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Qatar Chamber chairmanSheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani.

Qatar Chamber committed to improving business environment and overcoming obstacles, says Sheikh Khalifa

Qatar Chamber chairman Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim al-Thani has assured the chamber's commitment to improving the country's business environment and to helping local businesses overcome all types of obstacles.He made the statement while presiding over Qatar Chamber's second General Assembly Meeting (GAM) held Doha on Sunday.The meeting was attended by first vice-chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari, second vice-chairman Rashid bin Hamad al-Athba, all board members, and numerous businessmen and members of the chamber.The meeting reviewed of the board of directors’ report on the chamber’s activities and financial status last year.The meeting then discharged members of the board, approved the estimated budget for the 2024 fiscal year, appointed a new auditor and determined their fees.During the meeting, Sheikh Khalifa reviewed the chamber’s activities report for 2023 and highlighted efforts to support the private sector and mechanisms for the development of the chamber’s work in alignment with the inclusive economic development of the state.He underscored the chamber’s commitment to fully support the Qatari private sector, enhance the business environment, and overcome obstacles facing business sectors, noting that this aims to foster the private sector’s role in the national economy and expand its contribution to the GDP, in line with the '3rd National Development Strategy' and the Qatar National Vision 2030.Sheikh Khalifa expressed sincere gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for his unwavering support of the private sector.He praised His Highness the Amir's interest in empowering the private sector to fulfil its pivotal role in the state’s economic development as a genuine partner to the public sector and a main contributor to the economic boom, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.Sheikh Khalifa thanked His Highness the Deputy Amir Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad al-Thani, and HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani for their continuous support of the private sector.He underscored that 2023 was rife with activities and achievements for the chamber, saying last year witnessed the election of members of the chamber's board of directors for the seventh session (2023-2028).In 2023, the chamber organised a multitude of meetings with relevant authorities and ministries in the state to address issues and challenges facing the private sector, noting that this is part of its efforts to enhance communication and collaboration between the chamber and government bodies for the benefit of the national economy.Sheikh Khalifa said the total number of Qatar Chamber members by the end of December 2023 stood at 84,840, among them 5,708 new members.The chamber also issued more than 92,000 transactions (electronic and non-electronic), and more than 46,000 certificates of origin (electronic and non-electronic).He highlighted that the chamber’s sectoral committees continued to network and engage with business owners and company representatives to listen to proposals and identify challenges faced by companies in each sector, working collaboratively to develop effective solutions.Furthermore, the chamber strengthened its digital structure and developed its programmes to modernise the services it provides to the business community.The chamber continued to equip its new headquarters along the 'Boulevard' in Lusail, indicating that the transfer to the new building is expected to take place this year, Sheikh Khalifa added.Throughout 2023, Sheikh Khalifa said the chamber organised and participated in over 175 events and hosted 70 meetings for foreign delegations.These included 10 meetings with heads of state, as well as delegations accompanied by heads of government, ministers, government officials, and representatives of international institutions and chambers of commerce from various countries.During these meetings, both sides discussed strengthening co-operation relations between Qatari businessmen and their counterparts in various countries around the world.Additionally, the chamber participated in many external events, organised and took part in numerous forums, conferences, and Qatari-joint business meetings, and signed memoranda of understanding with 10 counterpart entities and chambers of commerce.In 2023, the chamber participated in several exhibitions, the foremost of which is the ninth edition of the ‘Made in Qatar’ exhibition in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which was held under the patronage of His Highness the Amir with the participation of 450 companies and factories.During the year, the chamber became a member of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), which is the largest world organisation that includes all freight forwarders worldwide.Sheikh Khalifa noted that the Qatar International Centre for Conciliation and Arbitration issued 27 arbitral awards, organised a series of seminars on arbitration, and actively participated in various local and international conferences.Sheikh Khalifa expressed confidence that 2024 would witness further successes and increased involvement from the Qatari private sector in economic activities.He emphasised that the chamber’s board of directors would continue its efforts to meet the expectations and aspirations of all members, business owners, and the Qatari business community.


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Damage in Israeli air base after Iran attack

Israeli army footage of what it says is the damage caused by the Iranian attack on the Nevatim Air Base, which was launched late Saturday in retaliation for a deadly air strike widely blamed on Israel that destroyed its consular building in Syria's capital early this month. AFP

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Six months of bloodshed: The toll on Gaza’s children

The bloodiest ever Gaza war which broke out over six months ago has taken an appalling toll on children. NGO Save the Children estimates that some 26,000 children have been killed or injured in the war, 17,000 have been orphaned, according to UNICEF, and 1 in 3 children under two years old in northern Gaza is suffering from acute malnutrition. In total, at least 33,207 people have been killed in the besieged Palestinian territory in Israel's retaliatory campaign for the October 7 attack, according to Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry. The unprecedented Hamas raid on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,170 Israelis and foreigners, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures. AFP

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Gazans struggle to secure flour for daily bread

"I spent the night on Kuwait Roundabout to secure this bag of flour", says a Palestinian in Gaza City carrying a bag of flour he managed to get from an aid truck. A UN-backed report warned that half of Gazans are experiencing "catastrophic" hunger, with famine projected to hit the north of the territory unless there is urgent intervention. AFP

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Afredo E Pascual.

Philippines eyeing Qatari investments in district cooling, dairy production

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has engaged in discussions with two leading local firms, Qatar Cool and Baladna, to explore district cooling system opportunities in the Philippines and ways to boost the Southeast Asian nation’s self-sufficiency in dairy production.DTI Secretary Afredo E Pascual recently led a delegation to Doha and held high-level discussions with HE the Minister of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Abdullah al-Thani as well leading Qatari businesses and officials.He also participated in a panel discussion titled ‘Creating Competitive Economies’ during the Qatar Economic Forum 2024.In a recent interview with Gulf Times, Pascual said: “The delegation is following through on two investment leads: one on an integrated dairy facility and another on district cooling.”According to Pascual, Qatar District Cooling Company (Qatar Cool) CEO Yasser al-Jaidah led a delegation in the Philippines last month for a meeting with representatives from Clark International Aviation Corporation (CIAC), Luzon International Premier Airport Development (LIPAD) Corporation, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and the Vista Group to explore district cooling opportunities in flagship development projects in the Philippines.“The visit of Qatar Cool is also an offshoot of the Investor Roundtable in Doha. The company is the largest district cooling provider in Qatar and the fourth-largest globally. Qatar Cool is currently assessing current and potential demand in the country to support their recommendations on the feasibility of district cooling systems in the Philippines. Further, they are also reviewing the new Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for a possible unsolicited proposal for district cooling requirements inside the Clark Freeport,” Pascual explained.In a media statement, the DTI emphasised that Qatar Cool’s District Cooling System (DCS) technology offers a cost- and energy-efficient solution compared to individual building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, which “aligns perfectly with the current administration’s goal of achieving a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2030, with the energy sector being a key focus area.”“Projects utilising such energy-efficient technologies may be eligible for fiscal and non-fiscal incentives provided by the government, offering significant cost savings for Qatar Cool and its potential partners. Qatar Cool expressed interest in partnering with major developers focusing on district-wide or township developments in the Philippines. The company was also invited to consider locations outside Metro Manila that offer high-density developments suitable for DCS implementation,” the DTI stated.During the discussion with Qatar Cool, Pascual said: “The DTI, together with relevant stakeholders, is committed to supporting Qatar Cool’s exploration of the Philippine market. The Department of Energy will further assess Qatar Cool’s business model for potential BOI endorsement. Additionally, exploring opportunities in other locations and projects presents exciting possibilities for collaboration.”“The DTI looks forward to further discussions with Qatar Cool and facilitating their successful investment journey in the Philippines, which can contribute significantly to the country’s energy efficiency goals.” he added.Pascual also said that in February 2022, the Philippines’ Board of Investments (BOI), the National Dairy Authority, and Baladna signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation and exchange of information and experience in the development of the dairy industry in the Philippines.“In particular, the production and processing of a wide range of fresh milk and dairy products, taking into account the potential investment of up to $500mn by Baladna into the Philippines for the establishment of a large-scale, fully integrated dairy business. The parties were represented by former DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, and Baladna board member Adnan Tynan,” Pascual said.In a media statement released by the DTI, Pascual emphasised that this strategic investment aligns with the Philippines’ pursuit of self-sufficiency in food and milk production.“The Philippine government stands ready to support Baladna to realise its planned investments in the country. Through a whole-government approach, the DTI and the BOI are ready to facilitate business-to-business meetings and introductions to potential joint venture partners for Baladna. Additionally, the DA is actively identifying suitable locations for the proposed dairy facilities,” Pascual stated.During the discussion with Baladna, Pascual also underscored the substantial demand for dairy products in the Philippines, with imports nearing P3bn. He cited that addressing this demand while supporting local production is a key priority for the current administration.To further bolster the dairy sector, the delegation outlined regulatory support for labelling fresh milk, UHT milk, and imported frozen milk concentrate, emphasising the clear definitions provided by the Philippine National Standard.

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