Author

Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
×
Subscribe now for Gulf Times
Personalise your news and receive Newsletters!
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy .
Your email exists
 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.
(Used for illustrative purpose only)
Qatar
'App transactions' growing hugely popular in Qatar

The use of digital platforms to send remittances is gaining more traction in Qatar’s expatriate communities, according to officials of Doha-based exchange houses.Speaking to Gulf Times, Dr Zubair Abdulrahman, operations manager of Al Zaman Exchange, and Asraf Kallidumpil, operations manager at Al Jazeera Exchange, both agreed that exchange houses are now offering a wide range of advantages and benefits to their customers through digital platforms.Online platforms and apps have been instrumental in the increase in the number of digital transactions for remittances being sent from Qatar, said Abdulrahman, who noted that Al Zaman Exchange recorded a 15% to 20% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in digital transactions in the first half of 2023.On the other hand, Kallidumpil, emphasised that the convenience being provided by Al Jazeera Exchange’s mobile app to its customers has been helpful in business operations.“Through our mobile app, our customers can use their bank accounts or cash pick-up services to send remittances to their respective home countries in the GCC and other Arab, Asian, and African countries in the convenience of their homes or workplaces,” Kallidumpil explained.“The mobile app, which offers special foreign exchange rates, also helps customers save time and effort to travel to physical branches where there would sometimes be long queues because of high customer footfall,” he also said.Digital transactions “are very helpful,” said Abdulrahman, who explained that going online is not only convenient for the customer but also for the company’s overall business operations.Abdulrahman further explained that digital transactions help increase efficiency in terms of digital marketing, by reducing operational costs, and minimising customer dependence on manpower in physical branches.“The ease of using digital platforms is advantageous to our customers and in terms of operational costs, our app and website help maximise efficiency in the company’s operations, as well,” Abdulrahman emphasised.Similarly, Kallidumpil noted that digital platforms are advantageous to companies because they are cost-efficient. “We are able to save on rent, utilities, and workers’ salaries, among other expenses, which is why we can allocate these savings onto special rates and promos in our mobile app,” he said.Kallidumpil also explained that customer footfall at Al Jazeera Exchange branches varies depending on their location or area and customer demographics. He said customers living within Doha prefer to use digital platforms compared to those living in communities outside the city.“Take for example the Industrial Area, which is mostly inhabited by labourers and workers, we have more customers visiting our physical branch because they prefer to transact business in person rather than using the mobile app.“Some labourers are still apprehensive to use apps, but through our marketing campaign both online or in our physical branches, we are raising awareness on the advantages of using digital platforms like mobile app services,” Kallidumpil stressed.According to Abdulrahman, Al Zaman will be increasing the number of its physical branches across the country to meet growing customer demand. Setting up more physical branches is helping us enrol more customers and to promote our digital marketing strategies in the local market, he said.“If our customers, especially those who are outside Doha, face challenges in digital transactions, it would be easy for them to come to us if we have more physical branches to help them resolve any issue.“We are offering higher exchange rates online because of savings in operational costs due to our digital platforms. We are passing these benefits to our customers, so this helps encourage our customers to go digital,” he said.In the first half of 2023, Abdulrahman said Al Zaman Exchange has recorded a 10% to 15% increase in total remittance volume compared to the same period last year. During Ramadan and the Eid holidays, he said there was also a similar 10% to 15% increase in remittance volume. Also, holidaymakers and the vacation season helped push foreign exchange transactions, he added.Kallidumpil said Al Jazeera Exchange’s remittance volume in H1 2023 was 12% to 15% higher y-o-y, adding that during Ramadan remittance volume was also higher by 10% y-o-y. He also said the vacation season and recent Eid holiday helped push foreign exchange transactions for the following currencies: Saudi riyal, US dollar, euro, Turkish lira, and Jordanian dinar, among others.

Startup Grind Doha chapter director Indica Amarasinghe (standing) introduces the panel of experts during a discussion on the fintech industry in Qatar. From left are Ahmed Isse, co-founder of Dibsy; Mohamed al-Delaimi, founder and managing director of SkipCash; Michael Javier, CEO and founder of CWallet; Mohamed Suleiman, co-founder of Karty; and Steve Mackie, CEO and founder of Business Start Up Qatar. PICTURE: Thajudheen
Business
Fintech innovation seen to drive safe, enhanced user experience in Qatar

Innovations in financial technology (fintech) will continue to drive better user experience and safe transactions, among other solutions, being offered by tech startups in the local market.This was among the varied topics discussed by a panel of fintech startup founders based in Qatar during Startup Grind Doha Chapter’s regular discussion titled ‘What’s Next for Fintech Startups in Qatar’, which was held recently.Moderated by Business Start Up Qatar CEO and founder Steve Mackie, the panel was composed of Ahmed Isse, co-founder of Dibsy; Mohamed al-Delaimi, founder and managing director of SkipCash; Michael Javier, CEO and founder of CWallet; and Mohamed Suleiman, co-founder of Karty.According to Isse, “one of the biggest trends that happened in Qatar” is one-click payment solutions like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, among others. He noted that Dibsy is also focusing on fraud prevention, citing the use of machine learning to address the issue.Isse also underscored the importance of localisation or the knowledge of the local market, which, according to him, is how home-grown companies can add value as compared to the solutions being offered by their counterparts abroad.“Local companies understand localisation; we might have some similarities with other international start-ups but we focus on what the user wants because the end goal is what the user wants and by focusing on localisation, that’s where we win. Big companies can come and spend as much money as they can but if they don’t understand localisation, that’s where the value is lost,” Isse stressed.On the other hand, al-Delaimi said the general trend in fintech is that most of fintechs rely on existing capabilities, whether it is digital payment as payment gateways or data analytics for customer behaviour.“Some of the use cases currently in the market are ‘buy now, pay later’, crowdfunding, and insurance technology. These are actually built on existing solutions and capabilities provided by other fintechs.“Each fintech technology is going to fulfil certain use cases that provide a good customer experience, so all those fintechs right now are going to target specific user or customer experiences to address their needs and keep them in the same environment,” al-Delaimi explained.He added: “According to recent statistics, in the coming five years, 25% of all payments made in stores would be from wallets, whether it’s from Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay.”For his part, Javier emphasised the importance of financial inclusion by empowering customers and giving them the freedom to dictate what they want to do with their money by offering them a wide range of services.“What we can do is to be intimate with our customers...so, it is not the underlying technology that attracts customers but it is in the value and thought process,” Javier explained, adding that aside from localisation, startups and fintechs should also disrupt the market, citing the business models of Grab, Uber, and Airbnb, among others.Suleiman pointed out that while scaling locally or in international markets has its challenges for startups, localisation and understanding the market and the needs of potential customers and businesses is a key factor.“We live in a world that is ‘hyper-personalised’, so it is important to deliver the value that is connected to the needs of your customers, which is why localisation and a better understanding of the market add value,” he explained.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the event, Startup Grind Doha chapter director Indica Amarasinghe said: “The whole objective of Startup Grind is to bring the ecosystem in Qatar together. While this creates an opening for everyone to learn from each other, it also leads to invaluable networking opportunities.He added: “During the panel discussion, there were great insights shared by fintech startups in Qatar. The audience engagement showed the level of interest and confirmed the necessity for events like these. The fact that we had over 90 people attending is a great testament to Startup Grind Doha and also to the startup ecosystem in Qatar.”

Qatar has rapidly established itself as an accessible, stable, and innovative investment destination.
Qatar
Qatar's 'startup ecosystem' among the best in the region

Qatar is among the top 15 in the ‘MENA Ecosystem in Affordable Talent’ and among the top 10 in ‘MENA Ecosystem in Funding’ and ‘MENA Ecosystem in Knowledge’ categories of the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) 2023 edition.According to the Startup Genome website, the GSER 2023 “is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of startup ecosystems worldwide. Now in its 11th year, the GSER provides insights into the world’s leading startup ecosystems, emerging trends, and key challenges facing entrepreneurs.”The report noted that Qatar’s startup ecosystem value, which is a measure of economic impact, calculated as the value of exits and startup valuations from H2 2020-2022, stood at $685mn.Also, Qatar’s startup ecosystem value growth (CAGR), which is calculated based on companies founded in the ecosystem in H2 2018-2020 vs H2 2020-2022, witnessed a 133% increase, the report stated.The report also stated that Qatar scored a 10 in terms of early-stage funding growth, which is based on the number of seed and Series A rounds raised between 2019-2020 vs 2021-2022 and calculated on a scale of one (lowest) to 10 (highest).“Qatar has rapidly established itself as an accessible, stable, and innovative investment destination, a reputation earned through investment in the incubation and acceleration of local and international startups, strategic programming and mentorship, and international partnerships. Qatar Development Bank (QDB) is focused on supporting this growth,” QDB acting CEO Abdulrahman Hesham al-Sowaidi stated in the report.The report stated that Qatar’s successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup placed the international spotlight on the country’s commitment to innovation and economic development.“Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world with the highest per capita in the MENA region. It ranks number one in the world for foreign direct investment growth, according to the FDI Standouts Watchlist 2023 by fDi Intelligence. Qatar achieved a 70% annual growth in FDI projects between 2019 and 2022.“In November 2022, QDB organised the Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference (ROWAD) as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Digital Transformation Summit took place in March 2023 in Doha. At-Home-Doc, a telehealth startup, has raised $6.3mn over four rounds, with the latest being a seed round of $1.9mn in January 2023,” the report stated.The report also highlighted the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s (MOCI) collaboration with QDB and the World Economic Forum in the launching of Qatar’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB).In a report about AMHUB on the Hukoomi website, Mohamed Hassan al-Malki, assistant undersecretary of Industry Affairs at MOCI, highlighted the importance of the AMHUB for leaders of Qatar’s industrial institutions, major national companies, and owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).“The industrial sector stands at the forefront of Qatar’s priorities in terms of development, as it represents the main pillar of diversifying the national economy. Moreover, the industrial sector comprises a key element for achieving self-sufficiency in the state, and shaping younger generations’ future, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.“This platform is a collaborative space to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the industrial sector, as well as to exchange visions, ideas, and experiences about the industrial and technological capabilities of our country,” al-Malki stated.The GSER 2023 report also highlighted that the India-Qatar Startup Bridge initiative was launched in June 2022 to connect the startup ecosystems of both countries.“Qatar has also established various programmes to support innovation and entrepreneurship, such as the TASMU Accelerator, XLR8, and the Lean Acceleration Programme from Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC), which has a specific programme to assist startups in manufacturing products in Qatar. Additionally, Microsoft launched a cloud data centre region in Qatar in August 2022,” the report stated.

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.
Business
Mega events seen to promote Qatar as premier regional destination

Plans are underway to host other mega-events in the country as Qatar is maximising its exposure in the global limelight following its successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to top officials of Qatar Chamber.“Qatar would be focusing on the upcoming period to capitalise on its unprecedented achievements, particularly the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to develop its business environment, improve the investment climate, and promote business activities,” Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani pointed out.On the other hand, Qatar Chamber general manager Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi, who lauded the latest edition of Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg (QEF 2023), said: “There is no doubt that the mega events hosted by the State of Qatar are meant to achieve a host of objectives, such as imparting further momentum to the position and reputation of Qatar and its national economy, and promoting it as a leading business and investment hub.”Both officials’ statements were quoted in the latest edition of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s regular economic magazine, which compiles its various activities and engagements, as well as reports on trade and investment.Citing QEF 2023, Sheikh Khalifa said the forum was instrumental in underlining Qatar’s position as a leading global business hub, as well as the country’s advanced infrastructure and legislation.Sheikh Khalifa said the event was an opportunity to promote the Qatari economy globally by highlighting the incentives being offered to foreign investors. He said Qatar’s world-class facilities not only attract more investments and business to the country, but it also increases investor confidence in the Qatari economy, which stimulates and accelerates economic growth.Al-Sharqi said QEF 2023 was “one of the most prominent events,” which was held recently under the high patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, and gathered about 2,000 participants and 32 official delegations worldwide.“This year’s edition of the forum, held with the theme ‘A New Global Growth Story’, highlighted the latest trends in finance, energy, healthcare, and technology, as well as their role in driving future growth.“The forum fostered the exchanging of ideas and viewpoints between experts and emerging voices worldwide to identify the latest economic trends. This global event is part of a series of events hosted recently by the state, the most prominent of which was the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is the best version organised in the history of the tournament to date.”Al-Sharqi added: “The forum will certainly have positive impacts on the national economy in terms of its contribution to enhancing Qatar’s reputation as a leading business and economic hub and highlighting what is being offered by the state, such as world-class infrastructure, leading economic legislation, and a stimulating business environment.“Such events certainly have benefited the Qatari private sector as they offered an opportunity for local companies to exchange expertise, knowledge, and technology with participating companies thereby opening new horizons for more alliances and partnerships for the good of the national economy.”In the wake of “the best World Cup ever,” Qatar has hosted a series of events that attracted the participation of local and international companies, as well as diplomatic missions worldwide.Some of these events include the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), the Katara International Arabian Horse Festival (KIAHF 2023), Project Qatar, and QEF 2023, among others, a host of international and regional sports events, as well as the upcoming 2023 World Horticultural Exposition (Doha Expo 2023).

Michael Javier, CEO and founder of Doha-based fintech firm CWallet, shaking hands with Vesuvio Labs CEO and founder, Kristian Feldborg, who was one of the speakers of the 2023 edition of the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg.
Business
Industry leader underpins need for strategic partnerships to enhance Qatar’s fintech sector

Forging strategic partnerships between essential stakeholders and major players in the country’s financial technology (fintech) industry would be instrumental in supporting diversification and innovation in Qatar’s financial sector.Michael Javier, CEO and founder of Doha-based fintech firm CWallet, emphasised the need for technology companies in the country to help meet the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030 pillars, which include achieving a knowledge-based economy.“Having a robust fintech landscape in the country will open more avenues for entrepreneurs and opportunities for innovative solutions that would usher in high in-country value,” Javier told Gulf Times Wednesday.Javier also lauded the Qatar Central Bank’s (QCB) ‘Qatar FinTech Strategy 2023’, which was launched earlier in the presence of QCB Governor HE Sheikh Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saoud al-Thani and other officials and dignitaries.A Qatar News Agency (QNA) report on the launch ceremony stated that QCB’s vision for financial technology is based on development, diversification, and increasing the competitiveness of Qatar’s fintech and services sector through pioneer infrastructure, and providing solutions that positively affect customer experience.QNA also reported that Sheikh Bandar said “the strategy is based on a comprehensive study of the financial technology sector globally, as well as the Qatari financial sector’s foundations and the strengths of the national economy, creating a pioneering infrastructure for the financial technology market locally and globally, whilst ensuring the development of a comprehensive system for this sector, starting from the establishment of financial tech companies, all the way to mechanisms to enable them to grow and expand rapidly.”The QCB also granted a licence to CWallet, said Javier, adding that this will help enable the company to develop and deliver online, mobile, and point-of-sale solutions across Qatar and the region.He said the QCB licence allows CWallet to offer consumers and merchants more options in terms of mobile money wallets, peer-2-peer transactions, online, offline, and on-demand payment transactions, marketplace, payment gateway, wallet-as-a-service, and prepaid cards.“In continuation of the efforts to develop and reinforce the financial technology sector (fintech), CWallet Services has been granted a licence to provide digital payment services, bringing the number of companies under QCB’s supervision to eight. #Qatar_Central_Bank #Fintech,” the QCB tweeted.Earlier, Javier signed an agreement in London with Vesuvio Labs CEO and founder, Kristian Feldborg, who was one of the speakers of the 2023 edition of the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg. Javier said Vesuvio Labs is a startup incubator and seed fund that aims to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the fintech, insurtech, and wealthtech space.“I am thrilled and proud to announce that CWallet is joining our portfolio and that Vesuvio Labs will immediately take over the technical strategy and execution. CWallet was recently licenced by Central Bank of Qatar and we look forward to working with them on their extremely ambitious plans,” Feldborg stated in his LinkedIn account.Javier said, “The overall objective of the partnership with Vesuvio Labs is to bring advance tech, various products, and services using new tech trends and improve the current business ecosystem to serve the local and regional market while making sure it is regulated, sustainable, and in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.”

Gulf Times
Business
Properties sold in May 2023 jump 114.6%, says PSA

The total number of properties sold in the country in May 2023 witnessed a monthly increase of 114.6%, according to figures released by the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA).Similarly, the total number of building permits issued stood at 758 in May 2023, recording a monthly increase of 97.9% and an annual increase of 17.5%, the PSA bulletin stated.In the banking sector, the total broad money supply (M2) was recorded at about QR699bn in May 2023, an annual increase of 6.5% compared to May 2022. On the other hand, cash equivalents, including commercial bank deposits, totalled QR955bn in May 2023. The figure has recorded an annual decrease of 1.3% compared to May 2022, when deposits recorded approximately QR967bn.The PSA also recorded a rise in the value of shares traded by 142.1% in May 2023 compared to the previous month.In May 2023, the PSA bulletin stated that the total number of registered new vehicles reached 8,214, which showed a monthly increase of 20.5% and an annual increase of 25.7%.The PSA also reported an increase in the total number of new driver’s licences at a monthly rate of 75.6%, and the total number of registered new vehicles reached 8,214, which showed a monthly increase of 20.5% and an annual increase of 25.7%.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani, Qatar Chamber chairman.
Business
Qatar Chamber looks to innovation to meet goals of new board

Qatar Chamber is aiming to maximise the use of innovation, an upcoming state-of-the-art headquarters, and an effective communication strategy to fulfil the objectives laid out by its new board of directors.Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani announced these plans in the latest issue of Al Moltaqa, the chamber’s monthly economic newsletter, which featured the elections of its seventh council (2023 – 2028) held during the Second General Assembly Meeting.The newsletter reported that the number of voters reached 17,600 members compared to the 8,000 who participated in the previous elections in 2018. The large turnout of voters reflected “the positive interaction of the members and their eagerness to elect their representatives in the chamber.”Sheikh Khalifa said, “We are confident that the new board will focus on strengthening the chamber’s role in supporting the private sector and protecting its interests, promoting the national economy and investment climate, and highlighting Qatar as a leading global investment destination and hub for business, as well as enhancing the ease of business and attracting foreign investment.”According to Sheikh Khalifa, the chamber’s main strategy aims to enhance the private sector’s competitiveness, accelerate its growth, and increase its contribution to economic development, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, “whose most important pillar is promoting economic diversification and achieving inclusive economic growth.”Sheikh Khalifa said, “These goals will be achieved by updating the chamber’s digital structure, developing new electronic services, and promoting innovation to provide exceptional services to the private sector, in addition to developing communication mechanisms with all partners from ministries, government entities, and stakeholders, and enhancing cooperation with counterpart chambers in different countries around the world.“During the new council, we will work towards the completion of the chamber’s new headquarters in Lusail City, as we are planning to transfer to a sophisticated and modern building that keeps pace with the state’s economic renaissance in the country.”According to Sheikh Khalifa, the chamber will also focus on organising more activities to support the private sector, promoting the national economy, and expanding meetings with various economic and trade sectors to discuss and find solutions to all issues and obstacles facing the private sector.He said, “We will further concentrate on providing information and data on Qatar’s business environment and investment climate and highlighting the business and investment opportunities available in Qatar’s private sector.“There is no doubt that the new board will make the Wise Leadership’s directives among its priorities during the coming period, especially since these directives emphasise the importance of enabling the private sector to play its desired role in development, maintaining Qatar’s position as an attractive investment destination and facilitating a stimulating and competitive business environment.”Sheikh Khalifa also enjoined business owners and companies in Qatar to strengthen cooperation and communication with the chamber to express their views about all issues relating to the private sector.He added: “The chamber’s door is always open for all members to get acquainted with their views and proposals for the development of the private sector and solving all obstacles facing it.”

Yasser Dhouib, CQBF executive director.
Business
Tech, innovation vital in elevating Qatar-Canada ties, says business forum official

Technology and innovation are among the key sectors that will play a vital role in elevating economic relations between Qatar and Canada, an official of the Canadian-Qatari Business Forum (CQBF) has said.In a statement to Gulf Times, CQBF executive director Yasser Dhouib said the forum’s strategic focus is to help tech firms, trading companies, and related businesses from Canada mark their presence here during the ‘Web Summit Qatar’, which is slated on February 26-29, 2024 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre (DECC).“Qatar is effectively at the forefront of trade and high-tech business and innovation as it will host Web Summit Qatar next year. CQBF will participate in the event as an umbrella group that includes several important Canadian companies. CQBF wants to be involved in Qatar’s digitalisation efforts from a Canadian perspective, which endeavours to foster the exchange of Canadian technological know-how.“Doha is now becoming an ideal destination and an important regional hub for doing business and establishing strategic partnerships with Qatari high-tech companies. It will certainly be the best for Canada’s brand in business and trading technology to flourish,” Dhouib explained.According to its website, Web Summit Qatar joins the roster of international events organised by Web Summit, alongside Web Summit in Lisbon, Web Summit Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Collision in Toronto, and RISE in Hong Kong.Dhouib said CQBF also participated in Collision, which was held recently in Toronto, Canada.“In effect, CQBF aims to get Canadian-Qatari business investments and trading partnerships at the level of already excellent political relationships between the two countries.“CQBF seeks to establish a durable partnership with Collision, which is the ‘Olympics of tech’, in the belief that companies thrive in an interconnected world of opportunities and new ideas for creating wealth and technology for the benefit of the business community,” he said.He said: “Collision is ‘the place to be’ for high-tech companies and business forums, as well as trading partners in North America. The summit comes back this year after the pandemic with important profiles in business and high-tech companies; networking has become absolutely crucial for any business that wants to get an edge in technological trends.”

Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International.
Business
Qatar’s investment strategy, global partnerships to boost trade, says LuLu top executive

Qatar’s global partnerships and judicious investment strategy are among the vital fundamentals that continue to bring more foreign direct investments (FDI) and boost international trade, Dr Mohamed Althaf, director of LuLu Group International, has said.Despite its geographical size, Dr Althaf said Qatar has proven itself as a reliable trade partner. “As more countries come and start dealing with Qatar, we expect that they will discover how easy it is to do business here,” Dr Althaf explained.He said while Qatar has announced plans to increase its LNG output, the non-hydrocarbon sector will still play a key role in accelerating the growth of the country’s economy.“The Middle East is an exciting region and many tourists come here to shop because there is a favourable tax structure. And today, this matters for a lot of people. Qatar is now focusing on developing its hospitality and tourism sector following the positive impact of the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” Dr Althaf pointed out.He said the success of Qatar’s hosting of the Middle East’s first-ever FIFA World Cup resonated strongly with the international community, which will be vital in pushing the growth of many sectors in the country’s economy.According to Dr Althaf, the World Cup helped open a wide range of opportunities for Qatar’s international partners to explore long-term investment opportunities in the country.Even as the Qatari government spent $220bn in stadiums and related facilities to host the World Cup, Dr Althaf emphasised that the highly-anticipated football tournament gave visitors and tourists a first-hand experience of the country’s culture and heritage.“Visitors coming for the World Cup not only witnessed Qatar’s world-class infrastructure but they also got exposed to the country’s many touristic destinations, so tourism in Qatar is expected to be a big industry moving forward,” he pointed out.During the World Cup, he noted that LuLu Group was also able to do a lot of business diplomacy with its international partners that arrived in the country during the tournament.“A lot of people came to Qatar. We have invited our principals from various countries. They all came and had a taste and feel of what the country had to offer, so we were promoting other countries in Qatar and, at the same time, we were also promoting Qatar to other countries. In terms of that balance, I think we were doing whatever we could do in our humble way. And I see a lot of results in that,” Dr Althaf emphasised.

Mekeni Food Corporation president and CEO Prudencio “Pruds” Garcia welcomes Consul General Cassandra Sawadjaan of the Philippine embassy in Qatar (3rd and 4th from left, respectively) at the booth of Mekeni during the 125th Philippine Independence Day celebrations held recently in Doha. Joining them are (from left) Jeniffer Marie Tungol, general partner and CEO of the Doha-based Superfuture Ventures Limited UK-$1B Climate Impact Fund; Annaliza Diet, founder and CEO, Philippine International Institute; Marilou Olalia-Uy, AVP for HR and Exports at Mekeni; and Leigh Castillo, manager, Corporate Communications.
Business
Philippine meat brand is now ‘Made in Qatar’

Doha-based Filipino officials, entrepreneurs, and business stakeholders have welcomed the arrival of a food processing company from the Philippines, which is now producing halal meat products in Qatar.Rather than exporting to Doha, Mekeni Food Corporation, through its partner in Qatar, is now processing, distributing, and marketing its hotdog, tocino, and longanisa products in the Qatari market, which is home to more than 250,000 Filipinos and a diverse population of expatriates from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US, among others.Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of a commercial agreement signing ceremony held recently in Doha, Mekeni Food Corporation president Prudencio “Pruds” Garcia said the company intends to make Qatar its export hub to neighbouring GCC countries “and beyond.”“We soft-launched our export business as early as 2011 when Mekeni first shipped products to Dubai. Today, our halal ‘Picnic Hotdog’, ‘Chicken Tocino’, and ‘Chicken Longanisa’ brands are also available in the US, the UAE, Canada, Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, The Netherlands, and New Zealand.“With Doha as our hub in the Gulf, plans are in the pipeline to expand our export target to more GCC countries, as well as those in Europe and other mainstream markets to give OFWs and Filipinos living permanently abroad a taste of world-class Filipino food products in the hope that we can somehow fill the void of missing home,” Garcia said.Marilou Olalia-Uy, assistant vice-president for HR and Exports at Mekeni, said: “To offer halal products in Qatar has been on our export plan for quite a while now and we are fortunate to fulfil it this year through partnerships with local manufacturers.”In a letter to Garcia dated June 18, 2023, Philippine ambassador Lillibeth V Pono said: “On behalf of the embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Doha, I wish to extend my warmest congratulations on the scheduled signing of the commercial agreement between your company, Mekeni Food Corporation, and Doha National Food Industries on the sidelines of the community-led celebration of the 125th Philippine Independence Day on 23 June 2023.”The ambassador added: “The embassy underscores its commitment to provide appropriate assistance to homegrown Philippine enterprises that wish to serve the dynamic Qatari market and expand their operations in the Middle East.”Filipino entrepreneur Michael Javier, CEO and founder of Doha-based CWallet, lauded Mekeni’s move to saturate the local market with Filipino products that are being made in Qatar, saying this could encourage other major Filipino-owned companies to follow suit.According to Javier, Philippine companies specialising in the e-commerce and tech industries, manufacturing and packaging, industrial supply, sustainable and recyclable materials, agri-products, processed foods, hospitality, insurance, and well-being sectors would add value not only to their respective brands but to Qatar’s economy, as well, by expanding their operations here.“This would be a good use case in terms of a logistics and supply chain study. Knowing that Saudi Arabia is connected to Qatar by land, distribution channels to bigger markets like the kingdom, as well as the UAE, would bring business sense. Moreover, within 12 hours by land, transport vehicles can reach Oman, the UAE, and Bahrain, which is less than an hour by plane, including Kuwait,” Javier explained.Another Filipino entrepreneur, Jeniffer Marie Tungol, general partner and CEO of the Doha-based Superfuture Ventures Limited UK-$1B Climate Impact Fund, emphasised that companies like Mekeni bring added value to Qatar’s economy through job creation, economic diversification, technology transfer, increased FDI, and supply chain development.“Apart from the obvious economic value, the presence of a heritage brand like Mekeni is a strong indicator of Qatar’s openness and willingness to build a more inclusive business and social environment.“Demonstrating success, sharing market insights, fostering a collaborative ecosystem, gaining government support, and enhancing the reputation of Filipino products all contribute to inspiring and motivating other companies to explore international expansion opportunities in Qatar and beyond,” she said.Business Partners Consulting CEO Jyerex Go Abrasado, who is chairman of the organising committee for the recently-concluded 125th Philippine Independence Day celebrations here, said Qatar has implemented various legal and economic reforms and established world-class free zones and other facilities to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow and attract a wide range of industries into the country.He encouraged Filipino businesses and companies to capitalise on the opportunities being offered by the Philippine government through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), such as the DTI’s ‘Outbound Business Matching Mission (OBMM) to GCC Countries’, which was held here in February 2023.“Similarly, Qatar has been organising events with the participation of international companies, such as the recently-held Project Qatar and the upcoming horticultural event ‘Expo Doha 2023’. Events such as these are ideal platforms to promote the products and services of companies from the Philippines.“These companies could also benefit from incentives provided by Qatar’s 100% foreign ownership law and the public-private partnership law, which aim to stimulate the Qatari economy by attracting FDI,” Abrasado stressed.

Emirates NBD has forecast Qatar's budget balance (as a percentage of its GDP) at 3.8% this year and 6% in 2024
Business
Qatar's nominal GDP forecast at $227.3bn this year, $228.8bn in 2024

Qatar's nominal GDP has been forecast at $227.3bn this year and $228.8bn in 2024 in a report by regional banking group Emirates NBD.Real GDP growth has been forecast at 2.3% this year and 2.6% in 2024.The country’s current account (as a percentage of its GDP) has been forecast at 20.8% this year and 22.8% in 2024.Emirates NBD has forecast budget balance (as a percentage of its GDP) at 3.8% this year and 6% in 2024.Inflation based on consumer price index is expected to be 3% this year and 2.5% in 2024.In a report on energy transition, Emirates NBD said the conventional approach to analysing the economic impact of the energy transition is that economies highly dependent on the extraction of hydrocarbons will be challenged as the global economy reduces its dependence on hydrocarbons as energy inputs. This economic shorthand suggests that economies in the GCC — where oil and gas still represent a large share of nominal GDP and account for the largest share of fiscal and current account receipts — will need to substantially reform their economic structure in order to achieve long-term sustainable growth.The need to diversify economies across the GCC away from reliance on oil and gas has been a strategic objective of all economies in the region for decades. Progress has been positive, though uneven, and has mainly been thanks to the development of other industries rather than oil and gas output declining, the report said.The focus on the GCC as producers of energy, as sources of fossil fuels, obscures another challenge for the region. The region has one of the largest energy consumption footprints in the world, relying heavily on oil and gas as a primary source of energy as well as the main fuel in power generation.Energy consumption in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region represents around 8% of the world total, slightly ahead of the region’s share of the global population (about 6% as of 2021). But growth in energy demand runs among the fastest in the world. On a generational basis—25years—primary energy consumption in the region is doubling.That represents a slowdown from the near quadrupling in energy consumption recorded over the same time period in the 1980s but is still only second to Asia in terms of the pace of energy demand growth, a region which has nearly nine times the size of population as Mena, Emirates NBD said.

Gulf Times
Business
Past decade sees robust growth in Qatar’s ICT landscape

The past decade witnessed the growth and development of Qatar’s Information and Communications (ICT) landscape owing to the support and wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.Perhaps the highlight of Qatar’s ICT supremacy was manifested during the successful hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup where various technologies and innovation were utilised by the Qatari government to deliver “the best World Cup ever.”“Qatar’s ICT sector is stepping boldly onto the world stage, ready and committed to establishing Qatar as a regional and global digital hub,” stated HE the Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohamed bin Ali al-Mannai in the Communications and Regulatory Authority’s (CRA) ‘Qatar’s ICT Landscape & Digital Trends 2022 – Supply-Side Market Outlook’, which was released in March this year.Following its establishment in February 2014 through Amiri Decree No 42, the CRA continues to bring a broad range of innovative, high-quality, and reasonably priced communications services to individuals, businesses, and the government.The CRA, in its 2014-2015 Annual Report, stated that Qatar’s telecommunications market was “healthy and growing, and investment in the sector remains strong, with increased revenues and market size, new products, and stable net profits.”“Consumers are benefiting from wide-ranging consumer protection efforts, including a dispute resolution mechanism, a new advertising code of conduct, the Consumer Protection Policy, among others...a robust regulatory and legal framework that supports the development of the sector continues to be put in place,” the CRA reported.In its 2021 Annual Report, CRA highlighted further developments across the past several years, such as the ICT sector’s increased contribution to Qatar’s GDP by 7.6%, totalling QR10.3bn.In 2018, Qatar’s telecommunications providers, Ooredoo and Vodafone, launched their respective 5G-related projects, ushering a new era in the country’s mobile ecosystem and other innovation-intensive industries. But according to CRA’s 2021 Annual Report, the country’s 5G coverage reached just under 100% of Qatar’s population by Q4 2020.“We are particularly proud of the many signs of acceleration in the digital ecosystem and the significant investments in data centres and cloud infrastructure made by both global and local companies. Private investment in innovative startups in fintech, e-sports, and delivery technology increased during 2021,” the report stated.Al-Mannai, in the ICT Landscape & Digital Trends 2022 report, emphasised that Qatar National Vision 2030 “highlights the transformative role that the ICT sector must play in realising this bright, ambitious future.”He said: “The sector will enable Qatar’s growth, solidifying the foundation of a new knowledge-based economy powered by digital tools. ICT can be the power engine that brings forth new ways of living and doing business, sustainably in an environment where Qatar can further lead and grow.”According to al-Mannai, CRA’s Strategy 2020-2024 was designed to support Qatar National Vision 2030 and national development strategies by fostering the ICT sector in Qatar.“The CRA’s strategy has set an ambitious target to achieve 50% growth in the IT industry by 2024, with part of this growth to be driven by multiple e-government and smart city initiatives,” he stressed.The ICT Landscape & Digital Trends 2022 report stated that Qatar’s ICT sector currently contributes 2.7% to the country’s non-hydrocarbon real GDP.“Although less than other GCC states and advanced ICT economies, this share has been growing in recent years: the sector’s real GDP has grown at a 2.5% CAGR between 2016 and 2021 vs 0.3% of other non-hydrocarbon sectors. This trend is likely to continue growing thanks to the government’s strong commitment to catalyse the sector. For example, the CRA’s 2020-2024 strategy sets a 50% growth objective for the IT segment,” the report stated.From a supply perspective, the report noted that the telecommunications segment “is mature and concentrated around a limited number of players,” also due to the relatively small size of the country.“Starlink Satellite Qatar, owned by SpaceX, has recently been licensed to provide satellite internet services, thus adding to existing service providers Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar,” it said.In terms of market landscape, the report stated: “As much as Qatar has developed its ICT infrastructure to global standards and further improve it through data centres and cloud connectivity, two major global digital players have entered the local market and will further shape up the nation’s digital landscape: Microsoft has recently established its global data centre node in Qatar, and Google is in the process of following suit.“Furthermore, Google has just been awarded a framework agreement for cloud computing services for the Qatari public sector. Such market developments are promising to deliver the ambitious cloud-first and digital growth targets of the government and position Qatar as a competitive regional hub.”The report stated that Qatar boasts state-of-the-art mobile and fixed connectivity infrastructure, including near-universal 4G population coverage (~96% 5G coverage and 99% fibre coverage) and mobile speeds “among the best globally.”On investment and funding, the report said: “Around two-thirds of ICT businesses surveyed expect to increase their investments in Qatar within the next three to five years. This continues a recent trend that saw, for example, Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar investing in annual CapEx exceeding QR1bn since 2017, and FDI CapEx inflows to the ICT sector growing substantially.”“Qatar’s government is already leading the way in digital transformation, and as we revamp the nation‘s digital agenda and are about to unveil an ambitious roadmap for the digital economy, expectations for the local ICT industry are also growing substantially. These mounting expectations are only natural, given the growing demand for digital innovation,” al-Mannai also said.

The opening of the Hamad Port just three months after the blockade was a testament to the resiliency of the Qatari economy under the steadfast and wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s. It paved the way for the state to open new routes and widen the trade network of Qatar and its global partners. The opening of the world-class facility at the height of a regional crisis also expedited Qatar’s efforts to meet the objectives of its food security strategy.
Business
Wise leadership shields private sector from impact of major crises

His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s strong and decisive leadership served as a beacon of hope and was instrumental in steering the country’s economy at the height of major crises, such as the 2017 economic blockade against Qatar and the Covid-19 pandemic.In just 72 hours after the blockade was announced on June 5, 2017, His Highness the Amir immediately called on government ministries and agencies, including different private and semi-private organisations to mobilise resources.To support and promote national products and push for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) initiated ‘Buy Local Products’, which encouraged SMEs to expand their local supply in the plastics, iron and steel, aluminium and copper, wood, and general building materials sectors.The blockade also transformed the mindset of Qatari entrepreneurs running home-based businesses. In October 2017, the ‘Made at Home’ exhibition showcased the determination of home-based business owners to enhance their products and address the needs of the local market, as well as support the development of the economy.Through the efforts of QDB, Qatar thrived as a favourable environment for new businesses, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups. Despite the economic blockade, the country remained rife with opportunities that enable entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, such as the availability of retail space, access to funding and advisory services, and support from incubation centres.QDB also played a significant role in helping identify which supply chain to tap to substitute goods that have been affected by the economic blockade with Qatari products. Another key factor is the government’s support of the private sector, which pushed many procurement projects to be localised. These commitments to patronise local products played a big role in helping the private sector to take this opportunity.The opening of the Hamad Port just three months after the blockade was also a testament to the resiliency of the Qatari economy under the steadfast and wise leadership of His Highness the Amir. It paved the way for the state to open new routes and widen the trade network of Qatar and its global partners. The opening of the world-class facility at the height of a regional crisis also expedited Qatar’s efforts to meet the objectives of its food security strategy.At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, His Highness the Amir ordered the release of a QR75bn financial aid in 2020 to cushion the economy and shield the private sector from the impact of the global health crisis.Key leaders from the private sector lauded the Amir’s decision.In response to the release of the stimulus package, Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani said: “The private sector is grateful for the efforts made by the esteemed government to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. While the precautionary measures had some negative impact on economic activity, they are the best way to protect citizens and residents from the virus.”In an April 2021 report, Qatar Chamber announced that the level of the country’s private sector exports returned to pre-pandemic levels.The total value of Qatar’s foreign merchandise trade in January 2021 stood at QR29.1bn, reflecting a 13.7% growth over QR25.6bn in December 2020, the chamber reported, citing figures from the Planning and Statistics Authority (PSA) and the private sector’s exports based on certificates of origin issued by Qatar Chamber.

Under the Wise Leadership, Qatar was able to diversify its economic portfolio to further accelerate the inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) and spur growth in the private sector; creating economic diversity has been one of the key drivers and primary objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Business
Qatar private sector witnesses series of milestones in past decade

Qatar’s private sector has witnessed a series of milestones under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has steered the country to greater heights since his ascension to the throne 10 years ago.His Highness the Amir implemented several government reforms immediately after taking the helm of the state, ensuring that his administration will continue to diversify the country’s economy away from the hydrocarbon industry, which he announced in his June 26, 2013, inaugural speech.Fast forward to 2023, Qatar continues to remain in the limelight after delivering “the best FIFA World Cup ever” in 2022. In the run-up to the tournament, the state has announced and implemented a sequence of legal and economic reforms. It also delivered multi-billion infrastructure projects and facilities related to the World Cup ahead of schedule.Under the Wise Leadership, Qatar was able to diversify its economic portfolio to further accelerate the inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) and spur growth in the private sector; creating economic diversity has been one of the key drivers and primary objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.In the last several years, there has been a significant uptick in new legislation designed to serve the objectives of the National Vision. In 2019, Qatar revamped its regulations on FDI to permit foreign investors to own up to 100% of their company’s capital. In early 2021, new regulations permitting foreign ownership of up to 100% in listed companies on the Qatar Stock Exchange were announced.The government also passed the new public-private partnership (PPP) law in 2020, which also permits, within certain parameters, ownership of the PPP project by the foreign investor.Some of Qatar’s onshore and offshore business platforms are also well-positioned to attract and grow much of the country’s FDI, such as the Qatar Financial Centre, which has been seeing impressive growth in the number of new registrants.Similarly, Qatar’s free zones are rapidly expanding in terms of attracting a number of major international companies in sectors that are within the strategic focus of the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZ). The Qatar Media City and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) are additional important drivers that attract FDI into Qatar.To accelerate FDI inflow, Qatar stepped up by offering a legal framework that's conducive to doing business. This includes feasible projects like oil and gas expansion and projects focusing on technology and infrastructure.To address this successfully, Qatar created a reliable and advanced infrastructure and reduced ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy to offer a seamless business environment. The government also prioritised the development of digital platforms to make doing business in Qatar easier, allowing investors to accomplish administrative work, file applications, and transact business remotely.The country’s new flexible legal framework had not only helped increase Qatar’s ability to attract FDI, but it had also encouraged growth in the country’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.Under His Highness the Amir's directives to transform Qatar into a regional business hub, many multinational companies have chosen Doha as an investment capital in the Middle East, reflecting confidence in the Qatari economy and in Qatar’s future growth prospects.

Participants of the ‘Female Startup Founders in Qatar – Setting the Benchmark’ panel discussion organised by Startup Grind Doha held recently. From left are Rasha bint Khamis al-Sulaiti of Rawi Al Kotob, Elizabeth Wood of Inspire ME, Shada Bennbaia of Pulsate, Nada Farouk of Turismo, panel moderator Steve Mackie, and Startup Grind Doha chapter director Indica Amarasinghe.
Business
Mena region seen as economic powerhouse in next decade, says Qatar startup founder

The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is expected to be among the world’s strongest economies in the next 10 years, according to the founder of a Qatar-based startup.Nada Farouk, CEO of Turismo, made the statement during a panel discussion hosted recently by Startup Grind Doha under the theme ‘Female Startup Founders in Qatar – Setting the Benchmark’.The panel, which was moderated by Steve Mackie, comprised of female entrepreneurs Rasha bint Khamis al-Sulaiti of Rawi Al Kotob, Shada Bennbaia of Pulsate, and Elizabeth Wood of Inspire ME.During the discussion, Farouk also forecasted that the Mena region will produce and attract “the most attractive talents” in technology and business, adding that “the most influential leaders will come from here.”According to Farouk, the region has already made significant strides in the technology sector, adding that several startups from the area had already achieved global recognition.Similarly, Bennbaia noted that the region has the talent, expertise, and resources to start building technologies that could be exported to other parts of the world. She emphasised that instead of waiting for solutions to reach the Mena region from other countries, it has the potential to lead in technology innovation.However, the members of the panel agreed during the discussion that while the startup ecosystem is continuously growing and developing, it also has different sets of challenges that entrepreneurs and major players need to overcome.In Qatar, specifically, the panellists underscored that access to funding and talent acquisition, as well as attracting different types of venture capital, are among the pressing issues that need to be constantly addressed by stakeholders and policymakers in the country.To address these challenges, the panellists also agreed on the importance of fostering collaboration among entrepreneurs, raising awareness within the ecosystem, and actively seeking solutions to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.But Bennbaia said she remains optimistic that the market in Qatar serves as an ideal jump-off point for different startups and other entrepreneurial ventures, citing the country’s diverse population and strong government support programmes and initiatives.To further drive the region’s potential to become a technology hub, Bennbaia emphasised that the people’s mindset will play a crucial factor. She noted that there is a growing eagerness in the region to innovate and create solutions that could have a positive impact globally.“I think this is the best time to start a venture, especially here in Qatar. For new businesses, use Qatar as a launch pad. While the market here is not that huge, entrepreneurs can get the needed support in terms of buying their products or building their technology,” she explained.Farouk also stressed the need to take action and proactively acknowledge the challenges by working together with fellow startup owners to help shape and enhance the country’s entrepreneurial landscape.“We can start by actually pushing things forward,” she pointed out.On the sidelines of the panel discussion, Startup Grind Doha chapter director Indica Amarasinghe told Gulf Times that Startup Grind is the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators.“The objective of Startup Grind Doha is to bring the ecosystem together and we will continue to do this by having monthly gatherings where startups can come together, learn from each other, and be inspired. We are currently planning the other sessions for the next few months, which would revolve around topics, such as AI, fintech, sportstech, and cybertech,” he explained.

QSE acting CEO Abdulaziz Nasser al-Emadi delivering a speech during the launch of QSE's new system. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam.
Business
QSE launches new electronic trading platform

Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) launched its new, high-performing trading system, which aims to develop the country’s financial market and achieve investment diversification, in a ceremony held Tuesday at QSE’s headquarters in West Bay.Speaking at the event, QSE acting CEO Abdulaziz Nasser al-Emadi emphasised that the new trading platform provides innovative, robust, and scalable solutions that align with the advanced financial market technologies utilised by London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).Al-Emadi stressed that these technologies encompass trading services, market data, data analytics, and market surveillance, and operate on a unified framework, sharing the same technological infrastructure, data architecture, and software engineering methodology.He described this achievement, which is part of QSE’s strategic plan to transform Doha into a leading regional investment hub, as a cornerstone in its development strategy to assume a prominent position among the world’s advanced exchanges, in line with Qatar’s ambitious economic plans.According to the QSE, the new platform features the deployment of a solution comprising of Millennium Exchange and Millennium Surveillance aimed at enhancing QSE’s overall equity markets infrastructure capabilities.It offers a range of capabilities, including the provision of services to the derivatives market and facilitating Initial Public Offerings (IPOs). With these added functionalities, QSE is now able to offer a broader range of investment opportunities to its stakeholders.The new trading platform is a multi-asset, multi-market, trading platform designed for resiliency, high performance, and ultra-low latency, QSE said, adding that these offer out-of-the-box trading solutions for equity, fixed-income, and derivative instruments on a single robust platform that meets standard trading requirements off-the-shelf, leading to reduced time-to-market and lower implementation risk.It also provides extensive support for a multitude of asset classes including equity, fixed income, and derivatives, as well as supports market maker protection and monitoring combined with a highly deterministic latency profile to support high-frequency quoting.QSE would be able to meet global best practices and standards, launch new services, and reach unparalleled levels of low latency, high throughput, and resiliency. The new platform uses industry-standard FIX messaging and provides features such as real-time portfolio balance checks, new order types, multiple indices, surveillance alerts and market maker monitoring, as well as integrates with the Edaa and trading participants in the equities capital market.This achievement represents a significant leap forward in developing the QSE by establishing the foundations to achieve international recognition in accordance with the best practices and global standards.Al-Emadi also lauded QSE’s partners, saying their collaboration plays a vital role in enhancing market confidence, elevating the performance of available investment services and products, and improving the level of trading surveillance, which helps attract a diverse investor base and provides a trading platform capable of accommodating new investment instruments, including derivatives markets.He noted that both issuers and investors will benefit from the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of the technologies employed in the new trading platform.“The Qatar Stock Exchange is working towards enhancing its liquidity by strengthening the maturity and development of our financial markets, thereby supporting Qatar’s strategy to diversify the national economy.“This includes providing market participants and investors with a wide range of investment opportunities, enabling them to access new and diverse financial instruments to manage risks and capitalize on market movements,” al-Emadi added.QSE IT director Aisha al-Mahmoud, who is also project manager of the new trading system, noted that aside from being a significant milestone in the development of QSE, the new trading system will enable the introduction of new products and services to a new segment of investors and potential participants in derivatives and equity markets.John Walker-Robertson, global head of Cross-Asset & Market Infrastructure, London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), said: “We are proud to collaborate with the Qatar Stock Exchange to successfully implement our state-of-the-art and innovative trading infrastructure. The new infrastructure leverages industry-standard FIX messaging and offers a wide range of features aligned to global best practices and standards.”In her speech at the event, LSEG project director Vidumini Ranasinghe said: “Built on the same technology used by many global capital markets, the new, high-performing trading platform launching today will be a key capability to develop the Qatari financial market.“This enhanced platform will bring greater efficiency. But it will also bring a greater range of scalable, innovative products and services to customers, investors and potential participants in the derivatives and equity markets. This new capability will be a crucial element of Doha’s transformation into a leading investment hub in the region.”QSE concluded Tuesday’s ceremony by honouring all technology service companies, data vendors, and brokerage firms that contributed to the project, thus recognising their valuable efforts and fruitful collaboration in launching the new trading system.It is worth mentioning that LSEG’s technologies are utilised by more than 25 exchanges and financial markets worldwide, including Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, and London Stock Exchange.

Wassim Soubra, head of Commercial and Towers of Al Mana Capital Real Estate. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Packed tourism calendar seen to push Qatar’s property market forward

Qatar’s real estate sector remains robust amid a packed tourism calendar for 2023, an official of Al Mana Holding has said.“The future is bright,” AbdulRahman al-Mana, deputy CEO, told Gulf Times Monday on the sidelines of a ceremony, which released the leasing of luxury apartments and offices in the company’s 56-storey, mixed-use Burj AlMan Corniche landmark.He said, “Although Qatar has hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country continues to push for more tourism-related events, so there would still be a lot of events happening here, so I am confident that these events will push Qatar’s real estate sector forward.”During the event, AlMana Capital Real Estate, the premier property division of Al Mana Holding, provided a preview of the state-of-the-art project, which fuses the Middle East’s rich heritage with today’s technology, quality, and modernity.The special ‘open house’ gathered over 50 corporate professionals who were introduced to the wide range of first-class facilities in the mixed-use luxury development, including modern apartments and unfurnished and fully equipped office space.“With its strategic and prime location along the Corniche, Burj AlMana provides magnificent views and boasts ease of accessibility ensuring seamless connectivity to key hubs,” said Wassim Soubra, head of Commercial and Towers of Al Mana Capital Real Estate.He added: “Its signature architectural design makes Burj AlMana a prestigious address for corporates looking to reflect their standing and ambitions in the market. This impressive development epitomizes the modern, convenient, and aspirational business and lifestyle choices that define 21st-century Qatar.”Inspired by modern Middle Eastern architecture, Burj AlMana has a distinctive facade in a three-dimensional arabesque pattern based on traditional Mashrabiya to create an awe-inspiring, futuristic landmark.The tower comprises exceptional, individually designed one, two, and three-bedroomed apartments with the highest quality finishing and furnished in ultra-modern style. Residents have access to a stunning, indoor swimming pool, state-of-the-art gyms, private elevators, and round-the-clock security.Eleven floors – from the 37th to the 48th – are given over to unfurnished offices with stunning city views, while the tower also comprises a range of furnished offices divided between simplexes and duplexes. Tenants and visitors will also benefit from a range of food and beverage operators already committed to Burj AlMana’s retail spaces including Pret-A-Manger, Subway, McDonald's, and Ramen Ninja as well an on-premises supermarket and pharmacy.AbdulRahman al-Mana added: “Burj AlMana is an all-inclusive destination purposely designed to meet the daily needs of our residents and tenants. We anticipate robust demand from discerning businesses and individuals seeking a development that not only caters to their daily needs but also offers a unique and captivating setting.”For over 70 years, Al Mana Holding has supported Qatar’s industrial and real estate development delivering excellence across all aspects of its operations and developments.It has consistently promoted development with a commitment to exploring new opportunities on a national and regional level and the delivery of superior and quality products and services.

Huawei’s panel discussion was held on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the company’s new state-of-the-art office in Doha. Experts joining the discussion were Eman al-Kuwari, director of Digital Innovation Department at MCIT; Fahad Ali al-Kuwari, senior manager of Investor Relations at IPA Qatar; and Kamal Zian, chief cybersecurity and privacy officer at Gulf North Representative Office, Huawei. The discussion’s moderator was Ammar Tobba, VP Public Affairs and Communications, Huawei Middle East Region. 
PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam
Business
Ties with Huawei, global tech firms to push Qatar’s ICT sector growth, says MCIT official

Partnerships with global technology providers, such as Huawei, can play a key role in enabling the growth and development of Qatar’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector, according to Eman al-Kuwari, director of Digital Innovation Department at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT).“These partnerships involve collaboration in areas, such as infrastructure development, technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and capacity building,” al-Kuwari said during a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of Huawei’s new state-of-the-art office in Doha.Speaking on future collaboration between the MCIT and Huawei in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, al-Kuwari said the ministry is keen to adopt and benefit from the latest modern technologies to contribute to creating a knowledge-based digital economy.Additionally, MCIT has been promoting the adoption of AI in various sectors, such as healthcare, transportation, education, and smart cities, al-Kuwari further pointed out.“Regarding cloud computing, MCIT has been working on building a robust digital infrastructure to support cloud services and enable the growth of cloud-based solutions. The MCIT is working on advancing cloud technologies and leveraging their benefits for businesses and the public sector,” she explained.Al-Kuwari said MCIT had already collaborated with Huawei on projects related to innovation, adding that the ministry is open to other collaboration projects with companies like Huawei.“I believe Huawei’s involvement can contribute to infrastructure development, innovation, and research, fostering the creation of new products, services, and technologies aligned with digital transformation goals.“Furthermore, partnerships with Huawei facilitate knowledge transfer, skills development, and the establishment of strong networks, ultimately supporting the growth, competitiveness, and technological advancement of the collaborating entities and the wider ecosystem,” she said.On sustainability and green energy, al-Kuwari said the ministry is working through the Tasmu Programme to develop initiatives that serve sustainability, such as the Sustainability Readiness Index, which is an application that is leveraging input on users’ resource consumption and life habits to determine a personalised carbon footprint index. Users are able to retrieve statistics on main drivers and receive tailored recommendations to adjust their actions.Similarly, al-Kuwari said residents and businesses can utilise the P2P Energy Trading Platform to sell any excess energy produced by decentralised solar power generation to others on the grid. The platform is enabled by solar, smart grid, and net metering technology, she also said.Kamal Zian, chief cybersecurity and privacy officer at Gulf North Representative Office, Huawei, who was also part of the panel discussion, said the company is supporting Qatar in terms of ICT talent and the country’s digital ecosystem, as well as in the region and globally.Zian noted that Huawei is keen on aligning with international standards in ICT and technology. This, he said, helps Huawei to set the standard, the quality of service, and the level of security, especially cybersecurity.“Cybersecurity in that regard, for example, is a key pillar of our strategy. All the products or services that we are offering are fully certified from a global perspective and we are also adhering to the best practices for cybersecurity and privacy protection.”