A group of Omani entrepreneurs has submitted plans for a Qatari version of an app that has the potential to boost tourism in the country.
The group comprising Javier Sanchez, Rashid al-Barwani, Mohamed al-Asfoor and Pablo Domingo are finalists in Challenge 22 – the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC)’s flagship innovation programme.
WaishApp was developed after a directive from Oman’s government that encouraged entrepreneurs to support the tourism industry, and now its creators are ready to take it to the next step, according to a report on the SC website.
The group developed WaishApp initially for visitors to Oman. The app helps users reach activities beyond typical concierge services, thereby encouraging tourists to enjoy authentic local experiences.
Now, they have submitted plans for a Qatari version to Challenge 22.
According to al-Barwani, WaishApp has the potential to significantly boost tourism in Qatar.
“The app will help in promoting Qatar in a big way,” he said. “It will contain all the information you would expect from a major website, but in a simple way that makes it easy for people to connect with the attractions, events and each other.”
Sanchez explained the ethos behind WaishApp, saying: “We wanted to build an app that gives people a real vibe of what’s going on in the region. Through WaishApp, people will be able to enjoy unique experiences in just three clicks. The app will have its own community – people who have a sense of discovery and enjoying their travels.”
WaishApp is one of six finalists in Challenge 22’s ‘Tourism Experience’ field. If chosen as a winner, WaishApp will receive a $15,000 grant to develop the idea to proof of concept phase, along with access to various experts.
Now in its second cycle, Challenge 22 aims to boost innovation, business and entrepreneurship in Qatar and across the Arab world.
Al-Barwani believes Challenge 22 can help WaishApp realise its potential.
“We applied to Challenge 22 because we saw it as an opportunity to get our concept out there,” said al-Barwani. “We are really keen to get the support, advice and experience we need to succeed with this business.”
Challenge 22 has already boosted WaishApp by validating the business plan, he added.
“I believe Challenge 22 has already helped us achieve what we wanted in the first place, which was to validate the concept of WaishApp and get exposure in the region. We believe if we were to win Challenge 22 this year, it would help us boost our business in a big way, not only financially but through the expert advice we need to succeed.”
Sanchez believes WaishApp can also help local Qatari businesses benefit from hosting the FIFA World Cup.
“Our strategy is aligned with the local business community understanding that the World Cup is an opportunity to put them on the map,” he continued. “We aim to support the job market, expose local businesses to regional and international markets, and introduce a tech culture to help the current supply chain face 21st century challenges.”
The Challenge 22 final will take place in Doha from November 18-20.
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