contents July / August 2013 w w w.t h e e d ge. m e
cover story 50
Qatar’s smooth succession to 33-yearold HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is certainly a welcome development. However, certain economic and political challenges remain for the nation’s new leadership. Ramadan is perhaps the perfect time of year to reflect on how Qatar is striving to secure its future food sustainability through various government programmes. (Image Corbis)
Feature Story: Making Qatar employable
As the first online employability portal in the Arab world, Silatech’s Ta3mal looks set to be a promising project.
Business Interview: Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie
In an exclusive interview with The Edge, executive director of Qatar National Research Fund Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie tells how they are working to get more Qataris involved in research and encourage international collaborations.
Feature Story: Feeding Doha
As one of the most dependent food importers in the world, what is Qatar doing to guard against future food crises?
Business Interview: Khalid Al Subeai
Khalid Yousef Al Subeai, the young CEO of The First Investor tells The Edge that investors must be given lasting value.
Feature Story: Towards a sustainable World Cup 70 Amid FIFA’s elusiveness on the criteria for sustainability, Qatar needs to ensure the highest levels of green credentials in its stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.
Business Management: So who is next?
Lack of succession planning is often a critical but overlooked element of a corporate or family business.
68 Khalid Yousef Al Subeai, CEO of The First Investor, believes that a long-lasting relationship with a client works best by being clear and transparent.
The Edge | 3
Finance & Markets 23
The Qatar Central Bank governor, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani recently suggested that a higher degree of exchange rate flexibility may be more desirable for Qatar in the future.
Energy & Sustainability 27
Shale gas in places such as the US and UK could be either a threat or opportunity for Qatar. Whichever it is, should the nation be prepared to reform a longstanding business model?
Real Estate & Construction 33
What are the long-term repercussions of Qatar’s seemingly thriving progress in the real estate sector ahead of the 2022 World Cup?
Tech. & Communications 39 The cyber activist group Anonymous recently announced the launch of a cyber attack aimed at major energy producers in the Middle East.
Business Insight 81
Ziad El Khalil, director of Qatar Coral, speaks about the dynamics of Qatar’s real estate sector. The head of retail banking at Mashreq Bank Niranjan Mendonca discusses the emerging trends and challenges within Qatar’s retail banking industry. Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO of Economic Zones Company offers a rationale behind a dedicated company to develop special economic areas.
84 Ziad El Khalil, director of Qatar Coral, says that a major challenge for Qatar’s real estate is that the sector is a part of a region that thrives on volatility and economic sentiment. (Image Qatar Coral).
regulars From the Editor 8 Photo of the month 12 Business News 14 Qatar Perspectives 18 Country Focus 42 Products Page 90 The View from Doha 92 4 | The Edge
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editor’s letter Some months are slow for news. But for much of the world and Qatar in particular, late June and early July 2013 were anything but. Verily, the middle period of this year has been crammed with incredible breaking stories around the world with various national disasters, including wildfires in the United States, mass flooding in Europe and an earthquake in Indonesia. Then there was Edward Snowden’s continuing saga following his ‘whistleblowing’ of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance (and his quest for asylum), to the critical ill health of South African political icon Nelson Mandela, to the ongoing leadership crisis unfolding in Egypt. Some of these and other stories in the news of late may have some effect on Qatar and the Middle East region from an economic and geopolitical standpoint. Some will obviously not. However, in Qatar and the wider Gulf two stories loomed largest. On a smaller scale there was the upgrading of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates from ‘Frontier’ to ‘Emerging’ Market by MSCI. This is a long-awaited development on the financial front, which will have a positive effect on the liquidity of the economies of both countries and greater Gulf Cooperation Council. But the biggest story in Qatar was by far the rather sudden abdication of HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in favour of his son and Heir Apparent, HH the new Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. This, along with a cabinet reshuffle – that most notably included the departure of HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani as foreign minister and prime minister of Qatar – sent the media in Doha and indeed the rest of
the world into a scramble to cover the story, unprecedented in Gulf succession politics. Though the power shift was speculated upon by many international media outlets in the preceding weeks and within Qatar itself, none outside perhaps Doha’s ruling elite could have known or predicted the extent to which the line-up of those governing Qatar and its various ministries would change. Many analysts were also pondering, as is their wont, what effect these changes would have on Qatar’s economy. Indeed, the imminent departure of Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani from the government, but then also as chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, will no doubt have some sort of impact on the political and financial strategies of Qatar. But any worries that this change might have an immediate negative effect on Qatar’s economy were soon allayed. The fact the Doha bourse Qatar Exchange rallied the day after the announcement was made (and Qatar enjoyed an unexpected impromptu public holiday), has in part been attributed to the MSCI upgrade, but also ostensibly reflected the buoyant mood among Qatar’s businesses and investors. HH the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani eloquently delivered his first address to the nation later that same day, June 26, further impressing upon the sentiment that there would be little if any immediate policy changes, and certainly on the economic front, the general impression of the speech was that it would be ‘business as usual’ for Qatar. As a widely published commentator on the topic, Michael Stephens takes a closer look at what the leadership change might mean for Qatar’s economy on page 50 and The Edge chief creative officer Mohamed Jaidah pays tribute to HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, a visionary leader to whom The Edge dedicates this edition of our magazine. We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on his role as leader of Qatar. And from all of the staff at The Edge we would like to wish our Muslim readers in Qatar Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak. See you in September.
The fact the Doha bourse rallied the day after Qatar’s leadership change reflected the positive mood of the country’s Miles Masterson businesses and investors. Managing Editor 8 | The Edge
12 | The Edge
photo of the month
SUMMER DIVERSION A Palestinian youth attempts a back-flip on the beach in Gaza. As the long hot Middle Eastern summer saw temperatures reach the high forties Celsius across the region, in late June Gazans escaped to the beach and out from their homes during a heat wave and power outages. (Image Corbis)
The Edge | 13
MSCI upgrades Qatar Exchange from ‘Frontier’ to ‘Emerging’ Market Number of the month
Amount of equities tracked worldwide by the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
Qatar Exchange CEO said the market upgrade reflects the changes implemented in the bourse in recent years.. (Image Reuters/Arabian Eye)
In June, global equity indices provider MSCI upgraded Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to from ‘Frontier’ to ‘Emerging’ Market status. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which tracks USD7.3 trillion (QAR26.57 trillion) of equities around the world, is considered the premium list of growth markets, including countries such as China, Brazil and India. Qatar’s and the UAE’s upgrade to membership in the index is expected to take effect on May 31, 2014. “The majority of market participants have expressed no major concerns over the safekeeping of investors’ assets,” stated an MSCI press release. Qatar would account for 0.45 percent of the weighting of the Emerging Markets Index, with the UAE accounting for 0.4 percent, Remy Briand, MSCI’s managing director and global head of index research, said shortly after the announcement. Qatar Exchange (QE) welcomed the decision of the MSCI to upgrade the Qatari market from a Frontier Market to Emerging Market status, describing this decision as a positive step towards the development of Qatar Exchange and
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a milestone that will attract further foreign investments to the Qatari stock market. Rashid bin Ali Al Mansoori, chief executive officer (CEO) of Qatar Exchange, expressed his satisfaction to upgrade the rating of the Qatari market, saying that it clearly reflects the recognition of the positive steps made by Qatar Exchange over the past years to meet the MSCI requirements. QE, Al Mansoori added, has taken steps to develop the market infrastructure and the implementation of a number of important projects and initiatives, which were welcomed by the international financial and investment institutions. Speaking exclusively with The Edge about the possible impact of the upgrade, Mohammed Ghiyath Sheikhah, head of local and international investments, Qatar International Islamic Bank, said, “The main impact will be that international funds to the tune of USD500 million (QAR1.8 billion) will be invested in Qatar Exchange as a HSBC report has cited.” Dr. Joe Maalouf, head of investor relations, Al Khaliji told The Edge that in spite of the increase of foreign investments in Qatar resulting in the upgrade of MSCI, it will take time for the foreign ownership limits (FOL) to be reached. It is still premature, he said, to analyse the full impact on the FOL. “Regarding the market, we definitely believe that it will become more liquid and share prices will improve,” Dr. Maalouf added.
“Qatar would account for 0.45 percent of the weighting of the Emerging Markets Index.” - Remy Briand, managing director MSCI.
Qatar to promote travel sector through new tourism satellite account
Tourists visit Al Zubara fort, one of Qatar’s tourist sites. Qatar is seeking to promote itself as a travel destination through a tourism satellite account. (Image Corbis)
Aiming to establish Qatar as a tourist destination, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is set to put in place a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA), which is a data management system that tracks the statistics related to tourist activities. TSA is the only satellite account system approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission. Speaking to The Edge, Oliver Herrmann, director, Statistics and Tourism Satellite Programme, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations, said, “Qatar’s tourism sector will benefit from having a TSA as it will give a better understanding of the tourism phenomenon with a clearer picture and more reliable information of the sector.” Once in place, the system will help measure the economic impact of tourist activities carried out in the country. Tony
Williams, QTA’s tourism development consultant explained, this will be done by keeping a track of the data such as the average spend on every guest, origin of tourists and the amount they spend, type of credit card used, where the money is spent, number of visitors coming and the frequency of their visits etcetera. “Having a TSA will allow tourism to be understood in the same way as other sectors of the economy – demonstrating its contribution to GDP in the same way that is done for agriculture or construction,” said Herrmann. Emphasising the need of TSA for Qatar, Williams said that while Qatar has the basic infrastructure such as hotels and sports facilities to support the tourism industry, the focus at present has been limited to the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector. The launch of TSA will promote Qatar’s tourism in the global industry. According to the UN World Tourism Organisation report TSA Data Around the World, Qatar was not on the list of the 60 countries, including GCC countries Oman and Saudi Arabia, that had been identified as having produced or started developing TSA by 2012. “Qatar as a destination appears in very few of the European leisure magazines and brochures,” Williams said, highlighting the importance of TSA for Qatar’s growing travel and tourism sector.
MERS infection worries, ahead of mass pilgrimage to Mecca
As millions of pilgrims from around the world descend on Saudi Arabia during the month of Ramadan, world health authorities are worried about a possible spread of the little known MERS or Corona virus. (Image Corbis)
The newly discovered MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) virus poses a huge risk of spreading to Qatar and the rest of the world in the month of Ramadan , acccording to a World Health Organization (WHO) official. Millions of pilgrims from around the world, including Qatar, will visit Mecca during the month to perform Umrah, which has health officials around the world worried about a mass outbreak. Saudi Arabia, so far, has had 62 confirmed cases of MERS, of which 34 patients have died. Margaret Chan, the secretary general of WHO said recently. “We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat. Any new disease that is emerging faster than our understanding is never under control.” The Supreme Judicial Council of Saudi Arabia recently stated that there would be a decrease in the number of pilgrims citing expansion work being done on the Grand Mosque. Qatar has not had any new known cases of virus since last September. However, as a precautionary measure Hamad Medical Corporation has set aside 18 rooms for any patients infected with the new virus, among other precautions. The Edge | 15
business in brief Words & Numbers
“[It’s a] historic day for Qatar as the new generation takes over.”
Salam Stores launch Canon’s smallest DSLR
Geneva Association gets its first Arab representative
Salam Stores and Canon in Qatar jointly presented the launch of a new entry-level consumer DSLR EOS 100D. The camera is claimed to be the smallest and lightest APS-C DSLR ever made. The event offered guests the chance to view Canon’s new product firsthand, with a presentation from Canon spokesperson, Mahboub Ali, regional manager photo imaging at Salam Stores.
Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al Subaey, group president and CEO of Qatar Insurance Company (QIC), has joined the Geneva Association, an international Khalifa Abdulla Turki Al insurance Subaey, CEO of QIC, is the first Arab to join the Geneva thinktank. Association. Al Subaey is now the first Arab representative in the association. “Our region offers significant opportunities to insurers and reinsurers,” said Al Subaey. According to Alpen Capital’s report, Qatar’s insurance industry expanded by 11.3 percent between 2008 and 2012.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomes Qatar’s new leader HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Percentage by which renewable energy investment grew in the MENA region during 2012, compared with 2011.
“Qatar has been a very valued partner to the United States of America, and deeply engaged in a number of issues that matter a great deal here in the region.” US Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Doha in June.
The number of people sentenced in probe of Villaggio Mall fire last year which claimed 19 lives, including 13 children.
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The EOS 100D is Canon’s latest DSLR officially launched in Qatar by Salam Stores.
Qatar Coral’s luxury residences set to open doors in August
Since January 2007, Qatar Exchange (QE) Al Rayan Index has generated a cumulative return of 180.2 percent. Over the same period the QE Total Return Index (the conventional equivalent) went up by 86 percent while the QE Index has risen 30.2 percent. In the second quarter of 2013, the three best performers in the QE Al Rayan Islamic Index were United Development Company, Qatari Investors Group and Medicare Group. Out of the 17 companies in the QE Al Rayan Islamic Index, 13 rose during the second quarter while four declined.
Qatar Coral for Real Estate Development LLC has announced that 100 percent of the structures and 97 percent of interior finishing have been VB22 and VB23 feature interiors using achieved on its twin materials from Europe. residential towers – VB22 and VB23, Viva Bahriya, The PearlQatar. This will allow the customers to move in around August this year. The prototype studio, one and two-bedroom units have been opened for preview. Water supply as well as connection to Qatar Cool district cooling systems took place during the month of June, while testing and commissioning of the towers are scheduled for July.
Qatar’s petrochemicals expansion fuels growth in GCC
Salam Technology introduces new integrated digital signage
According to the annual report by Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), petrochemicals production in Qatar hit 16.8 million tonnes in 2012, making it the second largest producer in the Gulf Cooperation Council downstream sector. One of the key projects, which came onstream in 2012, was Qatar Petrochemical Company’s (QAPCO) inauguration of a new plant, increasing their polyolefin production capacity to 1.15 million tonnes per annum. QAPCO also plans to expand the production capacity of its ethylene plant, produce up to one million tonnes of ethylene every year.
The new wave of digital signage screens offers complete and integrative solutions for digital screens by incorporating IT infrastructure and audiovisual solutions. It also provides an “any glass concept” to customers through broadcasting media to different end points (iPhones, LED screens and Video Walls) via a media management solution. Hythem El Kabbany, general manager for marketing and sales at Salam Technology, explained the technology would allow companies to drift away from the monotonous approaches of today’s digital signage.
QE Al Rayan Islamic Index up by 180 percent
events business Qatar, July 2013
event of the month
ITS Road Safety Forum
The Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Road Safety Forum to be held in Doha, in September, will address challenges of integrating smarter transport systems and safety measures into Qatar’s ongoing infrastructure plans. Regional and international experts will gather in Doha to discuss case studies of intelligent transportation systems that have been implemented successfully. The topics under discussion will include raising awareness among residents on road safety and the National Road Safety Strategy for the next five years. Other interesting themes to be addressed at the event include analysing the socio-economic impact of road accidents in the country and researching driver behaviours. Also of likely interest to Qatar will be Transport for London’s (TFL) experience in managing their road networks and delays during the London 2012 Olympic Games.
16-18 September Global Refining Technology Forum
The third Global Refining Technology Forum will address key technology trends in the industry and the benefits of investing in them. At a time when refineries around the world are facing economic and varying regulatory challenges, their focus is now on implementing new technologies that can optimise operations and maximise profit margins. The three-day panel will feature case studies and workshops on issues from waste utilisation to clean fuels.
Qatari refineries could benefit from technological developments to be discussed at the third Global Refining Technology Forum. (Image Corbis)
The Climate Control Conference The seventh edition of the event to be held in Doha, co-hosted by Qatar Cool will be the venue of discussion for numerous topics surrounding district cooling. Among those will include the impact of regulation, sustainable use of water and carbon credits as a source of finance.
upcoming events 29 Sept– 1 Oct
Doha Transportation and Rails Road Exhibition Numerous topics related to the delivery of smarter transportation systems for Qatar will be discussed at the upcoming ITS Road Safety Forum comissioned by Asghal, the Qatari Public Works Authority.
30 Sept – 2 Oct HSE Forum in Energy
The Edge | 17
qatar perspectives As Kamahl Santamaria’s column has moved to the back of the magazine, The Edge from now on will open these pages every issue for guest columnists to voice their views, opinions and analysis of business matters affecting Qatar. First up are HSBC CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi, discussing Qatar Exchange’s recent MSCI upgrade and what it means for local and international investment potential. Then, the assistant editor of Doha News Victoria Scott asks if the potential of many women in Qatar is being wasted, and suggests measures that could better utilise the skills of Qatar’s female professionals.
MSCI and Qatar’s economic progression 2013 will go down in history as marking an era of change for a dynamic country that is constantly increasing its prominence in the global arena, says Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi.
The half-year mark for 2013 in Qatar will be noted in history for some significant changes. A new, young and powerful generation will be led by a leader who has already shown that he is capable and confident to tackle the issues of the day. HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was given the reins by HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani saying: “The time has come to open a new page in the journey of our nation that would have a new generation carry the responsibilities...with their innovative ideas.” Preceding the announcement of a change in leadership in the country, Qatar was awarded a MSCI status as an Emerging Market. The new status came after a long and demanding process to introduce best practices and systems upgrades, educate investors and build confidence in the growth story. And the end result was a clear indication that investors have recognised the efforts and trust the sustainability of this process. In fact on June 12, a day after obtaining the Emerging Market status, the Qatar Exchange index was up by 163 points (1.75 percent) to close at 9517.95, which is the highest in the last four-anda-half years. Taking effect in May 2014, asset managers are given sufficient time to rebalance their portfolios. Funds that were following a Frontier Market index as well as Emerging Market index will now have time for fund allocations. In addition, this will also give a chance for the listed companies who calculate the foreign 18 | The Edge
ownership limits (FOL) based on the free float of shares to move to a market capital based calculation. An expectation of new listings and initial public offerings (IPOs) is imminent with Barwa Bank, Doha Global Investment Company and four new Qatar Petroleum subsidiary companies going public. Encouraged by the government and QE, family-owned businesses might soon also appear on the listings. This could boost more cross-listings as neighbouring countries see an advantage in listing stocks in emerging markets to attract more investments. In the last MSCI review conducted in June 2012, MSCI had advised that the only impediment for Qatar in obtaining the emerging market status was the low FOL. To address this issue, various parties in the financial market are making extensive efforts to encourage listed companies to increase the maximum ownership percentage allocated for non-Qataris. The FOL is at a 25 percent of free float shares for most listed companies, while
A day after obtaining the Emerging Market status, Qatar Exchange was up by 163 points, which is the highest in the last four-and-ahalf years.
in some companies such as Ooredoo and Vodafone, it is at 100 percent. QElisted companies are being encouraged to increase the number of their shares available to foreign investors to 25 percent of their total market capitalisation instead of the free float shares. According to QE, Doha Bank has recently changed its FOL to 25 percent of the market capitalisation, whereas the FOL of Masraf Al Rayan is set at 49 percent. Some of the other listed companies such as Commercial Bank of Qatar and Qatar Islamic Bank have also positively responded to this market request and may change the FOL shortly. Qatar is charting economic and social progress and has formulated a clear vision and strategy about how to get there – Qatar National Vision 2030. It is certain that the vision is a reality and every step is one closer to reaching all the intentions of a country that wants to invest in its people so that all can participate fully in its economic, social and political life.
Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi is the CEO of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, Qatar.
qatar perspectives Is the talent of many women in Qatar being wasted? Though Doha is home to many talented and highly qualified women, both Qatari and expatriate, they are not being fully utilised in the workforce, writes Victoria Scott. A lawyer I know here works as a swimming teacher. There is also a physiotherapist working as a nursery teaching assistant, an engineer who is an admin assistant, and a midwife not working at all. They have three things in common – all are expatriate trailing spouses, all mothers, and all with jobs far below their qualification level and usual salary - if they are working at all. Expatriate women with visas sponsored by their husbands are legally allowed to work in Qatar, but face a range of hurdles in their race to climb the career ladder. These include childcare, sponsorship laws, and a lack of flexibility. To get around them, many choose jobs that guarantee long holidays and shorter hours, often for low salaries and in areas unrelated to their expertise. While sponsorship is not an issue, many Qatari women also find it hard to balance their careers with family life. They make up the majority of local university graduates, but only 35 percent of female nationals work. Recent research by Wamda, a platform designed to empower entrepreneurs in the MENA region, concluded that these women want more flexibility and different childcare options, demonstrating that whether Qatari or expatriate, working women here share a desire for change. I believe that it is primarily childcare issues which are holding these women back. At the heart of the problem is a disconnect between school hours and average working hours. While the schools are open for five days a week, many organisations require the employees to work for six days. Add to this the lengthy school holidays, and you have big childcare gaps to fill. Of course, one option is to hire a maid. It is true that a full-time live-in maid is an affordable and convenient option, but it is not for everyone. Some families prefer 20 | The Edge
not having a member of staff living in their home, and many more do not have the room to accommodate one. And even if one has a maid, the difficulty of schoolruns remains. Working parents often rely on taxis, minibuses or illegal drivers. Qatar’s limited maternity leave of 50 days also remains discouraging. Once this leave is over, the nursing mothers face a problem too. Under Qatari labour law, they are given one hour off per day to nurse their infants for a year. However, the provision of only a single hour assumes their baby is nearby, or that they have the use of a pump and privacy at the office. Some would like to have peripatetic career, but this is tricky. Expatriate spouses must register as working women with the government, thus assuming that they only work with one employer. Qatar currently has no registration process for freelance workers. Others choose to set up businesses from home, offering services such as cake making and hairdressing – and as inoffensive as these businesses are, they are all illegal under Qatari law, which requires all registered companies to be 50 percent Qatari-owned and run from an office. So, what to do? According to opinions among both working and unemployed
Whether Qatari or expatriate, working women in Qatar want more flexibility and different childcare options.
women in Qatar, they want wrap-around care at schools, provided by trained staff, longer maternity leave, workplace crèches, flexible working hours for schoolruns, agencies offering live-out, licensed, trained nannies, and the establishment of a licensed childminder scheme for afterschool care. They would also like jobsharing to be an accepted option, and freelance work to be officially endorsed by the government. If just some of these suggestions could be met, I believe Qatar would not regret the expertise, enthusiasm and experience that presently unemployed women could then provide to the country. After all, as Qatar moves towards a knowledge-based economy, does it not make perfect sense to make the most of the skilled workers who are already here?
Victoria Scott is the assistant editor of Doha News (www.dohanews.co) and a columnist for Telegraph Expat.
This section is brought to you by Qatar Financial Centre Contents: Qatar to drop the dollar peg? 23 . Rise of China’s currency in MENA trade 24 . Qatar has the world’s highest density of millionaires - BCG 25 . Deals market shows increased confidence 26. Better performance of non-debt instruments 26.
finance & markets
Qatar to drop the dollar peg?
QCB governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani recently hinted that the Qatari riyal’s peg to the US dollar may be abandoned. (Image Reuters/ Arabian Eye)
In a recent suggestive hint, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani told Reuters that a higher degree of exchange rate flexibility may be more desirable in the future as the Qatari economy becomes less dependent on hydrocarbons, Simon Watkins reports. The United States dollar (USD) priced oil and gas sector accounted for 58 percent of Qatar’s economy and 59 percent of its exports in 2012, and that hydrocarbon receipts represent some 70 percent of the government’s budget income on an ongoing basis. So it is little surprising to see markets affected by recent hints from QCB governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani that the Qatari riyal’s (QAR) peg to the USD may be abandoned. Although the governor emphasised that no concrete plans to free up the riyal from the 3.64 fixed rate against the USD that has stood since 2001 are in place, one-year USD to QAR forward prices dropped by 45 points, ostensibly the lowest level since June 2012, on the comments. Indeed, this was the first from a leading Qatari policymaker to publicly suggest that the country may change its dollar peg anytime soon. In broad terms, as Qatar seeks to diversify its economy away from the oil and gas industry, it would make increasingly good sense to at least reduce the country’s dependence on the US economy as transmitted through the USD, especially given the lack of monetary policy manoeuvring that this affords the country. Indeed, already, according to a comment in May by Qatar’s erstwhile prime minister,
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The Edge | 23
sectors | finance & markets
In flexible exchange rate systems, a natural tactic to combat inflationary threats would be to raise interest rates. HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the recent performance of the USD has contributed about 40 percent to the inflation rate in Qatar, whose currency, he added, is undervalued by as much as 30 percent. In this context, although inflation is running a long way off the highs of 15 percent seen in 2009 – in April, the consumer price index (CPI) stood at 3.7 percent on an annualised basis, the International Monetary Fund projects that it will edge up to at least five percent in 2017 and 2018, and possibly even higher. This might happen given the increase in state-directed spending on a vast number of major infrastructure construction projects in the lead up to the World Cup 2022 being hosted by Qatar.
Flexibility in exchange rates
In flexible exchange rate systems, highlighted Khalid Al Khater, director of research and monetary policy at the QCB, a natural tactic to combat these inflationary threats would be to raise interest rates. In Qatar’s case, given the relative undervaluation of the currency, this would not pose exchange rate problems if the rate was not fixed, allowing domestic demand to be choked, with no noticeable negative effects on importing inflation, particularly as it is energy selfsufficient. “We in the GCC need more than an outdated four-decade-old, simple uni-instrument, uni-tool macroeconomic policy framework,” he said, adding that, “this framework was suitable for the earlier stages of development. However, the world has changed.” It is changing faster for Qatar than many would have thought even a few weeks ago, in ways that would argue for 24 | The Edge
Non-rent, and non-rent non-food CPI Inflation - Qatar (in percent) 20
CPI Inflation Non-Rent CPI Inflation Non-Rent and Non-Food CPI Inflation
more currency flexibility than the USD to QAR peg would allow. This is most significant in light of the news that Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) has raised the status of the Qatar Exchange in its investment indices to ‘Emerging Market’ from ‘Frontier Market’ status, after it undertook reforms to make foreign investment easier. It is true that the size of fund inflows directly caused by the upgrade is likely to be modest compared to the market’s size, with local analysts projecting roughly USD500 million (QAR1.8 billion) of inflows for Qatar. Currently, however, by raising the region’s profile, MSCI’s decision may prompt many foreign investors to take a second look at it, and all the more so if there is the opportunity for positive interest rate carry from the currency itself as opposed to the USD’s virtually zero interest rate policy for the foreseeable future.
Projected fund inflow to Qatar on the MSCI upgrade.
Rise of China’s currency in MENA trade Simon Williams, chief economist for HSBC in MENA recently spoke in Doha and shared some insights on the rising importance of the Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY) as a trade currency. By Aparajita Mukherjee.
According to Williams, the rise of the CNY and that of China is no longer a passing fact, but more of a reality. Globally, he said, the use of the CNY has been increasing since 2009, when China launched a pilot programme to internationalise its currency by allowing the CNY to be used to settle cross-border trade. Since then,
In 2012, 12 percent of China’s total trade (imports and exports) was paid for in CNY, up from three percent in 2010.
finance & markets | sectors
Qatar has the world’s highest density of millionaires – BCG
Simon Williams, chief economist for HSBC in MENA said that by 2015, 30 percent of China’s total trade will be settled in Chinese Yuan Renminbi.
China’s trading partners have increasingly been able to use the CNY when paying for imports or receiving payments for exports. This process of the growth of the CNY has been accelerating principally from the growth in trade settlement. In 2012, 12 percent of China’s total trade (imports and exports) was paid for in CNY, up from three percent in 2010. By 2015, HSBC expects that around 30 percent of China’s total trade – equivalent to around USD2 trillion (QAR7.28 trillion) – will be settled in CNY. The Middle East region is becoming a leading beneficiary of the growth of the CNY. Trade between China and 16 of the largest Arab states grew from USD13.5 billion (QAR49.14 billion) in 2001 to USD182 billion (QAR662.5 billion) in 2011. The longer-term perspective, added Williams, is that in five years’ time, using the CNY is going to be a requirement for any Middle East firm serious about developing its trading links with China.
QAR 662.5 billion
Trade between China and 16 of the largest Arab states in 2011.
Qatar has retained its ranking as the country with the world’s highest density of millionaires, and also ranked fourth in the world by proportion of UHNW households in 2011, as it did in 2012. (Image Corbis)
The Boston Consulting Group’s 2013 global wealth report reveals strong growth in Middle East and Africa.
Qatar ranks fourth in the world by ultra-highnet-worth (UHNW) households, defined as households with more than USD100 million (QAR364 million) in private wealth, with eight out of 100,000 households falling into this category, according to The Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) 13th annual global wealth management report. In Maintaining Momentum in a Complex World: Global Wealth 2013, its 13th annual study of the global wealth-management industry, BCG addresses the current size of the market, the performance levels of leading institutions, and the state of offshore banking. The report also provides a thorough analysis of the key trends shaping the business landscape. Markus Massi, partner and managing director at BCG Middle East told The Edge that Qatar has the world’s highest density of millionaires, with 143 out of every 1000 households (14.3 percent) holding private wealth of at least USD1 million (QAR3.64
million). Kuwait ranks third with 11.5 percent, while Bahrain (4.9 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (four percent) rank seventh and ninth, respectively. Kuwait ranks seventh and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comes in 15th with seven and three households per 100,000 in the segment of the UNHW, respectively. Commenting on the growth of wealth in Qatar as reported in the study, Massi added, “Qatar has retained its ranking as the country with the world’s highest density of millionaires, and also ranked fourth in the world by proportion of UHNW households in 2011, as it did in 2012. Given the favourable economic conditions in Qatar, we would expect further positive development of wealth in the country.”
14.3% Qatar’s density of millionaires.
The Edge | 25
sectors | finance & markets
Deals market shows increased confidence
Jason Majid, partner, Clyde & Co said that market interest and the desire to do deals currently make the Middle East a sellers’ market.
The recently released Middle East Deal Study 2013 shows the increase of new entrants on the back of a strong climate of market confidence, reveals Clyde & Co.
Speaking to The Edge, Jason Majid, partner, Clyde & Co said that the factors that led them to conclude that there was increased market confidence in the deals market was primarily due to governments in the region having illustrated the importance of the public sector in confidence building and stimulating growth. “This,” he said, “is especially true in Qatar where increased public investment in the coming years will have a profound effect transforming the national economy. ” The region has benefitted from weak market conditions elsewhere, which have encouraged companies to diversify and expand their international activities, added Majid. “Market interest and the desire to do deals currently makes the Middle East a seller’s market.” According to the study, there has been an increase of new entrants into the market. Majid said that the factors leading to increased market confidence drive the increase of new entrants. Governments are also becoming attuned to barriers of entry around easing investment procedures and increasing foreign ownership limits will drive further new entrants. 26 | The Edge
Better performance of non-debt instruments
Robert Pramberger, acting head of asset management and Patrick Rahal, manager of asset management at The First Investor (TFI), the investment banking arm of Barwa Bank, share with The Edge their thoughts on the regional stock markets with reference to the ‘TFI GCC Equity Opportunities Fund (Q)’. Investment bankers believe regional markets are well positioned to benefit from an increasing interest in equities driven by healthy and strong fundamentals and the commitment of policy makers to rationally increase non-petroleum growth. Coupled with this are considerable investments in infrastructure but also in areas such as education, sports, healthcare, tourism and culture, making the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies more balanced and broad-based. The GCC stock markets have outperformed their emerging equity market peers and continued to trade at relatively attractive valuations, high dividend yields, strong visibility in cash flows, relatively high earnings growth and relatively low systemic risk. “Within the GCC, the TFI asset management team advocates the quality style comprising high growth, defensive earnings, high dividend yield and low debt to equity in the mid-large cap part of the market,” said Pramberger.
The TFI GCC Equities Opportunities Fund (Q) is investing in equities and equity-related securities listed on exchanges of the GCC countries and is seeking to achieve longterm capital growth through investments in a broadly diversified regional portfolio of stocks, said Rahal and Pramberger. The fund managed to attract more than QAR100 million during the first few months following its launch making it one of the biggest openended funds domiciled in Qatar. Both Rahal and Pramberger were of the opinion that risk-on trade would continue
and equity markets would outperform other asset classes as tail risks are fading, disgruntled fixed income investors are still prepared to take more risk and continue to seek higher risk/returns in equities as investors have a negative return (after inflation) from holding cash. As an example, they cited the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (Dow) and the Standard & Poor 500 Index (S&P) which are trading at all-time highs while the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) is trading near historical lows. “Moreover, we believe that we are near the trough of macroeconomic growth as leading indicators are beginning to show positive readings,” they said. “As equity markets tend
The GCC stock markets have outperformed their emerging equity market peers and continued to trade at relatively attractive valuations, high dividend yields, strong visibility in cash flows, relatively high earnings growth and low systemic risk. (Image Reuters/Arabian Eye)
to lead the macroeconomic development, there seems to be little evidence of equity markets sustainably turning downwards for the moment. In short, we think that the stock market is currently evolving in an equity friendly environment, favourable for medium to long-term investors looking for a hedge against inflation while maintaining a high level of liquidity,” said Rahal.
Amount that the TFI GCC Equity Opportunities Fund (Q) attracted during the first few months after launching.
Contents: Overseas shale gas, threat or boon for Gulf gas exporters? 27 . GCC nations race to deploy solar power projects 28 . Qatar renewables face challenge for investment 29 . Green energy expert joins Texas A&M 30 . Protect employees for increased profitability 30.
energy & sustainability
A test drilling site for shale gas near Banks on the outskirts of Southport, Lancashire, UK. Foreign shale gas facilities could become an opportunity to expand Qatar’s talent, say top regional energy analysts. (Image Corbis)
Overseas shale gas, threat or boon for Gulf gas exporters? Depending on the position of Gulf gas exporters, shale gas could be either a threat or opportunity. Whichever it is, Jamie Stewart, The Edge’s Energy and Sustainability sector editor argues that the nation must be prepared to reform a long-standing business model.
argin structures that Gulf countries such as Qatar have enjoyed in the export of gas to regions like Asia may not be sustainable
as unconventional gas resources are developed globally, at least according to a top energy sector chief executive officer. Such an outcome would trigger a rethink of how Qatar accounts for and prices each part of the gas export supply chain if it wished to remain competitive. “The Gulf continues to have strong output in oil and gas, while elsewhere, unconventional gas sources are being developed at an increased pace,” Harry Bradbury, chairman and CEO of FiveQuarter Energy, told The Edge in June. “Not only is there the prospect of the United States (US) becoming
self-sufficient through shale gas, other countries are following suit, and may expand the total gas budget by exploiting not just shale, but coal,” he said. These include countries which were not previously well endowed with hydrocarbon sources. “In these circumstances,” Bradbury continued, “the issue could be that the margin structures which the Gulf has enjoyed in its export of gas to regions like Asia may not be sustainable. And it is unlikely that similar margin structures could be used in satisfying regional demand in the MENA.” The Edge | 27
sectors | energy & sustainability
Shale gas is among the most important developments in global energy economics for decades. According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2013 mediumterm gas market report published in June. The supply picture in 2012 underlined significant contrasts among regions, as the US contributed single-handedly to almost half of the globe’s incremental gas supply. Qatar’s gas production growth was the fifth largest. “The Gulf will face increased competitive pressures not on availability of resource, furthered Bradbury, but on revenue generation, in circumstances where sufficient countries and regions in the supply chain conclude that it is in their best interest to develop their indigenous resources.”
Bradbury was responding to questions a fortnight after speaking at the London Business School’s (LBS) Energy Insights Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in early June. At the forum, executives from the Middle East’s energy and recruitment sectors said the region would become “an exporter of talent” as a result of the global shale gas revolution. The statement challenged the assumption that US shale gas exports
should purely be seen as a threat to Qatar, instead presenting the rapid development of the industry as an opportunity, provided that individuals and companies position themselves to take advantage. “The region will become an exporter of talent,” Danny Leinders, senior client partner at recruitment firm Korn Ferry International said. “We will now move talent from the region into North America as the demand for energy expertise grows over there.” The Middle East is expected to witness some of the largest energy demand growth in the world in coming years. Population growth and economic diversification could see domestic demand double over the next decade, which could also be cause for concern. Bradbury said that the Middle East should first address what is happening locally before being concerned about America, which has entered what some believe to be a long-term manufacturing renaissance on the back of its cheap gas boom. “There is an argument that Gulf states should do more to encourage and grow manufacturing businesses rather than assuming a continuance of just raw gas supply,” Bradbury closed.
GCC nations race to deploy solar power projects
The newly launched solar plant Shams 1 in the desert of Abu Dhabi. The 100-megawatt solar plant is the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant in operation. (Image Corbis)
Five-Quarter Energy CEO Harry Bradbury explained to The Edge that the Gulf will face increased competitive pressures on revenue generation.
28 | The Edge
“Gulf states should encourage manufacturing businesses rather than assuming a continuance of raw gas supply.” - Harry Bradbury, Five-Quarter Energy.
As countries from around the Gulf seek to increase alternative energy sources for power generation, solar energy could become one of the largest. The GCC is expected to deploy solar energy projects worth USD155 billion (QAR564 billion) in an attempt to generate a total power capacity of 84 gigawatts (GW) by 2017. Qatar also has plans to implement solar energy into its renewable energy mix, with a strategy propsed to get 10 percent of the electricity and energy used in water desalination from solar energy by the year 2018. Derek Burston, the exhibiton manager of GulfSol 2013, a high-level industry summit on solar to be held later in
energy & sustainability | sectors
Dubai this year, said, “It is apparent that whilst the solar industry in other areas are struggling, right across MENA, the opportunities are there for companies to get themselves involved with a wealth of opportunities that are presenting themselves. Right now, nothing is hotter for solar than the Middle East.” “To meet the goals that the GCC have set themselves means expertise will be needed from the international solar power industry to deal with the difficulties involved in construction in desert terrain, including dust, high winds and transmission requirements,” Burston added. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, has even more ambitious plans. Renewable energy sources are likely to be very much of interest to the Saudi government considering a recent report by Citigroup Inc. that stated it could become an oil importer in the next 20 years. The Saudi government hopes to just about double its installed electricity capacity by building 54 GW of renewable energy (as well as 17.6 GW of nuclear power) by 2032, of which 41 GW will obtained from solar. Kuwait too has ambitions to derive 10 percent of its power requirements from renewable energy sources by 2020. Abu Dhabi has set a goal of generating seven percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and the state-owned renewable energy company, Masdar, has announced that it will invest up to AED6 billion (QAR5.9 billion) in alternative energy schemes alongside the United Kingdom’s Green Investment Bank. However numerous challenges stand in the way of implementing these largescale solar power projects. The feasibility of deploying solar power in remote areas, the creation of regulatory and policy frameworks for implementation of solar projects are also areas that need to be addressed. The push for solar energy does offer a range of unrealised opportunities in the region for international companies with experience in deploying such technologies elsewhere.
The percentage of energy use in water-desal from solar by the year 2018 expected in Qatar.
Expertise will be needed from the international solar power industry to meet the goals the GCC have set.
Qatar renewables face challenge for investment Qatar faces a challenge attracting regional investment in renewable energy, according to rankings unveiled in a new report.
The Qatari peninsula is ranked 24th out of 30 countries in the PA Consulting Group’s renewable energy investment map published in June, behind both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The better news for Qatar – but not for its renewable energy developers – is that the country is ranked 13th out of 30 for conventional energy investment opportunities, meaning energy sector investors are far more likely to pump cash into Doha’s gas industry than its renewable energy projects, despite the indications to the contrary from some quarters.
“Qatar has revealed plans to transform the country’s power generation mix from conventional to renewable energy to help mitigate the impact of greenhouse emissions. This will trigger massive investment in the power sector,” the report stated. However, it continued: “Qatar’s current generation mix is based mainly on gas-fired [power generation] capacities which remain the most attractive option for investors.” There remained a bright light among the gloomy news, however. Qatar has published a tender for a mammoth 1.8GW solar power plant with combined desalination to provide drinking water. This project “could serve as a focus for further investments, leading to a rapid improvement in the investment framework,” the study also stated.
How Qatar faired in the energy investment ranking Technology
Attractiveness score (0 = minimum, 180 = maximum)
Source: PA Consulting
The Edge | 29
sectors | energy & sustainability
Green energy expert joins Texas A&M
Dr. Paul Anastas is the university’s first holder of the QAFCO chair in green chemistry and green engineering at Texas A&M University Qatar. (Image Texas A&M University at Qatar)
Qatar must scale up its focus in the coming years on green processes within its energy industries, one of the men responsible for bringing the ‘father of green chemistry’ to Qatar believes.
The appointment of Dr. Paul Anastas as the first holder of the Qatar Fertilizer Company (QAFCO) chair in green chemistry and green engineering at Texas A&M University, Qatar, is intended to give a boost to sustainable technology in what is often seen as a highly polluting industrial sector. “We will not offer degrees in green chemistry or green engineering, but Professor Anastas will establish a research programme, involving students and researchers, that will address issues of interest to the country,” Dr. Hassan Bazzi, chair of the science programme and associate professor of chemistry at the university told The Edge. As can be the case, the association with the name is perhaps the most important part of the appointment. As Anastas himself told The Edge, he will maintain his responsibilities at Yale University in the United Stated (US) where he is director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering. “My time actually in Doha will be limited and occasional,” he made it clear. 30 | The Edge
Nevertheless, there is still scope to ensure a lasting contribution. Anastas’ position will focus on teaching and research. He will host seminars, teach students and interact with the local industry. It is also expected that he will initiate research projects with funding from the Qatar National Research Fund and local Qatar industry. “With the rapid expansion and growth of the industrial sector [oil, gas and petrochemicals], there will be increased focus in the coming years on green processes. Bringing Professor Anastas to Qatar will add the expertise needed to tackle these issues,” Bazzi added. Anastas brings with him an unrivalled CV in his field. According to a statement from the university, he is internationally regarded as the “Father of Green Chemistry” through his pioneering work on sustainability at the molecular level and his breakthroughs that have made chemical manufacturing cleaner, safer and more efficient. QAFCO, sponsor of the chair, backs a number of sustainability schemes, including the ambitious Sahara Forest Project, the pilot for which was completed in Qatar six months ago and aims to grow specific crops in the desert using renewable energy and salt-water desalination.
“With the rapid expansion of the industrial sector, there will be an increased focus on green processes.” - Dr. Hassan Bazzi, Texas A&M University, Qatar.
Health and safety
Protect employees for increased profitability Employers across Qatar’s energy sector could boost the bottom lines of their businesses by taking note of a two-pronged approach to health and safety, according to Fadi Merhi, general manager of consultancy firm Sentis Middle East.
“There’s potential for employers across the region to get much more from their human capital. Even a relatively small increase in performance of one percent from each employee, over a 12-month period, can have an immense impact on profit,” Merhi said. The approach combines practical programmes that encourage individual employees to take part, combined with advanced new technologies aimed at improving safety culture, for example, by introducing more efficient processing techniques and analytical tools. “Safety is not about protecting workers from something, it is about protecting them for something,” Mehri said. “Employees can only be protected from their environment to a certain extent – it is only in making safety individually important to them that you witness significant and lasting improvement in organisational safety performance,” he added. The issues will be discussed at a two-day conference and exhibition, the 9th Annual HSE Forum in Energy, with workshops on day three. The event takes place from 30 September 30 to October 2 at Doha’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. For more information, visit www. fleminggulf.com/conferenceview/HSEForum-in-Energy/284.
Jamie Stewart is a freelance journalist and oil and gas industry researcher and analyst based in the United Kingdom.
Contents: Qatar’s real estate: A dose of realism? 33 . Qatar’s cement industry shows highest revenues in GCC 36 . Ensuring sustainable hospitality sector 36.
real estate & construction Qatar’s real estate: A dose of realism? Qatar is going through rapid transitions in its real estate sector ahead of the World Cup 2022, but what are the longterm repercussions of this seemingly thriving progress? Real estate analyst Matthew Green explores.
s with many other countries in the Gulf region, Qatar is also investing heavily in its infrastructure, as the gas rich nation strives to transform itself into an arena capable of staging one of the world’s largest and greatest sporting events, FIFA World Cup 2022. Consequently, there has been a visible increase in public spending, as the government allocates a considerable share of its budget towards funding new transport facilities, such as high-speed light rail and metro networks. Clearly this type of investment will have long-term positive repercussions for the country, as Qatar aims to position itself as a new emerging global country and as it strives to create new jobs and diversify its economy. Such facilities are seen to be primary drivers for real estate growth, with hopes that the increased passenger capacity will help to underpin the entry of new hotel keys, as well as driving more consumers through Doha’s expanding retail sector. However, despite the ongoing development, there is a worry that too much reliance in the real estate sector is being placed on hypotheticals rather than fundamentals, with an apparent
The current construction boom in Qatar will ultimately have a varied set of impacts, some positive, others negative, writes a top regional real estate analyst.
The Edge | 33
sectors | real estate & construction
preoccupation with development for the World Cup rather than for longer-term goals. Perhaps the key question that should be asked is: how sustainable will the property market be after the tournament? At this stage, the signs are arguably pointing towards oversupply. While Qatar’s diversification strategy clearly goes beyond the 2022 tournament and even beyond the 2030 vision, there is very noticeable drive from the public and private sectors to create world-class facilities in the short term that can ultimately cater to the thousands of visitors expected during the competition. The sheer scale of the projects planned for 2022 is a common source of trepidation when discussing the future of Qatar, particularly in the context of oversupply and on-going construction delays that are threatening to impair the reputation and feasibility of some projects. With inflation levels likely to rise amid massive government spending, the competitiveness of the construction sector could also be put to test, with some contractors already forewarning of material shortages and escalating construction costs that could impede future development activity. The real estate market in Doha is already one of the region’s fastest growing, with massive developments set to be delivered over the next 10 years. In the next five years, Doha’s residential stock levels will rise by around 25 percent, total office inventory will grow by 50 percent and hotel and hotel apartment supply will double. From a current stock of one million square metres (m2) of gross leasable area (GLA), Doha’s retail market will also see close to 100 percent growth by 2017. As the Doha office
There is a worry that too much reliance in Qatar’s real estate sector is being placed on hypotheticals rather than fundamentals. 34 | The Edge
market sees a growing number of building completions over the next three to five years, vacancy rates are expected to rise. Despite widespread concerns over the long-term capacity for space in Qatar, there is pent-up demand for the right types of real estate product as a polarised market has evolved. For instance, Doha’s retail market is currently characterised by an undersupply of organised retail facilities, with existing malls such as City Center, Villaggio and Landmark all running at full occupancy. However,
Number of hotel keys Qatar aims to have by 2022.
City Center, like most other malls in Doha, is running at full occupancy.
within the next five years the entire supply and demand picture will be transformed, spelling danger for existing centres amid a risk of cannibalisation from one of the new larger entrants to the market. The hospitality sector is also transitioning, with a significant portion of Qatar’s recent construction activity focused on the development of tourism infrastructure, as the country aims to offer a supply of around 60,000 keys by 2022. Total room supply has now reached close to 19,000 keys, with inventory levels growing rapidly, particularly in and around the diplomatic area. The short-term impact of this new supply has been broadly negative, with occupancy rates and average daily rates struggling to achieve growth. With a large pipeline of new product to be delivered in the coming years, Doha’s hotel sector will continue to experience challenging conditions for the foreseeable future. During 2012, average occupancy rates reached just 60 percent, up one percent from the 2011 figure, but still substantially lower than other regional tourism markets, such as Dubai (76 percent) and Abu Dhabi (65 percent). Although easy to concentrate on the short-term negative outcomes of Qatar’s aggressive expansion programme, the current development boom will ultimately have a varied set of impacts. Clearly, oversupply in some sectors will be a feature of Qatar’s post-World Cup reality, but on the flip-side the nation will be benefitting from the considerable improvement to infrastructure, particularly in the form of new transport facilities. In the long term, it will be this type of investments that will generate new jobs and help to diversify Qatar’s economy.
Matthew Green is a Dubai-based real estate analyst. Currently working as the head of research, UAE at CBRE, he has over 10 years’ experience in the Middle East and UK property markets.
sectors | real estate & construction
Qatar’s cement industry shows highest revenues in GCC Foreseeing an increase in demand and price, Qatar seeks to increase its cement production capacity. By Farwa Zahra
During the first quarter of 2013, GCC’s cement sector showed growth with Qatar experiencing a 10-percent increase – the highest compared to any other country in the region. According to a recent report by Global Investment House (GIH), the increase in GCC’s cement sector was largely catalysed by the real estate and construction activity in Oman and Qatar. But while the figures sound reflective of a construction boom in the country. But speaking exclusively with The Edge, Hettish Karmani, manager of research and publications at GIH disagreed. “In Qatar, the sales volume of cement dropped and the prices remained at the same level because of government control,” he said, explaining that the increase in revenue is because of a relatively new company, Qatari Investors Group that has been going with a greater scale of operation when compared with last year. Considering further causes, Karmani added, “There are many reasons for increase in profitability such as cost of sales and operating expenses going down, which raises the gross and operating margins and creates a trickle-down effect on net profitability.” While the increase in profitability may not be due to the increased construction activity for now, in the near future the commencement of planned projects for the World Cup 2022 and National Vision 2030 is expected to increase the cement prices, challenging Qatar in maintaining its budget. “The construction industry
Ensuring a sustainable hospitality sector
would increase after 2016 when World Cup related projects would pick up some pace,” said Karmani. Since the country’s current cement production is not sufficient to meet the needs of large-scale construction and infrastructure projects in plan, Qatar will have to increase its local capacity. Foreseeing the future shortage, Qatar National Cement Company has recently announced an increase in cement production capacity by 0.93metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) to 5.36mtpa.
Qatar’s current cement production is not sufficient to meet the needs of large-scale construction and infrastructure projects in plan, says an analyst.
Qatar’s cement industry showed 10 percent growth during the first quarter of 2013. 36 | The Edge
A workshop by Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) connects Qatar’s hospitality sector with sustainability.
Due to the World Cup 2022 and Qatar’s growing sector of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), the country’s hospitality sector will increase from the current number of hotels from 94 to 123 by 2016. But is the development going to be environment friendly? Much discussed in the construction sector, sustainability was linked to the hospitality sector in a recent event organised by QGBC. Speaking exclusively with The Edge, construction economics and finance advisor at QGBC, Steven Humphrey said, “There’s a lot of hotels in Qatar doing a lot on sustainability. We see more and more adopting sustainable practices.” According to Humphrey, many new hotels in Qatar are adopting green certification of LEED and other sustainability standards. When asked about the challenges hotels face in ensuring sustainability in Qatar, Humphrey added, “The big issues are always around waste, water and energy consumption. A part of those is driven by social attitudes, which need to change.” In the case of hospitality sector, what poses a hindrance in the way of this attitude shift is the multitude of various nationalities coming in to use the hotel rooms and other facilities. Featuring presentations by sustainability experts from tourism, government and construction industry, the workshop also laid out areas of building a sustainable tourism industry which includes green technologies, recycling, supply chain aspects and certifications.
Sustainability experts from real estate, hospitality and tourism sector at the QGBC workshop held in Doha.
Contents: Threat of cyber activist attack on Qatar fails 39 . What’s in the future for BlackBerry in Qatar and the Middle East? 41 .
tech & communications
A cyber activist group recently annouced they would be targeting major energy producers in the Middle East including Qatar, but it seems their plans might ostensibly have been thwarted thanks to increased efforts by government entitites and local organisations. (Image Corbis)
Threat of cyber activist group attack on Qatar fails The cyber activist group Anonymous announced that it would launch a cyber attack in June aimed at major energy producers in the Middle East, including Qatar in an operation named #OpPetrol. So what impact did this have on Qatar? By Shehan Mashood
t seems the operation has had little to no impact with regards to energy production in the region. However, in a press release in June from Trend Micro,
a security software company, stated that a significant number of government websites in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia had gone offline. The company made the recommendation that the organisations should partner with local service providers to monitor and mitigate distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), whereby multiple systems flood the network of a targeted system to make it unavailable to others. Soon after the announcement of the upcoming attacks by Anonymous, ictQatar released an Internet Infrastructure Guideline report that
stated Internet service providers (ISPs) should apply detection and prevention technologies to ensure that the Internet feeds are free “as much as possible” from malicious activity. Having world-class strategic companies such as Qatar Petroleum makes Qatar an attractive target, not just for hacktivists but competitors and some governments of unfriendly states, explains Cyril Viosin, chief security advisor for Microsoft Gulf. The danger to Qatar’s companies and national security was explored in the June issue of The Edge. The Edge | 39
sectors | technology & communications
100% 100% 100%
100% 100% 100%
97% 100% 94%
“Organisations need to assume they will be compromised and redefine their IT security.” Computer Penetration among Business Richard Sheng, Trend Micro. Establishments, Overall and by Size (2008,2012)
53% 57% 58%
he furthers, “the best approach is to mandate at the national level that the critical national infrastructures have to follow some best practices, and to be audited by independent third parties.” Richard Sheng, senior director of enterprise security, Trend Micro Asia Pacific said cyber attacks are now targeted, customised and persistent. While hactivists make announcements of their attack campaign, most cyber crimes and espionage goes undetected by conventional security controls, he explained. “Organisations need to assume they will be compromised and Ooredoo’s chief operating officer Waleed Al Sayed, redefine their IT security with that mental announced that they would shortly roll out Ooredoo Business Fibre for SMEs, which are often the most model,” explained Sheng. These advance vulnerable to online fraud. Overall Small Medium Large (APTs)Very persistent threats create huge (1-9) (10-49) (50-249) providers, said However, recent developments such challenges for IT serviceLarge (250+) deputy CEO. as the threat from Anonymous have Ghada Philip El Rassi, MEEZA’s According to El Rassi, the company shown companies 2008 within the country 2012 2010 stepping up their efforts to protect their IT plans to start offering its clients penetration and cloud infrastructure. Source: Business Survery, 2008, 2010,testing 2012; Overall MEEZA, an IT service provider vulnerability scanning in the next quarter businesses 2008 n=433, 2010 n=543, 2012 n=928 recently announced the creation of the of this year. The outcome of penetration first Commercial Security Operations testing will be to identify and assess Center (SOC) in the country aimed at IT security vulnerabilities within the Penetration target environment, said El Rassi. “The protecting Internet critical information assets.among Business Establishments - International report will Benchmarks classify the risks, “Organisations should focus on increasing penetration their resilience to be able to survive giving the client a framework to mitigate before being any attack or incident,” Viosin Qatar (All) told The or remove the issue66% Edge. This requires assessing the risks, exploited,” she explained. Qatar (10 or more) 91% mitigating them, planning for continuity Saudi Arabia 65% and practising drills to be able to react Local threat assesment that their and recover when anSingapore incident occurs. “It El Rassi also told The Edge 81% is a serious topic that should not be left organisation plans to gather local threat 92% the to the critical organisationsUAE themselves,” intelligence data that documents
Presence of ICT security policy and resource, by overall economic activity 35%
Presence of ICT security resource Source: Qatar’s ICT Lanscape 2013 ictQatar
Web Presence among start-ups
40 | The Edge
61% Presence of ICT security policy
types of cyber attacks happening within the country and the region to make sure companies have the correct security strategy in place to defend themselves. Organisations with IT security functions will often share knowledge through bilateral agreements, she explained, “Obviously this won’t be in-depth corporate IT security data. However, it will include information pertaining to attack profiles, types of attacks increasing such as phishing or meta-data extracted from attack codes.” In large organisations, the probability of a successful spear phishing scam is close to certainty, said Viosin from Microsoft. To mitigate risks, people should only have access to what they need to know, and not more, he added. People with privileges should be only a few and trained not to indulge in risky behaviours such as browsing the Internet with their administrator rights. Recently, Ooredoo chief operating officer Waleed Al Sayed announced at a press conference that Qatar had one of the fastest roll-outs of fibre optic networks in the world, showcasing the country’s commitment to increasing connectivity in order to aid economic development. He also announced that Ooredoo Business Fibre would be rolled out in the coming months, targeted towards small and medium businesses. As businesses increase their connectivity in Qatar and virtualise business functions, it becomes vital that they also do so with an understanding of the risks and challenges it brings. In order to be a more difficult target, organisations should put a security programme in place. Many times, organisations that are victims of security attacks do not want to report these attacks, which, said Viosin, is only helping attackers. In case your organisation is compromised your first point of call should be Q-CERT at http://call.qcert. org/ that will help end users clean up their machines.
technology & communications | sectors
Whatâ€™s in the future for BlackBerry in Qatar and the Middle East?
Ahmed Olaywan, the country manager for BlackBerry in Qatar, speaking at the BB10 launch at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.
Ahmed Olaywan, the country manager for BlackBerry in Qatar, discusses with The Edge the latest smartphone and the future of mobile computing which, he says, is machine-tomachine connectivity. How has Blackberry managed to stay so popular in the Middle East while it has lost market share elsewhere around the world? There is a great brand value in the Middle East, and Blackberry has been popular for a while now. We are growing our market share here in the Middle East and it is a very important part of our global business. Another factor is that this region is home to people from numerous countries, people who are connected to their families and friends all over the world. BlackBerry created this link between people and this was underscored by the launch of the BB 10, which took place in January 2013. Qatar, if I remember correctly, was the third country to launch the Z10. This shows how important this market is to us. How important are enterprise customers to BlackBerry? And is that something you are focused on going forward? Enterprise customers are in constant need of communicating and connecting. BlackBerry has always been the choice
of enterprise and IT industry for security, reliability and efficiency, so enterprise was and will remain a key focus of our proposition. As a matter of fact, we recently announced the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) and we are going one step ahead, where we are adding security to iOS and Android by launching the BES10 where an IT administrator can monitor and manage all his iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices from one console. Our aim is to help IT administrators build on the expertise of BlackBerry and the BES and expand it to other platforms. An IT administrator who trusts BlackBerry does not need to get three different servers to manage three different platforms.
The number of monthly active BlackBerry Messenger users worldwide.
The mobile market here is very saturated. Where do you see the growth potential? Yes, Qatar has one of the highest smartphone penetrations around the world, I think on average in the Middle East is around 60 percent to 65 percent in smartphone penetration. But Qatar is amongst the highest around 75 percent, this shows that people are early adopters, they want to be connected and have the latest devices. Earlier when we launched the BlackBerry, the focus was on connecting people to use Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, your BMM. But the new platform is a new era in mobile computing, we are looking beyond towards connecting machine to machine. Your smartphone will let you connect to everything that matters to you, and around you during your day. Using Facebook on the smartphone is not the future, it is the past and the present. We are talking about connecting your smartphone to your car and other machines at home. This is what we demonstrated at BlackBerry Live in Orlando recently. Near field communications (NFC) is another area we are closely working with the authorities on. In Dubai for example, we are working with the Roads and Transport Authority on mobile payment solutions. Can you tell us what the thinking was behind rolling out BBM on other operating systems? BBM is a strong platform, and a very large one, with a demonstrated efficiency. This region has the highest BBM penetration, and with over 60 million subscribers worldwide, we are looking at expanding it to let other smartphone platform users enjoy this service. Do you think BlackBerry will ever become a company that only develops software? This is a big question, our CEO noted that our focus is on the launch of the BB10. So we are rolling out the BB10 and introducing our device portfolio, this is our focus today and the company has not announced anything else beyond this. The Edge | 41
country focus | france
Qatar and France: A strategic partnership With a long-standing relation that Qatar shares with France, it is inevitable that bilateral relations are based on a mutual feeling of trust and reliability. This is evident in not the trade figures alone, but also the various sectors that the partnership spans, according to JeanChristophe Peaucelle, Ambassador of France to Qatar. Aparajita Mukherjee reports.
Total, the French energy company, has played a major and historical role in the oil and gas industry in Qatar, having been present in Qatar for the past 77 years, Total is a prominent sponsor for many sporting events. (Image Corbis)
42 | The Edge
france | country focus
areer diplomats come with a keen sense of history and JeanChristophe Peaucelle, Ambassador of France to Qatar is no exception. His exposure to the region (Peaucelle has served in Jerusalem, Tehran and Istanbul) gives him a strong grasp of the regional issues, with a broad-based view of the scope of bilateral relations. For him, it is the trust that Qatar and France share that provides the basis of the relationship. Providing a historical context to the relations between Qatar and France, Peaucelle says that having begun the journey of bilateral relations with Qatar in 1971, the year Qatar became independent, today the relations cover all fields of cooperation. “We have a high-quality and regular political dialogue, which means we talk about the regional and international issues which translate into cooperation in the fields of defence, security and the economy.” Qatar, according to Peaucelle, has invested considerably in the French economy, and many French companies are quite active in the State of Qatar. In the eyes of Peaucelle, France has good relations with all countries in the region. France is a Mediterranean country, the door to the Arab world. “With the wider Arab world from Morocco to Iraq, we have historic relations with them all. What is particular with Qatar is the fact that from the very beginning, we understood from both sides that we also had a common interest. In that sense, our partnership is strategic.” In the 1970s, France was interested in improving its ties with countries of the Arabian peninsula, which historically was an area under British hegemony. “But we had direct access to the Arab world and getting new friends in this area was very significant for us. At the same time I believe that when Qatar became independent, the American influence in the region was really high.” Geographically, Qatar is located between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two very large powers, and close allies of the United States (US). “So my understanding is that Qatar not only wanted good relations with the US, but it also understood the need to diversify its links and find a partner which would be able to give the technological supplies, political support and build a relationship which was reinforced by mutual trust,” he says, adding, “When we now discuss issues with the Qataris, we have the feeling that on both sides we consider the other as very reliable and a loyal partner.”
T rade consumes a significant dimension in the relations between the two countries. Discussing trade figures, the ambassador says that the trade between France and Qatar is quite significant, having increased in the past few years dramatically. “In 2012, the trade balance was relatively well balanced in terms of imports and exports. In 2012, the French exports to Qatar amounted EUR775 million (QAR3.77 billion) and the Qatari exports to France reached EUR782.2 million (QAR3.8 billion).” According to Peaucelle, in 2012 the trade figures decreased slightly to QAR5.18 billion for precise reasons as he says, “France bought less liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Qatar received less number of airbuses.”
France at a glance Government: Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic Capital: Paris Population: 65,350,000 GDP: USD2680.64 trillion (QAR9758.62 trillion)
Arab Spring and Qatar
With Qatar’s role in Libya or in Syria, the perception is that Qatar has created a strongly positive mediator’s role for itself in issues within the region. Broadly agreeing with this assessment, Peaucelle says that in each case, while the dynamics might have been different, there is one unifying reason as to why those uprisings happened – it was solely driven by the people who were disgruntled of the authoritarian structure in each of the regimes, be it Tunisia, Libya or Egypt. “The merit of a country like Qatar,” says the ambassador, “is that the Qatari authorities I believe, understood very quickly that the whole region was going through a historical turnover, a change which is a major one, not cosmetic. One thing was sure in each case that the people wanted and demanded change.” Being unequivocal about his opinion of the Qatari authorities, he says, “So I think the Qatari authorities, led by HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and [former] Prime Minister HE Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani all understood that this was a major issue, and they played a role in politically supporting it.” Talking specifically of Libya and the cooperation that Qatar and France had in the national coalition military operations to defend the Libyan people, Peaucelle cites it as an interesting case, “I believe that probably if there was no impulse given by France, nothing would have happened. But, at the same time, if we did not have the political support of Arab countries like Qatar (and it was the first country that came forward), it would not have been possible to go ahead with it.”
Jean-Christophe Peaucelle, Ambassador of France to Qatar says that Qatar and France have discussions on a range of issues – from defence, to security and the economy and more sectors could see fruition before the end of 2013.
The Edge | 43
country focus | france
B eing an energy exporting country, most of the relations that Qatar has with other countries have a high hydrocarbon component to them. In the case of France and Qatar, Peaucelle brings in an additional factor – geography. He says, “When you talk about energy in the context of our relations, you have to consider two things – first, Qatar selling energy; and second, the cost factor which determines the volume of the sale.” In 2010, in terms of value, France was the 12th client of Qatar for its hydrocarbon exports. “If one looks at the present situation, we are not in this position anymore and I think it is quite easy to understand why,” adds Peaucelle, “For France, there are some other proximate sources of energy other than Qatar’s gas – there are gas lines from Russia, from Europe and then there is gas from Algeria which is very close to France.” From a Qatari point of view, the main markets for its gas are in Asia, because these countries have an interest in buying gas from Qatar rather than Algeria. Peaucelle explains that this is the geographical situation and all of them are huge markets with very high growth rates and growth potential. Explaining the role that France has played in the energy sector in Qatar, Peaucelle puts it in the context of Total’s long presence in the country, for the past 77 years. “Now Qatar and Total are together working on solar energy, which is very interesting given Qatar’s incredible oil and gas reserves, they are nonetheless interested in future energies. Qatar Petroleum and Total are also working together to invest in oil production in Africa, for example.”
Construction and infrastructure ith the massive infrastructure overhaul W that Qatar will see in the run-up to the FIFA 2022, Peaucelle says that the participating companies need to be reliable enough to meet the strict deadline that the FIFA is going to impose. “This is where I see French companies scoring over the others since our companies are not only reliable, but many are world champions with very high credentials for what they have done throughout the world. So I really do hope that French companies will be able to play
44 | The Edge
a determining role in the near future, in the field of construction, transportation, security, communication, computer systems, environment.” Commenting on the other aspects of the relations, Peaucelle says, “We have a growing cooperation in the field of education and culture, we have a French high school which is doing very well. We are facing a big increase in the number of applications which is very positive, but we have to launch an enlargement and expansion project hopefully by the end of the year. We are working with Qatar University and with the Hamad Bin Khalifa University as well.” When asked if the change of leadership in France has affected the thinking on the relationship with Qatar, the ambassador says that with a relationship that was established way back by President Georges Pompidou, continued by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and now François Hollande, the direction of relationship remains the same. It is dictated by mutual need, he says.
New investment deal of QAR1.4 billion boosts Qatar-France ties Qatar has announced a cash injection of USD393 million (QAR1.4 billion) into small and medium-sized French companies. The deal was launched during the French president Francois Hollande’s visit to Doha in late June, who, while speaking during a meeting of Qatari and French businessmen in Doha stressed the importance of creating The French president François Hollande adressing the business partnerships between the community in Doha. (Image French Embassy in Doha) two countries in all fields. He expressed his hope that establishing the Qatari-French Joint Business Council would help advance bilateral cooperation and increase investment opportunities in both countries. Hollande said that he had come to Qatar with 46 general managers of large French companies, which, he said, reflected his belief that economic and bilateral ties must move on to new levels. He said that France wants to take part in projects and investment opportunities in Qatar based on three principles – continuity, technological advancement and exchange. The French president said that his administration was looking to establish two types of partnerships with Qatar. The first is a finance partnership: the two countries established a new fund that would be in charge of financing small and medium-scale French companies, he said. The second would involve Qatari and French companies investing in other countries. Qatar Petroleum and Total have agreed to partner in developing petroleum activities in Congo.
feature story | career development
Through Ta3mal’s website, young Qataris can receive online career guidance, attend virtual courses and gain market knowledge on emerging opportunities in the region. (Image Corbis)
46 | The Edge
Being the first employability portal in the Arab world, Ta3mal looks set to be a promising project provided that young Qataris decide to benefit from it, writes Farwa Zahra
rrespective of the educational background, government organisations have been the most popular career choice of young Qataris. However, a recent survey conducted by ASDA’A BursonMarsteller (ABM) shows that 20 percent of Qataris prefer working in the private sector, compared to the 58 percent who wish to work for the state. The survey was a result of 3000 in-person interviews with Arabs aged between 18 and 24, representing 15 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. But no matter which sector Qataris choose, being prepared to start a professional career calls for preparation beyond academic knowledge of the field. The very imperative operates behind the latest venture of Silatech, a Qatar-based initiative which aims to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for youth across the Arab world. Silatech’s Ta3mal, a word that means “work” in Arabic, is Qatar’s first online employability portal. Currently operating in its soft launch phase, Ta3mal will be formally functional in the next few months in Egypt and in Qatar. With websites such as Bayt.com giving access to employment opportunities across the region, job portals are not a new phenomenon in the Arab world. However, extending the scope of such websites, an employability portal provides added learning opportunities for the youth. The driving philosophy behind an employability portal then, is to make young people more “employable” and equip them with necessary skills so they can excel in their career paths. Dr. Rachel Awad, associate director of Silatech’s employability unit, who has been working with the Supreme Education Council for Qatar for six years, draws a line between a job portal and an employability portal by saying that knowing the availability of jobs is
career development | feature story
“There is a very serious lack of career guidance in this region and very few people are skilled in career guidance.” – Rachel Awad, Silatech. not enough. “If you don’t know how to conduct yourself in an interview and if your CV is not well put together, you are never going to get in through the door. So this [employability portal] is really about building young people’s access to skills, technical skills as well as awareness,” she says. Some of the areas Awad prioritises on Ta3mal’s agenda appear to be in sync with what the leading companies in Qatar demand when hiring entry-level candidates. Stella Famakinwa, manager of human resource department at KPMG Qatar, tells The Edge, “The university certification is a starting point. What can add value to the CV are workplace exposure and experiences, for example internships, a well formatted CV and cover note and in certain cases added certifications and qualifications.”
The virtual learning experience of Ta3mal is facilitated by online courses, which are both specialised and general in nature. While the former category includes technical areas such as IT, entrepreneurship and management, the latter aims to enhance general skills such as time management, communication skills and business writing etcetera. The learning opportunities Ta3mal provides are not limited to the virtual environment. While the programme does not have exclusive in-person courses, Awad informs that Ta3mal will work as an announcement centre for relevant courses carried out in Silatech’s Bedaya Center, Qatar University, the British Council, Education City and its universities and other training centres. Similarly, while there is an option of online advising through Skype or emails, Ta3mal’s registered users can benefit from the Doha-based advisors and trainers on Silatech’s panel. Explaining the challenges of providing advising services in Qatar, Awad says, “There is a very serious lack of career guidance out there in this region...very few people are skilled in career guidance.” Compared to the United States (US) and Europe, where career advisors are required to have qualification in educational psychology and certifications in guidance training, Qatar does not have equivalent human capital. To fill this gap, Ta3mal’s advisors are provided with basic training on career advising. “We developed a four-day training programme which really gives people the essential tools and skills in order to help a young person understand themselves better and think about their options better,” explains Awad. At least a university-level degree and experience of working with young people are two key eligibility requirements. But to be shortlisted for advising services, a candidate is also assessed on the basis of their personality traits. “We actually use our own assessments which help to measure how trainable somebody is. [Also], we measure how interactive someone is, how comfortable they are with social interaction,” says Awad, adding that “an advisor needs to be very comfortable sitting and talking with someone one to one.” While Ta3mal has the capacity to arrange global experts to provide advising through the Internet, doing so does not align with the project’s core philosophy – to train the Arab youth for
Findings of Arab youth survey 2013 Findings of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s survey for 2013 reflect young Arabs’ attitudes, mind sets and priorities, which eventually affect their approach to professional careers within the Arab region. • Qatari youth are confident about their country competing on an international stage. • Fair pay remains the top priority of Arab youth. • Home ownership is increasingly important. • Rising living costs continue to be the top concern among Middle East youth. • Civil unrest and lack of democracy are the biggest barriers facing the region. • News consumption is falling and newspaper readership is hardest hit. • Social media is becoming increasingly influential.
Silatech advisors delivering one-on-one advising sessions to Qatar University students as part of their practical training. (Image Silatech)
The Edge | 47
feature story | career development
Arab Youth Survey Can Qatar compete on a world stage? 14%
No Don’t know
Ta3mal’s online courses aim to enhance skills such as time management, communication and business writing.
Source: ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Annual Survey 2013.
the development of the Arab world. An advisor sitting in the US may be equipped with international certifications on career guidance, but will still lack the field knowledge of the Arab region. On the flipside, the same expert can provide information about the opportunities in the US. However, with a very low percentage of Arabs currently occupying the workforce share in the Middle East, the move of skilled Arab youth to the other regions will only lead to further dependence on the expatriates. “At Silatech, we are focusing on employing Arab youth, but ultimately with a goal of developing them within the Arab region,” says Awad. The organisation’s mandate is to support access to employment, entrepreneurship and enterprise to all 22 countries of the Arab league, something that falls in line with the ideas of the Qataris as reflected in the ABM survey. The percentage of Qataris showing confidence in their country’s progress increased from 67 percent in 2012 to 71 percent in 2013, compared to the 15 countries’ average of 55 percent and 58 percent, respectively. According to the same survey, Qatari youth shows the highest concern for the importance of fair pay, followed by owning a home. Ta3mal’s role here is to ensure that this expectation comes with the right combination of skills. Famakinwa of KPMG is of the view that the major areas of improvement in young Arabs include “attitude to learning and growth, innovation and passion.” Started in Egypt with the assistance of Microsoft Egypt, Ta3mal was later joined by Qatar through Silatech as its founding partner. The next destination for the portal would be Tunisia. With more Arab countries planned to be involved in the future, Ta3mal has the features to customise the search settings. For instance, if someone logs in from Qatar, they will be automatically directed to the Qatar relevant information based on their IP address and so on for Egypt and later for the future countries. In Qatar, Ta3mal’s core partner is the Bedaya Center. “In terms of events and activities, we have a number of partners in Qatar already with Silatech through other programmes,” says Awad, hoping that these organisations will be able to share their information about activities on the ground that can be brought together to promote the youth in Qatar. 48 | The Edge
Under Silatech’s partnership in Qatar, Bedaya Center is the only public centre which Qatar’s youth can access without affiliation with any organisation. Silatech also partners with the advising centres at Qatar University, College of the North Atlantic Qatar and the Community College of Qatar, offering the facility only to their students. According to Awad, all these centres use the same career guidance system, which is very specific to the Arab world. With Silatech’s backing, Ta3mal brings the right combination of elements to make a successful employability portal. However, its efficacy is entirely dependent on how the targeted audience responds to it. According to ABM survey results for 2013, most young Qataris use the Internet for entertainment purposes such as music, games and movies etcetera. The issue, then, is if the young Qataris will use the Internet facility for learning and career guidance? That is a question that will only be answered over time.
Top priorities of young Qataris when they are online Silatech’s Ta3mal demands young Qataris to actively involve in the online employability portal, but at present career-related activities appear nowhere in the list of things Qataris do when they are online. ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s annual survey results for 2013 indicate the following top seven activities Qataris, aged between 18 and 25, carry out on the Internet: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
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QATAR: A NEW ERA
50 | The Edge
Qatar’s leadership changes and the country’s cabinet shuffles as political stability and economic growth are expected to continue In late June, Qatar experienced a momentous change as His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed power to his 33-year-old son and Heir Apparent, His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in a smooth succession. In a region often troubled by turbulence and instability following changes of leadership, this problem-free transition (which included a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle), certainly is a welcome development and with months if not years of preparation time, has been handled successfully - although of course certain economic and political challenges remain for Qatar’s new leadership, writes Michael Stephens
he new Emir’s opening speech was also certainly impressive, exuding assurance and providing a tolerant all-inclusive message, which seems to have calmed nerves and hinted to a number of refreshed engagements with regional nations. A number of appointments have followed the succession, with a new Prime Minister HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, a new Foreign Minister HE Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah and a new Minister of Finance HE Ali Sherif Al Emadi appointed. In addition, the Emir has created five new ministries, most notably the creation of a new transport ministry, which will oversee the rapid expansion of Qatar’s road network and the beginning of a rail system to service the needs of the world’s fastest growing country. Although Qatar has seen a change, the cabinet reshuffle should ostensibly not indicate a huge change in policy direction. Many junior ministers remain, and the prime minister, foreign minister and finance minister carry established reputations and have worked closely in the main apparatuses of state for many years. They are very much part of the framework that has allowed Qatar to rise to political, sporting and cultural prominence in the region and world, and for its economy to grow at unprecedented rates.
From an economic point of view, interest focused on the appointment of Al Emadi to take over the Ministry of Finance. Yet, despite his appointment Al Emadi may yet remain as chief executive officer (CEO) of Qatar National Bank (QNB), whose assets The Edge | 51
cover story | qatar: a new era
Qatar’s future IPOs
• Qatar Petroleum (QP) has plans to list four of its subsidiaries on the Qatar Exchange (QE) in coming years. QP is expected to issue IPOs worth about USD50 billion (QAR180 billion). • Doha Global Investment Company, a new USD12 billion (QAR42.68 billion) investment firm, backed by the State, is expected to offer shares to the tune of USD3 billion (QAR11 billion) in its IPO. • Barwa Bank plans to raise USD563 million (QAR2.05 billion) through share offerings, including a public float on QE as well as a rights issue.
Appointed by HH the Emir, analysts expect that Qatar’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah will likely look to keep a lower profile than his predecessor on the international scene as Qatar looks to focus more on its domestic issues.
have grown to more than USD100 billion (QAR364 billion) under his tenure (at the time of writing, there was no clear indication as to whether he would step down from this position or not). Regardless of the future for QNB’s CEO, Al Emadi’s guidance on the nation’s finances will ensure that Qatar’s stellar performing bank will remain close as ever to the apparatuses of state, and it should not be expected that QNB will be supplanted as the nation’s foremost financial house. The markets appeared to be largely unaffected by recent changes, although an initial four-point jump in the Doha bourse Qatar Exchange followed the news of the succession, indicating that the way the process was handled had a calming effect on investor confidence. Nevertheless the recent market uptick also owed much to the recent MSCI upgrade of Qatar to Emerging Market status. It should be noted that the current tracks for investment in the stock market remain based not so much on politics as they are on expectations for increasing the share allowed for foreign investors in Qatari companies, with the much vaunted 25-percent threshold barrier a widely debated topic. In addition, a number of large initial public offerings (IPOs) are expected in coming months. The long-awaited IPO for Doha Global Investment, as well as four IPOs for subsidiaries of Qatar Petroleum (QP), worth an estimated USD50 billion (QAR182 billion), remain some of the largest opportunities for market investment and injection of additional liquidity into the Qatari market (box out). No conversation about the economy in Qatar would be complete without mention of the former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin
The cabinet reshuffle should not indicate a change in policy direction. Many junior ministers remain, and some newly elected ministers carry established reputations. 52 | The Edge
Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, for many a towering figure in Qatar’s political and economic scene since 1992. Despite much initial speculation, he may step down from his government posts though the leadership transition, it was assumed by many commentators that he would probably remain as chairman of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the direct investment arm of the State of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Holding, where Al Thani had overseen and negotiated many high-profile international investments and purchases in recent years. However, on July 2 it was reported that Qatar Holding CEO Ahmad Mohammed Al Sayed would be awarded to the position of CEO of the QIA, effectively removing Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani from any overly influential official positions in Qatar’s political and economic hierarchies. It remains to be seen what impact Al Thani’s removal will have on Qatar’s domestic scene in the long term.
As the chairman of Qatar’s national development strategy, HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has overseen the vision of moving the country towards 2030 and its concomitant requirement to diversify the nation’s economy. Through bodies such as the QIA, and Qatari Diar, as well as QNB and Ooredoo’s drive to seek foreign markets to name but a few, the country has begun to move along this track toward a more diversified future, in line with its National Vision 2030. However, according to a Doha-based finance analyst, this transition is likely to take more than a decade and that for the foreseeable future the hydrocarbon industry will continue to bolster the Qatari economy. Clearly the new Emir faces a challenge here, in that incentives to drive the economy to a new future and attract investment are arguably hampered by motivational factors as much if not more than they are by economic or regulatory conditions. Indeed, this all takes place at a time when growth is slowing and healthy budget surpluses are diminishing. For
qatar: a new era | cover story
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, although new to the job is likely to be very much at ease having worked alongside his father for the better part of a decade. Here he is seen speaking during a “Friends of Libya” group meeting held in Doha in late 2011. (Image Corbis)
example, Citigroup expects that Qatar’s budget will run at a deficit by 2015, while Qatar is at the same time investing up to USD200 billion (QAR728 billion) in projects as it seeks to complete its preparations for the World Cup in 2022. It may well be necessary for some of Qatar’s foreign mega-purchases to be sold to stave off the problem of private sector growth not matching Qatar’s insatiable development needs. Managing the finances of Qatar will thus of course be a crucial task for the new Emir and finance minister to tackle in the coming years.
New QIA board
HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has reconstituted the board of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). The vice president of QIA is HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani, according to Qatar News Agency. The Emiri Decree also named Minister of Finance HE Ali Sherif Al Emadi and Minister of Economy and Trade HE Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani to the new administrative council. A separate decree appointed Ahmad Mohamad Al Sayed, managing director of Qatar Holdings, as CEO of the QIA. HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also announced the formation of a higher council for economic affairs and investment, which the new Emir will head.
Following news of the change in leadership in Qatar, the Doha bourse reacted positively with the market jumping four points. (Image Reuters/Arabian Eye)
Politically stable internally, Qatar has been insulated from the regional troubles that swept across the Arab world since 2011, allowing it to build a safe hub for growth and investment. However, its foreign policy has occasionally raised concerns, including its intervention in Libya, a financial commitment to Egypt and, perhaps most significantly, a commitment to Syrians fighting to remove President Bashar Al Assad, which have drawn Qatar into some of the region’s major conflicts. How Qatar manages these relationships in the near future will ostensibly be part of the key to its success at home. With new Foreign Minister HE Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, Qatar possesses an experienced man, well versed in foreign affairs, responsible for executing much of these policies. But even with his experience, most analysts expect Qatar to retreat from its previous frontline role to a more quiet domestic focus. Indeed there is much for the Emir and his new team to ponder at home, no doubt the age of plenty in Doha will continue, but careful management is needed to navigate the future to make sure that prosperity lasts. Qatar’s stellar rise in recent decades was always going to be hard to sustain, and there are challenges ahead. The new government team, which began work on June 29, must now set about finding ways to face those challenges. Certainly, the new team is highly capable, and instills confidence that competent ministers have been appointed to senior posts, and they enjoy the support of the entire country.
The former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani was Qatar’s most visible diplomat representing the country abroad. It is yet to be seen what impact his departure will have on the nation. (Image Reuters/ Arabian Eye)
Michael Stephens is a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar and a regular contributor to media outlets such as The Guardian, BBC.co.uk and The Economist. The Edge | 53
cover story | qatar: a new era
Milestones Since 1995, HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has transformed Qatar. Here are some of the nation’s most memorable highlights during his reign. Qatar Foundation
Founded in 1995 by an Emiri Decree, the Qatar Foundation is a non-profit organisation developed to provide Qatari citizens with greater opportunities in education and aiding the growth of research and community development.
World Cup 2022
In December 2010, Qatar became the first country in the Arab world to win the chance to host the world’s largest sporting event, the FIFA World Cup 2022. The win has put Qatar’s already underway development plans into overdrive in order to have the country ready within the next nine years.
Established in 1996 by HH the Father Emir, the Al Jazeera Network has grown with more than 65 bureaus across the globe, winning numerous awards and critical acclaim.
Originally called the Doha Securities Market, which began operating in 1997, in 2009 it was transformed into the Qatar Exchange (QE). Today QE has a market cap of USD141 billion (QAR513 billion), larger than every other Gulf Cooperation Council country besides far larger Saudi Arabia.
National Vision 2030
Ordered to conception in 2006 by Emiri Decree, and released in 2008, the Qatar National Vision 2030 has become the definitive document in charting the nation’s developmental plans.
The COP 18 conference held in Qatar was a landmark event addressing climate change issues around the world. It is believed to be the largest conference held in Qatar with more than 17,000 visitors.
People in Qatar celebrate after the nation wins the bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. (Image Corbis)
Qatar Investment Authority
Also established by an Emiri Decree in 2005, the Qatar Investment Authority has grabbed headlines worldwide, with acquisitions funded by its oil wealth. Today it holds assets worth approximately USD115 billion (QAR419 billion).
Qatar largest GDP per capita
In 2010, Qatar’s GDP per capita surpassed that of Luxembourg to become the highest in the world.
Qatar Financial Centre
The Qatar Financial Centre was founded in 2005 to attract international financial firms to the country with the aim of making Qatar a financial hub. It also has an independent regulatory and judiciary body.
77 million tonnes of gas Formed under the guidance of the Father Emir, the Qatar Foundation for education, science and community development today hosts numerous top international universities and research institutes with a focus of enriching the local populace. (Image Corbis)
54 | The Edge
In 2010, Qatar became the world’s leading liquid natural gas producer by capacity by achieving a target set by the HH the Father Emir of producing 77 million tonnes per annum.
qatar: a new era | cover story
HH Emir the Father Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani - An enduring legacy By Mohamed Jaidah “A small country with a big heart”, was one of the slogans of the Asian Games held in Qatar in 2006. Those words come back to my mind every now and again and make me smile: a small country with a big heart we are indeed (at least I like to believe). Looking back, it is impressive how far Qatar has come during HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s 18-year tenure. Just like the saying goes: Rome wasn’t built in a day... and neither was Qatar (albeit, much faster than Rome, even with the regular delays). His Highness the Father Emir has a long list of achievements as the head of the State of Qatar. Opening up the gas fields and developing the oil and gas industry and downstream hydrocarbon industries has definitely generated a tremendous part of Qatar’s great wealth and formed the backbone of the economy, which enabled the country to progress rapidly and for Qatar to became more influential in geopolitics and to be taken more seriously by the main international players. From the launch of Al Jazeera in 1996, to winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, His Highness has worked tirelessly to develop our small country and put it on the world map. But what has really defined the rule of HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in my opinion is much grander, more deeply rooted in every Qatari than any article could ever describe. When His Highness assumed power in 1995 he took over a state, and he fathered a nation, and as his closing speech clearly states, one that he is now leaving to the next generations. But what is the difference between a state and a nation? A “state” just refers to a patch of land with a sovereign government whereas a “nation” refers to a group of people who feel bound into a single body, sharing culture, values, folkways, religion and language. And 18 years after taking power, this is effectively the legacy that His Highness has left to his son HH Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and to the people of Qatar. What we have lived and witnessed over the years was a real “tour de force” in the building of a brand identity, not for an organisation – but for a whole nation. His Highness had the vision to put up a long-term strategy to develop a country whose only wealth came from its natural Under HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Qatar has crafted a foreign policy that resources. A single has constantly surprised observers and made identity was created it a major political force in the region. He is seen here meeting with US President Barack and the whole Obama at the White House in April 2013.
population unified behind one flag, one banner and one belief. His Highness moved the focus from the person to the country. Over the years, as a build-up to forming the Qatari nation, we officially got a fully fledged national hymn with lyrics that Qatar’s people could learn and be proud of (the previous one was a simple military salute), just as the white and burgundy flag that took a new dimension and importance and started to be displayed in front of every building and institution and in every house. The celebrations of Qatar National Day were also brought to prominence and on top of great celebrations, were the perfect opportunity to remind the people of our country’s history and identity, which was not built on other people’s beliefs or culture but solely on ours. And this was just the beginning, as subsequently the country produced a strong architectural language, as Souq Waqif and Musheireb clearly attest, and drew inspiration from its history as part of a grander Arabic and Islamic culture, developing a cultural platform through initiatives such as Katara and the first Museum of Islamic Art in the world (itself part of the Qatar Museum Authority, which has the initiative of developing a strong cultural sensibility through a series of museums). And let’s not forget education, which is an important pillar of Qatar’s future and stated ambition: to become a knowledge-based economy with strong roots to its past. Looking at each of these initiatives one at a time, they might not seem definitive, but in the grander scheme of things over time these are the projects that will come to define Qatar and its people. If Qatar has now a definite sense of purpose and unique feel to its inhabitants (and this is no small feature) and the work has just started, as it is important to sustain this identity, develop upon it and most importantly have the world recognise and understand who we are. It is now time for a new generation to take the reins and under the leadership of HH Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and become the custodians of this identity and to take it forward and to hold a nation together into the future – but for the time being, we thank you your Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani for 18 wonderful years and for giving a sense of purpose to all of us as Qataris.
Mohamed Jaidah is the publications director and chief creative officer of Firefly Communications.
The Edge | 55
Creating a research
culture Executive director of Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie talks to The Edgeâ€™s Aparajita Mukherjee about how QNRF is working to get more Qataris involved in research and how its strategy of encouraging international collaborations seems to be working. 56 | The Edge
research and development | business interview
chemical engineer by training and with extensive professional experience covering both industry and academia, Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie has been shaping the direction of the QNRF since its inception in 2006. Looking back on the seven years of his current role as executive director and what he specifically has brought to the funding agency, Dr. Al Taie would rather attribute it to teamwork, saying that only his broad experience has helped in choosing the correct strategic direction for QNRF. However, he does acknowledge that it is his commitment and passion about QNRF that has helped the fund achieve its goal for Qatar, although he would much rather look at it as a pan-Arab initiative. “I honestly and truly believe that this initiative will serve the Arab world and the region at large because, through this wise investment in research, we really can change the society. We can have a wide-ranging impact because, by virtue of Qatar’s hydrocarbon riches, the basic developmental goals have already been reached. But it is the time for this region to start producing technology and bring back the pattern of Arab contribution to science and technology, as we had in the Middle Ages.” Thus, Dr. Al Taie wants QNRF to generate enough original, grassroots research to be able to reach the goal of generating and producing technology. This is commensurate with the direction of a knowledge-based economy that Qatar has chosen for itself, he says.
According to the most recent figures, 2.8 percent of Qatari gross domestic product (GDP) is dedicated for research funding. This compares favourably with many developed economies of the world. When asked how far into the future Dr. Al Taie foresees the results of this research, he answers that nobody can fix a target for the impact of any research project because research, by its nature, is investigating the unknown and trying to find solutions for challenges that have not yet been addressed. Research, says Dr. Al Taie, is original work, which investigates into a new chapter which are unknown. However, he agrees that the figure of 2.8 percent is a significant national commitment which reflects the political will of HH the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. “That is why, if you look at the Qatar National Vision 2030, it clearly states that the target is to create a knowledge-based economy within that timeframe. It is a direction, a roadmap which the leadership of the country wants to see actualised by 2030,” he says. The task ahead for Dr. Al Taie is to be able to utilise the 2.8 percent of GDP that is being earmarked for research. “In a way it is going to be a big challenge to be able to use that huge amount of funding, which could be in the region of USD2 billion (QAR7.28 billion) to USD3 billion (QAR10.92 billion) per annum and it has to be integrated with the existing capacities.” As of 2013, a total of QAR2.35 billion have been awarded as grants across QNRF’s funding programmes – the Secondary School Research Experience Program (SSREP), the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP), the Junior Scientists Research Experience Program (JSREP), the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), and the National Priorities Research Program – Exceptional Proposals (NPRP-EP).
“I must admit that, at the level of undergraduate research, it makes us very happy to have more than 60 percent Qatari applicants.” The Edge | 57
business interview | research and development
The idea at QNRF is to give the children enquirydriven teaching and teaching them the art of asking the right questions.
The challenge for QNRF, according to Dr. Al Taie, is to improve the ecosystem in Qatar, primarily creating the necessary critical mass of human capital. “You need to have the necessary infrastructure in place, you also need to have the entire enabling environment for research, which will impact dramatically the nation’s economy by diversifying it and creating spin-off companies, all within the knowledge-based economy.”
Qataris in research
Given the predominantly hydrocarbon economy, it is no wonder that the petrochemical sector absorbs the highest number of local employees. When asked how he would ensure more Qataris coming into research, Dr. Al Taie is of the opinion that absorbing Qataris or them becoming more involved in research is a mission in itself. He says, “The graduates studying at universities or abroad will have more attractive places to be drawn into. They invariably join the oil and gas industry, move faster up the career ladder and rightly so, because they have all of the appropriate qualifications. But to go into the research field, one needs to be aware that career growth is at a much slower pace. So for anybody to get involved, they will need to invest more effort. One also needs to understand that the passion for research should be embedded into their lives, and it comes from within. So for these Qatari researchers, we need to appeal to their passion to select research as a rewarding career option.” Dr. Al Taie outlines the various initiatives that QNRF has created to attract Qatari students at the various levels of elementary, primary and secondary school levels. The idea here, according to Dr. Al Taie, is to give the children the first prerequisite – that of enquiry-driven teaching and teaching them the art of asking the right questions. “It is from this point that we are creating inquisitive minds and then they feel attached to research. We then have the Secondary School Research Experience Program (SSREP) to stoke and hone the research capabilities of school students.” QNRF follows these school students, and when they go to universities and become undergraduate students, provides further opportunities to engage in research through the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). He explains, “I must admit that, especially at the level of undergraduate research, it makes us very happy to have more than 60 percent of the applicants who are Qataris, proving that there is a keen interest, and we will continue to build on that.” Dr. Al Taie also talks about other initiatives for research and development within QNRF which, in partnership with the Qatar Science Leadership Program (QSLP), is providing internship opportunities for interested young management students to study the structure of research funding administration.
QNRF grants through its four flagship programmes. 58 | The Edge
Many countries do not open their research frontiers to others. QNRF has followed a different route, right from its inception. In the words of Dr. Al Taie, “In Qatar, right from the beginning, because we identified the issue of the non-availability of critical mass for research while deciding the funding model of our flagship programme – the NPRP – we realised that we had to attract researchers from abroad, in a way, enticing them while also requiring them to find collaborators from inside Qatar. “Speaking further about the project he says, “This strategy accomplishes two goals: the researchers are in need of research funding, whilst, simultaneously, QNRF is also helping to build the country’s human capital.” This collaborative model is unique, according to Dr. Al Taie, and QNRF is receiving proposals from researchers, or key investigators, from up to six countries for one single project. “Initially, around 55 percent of the researchers or the investigators were coming from abroad. Now this is on the decline, which means that our model is working.” Another trend that Dr. Al Taie draws attention to is the fact that QNRF supports projects by researchers coming from all sectors, such as academia, government and even the private sector. “This is a big challenge in any society because, if you don’t have the infrastructure or the research culture in place, it is not easy to address this research traffic. We now have over 70 Qatari research offices, from all sectors, not academia alone, registered in our roster and eligible to submit proposals.”
research and development | business interview
“I believe QNRF will serve the Arab world because through this wise investment in research, we can change society.”
Renewable and solar
Funding for renewables and solar energy generation will see an increase in the coming years. This, says Dr. Al Taie, is in accordance with the Qatar National Research Strategy, which has identified that renewable energy and solar are key to economic diversification, even though Qatar is rich in hydrocarbons. “This follows the vision of HH the Emir the Father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani when he declared, at the COP 18 summit in December 2012, a target of two percent of the overall power generation for the country should be derived from solar by 2020. It takes a lot of wisdom to identify this goal when you are a country rich in hydrocarbon resources,” adds Dr. Al Taie.
Identifying the current stage of QNRF as phase two of its development process, Dr. Al Taie says that the focus now is the need to address Qatar’s more specific needs “These challenges of Qatar will be identified not by the researchers themselves, but by the stakeholders in the industry and the government. We are developing a special programme in conjunction with all the other stakeholders, which will address these grand challenges and penetrating the pressing needs of the society of Qatar.” The fund has supported a number of research projects that are advancing to the stage of patenting the output or are being put forward for patenting. “This is an important achievement, because it is a sure-fire way of feeling the impact of research. It is not only important to have the output of the research per se but you need to take it to the stage of commercialisation, a feat in itself and we currently have around 17 ongoing patent filings.” Designing and operating an online submission system and database in house is a development that has contributed to the success of QNRF, and the Research Outcome Center (ROC) is another significant advance. “As researchers submit their progress reports, we are developing a system where we can extract and evaluate their output and put it into the public domain. So far, we have captured more than 2500 research papers, generated from QNRF funded projects.”
Dr. Abdul Sattar Al Taie, executive director, QNRF wants the fund to generate enough original, grassroots research to be able to reach the goal of generating and producing technology.
The Edge | 59
DOHA Avoiding a future food crisis in Qatar
feature story | food security
Qatar and the wider GCC region have very little arable land. Adding to this, a scarce supply of potable water, and a hot and harsh climate make the region one of the most dependent food importers in the world. In 2007 and early 2008, the prices of food commodities rose significantly. While wealthy nations such as Qatar were able to absorb price fluctuations to their nation’s food supply at a great cost, others were unable to do so. For states such as Egypt, the increasing food prices meant the eroding of purchasing power, which some commentators have pointed to being among the triggers for the Arab Spring. So what has Qatar been doing to guard against future food crises? Could Qatar ever run out of food? By Shehan Mashood
o understand food security, it is important to understand why the food prices went up. Zahra Babar, assistant director for research at the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University Qatar, tells The Edge that it depends on who you talk to. Her own opinion is that it was a convergence of issues, the imbalances in trade between importing and exporting countries, and the involvement of the financial industry in speculative investment in food commodities. Other more foreseeable problems included population growth, changes in consumption patterns and even the impact of climate change disrupting harvests (floods, droughts, etcetera). Since the highs of 2008, the prices of food commodities have come down, but not below their previous levels, and higher prices are here to stay, says Babar. The large investments made by the financial industry not only creates price volatility but also structurally higher food prices. In the aftermath of the food price crisis, governments, especially those within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) rushed to enact policies that would deter any further price shocks and create longterm sustainable sources of food. However, Babar points out that there have been regional experiments in the past to deal with food security. An issue that has always been of concern was brought to the fore by the price shocks. Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and 1980s invested heavily in developing a food self-sufficieny programme – as much as 50 percent of their revenue from oil at the time, according to Dr. Eckart Woertz, who recently published a book entitled Oil for Food: The Global Food Crisis and the Middle East, which discusses what is now a failed domestic agricultural production programme. By the early 1980s, Saudi Arabia was the sixth largest global producer of wheat, “and this wasn’t actually a good thing at all,” explains Babar. The Saudi programme had reduced its import dependency but this came at a great harm to its environment. Rolling back these programmes is usually very difficult, adds Babar, since a large segment of the population who are engaged in agriculture have a vested interest in their continuation. The Saudi government, since 2008 has been steadily reducing wheat purchases from local farmers, and all domestic production will come to an end by 2016. “Qatar on the other hand, has decided to take a more strategic and multi-faceted approach,” says Babar.
“You need to be very mindful that when addressing domestic production, you are not increasing your water insecurity.” – Jonathan E. Smith, Qatar National Food Security Programme.
A food security programme
The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) was set up in 2008 and formally instituted by Emiri Decree No. 45 in 2011. The QNFSP today has two mandates, explains Jonathan E. Smith, 62 | The Edge
Nasser Al Hajri, the chairman of Hassad Food in a recent press briefing announced a USD500 million (QAR1820 million) investment in India which included Bush Food Overseas, a premium basmati rice producer.
Zahra Babar, the assistant director of research at the Center for International and Regional Studies in Georgetown Qatar, explains to The Edge that agroinvestments must be made in a way that is pro-poor and sustainable.
On average, the amount of food Qatar imports every year. Most of that comes in from just two points, creating food transportation risks. the senior advisor to the chairman of QNFSP, Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiya. One, he says is to develop a strategic master plan for addressing food security both in the short-term by fixing critical problems, and in the long-term to enact a plan that is resilient to the various challenges. The second key part is to aid the overall sustainable growth of Qatar through the implementation of that master plan. Depending on the year, almost 90 percent of Qatar’s food needs come from imports. Therefore, the price shocks like those experienced in 2007 and 2008 are especially painful for countries such as Qatar, explains Smith. In addition to price volatility, Qatar’s geographical location further exacerbates the issue. According to Smith, 90 percent of imports come through just two points, either via sea through the Strait of Hormuz or the one major land route across Saudi. Therefore, any shifts in food prices around the world have an amplified effect in Qatar. Since 2011, the QNFSP has been working towards a comprehensive national plan, which he says will be presented to HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as a recommendation this summer.
The great land grab
In the aftermath of the food price crisis, numerous cash strapped GCC countries announced agroinvestments in far off countries – many of which were food insecure themselves - in the hopes of securing steady food supplies for their nations. These land purchases brought criticism on the countries and their investments were pejoratively labeled ‘land grabs’. Babar says there is very little data out there on the subject of agricultural investments, and especially those undertaken by the GCC. This makes it very difficult to determine where they are going wrong, and whether they are interacting negatively with the local environment. According to a study by the CIRS, Qatar has made several investments in countries that include Cambodia, Sudan, Turkey, Brazil, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Ghana, Indonesia, The Philippines and Australia, some of which have come through the agricultural arm of its active sovereign wealth fund, Hassad Food. Overseas land investments have become highly politicised, and skeptics have been severely critical, dubbing these investments as neo-colonial enterprises. Previous experiences have shown that these kinds of investments can end up stressing food security or even the economic security of the host country, creating even worse developmental trajectories, explains Babar.
Nasser Al Hajri, chairman of Hassad Food recently stated that Hassad Food have the capacity of producing 100,000 sheep from their subsidiary farms in Australia. (Image Corbis)
Any shifts in food prices around the world have an amplified effect in Qatar.. (Image Reuters / Arabian Eye)
“Land purchases brought criticism on GCC countries and their investments labelled ‘land grabs’.” - Zahra Babar, CIRS.
feature story | food security
of the land does not equate to food security, because if you cannot get those resources back to the market in a way that builds relationships with the host country, you have not increased your food security at all, he points out. Additionally, as an arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, Hassad Food is primarily a profit-generating entity, with Al Hajri stating numerous times that product would be sold at a price comparable to the global food market.
Water, energy and food nexus
Dr. Rabi Mohtar, the executive director for strategic projects, research and development at Qatar Foundation, explains that food should not be looked at as a problem on its own but rather in conjunction with two other critical resources: water and energy.
Jonathan E. Smith, the senior advisor to the chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Programme says, having sovereign ownership of the land does not equate food security if you cannot get those resources back to the market.
Advocates for these foreign investments, however, claim it as the perfect vehicle for energising lethargic agricultural sectors in parts of Africa and South and South-East Asia, which have suffered from financial neglect and otherwise, says Babar. In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa the yield per hectare is very low and with investment from say the GCC, you could see an abundant increase in production, adds Babar. For example, the cereal yield per hectare between 2008 and 2012 in India was 2883 kilograms, while the same area in Spain produced around 3600 kilograms, according to World Bank figures. The fact remains that across the board self-sufficiency – that is to say growing locally all of Qatar’s food consumption needs – is not something Qatar can realistically attain. The country can probably increase this in certain niche sectors such as fruit and vegetables, dairy and maybe poultry, says Babar. “Self-sufficiency in grains is not possible,” she furthers. In fact, Hassad Food invests abroad in some of these very key areas. Most recently at a media roundtable, the chairman of Hassad Food, Nasser Al Hajri, announced the purchase of a majority stake in Bush Foods in India which owns three rice brands. It is important that best practices are implemented in agro-investments, says Babar, and a clear understanding of how these investments can be made in a way that is propoor, sustainable and does not destabilise or marginalise local farming communities. Babar and other experts tell The Edge, that from their discussions with Hassad Food, the organisation has the correct model in terms of social equity, social responsibility and environmental stewardess. Responsible investments anywhere around the world are an important part of Qatar’s food security portfolio, says Smith. Having sovereign ownership
These large circular fields in the Saudi Arabian desert are a testament to the failed food self-sufficiency programme in the 1970s and 1980s. Its unsustainability has forced Saudi Arabia to wind down production in areas such as wheat and end production by 2016. Seen here are the once-green lands slowly being reclaimed by the desert. (Image Corbis).
64 | The Edge
Part of what the QNFSP has been doing is looking at food security projects from around the world to see where they have succeeded or failed. “One of the critical learnings is that you need to be very mindful that when addressing domestic production, you must be sensitive that you are not increasing your water insecurity by growing food,” explains Smith. Indeed, countries such as Saudi Arabia learnt this lesson the hard way. When water insecure or water stressed nations export foods crops, what they are essentially doing is also trading away ‘virtual water,’ that is all the water that went into growing the final product. Nations that are water insecure or water stressed should not get into the business of exporting food crops, furthers Smith, and Babar agrees saying it is of paramount importance that nations strategise away from this practice. Dr. Rabi Mohtar, who was recently appointed as the executive director for strategic projects, research and development at Qatar Foundation, explains that food should not be looked at as a challenge on its own but rather in conjunction with two other critical resources that have significant impacts on one another, water and energy. The water, energy and food nexus has become somewhat of a buzzword today, but it is something Dr. Mohtar has been debating from an academic standpoint for more than 15 years now. “At the heart of the nexus is this interconnectedness between water, energy and food,” he says. As part of the QNFSP’s mandate to develop a sustainable growth plan, the need to adopt this concept is vital. A relevant local example is the push for solar energy that could be used to power local food production. Traditional solar energy technologies developed outside the Gulf States require cooling, and have high water footprint. So while it could be a useful solution in terms of reducing dependency on natural gas and reduce emissions, Qatar
food security | feature story
cannot afford a system with low carbon production and a high water footprint, explains Dr. Mohtar, adding that Nexus friendly technology has to be low-carbon, low-cost but also low water footprint. According to Dr. Mohtar, 72 percent to 75 percent of water is used by farmers to produce food, and 30 percent goes to energy production. “This means you don’t have a water management problem, you have to manage the stakeholders of the water to help you. And that’s when the idea of the nexus came to me. To provide the solutions for the increasing demand in water, you have to know who the people that are the most in need of that water. In this case it is the food and the energy sector,” he says. But this sort of thinking is not pervasive in most policy-making circles. Most recently at an United Nations General Assembly speech in New York, Dr. Mohtar faced some criticism for saying that no food should go towards biofuels. However, it is his nexus thinking that has influenced this decision, “I was not specifically saying no to biofuel. I am for biofuel but biofuel that comes from waste rather than food. You cannot afford to take the corn out of the food supply cycle and push it into the energy cycle.” However, Dr. Mohtar feels that the vision here in Qatar is a correct one that is focused on long-term sustainability. “The vision that the chairman of QNFSP has had in the nexus is pioneering, and sets Qatar at the forefront of sustainable food security,” he says. “I was very impressed by the vision, he was coming from a national policy angle, while I approached the nexus from research and development. I believe the chances for Qatar to succeed are very high. Because they realise that sustainability is the only way to move forward.” Looking at global food stress today, there are seven billion people on the planet, with another two billion expected to join the population by the end of the century. That in itself says there is going to be competition for food and water resources, says Smith. But exacerbating the problem will be the fact that most of this new population will land in areas that are food insecure, water insecure and in some critical cases both. “We are realising this is one of the greatest challenges of the next 50 years, and one that needs to be resolved in the next 10 years.” The key to this is to refine technology in agriculture to suit the needs of water stressed areas. “We have to get past the
Qatar’s food security at a glance Qatar food consumption by product (%) Others 13% Cereals 35% Meat 10%
Fruits 11% Milk 10%
Growth across product categories (2012-2017) fruits milk vegetables meat cereals others 0.0%
What Qatar produces for its own needs 15.3%
0.2% Qatar’s land investments abroad
Total domestic production 7.2% Host countries: Cambodia Sudan Turkey Brazil Vietnam Pakistan India Ghana Indonesia Philippines Australia
Source: FAOSTAT, Arab Agricultural Staistics Year Book, Alpen Capital, CIRS Georgetown University Qatar
Continued on page 80 The Edge | 65
The Edge meets Khalid Yousef Al Sabeai, the dynamic young Qatari CEO of The First Investor, Barwa Bankâ€™s investment arm
Investment banking with a difference 66 | The Edge
fund management | business interview
Khalid Yousef Al Subeai, chief executive officer of The First Investor (TFI), the shari’ah-complaint investment banking arm of Barwa Bank, believes investors must be given lasting value. But that is just one component of Al Subeai’s motivations. Sitting down with The Edge’s Aparajita Mukherjee recently, he also discussed his firm’s broader investment philosophy and the changes in Qatar’s business and banking that Al Subeai has seen from working at Qatar Petroleum, and Morgan Stanley, to the present day.
ith QAR2.6 billion worth of assets under management, TFI is busy charting new funds in new geographies. TFI has real estate funds in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United States (US) and Brazil. It also has an equity fund that is pan-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The investment firm, according to chief executive officer (CEO) Khalid Al Subeai, is also particularly proud of its investment in the Qatar Education project, where it partners with GEMS, one of the leading K-12 school operators in the region, as well as with financial institutions such as the Qatar Insurance Company. Al Subeai explains that for TFI, investing in Qatari education is part of differentiating themselves in the market. “This is one sector which we have decided to participate in and become a leading player through innovative structures and strong associations,” he says. A wider motive behind the education project, he adds, was to open up new investment sectors for TFI. “I think that it gives us immense satisfaction that TFI has been able to penetrate the niche in the Qatar education sector and partner with leaders in the education business to provide quality education to the Qatari market,” Al Subeai says. “We are ambitious on adding greater value through similar
initiatives [to] aim at creating a market for sustainable real estate in the schools sector and create a unique platform for partners to earn stable long-term cash flows through the underlying operations of the schools.” Beyond local schools, TFI has also recently announced the closing of a USD390 million (QAR1.4 billion) Shari’ah-compliant financing deal in a US development project. The financing was among the largest ones completed in the US, says Al Subeai. TFI was instrumental in structuring the transaction together with the TFI US Real Estate Fund’s CityCenterDC development partner Hines. CityCenterDC is the flagship investment USD700 million (QAR2.5 billion) of the fund, which was launched by TFI in 2011 under patronage of Qatari Diar, real estate investment arm of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). The ambition, scale and profile of this development are commensurate with its status as Qatar’s first major real estate investment in the US. “Optimising investments capital structure further adds value to our investors,” furthers Al Subeai.
Internationally, the investment banking market has undergone many changes since the recession in 2008 and 2009. For one, investors have become more wary and do their own due diligence above that of a fund manager or investment bank. Customers are also demanding income-generating products and assets. On how the market has changed in Qatar over the past, Al Subeai is of the opinion that investment banking in Qatar has become more competitive. Many local banks, he points out, have established their own investment banking subsidiaries or affiliates, and thus the pool of investment banking services and products has increased. Explaining this phenomenon, Al Subeai says, “You have the local investment banks and the non-local investment banks registered
“Education is one sector which we have decided to participate in and become a leading player through strong associations.” The Edge | 67
business interview | fund management
and operating out of the Qatar Financial Centre which increases the competition a little bit. But on the other hand, increased competitiveness results in hopefully a better product or service to the...client.” TFI’s investment banking philosophy is simple: to add value to the clientele in a transparent manner. “We are a local Shari’ah-compliant investment company that has a track record of bringing value added products to our clients and investors,” adds Al Subeai. “We are a Qatari investment bank regulated by the Central Bank and work closely with our parent company Barwa Bank in structuring and placing products.” The existing client list of TFI, he reveals, spans big corporates, high net worth individuals and retail clients (accessed though Barwa Bank). TFI’s funds are designed to access sectors to invest in Qatar and internationally. On returns, Al Subeai says that through their products and services, TFI offers the investors a yield of enhancement over the existing exposure that they are currently entitled to.“For example, an investor might earn three to four percent for investing in equities, whereas our products are income-generating. The gains are tangible and they earn between seven and nine percent. It is a clear value-enhancing proposition that we can offer to our clients.”
“The gains of investing in our income-generating real estate funds is tangible. Investors earn between seven and nine percent.” Asset management
TFI recently launched the TFI GCC Equities Opportunities Fund (Q), an open-ended fund investing in equities and equity-related securities listed on exchanges in the GCC countries. The fund is seeking to achieve long-term capital growth through investments in a broadly diversified regional portfolio of stocks. The fund managed to attract more than QAR100 million during the first few months following its launch, making it one of the biggest open-ended funds domiciled in Qatar. Since inception, the fund has achieved double-digit returns. This fund was awarded Best Islamic Investment Fund at the Banker Middle East Product Awards 2013. Looking forward, equity markets should attract significant amounts of liquidity as investors are getting low to negative (after inflation) returns from holding cash or low-yielding fixed-income securities. Al Subeai tells The Edge that the trajectory in his career from Qatar Petroleum to Morgan Stanley to CEO of Qatari investment bank TFI has been a natural transition.
68 | The Edge
fund management | business interview
New Funds/Companies TFI UK Property Fund
TFI KSA Residential Compound Fund
Qatar Education Company
Existing Funds US Real Estate Fund
Brazil Real Estate Fund
TFI GCC Equity Opportunities Fund
Assets Under Management
Personally for Al Subeai, his career trejectory from Qatar Petroleum (QP) to Morgan Stanley and now to TFI has been a natural transition. He says that as part of QP, a state hydrocarbon firm, it was the perfect platform for a fresh graduate to start his career in terms of governance, discipline, working in a professional environment, managed by international principles and guidelines and working with international partners. QP set the nucleus of Al Subeai’s career, it shaped his integrity and his work ethic and it is here he says that he learnt the basics of the debt capital markets. “After six years at QP, I thought the natural next step would be to develop outside of the state-owned environment,” continues Al Subeai, “and I was approached to represent an international investment bank in Morgan Stanley, which provided the perfect growth opportunity for my career in terms of being exposed to an international franchise, its brand strength, its products, its services and its global scale of activities.” The two-and-a-half-year stint at Morgan Stanley exposed Al Subeai to asset management, the commodities markets, the intricacies of investment banking and the entire investment platform, all of which he feels are helping him in his current position at the head of TFI.
Investors and clients
To have a long-lasting relationship with clients, for Al Subeai, nothing works better than being transparent. This is especially true of an entity such as TFI which, being Qatari, is based in the same place as many of its clients. “I think it provides comfort to investors, the fact that we support all of our products through providing seed capital,” says Al Subeai, underlining the importance of nurturing customers as, he thinks, investment banking is all about relationships. “TFI believes in serving the customers’ needs through a variety of platforms. We can assist them through our investment banking capabilities, advisory, capital raising or we can do it through our real estate team who can advise on real estate transactions, aiding them to invest through our real estate projects. We also have equity or asset management solutions where an investor would be interested to gain exposure to the equity markets.”
For Al Subeai, to have a longlasting relationship with a client, nothing works better than being clear and transparent.
Total assets under management of TFI.
TFI, he adds, can can advise investors on how to invest in the Qatari market and also in the regional market, all in a Shari’ah-compliant manner. Given the volatile nature of the investment banking market, investors have become more sophisticated and cautious, even though the Qatari market is cashrich and liquid compared with the other markets in the GCC. They have also become much more demanding and want to have a say in the sectors in which they want to invest, not merely entrusting this to a fund manager. According to Al Subeai, the investor knows from day one where his money is going and if they are going to acquire property or assets that produce income. “We do not rely on speculation or opportunities that will only provide a return in two or three years’ time,” he explains. “This is a huge draw for many investors”
The Qatari market, according to Al Subeai, obviously has had strong growth on the back of the increase in GDP in recent years. The increase of income percapita over the past couple of years backed by the increase in production and export of commodities, liquefied natural gas, is a compelling economic success. “I think the fact that the government is proactive and is willing to invest for the betterment of the country,” he says, “makes for a very sound investment proposition.” Al Subeai is emphatic that the political will of the Qatari government in its deployment of significant capital into developing the country’s infrastructure, healthcare and education is creating opportunities for the business community within the private sector and also for individual investors. “These are strong enough reasons why I feel Qatar is a business-friendly environment, backed as it is with strong government support. To top it, Qatar is politically stable, I think that we have a lot of positives in Qatar and we look forward to continue taking part in this tremendous growth story.” The Edge | 69
sustainable World Cup in Qatar 70 | The Edge
green stadiums | feature story
Amid FIFA’s elusiveness on the criteria for sustainability, Qatar needs to play safe, say experts, ensuring the highest levels of sustainability in its stadiums for the World Cup 2022. By Farwa Zahra
nce a sporting arena, the grand Colosseum of Rome has arguably inspired the early stadiums of history. After 450 years of Roman games, such as animal hunts, races and gladiator fights, the structure today stands more as a tourist attraction than a reminder of the Roman gaming arena. Thanks to this ampitheatre’s deep association with the Roman Empire, today the mere existence of its ruins is still paying off for Italy, despite the loss of purpose the structure was originally erected for. If this was the case for modern-day stadiums, then perhaps we would not have to bother ourselves with the question of “what next?”, what happens with the magnificent stadiums planned to meet the needs of the World Cup once the tournament is over? This is where the world of sports intersects with sustainability – a major concern for Qatar set to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. Sustainability not only stands for incorporating green technology to preserve the natural environment, but also includes exploring ways of reducing carbon footprints through recycling and reusing.
The problem with sustainable stadiums
Building Towards 2022, an official brochure released by the World Cup 2022 Supreme Committee, unequivocally states Green Qatar 2022 as one of its guiding principles. Achieving this, however, seems like a complex terrain because of the translucence around FIFA’s stance on sustainability. Hosting the World Cup 2014, Brazil is striving to position itself as a benchmark in ensuring a sustainable tournament by obtaining LEED certification for all of its stadiums. The decision comes more as a national initiative than a requirement by FIFA. “This [certification] was not a FIFA demand, but rather a voluntary action, which shows that all the host cities share the same environmental concerns,” FIFA reported the executive secretary of Brazil’s Ministry of Sports, Luis Fernandes, as saying. Regardless of the trigger behind Brazil’s move, the trend builds up pressure for the World Cup’s future host countries Russia and Qatar to maintain the same, if not an improved, level of sustainability. However, what complicates the situation is the vagueness around FIFA’s standards to ensure sustainability. While FIFA’s head of corporate social responsibility Federico Addiechi has expressed his expectations on sustainability from the two countries, the federation has not yet laid out a clear stance on the scope of sustainability it would require from the future stadiums. Discussing the challenges of meeting sustainability standards for FIFA stadiums, Dr. Alex Amato, head of sustainability at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), tells The Edge, “They’ve wisely left The Edge | 71
Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium will be upgraded to meet the requirements of FIFA for the World Cup 2022. (Image Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee)
the definition of zero carbon fairly vague. I guess it will probably include transport, it will probably include the operations of the stadia themselves during the event.” While infrastructure projects such as railroads can be seen as a part of the National Vision 2030, one wonders what would happen with the seemingly one-
After the World Cup, Al Wakrah Stadium’s renewable energy system is planned to provide electricity to surrounding communities. 72 | The Edge
off facilities, such as large-scale stadiums planned to match the World Cup 2022’s spectator-count and FIFA’s standards for the tournament, which will feature 64 matches among 32 teams. Here, allowing a space for sustainability can help Qatar avoid what many host countries of global sporting events unwillingly had to choose as their last resort – demolishing the grand stadiums and utilising the space for projects such as residential towns, which were realised at heavy costs and environmental damage. Qatar-based environmental scientist, Tim Cook who is manager, Environment at GHD – an Australian engineering, architecture and environmental consulting company – believes the focus of stadiums development in Qatar so far does not go beyond 2022. “Sustainability of a stadium has to be looked at beyond this one event. What is important is how the stadium will be designed and built to operate over the next 30 years,” he says. To ensure the highest level of sustainability, Cook says, the key is to start during the design process. “To make a design change on paper requires minimal
Dr. Neil Kirkpatrick, head of sustainability, Middle East, Atkins, says that Qatar should explore reusable power options which can be exploited for other projects once the tournament is over.
green stadiums | feature story
cost, but to retrofit during operation can be expensive,” explains Cook, adding that “the design phase is the most important; this is where sustainable principles can be interwoven into the whole concept.” However, with the ambiguity around FIFA’s requirements, there is little surety guaranteed to the developers that the design would not have to be amended to meet what could be FIFA’s future sustainability criteria. “FIFA puts a lot of pressure on you to ensure the ideal conditions they imagine and sometimes cannot be done. At an existent stadium, certain conditions are very hard to change,” agrees Vicente Brandao, architect and partner at Santini & Rocha Arquitetos, which is the turnkey contractor for Brazil’s Beira-Rio Stadium, set to host five games of the World Cup 2014. While some of these demands may not be raised as a concern for sustainability, they can potentially affect the sustainable elements of the stadium. “At a point of the process, FIFA said that the whole field (pitch) would have to be lowered by one metre for visibility matters,” Brandao speaks of his experience, “The stadium is very close to the city’s waterfront, and in this case we would probably need pumps to take the water away.” The contractor, he tells, then had to discuss the technicalities that FIFA was not considering before.
“FIFA puts a lot of pressure on you to ensure the ideal conditions they imagine.” - Vicente Brandao, architect Santini & Rocha Arquitetos, Brazilian contractors.
Beating the heat
Considering Qatar’s hot climate during the scheduled time of the World Cup, Ahmed Fouad, head of planning at Consolidated
An aerial view shows the final touches of the roof installation at the Maracana Stadium, which is undergoing renovation for the World Cup 2014, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Image Reuters/Arabian Eye)
In this illustration, an elevated view is displayed of the 45,330-capacity Al Khor stadium located in the north east of Qatar. (Image Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee)
The Edge | 73
Doha’s Sports City Stadium’s cooling design will be donated to developing countries with similar climates. The stadium will feature 44,560 seating capacity, feature 6000 parking spaces for cars and 350 spaces for buses. (Image Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee)
Contractors Company, believes that a major challenge to ensure sustainability in stadiums would be the provision of “innovative and cost-effective cooling solutions, especially the ones that use solar power as an energy source.” Dr. Amato of QGBC explains that in Qatar, the building physics of cooling stadiums down, although challenging, have been worked out already in terms of research and development. Hosting the World Cup in summers, hence, can leave a heavy toll on the environment because of the cooling needs, which conventionally require high-power electricity. Director and head of programme cost consultancy at Aecom Qatar and construction economics and finance advisor at QGBC, Steven Humphrey concurs. “Air-conditioning is a key energy consumer and therefore minimising air-conditioning demand, without compromising comfort, is critical,” he tells The Edge, further adding that “good design, use of insulation, quality control in construction activities and use of correct materials all play a key part in meeting these targets.” Apart from looking at the design dimensions of the stadiums to lower the energy consumption, Dr. Amato explores the option of using reusable energy through the application of green technologies. “It’s important to remember that energy itself is not a bad thing,” he says, “What we want to look at are the consequences. And if you 74 | The Edge
use energy from renewable sources, they may have a much different environmental impact than energy that’s generated using fossil fuels.” However, Dr. Amato’s concern is that essentially, at the moment, the majority of energy in Qatar and indeed in most other places around the world is generated from fossil fuels. Considering the temporality of the event and the demand for power to meet the requirements, one of the challenges is to identify how Qatar can put the right infrastructure in place to power the stadiums. “After the event is finished, there will be a lower demand for stadiums, but Qatar can use the power supply for residential communities or commercial
Tips for sustainable stadiums
projects, or schools or hospitals,” says Dr. Neil Kirkpatrick, who is affiliated with the Central Planning Office - FIFA 2022, and is working as the head of sustainability, Middle East, Atkins. For instance, Al Wakrah Stadium will use renewable energy systems to provide the electrical requirements for the cooling systems. After the World Cup, the stadium’s renewable energy systems is planned to provide electricity to surrounding communities.
According to the World Cup 2022 Supreme Committee, Qatar will be using modular components, making the stadiums easy to disassemble and
Vicente Brandao, an architect affiliated with the contractor for Brazil’s BeiroRio Stadium, provides The Edge with a check-list to ensure sustainability in Qatar’s stadiums for the World Cup 2022: 1. Reuse the existing structures. 2. Have an effective plan for construction waste. 3. Try to exploit on-site energy. 4. Explore the options for using recycled material. 5. Look for regionally available materials. 6. Pay special attention on facade materials for good insulation. 7. Use light colours for the roof to enable sunlight reflection. 8. Look for materials with low-volatility organic compounds.
green stadiums | feature story
transport to other world regions, where they will be reconstructed. Similarly, the use of existing stadiums can lead to environment-friendly solutions, but the enhancement of a structure to meet the requirements of FIFA can be an onerous process, an option that many developers would not want to explore. “It’s easier to demolish and make it all over again, but it’s not sustainable. Imagine all the construction waste that you create,” says Brandao. For now, Qatar has announced to renovate three of its existing stadiums. In the case of FIFA particularly, this enhancement comes with an added demand for additional facilities. “In an existent stadium, it is very hard to accommodate all the rooms and spaces that FIFA needs such as food and beverages, media centre, parking, technical compounds, VIP and VVIP areas,” says Brandao, sharing his experience from the ongoing renovation project for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil. If planned properly, reusing the old structures can also lead to costeffective solutions for Qatar, where the construction cost is already high because of the limited capacity of the port and dependency on other countries for building materials. Brandao speaks about the story of his company’s project of renovating an existing stadium for the World Cup 2014, “Our renovation, using the existent structure, will provide a 58,018-seat stadium that will be used for five games. It will cost around USD175 million (QAR637 million), the second cheapest in Brazil 2014.” FIFA recently opened up an option for Qatar to reduce the number from 12 to eight. Considering the country’s hot climate during the scheduled time (June and July) of the tournament, the federation also mentioned a possibility of moving the dates from summers to a moderate time of the year. All these options also open up opportunities for enhanced sustainability. The relaxations, however, also come with the risk of a revote, something that Qatar would understandably want to avoid. While the country is clearly striving to meet the project demands for the tournament, will it be able to deliver a sustainable World Cup 2022? “At this time, nine years out from 2022, Qatar has the ability to strengthen legislation, policies and practices that will mould the way in which all projects are delivered in a more sustainable way,” says Cook.
Qatar’s best-laid plans for sustainable stadiums 1. After Qatar 2022, the available modular components can be used to build two stadiums for 15,000 spectators, eight stadiums for 10,000 spectators and 12 stadiums for 5,000 spectators. 2. Sports City Stadium’s innovative cooling design will be donated to developing countries . 3. Al Daayen Stadium’s current anticipated achievement is to reach LEED’s rare Gold rating. 4. The stadiums will be innovatively cooled using state-of-the-art green technology. 5. The stadiums will be downscaled to sustainable sizes for Qatar’s growing population.
“Sustainability of a stadium has to be looked at beyond this one event.” - Tim Cook, environmental scientist, GHD. Almost a decade ahead of the tournament, there is little the country can predict about FIFA’s future expectations on sustainability. Seemingly, however, Qatar is exploring its best bet – playing safe by exploiting maximum options to prevent the environmental damage.
Eventually, being proactive on the grounds of sustainability does not harm. Even if FIFA keeps a soft stance on the matter, ensuring sustainability will at least manifest a utopian drive – preserving the natural resources and preventing the environment for the country’s future generations.
Ahmed Fouad, head of planning at Consolidated Contractors Company, believes that innovative and costeffective cooling solutions will be a major challenge to ensure sustainability in Qatar’s stadiums.
The Edge | 75
SO WHO IS NEXT? Succession planning in Gulf corporates and family businesses The recent change of leadership in Qatar is extremely rare in the Gulf, where ruling families and family firms often wait for the leaders’ death before finalising the succession process. But more often than not that is too late, and a lack of succession planning can precipitate failure, for states and all types of businesses alike. Unfortunately, writes Matthew Lewis, this is often a critical but overlooked element of corporate or family business in the region, and is an ever increasing feature of family disputes and corporate infighting and shareholder discord.
No matter where a business is located, the principles of succession planning should be the same, even though the motivation and processes between corporations and private family business are often radically different. Nevertheless, whether it is the future leadership of an Emir for a state, a chief executive officer (CEO) of a corporation or the patriarch of a family business, there are strong principles that can be applied to each arena. Irrespective of public or private ownership, well-run, suitably financed and properly governed businesses will generally thrive over those that are not. And it is within these guiding principles we can discover how important succession planning is to the overall direction of the company. Corporates of course have the distinct advantage that the process is made easier, more transparent and democratic, and is not based on a family generational transition. Boards of non-executives, advisors and external shareholders have a vested, objective interest in the successful appointment of a new leader. They have common and aligned goals, and most large corporates normally know who their internal and even external successors may be well in advance. GE is the classic example, whereby Jack Welch had been grooming and observing several potential successors before selecting Jeff Immelt to take over. The same process applies for Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others.
“Choosing a successor is the most important business decision you will ever make.” – Jack Welch. 76 | The Edge
leadership transition | business management
Key pillars of corporate business success Corporate Strong financial management Corporate governance Excellent leadership Strategy
Private/family business Wealth management Family code/family office Internal or external succession plan Future plan
For any organisation, the above considerations will play heavily in any senior succession planning. However, the way that corporates and family groups execute succession planning is determined by almost polar opposite influences:
Fall or fly
For family groups and private businesses, the topic of internal family succession planning is a highly sensitive area, and unfortunately second and third generation business failure is a familiar scenario among family groups that do not take it seriously. This can result in family feuds, court cases and potential business collapse. To ensure the success of any senior succession planning exercise, it is essential that the company takes a proactive approach, having at least a process in place and ideally an identified and assessed list of potential successors. The key word is continuity, which privately-owned businesses often overlook. They rarely evaluate the negative impact that uncertainty can bring when the overall direction, leadership and future of a business is unclear. Often the cost of no succession planning to a business is hidden and only reveals itself when least anticipated or welcome.
Succession planning contrasting influence: Public versus private Global Corporation Logical Board driven Proactive Strategic Global talent pool Systems in place Market expectations Shareholder returns Regional Family Business Emotional Family-driven Reactive Tactical Local talent pool No systems Family expectations Family wealth
If there is no succession in place in a family business, they are likely to experience some or all of the following: • The CEO exit or demise plunges the business into crisis. With no one at the helm, panic sets in and poor decisions are made or worse, none at all. • Chaos creates instability among all senior management and staff. • There is a lack of direction, strategy, clarity and resolution. • Customers will feel a lack of level of service and attention they expect. • Organisational infighting will ensue among family members and management as they jockey for position and power. • Competition will prey on the business, customers and staff. • Eventually the business could shrink, fail, break up or be sold.
Statistics show that second to third-generation business survival is at most risk in the period of leadership transition. The Edge | 77
business management | leadership transition
“The lesson is that, No. 1, this management has to be at the highest class possible. No. 2, they have to have a succession plan.” – Prince Al Waleed bin Talal.
Fail to plan, plan to fail
In order to plan for the future, irrespective of the anticipated timing of change of leadership, companies should formally start to think about what the future may hold, and how the business should be run and by whom going forward, and design a process of dialogue to ensure that succession planning is always on the agenda. In order to achieve this, there are a number or proactive steps a business can take.
Prior to need
• Talk about it – Discuss it in advance with the family, advisors, and consultants. Death is inevitable and guaranteed, business continuity is not. • Listen – What role do other family members expect or want, and listen equally to non-family members who do not have the same emotive agenda. • Watch – Identify who impresses you with their skills, commitment, and attitude. • Select – Agree on one or more internal successors, pay attention to their interests, motives, strengths and weaknesses and support them via internal and external development. • Appoint – Put in place an assessment process or an executive search process to identify and attract external alternatives that provide you with an independent opinion.
• Prepare – Have them alongside you as long as possible working in the business, let them make decision, get involved, take the lead and set an example. • Delegate – Relinquish power, give them room early to lead and make mistakes. • Support – Stand by your decision, be a sounding board and not a father figure. • Guide – Coach, mentor and guide their decisions but don’t undermine them. • Step Aside – Set a timeframe for your eventual exit, depart in dignity.
Consider the two following examples of prominent family groups and how they have decided to implement a smooth succession plan either to the younger generation or to an externally appointed CEO.
78 | The Edge
leadership transition | business management
Often the cost of no succession planning to a business is hidden and only reveals itself when least anticipated or welcome. Case study one
A large regional Arab family group in existence for decades. The founding father is currently the chairman and would like to retire. His two eldest sons have successful careers outside of the core family businesses and they are not actively involved in the daily operations but do advise occasionally. The youngest son has returned to the region following an excellent western education, and is due to take over leadership of the group from his father. He has a five-year experience inside the business. Succession planning steps: • Build a strong, supportive operational management team at the C level, and divisional managing director level to decentralise the business away from a centrally-controlled family-centric environment. • Strengthen the back-office functions including finance to support the change and decentralisation process and support the business and family, ensuring rigorous financial planning and governance. • Develop the structure so that all members of the family will remain interested and be able to make major decisions while being involved in decision making, but without being ultimately involved in the day-to-day running of the business. • Appoint the two sons as non-executives to protect and steer the family assets and support the youngest brother, while leaving the day-to-day running of the company to the management team.
Case study two
Saudi-based family group. The founding father is in his 80s and retired several years ago. He handed the business to his son in his 40s who steered the business for five years until his sudden, unexpected death. The family has three remaining children none of whom were involved in the business and are in their 30s and 40s, with a good western education. Succession planning steps: • Family engages professional services firm to create and implement a family code and to locate an external CEO with regional family business expertise. • The family embarks on a family corporate governance process. • The three children are appointed as non-executive board members. • Three independent non-executive directors are appointed to the board to balance the board and bring structure, transparency and governance to support the family members. • The external CEO is given full autonomy for running the group, reporting to the new board.
Even though in both of these cases the family has remained involved, there is a distinct but subtle difference between family running the business within the business, and the family sitting over the structure but not actively managing the daily operations. However, there is no right or wrong way to approach this, and each business will have its complications and nuances, but the common ground is that they proactively sought to implement a plan in advance of a reactive scenario. This has many benefits and not only meant that the family was involved and bought into the whole process but it allowed the remainder of the family and staff to adapt and get used to the new leadership regime.
The buck stops here
At all levels of government, corporation and family business, succession planning should be constantly on the agenda. Statistics show that second to third generation business survival is at most risk in the period of leadership transition. This is a challenge in the Middle East, a region where there is a lack of internal and external talent that is adequately qualified, experienced, and emotionally and culturally aware enough to be true leaders in this environment. But what is certain is that the world is changing faster than anyone is comfortable with and in directions we never imagined, and like the leaders of Qatar, its businesses should take heed of their example and ensure they are well prepared and have planned ahead for every leadership change eventuality, from Emir to CEO.
Matthew Lewis is director Middle East and North Africa at Boyden Global Executive Search. The Edge | 79
Spillover Continued from page 65
innovations of the 1960s and the 1970s for food,” says Smith, where the thinking was to find places that looked a lot like the northern hemisphere and trying to maximise production.
A technological revolution
Instead, explains Smith what needs to be done is to look at technologies that will help produce, process and manage food by using less water. The national master plan that will be presented to HH the Emir this summer will contain a recommendation for an agro-industrial park, adds Smith. What the QNFSP will be recommending will be a market participation model much like the Qatar Science and Technology Park, a zone for public and private participation in not only developing the food market, but also the technology market. “We think it is important to make Qatar a magnet for those who are working on solar technologies, or those who are working on genetic technologies that help us bring safer food and food inspection technologies to the marketplace,” Smith furthers.
The future of food
There is fierce competition in the food market today, and it is set to get only more challenging in the future. 80 percent of the planet lives under some kind of national food security plan, says Smith. This means other countries are already strategically looking into the marketplace, and this makes it important, from a competitive standpoint not to be left out. This is the next big thing, claims Smith. As climates change, populations grow, and water and land resources start shifting, they will have a profound effect on food availability in the world. “What the energy boom was for the past century, this is for the next century, and it is not all bad. Qatar has, in the past 10 years, shown how strength from an energy standpoint has helped them be a better peacemaker in the world. Strength from a food and water security standpoint in the next century will help nations be better peacemakers in the world.” 80 | The Edge
Inside the minds of leading business figures
business insight Opportunities for real estate developers are abundant in Qatar>84 In an exclusive interview with The Edge, Ziad El Khalil, director of Qatar Coral, speaks about the dynamics of Qatar’s thriving real estate sector and the company’s new projects in Doha.
also in this section
A focus on wealth management and SMEs in retail banking >86
Niranjan Mendonca, the head of retail banking at Mashreq Bank, discusses the emerging trends and challenges within the retail banking industry in Qatar, and the drive towards technological innovation in aiding the customer-centric approach to retail banking.
Economic zones to improve ease of business in Qatar >82
In an exclusive conversation with The Edge, Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO of Economic Zones Company talks about the rationale behind having a company dedicated to creating and implementing a plan to develop special areas.
84 Customers are set to move into their luxury homes in August with near-completion of Qatar Coral for Real Estate Development’s twin projects VB22 and VB23, Viva Bahriya, The Pearl-Qatar.
The Edge | 81
business insight | trade zones
Economic zones to improve ease of business in Qatar and support client investment In an exclusive conversation with The Edge Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO, Economic Zones Company (EZC) discusses the rationale of a company dedicated to creating and implementing an integrated plan for the development of special economic zones, which will heighten business efficiency. Al Kaabi also draws attention to the lessons learned from similar experiences other countries in the region have gone through with the concept of such specialised business areas, sometimes known as ‘free zones’. Tell us about Qatar’s Economic Zones Company (EZC) and its short-term plans. EZC is a shareholding company established by the Minister of Business and Trade of the State of Qatar under decision No. 272 in 2011. Chaired by HE Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, previously the Minister of Business and Trade, EZC is owned by the Qatari government and represented by the Qatar Authority for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. The EZC’s main task is to create and implement an integrated plan for the development of special areas in existing as well as future projects, in support of Qatar’s economic diversification and competitiveness strategy as contained in Qatar’s National Vision (QNV) 2030 framework. More specifically, as the main arm of the Qatar Authority for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, our mandate is to manage and develop economic zones allocated by the State, which are three at present: EZ 1, 2 and 3. With our vision to support Qatar’s diversification strategy by becoming one of the region’s leading economic zones for ease of doing business, our mission is to provide the most efficient and sustainable economic zone business environment to support our clients’ investments. 82 | The Edge
Some countries in the region had introduced the economic zones concept some years ago. What are the valuable lessons to be learned from their experience and how distinct will EZC be from other economic zones? Indeed, there are quite a number of lessons to be learned, not just from the region, but also from similar models in several countries across the globe. And, as we seriously take into consideration these lessons, we are also very focused on the unique aspects, policies and growth plans of the State of Qatar. As such, EZC is fully committed to offering an integrated range of services that incorporate housing, commercial and even recreational facilities for our target sectors. EZC will ensure an environment that will be highly conducive to profitability and business growth through other support mechanisms and infrastructure. How will EZC help in attaining the goals laid within QNV 2030? The State of Qatar is definitely poised to be among the world’s most modern societies, with economic development
being among the four pillars of the QNV 2030. In order to implement this successfully, the plan was divided into timeframes, which allow for a more focused and targeted approach in measuring performance against the set of strategic objectives. The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 focuses on laying the framework for Qatar’s growth and ensuring the ongoing development of world-class infrastructure, public services sector and a vibrant business climate. Therefore, by being steadfast with our mandate and timeframes to develop the most efficient and sustainable economic zones that are supportive of the business activities and objectives of clients, we would be fulfilling our role towards the advancement of a competitive and diversified economy for Qatar under the plan’s pillar of economic development. How will EZC attract foreign investors to set up businesses and operate within the economic zones? There are a number of reasons why investors would be attracted to set up their businesses and operate within the economic zones. EZC offers several advantages that companies stand to benefit from and towards the attainment of profitability and growth, such as world class economic zone infrastructure and services, streamlined processes and single window for all administrative queries, assured provision of power, water and gas at the region’s most competitive price, access to equities and loans financing from Qatar’s development agencies and banks and access to a large and growing range of raw materials produced in Qatar.
trade zones | business insight
“ECZ’s vision is to support Qatar’s diversification strategy by becoming one of the region’s leading economic zones.”
engaged in medium-sized industrial activities of building materials, machinery and fabrications, specialised spill-over industries, safety and maintenance and specialised warehouse. On the other hand, Economic Zone 3, which is a 33.52km² area adjoining the New Port Project, just south of Wakrah, provides maximum benefits for industrial companies engaged in petrochemicals, building materials, maritime, metals, and other sectors such as automotive, tools and machinery.
Fahad Al Kaabi, CEO of Economic Zones Company (EZC) tells The Edge that the reasons foreign investors might be attracted to economic zones in Qatar include infrastructure, streamlined adminstration and competitively priced utilities.
Tell us about the thrust of activities of EZ 1, 2, 3. What was the purpose of having three separate economic zones? EZ 1, 2 and 3 are focused on becoming catalysts for the industrial sector to develop and eventually flourish in Qatar. It is for this reason that the respective locations of each of the three zones are all meant to maximise the benefits and advantages to the targeted sectors. For example, Economic Zone 1, which is approximately a 4.01km² area, adjoins the New Doha International Airport. Therefore, industries engaged in logistics, information and communications, healthcare, energy and environment, hi-tech building and global warehousing stand to benefit the most. Economic Zone 2, which is approximately a 11.95km² area just south of the current Doha Industrial area is well-suited for business
How will EZC help in Qatar offering the FIFA 2022? By developing and delivering our three projects, we are fully committed to offering the most suitable and appropriate infrastructure and environment for various economic sectors to grow. Once operational, these sectors will be able to contribute in providing for the country’s demand for materials and supplies required by projects related to the staging of the FIFA World Cup 2022. As such, EZC and its projects, although not directly linked to one of the world’s most awaited sporting event, play a crucial and vital role on the development of the much-needed infrastructure that would set the stage for the successful hosting of such event. Are there any plans of attracting sectors other than those that have already been planned for EZ 1, 2 and 3? The local, regional and global business environment has changed and continues to evolve quite rapidly. While we may have, at the onset, identified particular economic sectors as targets for specific locations and zone, increased business activity and opportunity, business-friendly policy regime and services tend to attract and create future demand for additional economic zones with focus on diversified areas such as technology, research and media etcetera. Therefore, a demand-led scenario would definitely encourage us to expand our portfolio which would spur plans of attracting other business sectors in the future. The Edge | 83
business insight | project development
Opportunities for real estate developers are abundant in Qatar Tell us about yourself and your experience with Qatar Coral? I am Ziad El Khalil, the director of Qatar Coral, a 100 percent subsidiary of MAK Holdings SAL in Lebanon – a business conglomerate that spans over three generations of the El Khalil family, operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Qatar, Lebanon and the United Kingdom. I joined MAK Holdings in 2004 as its chief financial officer. In 2006, I was appointed as the deputy CEO and CIO of MAK Holdings. Having acquired a BBA degree from the American University of Beirut in 1985, I later received my MBA degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. Since then, I have had over 20 years’ experience in general management, investment and finance, and substantial exposure to the real estate industry.
According to Ziad El Khalil, director of Qatar Coral, a major challenge for Qatar’s real estate is that the sector is a part of a region that thrives on volatility and economic sentiment. (Image Qatar Coral)
In an exclusive interview with The Edge, Ziad El Khalil, director of property firm Qatar Coral, discusses the dynamics of Qatar’s real estate sector. Qatar Coral’s ongoing projects include VB22 and VB23, Viva Bahriya, The Pearl Qatar, the twin towers which feature luxury residences are set to open from August 2013. 84 | The Edge
What is Qatar Coral? What are its major operations in Qatar? Qatar Coral is the foremost real estate developer and home provider of choice on The Pearl-Qatar. The company was initially incorporated in 2006. Qatar Coral is dedicated to creating sound investment opportunities that present profitable returns. The company is a provider of the finest apartments in the best addresses in Doha, Qatar. Qatar Coral’s concentration on Qatar’s burgeoning property market is supported by shareholders, who injected over QAR300 million in paid-up capital and shareholders’ funds into the company. What are the challenges for developers in Qatar’s real estate market? The main challenge for developers in the Qatari market is the fact that we do not
project development | business insight
live in isolation. We are part of a region that thrives on volatility and economic sentiment. Negative economic news anywhere within the Gulf Cooperation Council tends to affect investor sentiment in Qatar and understandably so. But then again, people move on and remind themselves of the historically proven fact that the best time to buy real estate is when the sentiment is worst and no one else wants to buy. The other challenge would be that of inflation, particularly a cost-push inflation brought about by the construction boom. The government’s commitment of increasing services and improving infrastructure in the country by allocating USD130 billion (QAR473.2 billion) to real estate and infrastructure development over the next six years has fuelled a construction boom which has increased demand for heavy equipment, construction materials and expatriate labour. The construction costs in Qatar are expected to further increase in the next few years. How will this affect the scope for real estate players? It is indeed the case that cost-push inflation will likely accelerate as demand for heavy equipment, construction materials and expatriate labour increases. Therefore, stakeholders in Qatar’s real estate sector must ensure commercial viability and profitability by offering world-class quality property in terms of construction, development, design, interior and exterior finishing, as well as other valueadded benefits and sound investment opportunities, in order to attract buyers and investors to survive. If such players can develop an excellent track record in terms
“In Qatar, the demand for luxury residential apartments continues to outpace available supply.”
of sales and how quick they are actually able to sell off their projects, these developers would likewise build an excellent reputation with financial institutions and banks who would be more than willing to provide financing for projects. Therefore, any real estate player for that matter, under such inflationary tendencies, must ensure credibility and integrity to prospective investors and financiers to ensure continuous and sustainable cash flow to stay in the market. What are some of the opportunities available to developers in Qatar? The opportunities for developers like Qatar Coral are abundant in Qatar, and very well outweigh the challenges of the market. Firstly, I strongly believe that Qatar’s economic and political stability would enable the country to manage inflation and thereby enable the country’s residents to cope with it. Secondly, a draft law is being prepared to regulate the real estate sector, specifically real estate valuations. In light of the construction boom in Qatar, property value regulations are important and are a welcome development for the real estate market in general. Significantly, this draft law will prove to be a deterrent to speculative practices. Most importantly, Qatar is one of the fastest growing markets in the Middle East and North Africa and represents a significant opportunity for investment in the region. Driven by the Qatar National Vision 2030, and the country’s fundamentally strong economy that boasts one of the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the world, Qatar’s real estate market is definitely poised for significant growth Which area of Qatar’s real estate do you see as having the highest growth? The demand for luxury residential apartments continues to outpace available supply, due to the fundamentally superior macroeconomic conditions in the country. In Qatar, what are some of the measures Qatar Coral has taken to sustain its market position? There actually is no secret formula with regard to the measures we take to ensure sustainability. Our strategic priority is to be the foremost real estate developer
“Qatar is one of the fastest growing markets in MENA and represents a significant opportunity for investment in the region.” and home provider of choice in Qatar. As such, we are dedicated to maximising the value of the real estate investments of our customers by creating sound investment opportunities that present profitable returns. We are a builder of homes and establish communities that set the benchmark and standard for luxury living. We focus on originality and distinction, while emphasising on timeless sophistication and style. And through our unwavering commitment on all that I have mentioned, we have built our credibility and integrity in the market for customers, investors and financial institutions to trust us. VB22 and VB23 stand apart because of their thematic uniqueness. Are there more such projects in plan? Qatar Coral’s VB22 and VB23, Viva Bahriya, The Pearl Qatar are twin plush towers that set new standards for luxury residential living. With two distinct styles, both towers offer a clean natural environment with excellent night landscaping. The main opportunity we have is Qatar’s burgeoning property market. We are focused on identifying and capitalising on such opportunity by investing in and developing real estate projects in Qatar in areas open to 100 percent foreign investment and ownership. So definitely, we are looking into more of such projects in the future under similar conditions and opportunities. The Edge | 85
business insight | financial services
A focus on wealth management and SMEs in Qatarâ€™s retail banking The Edge spoke exclusively with Niranjan Mendonca, the head of retail banking at Mashreq Bank in Qatar. He discussed the emerging trends and challenges within the retail banking industry in Qatar, and the drive towards technological innovation in aiding a customer-centric approach to retail banking. What kind of strategy do you have in place for Qatar, and how does it differ to what you have in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)? Well, in the UAE we are the largest private bank, we have 48 branches and cater to every segment of the market. If you look at Qatar we are a smaller business, hence it is important that we focus on the right segments. Our focus in Qatar is affluent customers and the small and medium enterprises. So how do we differ? While we have similar products as the UAE we focus on the up market segment and customise our sales and service capabilities to allow us to provide the most convenient banking solutions to our target customers. What functions does Mashreq Bank retail engage in? As head of retail, I look after the retail banking business, where we cater to customers on both deposits and their 86 | The Edge
Niranjan Mendonca, head of retail banking at Mashreq Bank Qatar says they are a service industry, and that customers need to be serviced at a time that is convinient to them.
borrowing. We have a suite of products that cover all segments of customers. We have salaried customers â€“ whose salary gets credited to an account every month. Then we have wealth management customers, these would be affluent customers who in addition to offering them basic banking services, we also offer them investment products, insurance products, and help them place their money to protect and grow their wealth. We also have the SME segment, which are the small and medium businesses, we offer them term loans, letters of credit, and letters of guarantee, anything that helps them build their business. What is your presence like in Qatar? We have four branches in Qatar, which are well located. We offer evening banking and weekend banking as well, because we believe that as a service industry, you need to service customers at a time that is convenient to them rather than what is
convenient to you as a bank. More importantly, we try to make banking so simple that a customer is able to transact online anywhere at anytime. Other than opening an account you can do everything online. We have a very good Internet banking platform that we upgraded in 2012. We also have a mobile banking platform that we are going to upgrade in the next three weeks. We are constantly developing and offering our customers more services which will give them the ability to be in touch with the bank not only to check what their balance is, but also to transfer money between accounts, between banks and overseas. We have made regular investments in technology and are far ahead in terms of innovation. We are the only bank in Qatar and possibly in the region that actually sells loans and cards based on a telephone call, completely paperless. We also offer Mashreq Go! in all our
financial services | business insight
branches where customers can open an account and receive their ATM/debit and credit card in 30 minutes. We are investing a lot in reaching out to our customers to offer them the convenience of banking. We do not believe a customer should come to a bank, we believe that we go to them. Would you say that the retail banking market here is saturated? On the contrary, I would say there is a huge growth opportunity. If you look at the gross domestic product, which is around five percent per annum the build up to World Cup 2022 and the blueprint for 2030, you are talking about another half a million to a million people coming in to the country in the next three to four years. You are talking about a huge inflow of people thereby the market size is going to increase, so obviously there is far more room to grow. Qatar itself is developing so rapidly that it is no longer Doha-based. Wakrah is already up and running, Lusail is coming up. When you talk about retail banking, everybody needs an account. You also have a very strong central bank that is very focused, and has the direction as to how they want the industry to grow. There will never be a situation where a bank can go overboard and do something that will disrupt a market because it is well governed. What is the penetration for low-income workers in terms of bank accounts? They generally do not prefer bank accounts, as they are able to transfer it back home immediately. There are new products which are being considered and brought into this market, such as salary cards where it is not specifically an account but the customer has a card and the money is loaded onto the card; he can then use that card at an ATM machine to withdraw cash or to use that card at an exchange house to transfer money. These are basic products, which are being discussed for this segment. Why should customers, specifically nationals, choose to save with what is essentially a foreign bank? There are two ways to look at this. Number one is if you look at the average national here, he is a global citizen, he knows what is available and he will choose the best irrespective of whether it is home grown or if
â€œThe bulk of ecommerce is Qatar Airways driving ticket sales, Ooredoo and Kahramaa bill payments and the Ministry of Interior for your visas.â€? it is a foreign financial institution. What they are looking for is to see whether the bank can offer them the services they require, the products that they require. From a purely investment perspective, you are looking at bonds, mutual funds, very few of which are locally developed anyway. So you are tapping in to the same pool of funds. Today customers realise what the reach of a bank is in terms of what kind of products they can offer. Being a regional bank, we have offices in 12 different countries across the world. This enables us to have a global reach, and offer much better products and innovative offerings to our customers. Can you tell us what your customer breakdown is in terms of nationality? In our priority banking segment, most of our customers are wealthy Qataris, Arabs, and sub-continental expatriates. On the personal banking segment, we follow similar demographic trends as the country. So Indians would obviously be the highest number, followed by Filipino, followed by Asian expats. In terms of local Qataris they would have around four or five percent of our customers. On the SME side, the bulk of the customers would be Indians and Arab expatriates. I would guess it would be an industry average because even though you see a larger number of locals with the local banks it is because the local banks have the salary accounts of the government
and their allied companies. But when you look at those banks they are much bigger, so demographically when you look at the customers they service the percentage ratio would be similar. Maybe we would be around three to four base points lesser than them. Do you see e-commerce growing here? And what kind of opportunities does that open up for retail banking? At the end of 2010, e-comerrce in Qatar was around USD375 million (QAR1.4 billion) while at the end of 2013 that is expected to grow to around USD600 million (QAR2.2 billion). The bulk of it is obviously Qatar Airways driving tickets and Ooredoo and Kahramaa bill payments and the Ministry of Interior for your visas. But if you look at it in terms of business to business it is not that high. Going out and shopping is not an inconvenience for the people in Qatar. It Is only if they are not able to get something in Qatar will they go online. A recent study on media usage in Qatar showed that overall only about three percent of shops online and eight percent use online banking services. What are some of the challenges you see in persuading customers to get online? What we repeatedly do is, invest in newer technology, to protect ourselves and protect our customers. We regularly update our firewalls and our systems to ensure that our data or our customers are never compromised. We need to keep educating our customers. Today a customer has maybe seven or eight different passwords plus multiple pin numbers so it gets challenging for customers. They tend to use the same password across all platforms, which could compromise all their data. What trends do you see emerging in the retail market? In retail banking, there will be more niche offerings, especially in the wealth management area. You do not see very many people having trusts here so that is an underdeveloped area. Insurance is a pretty under banked market in Qatar, so you would find more customers opting for insurance products. Others include wealth management and investment for products because people are looking diversified offerings to invest their money. The Edge | 87
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Read it: The Essays of Warren Buffet Sony Vaio Pro 13 The Essays of Warren Buffet: Lessons for Investors and Managers, much like Warren Buffet’s previous books is a series of letters addressed to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of which he is both chairman and CEO. Buffet has long stood out among investors for both his approach to investing and the frugalness exhibited in his personal life. In the letters from this most recent book edited by Lawrence A. Cunningham, Buffet elucidates in simple terms what investors and managers need to be on the lookout for. But this book is more than about the investments that have led to Buffet being touted as ‘the world’s most successful investor’ although there is much about that. Buffet does not hold back in pointing out faults of the financial industry, labelling the derivatives market as “time bombs” and his distaste for investing in the banking business. He points out the tendency of executives, especially within banks to mindlessly imitate the behaviour of their peers, no matter how foolish it may be to do so. The book is a mix of sage advice and constant challenging of the status quo in investment thinking. There is an entire chapter titled Debunking Standard Dogma, but the book is filled with observations that make one question mainstream theories regularly, such as the faults of an efficient market theory. Lessons for Investors and Managers is by no means a get rich quick guide but a lesson in patience and religious adherence to the questioning of every detail in a deal. In fact Buffet describes his style in the book as “Lethargy bordering on sloth,” considering the man is valued today at USD50 billion, perhaps it is worth adopting a lesson or two. Available at Virgin Megastore for QAR 117 90 | The Edge
The new VAIO Pro 13 is the lightest touch capable Ultrabook in its class. It uses carbon fibre throughout the case, making the touch enabled VAIO Pro 13 weigh in about 1.060 kilogrammes. The Ultrabook also features a wide key pitch and stroke to allow for a natural typing experience with a palm rest that gradually merges with the desk for comfortable typing. The display is a combination of full HD and Sony’s super resolution technology, X-Reality. Created for mobile, it analyses each image and reproduces lacking pixels to optimise quality for the sharpest video output.
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the view from doha
In the first of his new back-page columns, Al Jazeera news anchor Kamahl Santamaria looks at local, international and regional topics of interest. This month, he examines the murky realm of the United States spying exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
e probably would not end up being the ‘Deep Throat’ of our time. And indeed with the way information is so easily discovered and disseminated these days, he may just end up being one of many whistleblowers or leakers. But this generation will know the name Edward Snowden as that of a man who took a chance, probably threw the rest of his life away, but in doing so exposed a complex and enormous web of spying. That web was called PRISM that has been run by the United States (US) National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007. It is claimed
that PRISM worked in conjunction with some of the world’s biggest tech companies – Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook among them – to mine the online world for data, with the aim of preventing terrorist attacks. Its breadth was quite extraordinary, and touched off a huge international debate about online privacy and how much (if any) of that should be given up in the quest to keep us safe. But one other thing fascinated me about the Snowden case. It was how a US government spying programme was apparently so dependent on the private sector.
As we now know, Snowden worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, a consultancy firm that was contracted to the NSA. That is how he got his hands on the PRISM documents which he leaked to the Washington Post and The Guardian, and why he – at the time of writing – is in Russia, after initially fleeing to Hong Kong, and now seeking asylum. Snowden was, in effect, a “spy for hire”. And believe it or not, he is part of 38 percent of the 1.4 million US workers with top-secret clearance who are private contractors. That means some 532,000 ‘civilian workers’ in the US are cleared to handle and view classified government documents. Now I am not arguing the rights and wrongs of what Snowden did here. I am questioning whether something like this leak of documents was simply bound to happen, because of plain old human nature. If you as a government, farm out enough of your classified work to private companies, then you have to concede that you will lose some power. You create a ‘shadow’ workforce that is not under your direct control. You rely on it to do the job you want, but it comes with fewer guarantees. Because in the end, companies – even when they are under contract and sworn to secrecy – are only as good as their people. If someone wants to expose something, they will find a way. And in this case, Snowden’s human nature led him to think PRISM should become public knowledge. But the ramifications of a leak like Snowden’s are huge. Obviously it leads people to question how much their government is watching them, and whether they have the right to do so. It leads those same governments to bemoan the breach of classified work; work they say is in the best interests of the people. And you would have to think that any would-be terrorist is somewhat heartened by the whole situation. Yes, it shows the US intelligence community has a very broad reach, but it also now has a “spy” programme that everyone knows about. Kamahl Santamaria is a Doha-based news anchor with Al Jazeera English and host of the channel’s business and economics programme Counting the Cost.
92 | The Edge