Start-ups help retain human capital in Qatar
January 26 2016 10:33 PM
Al-Rumaihi: Showcasing is key.
Al-Rumaihi: Showcasing is key.

By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

Raising awareness on the sustainability of start-ups in Qatar plays a significant role in encouraging young Qataris to stay here and pursue entrepreneurship in the country, a local businessman has said.
There are many success stories about young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups in Qatar, according to Mohamed al-Rumaihi, co-founder and CEO of Howlak.
Howlak, which means “around you” in Arabic, is a mobile application launched by al-Rumaihi, Nasser al-Saadi, and another partner last year. 
The App, which helps users locate the best restaurants within the nearest vicinity, features around 1,500 eateries in Doha. Aside from Qatar, Howlak also provides information on 7,000 other places in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.
“Start-ups and their achievements make it more attractive to keep talent in the country. There’s a lot of good talent being produced by universities in Qatar but they get jobs overseas,” al-Rumaihi told Gulf Times in an interview.
Al-Rumaihi also underscored the importance of building a “start-up culture” in Qatar: “If young people could see that there is a start-up culture in Qatar and the opportunity to build something new from scratch, it’s going to make entrepreneurship in the country more attractive.”
This observation was echoed recently by notable economist Dr Talal Abughazaleh, the chairman and founder of Talal Abughazaleh Organisation.
In a forum held in Doha, Abughazaleh called for the development of the education system and to invest in “knowledge companies.” Citing Finland and other Scandinavian countries, he said Qatar’s diversification strategy is a key element in transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy.
“The worth of one invention is sometimes as much as the total GDP of an entire country,” Abughazaleh stressed.
Al-Rumaihi said, “People just don’t know that it exists,” referring to the “start-up culture.”
He also underscored the role of media in helping raise awareness on the start-up and entrepreneurship culture in Qatar. “I believe the media is raising awareness on the movement and that there are other things happening in the country’s entrepreneurship industry.”
Al-Rumaihi noted that it is equally important among investors and business leaders in Qatar to raise this type of awareness, including funding for start-ups through corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes of their respective companies.
Only recently, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has launched its “Franchise Project,” a programme that aims to expose local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to international markets.
Speaking to Gulf Times earlier, QDB executive director of Advisory Services Hamad Khamis al-Kubaisi said many local Qatari businesses are “franchisable.” Aside from food and beverage, al-Kubaisi said a QDB study revealed that there is an international market for Qatari businesses like petrol stations, manufacturing, clinics, medical and wellness centres, spas, and gyms."

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