Covid-19 creates digitisation opportunities for well-placed Qatari firms: PwC
July 19 2020 08:55 PM

Covid-19 has created digitisation opportunities and firms in Qatar are well placed to take advantage of these trends and leapfrog other countries for several reasons, PwC said in its latest "Qatar Economy Watch".

The Covid-19 crisis has turbo-charged digitisation moves globally including home working, online meetings, e-commerce and artificial intelligence applications, including in education. Although some of these changes will be temporary, others could become permanent.

Firms in Qatar are generally well capitalised and so have funds to invest in transformation, PwC noted.

Secondly, digitisation can tie in well with trends reducing reliance on both expatriate labour – indeed some peripheral services required can be more easily purchased remotely, without needing to physically bring workers to Qatar. This will help improve efficiency and reduce the burden on local infrastructure.

Similarly, more flexibility in working should help Qatari firms attract skilled expatriate knowledge workers.

According to Bassam Hajhamad, country senior partner, although Qatar has seen a sharp contraction in economic activity in recent months, as have most states in the region and globally, government policies have mitigated the impact on firms and employees and a phased easing of restrictions has been implemented since June 2020.

The Covid-19 environment presents opportunities as well as challenges. Above all, it is enhancing existing moves toward digitisation and localisation.

This is related to a broader trend towards the development of a larger knowledge-based component to the economy. The knowledge-based economy is a particularly important cross-cutting theme because it addresses Qatar’s aspirations to be one of the leading nations technologically and to create high quality and meaningful jobs for its citizens and residents.

“We examine (through the report) some of the background which has shaped Qatar’s strategy in this area and outline progress and new initiatives across its four main pillars: human capital, information infrastructure, policies and regulations, and innovation systems,” Hajhamad said.

He said Qatar has strong and improving rankings in indices relevant to the knowledge economy, including 40th globally and second regionally in the Global Knowledge Index. This creates a supportive environment for many knowledge-driven sectors, including financial services and ICT, as well as other sectors that benefit from innovation and digitisation.

“Several national initiatives that are underway will help expedite the development of the knowledge economy, including the Tawteen localisation drive, attracting foreign investment through business environment reforms, privatisation measures, free zone development and the single window system for business registration and licencing,” Hajhamad added.

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