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contents September 2014 w w w.t h e e d ge. m e

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Q-HEALTHCARE Tackling lifestyle diseases

Vol. 6 No. 9 - Issue 59 - September 2014


46 Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank says, “I remember those days people were extremely reluctant about using cards which was an indicator of trust deficit, but we went ahead and implemented it.”

Qatar’s workforce:

100% Qatari



What's mine can be yours, for a price


QIC senior deputy group CEO Ali Saleh Al Fadala Doha Heat’s Andrew Clark talks podcasting Are insurers failing at pricing cyber risk? GCC debt markets active in Q2

Within the GCC in and Qatar specifically, the rapid expansion of educational opportunities have empowered women. But can this make a difference to their numbers and influence in the Qatari workplace, where females are still the minority, especially at executive level? Radhika Punshi and David Jones of The Talent Enterprise investigate.


Business Interview: Catalysing Qatari banking sector development 46

Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank, focuses on the 40-year-old transition journey and sheds light on the business priorities of the institution in an exclusive interview with The Edge’s Aparajita Mukherjee.

Feature Story: The ‘Sharing’ Economy

- QATAR’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE - Vol. 6 No. 9 - Issue 59 - September 2014

cover story



The sharing economy is a system designed to help people organise and share resources with each other, and has existed for a while. Renewed interest has come from the ability to use technology to link demand and supply in a manner far more efficient than previously thought. Shehan Mashood explores.

Business Interview: Underwriting and investments: QIC’s strengths 58

Ali Saleh Al Fadala, senior deputy group CEO of Qatar Insurance Company (QIC), feels that QIC has established a strong legacy of insuring major infrastructure projects such as the Hamad International Airport that are of strategic importance and are iconic to the State of Qatar.

Special Section: Q-Healthcare 63

Qatar has a substantial allocation of research on health, with 24 percent of total grants from Qatar National Research Fund being allocated to healthcare research. Aparajita Mukherjee investigates what Qatar’s healthcare stakeholders’ thoughts are on the proliferation of lifestyle-related diseases.

Insuring huge infrastructure projects such as the Hamad International Airport has given QIC an edge in underwriting the risks inherent in such projects, many of which are most likely to come to fruition before 2022.

The Edge | 3

contents page


Finance & Markets 23

Foreign investors can now own up to 49 percent of listed Qatari companies. The law also allows foreigners to own more than 49 percent of a company in special cases. How far can this go?

The Qatar Stock Exchange can gain from the increase in foreign ownership limits by a recent ruling by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Energy & Sustainability 29

As Qatar is able to conduct cross-border payments for settlement in Chinese renminbi, it was only logical that Qatargas would recently deliver its first cargo of liquefied natural gas to China, writes Simon Watkins.

Real Estate & Construction 33

The Q2 2014 report on levels of business optimism in various sectors of Qatar shows construction as the most promising industry, Farwa Zahra reports.

Tech & Communications 37

The increasing prominence of data breaches is leading many firms to view cyber risk insurance as a potential option, Shehan Mashood explains.

Business Insight


Doha Heat podcast’s Andrew Clark discusses how podcasting is a viable medium of communication for the region. Maria Palma Libotte, chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, and Sezai Arli, the chairperson of the Turkish Businessmen Association, discuss benefits of Back2Business in Qatar. Founders of Belle Harvey Podcast Doha Heat’s presenter Andrew Clark is a Interiors, Neil Robson and social media advocate who Simon Joss discuss the key is highly optimistic about the viability of the medium trends in Qatar’s interior as a business model. decoration market.

regulars From the Editor 8 Photo of the month 10 Business News 12 Qatar Perspectives 18 Products 81 4 | The Edge

publications director mohamed jaidah m.jaidah@firefly-me.com general manager joe marritt j.marritt@firefly-me.com managing editor miles masterson m.masterson@theedge-me.com senior business editor aparajita mukherjee a.mukherjee@theedge-me.com deputy editor farwa zahra f.zahra@theedge-me.com special projects editor roisin bailey r.bailey@firefly-me.com digital editor/editorial asst. shehan mashood s.mashood@theedge-me.com international sales director julia toon j.toon@firefly-me.com | +974 66880228 head of business sales manu parmar m.parmar@firefly-me.com | +974 33325038 sales manager adam kynnersley a.kynnersley@firefly-me.com | +974 66079716 deputy sales manager komal bharadava k.bharadava@firefly-me.com | +974 33036245 area sales manager UAE roger cousin r.cousin@firefly-me.com | +971 508716076 distribution & subscriptions azqa haroon/joseph isaac a.haroon@firefly-me.com/ j.issac@firefly-me.com art director sarah jabari senior graphic designer niveen saeed production coordinator ron baron photographer herbert villadelrey printer ali bin ali printing press Doha, Qatar

firefly communications PO Box 11596, Doha , Qatar Tel: +974 44340360 / Fax: +974 44340359 www.firefly-me.com The Edge is printed monthly Š 2014 Firefly Communications. All material strictly copyright and all rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of Firefly Communications, is strictly forbidden. All content is believed to be factual at the time of publication. Views expressed by contributors are their own derived opinions and not necessarily endorsed by The Edge or Firefly Communications. No responsibility or liability is accepted by the editorial staff or the publishers for any loss occasioned to any individual or company, legal or physical, acting or refraining from action as a result of any statement, fact, figure, expression of opinion or belief contained in The Edge. The publisher (Firefly Communications) does not officially endorse any advertising or advertorial content for third party products. Photography/image credits and copyright, where not specifically stated, are that of Shutterstock and/or iStock Photo or Firefly Communications.

6 | The Edge

editor’s letter According to a recent study of the Arab workforce, 28 percent more women are comfortable working in a mixed-gender environment than men. Though this may indicate a condition unique to the Middle East, it is probably not surprising, as considering the world over – even where women have had universal suffrage for many decades – females are still struggling to break through the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ into senior leadership roles, and to match men equally in all aspects of business. To place the discussion into even clearer context internationally, there are many statistics that back this assertion up. Globally, men outnumber women in senior positions at 76 versus 24 percent – a level unchanged from 2009 to 2013. In fact, when it comes to actual company ownership, in the United States (US), of the eight million or so registered firms, only 16 percent are owned by females, and the total business financing obtained by men is nearly double that of women. Moreover, that hub of technology and entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley, which you would think would be more progressive, is just another bastion of male dominance. This has been the subject of recent media coverage in esteemed publications such as Wired and Fortune, which have focused on the reality that woman owners of US technology companies are rare, a fifth of its programmers are female, and indeed only three percent of its venture capitalists are women. Conservative cultural values in the Middle East may be somewhat attributable to the discomfort some of the men surveyed feel towards working alongside women here. But this kind of sentiment – that women are not always welcome or wanted in a male-dominated workplace – is clearly not a phenomenon unique to the region. Whether this is due to the above cultural and/ or conservative views, or good old boy networking and/or alpha male insecurity, one can only speculate, though it is likely a combination of all

three. Nevertheless, whether overt or unspoken, workplace misogyny is obviously still as much of a challenge in the Middle East as it is overseas. This continues despite the documented benefits of having women as colleagues in most work environments. There are many studies showing women bring to work characteristics such as empathy and provide a completely different way of thinking and valuable alternative insights. Coupled with this is proof that increased diversity in the workplace is a better recipe for success than a homogenous company staffed solely by males. On all levels, a workforce of different races, age groups, backgrounds and represented by both genders is an overwhelmingly positive attribute for any firm. Global trends in labour force participation – where the presence of women is increasing while that of males is on the decline – also bear this out. So what about Qatar? Where do women fit into the workplace here and what does the future hold? This is at the heart of our cover story on page 40 where regional human resource experts and researchers Radhika Punshi and David Jones analyse the plight and potential of women in the local workplace. As in many countries in the region and around the world, female employees in Qatar are at present still in the minority, especially in the private sector and in senior positions. But it is an express aim of the National Vision 2030 for women to eventually match men in the workplace on all levels, as well as a goal of the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 to increase their participation by 30 percent. Thus, the emphasis is on the latter adjective: potential. One day, Qatar might be able to not only match world trends, but exceed them and possibly lead the way for women in the workplace internationally. Qatari women certainly seem to have the motivation and education to match if not outnumber men in most professional capacities. So it seems the future of the workplace here may well be dominated by females, no matter what some men might think. Enjoy the issue.

A workforce of different races, age groups backgrounds and of both genders, is an overwhelmingly Miles Masterson positive attribute for any firm. Managing Editor 8 | The Edge

ACCOUNTING FOR EXCELLENCE THE MIDDLE EAST ACCOUNTANCY AND FINANCE EXCELLENCE AWARDS WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER 2014 AT THE JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL, DUBAI Once again, the very best talent in the world of accountancy and finance will be celebrated by ICAEW at a stellar awards ceremony. ICAEW is a professional membership organisation supporting over 142,000 chartered accountants around the world. And, on Wednesday 10 December 2014, at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, we’ll be recognising excellence in ten categories featuring: Business Leader of the Year, CFO of the Year, Internal Audit Excellence Award. With an impressive line-up of speakers, special guests and entertainment, it all adds up to a truly memorable evening. To submit a nomination or for more information, visit icaew.com/middleeastawards Nominations close on 1 October 2014


10 | The Edge

Saying No to NATO

photo of the month

Demonstrators march with their placards and flags behind a banner against the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ahead of its annual 2014 summit in Newport, Wales in the United Kingdom in early September. Thousands of protestors from all over the world began picketing the summit before it even commenced on September 4, united by a variety of concerns, including conflicts in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza, as well as against capitalism, nuclear power and the very growth and influence of NATO itself. Though the protests had been mostly peaceful and were expected to grow in attendance, a strong police presence, the largest at any such summit, was anticipated once it got underway. (Image Corbis) The Edge | 11

news business

UN’s Human Development Index ranks Qatar at 31

The recently announced United Nations Human Development Index (UNHDI) reveals that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been ranked in the ‘very high’ category of the Index. Qatar, which ranked 31st out of 187 countries, was the highest ranking of the Arab states. by Aparajita Mukherjee

“The fact remains that low-income workers, and other professionals in Qatar have a vastly different experience in the country, than what the UNHDI rankings would indicate,” said Aakash Jayaprakash, human rights activist.

“While these rankings are definitely helpful to understand a country, one must be careful while interpreting them and not look at these indices in isolation.” – Aakash Jayaprakash, human rights activist. 12 | The Edge

The UNHDI is one of the many data sources used by the Learning Curve, a comprehensive analysis of education systems put together by Pearson and the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Index measures a country’s level of human development against three basic dimensions: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge, and standard of living. Commenting on whether these yardsticks are enough in measuring human development in a country, Aakash Jayaprakash, human rights activist, told The Edge that one of the biggest criticisms of this UN ranking system is the fact that the data is not always available or reliable. He added, “It is important to highlight that the 2013 report did not include Qatar’s data on income inequality adjustment. Adjusting for inequality within a society gives a more accurate indicator of the country’s performance.” Jayaprakash continued, “When ranking systems like these are based solely on quantitative data, it limits the understanding of a country’s history. For instance, countries that have defeated colonialism consistently seem to be on lower rankings, and about 200 years of colonial rule and economic theft do not have a place in understanding a country’s human development index. While these rankings are definitely helpful to understand a country, one must be careful while interpreting them and not look at these indices in isolation.” Access to knowledge under the Index is measured by the mean number of years of education among the adult population, which is the average number of years of education received in a lifetime by people 25 years or older, and the expected years a child of school entry age can expect to receive. Karim Daoud, managing director of Pearson’s Middle East Hub, said that the commendable performance of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar in the 2014 Index, as in recent years, is in part due to the commitment seen in these countries to embedding meaningful education reform. Commenting on Qatar’s 2014 rankings, Jayaprakash is of the view that with its vast energy reserves and a small citizen population, the country is able to ensure a high standard of living for its citizens. He added, “With the leadership’s ambitious plans for the country, Qatar is able to achieve much more than its neighbours in the Arab world.” However, he warned, such rankings must be viewed through a critical lens, and one should better understand the data gathering process, adding, “The fact remains that low-income workers, and other professionals in Qatar have a vastly different experience in the country, than what the UNHDI rankings would indicate. ”

news business

Opportunity to meet new clients emerges as a primary reason to attend Cityscape Qatar Number of the month 5804

Number of visitors at Cityscape Qatar 2014. majority of 83 percent said it was to meet new clients. 79 percent said the reason was to look for investments and 65 percent said they would exhibit to raise profile of the company. 78 percent of visitors and 83 percent of exhibitors see Cityscape Qatar as a good opportunity to establish new contacts.

According to a post show report of Cityscape Qatar, both exhibitors and visitors see opportunities to establish new contacts as a key reason to attend the event. Held from June 2 to 4 this year, the annual real estate event Cityscape Qatar featured 82 exhibitors in its latest edition in Doha. For the latest edition of Cityscape Qatar, a post show report was recently released, recording around 5804 visitors, representing 47 countries. Exhibitors Findings of the post show survey report 82 percent exhibitors perceiving Cityscape Qatar as the leading real estate event in the region. When asked about the reasons to exhibit, the

Visitors Most of the visitors (92 percent) this year intend to attend Cityscape Qatar again. While 78 percent of them see the event as a good opportunity to establish new contacts, 56 percent intend to do business with a company they met at Cityscape Qatar. Seeking business opportunities, hence, remains a major reason for 88 percent of the visitors to attend the show. Another 74 percent saw Cityscape Qatar as a platform to explore investment opportunities. A majority of 16 percent of these visitors belonged to engineering and construction sector, followed by investors, developers and consultants. The next edition of Cityscape Qatar is scheduled to take place from March 24 to 26, 2015.

The Euromoney Qatar Conference returns to Doha for the third instalment Started in 2012, as part of a three-year series to look at how finance can be redesigned, re-engineered and relaunched, the final instalment of the conference takes place in Doha this November. The focus of this year’s Euromoney which will be held under the banner of “Global finance: Relaunched” will cover aspects of the future of the financial industry across the globe and in Qatar. Richard Banks, the director of Euromoney Qatar conference while speaking to The Edge said, “This year’s Euromoney Qatar conference will focus on the new regulatory environment and ask how much is too much? Can real growth return if the financial sector is so heavily regulated?” Some of the highlights of current working agenda of the event include a look at regulation, growth and innovation in the financial sector. This will include discussions

on the potential of the Chinese renminbi to become a new reserve currency and the rise of disruptive technology-based crypto currencies such as Bitcoin. “We will also focus on understanding the next phase of the Qatari economic story,” said Banks, “and how private capital can be deployed in this exciting opportunity. The Qatari Prime Minister, finance minister and central bank governor will speak alongside a line up of international guests to be announced in coming weeks.” Discussion about the future of the Qatari economy will revolve around many of the mega-projects underway, the role of the banking sector in financing these projects and whether they have the necessary capital, skills and risk management structures to manage the growth. The Edge | 13


business in brief

Words & Numbers “For us, the World Cup is always going to be an opportunity, not a goal by itself.” Hassan Al Thawadi, general secretary, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, on Qatar’s announcement of reforms to the labour legislation. (Image Flickr Doha Stadium Plus Qatar)


Percentage of Qatar respondents, of MENA Job Index Survey by Bayt.com and YouGov survey, who felt Qatar is more attractive as a job market than any other country in the Middle East & North Africa region. “We are going to work politically and diplomatically with folks in the [Middle East] region.” United States President Barack Obama while announcing plans to send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to build support in the region against Islamic State jihadists.


Qatar’s inflation should remain moderate at around 3.5 percent until the end of 2015, according to a recent report by QNB Group.

14 | The Edge

World’s Largest Mobile App Competition returns to the Arab region Applied Innovation Institute, Ooredoo and Pearson have announced that the Arab Mobile App Challenge will take place again in 2014, following the success of last year’s pilot competition. The Challenge, which saw thousands of participants enter in 2013, will help foster innovation and entrepreneurship among young people in the Middle East and North Africa. Entrants are tasked with designing a mobile app for one of four sectors: healthcare, entertainment, education or ‘other’ and have the chance to win cash prizes.

Country’s retirees introduced to Enterprise Qatar’s services Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Development Company Enterprise Qatar (EQ) hosted an introductory meeting for members of the retired Qatari community to showcase EQ’s consulting services available to business owners, and a follow-up to the five-day workshop held in May that provided participants with the necessary advice and support to set up successful SMEs.

Oxford University Press publishes new Oxford Arabic Dictionary

The New Modern Standard Arabic dictionary has 70,000 real example phrases that illustrate the dictionary entries.

Oxford University Press celebrated the print and digital publication of the Oxford Arabic Dictionary. The New Modern Standard Arabic dictionary features over 130,000 words and phrases, 200,000 translations, 70,000 real example phrases. The Oxford Arabic Dictionary, produced by an international team of expert translators and advisors using Oxford’s renowned language research programme, is the first of its kind to be based on modern evidence of both English and Arabic usage.

Aysha Al Mudahka appointed CEO of Qatar Business Incubation Center

Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), the largest mixed-use business incubator in the Middle East, recently announced Aysha Al Mudahka is the new CEO of Qatar Business that Aysha Incubation Center. Al Mudahka has been appointed as its new CEO. Al Mudahka is a major figure in Qatar’s rapidly expanding entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since March 2011, she has served as executive director of INJAZ Qatar, where she began as a volunteer in 2007. She is an active member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community.

HSE Forum in Energy returns to Qatar 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Fleming Gulf’s HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) Forum in Energy. The Annual HSE Forum will HSE Forum in Energy will focus on health attract executives and safety aspects in from disciplines Qatar’s energy sector. (Image Corbis) of HSE, operations and maintenance, emergency response, business continuity, quality, security, process engineering, occupational health, environment control and monitoring. While the conference will be held on November 3 and 4, interactive workshops will take place on November 5 at Grand Hyatt Doha.

B2B to be held in October B2B (Back2Business) is one of the leading networking events in Qatar which involves more than 700 attendees from major economic fields, such as construction, oil and gas, professional services, education, transportation and logistics, financial, luxury items, hospitality and many more. This year the organising committee is formed by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the Turkish Business Association. Held on October 1, the event will be joined by nine business councils in Qatar.

events September, 2014



20-24 September

29-30 September

Middle East Health, Safety Environment and Sustainable Development Conference and Exhibition

Food Chain Conference The fifth edition of the Food Chain Conference will focus on food safety regulations and food premise inspection procedures in Qatar. B. Surendar, the editorial director and associate publisher of CPI Industry, said, “I am confident food premises in Qatar would welcome the opportunity to interact with the government body and look to strengthen their cold chain management practices.” In addition to key government bodies, Food Chain is attracting participation from post-harvest engineers and refrigeration experts.

14 - 17 September Marine and Coastal Engineering Summit

17 - 18 September Dennis Kronborg Alexandersen, regional sales and business development manager at Bauer says, “MEHSE 2014 brings together leading environmental specialists that will share international experiences, discuss local solutions, and establish a sustainable framework for the future Middle East oil and gas industry.”((Image Corbis)

Organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) in the Middle East, the event will take place in Doha. It was attended by more than 900 delegates last year. According to organisers, the SPE Middle East Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainable Development Conference and Exhibition will be the first of its kind to include sustainable development as one of the core discussion topics. Industry professionals will have the chance to engage in dialogue on various HSE-related issues such as social responsibility, sustainable development, risk management, environmental issues, health hazard management, behaviourbased safety, land transportation safety, workforce welfare, and security issues. The conference will explore new technologies and offer training to yield prevention against health and safety hazards.

Waste Management and Recycling Summit

1 October Back2Business

21 – 23 October ITS and Road Safety Forum

27 - 28 October Future Landscape and Public Realm Qatar Future Landscape and Public Realm Qatar – organised by Project Qatar will provide an opportunity for landscaping and exterior design professionals, urban planners and high-level decision makers to gather together to discuss opportunities in Qatar’s landscaping and outdoor design industry.

The Edge | 15

qatar perspectives The musts of project delivery documentation Legal documentation for projects relating to major sporting events and exhibitions must necessarily achieve timely delivery of the project as well as the ongoing legacy of economic, social and environmental outcomes. This dual role is neatly encapsulated in the name of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, write Alan Hall and Steve Bainbridge

The allocation of risk between the stakeholders is crucial and the focus of each party will be squarely on the identification and avoidance of risk.

The core Project Delivery Agreement (PDA) for a project relating to a major event will outline standard provisions and must also be sufficiently robust, yet flexible, to deal with the particular challenges and drivers facing event-specific projects.

focus of each party will be squarely on the identification and avoidance of risk. Many PDAs include a form of risk allocation table that lists the identified risks and allocates responsibility for each risk to a particular party. This can be a matter of hard-fought commercial negotiation but a reasonable approach is that the party best placed to manage a particular risk should assume responsibility for it.

Legislative support: In many cases,

local laws are not sufficient to address the complexities and manage the risks associated with major events. As a result, enabling legislation may be required to provide an environment in which the event can be held, such as the use of public facilities and exemptions from restrictive local laws; and facilitate the construction works through the variation of local laws.

Request for proposals: This is followed by a bid submission and evaluation process. While the bidder will be driven to deliver innovative design, cost-effective completion and value for money, the proponent will concentrate on governance, the probity of the process, bid evaluation and maintaining competitive tension in the bid process for as long as possible. Where the proponent is looking for innovative design and ideas from the bidders themselves, the PDA may need to be finalised later in the bid process to reflect the final agreed design and scope of work. Risk allocation: The allocation of risk between the stakeholders is crucial and the

18 | The Edge

usually a significant local political issue. The legacy can include not only the use of the facilities and infrastructure but also the disposal of retrofitted facilities such as the sale of the apartments from the residential areas occupied by the contestants with potential revenue sharing opportunities for the stakeholders.

Construction: The project construction terms and conditions can either be set out in the PDA or in a separate construction contract and will generally impose fairly standard rights and obligations on the parties. The aspects, which should be carefully considered, are: the variation procedure and consequent cost allocation; contractual rights such as extensions of time, claims for delays and termination; provision for a staged handover for pre-event trial, and the postevent transition to the end use, including the removal of the overlay works. Clean facility: In the context of major event facilities, revenue-generating advertisers can be expected to require a clean facility, free from any existing signage and with the minimisation of potential ambush marketing. Legacy:

The legacy of major sporting events for the community now has major prominence in the bid process and is

Alan Hall is senior associate and Steve Bainbridge is the regional head of sports law at Al Tamimi & Company.

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qatar perspectives Qatar’s MSCI upgrade booster As the time nears for the proposed S&P Dow Jones’ status upgrade of Qatar this month, investors have been taking a long, hard look at the results so far from the country’s earlier MSCI upgrade which took effect back in June, writes Oliver Cornock.

The expectation has been that September’s S&P Dow Jones upgrade will see a pre-upgrade surge of foreign funds, a correction, and then a continuing inflow at a higher level.

Heralded as the start of a new chapter in the Qatar Stock Exchange’s (QSE’s) fortunes, the S&P Dow Jones’ status upgrade has been seen as an international seal of approval, expected to see some major new foreign investment inflows. It was also thought likely to give added impetus to further reforms of the QSE, thus broadening and deepening the market. A few months on since the MSCI upgrade in June, it seems time to take a look at the numbers – and the policy shifts – while bearing in mind that the period in question has also seen some major volatility in the Middle East and North Africa region, from Iraq and Syria to Libya and Lebanon. Expectations in June, at the time of the MSCI upgrade coming into effect, were certainly high. The upgrade was reported by some newspapers as likely to bring around USD500 million (QAR1.8 billion) in new investments into securities in Qatar and the neighbouring United Arab Emirates, which was upgraded at the same time. Foreign ownership limit (FOL) restrictions were expected to change, with these one of the main tests that MSCI – and S&P Dow Jones – make before deciding on a market’s status. Indeed, on this latter point, an Emiri decree in late May, just before the MSCI upgrade was due to take effect, raised the FOL maximum from 25 percent to 49 percent for companies listed on the QSE. That was made into law in early August. ‘Foreign ownership’ here means non-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with citizens and entities from other GCC countries treated the same as Qataris. Changes have been made by Qatar to the way in which the foreign ownership totals are calculated.

Free float

20 | The Edge

Previously, only the total amount of free float was considered, but now ownership ceilings are to be calculated according to the total amount of shares outstanding. This gives foreign ownership a considerable boost. In expectation of the fillip that the MSCI upgrade was to give, the QSE rose strongly. According to Qatar National Bank (QNB) data, in April, net foreign portfolio investment inflows to the QSE totalled USD275.3 million (QAR1 billion), giving a year-to-date (YTD) tally of USD1.1 billion (QAR4 billion). In May, the QSE hit record levels, with foreign institutional investors – the primary buyers – putting some USD834.9 million (QAR3.04 billion) more into the market. This net inflow was higher than that for the whole of 2013, when this figure stood at around USD700 million (QAR2.5 billion). In 2012, the year had ended with a net outflow of USD900 million (QAR3.3 billion). Following the upgrade, the QSE took a dive – a market correction that saw the net inflows turn to net outflows in June, which picked up in July. The expectation has, therefore, been that September’s S&P Dow Jones upgrade will see a similar, preupgrade surge, a correction, and then a continuing inflow at a higher level. Indeed, into August, foreign investors seem to have remained largely bullish, with net buying of QAR143.1 million in the first week, up from QAR98.1 million the week before. It may well be that the net inflows will be less than that prior to the MSCI upgrade, as many foreign investors who were going to come in have already made their move. Overall, the impact of the MSCI upgrade has been positive – giving a jolt to the foreign

inflows, while simultaneously working an important structural change on ownership. Now, the task is to move the QSE even further up the global ladder by making major adjustments in the Qatari economy by encouraging more companies (in two separate size categories) to list: family ownership structures which are averse to Initial Public Offerings and major state participants, a task that necessitates a dynamic privatisation campaign.

Oliver Cornock is regional editor, Middle East, for Oxford Business Group.

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Contents:: Regional investments get a fillip with wider foreign ownership 23. Basel III to up Islamic banks’ liquidity management 24.

finance & markets

The Qatar Stock Exchange can gain not only from the increase in foreign ownership limits by a recent ruling by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani but also from investors who feel limited by the Saudi restriction on buying stocks directly.

Regional investments get a fillip with wider foreign ownership Following the issuance of the law from HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last month, foreign investors can now own up to 49 percent of listed Qatari companies. The law, originally announced in late May, also allows foreigners to own more than 49 percent of a company in special cases if they obtain approval from the Qatari cabinet. Simon Watkins analyses the regional performance trends and prospects of foreign investors in the region’s stock markets.


lobal commentators and analysts are not unanimous on the implications of raising foreign ownership limits (FOL) in the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE). While Jim O’Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management in London said, “It is a great opportunity,” he also asked, “The thing is, how far does it go?” The comparison with Saudi Arabia is telling. The initial view was that investment

prospects were good; after all, it is Saudi Arabia. About 4.3 million retail investors who buy stocks straight from the market rather than going through professional fund managers, though, dominate activity. These retail investors owned a little more than a third of shares at the end of 2013, according to Capital Market Authority (CMA) data, but account for over 90 percent of daily trading volume. The retail proportion of trading is


million Number of retail investors in Saudi Arabia.

The Edge | 23

sectors | finance & markets

In many emerging markets, retail investors account for closer to twothirds or half of turnover.

much higher than in most other big markets around the world, a result of the slow development of the Saudi fund management industry. In many other emerging markets, retail investors account for closer to two-thirds or half of turnover, and the proportion is much smaller still in developed markets. This poses risks for the foreigners. One is that local investors, anticipating the entry of foreign money, may bid stocks up sharply

in the next few months, making the market opening less lucrative than international fund managers hope. Another risk is that some shares could diverge permanently from levels which foreigners consider appropriate, because the two groups of investors use such different yardsticks. Among the Saudi investors, events such as stock splits – when a firm divides its shares into smaller units to make them more liquid, without changing the underlying value of the company – can attract demand. “The market is short-term and many people are investing on the basis of things like stock splits which have no fundamental economic value,” said Ali Al Nasser, who manages the Duet Group’s Middle East and North Africa Horizon Fund from Dubai. “Ninety percent of the market may not look beyond 18 months or two years of future corporate earnings, while institutions like us may be taking a five-year or longer view.” In general terms, in 2013 in Saudi Arabia, foreigners owned just 1.2 percent of the market via swaps, according to CMA data. The potential for their portion to rise is huge. If Saudi Arabia is added to global equity indexes, it may attract over USD50 billion (QAR182 billion) of fresh money from abroad in the coming years, fund managers estimate. But by the time foreigners are allowed to buy stocks directly in the first half of 2015, bargains may be few and far between. The main stock index has already jumped over eight percent since the market opening plan was announced on July 22.

Kingdom Tower, one of the most visible landmarks of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest stock markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council with 4.3 million retail investors.

The same pattern was seen in Qatar before it was upgraded to emerging market status by index compiler MSCI which came into effect in June this year. Robert Parker, head of the strategic advisory group at Credit Suisse in London, said, “The Saudi market’s surge in the past few weeks has left relatively little value on the table for prospective foreign investors, except to look for other chances; Qatar is one of them.”

Islamic finance

Basel III to up Islamic banks’ liquidity management Standard & Poor’s (S&P’s) Ratings Services, in a report published recently, stated that the Islamic Financial Services Board’s (IFSB) revised capital requirements for Basel III could help strengthen the Islamic finance industry.

The December 2013 IFSB-15 standard for Islamic financial institutions sets out

24 | The Edge

how Islamic banks will implement Basel III. The IFSB is likely to release its guidance note on the parameters and calculation of the liquidity coverage ratio and net stable funding ratio in early 2015. “In our opinion, the introduction of a liquidity coverage ratio might address some of the industry’s long-standing weaknesses, particularly the lack of high quality liquid assets (HQLA),” the report stated.

“Our base-case scenario assumes that there will be no major changes in Islamic banks’ quality of capital, which we see as strong on average,” said S&P’s credit analyst Mohamed Damak. “At the same time, we believe that raising capital requirements through the introduction of new capital buffers will help to make the industry more resilient,” he explained. These buffers will ultimately help


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sectors | finance & markets

Total Sukuk Issued By Islamic Financial Institutions USD billion

Q2 2014 see busier debt and IPO activity in GCC Debt issuances:

20 18 16 14 12 10


8 6 4 2 0






Sukuk excluding Subordinated and Tier 1




Subordinated sukuk



Commercial Bank of Qatar

Qatar Central Bank





1.09 billion

Tier 1 sukuk

Source : Standard & Poors 2014

Islamic banks to cope better with the cyclical nature of the economies of the countries in which they operate and major business activities. Most of the Islamic financial institutions that S&P rates operate in emerging economies and also tend to have fairly significant exposure to the real estate sector. While S&P views the liquidity of Islamic financial institutions that they rate as adequate on average, S&P thinks that Basel III implementation creates an opportunity for the industry to develop a new range of HQLA to address the chronic lack of such instruments. Over the past few years, the Central Bank of Malaysia has tackled the lack of HQLA by becoming the largest issuer of short-term sukuk, providing Malaysian Islamic banks with much needed liquidity

management instruments. Other central banks, the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporates (IILM), and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) may follow suit, providing the industry with new liquidity management instruments. Basel III implementation may also encourage highly-rated sovereigns and corporates to list their sukuk on developed and liquid markets to make them eligible for HQLA inclusion. The implementation of Basel III will also test the treatment of profit-sharing investment accounts (PSIAs) from liquidity and funding perspective. PSIA holders are, in theory, obliged to share any losses, but this could increase their volatility and liquidity coverage requirements and reduce their role as stable funding sources.

“Basel III implementation creates an opportunity for the Islamic finance industry to develop a new range of HQLA.� 26 | The Edge

UAE DP World Limited






3.64 15.29 IPOs: In Q2 2013




In Q2 2014


IPOs raised


IPOs raised Source: PwC




Contents: Qatargas makes milestone LNG delivery to China’s Hainan terminal 29. RasGas’ wastewater plan to achieve zero onshore discharge 30. QSTec and Qatar Rail sign MoU to incorporate solar power in landmark rail project 31.

energy & sustainability

Qatargas makes first LNG delivery to China’s Hainan terminal

A Qatargas LNG carrier transfers the first load of LNG to China recently, marking the beginning of what many hope will be a growing relationship between the Chinese and Qataris. (Image Qatargas).

Given that Qatar is among just 30 countries currently able to conduct cross-border payments for settlement of trade transactions in Chinese renminbi (RMB), and to place remunerative term deposits in the currency, and the only country with such vast gas wealth, it was only a matter of time before Qatargas delivered its first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China National Oil Corporation (CNOOC), writes Simon Watkins


he Qatargas cargo arrived at China National Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) Hainan LNG terminal in August aboard the Q-Max class LNG vessel Rasheeda and will be used to commission the new LNG terminal owned by CNOOC. “This is an important milestone for Qatargas in that it highlights Qatargas’ capability to supply LNG to customers around the globe safely and reliably, and will further strengthen the relationship between both companies over the long term,” said Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatargas’ chief executive officer. The Hainan LNG terminal, located in the eponymous Chinese province, will have a first phase receiving capacity of three million tonnes per annum (MTA), adding to CNOOC’s operating LNG terminals located in

“This is an important milestone for Qatargas in that it highlights Qatargas’ capability to supply LNG to customers around the globe.” – Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatargas’ chief executive officer.

The Edge | 29

sectors | energy & sustainability

the Shanghai Municipality, and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang, thus maintaining its position as China’s largest LNG importer. This first delivery to Hainan is part of the existing sales and purchase agreement signed in 2008. The first delivery of LNG as part of this contract from Qatar to China through CNOOC was made in October 2009. Overall, this is the third time Qatargas has provided a commissioning cargo for one of CNOOC’s LNG receiving terminals and Hainan represents the sixth LNG receiving terminal overall in China to use LNG supplied by Qatargas for commissioning activities. This neatly accords with the view of Simon Williams, chief economist for Middle East North Africa (MENA), HSBC, in Dubai, who underlined that: “The longer-term perspective is that in five years’ time, using the RMB is going to be a requirement for any Middle East firm serious about developing its trading links with China.”


Rise of the RMB and Qatar-China Trade CNY cross-border trade settlement CNY rank as world trade finance currency

The number of countries, including Qatar, currently able to conduct crossborder payments for settlement of trade transactions in Chinese renminbi (RMB).

Qatar LNG Exports to China Qatar Imports from China

RasGas’ plans to achieve zero onshore discharge

The use of fresh water in the hydrocarbon industry’s daily operations is an especially sensitive topic for Qatar where fresh water resources are scarce and the cost of producing fresh water and the impact on the environment are significant. by Simon Watkins RasGas: Sustainability Performance






Performance 2009





Total greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent emissions in tonnes)






Nitrogen Oxide emissions (kilo tonnes)
















Total waste recycled (%)

30 | The Edge



RasGas substantially reduced its total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2013, according to its recently released Sustainability Report 2013, and has plans to optimise its use of wastewater to achieve zero onshore discharge in the near future. Currently, RasGas’ primary process water source is seawater, which is used for cooling process equipment by means of a once-through cooling water system but, having modelled seawater return and its impact on the port area, it is carrying out a pilot study to examine alternate dosing of chlorine to manage algal growth. Early indications from the company suggest this is reducing the impact of the discharge, with some process water being discharged underground via injection wells while other treated process water is reused for irrigation. In broader terms, and in line with its

Key performance indicators

Sulphur Oxide (kilo tonnes)


5.0m t/y

Sources: Bloomberg, Swift and QNB Group analysis


Source: RasGas

6.8m t/y

2013 GHG management plan, RasGas highlighted that it ranked third among the 12 international liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer companies benchmarked in 2013 in its emissions in tonnes as a percentage of the total weight of gas intake from the production reservoir. In this context, the firm continues to operate an acid gas injection scheme that stores carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulphide that reduces CO2 and sulphur dioxide from the production process. Last year, the company re-injected one million tonnes of CO2 into a saline aquifer in an onshore reservoir formation, monitored using microgravity-surveying techniques. Additionally in the overall GHG mix, RasGas has reduced the amount of gas flared in 2013, coming in at approximately 18 percent below the company’s target for the year. Gas flaring is a process that is one of the most significant contributors to national GHG emissions and accounts for 12 percent of Qatar’s energy-related GHG emissions. This level of reduction is set to continue, as a five-year flare minimisation plan covering its Ras Laffan facilities both on-site and off-plot was commenced in 2012. By as early as 2016, the new plan is expected to have reduced flaring emissions from a baseline of 1.26 percent (volume of flared gas per unit of gas intake) in 2011 to 0.43 percent.

energy & sustainability | sectors

Green energy

QSTec and Qatar Rail sign MoU to incorporate solar power in landmark project

Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec) and Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the intention of utilising solar technologies in the 750-kilometre rail infrastructure, writes Simon Watkins. The MoU incorporates the Doha Metro, the Lusail Light Rail Transit system and the Long Distance Passenger and Freight Rail that will link with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “This is a long-term agreement that demonstrates the essence of the Qatar National Vision 2030,” said Dr. Khalid Al Hajri, chairman and chief executive officer, QSTec, in Doha. He added that the firm will explore opportunities that may lead to the installation of up to 80 megawatts (MW) of solar technology in the multibillion-dollar railway development, with the first stage of the MoU looking at installing ground and rooftop mounted solar photovoltaic installations on the proposed three million square metre rail depot near Hamad International Airport. This dovetails neatly into the corporate ethos of Qatar Rail, which is to build one of the world’s most energy-efficient rail networks through the use of sustainable and energy-efficient technologies. “Our partnership with QSTec helps us improve the eco-friendly feature of the rail network adopting ‘Green Building’ regulations, which consist of efficient use of energy and water and reduction of waste and environmental degradation,” highlighted engineer Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Turki Al Subaie, managing director and chairman of the executive committee of Qatar Rail. Sustainability and efficient use of resources is a key element of Qatar National Vision 2030, with the Economist Intelligence Unit forecasting that the Gulf Cooperation Council electricity needs will increase on average by seven to eight percent per year until 2020, and even faster within faster growing economies like Qatar. As an adjunct to this, Qatar is expecting that by 2020, up to 20 percent of its electricity requirements will be met through solar power.

The Edge | 31

Held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada Minister of Energy and Industry, Qatar


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Contents: Competition emerges as the biggest challenge in Qatar’s construction industry 33. Contract for Lusail Marina Mall to be awarded soon 34.

real estate & construction

Competition emerges as the biggest challenge in Qatar’s construction industry

Massive construction plans in Doha have led to aggressive competition, a factor that has also emerged as the most challenging aspect of Qatar’s construction sector, according to Dun & Bradstreet’s report Business Optimism Index. (Image Corbis)

The Q2 2014 report on levels of business optimism in various sectors of Qatar shows construction as the most promising non-hydrocarbon industry, but with opportunities also come challenges, Farwa Zahra reports.


ccording to Dun & Bradstreet’s Q2 2014 report sponsored by Qatar Financial Centre, Business Optimism Index – Qatar, the construction sector has shown the highest level of optimism among non-hydrocarbon sectors. With a composite business optimism index (BOI) of 54, the sector has relatively outperformed its outlook in the last three years. Among the reasons for improved BOI, the report states, are “higher scores for selling prices, net profits and hiring… A high optimism with respect to sales volumes is driven by expectations for new projects from government (infrastructure projects) as

well as private sector (commercial as well as residential projects)”. However, with opportunities also come risks and challenges. While 48 percent of the respondents indicated no negative factors, some of the main challenges mentioned in Dun & Bradstreet’s report include competition (14 percent), payments/receivables delays (11 percent), government regulations/ policies (nine percent), availability of labour (seven percent), demand for products/services (four percent), cost of rental/leasing (three percent), political uncertainty in the region (three percent), and availability of finance (one percent).


Ironically, despite concerns about the limited capacity of Doha’s seaport, availability of raw materials did not emerge as a key issue in the latest BOI for the construction sector in Qatar. Similarly, despite the ongoing debate about regional competition, particularly the influence of the United Arab Emirates’ winning bid for Dubai Expo 2020 material prices, the BOI did not mention cost of raw materials as a significant challenge. Cost of labour is another unmentioned factor, though it is attached to availability of labour and can be a potential threat to Qatar’s construction scene. Other

The Edge | 33

sectors | real estate & construction

Availability of raw materials did not emerge as a key issue in the latest Business Optimism Index for the construction sector in Qatar.

Retail sector

Contract for Lusail Marina Mall to be awarded soon With the contract soon to be awarded, the Lusail Marina Mall is set for a deadline of 2018.

Khalifa Al Misnad, partner of Al Misnad & Rifaat, and president of Entrepreneur’s Organization Qatar, sees frequent disputes as a major challenge in Qatar’s construction sector.

business challenges for the construction sector that did not appear in the survey include inflation, government fees and currency fluctuations. The Edge spoke to professionals to gauge the foremost challenges facing the construction sector in Qatar. Khalifa Al Misnad, partner, Al Misnad & Rifaat and president of Entrepreneur’s Organization Qatar, said a major challenge in the sector is frequent disputes, “Disputes are a natural occurrence among parties in the construction sector due to various factors, and these disputes have several consequential effects such as delaying delivery and negatively impacting cash flow, etcetera.” Vasanth Kumar, CEO, Arabian MEP Contracting, said, “The greatest challenge facing the construction industry, especially contractors, is project delays... Any delay in receiving approvals seriously affects projects progress and also hurts the contractor due to expense overruns.” Speaking about resolution strategies, Al Misnad said, “Effective and swift resolution of disputes is essential in the sector in order to progress required construction works, and to boost confidence and protect the respective investments of all parties involved in the industry.”

34 | The Edge


48% No negative factors 14% Competition 11% Payments/receivables delays 9% Government regulations/policies 7% Availability of labour 4% Demand for products/services 3% Cost of rental/leasing 3% Political uncertainty in the region 1% Availability of finance Source: Business Optimism Index – Qatar (Q2 2014)

With a tender announced in December, 2013 and contractors’ bids submitted in February this year, the winning bidder for Lusail Marina Mall will soon be announced, according to Zawya Projects News 2014. Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Development has reportedly completed the technical and commercial document evaluation of the bids from contractors, including Arabtec Construction LLC (Qatar), Construction Development Company LLC, Alec (Qatar), Midmac Contracting, Shapoorji Pallonji Qatar, HBK Contracting Co. (Ahmed Bin Khalid Contracting) and the consortium of Brookfield Multiplex and Medgulf Construction Company. The scope of the contract includes a 10,000-square-metre (sqm) hypermarket at basement level with three additional floors offering 57,605 sqm of gross leasable area. The mall is scheduled to be completed by 2018. While the current majority of shopping malls in Doha are located in the northern and north-western side of the city, according to Colliers International’s Q2 2014 report, “the majority of planned/proposed malls will see a concentration shift towards and in Lusail”. At present, malls within Doha make up only about 18 percent of Qatar’s retail scene, states Al Asmakh Real Estate and Development Company’s Q1 2014 report. However, with plans for 14 new malls and enhancement programmes, the share is expected to reach 65 percent by the end of 2018. Dragon Mart is one of these malls, but has only been soft-launched and is yet to become fully operational.

Contents: Are insurers failing at pricing cyber risk insurance? 37. How middle managers are going rogue 38 .

tech & communications

Are insurers failing at pricing cyber risk insurance?

The increasing prominence of data breaches is leading many firms to shift their view of cyber security from an IT issue to one that poses a wider business risk. This has led to the rise of cyber risk insurance, a product designed to help firms mitigate losses from cyber attacks.


yber risk insurance is not a particularly new product. The increasing number of breaches, combined with businesses’ need to move more of their essential functions to ITbased systems, however, has resulted in the recent growth of this sector of the insurance industry. A report commissioned by McAfee in 2014 concluded that cyber crime costs businesses approximately USD400 billion (QAR1.45 billion) worldwide, extracting between 15 percent to 20 percent of value created by the Internet. “The need for cyber insurance has never been more acute,” said Craig Carpenter, the chief marketing officer of AccessData, a cyber security software firm, citing numerous recent high profile examples such as Target, a retailer in the United States (whose CEO subsequently lost his job), and eBay. Carpenter, however, believes that while these high profile breaches have led to a dramatic interest in cyber insurance, they have also highlighted a glaring weakness in insurance companies’ ability to price and therefore offer such coverage. Along with these high profile breaches, the cyber insurance hype was helped along by widespread coverage of Target’s ability to cash in on USD100 million (QAR364 million) of cyber insurance coverage it carried – in The Edge | 37

41% 35% 24%

Risks are equal to other insurable business risks

How cyber security risks compare to other insurable risks Source: 2013 Cost of Data Breach Ponemon Institute

Risks are less than other insurance business risks

the amount of USD44 million (QAR160 million) in reimbursements through Q1 of 2014 alone. Inevitably, this led to two simultaneous and opposite reactions among potential insured entities, said Carpenter, “The interest level in cyber insurance exploded as more companies sought to mitigate their own growing exposure to cyber breaches, while among insurers, the Target example led to the sobering realisation that they cannot effectively price cyber risk.” The cyber insurance market is being held back by a lack of maturity in two critical areas, according to Carpenter. First, insurers have an alarming inability to model client risk. Cyber insurance is so new that there is almost no empirical data

Network infrastructure

How middle managers are going rogue

The new wave of well designed and simple business cloud computing applications have meant middle managers are circumventing IT departments at firms to procure the solutions they need, writes a networking expert.

This may seem like a good idea. But instead, it raises new challenges and risks. As insecure and ungoverned cloud applications are adopted and utilised to store and process sensitive corporate information, the risk of data loss increases. Organisations may also suffer diminished productivity as users accustomed to integrated solutions are forced to toggle between disparate, isolated silos of data 38 | The Edge

Risks are greater than other insurable business risks

for insurers to use. Without this knowledge, it is virtually impossible for a policy to be priced accurately, explained Carpenter. This is perhaps also reflected on the client side, where a study by the Ponemon Institute in 2013 showed that among the main reasons for not purchasing cyber insurance were that premiums were too expensive and that policies held too many exclusions, restrictions and other uninsurable risks. Carpenter, however, believes that with time and data, the insurance industry will eventually build up enough empirical data to make risk modelling reliable. Getting there, however, he said, “will involve threading the needle between covering too much risk (thus losing money on overly aggressive policies) and eschewing manageable risk

and functionality in the cloud. And as IT departments play catch-up, unnecessary costs emerge as they retroactively attempt to integrate multiple vendors as a result of rogue IT spending. Today, IT executives need to straddle the line between business and technology. As middle managers rush to the cloud, IT managers must get in front of this trend before disaster strikes. What is most concerning is the fact that many IT executives do not realise how pervasive this trend has become and what to do about it. Managers go as far as swiping credit cards and use their own budget to get services they need as quickly as possible. As a result, the IT department is disappearing from the managers’ view as the resource to help govern, support, or advise them on cloud-based solutions. However, IT budgets and staff increases fail to grow at equal rates to other areas of business. At the same time, IT departments spend 70 percent of their budgets on maintenance, leaving them

(thus allowing competitors to profit from one’s own timidness).” However, the most important takeaway from how the insurance industry views cyber security is its approach to the problem, said Carpenter, which is to see breaches in security as something to be prevented, and not to be expected, detected and remediated quickly. In fact, numerous cyber security experts suggest the latter is by far the best way to address today’s challenge of securing IT systems. “The idea that a network – any network – is impenetrable simply no longer reflects reality,” said Carpenter, adding, “Prevention is obviously important, but what really minimises exposure is speed of resolution with any incident.” Cyber insurance is likely to continue its current growth trajectory in the coming years as clients and insurance companies alike clamour for coverage. But the only way to unlock the market’s potential is for both sides to collaborate on the development of best practices, said Carpenter, especially in the area of rapid detection and response.

with very little capacity for innovation. Cloud-based applications are today affordable and functional. In the long term, however, this leads to integration difficulties, uncontrolled and insecure applications. However, if IT managers invest in solutions which automate laborious processes, deliver agility and simplify management, they can free up manpower and budget while creating a solid platform for innovation. Leveraging these technologies today can put IT departments back in the driver’s seat and eliminate the need for rogue IT spending.

Yarob Sakhnini is regional director, MENA at Brocade.

Examining the rise of Qatari women in the workplace

Is the Future Female Within the Gulf Cooperation Council and Qatar specifically, the rapid expansion of educational opportunities have empowered women and created a system in which females are generally better educated than their male compatriots. But can this make a difference to their numbers and influence in the Qatari workplace, where females are still in the minority, especially at executive level? Radhika Punshi and David Jones of The Talent Enterprise investigate – and conclude that while there is progress being made, women continue to face challenges in the Qatari workplace.

cover story | women in the workplace

lobally, there was a 6.2 percent increase in the labour force participation rate of women worldwide from 1980 to 2012 and the labour force participation rate for men declined by 7.2 percent over the same period. If this trend continues, even for a short period of time, it is obvious that the future of the world’s workforce will be increasingly female. Closer to home, though it was admittedly influenced by changes in legislation, the number of women employed in the private sector increased by 84 percent in Saudi Arabia in just the past 12 months. Nevertheless, with higher than average levels of educational outcomes and stronger indicators of work-ready skills and attributes, such as greater flexibility, empathy, work preparedness and a sense of determination, it is clear that women currently represent the single most significant latent talent pool available in the Arab world’s tight labour markets. Yet, while women make tremendous strides in education, they lose out at the workplace. The reverse is true for males. Men in general have easier access to high-paying, high-status employment although they often achieve substandard educational outcomes compared to their female counterparts. Women in the Arab world have some of the lowest rates of female labour force participation at 26 percent compared to a global average of 52 percent. Research indicates that Arab women are on average twice as likely as men to be unemployed. Also, ironically, the younger and the more highly educated women face higher unemployment challenges. But for how much longer can we afford to waste the productive potential of 50 percent of our workforce? And how is this all playing out in Qatar?

Women rising

Upon scrutiny, it is clear that education is driving change and increasing the complexity of workplace gender relations within Qatar. Recent research (Ridge, 2014) highlights that while girls are generally outperforming boys in all subjects globally, apart from the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), in the GCC they consistently outperform boys in all subjects. Further analysis reveals that one of the main reasons for local students in particular is the importance of ‘role modelling’ with the region’s public school systems. For example, while typically, Qatari national girls are educated almost exclusively by national women, their male counterparts are almost exclusively educated by expatriate men, which has a massive impact in terms of the presence (or absence) of role models on impressionable young minds. With the perception of the teaching profession not seen as appealing for national males in general, the ostensibly precarious employment contracts of expatriate teachers, and their longterm commitment to their pupils in particular, are instrumental in determining the pronounced differential educational outcomes of men and women in the region. The relative lack of respect afforded to the educators of boys 42 | The Edge


The percentage of Arab men who believe that women should have equal opportunities for professional advancement in the workplace. arguably limits the scope of positive role modelling in male education compared to that of females and this impacts educational and life outcomes more generally. On the other hand, females are able to emulate and identify with their national teachers who act as positive influencers in their lives. It therefore comes as no surprise that increasingly greater female inclusion in the workplace is not only being considered the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do. We are seeing an increasing focus on gender diversity and inclusion in the region, including Qatar, by many employers, more than ever before. Companies are beginning to realise that having more females at work is logical for many reasons, but especially to support their nationalisation priorities. With better educational outcomes, higher levels of unemployment and arguably better employability and life skills, employers have access to an incredible and talented pool of future employees. Many employers also report higher levels of performance and retention among their female workforce, as compared to their male counterparts. Without doubt, women in our region are definitely turning many stereotypes on their head, leading by example, and changing the game at the workplace. For instance, our previous research indicates that national women are much more comfortable working in a mixed-gender environment, than national men, across both public and private sector employers. In addition to this, we are definitely seeing a generational trend, where younger

With higher than average levels of educational outcomes and stronger indicators of work-ready attributes, it is clear that women currently represent the single most significant latent talent pool available in the Arab world. (Image Corbis)

women in the workplace | cover story

Female representation in supervisory, managerial, leadership or board level positions remains very low in the region, usually in the single digits.

cohorts of women, often with higher levels of education, are much more concerned about a sense of equity, career growth and progress in their organisations, and are much more vocal about their expectations from work.

Concerns and challenges

When it comes to key concerns regarding female progression and inclusion at the workplace, it is important to highlight that these issues exist all over the world, including in some of the most developed countries. In fact, at a national level, Qatar is highly supportive when it comes to advancing the contribution of its female talent. Wherever gender discrimination does occur, it is usually more subtle or employer-specific, and may impact many aspects. Chief among these is the differentiation of wages or benefits for national females as compared to males. For example, in many organisations, women are not usually eligible for housing or children’s education allowance if they are married, and these often represent a significant share of their total pay. Critically, female representation at supervisory, managerial, leadership or board levels also remains very low in the region, usually in the single digits, and this clearly demonstrates a lack of career progression opportunities. While it may be true that females tend to drop out of employment when they start families, organisations can do much more to create flexible and supportive environments for working mothers, and proactively focus on initiatives to progress females through the leadership ranks. Recent research conducted by The Talent Enterprise shows that women often lack the opportunities for informal networking and building those critical relationships with their peers and managers, which may be very important when it comes to being ‘top-of-mind’ for promotion and career decisions. Finally, it is instructive to highlight that many times and counterintuitively, gender inclusion efforts are The Edge | 43

cover story | women in the workplace

Qatari private sector employers will have to increasingly look towards the country’s female population to fulfil impending nationalisation quotas. (Image Corbis)

Young Qatari women are much more vocal about their expectations from work.

often about ensuring Arab males are more comfortable with gender diversity versus the other way around. A recent survey about attitudes at work found that 73 percent of Arab women and 58 percent of Arab men believed that women should have equal opportunities for professional advancement. In closing, It is clearly vital that in the future this proportion increases, as men have an essential role to play in supporting greater female diversity, not only as managers and colleagues, but also as supportive husbands, fathers and sons. David Jones and Radhika Punshi of the Talent Enterprise are human resource consultants and authors of a book about the talent landscape in the GCC entitled Unlocking the Paradox of Plenty.

Recommendations towards maximising female diversity and inclusion in the workplace • Increase the representation of females across all roles within the organisation: Currently, the concentration of national talent in general and females in particular remains disproportionately high in corporate and support functions and mostly at the junior or professional levels. It is critical for employers to start creating detailed workforce plans, understand talent demand and supply indicators, and execute plans to increase representation of females across all departments. • Evolve regulations and policies around flexible work arrangements: Employers should be able to provide more innovative ways of working, including parttime work, telework, flexible working hours, contract work, projectbased work, freelancing, homebased employment and increasing entrepreneurial activities to continue to reap the benefit of attracting a wider pool of females towards

44 | The Edge

employment. Initiating ‘returnship programmes’ is highly recommended as a great means of retaining female talent, once they have become mothers. • Increase competitive maternity and child-care support: Most organisations in the region continue to provide the minimal average as per maternity leave labour laws. This in the region seems to be modest at best, ranging from 45 days to 60 days in most Gulf nations. Employers themselves can of course offer more than the stipulated minimum if they so choose. This would encourage more females to continue their employment for much longer. We strongly believe that this would be a major differentiator for any organisation seeking to hire and retain its female talent. • Appoint females to managerial and leadership positions: An emerging priority is to increase the representation of females in managerial and leadership positions. Organisations will greatly benefit from creating programmes targeted at their female talent pool by identifying high-potential female employees and ensuring that they are provided the support and guidance


take on leadership positions.

• Develop coaching, mentoring and development programmes: Females would also benefit from structured coaching and mentoring programmes. On average, men found it easier to use informal means to persuade a senior colleague to support their development, whereas women benefit more from structured help because they are generally more reluctant to promote themselves with seniors and less inclined to spend as much time socialising during and after work. As a result, they are less likely to build up useful networks of contacts. • Create ‘sponsorship’ programmes: An emerging need in the region is to also have senior ‘sponsors’ identified for female employees. A sponsor is someone who is typically several grades above the employee, who actively promotes the individual at the top management level and provides critical contacts and connections. Our research indicates that having a sponsor significantly enhances women’s career prospects.

women in the workplace | cover story


63% 37%



United Arab Emirates 52%




Saudi Arabia

33% 67%



Oman 46%





Lack of experience


Lack of suitable work


Lack of adequate academic qualifications


COMPARING QATARI WOMEN’S ROLES IN THE WORKFORCE Legislators, senior officials and managers




Technicians and associate professionals




Source: Qatar Statistics Authority

The Edge | 45

Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank says, “I remember those days when people were extremely reluctant to use cards which was an indicator of trust deficit, but we went ahead and implemented it.�

“Commercial Bank has catalysed banking sector development in Qatar” With a full-year profit of QAR 1.6 billion for 2013, 34 branches and strategic alliances that allow it to expand its regional presence, The Commercial of Bank Qatar (CBQ) has traversed a good distance from its humble opening in the 1970s as the first private sector bank in Qatar. Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, chief executive officer of Commercial Bank, focuses on the transition journey of nearly 40 years and sheds light on the business priorities of the institution in an exclusive interview with The Edge’s Aparajita Mukherjee.

business interview | banking


he concept of banking was quite new to Qatar when Commercial Bank started its journey in 1975, says Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank. Putting a historical perspective to the bank’s journey, Al Raisi explains, “Since the mid1970s, we have not only contributed to the development of the concept of banking, refined and improved the quality of services, introduced income-generating products such as investments or traded shares internationally with our 2009 listing on the London Stock Exchange, but we can justifiably claim a series of ‘firsts’ in Qatar.” Commercial Bank, he furthers, provided the first personal and vehicle loans in Qatar in 1988 and the first ATMs in 1990. In 1992, came the first point-of-sale machines, and the first mobile banking app in 2009. In 2010, Commercial Bank was the first Qatari bank to list a bond issue on the SIX Swiss Exchange. In addition to these innovations, the bank has a clear roadmap of increasing its regional footprint. Explaining the bank’s acquisition strategy, Al Raisi mentions the most recent case – a 74.24 percent stake in Alternatifbank in Turkey in 2013. “This has reiterated our position as one of the leading commercial banks in the region, being the latest step in the bank’s successful international expansion strategy, after acquiring a 34.89 percent stake in the National Bank of Oman in 2005, and a 40 percent stake in United Arab Bank in the United Arab Emirates in 2007.” Clearly regional acquisition goes in tandem with the bank’s focus on strengthening and widening its presence within the Qatari market, which, in Al Raisi’s opinion, is still a developing one. “Our focus is to bring in products that suit the market here, tailor-making them to customer needs and introducing those products that are unique and original,” says Al Raisi, citing the case of credit cards, which was pioneered by Commercial Bank in Qatar. “I remember the days when people were extremely reluctant to use credit cards which was an indicator of the trust deficit, but we went ahead and successfully implemented it,” adds Al Raisi.

“All government entities across sectors need large-ticket banking facilities in order to expand and that is our business opportunity.”

The edge factors

As the largest private bank in the country, there are two factors, in Al Raisi’s opinion, that distinguish Commercial Bank from the rest of the market players – relationships and the quality of service to customers. Detailing how Commercial Bank maintains its focus, Al Raisi says, “We are known for business relationships and our service quality. We’re not Qatar National Bank (QNB) and we are aware that we cannot compete with QNB in terms of size, and that is not what we want to do, but yes we can compete with them in the quality of service we provide and the extended relationship that we have with our clients.” From that perspective, Al Raisi believes Commercial Bank looks at banking as not only a lending and deposit-taking institution, but as more of a complete and complex relationship. “Banking is a global concept. I would always think that banking is partially public relations with the banker requiring a deep understanding of the client and the environment in which it

operates, gaining the customers’ trust through understanding their needs. I am happy that Commercial Bank has been successful with this broader concept of banking,” says Al Raisi. The service quality of Commercial Bank, in the opinion of Al Raisi, which is appreciated by the customer, has given the bank an even greater responsibility – that of maintaining this level of service its customers have become accustomed to. “Today, we achieve superior service through our focus on technology, especially with our next generation customers who are technology savvy.” Discussing the bank’s technology focus, Al Raisi says, “In order to keep ahead of our competitors and continue to up our service standards, technology is one of our priority areas of investment, given the fact that technology has become an inalienable part of our customers’ daily lives.” “We continued to invest a substantial amount in our technology improvement

banking | business interview

Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO, Commercial Bank says, “Branches will continue to remain very important to us. We will continue to expand and evolve our branches with new state-of-the-art technology to demonstrate our commitment to investing in Qatar and responding to all our customers’ needs for convenience, accessibility and the best customer service.”

74.24 % Commercial Bank’s stake in Alternatifbank in Turkey.

to us. We will continue to expand and evolve our branches with new state-ofthe-art technology to demonstrate our commitment to investing in Qatar and responding to all our customers’ needs for convenience, accessibility and the best customer service.”

Business segments

Commenting on its principal customer segments, Al Raisi segregates two categories of customers – corporate and personal banking. When asked by The Edge if there is any crossover between these two segments, Al Raisi clarifies that “most of our, if not all of our corporate clients, enjoy personal banking relationships with us – it could be for their employees, families or children. There is quite a sizeable level of cross selling here in Qatar and because Commercial Bank tends to have a complete relationship, we try and make the client feel that we are always their first choice”. Elaborating further, Al Raisi says that the bank plays an advisory role in the personal investments of their large corporate and personal banking clients. “That is why we in 2013 and this encapsulates research, design and thinking through our digital channels such as our website, online banking platforms and mobile apps. We also employ technology in other ways, such as using e-statements to save on paper and digital collaterals replacing static posters and signs.” In terms of ambience within its branches, Al Raisi mentions machines that print and dispense credit cards for customers to collect, mechanised fast-cash deposits, and voice-enabled technology at ATMs designed to be accessible for disabled customers. “In general, we continue to enable and empower all our customers through the introduction of innovative technology solutions, “ adds Al Raisi. Commenting on whether physical branches would continue as part of Commercial Bank’s strategy when a greater percentage of the Bank’s customers bank digitally, Al Raisi says, “Branches will continue to remain very important

Commercial Bank Ratings

(A1) (A) (A-)

business interview | banking

have created some departments, for instance the Sadara and Private Banking clusters, to serve our high net worth clients, most of whom are conscious of high-quality service.” Within the corporate banking segment, Commercial Bank serves the government sector. Does this sector need finance from a private bank such as Commercial Bank especially when there is the state-owned QNB? Al Raisi says categorically, “We believe that the government is our number one customer and it has unmet needs for banking facilities. All government entities – whether it is Qatar Petroleum and their subsidiaries or the new initiatives by the government of Qatar, across sectors, such as Qatari Diar, Barwa Real Estate, Katara Hospitality or Muntajat – need large-ticket banking facilities in order to expand. This is where our role as a private bank comes in.” The government, public sector and international banking are strategically important business units for the bank, in the words of Al Raisi, “Commercial Bank is a major trade bank for many public sector companies. This is why we call ourselves a full-service bank, as we do more for our clients than just lending money.”

Banking sector: Maturity and prospects

The service quality of Commercial Bank, in the opinion of Abdulla Saleh Al Raisi, CEO of Commercial Bank, is appreciated by the customer but given the bank an even greater responsibility.

With a total population of 2.15 million (as of June 30, 2014, according to Qatar Statistics Authority), the country has a staggering number of retail banks and entities licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre. When asked if Qatar falls into the overbanked category, Al Raisi states, “The very fact that the country is ‘over-banked’ also makes it better for customers giving them more options to scout for attractive deals, thereby forcing banks to innovate and improve their levels of service. We, as CBQ, are well positioned to compete in this market.” A good opportunity for the banking sector has started presenting itself in the form of large government-led infrastructure projects. Clarifying the role he foresees for Commercial Bank, Al Raisi says, “We are looking at the bigger picture and see great potential in the mediumterm for profitable participation in serving the Qatari economy. Infrastructure spending is providing the economic stimulus for a larger, more diverse and competitive economy that will bring increased opportunities in the wholesale and trade sectors, strong growth in the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and a larger and wealthier private and retail banking market.” Al Raisi is confident that the MSCI upgrade of the Qatar Stock Exchange from Frontier to Emerging Market status, which came into force in June 2014, is expected to result in huge inflows

banking | business interview

Commercial Bank Growth (from 2000 to 2013 in QAR millions) 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 JAN - 2000














Source: Zawya

Net Profit Before Taxes/Zakat

Total Operating Income

of foreign funds into the Qatari companies that are included in the Emerging Market Index. “It should be noted that 50 percent of these qualifying companies are in financial services (including Commercial Bank) and so the upgrade means a clear boost for Qatar’s financial sector,” Al Raisi emphasises.

Role of private sector in achieving Qatar National Vision

“The very fact that the country is ‘overbanked’ also makes it better for consumers and customers giving them more options to scout for attractive deals.”

Al Raisi sees a transition in the way the private sector’s role in national development is currently being envisaged. Explaining the role of the private sector in shaping Qatar’s future, Al Raisi says, “To begin with, the private sector had not been given the full opportunity to play an important role in the development of the country, with the government playing the pivotal role in both policy making and execution.” This, he explains, has a historical context since there was not a vibrant private sector when Qatar began its journey as a nation. “But now I think the vision is clear that the private sector has the requisite ability and expertise to play a bigger role, especially in the context of the moratorium on further oil and gas development which will reduce Qatar’s dependence on hydrocarbon wealth,” adds Al Raisi. Within the private sector, the banking industry has a specific role to play by providing capital to facilitate economic development. Commenting on the industry

focus of Commercial Bank, Al Raisi makes special mention of the SME segment. “The Qatari banking industry must continue to encourage the successful growth of SMEs if we are to achieve long-term sustainable economic development and transform Qatar into a diversified knowledge-based economy,” he says. On the role of Commercial Bank in developing local talent, which is a key component of the Qatar National Vision 2030, Al Raisi stresses that he foresees the bank not only playing a big role in infrastructure development, “but also adopting local talents and subsequently training them in our culture, our way of doing business. We have regularly participated in career fairs, sponsored students to go abroad to study and train them in banking once they come back to Qatar”. Commercial Bank has a graduate training programme where new recruits are exposed to every single department within the bank, including international banking. “We also draw a career path for them so that they know the growth prospects. We invest in our people,” he tells The Edge. “That is our role to support the community in a holistic manner. Our commitment lies with the overall community. We are proud to be a homegrown Qatari bank and are wholly committed to Qatar and its people under the wise leadership of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” closes Al Raisi.

The ‘Sharing’ Economy Rent jewellery

For USD19 a month

Dog vacation

From USD15 to USD100 a night

52 | The Edge

Rent a car

Starting from USD15 a day

Rent a bicycle

Starting from USD10 a day

Designer handbag

Rent for USD300 a month

Food leftovers Free

technology | feature story

What’s mine is yours...for a price The sharing economy is a system designed to help people organise and share resources with each other, and has existed for sometime. However, its latest incarnation is being heralded by many, especially those invested in this new economy, as one that has the ability to disrupt entire industry sectors such as transport or hospitality to name a few. This renewal of interest in the sharing economy has come about from the ability to use technology to link demand and supply in a manner far more efficient than previously able. But with its disruption comes a host of problems that need to be solved. By Shehan Mashood


he rise of the Internet has become a central point in organising our lives, and its latest gift is promising to link people to services or products with ease. A homeowner, for example, might be able to rent out that extra room on a platform such as Airbnb, and use the money to help pay for a mortgage, while the person visiting gets a cheaper rate than in a hotel. A person with a car and some free time could sign up to be a driver for Uber or Lyft to make some extra cash. The so-called ‘sharing’ economy, is intended to help people make some cash on the side, generate less waste, or emissions in the case of sharing rides, and strengthen local economies. Defining what these businesses do as sharing, however, is perhaps a bit disingenuous because it does not mean sharing in any significant way that we traditionally understand it. At their core, companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb among others are facilitators that have created great platforms which have brought down the cost it takes to organise the exchange of goods or services on such a large scale.

a higher bar of entry are suddenly within reach for many more people. The examples of renting out a bedroom compared to investing in a bed and breakfast or a hotel is an example of this. The problem with calling this sharing is that many of these models are still an exchange of money between two parties (albeit in most cases

at a cheaper rate), in return for goods or services. Many have pointed out the inaccuracy, preferring to use terms such as collaborative economy, which defines the industry much better. What is undeniable is the success these companies have had recently, further supported by the bullish nature of the Taxi drivers protest against companies such as Uber and Lyft at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. (Image Reuters/Arabian Eye)

Rise of a new economy

The Internet, combined with the now ubiquitous smartphone has created an instant ability to match those in need of a service with those who are able to provide it. Areas that might traditionally have had The Edge | 53

The success of many platform-based collaborative models can be attributed to the weakness in traditional businesses to offer consumers something they want, either by price or superior customer service. The challenges travellers in Doha face with licensed and un-licensed taxis have been well documented. (Image Corbis)

Silicon Valley venture capital (VC) market. Uber has managed to raise in its most recent rounding of funding, an impressive USD1.2 billion (QAR4.4 billion) at a valuation of USD17 billion (QAR61.9 billion), and Airbnb closed a USD500 million (QAR1.8 billion) round of funding in April 2014, valued at USD10 billion (QAR36.4 billion). Professor Bertrand Quelin, who teaches strategic management and is head of the department at HEC Paris, tells The Edge, venture capital investment has been intense in the collaborative economy because there is a potential for huge growth. Infact, Rachel Botsman who co-authored the book titled What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, stated recently that the short-term home rental market could become a USD26 billion (QAR95 billion) industry and the collaborative economy as a whole, a USD110 billion (QAR400 billion) plus market.

Solving problems

The reason for the success of many of 54 | The Edge

these platforms is they resolve pain points many customers experience. Take the transporation system in Doha for example, hailing a taxi or getting a car service to pick you up can be extremely difficult. Directions in Doha are usually given using landmarks and very few people use the names of roads and streets. There is also the well-publicised matter of licensed Karwa drivers over charging customers and not using a meter. Companies such as Uber and Careem on the other hand allow you to book drivers using your mobile phone, and GPS to ping your location. What is more, the app gives you an approximation of how far the driver will be and shows the driver exactly where you are. These companies spend considerable time and effort in developing their platforms that are in most cases far easier to use and make purchases on than in the industries they are disrupting. To understand how vital the platform interface is to businesses, the CEO and founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky has been mostly homeless since 2010, choosing to rent apartments on Airbnb and host others

at his apartment in order to understand the customer experience better. “They are very promising businesses and they expect to have a very huge payback,” adds Quelin, “but I would say it is less pure high tech development, and more based on new services for sure, it is more about the business model.” Indeed, what is perhaps truly disruptive about these new platform-based businesses is that they do not create a product or service that is sold directly to customers. Quelin believes that the “digitisation of everything”, is one of the biggest reasons behind their success. Gone is the need for physical interaction to conduct a business transaction, and this is very important, he says. These new IT-based platform companies are able to organise both the supply side and demand side efficiently to create a privileged positioning in its pricing compared to traditional businesses with high costs. This allows many new contenders in most cases to offer free access to their service. This has been the case with eBay, points

technology | feature story

“What we are talking about is the natural tendency of capitalism to consistently find a more efficient way of delivering something.” – Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures.

out Quelin, “When you try to sell something you will pay a fee, but if you want to buy something it is free, the access is free.” In fact, a recent survey by Havas Worldwide found that when asked which one aspect of the sharing economy was most appealing, 32 percent said saving money was a driving factor, and only 13 percent said reducing consumption and carbon footprint were a factor. There are, however, some businesses that serve as a free platform for both the buyer and seller. Dubizzle which launched officialy in Qatar recently is a marketplace for people to sell goods, and does not make money on the sale unless the seller is a registered business.

Global ambition

The boom we are currently seeing in collaborative platforms is because there is a very low fixed cost involved in the assets needed to set up such a company. “For sure they have to develop some new software,” explains Quelin, “but during the first stage it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.” Another advantage is the ability of these business models to scale, and fast. Airbnb started in 2007 when two roommates who could not afford rent decided in desperation to rent out some free space. There was an international design conference in town and all the hotels were sold out. So, Brian Chesky, now CEO of Airbnb and his roommate inflated airbeds and decided to call the business AirBed & Breakfast. Eight years later, the platform has served more than 17 million guests in over 34,000 cities and even boasts of 600 castles listed on its site.

Regulatory trouble

Professor Bertrand Quelin, head of the strategic management department at HEC Paris, tells The Edge that these new business models will have to explain how they can deliver a very similar service but escape from tax or regulatory obligation.

Fuelled by VC money these sharing platforms have expanded across the globe in a manner traditional businesses could rarely hope. However, financing is the easy part, says Quelin, adding that many have already run into regulatory troubles and are finding their alternative and disruptive business models somewhat of a challenge to uphold outside the business– and innovation–friendly bubble of Silicon Valley. Businesses such as Airbnb and Uber have become the embodiment of models that many are coming to realise as either underregulated or completely unregulated. In the taxi business that Uber has disrupted, it was met with resistance

What would most people be willing to rent to a stranger through a sharing service?

42% 37% Appliances/ tools

Bicycle or other sports equipment

24% 16% Personal electronics


15% 15% My home

My car

34% None of the above Source: Havas - The New Consumer Sharing Economy

The Edge | 55

sector name feature story || banner technology heading

New ideas for the collaborative economy

If you do not want to pay for long-term parking, Flightcar will rent your car out while you are away. Riders are prescreened and liability insurance provided to the car owner.

Brian Chesky, chief executive officer of Airbnb a company that is now valued at USD10 billion (QAR36.4 billion) - has become one of the key proponents of what he insists is a sharing economy. (Image Reuters/ Arabian Eye)

across much of Europe including London. Black cab drivers in London contended that Uber was not a licensed private hire vehicle operator, and also used meters that under local law, were not allowed. The ruling went in favour of Uber since the smartphones had no operational or physical connection with the vehicles, and therefore not considered taximeters within the wording of the law. This has created a tricky situation says Quelin, “If these new activities would like to respect the classic rules of doing business, we wouldn’t be able to call them disruptive businesses. They have to explain how they can deliver a very similar service but escape from tax or regulatory obligation.” Another example of a business running afoul of regulators was an app called Monkey Parking, which took things a step further. Instead of leveraging private and personal inventory that would otherwise go unused, the app relies on selling public parking spots. Those with the app are able to see when someone else with the app is about to leave a spot in the area and can bid to win the space to take over once that person leaves. San Francisco City attorney Dennis Herrera asked for the app to be shut down and said in a public statement, “It creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage street public parking spots for their own private profit.” 56 | The Edge

The micro-entrepreneur

The rise of the collaborative economy has also created what many are calling microentrepreneurs, essentially the sellers of goods and services on these platforms. If more people start to share and in some cases make it their sole source of income, such as drivers switching to Uber as their preferred platform to secure customers, it has deep implications for the labour market. There is no job security, no insurance, health benefits or paid sick leave. If you think about a service offered through these platforms, it is not based on a full-time contract, explains Quelin, it is more based on something short-term dedicated to one customer or one activity. The disruption has been somewhat limited in Qatar with Uber for example, choosing to use licensed drivers from limousine companies for their service. However, the collaborative economy is making inroads into Qatar and it will be interesting to see how regulatory bodies in Qatar react to this economy that produces new and innovative business models. Union Square Ventures partner Brad Burnham, a well known venture capitalist put it best during a recent conference: “What we’re talking about is the natural tendency of capitalism to consistently find a more efficient way of delivering something. It’s information technology lowering transaction costs and revealing assets that can be utilised.” So there you have it. What is mine can be yours for a short time, and for a price.

In exchange for a fixed membership fee, subscribers receive a box of designer jewellery valued at more than USD200. Members can keep them for up to two months and either return them or keep them at a discounted price.

Much like RocksBox, customers have access to high-end designer handbags, jewellery and watches. Instead of spending a few thousand dollars on a handbag, you can rent (they prefer the term borrow) it for USD200 a month.

Links dog owners with potential dog sitters when away from home. You can even have the person mind your pet at your own home. The service offers pet insurance and even a daily photo update.


If you have some dinner left over that’s going in the bin, upload a picture onto the app and have someone come pick it up or deliver it for free or a price.

With an insurance company, banking on the trust of its customers, it is essential, according to Ali Saleh Al Fadala, senior deputy group CEO of Qatar Insurance Company (QIC), that there be a prudent mix of conservatism, professionalism and consistency. These are the values which QIC brings in apt measure for its customers. Looking back at its 50-year journey in Qatar, Al Fadala is in equal parts reflective of what has been achieved and indicative of what they hope to achieve in the near term. by Aparajita Mukherjee

“We have worked extremely hard to build and maintain our reputation for being the most credible insurance company not only in Qatar, but across the Gulf Cooperation Council region as well,� says Ali Saleh Al Fadala, senior deputy group CEO of QIC.

58 | The Edge

insurance industry | business interview

underwriting and investment prudence are

Q I C ’ s stre n g ths T

he insurance business worldwide is a function of transparency and correct pricing. How they translate these basic pillars into the code of corporate conduct in day-today business varies from player to player. These two factors are embedded in QIC’s business philosophy, says Ali Saleh Al Fadala, senior deputy group CEO of QIC, “QIC’s business philosophy and foundation rests on three pillars of conservatism, professionalism and consistency. This is reflected in everything that we do and we pride ourselves for bringing these key values to life for our customers.” Over the last 50 years of operation, according to Al Fadala, QIC’s capital base has gone up from 1.5 million Indian rupees (the Qatari currency back then) in 1964 to a total capital of QAR5.39 billion today. Interpreting the growth in 50 years, Al Fadala says that this has been achieved by following prudent underwriting policies, combined with conservative investment strategies. He adds, “Shareholders’ equity is currently in excess of USD3 billion (QAR10.92 billion). “We have worked extremely hard to build and maintain the reputation for being the most credible insurance company not only in Qatar, but across the Gulf Cooperation Council region as well. We have also gained recognition from our customers for our integrity, our professionalism and our transparency, and we in turn have been amply rewarded with our customers’ loyalty and trust as demonstrated by steady growth in our gross premiums.” Dispelling a widely held notion that being a state-owned company has benefitted QIC in large measure, in having insured all major projects, Al Fadala says, “We are not in fact state-owned. The State civilian and military retirement funds have a combined shareholding of approximately 12 percent of QIC. This was previously the minority share that the government of Qatar took in the company way back during the time we were founded in 1964.” Attributing their portfolio size to their technical ability, competitiveness and financial strength, Al Fadala says that these were the reasons behind QIC’s dominant insurer position in Qatar. He adds, “Often we are the insurer of choice when it comes to The Edge | 59

business interview | insurance industry

key projects in Qatar, rather than insuring them with a foreign company.” According to Al Fadala, QIC’s S&P’s ‘A’ (stable) rating and A. M. Best’s ‘A’ (excellent) rating symbolise the financial strength of the company. “This certainly is a differentiator and sets us apart from the rest in the marketplace. Our risk retention ratio is the highest in Qatar and in the region and has risen from 53 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2013,” he adds. Did being the only Qatari insurance company with a fully-owned reinsurance company help in QIC’s risk retention? Al Fadala replies, “While retaining our leadership role in the Qatari insurance market, we chose to be ambitious and entered the global reinsurance arena by founding Qatar Re. It was established to diversify our risk portfolio and to develop our in-house underwriting capabilities to reinsure risks outside Qatar, but, at the same time, QIC as a group has also managed to strengthen its underwriting capabilities.” He adds that these factors have played a significant part in QIC’s overall success and in its ability to increase its retention ratios.

Business retention and handling competitors

Most of QIC’s customers have been with the company for more than 15 years. How does QIC make its customers come back? Is it the service standards? Or is it a feeling of comfort that the clients get? Or is it that clients have become used to QIC? Commenting on business retention, Al Fadala says, “Our gross premiums have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 percent over the last four to five years, despite the global financial slowdown. We believe that this is due to our customer-centric approach, ability to manage complex risks with élan, unmatched service levels, innovative distribution channels and our financial strength which provides comfort with regard to timely settlement of claims.” Apart from Qatar, QIC has cross-border operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Muscat in Oman. With cross-border operations there can be non-symmetry in service levels. What lessons has QIC learnt from its cross-border operations and how crucial have they been in running its business? According to Al Fadala, the current 60 | The Edge

structure of the QIC group has evolved over the years in line with their strategy of standardising its operations and incorporating the best-in-class practices. “Our focus has always been to provide outstanding services irrespective of where we operate from. At the same time, we respect and adhere strictly to the rules and regulations of the various jurisdictions in which we operate,” he adds. Talking about what sets QIC apart from its peers and how the company sees its business differently, Al Fadala lists its underwriting capabilities (that enables QIC to retain over 70 percent of its gross premiums in-house), something that is aided by the company’s conservative and prudent approach to underwriting risks. He continues, “Traditionally, we have followed a sustainable growth strategy when it comes to building our insurance book. In addition, QIC has been at the forefront of adopting innovative distribution strategies such as setting up insurance kiosks at convenient spots in malls across Qatar. We also sell personal insurance products and services online and via the QIC Mobile Insurance app. Our aim is complete customer convenience.” According to Al Fadala, the most important factor that has enabled the

“Our gross premiums have grown at a CAGR of 11.7 percent over the last four to five years, despite the global financial slowdown.”

Al Fadala feels that QIC has established a strong legacy of insuring major infrastructure projects such as the Hamad International Airport (HIA) that are of strategic importance and are iconic to the State of Qatar.

insurance industry | business interview

company to stay ahead of its competitors has been its ability to manage effectively the corporate investments through business cycles and market fluctuations. He adds, “A dedicated team manages our investments through detailed analytics along with evaluation of economic factors that govern markets. Our investment income grew by 30 percent in 2013.”


Public 72%


As a price-sensitive product, insurance coverage and service quality is tied to how much customers are charged. Defending his company’s pricing policy, Al Fadala says that in a competitive marketplace, every company decides on its terms and conditions for pricing a particular risk. He continues, “Our underwriting philosophy has been focused on our ability to understand and manage our risks. We have, therefore, refrained from undercutting premium rates in order to chase our topline growth as we believe that such a strategy is not sustainable over the long term.” With the new health insurance initiative of the State of Qatar, insurance companies can expect a negative impact on their health insurance portfolio. But Al Fadala feels that though Phase 1 of the new mandatory health insurance scheme was rolled out on July 17, 2014, so far the effect has been negligible on QIC’s health insurance portfolio. He adds, “Going forward, we expect to be affected by five to seven percent once the second phase is implemented. Being proactive, we have already addressed this issue and have come up with multiple solutions to offset the effects of this new mandate. We hope to include supplementary covers with our products and write inward reinsurance business.” Al Fadala feels that QIC has established a strong legacy of insuring major infrastructure projects such as the Hamad International Airport (HIA) that are of strategic importance and are iconic to the State of Qatar. According to him, winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup has been a significant milestone for Qatar and for QIC. “We believe that we have the competence and the underwriting capabilities to insure large infrastructure projects and we are well poised to take a substantial share of the risks related to over USD200 billion (QAR728 billion) worth of infrastructure projects that are currently in the pipeline,” says Al Fadala.

Government of Qatar 14% Burooq Trading Company 5%

HH Sheikh Khalifa Hamad Al Thani 5%

HH Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani 1%

HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal Bin Thani Al Thani 2% Al Jaida Motors 1%

Source: Zawya

Success factors and plans


5.39 billion

Total capital base of QIC at present.

“Dynamism, innovation in our product design and responsiveness to the changing needs of customers have been the major drivers of QIC’s success over the last 50 years,” says Al Fadala. Commenting on their strategy for the next phase of growth, he says, “Our strategy for the next 10 years is to continue to drive towards our ambition to be among the top 50 largest insurers in the world.” This will involve the following: develop Qatar Re into a leading global reinsurer by 2025, with a distinct capital base of over USD1 billion (QAR3.64 billion); expansion of international footprint to include fast-growing economies; managing its insurance, reinsurance and investment portfolios with prudence, and enhancing its products to make them appealing for both established and prospective customers. The Edge | 61


Special Section: Qatar Healthcare Inside: Tackling Lifestyle-Related Diseases Is A Priority

special section | q-healthcare


lifestyle-related diseases is a priority With primarily a State-controlled heathcare sector, Qatar has a substantial allocation of research in health, with 24 percent of total research grants from Qatar National Research Fund being allocated to healthcare research. While that keeps the focus in place, what are the stakeholders’ take on the proliferation of lifestyle-related diseases? And what are priority areas for investments? by Aparajita Mukherjee

Sidra Medical and Research Center, the latest entrant in the Qatari healthcare sector.

64 | The Edge


n a recent initiative, more than USD1.7 million (QAR6.2 million) in research grants were awarded to Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Trauma Center by the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) from the QNRF. The NPRP is the competitive flagship programme of the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation) which funds research projects of national importance. These grants are in line with the vision of Dr. Hassan Al Thani, head of HMC’s Trauma Center, to complement the advanced treatment of victims of trauma with relevant research that will inform injury prevention programmes for the leading causes of injury in Qatar, which include road traffic and occupational (workplace) injuries. One other recent initiative in the healthcare sector has been taken by the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) which has introduced a Clinical Information System (CIS) at Al Gharafa Health Centre. This comes after completing the first level at Al Daayen Health Centre and Al Khor Hospital, which included a new electronic system for patients’ medical records to

q-healthcare | special section

“The nature of lifestylerelated disease means that a wide spectrum of agencies work in unison to empower people to make healthier choices.” – Ali Abdullah Al Khater, HMC.

be viewed by physicians across every healthcare facility.

Primary focus

Discussing the primary focus of the sector, Ali Abdullah Al Khater, executive director of the corporate communications department at HMC, says, “A healthy and productive population is one of the underlying principles of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Health Strategy (NHS), and all in this sector are working towards this. Qatar has undergone an unprecedented period of economic growth over the last 20 years and that has led to a big increase and diversification of the population, rapid urbanisation and a higher standard of living.” Al Khater adds that this growth has led to a significant change in lifestyle and a rise in non-communicable diseases and conditions. The nature of lifestylerelated disease means that not only the health sector but a wide spectrum of governmental and non-governmental agencies need to work in unison to nurture an environment that empowers people to make healthier choices. He continues that working in partnership with PHCC, HMC is contributing to the long-term aim of treating patients

in the most appropriate setting. “For many patients currently receiving long-term hospital care or having regularly to attend hospital outpatient clinics, their treatment will be at home or in community-based facilities,” Al Khater adds. “HMC’s specific focus is on delivering secondary and tertiary care to patients with more acute care needs, but we also manage the national ambulance service and are expanding the home healthcare and residential care/skilled nursing facilities that are part of any developed healthcare sector,” says Al Khater. Given this focus of the HMC, what special advice does Qatar University’s biomedical science has to offer? Dr. Hassan A. Aziz, acting associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Arts and Sciences and director and associate professor of Biomedical Science at Qatar University, says, “The principal operational objective of the Department of Health Sciences at the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University is to address the need for a workforce to provide excellent health services aligned with world-class standards.” On the role of Sidra, Abdulrazaq Al Kuwari, acting chief operating officer, Sidra Medical and Research Center, comments, “As a hub for research, Sidra will focus on studies relevant to women’s and children’s health aligned with the Qatar National Research Strategy. The research agenda will centre on needs of maternal and pediatric health, as well as common diseases in the region. Our ultimate goal is being able to predict and circumvent medical problems as opposed




NPRP grant to HMC’s Trauma Center.

Ali Abdullah Al Khater, executive director of the corporate communications department at HMC says, “A healthy and productive population is one of the underlying principles of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Health Strategy and all in this sector are working towards this.”

to only treating existing diseases. This will be achieved through our focus on genetics research, including innovative reprogrammable cellular therapy.” When asked what value addition will Sidra do the existing framework of healthcare facilities, Al Kuwari says, “One of the most noticeable and significant contributions will be our facilities, built to the highest international standards and outfitted with the latest technology. For example, our informatics system will support an electronic medical record for each patient called Patient Electronically Accessible Record for Life (PEARL). This will ensure that patients and the healthcare professionals involved in their treatment have instant and seamless access to accurate information. The overall level of digital capability throughout the facility will be unique in a hospital setting.”

Lifestyle-related diseases

Talking about HMC’s preparedness to deal with lifestyle-related diseases, Al Khater The Edge | 65

special section | q-healthcare

Dr. Faleh Mohamed Hussein Ali, acting CEO, NHIC, says that the introduction of Seha marks a major transformation for the healthcare sector in Qatar and rolling the scheme out in stages allows to better manage this process.

Dr. Hassan A. Aziz, acting associate dean for academic affairs at the College of Arts and Sciences and director and associate professor of Biomedical Science at Qatar University says, “The principal operational objective of the department of health sciences at the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University is to address the need for a workforce to provide excellent health services aligned with world-class standards.” .

says that HMC is well positioned and ready to deal with lifestyle-related diseases and this is already evident in the available services in all of the eight hospitals incorporating five specialist hospitals and three community hospitals. Speaking about lifestyle related diseases, he mentions, “Obesity is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially amongst younger members of the population and this can lead to a range of related illnesses that place a burden on society and the health services sector. However, the government and healthcare organisations are collaborating to promote healthier lifestyles by informing the population about the dangers of 66 | The Edge

obesity, diabetes and hypertension,” says Al Khater. He adds that HMC actively supports the work of the National Prevention Committee and engage thousands of patients in prevention activity that includes screening, secondary prevention, lifestyle advice and education. “However, given the size of the challenge, we are working to develop more effective and coordinated prevention programmes as well as enhancing our external partnerships. It will take some time before we can fully evaluate the impact of all this activity on the burden of preventable disease,” he adds. The Supreme Council of Health

spokesperson told The Edge that its target is to provide the best healthcare services with international standards. The National Health Strategy (NHS) 201116 was developed through consultation with more than 50 health stakeholders across Qatar. It includes seven goals, each with related projects that are designed to achieve the Qatar Vision 2030. One of the highest priorities is advancing ‘Goal Three - Preventive Healthcare’, which addresses the many aspects to changing and changing behaviours relating public health prevention measures. The project 3.2 of the National Health Strategy was developed in response to the growing challenge of obesity and its associated diseases in Qatar and a related action plan for nutrition and physical for 2011 to 2016 was developed with key stakeholders in Qatar. The fundamental goal of the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Action Plan is to reduce the morbidity and mortality attributable to chronic disease in the state of Qatar as Qatar has high rates of obesity and diabetes; with related risk factors like diet, nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco use cessation. The key is getting people to understand these chronic diseases and their risk factors and play an active role in its prevention.

The fundamental goal of the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Action Plan is to reduce the morbidity and mortality attributable to chronic diseases.

A Culture of Excellence Providing the highest level of education, research and clinical care Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar has now been established for more than a decade. Since then we have developed a cutting-edge biomedical research program and high-profile community outreach initiatives but the most important thing we have done is to create doctors. Students have come to us from across the world and we have given them an education that is second to none. They have travelled to New York to learn from physicians based at our parent


campus and they have been supported every step of the way by our faculty. Our graduates are now working in hospitals in the U.S. and Qatar, helping cure patients of a myriad of diseases. As they progress in their careers, our alumni will return to Qatar, enriching the knowledge-based economy, improving the healthcare system, and passing on their experience to future generations of doctors. With dedication and determination, you too could make a difference and make your mark on the world.

special section | q-healthcare

Investment priorities

Given these challenges, Al Khater of HMC says that the NHS lays down specific projects designed to transform health services in Qatar with the aim of supporting a healthy population, both physically and mentally. This forms the bedrock of HMC’s approach to confronting Qatar’s most pressing healthcare challenges. The top four non-communicable diseases in Qatar are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. HMC, Al Khaters says, will continue to provide the most specialised care and to strive, as an academic healthcare system, to advance and apply medical knowledge to ensure that it provides the safest and most effective care. Qatar’s Academic Health System (AHS) is the first partnership of its kind in the region, and the world’s first nationwide academic health system. It will focus on those disease areas that place the greatest burden of mortality and morbidity on Qatar’s population.

Issues of workforce

With a healthcare workforce that is primarily expatriate, how well does the workforce appreciate the challenges in Qatari health? Dr. Hassan of Qatar University says that the number of Qatari citizens will not suffice to manage complex systems, infrastructure and other requirements for Qatar’s rapidly growing, diversifying and technologically sophisticated economy. To make up for the shortage in local labour, expatriate workers are an alternative. Dr. Hassan adds, “Bearing in mind the necessity of attracting and retaining the right mix of skills; Qatar continues to assess the effectiveness of this model. A deep understanding of the specific healthcare challenges of any nation is both pertinent and dependent on stability. To develop sound knowledge of the specificities of the population they serve, healthcare providers need to spend some time in the country. But it is very much possible for the expatriate healthcare workforce to develop such in-depth knowledge of local specificities. This is supported by two key factors, policies which reduce turnover in expatriate healthcare professionals and a strong health education system that enriches this workforce with locally trained, Qatar-savvy healthcare professionals, researchers and educators.” 68 | The Edge

“A deep understanding of the specific healthcare challenges of any nation is both pertinent and dependent on stability.”- Dr. Hassan of Qatar University. Insurance scheme

With increasing healthcare costs, and the planned roll-out of the Statesponsored health insurance scheme, Dr. Faleh Mohamed Hussein Ali, acting CEO, NHIC says that the introduction of Seha marks a major transformation for the healthcare sector in Qatar and rolling the scheme out in stages allows for the better management of this process. He adds, “Expanding the scheme in stages allows for the health sector to adapt as more people are brought into the scheme, while at the same time creating scope for learning, adapting and improving Seha for the following stages.” The features of Seha, according to Dr. Ali, includes extensive studies and benchmarking of similar systems in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, South Korea, Slovenia, the United States and several others. He adds, “The national health insurance systems are the product of the particular cultural, economic and social circumstances in each of these countries that were looked at. What we did in Qatar is benchmark the various international systems, looking at best practices and developed a national health insurance programme that is uniquely suited to this country. When rolled out in full will the new scheme be more beneficial to the State in terms of cost or to the insured? Dr. Ali says, “For the insured, Seha offers more choice by providing access to both public and private healthcare providers. This creates competition among providers to attract members, ultimately resulting in higher quality care and better service. Moreover, with more people having access to private healthcare, we should see more private investment in the health care sector over the long run, which brings benefits to both individuals and the state. As such, among

others, we could see newer, more modern facilities, a wider range of specialisations and better access for the entire population through a comprehensive geographic spread.

The Meddy creators

Meddy.co is a new online portal that wants to offer crowdsourced doctor and healthcare related information. •

Doctor Profiles: Information about a doctor such as his/ her picture, specialisation, scope of practice, educational background, languages he/she speaks, etcetera. Clinic Locations: Clinic locations of listed doctors and use of smartphone app to conveniently navigate to the clinic. Doctor Reviews: What other people think about a particular doctor based on their comments and likes/dislikes. Waiting Times: Average time it would take to wait at the clinic before one sees the doctor, to help plan ahead.






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Inside the minds of leading business figures

business insight Doha Heat podcast aims to foster frank conversation in Qatar > 72 Andrew Clark discusses his daily talk show, Doha Heat, and his hope about growing podcasting as a viable medium of communication.

Clients is Qatar looking for high-quality materials, finish and style > 76

Qatar’s premiere social event Back2Business offers unique approach to networking > 74 Maria Palma Libotte, chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar and Sezai Arli, the chairperson of the Turkish Businessmen Association discuss with The Edge the benefits of the networking event to those looking to access the Qatari market.

Founders of Belle Harvey Interiors, Neil Robson and Simon Joss discuss the key trends in Qatar’s interior decoration market.


A shot from Back2Business held in 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Last year’s event hosted 750 participants and the organisers are expecting to have as many as 800 this year.

The Edge | 71

business insight | broadcasting


Doha Heat podcast aims to foster frank conversations in Qatar Podcasts – pre-recorded audio shows consisting of music and conversation that can be downloaded onto digital devices – created in Qatar are a rarity. But one enterprise aims to change that. Created by British expatriate John Savage in June 2014, under the auspices of local production company Ginger Camel, Doha Heat is a candid talk show attracting public attention. It is presented by American newcomer to Qatar, Andrew Clark, who told The Edge that he is hopeful the concept of podcasting will grow as an accepted and viable medium in the region. What is Doha Heat exactly? The podcast strives to promote local initiatives and individuals who are contributing positively to Qatari social and economic wellbeing. With more than 30 episodes already recorded and published on iTunes, we are rapidly growing and hoping to become a household name domestically and abroad. That being said, our interviews are very relaxed and seek to be honest conversations, like the type you might have with a friend over coffee or karak. How did you come to be involved ? Well, very much by fate. I arrived in Doha in early July 2014 after living and working in Washington, DC for five years. I had visited previously a few times but decided to permanently relocate here for better job opportunities and a longterm relationship. One of my follow-ups was with Stefan Lindberg-Jones at Ginger Camel, who invited me to come in to assist with some special projects his team was starting. Working in the same office space was John Savage, our founder and now mentor, whom I began to shadow and help book guests for future episodes. A few weeks into this budding friendship, John and Stefan approached me with the offer of assuming full responsibility for guiding Doha Heat’s future development. 72 | The Edge

How are you looking to change Doha Heat? We are currently beginning to introduce reoccurring, weekly episodes focused on specific topics. I looked at other podcasts, notably The Economist‘s, and their creation of reoccurring shows that were available at the same time each week. The hope is that with listeners being aware of these new standing shows, which include an event preview and review with I Love Qatar every Sunday for example, we can build a sustainable audience. In doing so, we also hopefully allow for the possibility of soliciting sponsorships from local businesses. What is about the podcast format that you think creates this openness? In the digital age, so much we put out there is highly curated. From what I can observe and hear from guests, the format’s loose structure, which begins with sharing one’s backstory then exploring the present and ending on a hopeful note about what is to come, facilitates vulnerability. Rather than talking in a professional setting where one might worry about co-workers’ perceptions or misrepresenting their employer, Doha Heat focuses on the human dimension. There also seems to be a calming effect with recording a podcast over traditional radio, as we can edit content if needed.

Do you see this changing as the project evolves? I foresee Doha Heat remaining true to its initial goal of bringing the audience open and honest conversations with local residents and institutions. I think that as more people become exposed to Doha Heat and its approach to conversations, the ethos will be self-perpetuating and future episodes will continue to adhere to it. Who do you think is listening to Doha Heat and why? What kind of feedback have you received? How much can listener participation form part of the concept? Our audience members seem to be a mixture of Qataris and expatriates, although the former I would guess might find Doha Heat slightly less appealing with a lack of Arabic language programming. The warm reception thus far I believe arises from having the good fortune of interviewing some of the friendliest and most energetic people in Doha, as well as providing content that is relatable to people presently in Qatar and those who want to learn more about the nation. As someone who knew very little about Doha prior to visiting for the first time in October 2012, I can see how hearing residents’ stories could attract a following. We have found that people are enjoying the

broadcasting | business insight

content on most episodes because of its vulnerability and diversity in interviewees, something that we hope to retain. This is the only project of its kind in Qatar and the Gulf region? Why is this? In the United States (US), the United Kingdom, and South Korea, podcasting as a media format is rapidly growing in popularity. If one takes a look at the iTunes Store or an online site like Liberated Syndication where podcasts are uploaded, you can see how many exist and their downloads – it is awe-inspiring considering the format is a relatively new innovation. Regionally, we see podcasts typically being produced elsewhere in the world and focused on the topics of music, technology and Islam. In terms of domestically initiated ventures such as Doha Heat I think there are a few explanations for not seeing more. For one, the format’s newness and its accessibility may detract from regional growth, listeners require either an Internet connection or smartphone to download episodes. A place like Qatar or its neighbouring nations also are still very young in their cultural development compared with a place such as the US. Whereas American podcasts are usually outgrowths of existing cultural institutions like comedy shows, art centres, political pundits, etcetera. Qatar is in the process of developing these things. I think organisations also falsely believe that podcasting entails a large financial investment and offers little in return. You mentioned that you would be okay with others emulating your formula and you feel that podcasts are a very useful medium for businesses, why so? I believe that podcasts should be viewed as a new dimension of organisations’ marketing plans. Consider how much time we spend daily on a smartphone, computer, or tablet. Now, think about the type of content we encounter, particularly the advertising, and what types get promoted the most on social media networks: audio clips, videos, pictures. Hopefully now readers can see where I am going with this next. The use of podcast could be, for example, used to highlight special events or promotions coming up or provide analysis of current events relevant to a specific target audience. Doha Heat, as I envision it, strives to help create a thriving

“Rather than talking in a professional setting where one might worry about co-workers’ perceptions or misrepresenting their employer, Doha Heat focuses on the human dimension.” Qatari culture that is equal parts local and expatriate; we, unfortunately cannot and do not want to do all that alone. We wish to see others in Doha begin to explore this exciting medium.

an on-air mention prior to each episode, as well as a link inclusion on social media platforms attached to the podcast. Doha Heat would seek to emulate something like this.

You have also mentioned sponsorship. What would this require or entail? Is this a viable business model? Monetising Doha Heat is a topic that I am currently researching with team at Ginger Camel LLC and the jury remains out on its viability. Although I do not wish to reveal a definitive plan right now for fear of confusing people when I do debut it, I can point to viable examples from elsewhere. The website, Audible.com, which offers audio books, has become a sponsor of numerous American podcasts with huge success, like NPR’s Planet Money and the Nerdist Podcast. The sponsor gets

Any other general plans for the concept? At the moment, the plan is to slightly adjust the show’s format to include a more thematic approach in those particular days that will correspond with certain topics, including events, business, and sports. I have quickly come to realise that the production involved, if done right, can be time-consuming and there should be an incentive for listeners to stick around consistently. My ideas for regional expansion are still evolving, but an initial goal would be to see places such as Dubai or Muscat develop a similar format.

Podcast Doha Heat’s presenter Andrew Clark is a social media advocate who is highly optimistic about the viability of the medium as a business model as well as an effective means through which businesses can extend their marketing reach.

The Edge | 73

business insight | business networking


Qatar’s premiere social event Back2Business offers unique approach to corporate networking Back2Business (B2B) was launched in Qatar in 2004. Over the years, it has become an important business event that businessmen and women look forward to every year. Held by nine business councils representing different countries with sizeable business interests, they offer a wide range of services to companies willing to access the Qatari market. In an exclusive conversation with The Edge, Maria Palma Libotte, chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, and Sezai Arli, chairperson of the Turkish Businessmen Association, explain the purpose of the event and what benefits one derives from attending. Tell us about Back2Business. Maria Palma Libotte: The B2B event was launched in Qatar, in 2004 by the German Business Council and was soon joined by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and the US-Qatar Business Council. At the time there were very few business councils (BCs) in Qatar and the business community was relatively small. Nevertheless, the event was an immediate success since businessmen were looking forward to an informal get-together after a long summer to catch up on contacts and market news. Today, nine BCs are part of the B2B committee, most of whom are non-profit organisations that support their respective business communities with events and, in some cases, they are also chambers of commerce, offering a wide range of services to companies willing to access the Qatari market.

Sezai Arli, chairperson of the Turkish Businessmen Association said, “There are nine business councils involved in this event but every two years, two business councils are selected to be the organising committee, which decides general guidelines of the event, location and format.�

74 | The Edge

What does B2B contribute to the business calendar in Doha? Maria Palma Libotte: The B2B event is a very important happening for the BCs and the international business community. Guests are also invited to the event through the embassies of the nine countries and many diplomats like to take part in this event. The casual dinner atmosphere is the secret of its success, with no frills and no conference-style format. It promotes pure networking in a relaxed mood. The participants wear a coloured badge that corresponds to a particular business sector, and everyone knows whom to approach. It is an ice-breaker method that helps with exchanging business cards rather than standing around and waiting

business networking | business insight

for the right person to talk to. Globally, professional contacts are important for growing business in general, but in the Middle East, where private citizens own a large number of companies, it is pertinent to network. New contacts lead to business opportunities and networking events are meant for this. And the B2B is specifically tailored to this requirement. Since the event was first launched in 2004, how has it evolved over the years? Maria Palma Libotte: The first editions of the event were seated dinners, with 150 to 200 guests and the interaction was limited in scope. Today, we have reached a number of 700 participants and our event is well known all over Doha. Tickets are sold out in a very short time. The format has also changed to a standing cocktail dinner and the participants come from a wide range of business sectors ranging from construction, oil and gas, professional services, education, transportation and logistics, financial, luxury items, hospitality and many more. Can you cite any global model that this format has been based upon? Sezai Arli: The format is American. However, in the Middle East, Qatar was one of the first countries to host this kind of event. Our event here attracts a larger number of participants than the one in Dubai. What role does the steering committee (SC) play? What impact can they have on the organisers? Sezai Arli: There are nine BCs involved in this event but every two years, two business councils are selected to be the organising committee (OC), which decides general guidelines of the event, location and format. All the other councils form the SC that monitors the most relevant decisions and votes on major issues. What benefits can one expect out of attending this event? Maria Palma Libotte: This event is dedicated to professionals who wish to expand their business contacts in the country and also to newcomers who need to connect and network. B2B is beneficial to sponsors as they reach a very wide audience of managerial people in Qatar.

“The casual dinner atmosphere is the secret of B2B’s success. It promotes pure networking in a relaxed mood.” Maria Palma Libotte, Italian Chamber of Commerce. What new can we expect in this year’s format? Maria Palma Libotte: This year we shall have a greater number of Qatari businessmen. In fact the Qatari Businessmen Association is our strategic partner for the event. We have also invited businessmen from Italy to participate and avail this occasion for setting morning business meetings, giving them better opportunities to explore Qatar’s business scenario.

lists of the nine business communities and embassies. This year’s event is being organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar and the Turkish Business Council and it will take place on October 1, at 7.30 pm at the Marriott Marquis City Center.

What have been the lessons that the B2B has learnt from its past events? Maria Palma Libotte: We have learned that a business event in Qatar must have an atmosphere where both Qatari businessmen and their international counterparts feel at ease. Therefore, the atmosphere in the B2B remains casual but respects the local culture and follows protocol of business events in Qatar. How have those lessons gone into making improvements in this year’s format? What kind of volumes are you expecting this year? Maria Palma Libotte: We shall have many more Qatari guests in comparison to previous editions and this is important for business networking at its best. Having the key players and the decision makers on board makes our event unique. What have been the marketing tools for the event this year? Maria Palma Libotte: This year for the first time B2B was promoted through a strong campaign on social media and we got excellent response. People called us from other countries wanting to take part and we definitely expect more participants flying into the country for B2B Qatar. The OC also promotes the event through press releases, on our websites, mailing lists and through

“We shall have many more Qatari guests in comparison to previous editions and this is important for business networking at its best. Having the key players and the decision makers on board makes our event unique,” said Maria Palma Libotte, chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Qatar.

The Edge | 75

business insight | interior decoration


Clients in Qatar are increasingly looking for high-quality interior materials, finish and style

Founders of Belle Harvey Interiors – a privately-owned company providing interior design and Interior construction fit – Neil Robson, director, and Simon Joss, general manager, discuss key trends in Qatar’s interiors market. Tell us about Belle Harvey. Firstly, the name ‘Belle Harvey’ comes from our children, Simon’s daughter Belle and Neil’s son Harvey. It is very much a family business, established in November 2012. Belle Harvey Interiors is a privately-owned company providing interior design and interior construction fit. In addition, we have a trading division in which we represent a number of international office, school and hospitality furniture manufacturers from Europe and North America. We also maintain stock items of furniture here in Qatar unlike many companies; this, therefore, allows us to respond quickly to our

clients’ needs. We operate in the office, retail, health and hospitality sectors with a vision to grow into the sports sector and be involved in some of the stadia and sports facilities. We have considerable experience in planning, executing and delivering fit-out projects involving complex management and phased refurbishments in live environments. We currently have 19 professional staff and 50 trades personnel (carpenters, gypsum installers and painters) from eight nationalities that originate from Europe, Asia and Australia. Like many Gulf companies, we have a multi-cultural workforce.

Co-founder and director of Belle Harvey Interiors, Neil Robson is of the view that budget and origin of brand is very important in Qatar’s interiors market.

Why Qatar? What makes the Qatari market attractive compared to others? We both moved to the country in 2008 to 2009 with our families, working for other companies and soon Qatar became our home. After the announcement for the 2022 World Cup and in understanding the development this will entail, and knowing about the strategy contained within the Qatar National Vision 2030, we realised that this country would be executing some major infrastructure and building projects, so we wanted to be a part of that. As building professionals who wouldn’t? We have both lived in the Gulf for over 15 years, so we know the region, its people and vision. The country has to, and will, deliver a major amount of infrastructure and building developments over the next decade. So, as building professionals, this is a great place to be in right now. This region and Qatar also have wealth and a strong vision, so these developments would not just be large in size and number but will also be engineering and architectural wonders. This region has built a reputation in the past decade or so for delivering some of the world’s most memorable and challenging building and engineering developments. So, as professionals, you are technically challenged here every day. This is great place to practise your profession.

76 | The Edge

interior decoration | business insight

What are some of Belle Harvey’s major projects in Qatar? In our short history, we have completed office, retail, health and hospitality projects for some major international and local companies such as Atkins, Faithful and Gould, AON, Qatar Armed Forces, Sidra Medical and Research Center, Al Jazeera Television Network, Qatar Luxury Group and Louis Berger to name but a few. We have executed projects in most of the towers in West Bay for our office projects, in some of Qatar’s newest malls for our retail and restaurant projects, and in a couple of the countries’ five-star hotels in the hospitality sector. Our largest project to date has been the full architectural fitout of the new Sports Treatment and Medical Services Building for the Qatar Armed Forces which is located in Bin Omran. The project consists of five floors and a double basement. It contains offices, sports therapy rooms, X-ray and treatment rooms, retail units on the ground floor, a cafeteria and restaurant and a sound editing studio. So there is a range of facilities and construction materials under one roof. We started on site in June 2013 and have had over 100 operatives on site daily and have completed in excess of 300,000 manhours without a single lost time safety incident. What are major challenges of operating in Qatar’s market? Operating in Qatar does create some challenges in our industry, which perhaps we do not face in our home countries. Being paid on time is probably the biggest obstacle all companies face in the market. Cash flow is key to any business, and so a knowledge and understanding that you may have to wait a few months to be paid is key if you want to succeed. To succeed in the Qatari market, you must be prepared and able to invest the necessary time, money and effort into securing work. You can spend many months working with clients and consultants before you are awarded a project. Indeed after many months some projects are then simply shelved and do not go ahead as planned. You need to understand the processes and ‘red tape’ within the government bodies to ensure you are following all rules and regulations accurately, and that you understand what is required of you so you do not waste time in getting the approvals The process of establishing a presence in the market can take many months. Identifying suitable partners, agents or distributors can also be time consuming. Working with suppliers and subcontractors can be very risky if you do not verify their businesses, credibility and expertise. Working with reliable and trustworthy partners is key in delivering on your clients’ expectations. Above all, it is important to understand that there are many

“You can spend many months working with clients and consultants before you are awarded a project [in Qatar].”

Co-founder and general manager of Belle Harvey Interiors, Simon Joss believes that a company’s history of delivering similar projects on time, to a high standard and within budget are key success factors in Qatar.

aspects of doing business in Qatar. What is best practice at home may not be best practice in Qatar. Lack of rigorous health and safety practices and regulation can make executing construction projects very challenging. Understanding Qatar’s Labour Law, how the sponsorship, visa and exit permit system works, and being able to apply for relevant documents is key. Employing the right public relations officer to assist is fundamental. At what stage of a project should fit-out companies get involved? How soon are they involved in Qatar? Ideally, they should be involved at the projects feasibility and detail design stage as our knowledge and experience of maximising a buildings layout, the flow and getting the most economical use of space is crucial. The cost of rents is a major concern in this country at the moment and this will only increase year on year up to the 2022 World Cup. This means that clients are more conscious of maximising and using all of the space that they acquire. However, invariably in this country, we are not involved until a tenant engages us to design a space that suits their business operations within existing structures. We do find ourselves recommending certain buildings more on the spacing of columns, the direction the building is facing and its exposure to maximum sunlight and invariably its heat gain. Some building designers never consider that tenants will want to construct partitions to create offices and meeting rooms within the building when selecting materials and spacing of structural elements, etcetera. How brand conscious and budget conscious is Qatar’s market when it comes to manufacturer’s choice? Budget and origin of brand is very important in Qatar. Every client wants to spend the minimum amount of money on their fitThe Edge | 77

business insight | interior decoration

“Many clients choose the cheapest over ability, quality and strength of other offers.” out yet they also want the best international brands that they can get. Therefore, as a fit-out company, we must have a vast, solid and reliable supply chain of international manufacturers to meet every budget and level of quality. Every client has different criteria when it comes to selecting their internal finishes – some demand only European-sourced materials, others prefer a mix of Asian/Gulf and European, and may prefer to spend more on their floor finishes than their wall or ceiling finishes, etcetera. Despite the country’s wealth, clients and companies are still budget-orientated like they are in other parts of the world. The cost of construction though is more expensive here than in other parts of the world because all the materials have to be imported, so this makes it more challenging for fit-out companies to help clients obtain the best brands but also at a good price. What do you think is the clients’ basic criteria when selecting a fit-out company in Qatar? The main things that a client looks out for in a fit-out company are: 1. Previous history of delivering similar projects on time, to a high standard and within budget. 2. Cost – Qatar is a competitive market and many clients choose the cheapest cost over ability, quality and strength of other offers. 3. Accountability and ownership of their project. 4. Customer service both before, during and after contract. 78 | The Edge

An interior office view of Atkins – a client of Belle Harvey Interiors in Qatar.


Strong health and safety practices – the world is now focusing on Qatar’s labour and health and safety laws. This is bringing a climate of change, which of course is good, and so private firms and government agencies are now focusing on a company’s health and safety policy and statistics more than previously. 6. For design and build projects, clients want to incorporate materials manufactured in Europe more than anywhere else. This leads to long procurement periods for manufacture and shipping so being able to demonstrate that you have the relationships with these suppliers and can manage the shipping and delivery process without unduly increasing the length of the project is also another strong point for a construction company. But above all, strong word of mouth referrals and high levels of satisfaction of our existing clients generate majority of our new projects. Qatar is a small country, and so having strong recommendations for being a company that can deliver is a major success factor. Our main priority is to always work closely with our clients and to ensure that every project is delivered on time, to the highest quality of standards and within

budget. We conduct site surveys and aid in acquiring civil defence approvals which minimises the workload for our clients. From aesthetic point of view, how do you see Qatar’s clients? Clients in Qatar are increasingly looking for high quality materials, finish and style compared to other countries. This region and country has developed a unique architectural style that captures elements of traditional Arabian architecture with the modern clean lines form of architecture more prevalent in the West. In addition, the built environment and climate in this country affects how you design and plan a building layout. Given the fact that we experience extreme heat during the summer months, the layout and design of services contained in the space to allow the occupants to function all year around are paramount. We also have an abundance of natural light in this country throughout the year, which leads architects to use more glass on the building facades. Glass though allows considerable heat transfer into the building. So when we design and build our interiors, we have to minimise and manage this heat transfer but still allow that natural light to flow into a space. Architecture in this region is unique and like nowhere else in the world.

The Three Factors Co.

products & reviews


Hyundai Azera


yundai’s 2015 Azera is a sedan packed with features, as has come to be expected in the recent past in its premium sedans category. The new Azera comes in a 2.4 -litre V4 and a three-litre V6. The higher end six-cylinder engine generates 247 horsepower and includes an electric tilt telescopic steering column. Other driving aids include the customary parking sensors, and an anti-locking

front wheel disc brakes that allow for enhanced braking power. The car is also equipped with smart cruise control and has an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) that, according to Hyundai, compares a driver’s desired course of direction with the actual direction to help guide the vehicle according to the driver’s intentions. The ESP is particularly effective in stabilising lateral movement in sudden turns providing a safer ride.

The interior of the Azera is held together by a panoramic sun roof that runs through the length of the car, giving the already large interior a more spacious feel. The dashboard has a plethora of technology built into it, from a navigation system, bluetooth hands-free, USB inputs to a small TFT screen that shows relevant vehicle data. The starting price of the Azera is QAR83,000 giving it a competitive price point in the mid level luxury market.

The Edge | 81

products & reviews

Read it:

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done Execution is a book first published back in 2002 by the three authors Larry Bossidy, chairman of CEO Honeywell, Ram Charan, a management guru and advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs along with editor and writer Charles Bruck. This new and updated edition of the book the authors tell us re-examines strategies in a context where the “global business environment is being ‘reset’”. The essence of this book is focussing on the mantra of getting things done or as the title of the book suggests: Executing. The book is interspersed with monologues that alternate between Bossidy, who speaks mainly from his time as CEO of Honeywell drawing from personal experiences, while Charan discusses companies he has worked with as a strategist and his career as advisor to numerous top CEOs. The book also has its fair share of stories about Six Sigma practices and Jack Welch, the ultimate CEO for many, especially executives

that worked under or with him at General Electric, such as Larry Bossidy. It is no surprise Welch makes regular appearances since he is very much credited with birthing the ethos of getting things done. Drawing from numerous examples, it will surprise many readers of how many prominent companies and CEOs have lacked a true understanding of what it means to execute in business. The book outlines how companies can execute successfully through focussing on what the authors consider the three core areas of any business: people, strategy and operations. Its one failing perhaps is that much of the case studies are CEOs of large multi-billion dollar firms with hundreds if not thousands of employees and the lessons it imparts can be somewhat difficult to withdraw for the average mid-level manager or small Available at Virgin Megastores in Doha. business owner.

Read it:

The Science of Winning & Losing Cooperation and competition, argue Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, are built into the human repertoire; it is fruitless to debate, which is better. A more useful question, according to the authors, is: What circumstances in society and culture promote the benefits of competition while minimising its harms? Bronson and Merryman examine this question from every angle. In The Science of Winning & Losing, and argue that competition “is the engine of evolution and the foundation of democracy,” prompting innovation and discovery, but they also show, through examples, how it can be maladaptive, fostering insecurity and a loss of ambition. The book consists of a number of studies from disparate disciplines on every aspect of competition, success, winning and losing. It aims to be scientific and anecdotal and scholarly while being an easy read. The research is voluminous, including classic studies in social psychology. It also includes evidence from neuroscience and corporate culture to account for possible factors that might determine who rises to challenges and who withdraws. The authors argue that when it comes to 82 | The Edge

competing, you need focus, intensity, and readiness to face expected obstacles and adversity. The winner is not the one who practised the most. It is the one who performs best under pressure. Genetic make up plays a huge role on how we handle stress. Our behaviour, show the authors, is ruled by catechol-omethyltransferase (COMT) enzymes. The COMT enzymes reduce excess dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter that fuels the brain’s reward centre. Some people have fast-acting COMT enzymes that reduce excess dopamine quickly. This allows them to handle stress well. Others have slow-acting COMT enzymes that take longer to reduce excess dopamine. They do not perform well under stress. But, they may be more focussed under normal conditions. And, some people have a balance of the two speeds of COMT enzymes behaving somewhat in between. One shortcoming of the books is its lack of self-help on how to leverage the science to make you a better competitor. Bronson and Merryman focus on the science, not on the psychology that plagues the self-help genre. Available at Virgin Megastores in Doha.

products & reviews

Sony Xperia M2 Aqua Sony has introduced a smartphone which brings waterproof technology to a mid-range price. Featuring Sony’s OmniBalance design and an eight megapixel camera, Xperia M2 Aqua offers the highest waterproof rating (IP65/68) in a smartphone. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with quad-core 1.2 GHz Internet and 4G LTE capabilities for high speed. The gadget also has a 2300 mAh battery, the highest capacity of any smartphone in its class.

App Reviews Slack

Breitling Chronograph S3 To mark the first-ever zero-gravity flights for civilians in Qatar, Breitling, the exclusive partner of the project, has announced a limited edition watch – the Chronograph S3. This timepiece is equipped with a light and sturdy black titanium case and a SuperQuartz movement, which is 10 times more accurate than standard quartz. It is distinguished by its S3 logo appearing on the dial and the rubber strap, as well as by its caseback engraving depicting a parabolic flight. It will serve as a boarding card for passengers and will not be commercialised outside this flight programme.

Acer Liquid Leap The Acer Liquid Leap is a smart wearable device for active digital users to always stay connected. It becomes a fitness companion by tracking the user’s steps, running distance, calories burned and sleep times. The device is equipped with waterproof function (IPX7). Its ultra-slim one-inch touchscreen is placed in a durable rubber wristband, with a 17mm band which is hypoallergenic, making it easy to wear day and night. The Liquid Leap comes in a variety of colours including moonstone white, mineral black, aquamarine green, fragrant pink, and vivid orange. The device stays on 24/7 with a battery life of up to seven days, and features phone, SMS and email notifications.

All Platforms

Slack is a relatively new tool that helps unify communications within teams. This is another app targeted at enterprises, with the aim of minimising email especially internally. The app has a slick design and interface and integrates well with a number of other likely favourite apps within companies such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Asana. It also works on just about every platform imaginable including the Chrome browser.

Clear A simple and striking design that makes creating lists and completing them easy, its single function executed very well. Bright to dim colours rate tasks by the priority. The app is also excellently animated, and gives you the pleasure of seeing that task crossed off the list and disappearing.

Hyperlapse A new app by Instagram allows you to create beautiful time-lapse videos. A rather simple app on the face of it, with minimal features, however there is a lot of smart technology working in the background that stabilises your video to create great looking time-lapse videos. You can either save videos to your phone or export them to other apps such as Instagram.

The Edge | 83

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The Edge September 2014 Issue 59  

The Edge is a business magazine targeting ambitious professionals operating within Qatar’s multi-sector business landscape. The Edge is read...

The Edge September 2014 Issue 59  

The Edge is a business magazine targeting ambitious professionals operating within Qatar’s multi-sector business landscape. The Edge is read...