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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.
Canadian-Qatari Business Forum executive director and board member Yasser M Dhouib.
Business
Canadian firms eye investment opportunities in Qatar’s varied sectors, says business forum official

A delegation from the Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF) will be arriving in Qatar next week as part of initiatives to enhance Canada-Qatar economic relations and to forge stronger investment ties with the country’s public and private sectors.In a statement to Gulf Times, CQBF executive director and board member Yasser M Dhouib said the delegation will be in the country from November 12 to 15 for the forum’s annual banquet and to attend meetings with major public-private sector players and stakeholders.“For our visit to Doha, we have laid out a specific work programme to secure co-operation opportunities in Qatar’s major economic sectors and to establish a future strategic partnership between CQBF and the country’s key ministries,” Dhouib explained.Similarly, Dhouib said CQBF is expected to sign memoranda of understanding and other partnership agreements with prominent organisations and private sector leaders in Qatar.“We have some big projects in the pipeline from major Canadian companies that have expressed interest in investing in Qatar, each specialising in different fields, such as bioinformatics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software development, education, cybersecurity, defence, and the role of AI in the health sector,” Dhouib pointed out.Plans are also in the pipeline for the establishment of an investment fund for Canadian businesses specialising in areas like high technology, clean energy, gas, and real estate, he also said.Dhouib said the delegation will include CQBF chairman Bruce Mabley, who was appointed recently. Mabley is a former Canadian diplomat having served in the Middle East. He is also the director of the Mackenzie-Papineau think-tank in Montreal, Canada, Dhouib noted.Earlier, Dhouib told Gulf Times that the forum is seeking to play a key role in increasing the volume of Qatar’s investments in Canada’s wide range of sectors, adding that in the next two years, CQBF will be establishing strategic economic alliances between Canada and Qatar in the trade, business, and economic fields.He said the medical sector and pharmaceutical industry, as well as infrastructure, entertainment cities, and the insurance and banking sectors, are also potential investment areas that both Canada and Qatar could explore further in the future.Dhouib added: “CQBF sees itself as a facilitator in broadening prospects of co-operation and placing the interest of the Canadian business community closer to the different achievements of Qatar in many fields. Both two countries have important assets and thriving ideas and projects that certainly can provide expertise and knowledge to their region.“Qatar and Canada both share the intimate conviction and belief in empowering women in business. The two countries’ business communities will certainly have many things to share from their different backgrounds and experiences. CQBF is ready to get these prospects fulfilled.”

Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan.
Business
Indonesia eyes Qatari FDI in hospitality, tourism sectors, says envoy

Indonesia is working to foster robust collaboration with Qatar in the hospitality and tourism sectors, the southeast Asian country’s top diplomat here told Gulf Times on the sidelines of Hospitality Qatar 2023, which will run until November 8 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan underscored that both countries’ cooperation in these sectors will have a significant focus on the multi-trillion global halal industry, Qatari investments in Indonesia and the growing trade volume between Indonesia and Qatar.“The partnership between Qatar and Indonesia in the hospitality and tourism sectors has been growing steadily. Indonesia has much to offer as a tourism destination,” Hassan pointed out, adding that the country’s presence at the three-day event underscores Indonesia’s dedication to fostering strong partnerships in the hospitality industry.The tourism-related information that would be promoted by the embassy during the event will include Indonesia’s bid to develop the so-called ‘10 Bali Destinations’, which are spread across different islands and regions. This initiative aims at showcasing the nation's cultural and natural diversity. These destinations are poised to become significant draws for tourists, the ambassador explained.On the halal industry and investment opportunities for Qatar, Hassan emphasised that Indonesia is keen to position itself as an international hub for the halal economy, “given its status as the most populous Muslim nation.”Hassan underscored the potential for halal tourism, as Indonesia’s growing halal economy sector contributes significantly to its total economy.“Indonesia welcomes investments in the tourism sector and we are inviting Qatar to consider these opportunities. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) has been actively exploring investment opportunities in Indonesia, including plans to develop resorts,” Hassan pointed out.The ambassador also said Indonesia and Qatar have witnessed a surge in their trade volume, which, according to him, “is a reflection of the robust economic ties between the two nations.”“Qatar Airways’ increased flights to Indonesia, including six combined daily flights to Jakarta and Bali, have played a pivotal role in expanding trade and economic co-operation,” Hassan stressed.

Qatar Chamber board member Ibtihaj al-Ahmadani, who is also chairperson of the Qatari Businesswomen Forum, is joined by prominent entrepreneurs from Qatar during the opening ceremony of the ninth edition of the 'Arabian Woman Exhibition', which will run until November 8 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Over 170 female entrepreneurs from Qatar showcase latest creations in ‘Arabian Woman Exhibition’

More than 170 female entrepreneurs are participating in the ninth edition of the ‘Arabian Woman Exhibition’, which will run at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC) until November 8.The event, which is being held under the sponsorship of the Qatari Businesswomen Forum, was inaugurated by Qatar Chamber board member Ibtihaj al-Ahmadani, who toured the 220 local, regional, and international stands showcasing the latest creations for the winter and fall season 2023.During the event, al-Ahmadani, who was joined by Tamader al-Marri, director of Vogue Event Company, as well as several Qatari businesswomen and entrepreneurs, was briefed on the latest designs and products presented by Qatari and foreign designers in the fields of fashion, accessories, and women’s supplies.Speaking at the exhibition, al-Ahmadani, who is also the chairperson of the Qatari Businesswomen Forum, emphasised the forum’s support for Qatari businesswomen and its aim to empower them and to promote their businesses, as well as bolster their contributions to the economic and commercial activities in the state.Al-Ahmadani lauded the event’s growth in terms of the number of exhibitors, the exhibition space, and the evident development in innovation and design showcased in the products displayed in the event, whether in terms of fashion or accessories and various supplies that are of interest to Qatari women.Meanwhile, al-Marri said the exhibition offers a good opportunity for visitors to learn about the most prominent designs created by Qatari designers, noting that the exhibition had achieved significant success in its previous editions.She also emphasised that the ninth edition of the event is significantly unique regarding the exhibition area, which covers 10,000sq m, and the number of participating exhibitors.Al-Marri said the exhibition would continue to support ambitious designers and entrepreneurs and enhance their roles in the national economy. She stressed that it is considered one of the most significant fairs held in the state, consistently drawing more 12,000 visitors in each edition. The event is an important platform for displaying designs and exchanging expertise, al-Marri noted.She said the latest edition of the exhibition is expected to be noteworthy because of the participation of many prominent names in the field of high-end fashion and abayas, noting that it will also be comprehensive as it displays all the needs of Qatari women in terms of abayas and women’s accessories. Al-Marri added that the exhibition, which will be open from 10am to 10pm daily, is expected to witness a great turnout this year due to the variety of products it offers.

The panel of experts during Startup Grind Qatar’s recent event titled ‘How can the ecosystem create value to enable startups to scale in Qatar?’ PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Startup Grind panel of experts discuss challenges, solutions for Qatar’s startup ecosystem

A panel of experts has dissected Qatar’s evolving startup ecosystem to help shed light on the challenges and solutions needed to propel the country’s entrepreneurship culture during Startup Grind Qatar’s recent event titled ‘How can the ecosystem create value to enable startups to scale in Qatar?’The panel discussion, which was moderated by Firas Sleiman, founder/CEO and chief AI officer at TEN.Ai., highlighted the insights of Hamad Mubarak al-Hajri, founder and CEO of Snoonu; Dr Allan Villegas-Mateos, senior research fellow of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at HEC Paris, Qatar; Nayef al-Ibrahim, founding partner and CEO of Ibtechar; Georges Fouad Salem, senior manager - Business Incubation & Acceleration, Qatar Development Bank (QDB); and Mohamed Shahin, TASMU Accelerator manager.Al-Hajri lauded the efforts of the Qatari government for providing the country’s business environment with a “very good” legal framework, as well as entities that are supportive of startups like the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), among others. He said QSTP and similar entities have helped make Qatar an attractive destination for global entrepreneurs looking to start their businesses.On the other hand, he also raised other challenges, such as registration processes that are time-consuming compared to other countries in the region. Despite this, al-Hajri suggested that improving automation could significantly streamline the process, saying that “speed is a critical issue.” By addressing this concern, he believes that Qatar can further enhance its appeal as a global business hub.Similarly, Villegas-Mateos shared other challenges for setting up a business in Qatar, especially for non-Arabic speakers. He said the numerous visits to the ministries and the possible need to translate documents are, likewise, time-consuming. He also emphasised that the country would benefit from efforts to market Qatar globally and to promote the added value for businesses looking to expand into the region.Shahin underscored that Qatar is fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem. Citing the government’s TASMU Accelerator Programme, he said this initiative is bringing global innovations to Qatar to establish their businesses, expand to the market, and create job opportunities.He said attracting global startups to Qatar would enhance the quality and competitiveness of the private sector and encourage more spin-offs and entrepreneurs. Shahin also noted that TASMU is collaborating with different parties in the country, especially the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) to facilitate and support startups in Qatar.Shahin stressed that Qatar’s public and private sectors are essential to support the country’s startup ecosystem, specifying the roles of the public sector in setting the legislation, framework, and policy, and the private sector in increasing the adoption rate and bridging the trust gap.Meanwhile, Salem emphasised that there is optimism in the evolving legal framework in Qatar, which is significantly favouring the development of startups and creating a more conducive environment for their growth. According to Salem, Qatar ranks as one of the top jurisdictions at the GCC level, placing it either “second or third,” which underscores Qatar’s commitment to fostering a robust startup ecosystem.Al-Ibrahim, for his part, shared insights on how the private sector can fuel innovation in the ecosystem. He believes that three main components are crucial for this process: the right scripts, the right tools, and the right forces. By having these components in place, he is confident that innovation within the ecosystem can be fuelled effectively.Citing the achievements of Snoonu in Qatar, al-Ibrahim also highlighted the importance of success stories in sending signals of hope for the ecosystem and driving it forward. He added that the private sector plays a pivotal role in creating these success stories, which could play a significant role in shaping the future of innovation in Qatar.

South Korean Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Han Hoon.
Qatar
Expo 2023 Doha showcases S Korea advancements in smart farming

Expo 2023 Doha will provide the Republic of Korea with a suitable platform to showcase distinctive advancements the country has achieved in the field of agricultural technology and smart farming, according to Han Hoon, the vice-minister of the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs (MAFRA).Citing the six-month International Horticultural Exhibition (Expo 2023 Doha) event, which is ongoing at Al Bidda Park, Han shared examples of successful projects or agreements that have played a key role in elevating Qatar-South Korea ties through agricultural and food-related collaboration in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times.“The ministry is participating in the Expo 2023 Doha to strengthen a co-operative partnership with Qatar. The ministry is showcasing a 1,322sq m outdoor garden and a pavilion to exhibit South Korea’s smart farming technologies.“The main theme of the exposition is sustainable agriculture for the future and the environment to mitigate and reduce desertification. Therefore, the event will provide a great opportunity for the ministry to demonstrate South Korea’s unique agricultural technology of the future. I truly hope that Expo 2023 Doha will be held with great success,” Han pointed out.During his recent state visit to Qatar, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol inaugurated the Korean pavilion at Horticultural Expo 2023 Doha in the presence of HE the Minister of Municipality Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie, who is also chairman of the national committee for hosting the expo, as well as other Qatari ministers and senior officials.After inaugurating the pavilion, Yoon was briefed on the most important cutting-edge agricultural technologies, along with the associated technological equipment, according to a report by Qatar News Agency (QNA).Speaking to QNA, Yoon stressed “his visit to Doha...is an opportunity to commend Qatar for its successful hosting of another important international event following last year’s FIFA World Cup,” adding he is confident Qatar will take on even greater roles in both regional and international arenas.According to Han, MAFRA is implementing new policies to turn agriculture into an industry for future growth – a key project of the current administration.Such new policies include training young farmers, promotion of smart farming, expansion of export in ‘K-food’ and the upstream and downstream industries, and the development of new industries, such as food-tech, among others.“Food-tech, a merger of food and technology, refers to a new industry of applying cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and biotechnology, among others, to the entire value chain covering all the business processes, including production, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery, with regard to agro-fishery products. Instances of food tech include a cooking robot, a food-serving robot, a food delivery robot, and artificial meat,” Han explained.Han started his public service career in 1992 at South Korea’s ministry of strategy and finance, which is in charge of the nation’s macroeconomic and fiscal policies. He was responsible for budgeting and economic policy and also has experience in allocating budgets for innovation in the agricultural sector, such as the ‘Project for Establishing the Smart Farm Innovation Valley.’“Since I took office as commissioner of Statistics Korea in May 2022, I have been in charge of the nation’s statistical policy. I was also in charge of promoting innovation in national statistics to produce statistics and data necessary for science-based decision-making. In July this year, I was appointed vice-minister of the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs.“With a long tradition and history, the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs is responsible for stable food supply and food security for the public. The ministry is also playing a pivotal role in promoting a balanced development of land across the nation through systematic development and preservation of rural areas,” Han added.

Spanish ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Spanish products’ presence in Qatari market expanding, says envoy

A diverse range of Spanish food and non-food products are emerging in the Qatari market, thanks to the close partnerships forged with retail giant LuLu Hypermarket, Spanish ambassador Javier Carbajosa Sanchez told Gulf Times.Sanchez made the statement on the sidelines of the launching of the ‘Festival of Spain’ promotion, which will run until November 1, across all LuLu Hypermarket branches in Qatar.The ambassador described Qatar-Spain relations as “great”, adding that this is what he emphasised to the more than 10 Spanish food suppliers and other Spanish residents who attended the event.According to Sanchez, the Qatari market is “competitive” and “educated”, traits that “can make a difference” in the further growth of the presence of Spanish products in the country’s retail sector.“At the same time, we need to make an effort to come over here, to make a dent, to produce a number of brands. It’s not only Qatar, it’s the whole region. And I think it’s important to make a policy of presence, visits, and promotion of Spanish products,” the ambassador explained.Sanchez said: “LuLu has been a regular sponsor of a number of activities that we have been doing along with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce here in Qatar, so I really hope that this partnership will not only be solid, but it will be the basis for so many things that we will be able to do in the future.“LuLu is a very solid establishment here in Qatar. And I’m very happy that on this particular occasion, Spain and LuLu are forces that could make the world a little bit smaller in terms of gastronomy and taste.” Sanchez also noted that the embassy has been witnessing a rise in the number and popularity of Spanish restaurants in Qatar.“If you think in terms of gastronomy and taste, some of the habits in the Arab world and those in Spain are not so much away from each other, so we share a lot in common. Islam has been in Spain and present for eight centuries, so there are a number of things that we share...This festival is going to bring Qatar and Spain closer together, thanks to the partnership that we have forged with LuLu. And this will be the first of many, I hope,” Sanchez also explained.One of the main highlights of the ‘Festival of Spain’ promotion includes offers on a wide range of Spanish-branded products. The promotion showcased a diverse selection of products from renowned Spanish brands, including exclusive items that were specially imported by LuLu Hypermarket, such as fresh food, cheeses, bread, and an array of fruits and vegetables.

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani.
Business
Qatar-Korea Business Forum puts spotlight on building robust ties

The Qatar-Korea Business Forum held Wednesday in Doha showcased multiple ways in which both countries could cooperate to strengthen bilateral commercial, investment, and industrial relations.The highlight of the event was the forum’s inauguration led by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani. Both officials spoke about investment opportunities available in both countries and ways to enhance bilateral economic co-operation.According to HE Sheikh Mohamed, Qatar and Korea enjoy close ties that were fortified by numerous official visits and both countries’ shared vision to diversify and broaden strategic partnerships and build a sustainable and prosperous future. This relationship was further enhanced by the signing of several bilateral agreements and MoUs, covering various sectors, he said.The minister noted that the forum represents an important opportunity to build on the positive results achieved in the previous edition, which was held in Seoul last June on the sidelines of the 6th Session of the Qatari-Korean Joint Higher Strategic Committee, whose outcomes contributed to enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two nations.Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar-Korea trade volume “reflects the strength of economic ties and its prospects,” lauding South Korea as Qatar’s third largest trading partner.The minister said Qatar succeeded in diversifying its economy by supporting non-carbon sectors and encouraging investments in the industrial sector. He said the 2022 FIFA World Cup cemented the nation’s position as a leading commercial and investment centre in the region, even as he called on Korean businessmen to benefit from Qatar’s economic and investment environment, which are favourable to foreign investors.Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar boasts of incentives that aim to encourage businessmen and companies to invest in Qatar, including legislation that allows 100% foreign ownership in various sectors, including real estate.Qatar also has advanced services and benefits to investors and companies provided by its free zones, in addition to a strategic location, modern infrastructure, and logistical capabilities, allowing the business sectors in both countries to establish new partnerships in certain vital sectors, such as light manufacturing, metallurgy, pharmaceuticals, agro manufacturing, and technology to meet the needs of the Qatari market and tap into new markets in the region and around the world.

From left: Abdulrahman Hesham al-Suwaidi, CEO, Qatar Development Bank; HE the President of the Civil Service and Government Development Bureau Abdulaziz bin Nasser bin Mubarak al-Khalifa; HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani; HE the Minister of Municipality Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie; Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani and Qatar Tourism chairman Saad bin Ali al-Kharji. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Commerce and Industry Minister opens Cityscape Qatar 2023

HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani led the inauguration of this year’s ‘Cityscape Qatar’ exhibition Tuesday, which will run until October 26 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).The minister led the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the presence of HE the Minister of Municipality, Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Subaie and Qatar Tourism chairman Saad bin Ali al-Kharji.More than 90 international and international developers are participating in the event to showcase the region’s best real estate and to reveal a range of major development projects over the next three days.“Every year, UDC is proud to be part of Cityscape Qatar. As pioneers of real estate in Qatar, we are using the latest technology, including virtual reality, to focus on digital transformation and sustainability,” said United Development Company executive director (Commercial) Hussain Akbar al-Baker.He added: “Our highlight at this year’s exhibition is Gewan Island, our latest development, which will be ready in the second quarter of 2024. Gewan Island will feature a mix of residential buildings, private and beachfront villas, a hotel, and a golf course.”Sheikh Nasser Abdulaziz al-Thani, head of Business Development, Qetaifan Projects, said: “We are thrilled to unveil our new branded residence at this edition of Cityscape Qatar, developed in collaboration with a local developer on the island’s South Marina Promenade.“Villa plots are now available for purchase. We will also showcase our operating assets, including Meryal Waterpark, The Rixos Hotel, the canal with 92 food and beverage (F&B) units, and the Azure Beach Club.”Cityscape Qatar also offers a variety of exclusive offers and deals from developers until the last day of the exhibition. Some of the offers unveiled Tuesday include Qatar Sotheby’s International Realty, Al Madar, Barwa Real Estate Group, Style Home Development, and Taj Real Estate.

Cho Young-jun, Executive Director/Sustainable Management Institution at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Business
South Korea, Qatar chambers to boost carbon-neutral firms

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) is looking for ways to forge collaboration ties with Qatar Chamber to advance sustainable practices and decarbonisation in business operations, an official has said.“The KCCI operates various organisations and programmes, such as the carbon reduction certification centre, the green energy support centre, and the supply chain support centre for carbon neutrality in the industry.“Qatar Chamber is also working to achieve carbon neutrality for companies, so they can share their know-how to achieve carbon neutrality with KCCI and jointly pursue reduction projects, if necessary,” Cho Young-jun, Executive Director/Sustainable Management Institution at KCCI, told Gulf Times in an interview at the chamber’s headquarters in Seoul.Cho noted that there are some areas within environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) and carbon neutrality that KCCI could align with the Qatari government, including relevant public and private sector entities.“The role of the carbon market is becoming important for carbon neutrality. Qatar also operates a certification centre to support this and we also established and operated a certification centre in January this year.“In this regard, the two countries share know-how in operating the programme, such as greenhouse gas reduction methodology and mutual recognition of issuance credits, which can help both countries achieve carbon neutrality,” Cho said.He said KCCI has been involved with successful ESG initiatives or partnerships that could serve as potential collaborations with Qatar, such as the utilisation of corporate technologies and capabilities in solving social problems and expanding corporate social roles.“Sustainable social risk companies are participating voluntarily; if new entrepreneurship spirit spreads and more companies sympathise and participate in the future, efforts to expand their social roles will increase not only in South Korea but also overseas.“There are many South Korean companies operating in Middle East countries, so there will be opportunities for co-operation. It will also serve as an opportunity to spread this new entrepreneurial spirit to Middle Eastern companies and society,” Cho explained.Cho also pointed out that there is potential for KCCI’s Sustainable Management Institution to contribute to achieving Qatar’s ambitious goals for carbon neutrality and sustainability.“South Korea and Qatar are representative countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuels. Accordingly, the Institute for Sustainable Development in South Korea has formed and operated an industrial greenhouse gas reduction research group, in collaboration with 16 industry organisations.“The research group is supporting the establishment of carbon neutrality promotion strategies by industry, as well as the discovery and diffusion of best practices and field guidance. Business networking, training programme operation, and best-practice sharing with Qatar are expected in the future,” Cho revealed.

Abdullatif Ali al-Yafei, executive director, Public Services at UDC. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Digital transformation driving UDC’s sustainable development strategy, says official

United Development Company (UDC) is capitalising on its digital transformation strategy to further UDC’s commitment to sustainable development practices, an official has said.UDC attracted scores of visitors to its pavilion Tuesday at Cityscape Qatar 2023, which will run until October 26 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC), where the company is utilising virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other technological advancements to showcase the latest developments at Gewan Island.“We are focusing a lot on sustainability...digital transformation, meanwhile, is among UDC’s visions that are aligned with the mandates of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani to achieve Qatar National Vision 2023,” UDC executive director commercial Hussain Akbar al-Baker told Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event.Al-Baker also lauded UDC’s use of technology and innovation, stating that the company’s digital transformation strategy is being used as a benchmark by major stakeholders and players in Qatar’s real estate market.This was reiterated by Abdullatif Ali al-Yafei, executive director, Public Services at UDC, who noted that The Pearl Island and Gewan Island are “way advanced” in implementing measures and initiatives related to sustainability and the environment.“To achieve this, we have also to use technology. UDC is utilising state-of-the-art tools that will help us to become more sustainable, such as the introduction of electric vehicles (EVs) and EV charging stations, smart lighting and other similar technologies, as well as devices that protect and clean the environment like UDC’s sea bin cleaners,” al-Yafei explained.According to UDC, Gewan Island places an unwavering emphasis on sustainability, embodying a multitude of eco-conscious initiatives that are reshaping the landscape of modern living. Notable among these initiatives is the implementation of LED street lighting, a transformative measure that significantly bolsters energy efficiency and sustainability. This forward-looking approach has already led to a remarkable reduction in annual lighting energy consumption by a minimum of 20%, with the added benefit of a noteworthy decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Furthermore, Gewan Island has introduced a centralised district cooling system, a pivotal step that not only curtails GHG emissions but also serves as a beacon of reduced energy consumption across the island. Complementing these advancements is a state-of-the-art pneumatic waste management system that actively promotes waste segregation, fostering heightened community awareness and active participation in waste reduction endeavours.In pursuit of a sustainable future, Gewan Island takes the concept of sustainability to its core by designating an impressive 90% of project parking spaces as sustainable, providing essential shading that minimises the heat island effect.With an astute understanding of environmental concerns, Gewan Island has taken strides to address the urban heat island effect through innovative design choices. These include the implementation of green roofs, thoughtfully selected road and pavement colours, and the strategic integration of lush greenery with buildings and structures, all geared towards mitigating the adverse effects of urban heat.Moreover, Gewan Island’s strategic location plays a pivotal role in supporting water circulation throughout the area, thereby nurturing a thriving biodiverse ecosystem. In line with these principles, the island’s 15 mixed-use buildings are meticulously designed to provide ample shading, significantly reducing cooling requirements.In recognition of these efforts, UDC is set to receive a Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) certification from the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (Gord) for sustainable building design and construction, during its participation in Cityscape Qatar 2023.

Kwon Hyun-chul, Director of the Middle East and African Trade Division at South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Business
Talks are underway to conclude ‘Korea-GCC FTA’

Negotiations are currently underway to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including Qatar, an official of the East Asian country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has said.“The ‘Korea-GCC FTA’, which will be South Korea’s first FTA with an Arab country, is expected to be an important opportunity to expand bilateral trade and strengthen co-operation.“We request Qatar to exert an active leadership role in advancing the Korea-GCC FTA negotiations based on its open free trade policy and rich negotiation experience,” Kwon Hyun-chul, Director of the Middle East and African Trade Division, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.Aside from trade, Kwon said the ‘South Korea-Qatar High-level Strategic Co-operation Committee,’ a regular consultation body between the Ministers of Industry and Trade of both countries, has played a crucial role in consolidating co-operation on energy and construction infrastructure and expanding co-operation into diverse areas, such as education, healthcare, culture, and sports.According to Kwon, the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation was recently held in Seoul on June 15.“Nine South Korean ministries, including the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of Science and ICT, and Ministry of Health and Welfare, participated in the council, and 13 Qatari ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI); Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) engaged in in-depth discussions on strengthening future co-operation in diverse areas, such as energy, agriculture, aviation, maritime, culture, education, health, and advanced technology, and signed MoUs on investment, intellectual property, and smart farms under the supervision of both countries’ ministers of industry and trade,” Kwon explained.He said the agreements signed during the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation include MoUs between Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) on regulation, business information, development plan sharing, and B2B events (business matching) support; Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and MoCI on Intellectual Property sector human resource development and co-operation, such as education programmes; and Nexton and IPA Qatar on co-operation for entry into Qatar’s local smart farm business.Kwon added: “Following QIA’s participation in the sixth session of the Joint Supreme Committee for Strategic Co-operation, we look forward to expanding bilateral industrial co-operation to investment co-operation that creates investment opportunities in new industries.“The high-level committee between South Korea and Qatar will be a channel for discussing co-operation in promising areas for the future, not only to expand trade and investment but also to strengthen the sustainability of the bilateral partnership.”

Kwon Hyun-chul, Director of the Middle East and African Trade Division at South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Business
Qatar-South Korea ties seen in forging high-efficiency energy mix

There is considerable opportunity for co-operation between the governments and companies of South Korea and Qatar to construct a high-efficiency energy mix, especially in the hydrogen, renewable energy, and nuclear power sectors, an official of South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has said.“South Korea is planning to continuously reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation sector by utilising nuclear power and expanding renewable energy, adopting a hydrogen blending method with natural gas, and phasing out additional coal-fired power plants,” Kwon Hyun-chul, Director of the Middle East and African Trade Division, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.With the accelerating race to secure clean hydrogen, a new form of energy, the South Korean government is working to spread the hydrogen economy, and through the new government’s hydrogen economy policy announced last November, it plans to utilise hydrogen as a major means of reducing greenhouse gas levels in the future, Kwon emphasised.“We understand that Qatar also engaged in large-scale blue hydrogen and ammonia projects, and has strengths in producing blue hydrogen, while South Korea has technological prowess and distribution experience in applications, such as hydrogen vehicles and fuel cells, so we hope that co-operation on hydrogen projects between the two countries will create synergy in the future,” Kwon pointed out.Regarding renewable energy co-operation, South Korea, having accumulated substantial policy experience through proactive renewable energy distribution policies, can be a valuable co-operation partner for Qatar’s energy transition and climate policies, Kwon said.“Continued co-operation is expected between both countries’ companies on large-scale renewable energy projects like solar power plants,” he further explained.On prospects for future co-operation in the industrial and energy sectors, Kwon noted that Qatar is the third largest trading partner for South Korea in the Middle East, maintaining continuous collaboration in various fields, starting with over “$14bn” in goods trade.“Especially in the ongoing uncertainty in the global energy market, Qatar and South Korea are maintaining an important co-operative relationship in the energy sector as the largest mutual LNG trading nations,” Kwon stressed.He added: “We hope the co-operation on LNG between South Korea and Qatar continues to expand, and South Korean companies participate not only in major energy-related projects like energy plants and LNG carrier constructions that are being promoted by Qatar but also in the non-petroleum energy sectors like digital, finance, logistics services, and renewable energy. We earnestly expect keen interest in South Korean companies in the future.”

Gulf Times
Business
LuLu eyes AI to optimise operations and climate action plan

LuLu Group is keen on integrating its digital transformation strategy into its climate action plan to lower the hypermarket chain’s impact on the environment, a top official has said.“The group has appointed a sustainability officer to oversee this integration because we believe that automating many of LuLu’s processes could help reduce our carbon emissions,” said Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.According to Althaf, LuLu is taking a page from a study by Google, where artificial intelligence (AI) was used to optimise their high-energy machines. He said the AI engine designed solutions that were 40% more efficient than commercial engineering due to its extensive database.He said LuLu Group has applied its engineering expertise to make its buildings energy efficient, achieving a 24% reduction from 2021 to 2023. “This achievement is certified,” he said, “and the learnings are being applied to our new buildings, resulting in further reductions.”But Althaf also acknowledged the limitations to how much engineering skills could contribute to LuLu’s net zero target. To avoid reaching a plateau, he said LuLu is considering employing AI to explore more possibilities, such as recalibrating the group’s supply chain, improving maintenance, and monitoring the health of their machines, including chillers, freezers, and vehicles.“We are also interested in using AI for preventive maintenance and designing efficient assortments for our trucks, both locally and internationally. The goal is to minimise wastage of space and determine the optimal height for stacking goods. These are projects we are very interested in pursuing,” he said.Althaf said AI could also play a role in various aspects of the group’s operations, including optimising energy usage. He stressed that AI could contribute significantly to waste reduction and management by creating strategies to reduce waste in its supply chain.In terms of nutrition, Althaf said AI could quickly develop recipes and solutions that haven’t been explored before, such as AI’s role in designing protocols, particularly for transportation. Another area for AI’s potential is in predictive maintenance, ensuring better prediction and prevention of issues before they occur, he also noted.Acknowledging the challenges that AI can address, Althaf said the most critical for the group is achieving its net zero goals, which LuLu aims to integrate with the digital transformation of its businesses.“Our achievements, such as establishing the first net-neutral store and the first digital shop at Hamad International Airport, aim to motivate our team and draw attention to these initiatives.“These milestones could encourage others within the organisation to consider how we can achieve similar results and explore strategies to incorporate AI into various aspects of the business,” he emphasised.Althaf underscored that LuLu Group is currently working on setting up its first metaverse store, which is envisioned as a place for people to experience LuLu’s climate action plan and healthy eating initiatives. He also explained that LuLu’s metaverse store is seen as an engagement zone, allowing people to experience a new technology that would be vital in the coming years.“We aim to enhance our capacity in the virtual world and ensure that this metaverse store allows people to experience LuLu’s climate-friendly initiatives, such as plant-friendly food options and refill options.“We are currently working with a partner on the store’s format and we are in the early stages of this project. Despite not having a history or legacy in this area, we are actively working on this project and progress is being made,” he added.Althaf revealed that LuLu Group also plans to establish multiple AI labs within the organisation: “These labs will have their own individual agendas but will also collaborate with each other. This initiative is part of our broader strategy to integrate AI into various aspects of LuLu’s operations and sustainability efforts,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.
Business
Climate change seen as ‘greatest threat’ to food security

The pressing issue of climate change “poses the greatest threat to food security today,” according to Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.Speaking to reporters recently, Althaf emphasised that food security challenges extend beyond financial constraints, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as an example. However, he lamented that climate change is causing significant disruptions in food supply.Weather changes caused a shortage of olives in Europe, while in Pakistan, heavy rains resulted in a significant loss of rice crops, forcing the South Asian country to shift from being an exporter to an importer of rice. The sudden decrease in global supply also affected neighbouring countries like India, Althaf noted.“If rice becomes scarce, people may turn to wheat, which is already under pressure due to climate change. This is just one incident in a medium-sized country like Pakistan and imagine the impact if larger countries like the US, Brazil, Australia, or India face similar problems,” Althaf warned, adding that many countries in Asia could also face agricultural problems due to climate change.He said, “LuLu’s primary focus is raising awareness about climate change, which is the most significant threat to food security worldwide. Increasing temperature by just two degrees could wreak havoc, hence the urgency of addressing this issue.“This is a key message that LuLu Group intends to highlight at the ‘Expo 2023 Doha Qatar’. LuLu is focused on aligning its goal of promoting sustainable food practices by consistently advocating this cause, in collaboration with our partners like the embassies of Italy, the UK, and Ecuador, among others.”Althaf also highlighted LuLu’s global partnerships with the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC): “We are the only members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation from Qatar. LuLu’s membership in these three organisations is among the key aspects of the group’s sustainability strategy.”On LuLu’s initiatives towards achieving net zero targets, Althaf said the group is working on an ‘emission three’ initiative, which is committed to aligning with the Qatar National Vision 2030.“Our goal is to reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, a target which we set five years ago but surprisingly is approaching so soon. In terms of ‘emission one’, which refers to LuLu’s own generation, we are well within our target and expect to achieve it even earlier than planned.“We have made significant strides in energy efficiency as our Al Meshaf store has become the first carbon-neutral hypermarket in the GCC, and we have also made progress in reducing water wastage and recycling plastic,” he explained.Althaf revealed that LuLu Group is now focusing on decarbonising its supply chain, both locally and internationally: “We are in advanced negotiations with shipping companies to overcome challenges and potentially use green fuel. Our supply chain institutions in Birmingham have already achieved net neutrality.“In the UK, we already have surplus power. In the US, we are close to meeting our targets for plastic and pallet recycling, using electric vehicles, and implementing digital automation.”Althaf also highlighted that LuLu is focused on enhancing resiliency in its supply chain, especially in light of recent global events like the war in Ukraine and the conflict between Hamas and Israel.He said LuLu has expanded into Central Europe, including Finland, parts of Germany, and the Baltic region, by setting up a facility in Poland, in collaboration with the Polish Trade Agency.Aside from LuLu’s facility in Milan, Italy, the group is planning to open another one in Australia, said Althaf, who added that LuLu is also exploring potential facilities in Canada, Ecuador, and Mexico.“Self-reliance and self-sufficiency are important, especially in the face of potential climate challenges, so we are diversifying our sources to ensure resilience. Our efforts align with Qatar’s global vision, and we aim to ensure that our businesses follow suit.“LuLu is particularly focused on reducing emissions and making food accessible, affordable, nutritious, and sustainable. We are working towards ensuring that everything we serve is healthy and sustainably sourced,” he stressed.

File photo of the ongoing Expo 2023 Doha Qatar.
Business
Qatar’s agricultural sector shows potential for regional production, says IPA Qatar

Qatar has an emerging agricultural sector, which demonstrates significant promise for extensive production in the region, the Investment Promotion Agency Qatar (IPA Qatar) has said.In its newsletter for Q3 2023, IPA Qatar stated that accessibility to capital, government initiatives, resilient transport and logistics, growing demand, and support systems have played a key role in the development of this sector.The IPA Qatar newsletter stated that Qatar Development Bank’s (QDB) 16 industrial facilities for the food and beverage (F&B) sector under its ‘Jahiz 2’ initiative was essential in providing access to capital.Other factors that contributed to the development of the agricultural sector in Qatar include low tariffs for productive farms, including electricity tariffs of 0.07/kWh and water tariffs of 5.2/m³; more than 50 establishments and partnerships with leading technology companies and research and development (R&D) centres through Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP); and the capacity to increase production as 51,354 hectares of cultivatable land remains uncultivated.Government initiatives like the Qatar National Food Security Strategy aims to increase vegetable production to reach 70% self-sufficiency in greenhouse vegetables by 2023, the newsletter also reported.Other initiatives also include the joint Food Security Project between the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and Ministry of Municipality and Environments (MME) for the development of sustainable food systems in Qatar, as well as the partnerships between Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZ) and the MME for the creation of investment opportunities in the field of agritech.In terms of resilient transport and logistics, the newsletter underscored the importance of Qatar’s global connectivity through Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Hamad Port with one of the world’s largest air cargo carriers.It also stated that Qatar is among the top 30 globally on the logistics performance index for international shipments, infrastructure, and timeliness. The country has geographically diversified trade partners for critical commodities and offers exemptions from customs duties on imported raw materials and machinery.According to IPA Qatar, Qatar’s increasing population is creating momentum for the country’s food security programme. “A growing percentage of shoppers are insisting on organic or clean food...organic packaged food and beverages consumption in Qatar grew from $17.2mn in 2021 to $20mn this year,” the newsletter stated.IPA Qatar also stated that the Qatar International Agriculture Exhibition (AgriteQ 2022) provided an opportunity for investors to collaborate on the latest agricultural technologies.Other support systems include the following: IPA Qatar’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Wadi Water will enable the company to invest in innovative technologies in the agriculture industry; Mahaseel, owned by Hassad Food, supports local agricultural production and private sector investments in agritech innovation; and the MME’s investment portal ‘Foras’ is promoting public-private partnership.Similarly, a recent Qatar News Agency (QNA) report lauded the visionary leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, which helped achieve significant accomplishments in the development of the country’s agricultural sector.His Highness the Amir has prioritised the development of natural resources, particularly agriculture, as a national priority, aiming for self-sufficiency and food security. This includes the adoption of policies, strategies, and innovative techniques to serve both agricultural and environmental sustainability, QNA further reported.

Gulf Times
Business
Natural gas consumption projected to rise, share in global energy mix to go up to 26% by 2050: GECF

Natural gas consumption is projected to increase by 36% even as its contribution to the global energy mix will go up from the current 23% to 26% by 2050, Doha-headquartered GECF said in its updated Global Gas Outlook.The outlook foresees a sustained increase in primary energy consumption over the next three decades. This growth is underpinned by a rising global population and a doubling of the global economy's size by 2050.Natural gas’ leadership position establishes it as the dominant energy source, surpassing coal, oil, and even renewables, despite the latter being the fastest-growing energy sector during this period.Following the 25th GECF Ministerial Meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, examined recent short-term gas market developments and immediate prospects.The meeting noted with satisfaction the continued growth in natural gas demand, and number of LNG importing countries, and despite a mild winter season, expanded renewable and nuclear energy output, and policy-driven demand reduction measures in some countries.It also recognised the resilience of global gas supply, as well as the sustainable gas output of GECF member countries, which contributes to strengthening global energy security.While prices have markedly softened in comparison of last year’s summer levels, and volatility has declined, gas markets will nevertheless continue to be tight should the upcoming winter be colder than normal in the Northern Hemisphere.The ministers also noted that in the medium term, market tightness will begin to ease after 2025 when the majority of new LNG projects are set to be commissioned, with GECF member countries spearheading this expansion.The meeting welcomed the efforts of GECF member countries in reducing gas flaring, methane emissions, and the carbon footprint of natural gas operations.It also underscored the crucial role of technology in making natural gas even cleaner, such as carbon capture, utilisation, and storage, as well as low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia.It resoundingly affirmed its unwavering support for African nations in their resolute pursuit of eradicating energy poverty, recognising the profound urgency of this mission in the face of grim statistics. It is a stark reality that over 600mn individuals in Africa still lack access to electricity, while more than 970mn do not have access to clean cooking.Moreover, the Meeting underscored the pressing role of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the imperative of implementing them in a comprehensive and harmonious manner, considering their economic, social, and environmental dimensions.This holistic approach resonates with the concerns highlighted in the recent UN SDG progress report, which regrettably reveals that nearly half of the targets are behind schedule.GECF asserted the essential role of investment and the necessity of fostering an environment that encourages unrestricted investment and promotes financial cooperation across continents.It also emphasised the importance of ensuring equitable access to all technologies. These actions are instrumental in safeguarding the stability of both energy demand and supply, taking into account national circumstances, capabilities, and priorities.In this context, the meeting cautioned against misguided calls to halt natural gas investment. Such actions could lead to supply shortages, inflated prices, and a potential return to coal, as seen in 2022, undermining emission reduction objectives.Furthermore, it reiterated the crucial significance of safeguarding critical gas infrastructure, both on a national and international scale, to facilitate the seamless flow of natural gas. It underscored the imperative of protecting these facilities from natural disasters, technological mishaps, man-made threats, and deliberate attacks.

A participant of the 'Pitch Pit' segment delivers a presentation before a panel of investors, including Sheikh Mansoor bin Khalifa al-Thani (MBK Holding), Sara Daniel (Doha Tech Angels), Misfer al-Hajri (Ajyal), Zainab al-Sharif (Plus VC), and Marcel Dridje (eban).
Business
2nd Arab Fintech Forum concludes; awards ceremony celebrates fintech innovation

A prestigious group of entrepreneurs, startups, and corporate firms were honoured during an awards ceremony, which was among the highlights of the two-day ‘Arab Fintech Forum’, which was held recently in Doha.This second edition of the forum provided a deep dive into the future of financial technology (fintech) in the region. The final day of the event not only offered a comprehensive overview of fintech’s flourishing landscape in the Middle East but featured workshops, the ‘Pitch Pit’, and the Arab Fintech Forum Awards Ceremony.The awards ceremony celebrated the best in fintech innovation and honoured the following: Mastercard, which was awarded ‘Best Innovation in Payments’; Hyperpay for the ‘BTB Fintech Solutions Provider of the Year’ award; Karty – ‘Upcoming Wallet of the Year’; Thuraya Nasser al-Mulla – ‘Female Fintech Entrepreneur of the Year’; Spendwisor – ‘Best Use of Fintech for Shopping Experience’; and Dr Ahmet Faruk Aysan – ‘Fintech Researcher of the Year’.The second day’s agenda also featured expert-led workshops, introducing attendees to Artificial Intelligence’s expanding role in fintech, the burgeoning significance of digital currencies, and the craft of refining user experience on digital financial platforms.Another highlight of the forum’s conclusion was the eagerly anticipated Pitch Pit segment. Making its debut in Qatar, this initiative offered a platform for fintech startups Mume, Peqal, Spendwisor, Bawales, and S-Treasury to showcase their pioneering concepts to an illustrious panel of investors, including Sheikh Mansoor bin Khalifa al-Thani (MBK Holding), Sara Daniel (Doha Tech Angels), Misfer al-Hajri (Ajyal), Zainab al-Sharif (Plus VC), and Marcel Dridje (eban).Malik Shishtawi, president of the Arab Fintech Forum, said: “The passion and commitment exhibited over these two days underscore the region’s readiness and ambition in the fintech realm. Together, we are forging a future rich in innovation.”The 2nd Arab Fintech Forum gathered industry pioneers, emergent startups, and visionary investors during the event, enriching the narrative of the Middle East’s fintech trajectory.Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum, Mohamed Abdulsalam al-Emadi, senior manager of Investments at Qatar Development Bank (QDB), said Qatar is considered a “blue ocean” and less saturated than other regional markets, and “a great launching pad” for businesses penetrating the rest of the Mena region.Al-Emadi noted that by 2030, it’s anticipated that the global fintech sector will generate annual revenues of nearly “$1.5tn,” which accounts for nearly “25%” of all global banking valuations.In terms of financial innovation, al-Emadi said fintech has played “a significant instructive role” in transforming market segments, particularly in payments and transaction banking.“Fintech has attracted more than $500bn in funding worldwide over the past decades, even though there was a decline in the last year due to varying factors, including behavioural conflict, supply chain issues, rising inflation, decreasing valuation, and the recovery from the global pandemic. Data indicates that fintech is revolutionising the access to financial resources, breaking down barriers and empowering underserved communities,” he stressed.According to al-Emadi, the growing market demand for a convenient and secure financial transaction system and a more attractive economic and financial ecosystem is anticipated to grow faster in the Mena region than the majority of other financial ecosystems in the region.The inaugural day of the forum also showcased 20 local, regional, and international speakers who delivered five sessions on topics like the evolution of digital banking, cybersecurity challenges, and the transformative potential of blockchain technology.The forum’s attendees engaged in networking sessions in the exhibition area, which featured 10 local and international companies showcasing their services and expertise.Shishtawi added: “With its curtain fall, the Arab Fintech Forum solidifies its position as a must-attend in the Middle East's fintech calendar, promising even greater things in its next edition.”

Mohamed Abdulsalam al-Emadi, senior manager of Investments at Qatar Development Bank. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Qatar seen regional ‘blue ocean’ and ‘great launch pad’ for businesses

Qatar is considered a “blue ocean” and less saturated than other regional markets, and “a great launching pad” for businesses penetrating the rest of the Mena region, an executive of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said, citing the observations of founders of Doha-based fintech companies.Mohamed Abdulsalam al-Emadi, senior manager of Investments at QDB, made the statement Tuesday during the opening of the two-day Arab Fintech Forum 2023, which highlights financial innovation and inclusion in the Middle East.“I believe that through the effort of organisations, such as Qatar Development Bank and other partners in the ecosystem, we will be able to develop financial innovation programmes that address the gap in financial inclusion,” al-Emadi stressed.In a speech, al-Emadi noted that by 2030, it’s anticipated that the global fintech sector will generate annual revenues of nearly “$1.5tn,” which accounts for nearly “25%” of all global banking valuations.In terms of financial innovation, al-Emadi said fintech has played “a significant instructive role” in transforming market segments, particularly in payments and transaction banking.“Fintech has attracted more than $500bn in funding worldwide over the past decades, even though there was a decline in the last year due to varying factors, including behavioural conflict, supply chain issues, rising inflation, decreasing valuation, and the recovery from the global pandemic. Data indicates that fintech is revolutionising the access to financial resources, breaking down barriers and empowering underserved communities,” he stressed.According to al-Emadi, the growing market demand for a convenient and secure financial transaction system and a more attractive economic and financial ecosystem is anticipated to grow faster in the MENA region than the majority of other financial ecosystems in the region.He said the rapid adoption of the digital payment system in Qatar has prompted fintech companies to develop innovative payment solutions, such as mobile wallets, one-to-one payment apps, contactless payments, and other digital solutions.Al-Emadi said QDB is an example of how the banking industry can play a critical role in the successful implementation of this vision. He noted that QDB is supporting Qatar’s goals to increase diversification and innovation in financial services through leading institutes like Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) and other programmes.He also said QDB is actively identifying opportunities in the financial, government, and administrative domains, where it can offer comprehensive solutions. “This empowers entrepreneurs to stay focused on their core business and continue pushing the boundaries,” al-Emadi said.Malik Shishtawi, founder and CEO, Mangusteen, said the Arab Fintech Forum attracted delegations from more than 20 countries and features speakers from more than 10 countries.The event, which concludes Wednesday, also features an exhibition area and hands-on workshops for startups and other enterprises, Shishtawi explained.“We’re launching a new initiative to help fintech startups meet face-to-face with the investors to be able to ask for funding on the spot in front of the audience. We are also introducing the fintech awards to recognise key players from our industry,” he also said.Shishtawi added: "Today's discussions epitomise our forum's commitment to positioning the MENA region at the forefront of fintech evolution."