food security, health, and education sectors. “The PPP Law boosts the complementary relationship between the governmental and private sectors, and provides a regulatory framework for the contractual relationship forms between both parties, said the minister, underlining the importance of the law. Al-Kuwari also stressed that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s patronage for the conference reflects his “trust in the private sector and its role as a real partner in the state’s economic development.” The minister said he hopes the conference would help in the discussion of ways to encourage national companies to take advantage of partnership opportunities, to highlight the advantages of the new law, and to strengthen communication between the parties involved. He also hopes that this would help establish integrated mechanisms for implementing innovative national projects that meet the needs of citizens and residents, “and allow for a bright future for the coming generations.” During his speech, al-Kuwari thanked His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his “interest and confidence” in the private sector, and for the issuance of the PPP Law. He also thanked HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani for his “constant keenness to provide all means to support this vital sector.” “This conference is being held under exceptional circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected all world economies’ components and productive sectors. The economic consequences of this pandemic have constituted a strong motive for many countries to take precautionary measures to curb the current crisis and protect the private sector,” al-Kuwari said. “Thanks to the wisdom of the Wise Leadership, our country has established an integrated strategy based on the concerted efforts of all government agencies to provide a comprehensive package of support for Qatari companies and allocate QR75bn as financial and economic incentives for the private sector, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). “The stimulus package contributed to mitigating the burden on SMEs and encouraging them to proceed in a way that supports the national economy and continue the march of prosperity toward the implementation of Qatar National Vision 2030,” he added. Organised by Qatar Chamber, the online conference aims to raise awareness on Law No. 12 of 2020 regulating the partnership between public and private sectors among the business sector, and saw the participation of 15 speakers from leading local and international organisations.

The president of Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Dr Engineer Saad bin Ahmed al-Mohannadi, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani and Dr Sheikh Thani bin Ali al-Thani attending the conference.
PPP Law to boost private sector role in economic development

The new Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Law is seen to further boost the private sector’s contribution to the country’s economic development, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani said during the first PPP conference, held online on Tuesday. “The issuance of the PPP Law represented confirmation from the Wise Leadership and esteemed government on the leading role of the private sector in the State’s sustainable development,” Sheikh Khalifa said in his opening address. Stressing the role of the new law, Sheikh Khalifa said: “It constituted a strong push for the private sector to implement its role as a genuine partner of the public sector in the march towards development.” According to Sheikh Khalifa, Qatar Chamber played a key role in highlighting the idea of issuing a law regulating PPPs during a conference it organised in 2009, where the Chamber recommended the need for a legislation governing the partnership between the government and the private sector. Sheikh Khalifa noted that the law provides the opportunity to offer more joint projects in various economic sectors. He also affirmed that PPP projects contribute to enhancing economic development and attracting more investment, “especially that the private sector has been able to play a greater role in economic development, which is one of the key pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030.” “Issuing the PPP Law would have a significant impact on activating the private sector and accelerating the initiation and implementation of projects,” Sheikh Khalifa pointed out. During the conference, the president of Public Works Authority (Ashghal), Dr Engineer Saad bin Ahmed al-Mohannadi, said Ashghal has prepared a list of projects in which the private sector can participate within the requirements of the PPP Law. He noted that the list includes construction and infrastructure projects. Al-Mohannadi said Ashghal has started to tender some of the projects, especially in construction and sewage treatment. He pointed out that other projects are being studied and will be introduced after the completion of feasibility studies. “Ashghal is part of the implementation of the partnership between the two sectors in line with Qatar National Vision 2030,” he said, adding that the PPP law enhances the private sector’s role and contribution in the mega projects and benefits both sectors. Qatar Financial Center (QFC) CEO Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida said the conference aims to bring together institutions from both sectors under one umbrella to examine opportunities and exchange experience. He noted that PPPs are essential for supporting Qatar’s march towards economic development, especially under the current circumstances of coronavirus pandemic. “According to the International Monetary Fund report, Qatar is expected to be the only country in the region to achieve 5% of GDP growth and 2.4% growth in the consumer index during 2021,” he added. The head of the conference’s organising committee, Dr Sheikh Thani bin Ali al-Thani, said the conference reviewed the most important regulatory and legal aspects of the PPP system, and highlighted the new administrative frameworks that are necessary for the success of these joint projects. Sheikh Thani said PPPs would help achieve the strategic objectives of the State as defined in Qatar National Vision 2030, and stressed that “the progress and prosperity Qatar is witnessing under the leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will introduce to the world a real picture of the progress Qatar has achieved.” Qatar Chamber director general Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi said the chamber is keen on raising awareness among business sectors on the Law No 12 of 2030 regulating the partnership between public and private sectors. Al-Sharqi said the conference has addressed many important issues related to the development of PPPs that support the development of the economy in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030.

Tanzanian ambassador Fatma Mohamed Rajab says the virtual event will be held in collaboration with Qatari company KON, and will u201cexclusivelyu201d provide investors and stakeholders information on investment opportunities and Tanzaniau2019s investment climate.
Tanzania set to host virtual forum to boost investment ties with Qatar, says envoy

The Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania will be hosting its first digital event, ‘Call for Investment’, slated within July as part of its efforts to enhance its investment ties with Qatar, according to Tanzanian ambassador Fatma Mohamed Rajab. With the theme ‘Invest Today, Earn Tomorrow! Tanzania is ready for you’, Rajab said the virtual event will be held in collaboration with Qatari company KON, and will “exclusively” provide investors and stakeholders information on investment opportunities and Tanzania’s investment climate, including investment procedures, incentives, and regulations. Rajab said Tanzania offers “unlimited investment and business opportunities” in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, health, education, transportation, livestock, fishing, tourism, ICT, energy, infrastructure, and services sectors. “The event comes at a time when Tanzania has undergone a massive reform to transform the country into an industrial economy, thus promoting the need to inform the Qatar’s business community of these reforms to attract investors in the industrial sector,” Rajab pointed out. She said the inaugural digital event “has so much to offer” as it will elaborate on how the Tanzania’s One-Stop-Centre facilitates services for investors. The centre also guarantees investors and stakeholders how Tanzania is committed to become “the best investment destination on the continent.” “This online event has come at an opportune time to communicate to the Qatari business community on the vast investment opportunities that Tanzania has to offer in various sectors. It is the first in a series of more events to come to showcase the investment opportunities in Tanzania,” Rajab stressed. Asked to elaborate on Tanzania’s economic and trade relations with Qatar, as well as the embassy’s collaboration with KON, Rajab said: “Tanzania established good relationship with Qatar since the opening of Qatar Embassy in Tanzania in 2012 and Tanzania Embassy in Qatar in 2017. The economic and trade relations are now increasing since the two sides established their respective embassies.” She added: “The embassy has established a good relationship with KON, which focuses mainly on business management, artistic and cultural consultancy, in collaboration with the Diplomatic Corps, communities, local and International companies that exist in Qatar and in other countries. “By collaborating with KON, the embassy will be able to promote trade and investments in Qatar and to attract business opportunities and foreign direct investment (FDI) to Tanzania’s economy.”

QUBF founder and chairperson Dr Olga Revina.rnrn
Ukrainian food products occupying bigger share of Qatari market, says business council executive

Present global challenges have created export opportunities for major players in Ukraine’s agro-industrial sector whose products have taken a wide presence in the Qatari market, an official of the Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF) told Gulf Times. “Based on our food market expert’s review, this tumultuous time presented wider opportunities for one of the leading Ukrainian agro-industrial holding, which successfully supplies its products, specifically eggs, to the Qatari market under the Avangardco trademark, and occupying up to 40% of the local market share,” said QUBF founder and chairperson Dr Olga Revina. Earlier, Revina said QUBF held strategic discussions with UkraineInvest to outline the crucial segments for Qatar-Ukraine investment potential. “These and other factors make Ukrainian agribusiness an attractive investment target. Our infrastructure, energy, chemical, pharmaceutical, and other strategic sectors are likewise open for Qatari investment and trade opportunities,” said Sergiy Tsivkach, chair of the board, UkraineInvest. UkraineInvest is the government’s investment promotion office created in 2016 to attract foreign direct investment and assist existing investors to expand their businesses in Ukraine. Ukraine’s main exports to Qatar are agri-food and metals, said Revina, who noted that Ukrainian exporters benefitted from “Qatar’s liberal tax system, 5% import duty, free movement of capital, as well as visa-free regime between Qatar and Ukraine.” According to Dr Revina, a “very significant” overall indicator of robust bilateral dynamics between Qatar and Ukraine is the 2019 total trade volume, which stood at “$90mn.” She further said the figure is “the largest” since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. “The recent cascade of positive shifts in Qatar-Ukraine relations, as well as an opportunity to reopen flights sounds very inspiring for the QUBF team and our partners because it will most surely expedite our efforts in expanding both countries’ economic horizons,” Revina noted. To achieve this target, Revina said QUBF is working towards maintaining an e-dialogue with Ukrainian companies considered as potential delegates for the ‘Qatar-Ukraine Trade and Investment Forum’, which was postponed until October. Similarly, she said QUBF is outlining new products and projects to be included in its business portfolio for further introduction on both markets. The council is also exploring opportunities to establish joint collaboration among educational institutions while facilitating with Ambers Group Ukraine and Katara Centre for Amber inside Katara – the Cultural Village on an exclusive ‘Seven Dimensions’ Ukrainian ambers exhibition planned for this autumn.

Syed: Expecting a surge in demand for local businesses.
Local businesses to gain from gradual opening of tourism spots, says industry expert

As the country enters Phase 2 of efforts to ease Covid-19 restrictions today, many local businesses stand to gain from the government’s efforts to gradually open the economy, an expert in the travel and tourism industry has said. Earlier, various organisations in the country had announced that more leisure, recreational facilities are reopening from July 1. Tawfeeq Travel Group CEO Rehan Ali Syed told Gulf Times that gradual movements of people will be seen across the country following the move. Asked what this would mean for the tourism industry, specifically to its stakeholders in Qatar, in terms of helping them rebound from income losses, the absence of international and local tourists, and other challenges, Syed said: “With most of the entertainment and recreational facilities planned to open in the next two phases, we expect a surge in demand for local businesses.” He also said, “Everyone is keen to step out of their houses to spend some quality time together. With the directive from the Ministry of Public Health, we look forward to promoting staycations, dhow cruise excursion, the state-of-the-art Qatar Museum and Qatar National Library – something everyone in Qatar needs to explore.” In the current scenario, Syed said the global travel industry is expected to lose “$80bn in this fiscal year (2020).” Whilst the industry is going through a very difficult time, Syed stressed that it is important for the company to be prudent about cost, revisit operational processes, and being innovative about generating new revenue streams. “The industry partners are working closely with several organisations and governments to facilitate repartition of their nationals. Tawfeeq Travel has been working relentlessly to upgrade skill and expertise to ensure that we continue to develop and provide clients with unmatched service and products. Also, we forged a new relationship with American Express Global Business Travel as their official travel partner in Qatar,” Syed said. Asked to give a forecast on Qatar’s tourism industry after the final lifting of Covid-19 restrictions by September, Syed said: “Phase 4 is the time when we will have most of the restrictions lifted and then it all depends on the ease of travel restrictions into Qatar. Assuming business operations are back to normal, Syed noted that the country could expect “substantial increase” in demand from local and international tourists. “We are expecting to have the cruise season taking off in November; last year we had close to 250,000 tourists arriving in Doha through various cruise liners. The FIFA Club Championship planned towards the year end, as well as various other sporting events will also give a boost to inbound tourism into Qatar,” Syed explained. Despite the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the global markets, Syed revealed that the company is continuing with expansion plans to open its 13th retail outlet on Salwa Road this July and the 14th outlet at the DECC Metro Station by September this year.

Charito Plaza., Greg Loayon. and Joseph Timothy Rivera.
Philippines eyes JVs, PPPs with Qatar in various sectors, says official

The Philippines is intensifying its commitment in forging robust trade and investment ties with its partners in the Middle East, such as Qatar, especially in the field of Islamic finance, among other sectors, an official of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) has said. “We are encouraging Qatari investors to invest in Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Joint Ventures (JVs) and other modes of partnerships with the Philippines in building transportation, logistics, and manufacturing hubs that are halal-compliant,” Peza director general Charito Plaza told Gulf Times in an interview. On July 9, Plaza revealed that Peza will be leading a ‘Virtual Investment Promotions in Qatar’ in the presence of “potential investors from the State of Qatar,” in co-ordination with the Philippine Business Council-Qatar (PBC-Q), headed by Peza’s Investment Promotion Partners (IPP) Greg Loayon and Joseph Timothy Rivera. Plaza will deliver the keynote address during the webinar, which will be supported with special presentations from the Ateneo School of Government and PBC-Q, according to Rivera. “While business delegations and investment roadshows to and from the Philippines are being moved to later dates, Peza is now co-ordinating with the Philippine Commercial Attaché for the Middle East and the Philippine Embassy in Doha, led by Ambassador Alan Timbayan, for this webinar, which will tackle new investment opportunities and ecozone business continuity during Covid-19 to prospect foreign investors in Qatar,” Rivera said. “The Philippine Economic Zone Authority has renewed its confidence in Qatar’s investment market; just before the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, one company from Qatar has registered with Peza,” he added. Plaza said, “Peza welcomes investments in halal hubs and the use of Islamic financial facilities from Qatar. Our leadership continues to attract investors in the country because of our incentives, which are tried, tested, and proven to be globally competitive. “It is Peza’s best practices, one-stop-shop, ease of doing business and tax incentives that are the strong factors that have been attracting foreign investors to the Philippines and export-oriented industries, aside from our rich natural and human resources.” She stressed that the Philippines is home to more than 10mn Muslim Filipinos, adding that “this is the time to explore opportunities and be innovative.” “In Peza, we would like to invite investors to put up halal hubs with financing facilities that are Shariah-compliant. A new development related to this is that President Rodrigo R Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11439, which allows foreign banks to operate an Islamic bank in the Philippines,” Plaza added.

Blue Rubicon senior managing director Jonathan Shillington.
QR75bn stimulus package vital in managing Covid-19 impact, says industry expert

The QR75bn financial aid provided by the Qatar to the private sector at the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) was among the important decisions made by the government to cushion the economy from the impact of the health crisis, an industry expert has said. “The stimulus package is another important example of how Qatar is managing the situation both decisively and compassionately – in a way that is setting the standard internationally,” Blue Rubicon senior managing director Jonathan Shillington told Gulf Times. According to Shillington, the pandemic has been an “extraordinary time” for everyone working in Qatar, and described it as “a situation that few risk mitigation or business continuity plans could have completely safeguarded against.” He said: “It is the first time in most people’s careers where they have had to keep on top of their work, while being at risk of illness, looking after their families, and also working from home; a perfect storm of pressures in many ways – for which people have shown great fortitude. “For this, we should be very thankful to the decisive leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which has been an example across the region in managing the pandemic and protecting people’s lives and livelihoods. This, in turn, has enabled companies to respond effectively to the crisis in line with government guidance as the situation developed.” Since June 15, Qatar started gradually lifting Covid-19 restrictions, which is being implemented in four phases as announced earlier by HE Lolwah bint Rashid AlKhater, official spokesperson of the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management. Shillington stressed that proactive internal communications within organisations “is vital,” and that as a business, it is necessary to follow the rules around the phased reopening, and to make sure that company employees understand what is expected of them. “My impression is that most organisations have been able to deal with the situation remarkably effectively – and again this comes back to my point about strong but also compassionate leadership, so everyone is clear about what they must do. The phased approach to reopening is a clear example of this; as a business, we know what we can do,” Shillington pointed out. He also said the health crisis has made the business community reflect on ways of working, particularly towards the use of offices in certain lines of work, “when people could, at times, be working more productively remotely.” “With this mind, we have started running virtual workshops for organisations planning their return to full operations as we all adjust to a new normal post Covid-19 lockdown. While this pandemic has been unprecedented, managements need to ensure that their operations are robust enough to withstand future pandemics of this kind and make sure they return to work in a planned and effective manner,” Shillington explained. Ahead of Phase 4, Shillington said it is important for companies to plan so that they are safe and in line with government guidelines when their respective organisations resume full operations. “Starting with health and staff welfare-related questions should be the first consideration, as a company’s duty to protect the staff and customers (where relevant) should be the first priority. For example, in our office we are making sure that there is sufficient distance between people’s desks. “Depending on the recovery scenario, organisations will have to make a series of decisions related to future business strategy and operating model, cost management measures, and customer strategy – each of which depends upon aspects, such as the duration of the virus, health of business and society, and the ability for global supply chain to fully recover. So plan now,” Shillington stressed.

QUBF team continues to direct its efforts towards converting the lockdown into unlocking Qatar-Ukraine wider perspectives, says QUBF founder and chairperson Dr Olga Revina
Business council seeks robust Qatar-Ukraine ties in various sectors

As markets worldwide are gradually opening amid the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Qatar-Ukraine Business Forum (QUBF) is currently working on different proposals to strengthen trade and investments relations in sectors, such as energy and innovation, among others, an official said. “Despite the fact that the current situation had significantly altered many ambitious plans of different organisations, QUBF team continues to direct its efforts towards converting the lockdown into unlocking Qatar-Ukraine wider perspectives, QUBF founder and chairperson Dr Olga Revina told Gulf Times. Revina also said: “QUBF, as a joint business council engaged in a fruitful collaboration with the Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Qatar, is focused on assisting Qatari businesses in pursuing Ukrainian market and investment opportunities, whilst attracting Ukrainian companies that can contribute to Qatar’s development needs. “Such clear vision by QUBF, coupled with a host of proactive partnerships with key organisations in both countries, has resulted in numerous successfully-realised projects.” According to Revina, the results of previous QUBF activities have played a significant role in supporting Ukrainian businesses during various business-to-business (B2B) events in Qatar by advising them on major regional guidelines in terms of doing business in the Qatari market. “Towards these ends, QUBF formed a portfolio of Ukrainian business proposals, which helps facilitate projects between Qatari and Ukrainian business communities in a wide range of commercial enterprises, such as food supply, energy, pharmaceutical products, construction industry materials, amber objects, IT security, education, jewellery, fashion, innovation and design, tourism, and recreation sectors,” Revina explained. By annually hosting Ukrainian delegates in Qatar, Revina said the QUBF team aims to assist them in establishing primary contacts with their Qatari counterparts, while similarly inviting and assisting Qatari businesses to explore commercial opportunities in Ukraine. “The start of 2020 was really promising for QUBF as we lent support to the Ukrainian Amber World Association for its introduction to Qatari market by participating in a variety of events and B2B meetings in Qatar,” Revina noted. She added: “This March was supposed to serve as a launch pad for increased economic exchange as QUBF aimed to organise a Ukrainian economic mission to Qatar, having agreed with a number of prominent organisations like Qatar Chamber and the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) to host Ukrainian business delegates. “Additionally, the council also planned to conduct the first and biggest ever ‘Qatar-Ukraine Trade and Investment Forum’ in Doha, in collaboration with Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) and other highly-reputed institutions, which is now postponed until October.”

Qatar Chamber director general Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi.
Qatar Chamber lauds Hamad Port’s role in non-oil exports’ growth

The $7.4bn Hamad Port, Qatar’s maritime facility located in the Umm Al Houl area south of Doha, has played a significant role in the growth of non-oil exports, especially at a time when the country was at the initial stages of an economic blockade, a Qatar Chamber official has said. The private sector benefited from the launch of direct shipping routes linking Hamad Port with other major ports abroad, according to Qatar Chamber director general Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi. He also said the port enabled the private sector to boost its external trade and open new channels for businessmen to secure local and international investments. “This also enabled it to increase its non-oil exports and helped local products reach many international markets, as well as in contributing to the development of the agricultural and industrial sectors and the achievement of self-sufficiency in many products,” al-Sharqi stated in Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic magazine. Al-Sharqi said three years after the unjust blockade imposed on Qatar, the private sector managed to develop and prove that “it deserved the Wise Leadership’s interest, trust, and support.” “The siege enabled the Qatari private sector to become stronger, more mature, and more engaged in the economic activity. During this period, the private sector has proved that it is a real partner to the public sector in the march of economic development. “Since the onset of the blockade, the private sector played a key role in securing the needs of the market, such as food products at reasonable prices and in record time through its distinguished commercial relations with counterparts from various countries,” al-Sharqi stressed. Since the blockade was imposed in June 2017, al-Sharqi said the private sector witnessed a surge in the number of new companies, which reached to as much as 47,000. Al-Sharqi also said the chamber “played a key role during siege” by seeking to remove all obstacles against the private sector by coordinating with different institutions since the beginning of the blockade. “From the first day of the blockade, Qatar Chamber urged merchants and businessmen to immediately find alternative means to import goods, especially food stuffs. The chamber also co-ordinated with various government agencies concerned to form specialised committees with concerned governmental bodies to tackle all obstacles and ensure the flow of goods without any corruption or delay. “It also launched several initiatives to support the local product and held two editions of the ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition in Oman and Kuwait to promote Qatari products, and help businessmen explore co-operation opportunities with counterparts from these countries,” al-Sharqi explained. He said the chamber also hosted a many meetings between foreign trade delegations and Qatari businessmen to discuss mutual investment opportunities and the possibility of establishing commercial partnerships and alliances in light of the incentives, facilities, and benefits for investment proposed by Qatar and foreign governments. “The State of Qatar succeeded in turning the negative impacts of the siege into economic gains, thanks to the insight and acumen of the Wise Leadership and the immediate measures taken by the esteemed government at the onset of the blockade, in addition to the role played by the private sector and concerted efforts of all bodies to overcome and beat this siege,” al-Sharqi added.

Indonesian Embassy Economic Affairs Attache Maulana Syahid, QIBC president Farhan al-Sayed and IQBC president Hendra Hartono Turman
New trade opportunities, growth expected in Qatar-Indonesia ties

Amid the challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic global economies are currently facing, new opportunities and growth for Qatar-Indonesia trade relations are to be expected “in the coming period,” a business council executive has said. “The small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) and industrial sector in Indonesia are struggling to overcome the impact of the pandemic; but we are looking for new opportunities to enhance trade with Qatar,” said Hendra Hartono Turman, the president of the Indonesia-Qatar Business Council (IQBC), during a recently-held webinar. During the webinar, which was moderated by IQBC secretary general Deva Rachman, Turman was joined by Qatar-Indonesia Business Council (QIBC) president Farhan al-Sayed and Indonesian Embassy economic affairs attache Maulana Syahid. Turman said “Indonesia is ready” to develop a wide range of innovations for export activities and to open opportunities for Indonesian businessmen to export commodities, such as fruits, cooking oil, and frozen food products, and medical devices, among others. “We are planning to hold a meeting to draft a programme of activities between Qatar and Indonesia. This would also include virtual business matching between Qatari and Indonesian exporters and importers in categories like food and beverage (F&B) and industrial products,” Turman told participants of the webinar. With the recent opening of Indonesia’s new embassy in Qatar, Syahid said he is hoping that the new premises would strengthen Indonesia’s relations with Qatar in the economic and trade as well as cultural and political fields. Syahid said Qatar-Indonesia trade volume in 2019 stood at “QR2.6bn or $565mn” with Indonesian imports amounting to “$343mn” and Qatari exports worth “$222mn.” Citing the success of the inaugural edition of the "Indonesia Expo 2019" in Doha, al-Sayed invited Indonesian companies to establish themselves at Qatar’s free zones, and to avail of the incentives being offered by the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA). Al-Sayed said he is looking forward to replicating the success of the "1st Solo Indonesian Products Exhibition in Qatar: Indonesia Expo 2019", which gathered more than 40 Indonesian companies specialising in paper, garments, jewellery, charcoal, medical equipment, food, lT, manpower service, furniture, and tyre products. “Qatar is currently facing multiple challenges, namely the political and economic blockade, as well as Covid-19. These challenges only pushed Qatar to rise and innovate for the growth of the economy. It is precisely now that Qatar is building many industries in the field of agriculture, among others, and the opening of direct flights between Indonesia and Qatar,” al-Sayed pointed out. Rachman said the IQBC and QIBC hosted the webinar to discuss business opportunities between Qatar and Indonesia, and how to deal with obstacles facing businesses from both countries during the pandemic. “The various health-related protocols guide government institutions, offices, and communities in carrying out their activities using digital facilities for office operations, meetings, and others. “Webinars are held to build communication and friendship between employees, or the community during this pandemic, which is the right time to innovate and contemplate on new strategies for the post Covid-19 period,” she added.