Qatar is among global leaders in digitalisation initiatives, says expert
April 08 2019 09:15 PM
From left: HSBC country head of Commercial Banking Elie Maroun el-Asmar; Kindi Centre for Computing
From left: HSBC country head of Commercial Banking Elie Maroun el-Asmar; Kindi Centre for Computing Research director Dr Noora Fetais; HSBC Qatar CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi; ICT Qatar managing partner Abdul Salam Knio, and HSBC Qatar COO James Elwes during the ‘HSBC Digital Innovation Summit’ held on Monday at Four Seasons Hotel Doha. PICTURE: Nasar TK

Qatar’s investments in digital infrastructure and similar programmes have made it a forerunner in global digitalisation initiatives, an industry expert said during the ‘HSBC Digital Innovation Summit’ held on Monday at Four Seasons Hotel Doha.

According to Abdul Salam Knio, the managing partner of local company, "ICT Qatar," the country has proven over the years to be ambitious and capable of applying digital initiatives and technologies. Because of its geographical size, it is easier for Qatar to implement various technological developments, he said.

Knio said Qatar is continuously revising its guidelines for digital economy, cybersecurity compliance, and its set of standards and regulations, “which is helping and enabling the digital economy to become more viable.”

He noted that Qatar is investing more on initiatives that would help enable governments and private organisations to have more cloud adoption. He said this year, HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani signed an agreement to build the Microsoft cloud cluster in Qatar.

“As from cloud clustering, the government is also supporting other initiatives that are modern and would take Qatar to the next level in many diverse sectors like aviation, manufacturing, and industry, among others,” Knio said.

He also said there was a huge traction in Qatar’s social interaction in terms of online transactions, using mobile applications for food delivery, education, sales, and retail services.

“Many universities in Qatar are starting to provide curriculum on digital transformation and digital technologies, thus they have a specific focus to enable the community to become more and more educated in modern technology,” he said, adding that institutions like the Qatar Business and Incubation Centre is helping entrepreneurs in terms of funding and supporting, as well as growing entrepreneurial ideas.

On digital infrastructure, Knio also lauded Qatar for being among the leading countries to establish and leverage 5G technology.

“5G was not only created for faster communication but for its applications in diverse areas, especially its main driver – the Internet of Things (IoT). In 2018, there were 5bn devices connected to the Internet. In 2020, this is expected to grow tenfold to 50bn, so you have to know where to invest your business,” he noted.

Another subject matter expert, Dr Noora Fetais, director of Kindi Centre for Computing Research at Qatar University’s College of Engineering, focused on "Cybersecurity in the Financial Sector: Challenges, Solutions, and Trends."

Citing the increase in the number financial transactions by the end of 2019, Fetais underscored the importance of protecting online transactions from unscrupulous individuals, or groups.

Fetais said in 2018, the financial sector topped the list malware attacks by industry, ranking at 29%, followed by government at 26% and technology at 18%. Cybersecurity is a growing concern to the financial industry, she said, adding that the industry will be the most disrupted by cyberattacks.

Citing the ITU Global Cybersecurity Index 2018, Fetais said Qatar is among the top three countries in the Arab region “because of its legal framework among many other parametres.”

HSBC country head of Commercial Banking, Elie Maroun el-Asmar said in a speech that the HSBC Group has invested around $6bn globally in technology over the last few years and is “committed to triple this amount in the next three years.”

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