w w w. t h e e d g e . m e
CONTENTS fINANcE & ecoNoMIcS
.40. MARKET WATCH
Dheeraj Shahdadpuri discusses the scenario if Greece were to exit the euro area and revert to the drachma.
.42. BAlANCE SHEET
Mark Rebello talks about the key issues to be aware of when entering the Qatari business landscape from a tax perspective.
.44. SPECIAl REPORT
ON THE COVER
TheEDGE exclusively interviewed top Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah, Arab Engineering Bureau CEO and board member of Jaidah Brothers to find our more about how he sees Qatar from his unique perspective. Ibrahim Jaidah has been designing iconic buildings in Qatar (including the Omani embassy in Doha picture on our cover this month), for more than two decades now, as well as publishing books and racking up an impressive amount of awards and award nominations. (P.60)
Thomas Bacon reports on the fact that Qatar is currently an appealing market for retailers and malls.
.46. PERSONAl FINANCE
.64. ON THE PUlSE
.48. ECONOMIC BAROMETER
KNowLEdGE & expErTISE
Adrian Bliss explains how to review property and asset allocation in your investment portfolio. Karim Nakhle identifies the economic impact of the Arab Spring and the future drivers for change on the local, regional and global level.
fEATUrES .52. IN THE SPOTlIGHT
Erika Widén discusses the challenges that Qatar faces in implementing the best educational standards while preserving the country’s cultural identity.
Is Qatar facing a property bubble and runaway inflation? We investigate.
.70. PRODUCTIVITY AND WEllBEING
Lauren Penny explores useful strategies to enrich and sustain your career.
.72. lEGAl INSIGHT
What to take note of when drafting bilingual legal documents.
.74. BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
Tips for entrepreneurs on what to do even before writing a business plan.
BUSINESS INSIGHT Interviews
.77. In the light of Qatarâ€™s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup,
Doha has seen its ever-expanding skyline become home to the freshest in architectural innovation. TheEDGE met with Hassan Al Dehaimi to discuss the attributes of the Doha High Rise Office Building. Moreover, TheEDGE spoke exclusively with CEO Andre Went about the innovations he has introduced to Qatar Exchange, and discussed how Qatar based expatriates can invest in the bourse.
REGULARS .08. .09. .12. .14. .20. .23. .28. .32. .34. .83. .88. 4
FROM THE EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS FEEDBACK NEWS ETCETERA QATAR IMPACT ENERGY AND RESEARCH RAMADAN KAREEM COUNTRY FOCUS special focus TRAVEL and LIFESTYLE 10 things
FROM ThE EDITOR
FROM PUBlICaTIONS dIReCTOR Mohamed Jaidah email@example.com MaNaGING edITOR Miles Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org dePUTy edITOR Erika Widén email@example.com ReGIONal SaleS dIReCTOR Julia Toon firstname.lastname@example.org +974 66880228 head Of BUSINeSS SaleS Emma Land email@example.com +974 33197446 SaleS MaNaGeRS Achraf Mannai firstname.lastname@example.org +974 55127480 Joseph Issac email@example.com +974 33675301 Johanna Romero firstname.lastname@example.org +974 55007108 dISTRIBUTION & SUBSCRIPTIONS Azqa Haroon email@example.com +974 55692471 CReaTIVe dIReCTOR Roula Zinati Ayoub deSIGN COORdINaTION Sarah Jabari fINalISeR Michael Logaring PhOTOGRaPheR Herbert Villadelrey PRINTed By Ali Bin Ali Printing Press, Doha, Qatar
While in South East Asia recently, I met a fellow white-collar expatriate based in Singapore. When we got talking, we realised there are many similarities between the small Asian island nation and Qatar. Notwithstanding their notable global economic status, like Qatar is striving to become, Singapore has successfully positioned itself as a hub of financial services, among other sectors, in its region. As with Qatar, Singapore is in the top three for gross domestic product (GDP) in the world – and is home to a substantial number of high net worth individuals. Qatar, of course, boasts far greater natural resources, and is home to many thousands more low-income expatriate workers. However, once all the building here is complete, this tiny Arab nation aspires to follow the far more established and economically diversified Singapore. Almost everyone in Singapore has a good job, drives a nice car and lives in a decent apartment or house and has plenty of disposable income. Hundreds of global firms base their Asian (and even Middle Eastern) headquarters in the diminutive city-state’s gleaming skyscrapers, which thanks to highly effective regulatory laws and tax cushions, ‘Sing’ as the locals call it, has a reputation as one of the best locations in the world to do business – and salaries are therefore among the planet’s highest. If Singapore sounds like the kind of financially stable society that Qatar would do well to emulate in the long run, in many ways it is. But there are two very notable caveats: Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, as well as possessing some of the highest income disparity. Rentals, food and vehicles costs are exceptionally high. The warning for a country such as Qatar is obvious. Even though it is an economic success story, hovering above
five percent, Singapore has a relatively high inflation rate, mostly due to expensive rental prices, which are the in the top 10 globally. As debut TheEDGE contributor Simon Watkins investigates in On The Pulse, on page 64, the same property syndrome arguably threatens Doha, exacerbated by substantial salary hikes in the public sector of late, that has seen consumer prices rise noticeably thanks, some feel, to opportunistic retail monopolies. Could Doha be headed the same way as Singapore? Qatar of course is very different. Though the country experienced rampant inflation a few years ago, this was due to high oil prices coupled with massive growth at the time. The authorities have taken effective steps to curb inflation here since then, and with slower growth predicted for Qatar in 2012 and a lower oil price, these two factors are currently not as pervasive. We can only hope it stays that way and a lid is kept on inflation here, but it is a fascinating topic and with the massive developments in Qatar towards 2022, it is one that will remain a challenge here for the foreseeable future. Another challenge for Qatar is access to fresh water, which Barry Mansfield examines on page 56, and providing good education far all, which deputy editor Erika Widén covers on page 52. On lighter note, for our cover story we feature top Qatari architect Ibrahim Jaidah (page 60). This edition of TheEDGE is also our annual Ramadan Issue, which falls this year in July and August, and so we wish all our Muslim readers Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak. Miles Masterson, Managing Editor
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TheEdGE is printed monthly © 2012 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 TheEdGE 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 TheEdGE. 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.
PG. 23 jamie stewart International Correspondent London, United Kingdom
P. 40 Dheeraj Shahdadpuri Analyst Dubai, UAE
P.42 Mark Rebello Director Tax KPMG Doha, Qatar
P. 44 Thomas Bacon Analyst Oxford Business Group Istanbul, Turkey
P. 46 AdrIAN BlIss Senior Financial Consultant Guardian Wealth Management Doha, Qatar
P. 48 Karim Nakhle Senior Business Strategist Doha, Qatar
P. 56 Barry Mansfield Freelance Journalist Oxford, United Kingdom
P.64 Simon Watkins Freelance Financial Journalist London, United Kingdom
P. 70 Lauren Penny Human Resource Wellness and Engagement Consultant Freelance Doha, Qatar
P. 72 Andre Saade Senior Legal Consultant DLA Piper Middle East LLP Doha, Qatar
P. 78 Ramy Khalaf Business Student Qatar University Doha, Qatar
P. 84 Victoria Scott Journalist Doha, Qatar
feedBaCK feedBaCK leTTeRS fROM
WWW.TheedGe.Me I recently found your new website and I must say I found it impressive. For a Westerner new to Qatar, there is a good database of articles from your magazine. It was easy to find my way around it thanks to the easy drop down menus and I will definitely bookmark it. I think maybe you should have more Qatar coverage, more photographs and maybe more news on the site but otherwise it is great. James, via email
James, standby for some improvements to the site shortly. – Miles Masterson, Managing Editor VIllaGGIO fIRe Dear TheEDGE editor, it was with much compassion I read your editorial in the June issue of TheEDGE and the extended blog version online. We can only hope that Qatar has learnt a very grave lesson from the tragic incident that occurred there and the people responsible are brought to justice. I see also that they have been closing some malls regarding safety issues and that it is still top of mind some time later, so I hope those 19 people did not lose their lives in vain. Perhaps you can do an article on fire and safety in your great magazine at some time soon? Cass, Doha
Hi Cass, thanks. Talking to people around Doha we still find some scepticism regarding whether the fire and loss of life will indeed have a long term effect, though I think more feel that it will than not, something reflected in our monthly online survey results right. – Miles Masterson, Managing Editor
e-COMMeRCe Thank you for the article on e-commerce in Qatar. I was surprised to read how fast this has grown in the past few years, which has given me a great idea for a business. I believe the digital market can only grow in Qatar and the region in the coming years and there will be many new start-ups in this sector, so my feeling is that I must follow my idea now before someone else beats me to it. Thank you again TheEDGE for inspiring me! Arab expat, via email
Hi we hope your business idea is a success, please write back to us and let us know how it goes. – Miles Masterson, Managing Editor
TheedGe ONlINe SURVey jUNe 2012: VIllaGGIO fIRe In June we asked our website readers and online followers: ‘Would the Villaggio Fire result in an improvement in overall safety standards or not in Qatar?’ 70 percent thought it would, while 30 did not believe it would make a difference.
REACTION IN THE FORM OF LETTERS AND E-MAILS FROM THEEDGE READERS, AS WELL AS SURVEY FEEDBACK FROM OUR WEBSITE WWW.THEEDGE.ME
FoLLow ThEEDGE ANd WIN A NoKIA (MOBIlE PhONE)
Send us a letter or email correspondence, or follow TheEDGE on our Facebook page, Twitter feed or LinkedIn group in July and August and stand in line to win a Nokia N9 smart phone pictured here*. Each month one such reader will be drawn to receive this great prize. Existing followers or those who fill in our online reader survey on www. theedge.me until the end of July will also be included in the draw for those months. June’s winner of the Nokia N9 smart phone is Alain Muhnndi of Doha. *Open only to readers resident in Qatar.
fOllOW TheEdGE ONlINe fOllOW US ON TWITTeR: @TheedGeQaTaR jOIN OUR faCeBOOK GROUP: WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ QATARTHEEDGE jOIN OUR lINKedIN GROUP: TheedGe MaGaZINe QaTaR
QATAR’S CATALYST FOR BUSINESS
Now Read TheEdge Online www.theedge.me is the Qatar business community’s new digital sensation. www.theedge.me contains current and archive feature and news content from our print magazine, breaking news and online exclusives, and extends the invaluable service TheEDGE magazine provides Qatar’s bustling multi-sector business community, making it the onestop online portal for all aspects of business-related content and information covering Qatar, The Middle East and the rest of the world. Visit TheEDGE magazine’s website for the best coverage of the Qatari business world available on the Internet.
TO OF THE MONTH O H P
E D G E M A G A ZI N E
VICTORY IN EGYPT
Tens of thousands pack into Cairo’s Tahrir Square on June 24 to celebrate their new president-elect, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi. While ostensibly a major step ahead for democracy and social and economic stability in the country, Morsi’s election was not without controversy or violence and has been somewhat undermined by the military’s reluctance to relinquish their grip on power. Also a potentially divisive figure himself among the ideologically fractured Egyptian population, Morsi is attempting to create a neutral position, and has reached out to all Egyptians to help him to rebuild the country. (Image Corbis)
NEWs Etcetera RIM to launch new operating system in Qatar soon By Asif Iqbal Doha Research in Motion, makers of BlackBerry, plans to introduce its latest operating system in Qatar and the Middle East very soon, a top company official has said. “Qatar has a strong BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) penetration at 98 percent, which is among the highest in the world, and we plan to launch the BlackBerry 10 operating system in Qatar by the year end,” said Mohammed Al Mefleh, the director of product management, services and platforms, Middle East at RIM. According to Al Mefleh BlackBerry continues to experience strong growth in the Middle East region with a 119 percent year on year (yoy) growth from March 2011 to12. He said 68 percent of RIM’s total revenue comes from markets outside of North America and the United Kingdom. Asked about the revenues the company generates from Qatar, the RIM official said the company does not disclose countrywide figures, but added that RIM is doing very well in the Qatar market. Commenting on the other RIM projects in Qatar, Al Mefleh said the company is working with QNB, Qtel and Mastercard for the first mobile near field communication (NFC) payments programme in the country. He said RIM has entered into partnerships with local developers to build relevant applications for Qatar.
Explaining the other features of the BlackBerry 10 operating system, Al Mefleh said RIM has worked with TouchType (the maestro’s behind SwiftKey) to deliver a keyboard that intelligently learns your mannerisms from Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as your messages and emails, to accurately predict what people will type next. “The most impressive ability is the custom keyboard feature which learns where you hit particular letter keys and invisibly adjusts the ‘sweet spot’ according to your typing habits. Over time, this will ensure that miss-hit keys are greatly reduced and that you should be able to type near fluently with little to no effort,” the RIM official said.
QATAR AIRWAYS NAMED OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF QATAR OLYMPIC TEAM Qatar Airways and the Qatar Olympic Committee recently announced a strategic partnership with the national airline, named official sponsor of the Qatar Olympic Team. Twelve Qatari athletes are set to compete in the London Olympic Games this summer, thus making up the biggest ever contingent of local stars to participate in the world’s biggest sporting event. The Doha-based carrier will provide a fitting send off to the athletes as they prepare to join thousands of sporting stars from across the globe for the 30th Olympiad in the British capital. The Qatari athletes are, between them, competing in four key disciplines – shooting, swimming, table tennis and athletics – during the two-week event between July 27 and August 12. The partnership between the two local organisations was signed by Qatar Olympic Committee secretary general Sheikh Saoud bin
Abdulrahman Al Thani and Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker at a press conference held at the Qatar Olympic Committee headquarters in Doha. Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani expressed his delight at Qatar Airways becoming a key sponsor of the Qatar Olympic team for the forthcoming London Games. “I would like to express my thanks to Qatar Airways, like other leading national companies, in supporting the sports sector in our country in a big way,” said Sheikh Saoud. “As we meet with Qatar Airways today, preparing to head to London with our athletes, this sponsorship will further demonstrate that one of the biggest companies in Qatar is committed to backing our athletes to achieve great success next month.”
Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker said that supporting the Qatar Olympic Team fitted well in the airline’s overall strategy to back key sporting events, especially those that focus on local talent.
Qatar Olympic Committee secretary general, Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani (right) and Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker are pictured with the signed agreement officially marking the national airline as official sponsor of the Qatar Olympic Team.
QatarGas Employees Contribute Towards Syria Relief Campaign
Qatargas employees have made a financial contribution recently to the Syria Relief Campaign undertaken by Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Al Thani Humanitarian Services (RAF). The objective of the campaign is to deliver emergency humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have been displaced by the ongoing violence in their home country. Ghanim Al Kuwari, Qatargas chief operating officer – administration handed over the cheque to Ayed Al Qahtani, general manager and head of the board of trustees of RAF, during a brief ceremony held at the Qatargas head office building recently. Al Kuwari said: “I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to all the Qatargas employees who have responded very enthusiastically towards this humanitarian cause and contributed generously to support the ongoing campaign by RAF. This clearly demonstrates the high sense of social commitment and concern towards fellow human beings that our people have. We would like to also commend RAF for their initiative and are very pleased to support their efforts in this regard, and we hope this will encourage other organisations to do the same.” Tens of thousands of Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries as a result of the violence, which has been ongoing for over fifteen months. RAF’s campaign aims to deliver basic necessities such as food, clothing, medicines and shelter to those affected. Similar humanitarian aid campaigns in the past have also attracted excellent response from Qatargas employees. In 2011, Qatargas employees contributed towards the Somalia famine aid. Also in 2010, Qatargas employees made a significant financial contribution in support of the victims of the massive flooding in Pakistan.
Mawashi EARNS Global Award at Paris Quality Convention
Mawashi, Qatar’s livestock company has been recently recognised at the 16th International Star for Leadership in Quality Convention at Paris, France – a flagship ceremony under the Business Initiative Directions (BID) Awards. The annual Awards are world-class programmes for outstanding standards of quality and service, with this year’s edition bringing together more than 70 business experts, corporate professionals, economists,
academics, artists and even diplomats. Mawashi’s managing director, Ahmad Nasser Sraiya Al Kaabi said: “We’re extremely honoured to be amongst these global leaders whose companies have left an indelible mark in their industries. We’re even more honoured to represent our country at such a prestigious ceremony and to be earmarked with a coveted title owing to our steadfast commitment to quality across our divisions.” This award is another addition to a series of accolades Mawashi has won in MENA since inception. “We are very much aware of the sensitive nature of our business and therefore we save no effort into being the exemplars of service excellence. This landmark milestone is the outcome of well-measured steps governing various facets of research and improvement over the past two years,” added Al Kaabi.
NEWs IN BRIEF
QNB: LNG grows in the global energy sector Analysis of the energy sector by QNB Group shows that global energy consumption grew by 2.5 percent in 2011 to the equivalent of 247 million barrels of oil a day. Oil itself remains the largest source of this energy, providing a third, with coal and gas close behind. Non-hydrocarbon energy sources - nuclear, hydro and other renewables - together only meet 13 percent of energy demand. The share of gas and nonhydrocarbons in total consumption was almost identical a decade ago. The main change over that period is that the share of coal has increased by six percent due to China’s rapid growth and exploitation of its domestic coal resources. As a result, oil’s share has fallen by six percent. International trade in hydrocarbons currently meets 35 percent of the world’s energy needs. Within this, the growth in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade is one of the most significant developments of the last decade. The volume of LNG traded grew at a rate of 8.8 percent a year over that period, more than triple the rate of overall energy consumption. However, LNG contribution is still small compared to oil. Around 6m boe of LNG was traded every day in 2011, meeting about 2.4 percent of global energy usage. aAmal COMPANY SIGNS JOINT VENTURE AGREEMENT Aamal Company QSC, one of Qatar’s fastest growing diversified companies, recently signed a joint venture agreement with C&C Lightway from Republic of Korea. The joint venture will initially trade in, and distribute, LED (light emitting diode) and other lighting products for the Qatari market and other GCC countries. The joint venture also plans to establish in the near future a factory to assemble and manufacture LED lamps and other lighting products using technology and know-how from C&C Lightway.
eVeNTS cALENdAr SePTeMBeR doHA, QATAr 5–8
Made in the USA Qatar
Linden Boarding School Tour
16 – 19
GCC Europe Forum
21 – 26
World Philatelic Exhibition
25 – 28
INFDEX Interior Decorating
25 to Oct 15 World Postal Congress
For a full and comprehensive calendar of events in Qatar please visit www.theedge.me
NeWS IN QUOTeS “We have tried it twice, and we will continue. It’s not something we will give up – it’s part of our vision to make Qatar a centre for sport.”
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, general secretary for the Qatar Olympic Committee, commenting at a press conference announcing recently that Doha intends to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.
“The Arab League and the Arab countries must play a practical and effective role to stop these massacres, but, unfortunately, this did not happen so far. We, in the [Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria] and Qatar support any move to stop the bloodbath in Syria.” HE the prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani as reported in The Peninsula newspaper, describing the European Union’s move to tighten sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime as a “significant measure”.
“Under the partnership with Barclays Natural Resource Investment BNRI, Qatar Asset Management Company (QAMC) will co-invest US$250 million (QR910 million) in BNRI’s current and future portfolio companies and a substantial proportion will be allocated to BNRI’s existing US$2.1 billion (QR 7.6 billion) portfolio of companies.” Acting chief executive officer and chief strategic development officer of the Qatar Financial Authority (QFC), Shashank Srivastava, commenting to Qatar News Agency recently on the latest development of the QFC’s partnership with BRNI.
“Their employer had not paid them for nearly four months, and that they wanted to return home to Nepal but their employer refused to give their passports back.” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East researcher Priyanka Motaparthy told Reuters at a press conference in Doha recently, after the New Yorkbased Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a critical report on abuses it found in Qatar, meeting with and calling on the Foreign Affairs ministry for a total overhaul of labour practices ahead of the World Cup in 2022.
A BAD THING
While in search of a healthy lunch option, Kamahl Santamaria considers Qatar’s obesity and diabetes epidemic, and asks what business can do to help.
y intention this month was to write a column about Qatar, its malls and businesses, and the effect they are having on the country’s obesity and diabetes problem – particularly over the long summer months. But as we settle into July and August, I am still reminded of the terrible events of May at the Villaggio Mall which I am sure are strong in other people’s minds too. The fire and loss of life seems to be changing the entire business and social landscape in this city. Other malls have been closed for safety inspections. People are talking and questioning more. At the very least, the fire made us think about the victims and their families, and then about our own safety and that of our children as we go about our daily lives. But therein lies a reality. Daily life, for those of us who stay in Qatar over the summer, means frequent trips to the malls. Which brings me back to my original topic – the issue of obesity and diabetes, and the role business can play in both fuelling and rectifying it. Qatar has some quite astonishing statistics on these topics. According to the website qatarsweetepidemic. org – set up by journalism students at Northwestern University – 75 percent of Qataris are overweight, as is 71 percent of the entire population. Even more alarmingly, 16.7
percent of Qatari adults have diabetes (20.2 percent for all adults) when the worldwide average is just 8.5 percent. And this is something the government can only be too aware of, as its own National Health Strategy 2011-2016 published those statistics. So when confronted with such numbers, the first question must be ‘why’? Clearly the nature of the country is a factor – lots of driving, not enough walking, and again those long hot summer months, which lead to increased inactivity and inevitable trips to the malls or hotels. But the way businesses choose to conduct themselves – particularly those in the food/beverage and hospitality sectors – has an impact too. I had never lived anywhere where the major fast-food businesses offered free delivery all over town. Or where a honk of your horn outside one of their outlets would send staff scurrying to take and then deliver your order. This level of convenience only makes it easier for people to consume fast food with little regard for burning it off. There is also a clear culture of excess. Think of the famous ‘Friday brunch’ at any of the major hotels, which offers a volume of food most of us have never seen and a variety that tempts even the smaller eaters. It is a recipe for overindulgence, and I will admit to doing it myself a few times. Plus there is an extension of that – the hotels and other businesses, which offer catering services. In some cases, catering and hospitality can provide more business for a hotel than tourism or room occupancy. So what to do about all of this? How can business help the situation when, in the end, everyone is just
doing their job? Fast-food outlets will always exist, hotels will always be asked to cater, and so a lot of responsibility falls to the individual to exercise good judgement – and to just exercise, period. There needs to be more social responsibility from businesses. More healthy food options, a smaller amount of better-quality food, and a move away from general excess. Penalties could be another option. In May, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) health ministers proposed a 50 percent tax on soft drinks. But perhaps an awareness too of the more unique issues in the region. Obese or diabetic women need to be given extra consideration, according to professor Christina Paschyn, the editor of qatarsweetepidemic.org and a lecturer at Northwestern University. She told TheEDGE: “I think the biggest thing is going to be for women…if they’re not providing the centres or the resources for women to actually do something about it without feeling like they’re exposing themselves to wandering eyes. One of the big things we found is that there’s a big lack of female-only gym facilities…that’s a big problem because many Qatari women don’t want to exercise in public.” So there is onus on both government and business to increase people’s awareness about what they are eating, especially young people – so the habits of one generation can be refined for the next.
Kamahl Santamaria is a Doha-based news anchor with Al Jazeera English and host of the channel’s business and economics programme Counting the Cost.
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ENERGY & RESEARCH
Doha’s five-year export plan According to the International Energy Agency, a positive future awaits the natural gas market over the next five years. With Qatar preparing its export plans, Doha’s two major suppliers reveal which regions they will target – and why. Jamie Stewart reports.
atar’s giant state-owned natural gas companies are preparing for a global push to secure supply contracts with a strong focus on the Asian market, it emerged recently. Strong demand growth for liquefied natural
gas (LNG) in Asia will drive consumption to new heights over coming years, RasGas managing director Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi said at the 25th World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in June, boosted in part by the increased emergence of environmental concerns in China and India.
Qatar sits on the third-largest proven natural gas reserves on the planet, behind only Russia and Iran, and is the world’s largest exporter of LNG. The state’s immense hydrocarbon export industry allowed Doha to unveil an expansionary budget for 2012 and 2013 at the beginning of June, with projected
Qatar’s LNG exporting companies RasGas and Qatargas are currently preparing for a global push to secure long term supply contracts.
ENERGy & RESEARCh
While chairing a discussion at the recent 25th World Gas Conference in Malaysia, Qatargas CEO Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani told delegates that Asia will continue to be one of the company’s main markets.
revenue of QR206 billion and expenditure of QR178 billion, up 27 percent and 26 percent respectively on the previous year. And it is not just the buoyant markets of East Asia that Qatar’s LNG giants will target over the coming years in a bid to ensure the riyals keep rolling in. A shift away from nuclear power across much of Europe has broadened the number of already established gas markets, Al Mohannadi said, with the wider Middle East region also on RasGas’ radar along with, although to a lesser extent, North America. aSIa The Asian nations have long been staple markets for exports of Qatari gas. Last year RasGas’ LNG shipment volume to South Korea totalled 8.3 million tonnes – nearly a quarter of the total demand in the country, according to Qatar energy minister Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada. And, Al Mohannadi said, RasGas is poised to push for more: “South Korea and Taiwan have rebounded strongly from the [global] recession, with a steady increase in LNG demand forecast,” he said. The confident sentiment was matched by fellow Qatari state-owned LNG exporting giant Qatargas. “Asia continues to be a major consumer of energy and will no doubt continue to be a major market in our
natural gas business, and one of Qatargas’ main customer markets,” the company’s chief executive Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani said in Malaysia. “The demand continues with our mature Asian markets as well as the emerging Asian markets, requiring additional energy to support growing populations and improved life styles. Asian nations that were once the main energy exporters are now becoming importers,” Al Thani added. According to Al Mohannadi, opportunities are also emerging for Qatar to increase its stock in what are fast becoming the traditional Asian growth markets of China and India. “There is huge unmet potential demand growth in China and India, as these two nations search the globe for clean energy sources,” he said. Al Mohannadi argued that while coal has been the conventional fuel of choice in Asia, “natural gas has an opportunity to seize an increased role in the market as environmental concerns increase.” eUROPe On the European front, the shift towards a relatively clean and diverse energy mix could further open up the gas market to LNG exporting nations. A shift away from nuclear power in countries such as Germany and Italy will mean that natural gas will play a key role in electricity generation, Al Mohannadi said. But he warned that if Europe really wants to deliver a sustainable and efficient low-carbon energy system, policy makers must ensure that companies are sufficiently incentivised to use lower carbon forms of electricity generation. This would signal a shift away from coal in favour of renewable energy, and any supply system that is heavily reliant on intermittent forms of energy generation such as wind and solar must have sufficient back-up capacity in place to ensure that, when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, energy demand can still be met – which is where gasfired generation comes in. For example in the United Kingdom (UK) – Qatar’s largest European gas customer – the government last month launched a fresh push to ensure investment is forthcoming in new gas-fired power plants which it intends to build alongside a host of offshore wind farms
and a handful of new nuclear power stations. Late last year giant UK utility Centrica signed a memorandum of understanding with Qatar Petroleum (QP) to “explore and cooperate on energy-related investments, including new or existing projects in upstream natural gas, LNG and gas storage as well as gas-fired power plants,” reflecting the close link between the two nations in the field of LNG. MIddle eaST aNd NORTh aMeRICa Much closer to home, Al Mohannadi said that Middle Eastern demand growth for natural gas will prove to be “increasingly significant and could lead to new supply arrangements in the region”. The development of floating regasification terminals in Kuwait and Dubai, and newly planned ones in Fujairah and Bahrain would pan out well for the natural gas sector, Al Mohannadi said, because it will offer an affordable alternative to burning liquids such as oil for power generation. Those liquids can instead be exported to take advantage of robust oil prices, which recently dipped below the US$100 (QR364) per barrel mark for only the second time in 18 months. The International Energy Agency agrees with this sentiment. It said in early June that over the coming five years, a quarter of new gas demand will come from China, while another quarter will come from the Middle East and other Asian countries. There is one region, however, that would appear to be of less immediate interest to Qatar: North America. Although Al Mohannadi was characteristically bullish about demand there – “abundant natural gas” he said, “can fuel a renaissance in the United States economy” – the country is becoming increasingly self-sufficient when it comes to energy on the back of new unconventional gas extraction techniques. Qatar sits on an abundant energy source, demand for which it would appear is not going to go away, which should mean many more expansionist budgets to come. “The potential for additional demand requirements to satisfy these new markets will task our industry to seek new supply and prioritise markets,” Qatargas’ Al Thani said.
ENERGy & RESEARCh
dOha CallS ON GeRMaNy TO MaKe QaTaR SOlaR SeCTOR ‘ShINe’
oha’s push into the renewable energy sector moved up a gear in June when the chief executive of Qatar’s largest solar power firm called on companies in Germany to help “build a brand new industry” on the peninsula. Germany, in northern Europe, is home to roughly half of the globe’s solar power capacity. The country has aggressively built its industry through a generous subsidy regime over the past decade and is now the global leader in the field. Qatar Solar Technologies (QST) chairman and chief executive Khalid Al Hajri said at the German-Arab Business Forum in the German capital Berlin: “As an industry we need to work together to research and develop new solar products, technologies and applications. “QST is building an industry of solar energy for the future and welcomes opportunities for collaboration with the industry’s most progressive and innovative companies.” Qatar’s existing domestic energy system is heavily geared toward electricity generation from gas-fired power plants, the fuel for which the country can supply itself. However, there is a second abundant but almost completely untapped source of fuel in Qatar that can be used to generate power – sunshine. An aggressive programme aimed at forcing solar power into the domestic electricity generation mix would open up additional export opportunities for Doha’s already thriving natural gas industry (see main story) while cutting the cost of power generation in Qatar, thus putting more disposable income into the hands of government. “With knowledge transfer and knowledge creation through collaboration, the solar industry in Qatar is sure to shine now and well into the future,” Al Hajri said. QST launched in March 2010 as a joint-
By Jamie Stewart
venture between Qatar Foundation and German renewable energy giant SolarWorld. The Qatar Development Bank also holds a token minority share. QST is building a huge solar grade polysilicon plant – the material used to construct solar panels – in Ras Laffan Industrial City. Full operations are expected to begin early in 2014. QST has already begun securing business for its plant. In June, it signed a deal with Energy City Qatar (ECQ) that will see ECQ install solar panels and technologies within upcoming developments. Under the deal ECQ is aiming to
install nine megawatts of solar power generation capacity across the city, which would meet around 15 percent of total energy demand. QST’s Ras Laffan plant has been designed to expand capacity as demand grows, and while its products will be installed in Qatar, excess production will be exported globally with the aim of securing a sustainable industry beyond the country’s natural gas sector. And if Al Hajri’s words are anything to go by, and solar power firms in Germany and across the world are listening, Qatar will not be finished there.
This file photo shows zero carbon, solar powered cooling technology for open-air stadiums to FIFA inspectors during the FIFA 2022 World Cup bid inspection tour in 2010 in Doha. Qatar has recently ramped up efforts to produce solar energy alongside international partners. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images for Qatar 2022).
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Ramadan is a sacred month for all Muslims around the world. However, in Qatar and the Gulf Region lavish evening tents are popular for corporate Iftars and Suhoors. Erika WidĂŠn writes about the concept behind these tents and why millions of Qatari Riyals are invested in them.
atar is a historic, cultural, and religious country that respects and adheres to its Islamic practices. In the ninth month of the Islamic calendar it is a holy time for all Muslims around the globe. Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, when Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and other temptations during daylight hours. In the Gulf region in particular it is known that during this time all locals remain in their respective countries. More than a religious month for Qataris, Ramadan is part of their heritage and spiritual identity that they look forward to all year. Ramadan varies each Gregorian calendar year moving eleven days back every year depending on the moon cycle. It is a sacred month in which it is believed the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Throughout the Gulf, it is the time when massive luxurious tents with an Arabian theme are set up in most five star hotels to host Iftars and Suhoors. Iftar is the first
More than a religious month for Qataris Ramadan is part of their heritage and spiritual identity that they look forward to all year. meal of breaking the fast at sunset and Suhoor is the meal before sunrise. However, Iftars and Suhoors are very popular among the business community in the Gulf. Since business is known to be slow during this time, corporate Iftars and Suhoors are also considered the ideal time for marketing and networking. ARABIAN THEME TheEDGE spoke with Hoss Vetry, cluster general manager of the Ritz Carlton hotels of Qatar to find out more about these popular tents, he said: “We start preparing almost ten months before Ramadan. We obviously put a tremendous emphasis on the design and
always update and change the design with a new concept each year…you will never see the same band twice at any of our hotels. We respect and try to be in compliance with the local authorities, local culture and most importantly in respect to the holy period. Our focus on the design of the tent will always be very classic and elegant, traditional, and relevant to our geographical location, and most importantly in line with Ritz-Carlton standards.” Vetry added that the theme is always oriental and the tent is the concept, and to set everything can take up to two weeks. “We want to give everyone the image and feel of being inside of a tent whenever one enters
An artist’s impression of the Ritz Carlton Doha Arabian theme Ramadan tent.
the hall. We play with the colours carefully and tastefully, and always make necessary changes to the design in order to complement the room and this year the colour theme is the accent of orange and green.” He also said that each year even the chairs are upgraded, since the average customer stays for two to three hours, it is important to ensure visitors have the most comfortable seating. Joe Ghayad, hotel manager of Al Sharq Village and Spa told TheEDGE that the idea of the tent is to entertain and is unique in the Gulf region. He also added that nowadays there is competition between hotels for who has the best tent, the most food, and the most authentic Arabian touch. When it comes to the cost of the tent it may be up to millions of Qatari riyals, and it is not considered a profitable business. The idea is not to profit just to entertain, therefore it is common to have sponsors to support the costs. “We don’t necessarily look at it from a financial point of view because there is a tremendous cost putting a tent together, but this is more a celebration of the occasion, which is why we do the tent: to be aligned with the occasion and part of the day’s activities,” added Vetry. CORPORATE SUHOORS AND IFTARS Of course it is popular that most prominent organisations send and receive corporate invites to attend either an Iftar or Suhoor and also support support a charity. Charity is an important aspect in Islam. According to the tradition Ramadan is a blessed time to be charitable, as it is believed that the reward is greater than any other time of the year. Fahad Zainal, chief administration officer of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority, said: “The Qatar Financial Centre’s mission to help the development of Qatar’s financial sector involves important obligations to the whole community. This is especially so at times such as Ramadan when people come together to express their beliefs and culture. As we did last year, we will select a charitable organisation and one of that organisation’s projects to promote among our employees, QFC licensed firms and their clients during Ramadan. We will also hold a Suhoor event
at which the QFC community can mingle and where information about the selected charitable activity will be available.” According to Vetry it is a good cause for companies as an appreciation, as well as sharing such a holy time with their customers. Also since it is impossible to invite the whole company to one’s house or one’s business premises, therefore a hotel makes it possible. “This is actually a very good gesture from many companies and we do, for instance we are inviting charity, we have one night where we invite a charity of our choice to come in and we feed them,” added Vetry. “We are going to serve food at the labour camps… about fourteen thousand meals and is going to be part of the cost of the Ramadan tent.”
TheEDGE asked a representative from Darwish Holding for their perspective behind organising either an Iftar or Suhoor for their guests. “Ramadan is a month of compassion, appreciation and sharing, and we at Darwish Holding make sure we embrace this holy month and its values with our employees, partners and clients. We are keen to make this occasion an unforgettable memory as it expresses a small ‘Thank You’ to the community we are operating in.” From a religious perspective Ramadan is about giving gifts, being thankful and generous. “The good thing about the companies when they do these Iftar or Suhoor is that they do not differentiate between high and low employees. They want everyone together, which is the beauty about it,” added Ghayad. “It is really to say thank you to the people
IfTaR Refers to the evening meal when the fast is broken. It is often done as a family or as a community – gathering with others to break the fast. It is done right after sunset time. Traditionally eating dates right after prayer breaks the fast. SUhOOR Refers to the meal before dawn. Traditionally three hours after breaking the fast. It tends to be heavy meals and regarded by Islamic traditions to benefit the blessings and avoid weakness during the fast.
who have worked for them for a long time. That is the idea behind it…you see them mingle and mix with general managers and employees that work at gas stations…they eat the same food in the same area.” According to Ghayad in the last two years more expatriates are coming to enjoy the tent, since it is something new to them. “They are early birds [expatriates]. Usually the locals come quite late, after ten or eleven.” The tents are open for everyone during the holy month of Ramadan, and the price to enjoy the buffet is reasonable. Traditionally, Ramadan is spent with the family at home and visiting the elderly and other families. Arabs are known to host their guests with lavish hospitality, and the tents are open to welcome the community to experience Ramadan’s warmth in a simple, stylish setting.
Everyone can relate to Thailand’s exquisite cuisine and popular beaches, however Thailand has way more to offer Qatar when it comes to trade. Erika Widén reports on several official visits held recently and the reasons behind them. atar and the Kingdom of Thailand established diplomatic ties in 1980. The first Thai embassy opened in Doha in 2003 and in 2005 Qatar opened its embassy in Bangkok. His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned paid an official visit to Thailand in June 2006 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the succession to the throne of the current King of Thailand, his majesty Bhumibol Adulyady. He is considered as the ‘Father of the Thai Nation’ and his birthday December 5, is observed as Thailand’s National Fathers Day. To this day he is the world’s longest living reigning monarch. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, whereby the prime minister is the head of government and the hereditary monarch is the head of state. Currently there are approximately 2000 Thais in Qatar, and around 90 percent of them are labourers in the construction industry, both skilled and unskilled. In addition there are 500 Thai aircrew staff working for Qatar Airways. The total population of Thais in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is about 15,000. Thai ambassador to Doha, Ponyarak Poolthup, told TheEDGE that
Thailand means business with Qatar
Qatar imports automobiles, spare parts, electrical appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, food and agricultural products from Thailand, while Thailand imports liquefied natural gas (LNG), oil and fertilising chemical products from Qatar. “Since Thailand is a major food exporting country, we could increase trade on food products, agricultural products, and also have spare parts products that could have more market in Qatar,” said Poolthup. Recently Thailand’s prime minster, Yingluck Shinawatra made an official visit to Qatar. During her visit a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed for cooperation in the field of health; and an agreement on recruitment of Thai workforce in Qatar, cooperation in the cultural and trade field and investment in agricultural products and commodities, specifically Halal food. Twelve percent of Thailand’s population are Muslims, and the country is the sixth largest exporter of Halal products in the world. Shinawatra came along with media representatives of Thailand in order to provide more information to Thais about Qatar and its culture. Poolthup told TheEDGE that Qatar has invested in property in Thailand such as hotels. “Qatar Investment Agency is looking for more opportunities to invest in Thailand and under Qatar Investment Authority, there is Qatar Holding, Qatari Diar and Hassad Food. They plan to visit Thailand and look for more opportunities in the near future.” According to Poolthup in 2011 approximately 20,000 Qataris applied for visas, and most of them go for a medical checkup for many types of maladies. They often travel as a family, and while one member is being medically treated the rest of the family enjoys shopping and touring around the country. “Our private hospital is very well equipped and up to the standards, and the service is good and there is no waiting in line…If you go to a European country you will have to wait for a long time,” said Poolthup. According to an official letter written by Shinawatra during her recent
Currently there are approximately 2000 Thais in Qatar and around 90 percent of them are labourers in the construction industry both skilled and unskilled. visit and dedicated to Qatar’s ministries, the elections held in Thailand last year marked the beginning of a new phase of the Kingdom’s efforts to achieve reconciliation and more democracy. “While Thailand is moving forward, it will work collaboratively and closely with its friends in various parts of the world to strengthen existing partnerships and establish new ones in order to consolidate its position as one of the most active and vibrant centres of trade and investment in Asia, and also a favourite tourist destination in the world,” stated Shinawatra. Earlier this year Qatar hosted two Thai princesses who arrived on separate occasions to learn and understand more about Doha and its current developments, promoting and strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries. Poolthup told TheEDGE that the second princess who arrived in March came exclusively to visit
Qatar’s Education City. She conducted a thorough study of the facilities, premises and education system with the sole purpose to adapt and implement what is pending or required in her own schooling system back home. “I am confident that you will have the opportunity to ‘visit and experience Thailand’ by yourself soon,” concluded Shinawatra in her official letter to Qatar. Thailand is categorised as a newly industrialised economy (NIC) due its heavily export dependent economy, which constitutes more than two thirds of its gross domestic product (GDP). Poolthup said in 2011, Thailand’s GDP was US$601 billion (QR2.1 trillion). Tourism also contributes around six percent of its GDP, higher than any other Asian nation. Despite the floods in the southern part of the country, Bangkok has witnessed an increase in tourism in the last few years and it is considered as the most prosperous part of Thailand, dominating the national economy. Thailand is also a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Cairn Group of agricultural exporters.
Thailand AT A GLANCE Population: Approximately 67.4 million GDP per capita (2010): QR35,308 (US$9700) Capital: Bangkok Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Entrepreneurs INJAZ Qatar began operations in 2007 and has since reached more than 8000 students across 20 schools and two universities with the support of over 35 corporate partners and 320 corporate volunteers. Erika Widén provides an insight into some of the programmes INJAZ Qatar offers and the reasons why it is crucial to teach Qataris basic entrepreneurial skills at a young age.
ysha Al Mudehki, executive director of INJAZ Qatar (IQ) says, “We come from a very wealthy country where our national vision is to develop the economy, our social status, and our environmental status…in a context like this, the spirit of entrepreneurship is very important. Teaching youth about the importance of financial management is essential to their development. Our programme More Than Money lays down the foundations that any successful entrepreneur should have; it teaches students about the value of money, the importance of managing income as well as expenses and how best to invest.” IQ’s mission is to equip the youth of Qatar with the skills required to become successful contributors to Qatar’s economy – preparing tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurs. IQ offers eight free programmes focusing on entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy for age groups 12 to 24 in schools and universities. Al Mudehki continues: “We make sure that we review and localise our programs to include examples that the students find familiar in terms of culture. The programme is also adjusted to adapt to our social and work ethic and our economic context.” IQ offers programmes at Qatar University, the Community College of Qatar (CCQ) and 20 independent schools. “We are looking to
expand in private schools where there are many Qatari students,” says Al Mudehki. This year IQ’s programmes have been running in two private institutions, Doha-based Cambridge International School and CCQ. Corporate volunteers teach the programmes once a week over the course of five to 12 weeks, depending on the course. The corporate volunteers are trained in the programme requirements, classroom management and key facilitation techniques prior to teaching the students. ‘More Than Money’ is one of the programmes taught to eighth grade students, which was developed globally and localised to accommodate the socio-economic context of the Gulf region. It raises awareness among students about the value of money, teaching them about earning, spending, sharing and saving money. The programme encourages students to plan their life according to their finances, teaching them not to live beyond their means. The programme is taught through a board game similar to Monopoly, teaching students how to share their financial planning through investments such as purchasing property or pension funds. “Qatar Development Bank is providing support to INJAZ Qatar by sponsoring various youth development programmes, as we see that INJAZ Qatar’s programmes provide tremendous benefits to the young people of Qatar by preparing students for the transition
from education to the workplace. INJAZ’s ‘More Than Money’ programme equips students with skills which enable them to develop into successful entrepreneurs, and with the support of corporate volunteers who donate their time to mentor these students they learn the value of money,” says Mansur Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, chief executive of Qatar Development Bank to TheEDGE. “This programme helps accelerate the development of the Qatari private sector in line with Qatar’s National Vision. Over the last five year, INJAZ has reached out to a large number of students, and we are confident that these numbers will continue to grow with each generation,” adds Al Mahmoud. Another course IQ offers is ‘Success Skills’, originally a Junior Achievement programme which has been localised and adapted for the Gulf region. This course is available for eleventh grade students up to university level. The programme allows students to develop a range of interpersonal skills linked to the workplace such as working in teams, developing effective communication skills, building rapport, influencing others and enhancing personal presentation skills. It is taught as an interactive course through a series of case studies introduced as DVD, role-plays and team building exercises. State Street has been the main sponsor for the ‘Success Skills’ programme during the current academic year in Qatar. “For the
INJAZ Qatar Current Programmes 1. Success Skills (11th Grade to University Level and for the blind) 2. Company Programme (11th Grade to University Level) 3. Be Entrepreneurial (11th Grade to University Level) 4. Banks in Action (11th Grade to University Level) 5. Innovation Camp (11th Grade to University Level) 6. Personal Economics (9th Grade only) 7. More than Money (8th Grade only) 8. Business Leader Campaign (All students meet and listen to senior level executive’s business journeys, challenges and success stories) third consecutive year, State Street remains committed to INJAZ Qatar’s developmental initiatives that are targeted at a young age. INJAZ provides young people with a unique opportunity to learn first-hand from industry professionals along with acquiring business acumen,” says Rod Ringrow, senior executive officer of State Street Middle East North Africa LLC. Ringrow also mentions that the ‘Success Skills’ programme equips students with the critical skills required to succeed in a competitive job market, educating them in how to position themselves when approaching potential employers. “Working with INJAZ is a truly rewarding experience, we are delighted to be able to share some of our experiences while running this programme this year,” says Ringrow. Jaafar Ali Al-Sarraf, manager, wholesale credit risk of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited shares with TheEDGE his experience as a corporate volunteer for IQ. “Success Skills has given me the opportunity to share my professional experience with extremely dedicated students,” he says. “By exchanging real life insights and learnings, I have been able to encourage them to identify their goals and work towards achieving them. I am delighted to work with such enthusiastic young people, helping them focus their energy on applying
IQ’s mission is to equip the youth of Qatar with the skills required to become successful contributors to Qatar’s economy.
A corporate volunteer delivering the INJAZ Qatar programme in al Ruqayya Independent Preparatory school for girls.
skills they have acquired to achieve their goals and eventually contribute back to their society.” Berhane Saad, corporate planning and development manager of New Port Project also expresses his enthusiasm for being part of IQ’s corporate volunteer team. “I found that students were extremely enthusiastic about ‘Success Skills’, they welcomed the opportunity to pick up new skills that enhance their performance when they enter the job market. The course is a highly effective tool to optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of any business establishment.” Saad also believes that the ‘Success Skills’ programme helps students become more
versatile and grants them the ability to take on new duties that help keep their jobs exciting and viable. “Students demonstrated interest in several areas, such as teamwork, problem solving, how to use market feedback to implement corrective actions, and marketing,” he says. More than 30 companies have been collaborating and supporting IQ to help create the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs. IQ has many more programmes in the pipeline. “Our vision is to implement our programmes in all schools of Qatar and to become part of the national curriculum,” concludes Al Mudehki. TheEDGE
AL GASSAR BALLROOM AT AL GASSAR RESORT OFFERS EXCLUSIVE AND ATTRACTIVE CORPORATE PACKAGES DURING THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
Outside Catering Services is yet another facility offered by Al Gassar Ballroom providing all banqueting needs to clientsâ€™ door steps
l Gassar Ballroom located at the iconic luxury waterfront destination of AlGassar Resort, offers attractive packages for corporate and social gatherings during July and the month of Ramadan. The column-less, circularly designed
in Doha presents the ideal location for any type of events in addition to the numerous function areas 65 people all the way up to 1,000 individuals.
All through the month of Ramadan, Al Gassar Ballroom presents a unique traditional Ramadan ambience that is suitable for private family functions or company gatherings. Clients can enjoy custom-made function and event packages themed especially for Ramadan with a selection of amazing succulent buffet menus for both Iftar and Suhour. Outside Catering Services is another exclusive facility offered by Al Gassar Ballroom, simply providing all social
For more information on exclusive and custommade packages at Al Gassar Ballroom during the month of Ramadan clients may contact the Sales Executives at Al Gassar Ballroom or visit at www.algassarresort.com
or corporate catering solutions and logistics right at the client’s doorstep. Clients are able to host exclusive events without hassle due to the professional operations of Al Gassar Outside Catering which handle all requirements from service logistics, manpower, equipment transportation and preparation. A team of specialized professionals are on call to assist clients and recommend a range of preparations which suit the type of event required.
traditional Ramadan themed lavish Iftar or Sohur menus, depending
“We at Al Gassar Ballroom understand the requirements of both corporate and individual clients whatever the necessity or season celebration. Clients can enjoy a family environment or corporate needs at any of the function rooms catered to a variety of usages. During the month of Ramadan, specially themed menus with traditional beverages, international cuisine and mouthwatering Ramadan sweets can be ordered at the premises or for outside catering facilities which is another service of Al Gassar Ballroom. Our chefs can cater to any taste and prepare traditional delicacies of any type of cuisine”, commented Nader Samaan, Head of Operations at Al Gassar Ballroom.
“Through its comprehensive range of amenities and highly skilled, courteous and dedicated staff, Al Gassar Ballroom promises our patrons a unique experience during the Holy Month of Ramadan with a range of packages which are custom designed to suit each client requirement. Our venues are designed to meet every demand and exceed all expectations. We invite families, groups and individuals to explore the many pleasures and treats Al Gassar Resort and Al Gassar Ballroom have to offer during this special season,” said Mohamed Sleiman, Assistant COO, Resorts Development Company.
A team of experienced chefs specializing in a wide range of local and international cuisines and delicacies are on hand preparing
Arabian sweets and delights along with popular Ramadan beverages are served to provide a unique Oriental dining experience. To ensure a truly memorable culinary experience, event planning professionals and specialists are on call at Al Gassar Ballroom to assist guests in choosing the right cuisine, seating arrangements and decorations to suit each gathering.
The 1,300 square meter Ballroom and smaller function areas are the ideal venues for clients due to the unique design, opulent furnishing, exquisite which transport guests into a world of
ALGASSAR RESORT Al Gassar Resort ideally located at the waterfront of the Arabian Gulf overlooking the Doha skyline of the Westbay area; adjacent to Katara and the Doha Exhibition Centre boasts luxury components of 3 luxury residential towers from 1-3 bedrooms and suites, Al Gassar Ballroom and the bespoke St Regis Doha presents the ideal residential, tourism and hospitality destination in Doha creating the ideal address of luxury living and service. Owned by Resorts Development Company (RDC) and managed & developed by Alfardan Group, Each of the Al Gassar Resort’s fully furnished apartments and suites, have been created to offer the convenience and service of a hotel with all the luxury and comfort of a home.
FINANCE & ECONOMICS
Market Watch • Balance Sheet • Special Report • PERSONAL FINANCE • Economic barometer
THE ARAB SPRING: PRICE OF FREEDOM (P.48)
Through his book The Price of Freedom published exclusively in TheEDGE for the next four issues prior to its official release, Karim Nahkle identifies the economic impact of the Arab Spring so far and the future drivers of change on the local, regional and global level.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION: • Market Watch: Dheeraj Shahdadpuri reports on how for the past two years there has been a fear that Greece would exit the euro area and presents a scenario if this were to have happened. (P.40) • Balance Sheet: Mark Rebello discusses the key issues to be aware of when entering the Qatari market from a tax perspective, and highlights recent interpretations with respect to the Tax Law. (P.42) • Special Report: Thomas Bacon looks at Qatar’s appealing market for retailers and mall operators. (P.44) • Personal Finance: Adrian Bliss looks at investing in overseas property and explains the importance of reviewing the asset allocation of one’s investment portofolio. (P.46)
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What if ‘Grexit’ would have happened? by Dheeraj shahdadpuri
For the past two years we have been living with the dreadful fear that Greece might choose to exit the euro area to combat its debt menace, for which it is forced to accept harsh austerity terms of bailout, imposed by the member euro nations. But we never came more close to this happening than recently, when the country underwent elections for a second time in a span of two months to effectively decide on future membership of the country in the euro area. Although with the formation of a pro-bailout coalition government, the fears of the euro area breakdown have no doubt decreased, it is still worth looking at a scenario if this was to have happened, despite the fact that Germany (the biggest bailout contributor) and European Central Bank (ECB) would in all probability prevent any member nation from dropping the single currency union. One of the biggest impacts of Greece leaving the euro area and opting for monetary independence would have been felt in the other bailed-out countries, Ireland and Portugal. Speculation in financial markets would have run high that these two countries could be next in line to drop the currency, which in turn would have raised fears of a larger euro area breakup. On the other hand, Italy and Spain would have seen their cost of issuing new debt going significantly higher on the back of concerns that the funds available under the European Financial Stability Fund and upcoming European Stability Mechanism, the two bailout funds, would not be sufficient in supporting these two countries. Undoubtedly, if the crisis intensifies, foreign investors would feel more compelled to pull their investments out of the euro region. Threat of this negative reaction is particularly significant, since Spain has recently asked a EUR100 billion (QR450 billion) bailout for its banks, and the sovereign bond yield of the country is nearing seven percent mark, a level which triggered previous bailouts of peripheral economies. To fight the sudden liquidity crisis on Greece’s exit, it can be assumed that the ECB would have been required to embark on some bold measures, such as the Long Term Refinancing Option (LTRO) or may even had to directly buy the sovereign bonds particularly of Spain and Italy to help them keep their cost of borrowing in-check. These sort of measures gain importance as it becomes necessary to provide assurance to the financial markets that ECB would take decisive steps to minimise the impact of Greece’s exit so the stability of the euro currency is maintained, although financial markets in a shock reaction would have devalued the currency. It is worth noting that the ECB in its last two LTRO operations has already lent nearly 1 trillion euros (QR4.5 billion) to regional banks to avoid a liquidity crunch. As far as the new independent Greece is concerned, the nation’s economy would take a plunge if it were to leave the regional economic bloc, and national banks which have already witnessed severe capital flight would have seen this continuing at an accelerated pace as foreign investors shy away from exposure to the country. To shore up the banking sector after departing from the single currency union, the Greek government in all probability would have resorted to printing drachma (Greece’s former currency before joining the euro area) to meet immediate liquidity needs
of the banking sector. Another major step that the Greek government could have taken is devaluing its currency to make its exports attractive in the international trade arena. But both these measures can lead to hyperinflation, and in turn would have disrupted the daily living of Greeks, as prices of even basic goods would soar and the savings of a lifetime evaporates over night. Although in the short run currency devaluation is painful, if money supply is managed systematically, it can be beneficial in the long term for the economy. But by leaving the economic bloc, what real competitive advantage Greece can achieve in front of other member euro nations to attract foreign investment remains a big concern. Given the fact that the euro area regional bloc is the second biggest in the world in terms of economic output (only behind the United States), the impact of a member nation leaving the regional bloc would have been greatly felt in many other nations across the world through dwindling investors, business and consumer confidence. Therefore it is widely believed that the cost of any euro member leaving the currency far outweighs benefits that could be derived from it, and hence will continue to do their utmost to prevent this happening.
new tax laws in Qatar With the introduction from 1 January 2010 of Qatar Tax Law No. 21 of the year 2009 (Tax Law), there have been a number of changes to the countryâ€™s tax regime that foreign investors considering investment into Qatar will need to consider carefully. Mark Rebello sheds some light on the key issues to be aware of when entering the Qatar market from a tax perspective, as well as highlighting recent updates/ interpretations with respect to the Tax Law and its accompanying Executive Regulations (ER) and Tax Circulars.
Tax Compliance Requirements Every taxpayer carrying on an activity in Qatar is required to submit a tax card application to the Public Revenues and Taxes Department (PRTD) within thirty days from the commencement of activity. Tax Declaration A corporate tax return (along with Qatar based audited financial statements) is required to be filed by all entities (unless exempt, for example 100 percent wholly Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) owned companies) which are resident or having a permanent establishment (PE) in Qatar for example have been issued a tax registration card for their gross income derived from ‘activity’ carried on in Qatar and gross income derived from contracts ‘wholly’ or ‘partly’ performed in Qatar. Retention System The Qatar retention system is designed to encourage foreign entities to meet their Qatar tax filing obligations. Under this system, part of foreign entities’ payment may be retained by the payer until a Tax Clearance Certificate is provided indicating proof that they have settled their corporate tax account with the PRTD for the relevant year. Circular No. Two of 2011 further provides: Payments made to the following will not be subject to retention (on producing a valid tax registration card): • Companies incorporated in Qatar such as a LLC, Qatari shareholding company etcetera. • Qatar/GCC natural persons resident in Qatar. • Registered permanent branches (for example branches not registered for a specific contract/project or period, such as engineering consultant firms, law firms, and audit firms). Payments made to branches registered for a particular project or period (temporary branch) are subject to retention at the rate of three percent of the contract value or the final payment, whichever is higher. Withholding Tax The introduction of a withholding tax (WHT) system is one of the most significant developments to Qatar’s tax framework. Tax registered entities making payments to its suppliers, vendors etcetera must now self
A corporate tax return is required by all entities permanently established in Qatar. assess and deduct WHT where applicable and submit the same to the PRTD. The WHT regime applies to amounts paid to non-residents (for example generally entities without a Qatar tax registration card) where the activity is not related to a PE in Qatar and where the services are carried on either ‘wholly’ or ‘partly’ in Qatar. WHT will generally apply on the following basis and categories: • Five percent on technical fees and royalties; • Seven percent on interest, commissions, intermediary fees, board remunerations and other services ‘wholly’ or ‘partly’ performed in the State of Qatar. WHT will be considered a final tax. Tax relief provided by tax treaties that Qatar has with the international community may prevail subject to PRTD approval. Other Key Tax Considerations Reporting Obligations: Article 38 of the ER provides that a company operating in Qatar has an obligation to notify the PRTD for contracts concluded with residents or non-residents who have a PE in Qatar, if the contract value attains QR 200,000 for service contracts and QR500,000 for contracting, supply, and supply and service contracts. Contracts concluded with non-residents with no PE in Qatar should be notified to the PRTD regardless of their value. Anti-Avoidance The Tax Law contains a broad antiavoidance provision that allows the PRTD to override tax scenarios where taxpayers are deemed by the PRTD to have entered into arrangements for the purpose of gaining an undue tax advantage. Transfer Pricing The PRTD has the power to impose ‘market value’ on transactions where it deems a particular transaction is not carried out at ‘arm’s length’ between related parties. The PRTD will also take a substance over form approach in assessing the reasonableness of transactions.
Lodgement Deadlines WHT statements WHT statements must be submitted to the PRTD by the 15th of the month following the month the actual payment is made. Tax declaration submission The deadline for submission of a tax return is four months from the end of the accounting period. The accounting period of a taxpayer (unless approval for a different period is obtained from the PRTD) who carries on an activity shall generally be the taxable year (for example 1 January to 31 December). Penalty Regime Tax card registration: A penalty of QR5000 may be imposed for a delay in submitting a tax card application. WHT submission Failure to comply with the WHT rules may subject entities to a financial penalty equal to the amount of tax that has not been withheld, in addition to the payment of the tax due. Tax declaration submission • All entities may be subject to a penalty of QR100 per day (capped to a maximum of QR36,000) for the delay in submission of their tax declaration with the PRTD. • For foreign entities, a penalty of 1.5 percent of the amount of tax due per month may be imposed for delay in the payment of tax liability up to the amount of tax due. • For exempt entities, a penalty of QR10,000 may be imposed for non-submission of a tax declaration and Qatar based audited financial statements.
This article is intended for information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. TheEDGE
MaRKet By Thomas bacon atar is an appealing market for retailers and mall operators, in particular, the relatively underdeveloped food-retailing segment. The retail sector generated QR32.2 billion (US$8.84 billion) in 2010, the last year for which figures were available, up 8.3 percent from 2009, according to international press reports. Qatar currently has the highest consumer confidence in the Middle East, according to a worldwide index compiled by credit card firm MasterCard, published in April. The country scored 93.6, well above the Gulf average of 85.7. While Qatar’s rating has slipped a little over the past six months, it remains remarkably high, given the international climate. The retail sector’s strong performance and high consumer confidence can largely be attributed to the buoyant economy. Qatar’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita now tops US$100,000 (QR364,000) in purchasing power parity terms − the highest in the world − and will rise to almost US$125,000 (QR455,000) by 2016, according to forecasts by Doha-based QNB Capital and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With such spending power, the country has a large retail market for its population of 1.69 million. According to official figures, the population is expected to grow at an average of 2.1 percent between 2011 and 2016, reaching 1.9m people, and Qatar could be home to three million people by 2026. Indeed, strong fundamentals are fuelling rapid expansion in retail space. Total gross leasable area (GLA) in malls reached 509,000 square metres (sqm) at the end of 2011, up from 430,000 sqm the year before, according to a May report by real estate services firm DTZ. Mall space is expected to grow a further 34 percent in 2012 to 684,000 sqm, with new properties, such as Ezdan, Markhiya and Gulf Mall, coming onto the market. Qatar already has a relatively large amount of retail space, with 300 sq metres per 1000 people, compared to 200 sqm in most European countries. And more projects are already in the pipeline: in May, Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Development announced that it was seeking financing for its US$411 million (QR1.4 trillion), 507,605 sqm Marina Mall, which it expects to complete by 2015. Sector insiders are confident of the outlook, and note that retail expansion will not only come in the form of new malls; Qatar currently has a relatively small modern food retailing sector given its income levels, an opportunity investors are starting to investigate. In February 2012, the local Al Meera Holding Company signed a joint venture agreement with French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon to manage proposed retail
partnerships in the wider region. This follows the news in December 2011 that Al Meera Consumer Goods Company had signed a deal with the Casino Group to franchise the French retailer’s Geant Hypermarket in Qatar and Oman. Casino is one of the world’s largest food retailers, and its entry indicates Qatar’s potential. According to Al Meera’s chief executive officer, Guy Sauvage, “Retail space will grow tremendously over the coming decade. But the type of space that will come onto the market is unclear at the moment. There is a gap in food and hypermarket space, which is the real growth sector for retail.” With several new malls and retailers coming onto the market, competition is likely to increase, even with the current levels of demand growth. As a result, a trend towards malls and retailers differentiating themselves through targeting specific demographic groups or retail sectors, as well as through branding and promotion, may intensify. Sector insiders tell OBG that competition is a good thing, broadening choice for Qatari consumers and growing the market. Furthermore, with demand still growing strongly and some segments somewhat overlooked by international firms until now, they see plenty of potential for new entrants and incumbents alike to flourish, provided they have a solid strategy and offer the quality the market demands. Of course, retail space is not the only way of reaching consumers – another report by MasterCard in April suggested that nearly half of consumers in Qatar use online retailing. Greater clarity on this, and stronger promotion of online channels by retailers, could see Internet shopping reach its growth potential. Qatar has very sound fundamentals for retailers, and the coming years should see the market both expand and diversify, providing opportunities for local and international firms alike.
Thomas Bacon is an analyst at Oxford Business Group.
$afe A$ hOUSe$? IDENTIFYING THE CORRECT PROPERTY INVESTMENT STRATEGY
Do you own a property in Qatar? Do you own a rental property back home? Do you own a holiday home elsewhere in the world? If the answer is yes to one of these questions then you may need to review the asset allocation of your investment portfolio, Adrian bliss explains.
e often think of owning property as being separate to investments in, say, stocks and shares. Yet
when you take into account the huge financial commitment involved in buying and owning a property, then it is important that any property holdings should be counted as part of your overall investment strategy. And, just as a stock
market downturn presents a risk if you are holding too many equities, holding a sizeable amount of money in property exposes you to the risk of a property crash. For every expatriate investing their
money into property as a plausible bolthole, if not to be used for their ultimate retirement income, there are a dozen more expatriates who have had their fingers burned by such a gamble. Expatriates in Spain and Greece are good examples of those counting the cost of investing their savings in a property market that has now crashed. And it is not just a European problem, an oversupply of property for sale in the Middle East caused a fall in prices when the global financial crisis hit. The fact of the matter is that property as an investment class is no longer – excuse the pun – as safe as houses. It is subject to global financial risks the same as any other asset class and should be treated as such. Still not convinced? We have listed eight compelling comparisons on the risk front for weighing up the benefits of switching some of your investible income out of property and into a more flexible portfolio of well-spread investment classes such as bonds, stocks, commodities, futures, as well as alternative asset classes which are uncorrelated to the stock markets and act as a hedge in volatile times – think gold, stamps or classic cars. Spread the risk: Remember the old adage; do not put all your eggs into one basket. While there is no set percentage rule for each asset class, a well diversified portfolio spreads the risk across a wide range of asset classes ensuring if one goes down, not all your wealth goes with it. Your tolerance for risk will play a part in any asset allocation strategy. Market and currency volatility: A property is exposed to market swings and demand and supply, just as any other asset class. Currency also plays a big part, as many properties will be funded via a mortgage that often requires moving money from one currency to another on a regular basis. Think of Greece and imagine the plight of foreign villa owners who, having paid for their property in a world-class currency like the euro, fear it may now be valued in a revived drachma with little chance of a sale in the near future. A well run portfolio of investments gives you additional control over the denomination of the underlying currency as well as the option of
changing from one currency to another fairly easily should your circumstances change. Tax: Property can never be guaranteed to be tax efficient. Tax relief can be wiped away by a change of regulations as economic policies or governments change. Foreign property owners are often last in the queue for any such relief as all governments seeking to curry favour from their own electorate. Tax benefits and relief can be gained in a wide number of ways with a well-developed offshore investment portfolio. Choosing the offshore jurisdiction, which governs an expatriate’s portfolio can be determined at the outset according to the tax advantages offered to non-domicile, nonresident investors. Immovability: Liquidating the money you have invested in a property takes time, and even more so in a period of sluggish markets. Contrast that with the speed with which you can sell off a shareholding or pull out of an investment situation that looks decidedly risky. Again, we can use Greece as an example – as with the risk of Greece coming out of the euro, many Greeks are switching their euro savings into another currency. You cannot do that overnight with an asset made of bricks and mortar. Portability: Similar to the point made above, a well structured offshore investment portfolio crosses borders safely and is well protected every time you do. No matter how many times in your expatriate life you start a new job in a new country your portfolio is not negatively affected by such change. A property cannot be moved and is further at risk to the political and economic dynamics of the local economy. Expense: Investment portfolios can be managed at a distance. You do not have to buy an air ticket, make costly travel arrangements or take time out to oversee this investment. With a property there must always be an additional budget – either to arrange for inspections for renovation or new lets or to pay someone else to do this for you. This can be expensive. Estate Management: Investments in any portfolio can be manoeuvred into the most effective vehicles for passing down to future generations. While there are a
number of ways in which this can be done, which require discussion and planning, property owners will find that splitting a share of a house between beneficiaries can be fraught with tension. And there is every chance you will be handing down a tax bill along with the gift. Most jurisdictions impose a taxable charge on recipients of inherited property. In others, such as France, the benefactor doesn’t get to choose who has the property – inheritance rights are dictated by the state. Opportunity: Expatriates working overseas are typically offered housing by way of their overall employment package. If this benefit is not in the form of an actual property, then a house allowance easily covers their rent. So why pour your money into a property when it is not needed to provide the roof over your head and the funds could be diverted into investments that can achieve a higher return? Of course, the purpose of this article is not to say avoid property completely. Sound asset allocation involves having some exposure to a broad range of asset classes and these includes property, as well as equities, fixed interest and cash. The key to reducing the risk in meeting your savings goals is to ensure you strike the right balance.
Adrian Bliss is a senior financial consultant, Guardian Wealth Management Qatar LLP.
Expatriates with property in Spain and Greece are good examples of those counting the cost of investing their savings in a market that has crashed. TheEDGE
THE ArAB SprING: PRICE OF FREEDOM
Through his book The Price of Freedom, to be published exclusively in TheEDGE for the next few issues prior to its official public release, Karim Nakhle, the Middle Eastern economist and monthly contributor to TheEDGE’s Economic Barometer section, identifies the impact of the Arab Spring so far, its major cost, winners, losers and the future drivers of change on the local, regional and global level.
reedom, of course, should have no price. But like many aspects of the Middle East, it does, and it is a hefty one. There are numerous illusions about the Arab Spring, some of which are apparent and clear, while others may require years or even decades to uncover. Over the course of 2011 to date (June 2012), the Arab world has been caught in a tornado of regime changes that toppled some of the world’s longest-serving ruling contemporary dictators. Ever since popular uprisings erupted in a number of Arab capital cities, there have been a number of widespread claims that are thought to reflect reality but which in fact are far from reaching it yet, if ever. These represent the hopes for the future of society, and the calls from some young enthusiastic revolutionaries, demanding ‘dignity’, ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’. However, the most significant illusion, which was exposed quickly, was the claim that such revolutions were peaceful or that they were free from any ideological or traditional bias.
There has been a 77 percent fall in public revenues in yemen and an 84 percent fall in libya. The Arab revolutions included violence, and were not free from ideological influence (leftists and Islamists) or traditional biases such as sectarianism, ethnicity and regionalism. The story that ‘non-politicised’ youths staged peaceful revolutions against despotic regimes, with the aim of restoring political and social life is therefore an inaccurate description. There were indeed some ‘idealists’ who simply wanted to topple the former regimes, yet the opposition forces in the street never abstained from engaging in violence, sabotage, religious extremism, leftwing (anti-institutional) intransigence, and the use of sectarian and regionalist slogans. Across the region, the once ‘peaceful’ demonstrations transformed over the space of a few days into a civil war that necessitated military intervention, while the people, the media and foreign observers claimed that we were simply experiencing a new stage in the
history of the Middle East. However, as soon as the previous regimes fell, by coups or armed force, social ills and bias resurfaced, placing the futures of these countries – and even their internal unity – in real jeopardy. Those who advocate the Arab Spring argue that what we are experiencing is nothing more than the inevitable result of the previous regimes’ policies, and that the transitional process may require an indeterminate amount of time before all these states are able to return to normal. From our economic and financial perspective, our role is to assess the cost of this transition, nevertheless we cannot estimate the amount of time required until this can happen, and no one can guarantee that the future will be better than the past. At stake in this regional gamble is the fate of millions of people from North Africa to the Levant, the fortunes of several key ruling
The flags of Tunisia, Libya, and (in the background, right side) Egypt fly at a crowded demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo.
A protest in the city centre of Tunis during the revolution.
dynasties, massive international interests— public as well as private — and a much more critical and profound reshaping of the Arab world as we once knew it. Total cost to the six Arab countries that have witnessed revolution and popular uprisings is estimated at more than US$100 billion (QR364 billion) and still rising, with Syria’s ongoing crisis. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria have all been hit hard economically. Their costs to gross domestic product (GDP) are immense while costs to
public finance are even larger. The Arab Spring’s popular protests have cost the region a lot more than previously anticipated. Egypt, Libya, and Syria, which have experienced intense civil disturbances or conflict during the Arab Spring, paid the highest financial price and are expected to lose the most in the short term. Yemen and Libya public expenditures have fallen alongside public revenues as government collapsed. There has been a 77 percent fall in public revenues in Yemen and an 84 percent fall in Libya.
More than four million people fled their countries since the start of the conflict, and the severe disruption in the healthcare, education, tourism, telecommunications, manufacturing, agriculture, and financial sector has devastated their local economy. However, the region as a whole is benefiting economically from the Arab Spring. With the exception of Libya, oil exporters were winners and oil importers were losers. Oil rich countries that have suppressed or avoided uprisings are set to gain the most. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have all increased public revenues. In Saudi Arabia the impact on public revenues is positive, increasing by 25 percent. In UAE public revenues have risen by 31 percent. International assistance has fallen well short of expectations; the support promised by the G8 in May 2011 has to a large extent not materialised. And the impact of the US$100 billion (QR364 billion) provided by the G20 will be trickle down at best, with the risk that those who took to the streets see little direct benefit over the short to medium term. Assistance is loan-based, focused on macroeconomic stabilisation and is limited to Libya, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. The slow pace of broad-based European financial support for the range of Arab countries in turmoil has gotten even worse since the eurozone’s financial crisis of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. Following expensive military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the absence of a clear road map to facilitate European Union (EU) and United States (US) engagement in the Arab Spring countries, and the rising popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood parties, the EU and US limited their costly military intervention to Libya only, based on its high potential for being a strategic oil and gas partner, post-revolution. Given the lack of representational political structures across the Arab realm and poor transparency measures, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) need to drive the reform process internally, with coordinated external support, otherwise, without a regional support programme, the effects of the Arab Spring could be regressive. One final point is the well-known fact of
the impact that technology has had on the Arab Spring. Every successful revolution in history has required a spark to ignite it. By most accounts, it appears that Arab Spring received that spark online – through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social network sites and mobile phone calls and SMS, which paved the way for a few brave young men and women to organise protests and to mobilise demonstrators against the entrenched regimes. A rising level of connectivity, combined with an exploding population of young people facing declining economic prospects since the global recession began a few years ago are probably the most critical underlying factors explaining the Arab region’s situation. Technology, which is growing in the region at record rates, has electrified public opinion throughout a region where democracy is underdeveloped and similar sets of ills – autocracy, corruption, unemployment, and the dignity deficit – are widespread. CHAPTER I: THE CATAlYST OF CHANGE Can one woman change the world? Surely she cannot, especially if she plans for it; but one woman accidentally changed the map of the Middle East. It all started ostensibly when a bigoted 45-year-old female municipal official slapped a Tunisian vegetables street vendor in the face, spat at him, confiscated his electronic weighing scales, and tossed aside his produce cart. This 26 year-old-man, Mohamed Bouazizi – who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by the municipal official and her aides – became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring, inciting demonstrations and riots in Tunisia in protest of social and political issues. Through his act of bravery, Mohamed Bouazizi inadvertently lit the dry tinder of populist anger directed against repressive and unresponsive ancient Arab regimes. Eighteen months later, the conflagration has spread almost two thousand miles, across the deserts of North Africa to the oil-soaked
Gulf kingdoms and shores of the Levant. Four deeply ingrained autocracies have been summarily decapitated, several proud royal dynasties have been forced into new postures of conciliation and two violent internal conflicts are still playing out – one with United Nations (UN) intervention. The Arab uprisings were not foreseen by any intelligence agency, and the scale and speed of the chain reaction caught world leaders entirely off guard. To date, rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; civil uprisings have erupted in Bahrain and Syria; major protests have broken out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, and Morocco; and minor protests have occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Western Sahara, as well as clashes at the borders of Israel in May 2011. In neighbouring Iran, a non-Arab but Muslim country, protests by the Arab minority in Khuzestan erupted in 2011 as well. Weapons from the Libyan civil war stoked a simmering rebellion in Mali, and the consequent Malian coup d’état has been described as ‘fallout’ from the Arab Spring in North Africa. The sectarian clashes in Lebanon in 2011 and 2012 were described as a direct result of the Syrian uprising and hence the regional Arab Spring. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been “Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām” or ‘the people want to bring down the regime” – and many did. The protests have shared techniques of mostly civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, and rallies, as well as the use of social media to organise, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship. The core reasons (staggering internal
socioeconomic disparities, widespread under-education – particularly for minorities – corruption, private use of trade commodities and public funds, repression of freedom of speech and anti-populist security measures), approach, techniques, and reactions from governments to these protests were similar. But it would be misleading to look at the Arab Spring as one wave that changed the region. Rather, it would be more accurate to describe it as a storm, with different scale tornadoes in various areas, since at least three separate regions were affected, each with their own distinct regional and internal politics: North Africa, the Levant, and the Gulf region. Unlike previous movements that characterised the Middle East revolutionary scene since the 1960s, the Arab Spring of 2011 is very different. It is very far from a Nasser-esque pan Arab movement, spurred by one man’s vision and political manoeuvring that emerged half a century ago. It is not rooted in a single political agenda (Anti-Zionist sentiment hitherto being the one defining common cause of the Arab world) that emerged in the 1970s and 1980’s. Nor is it a faith-based crusade similar to the wave of extremism founded by Al Qaeda and new forms of radical Islamic parties that mushroomed throughout the region in the 1990s to date. These uprisings are about ‘personal liberty’ and ‘personal beliefs’. For example, the aspirations of the unemployed youth fighting corruption in Egypt; the enemies of the Alawi regime in Homs or Hamaa; and the oppressed farmers in Yemen. They mostly share their determination, their brave hearts,
Continued on page 68.
Parts of the region have benefitted economically from the uprisings, with oil rich countries that have suppressed or avoided uprisings set to gain the most. TheEDGE
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
UNLOCKING HUMAN POTENTIAL
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Erika Widén discusses the challenges for Qatar to adapt and implement the International, British, American and French curriculums while preserving their national identity, and the country’s journey from a hydrocarbon economy to a knowledge based economy.
Home to a number of internationally-renowned universities and run under the auspices of the Qatar Foundation, Education City in Doha is a prime example of the Qatari government’s focus on quality education in the country. (image Arabian Eye)
atar has advanced tremendously in less than a decade towards building its capital city Doha at a fast pace and at the same time implementing an effective education system. The challenge for Qatar is to identify the best international educational practices and adapt them to meet its national needs while preserving their identity and language. It is an ongoing process as Qatar’s education system is quite unique. It offers a wide range of curriculums and standards to cater for a dominant and diverse expatriate community. EDUCATION FOR A NEW ERA Law No. 25 of the year 2001, states that education must be compulsory for all children from the start of elementary education at the age of six until high school. The law was put in place to ensure all Qatari and expatriate children receive an adequate education. It has also spurred the opening of new schools on all levels. Geared mainly towards expatriates, Qatar provides education for toddlers (age four to five years) in kindergarten and pre-school. However, it is anticipated that within the next few years, it will become popular to enrol Qatari children at the age of three. The establishment of the Supreme Council of Education (SEC) by Emiri decree 37 in November 2007 set the education reform in motion. It led to the transformation of all government schools to independent schools, known as ‘Education For a New Era’. In 2011 the transformation was complete converting a total of 179 government schools, where the SEC took over the responsibility from the Ministry of Education. Independent schools are government funded and designed to provide more innovative, child-focused education and
allows parents to choose the school they feel is adequate for their child’s requirements. The SEC is responsible for setting the national education policy and linking this policy to education goals, plans and programmes, in accordance with the country’s overall objectives. The National Development Strategy 2011-2016 (NDS) underlines the importance of private schools in the educational development of Qatar, and currently there is a new law being drafted on private education. The NDS also highlights the importance of raising the standards of education for private and independent schools to international standards, which according to the NDS is crucial to attract a more skilled workforce. The SEC announced two initiatives to improve the education standard of all private schools. All private schools are required to obtain a recognised national or international accreditation as per the Qatar National School of Accreditation (QNSA); in addition to a professional license made mandatory for all school teachers to ensure that qualified teachers are being employed. EDUCATION STATISTICS The SEC recently released the Seventh Annual Statistical Report, which provides statistics of schooling aspects for the academic year 2010 to 2011 with comparative data from 2008 to 2011. According to the report 40 to 42 percent of teachers are dissatisfied with salaries. The percentage of teachers with a qualification less than a bachelor’s degree is five percent, with a bachelor’s degree 70 percent and higher than a bachelor’s degree is two percent. Twenty four percent of the teachers are Qatari, 59 percent Arabs and 17 percent non-Arabs. According to a study released by the Permanent Population Committee, there are
It cannot be proven that schools with a higher fee are offering a better service and quality of education. TheEDGE
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
TheEDGE spoke with Northwestern’s 16th president, Morton Schapiro during his recent visit to Doha.
an increasing number of Qatari students today that choose to study in private schools. The study analysed Qatar’s education from 1980 to 2008 and highlighted that the number of Qatari students has multiplied eightfold in the last three decades. TUITION HIKE In response to a high number of complaints from parents in regards to the increasing amount of tuition and other fees, the SEC has tightened the regulations. The SEC has announced recently that any school intending to hike their tuition fees must apply for an approval from the SEC. A director of the private school office at the SEC’s Education Institute, Fawziya Abdalaziz Al Khater told a local newspaper recently, “No school is permitted to collect a single riyal from students without notifying our office. For imposing any additional fee, they should get special approval.” Any school violating this rule will face stern action warned the SEC official. Any school intending to increase its fees in any particular area must request the 2012-
2013 academic year form issued by the SEC and provide a justified reason in order to be granted to increase any sort of fees. TheEDGE spoke with Salem Rashid Thani Al Mohannadi, a Qatari who is the founder and school chairman of the Middle East International School (MIS) and the school’s principal Dr. Theodore Josiha Haig. MIS was first established in 1994 in a villa and at the time there were 80 students enrolled. “The need to move to a proper educational location came with the influx of student enrolees and the demand for quality education, therefore, it was only benefitting to move into a better and larger school premises to accommodate the continuously increasing number of students each year,” said Thani Al Mohannadi. “We are looking at more than 100 new students each year, however, as we have recently moved into our new school premises this year, the new student enrolees have significantly increased to more than 300 plus and this comes with the growing number of expatriate families arriving in Qatar in recent years,” he added. Due to
the heavy foreign workforce entering the country each year, opening new schools seems to be a profitable business. Most schools in Doha provide on their website the tuition fees, extra charges and payment schedule. The schools available in Doha providing the same curriculum and similar services differ drastically in their yearly fees. For example pre-school tuition may start at QR4890 to QR30,980 a school year and there is currently no method to formally measure whether schools with a higher fee are offering a better service and quality of education. MIS started with 80 students more than a decade ago and now hosts more than 850 students, and many remain on waiting list. “There have been students on the waiting list since the beginning of the school year [September] and until now, we still have students who are on standby for admissions,” said Thani Al Mohannadi. Dr. Haig told TheEDGE, “MIS follows the American curriculum, especially the California standard based curriculum. Students can assess online courses from the Florida Virtual School. For the past three years the Amideast Yes Kennedy-Lugar International Exchange Program has awarded our students scholarships. Students selected spend one year in America, living with a host family and attending a US high school.” Thani Al Mohannadi also added that MIS students actively participate in both local and international activities and events, including the Qatar/Doha Debates and the international and local Model United Nations (MUN). When asked about the regulation of increased tuition fees Thani Al Mohannadi said, “The SEC has been regulating the tuition fees of our school, as with other private schools here in Qatar. The percentage of increase is relatively based on the approved rate of increase by the SEC.” HIGHER EDUCATION In 1995 the Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his consort Sheikha Moza bint Nasser established Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) with the mission to support the nation’s journey from a
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
carbon to a knowledge based economy. In 2008, Qatar’s National Vision 2030 was released and it highlights how Qatar will use its vast revenues from hydrocarbon resources to transform into a modern knowledge-based economy. There are eight branch campuses of international universities situated at Education City, which is the education campus of QF. Besides offering a higher education, under the umbrella of QF there are also some primary and secondary schools. Qatar University is the only wholly state funded tertiary educational institurion of its kind in Doha and has been operational since 1973. Recently it was announced by a decree, issued by the SEC, that Arabic must the official language of turition at the university. At first the decision caused a wave of confusion around the campus and in the wider Doha community as students at the university concerned felt this would affect the standard of education. And questions where asked of what would happen to the non- Arab students. However, it emerged the decision is applicable only for new applicants. The older students will continue English as the language of instruction until
EDUCATION FOR A NEW ERA The recent initiative undertaken by the Supreme Council of Educattion (SEC) to ensure a high standard of education for Qatar includes provisions for the following: Autonomy: Allowing schools and teachers to be innovative in their approach to meeting the needs of individual students and parents within the framework of the curriculum standards. Accountability: Implementing an objective and transparent assessment system to hold all school leaders, teachers and parents responsible for the success of students. The Qatar Comprehensive Evaluation Assessment (QCEA) is administered annually to all students in every Independent school an all schools are reviewed every three years. Variety: Encouraging different kinds of schools and instructional programmes. Choice: Allowing parents to select the school that best fits their child’s need and seeking their input on important school decisions. To further encourage choice, a voucher programme was instituted in 2008, offering vouchers to parents to use in a select group of private schools that meet rigorous criteria for quality. The SEC is committed to building on its outstanding achievements and ensuring that future developments in the field of education are fully integrated with overall national aspirations and strategic goals. Three key documents will guide the work of the SEC over the next two decades, according to a document releases by the SEC entitled The Contribution of the Education System in Preparing Qatari Students for the Future: • The Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV) • The National Development Strategy 2011-2016 (QNDS) • The Education and Training Sector Strategy 2011-2016 (ETSS) The SEC is currently working with other national entities, which form the education and training sector to develop institutional strategic and implementation plans in order to realise the ambitions of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Rashid Thani Al-Mohannadi, the founder and school chairman of Middle East International School (MIS) spoke to TheEDGE about how his school started with 80 students and has grown to more than 850 students.
graduation. The local and Arab community has praised the decision, as Qatar strives to preserve the country’s Arabic identity. Sheikha Moza bin Nasser Al Thani,while addressing the Forum on Advancement of Arabic language at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC), encouraged Qatar University to continue to work on advancing the students’ skills in English through various programmes and noted that English proficiency should be mandatory upon graduation rather than admission. TheEDGE spoke with Morton Schapiro, the 16th president of Northwestern University during a recent visit to Doha, and he expressed his view on Qatar University’s switch from English to Arabic. “As an economist it is nice to have choices, people have different preferences and the market reacts to different types of human capital accumulation, as it does back in the US or any other country. If everybody produced the same product in the same way, I don’t think that would be good for the economy at all. Choice is good.” TheEDGE
HOW QATAR IS TACKLING ITS FRESH WATER CHALLENGES As a small peninsula in one of the most dry and arid regions in the world, it is no secret that Qatar faces incredible challenges in securing fresh water for private and industrial usage. With consumption set to increase exponential in the coming decade, Barry Mansfield looks at what steps Doha is taking as well as the role of private business in tackling Qatarâ€™s future water management issues.
ith an average of around 80 millimetres a year, Qatar has one of the world’s lowest levels of rainfall. The Qatar National Development Strategy (QNDS) has admitted that the three key water sources on which Qatar depends – desalination, groundwater and recycled water – are under stress. Qatar’s natural evaporation rate of 2000 millimetres puts it into a water deficit, while consumption and network leakage rates are staggeringly high. Per capita water use is one of the highest in the world, estimated at an average of 460 litres per day, according to the Permanent Committee on Water Resources. Though the Qatari government openly acknowledges the urgency of tackling water stress, a network of privately-owned enterprises, spanning multinationals to family-run start-ups, to lone entrepreneurs, is also looking to apply its talents and expertise to address the challenge this reality brings to the country. MASSIVE INVESTMENT Although by Q3 2011 the Qatar Electricity and Water Company had reached a water desalination capacity of 265 million gallons per day, Qatar still plans to invest heavily in further desalination facilities, with around US$16.8 billion (QR61 billion) in total slated for power and water supply schemes. According to Commercialbank Capital, Qatar’s likely spend in coming years for the water sector alone is US$6.9 billion (QR25 billion) and most recently as last year, three projects were awarded with a total value of US$362 million (QR1.3 billion). There is no shortage of funds to spend, it seems, since the Qatar National Vision
for 2030 identifies water stress as severely impacting on food security. Accordingly, Qatar has commissioned the US$3.9 (QR14 billion) Ras Girtas plant at Ras Laffan, which will produce 286,404 cubic metres (m3) per day of desalinated water. Qatar water and electricity utility Kahramaa has invested in water storage construction activity, undertaking a US$2.8 (QR11 billion) reservoir project capable of holding seven days’ worth of fresh water as a backup for desalinated water supply. The 1.9 billion gallon facility will include a network of reservoirs connected by a 183 kilometre, 2.5 metre wide pipeline linking the Ras Laffan desalination facility in Qatar’s north and the Ras Abu Fontas plant in the south. PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES Despite all these grand projects, problems remain and it has been felt that even these massive investments are a short-term fix. This is because in Qatar the absence of permanent surface water means that agriculture is almost entirely dependent on irrigation from pumped groundwater. It is estimated that Qatar’s aquifers will be depleted in 20 to 30 years at recent rates of withdrawal. International watchdog, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has predicted that with increasing urban and rural development, groundwater pollution (by nitrates) is a probability. Analyst Dr. Charlie Beldon of United Kingdom (UK) risk assessment firm Maplecroft has emphasised the need for “a cohesive policy for water that involves all stakeholders and considers all sectors.” Thankfully, there are signs that the Doha government is beginning to prepare the groundwork for such a policy. For example, Qatar’s Ministry of Environment and the
A network of privately owned enterprises is looking to apply expertise to address the challenge of providing adequate fresh water that Qatar faces. TheEDGE
Qatari agriculture is almost entirely dependent on irrigation from pumped groundwater, which will be depleted in 20 to 30 years at current rates. International Fund have recently chaired weeklong capacity building workshops for Agricultural Development (IFAD). One of these events made headlines when development analyst Taysir Al Ghanem warned that 2025 could see annual per capita water supply standing at 500 m3, or 15 percent of what it was fifty years ago. “It is not an encouraging scenario, as five percent of the world’s population is in Arab countries – a region having less than one percent of global water resources,” he lamented. As for the dilemma facing the agricultural sector, Al Ghanem said that it consumed over 83 percent of the water in the region. He believes larger quantities of the clean water resources that are now used in agriculture should be diverted to cities for domestic consumption. POPULATION PRESSURE According to Torbjorn Soltvedt, Senior Middle East North Africa (MENA) Analyst at analyst Maplecroft, Qatar’s population grew faster than any other country in the world between 2007 and 2011, with the increase estimated at 9.6 percent, which exacerbates the problem. Qatar has relatively low water tariffs (free for Qatari households and low-cost for non-Qatari households), which recover less than a third of the cost of water production. On the possibility of cutting water subsidies to reduce overall consumption, Soltvedt suggests, “potentially unpopular policies are unlikely to be given priority given the current emphasis on mitigating the risk of social discontent.” Instead, the Qatari government has resolved to improve awareness of water scarcity among young people, launching a campaign through the Water Interest Group of Qatar Green Building Council (WIG) to target students.
“We intend to prepare educational materials for students, ranging from kindergartens to universities, in consultation with agencies including UNESCO says WIG co-chairman Peter Neuschaefer. Leaflets or brochures are to be prepared explaining where the water used in Qatar originates from and how to conserve and recycle it. These will support the environmental principles outlined in the QNDS and complement national and regional efforts to utilise water resources and green infrastructure. OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE Nevertheless, Soltvedt is sceptical that Qataris will be able to solve the water stress crisis on their own. “While the Qatari Electricity and Water Company has been partly privatised, the small size of the private sector in Qatar is a potential obstacle to developing innovative new technologies and providing a foundation for entrepreneurs to offer new solutions,” he points out. “With only 0.5 percent of Qataris working in the private sector, boosting the role of private enterprise is likely to be a long term project.” This means it will fall on entrepreneurs from overseas, like Neuschaefer, to show the way. The Austrian has stressed that “one of the major solutions for our future challenge is going to be reuse of water,” which is what his awardwinning TerraSave concept is designed to do. It combines photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power, the cooling of the PV modules using treated wastewater, harvesting of reeds as biomass, and the storage of the solar power into batteries, thus achieving much-needed carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions. Giving an example of eco-friendly wastewater treatment applied in Qatar, Gulf Contracting Company (GCC) operations manager Andrew Ford says Canadian firm
Bionest had helped him to revolutionise the supply of water to accommodation camps. Installations of Bionest at GCC camps have resulted in the recycling of all human and other liquid waste generated by some 3100 workers. The system has eliminated the need to remove sewage by truck. About 20 percent of the recycled water is used for urinals and toilet flushing, with the balance transferred to construction sites for use in dust suppression and concrete curing. “We are saving QR3.5 million a year on sewage disposal and the reuse of the by-product,” Ford states. Furthermore, the Pearl-Qatar’s process engineer Ajit Gokarn has claimed that water consumption might be reduced by around 40 percent by using spray diffuser heads on taps. Other WIG members have suggested that automobile service stations could install recycling systems to put the wastewater to maximum use. Their thinking is that the high carbon content found in a municipal wastewater system could be converted to energy; phosphorous, a dwindling resource globally, could be recovered from waste streams. FRESH WATER QUEST Rising Brazilian companies such as Maccon have their sights on partnering with Qataris in the area of water treatment, following a trade mission in late May. It would be for the best, however, if the Brazilians are not focused purely on desalination feels Soltvedt, who has dismissed the solution as “not one that can be maintained in the long term,” as it is so energy intensive and also dangerous to the water system and ecology. Regular desalination has highly saline brine as a by-product, which is up to three times denser than saltwater – and toxic if disposed of in the ocean. Oxygen depletion is a hazard of reverse osmosis (RO)-derived brine, as sodium bisulphite is commonly used as a neutralising agent for chlorine; the lack of dissolved oxygen can be dangerous to marine organisms, while some byproducts of chlorine are carcinogenic. Brine may also contain residual chemicals from the pre-treatment process, heavy metals or cleaning agents.
GOOD QUALITY H20 Even bottled water is highly polluting. Not only do most of the plastic bottles end up in landfills or as litter – only about 10 percent of water bottles are recycled – but the energy required to produce and transport bottled water equals tens of millions of barrels of oil, according to the Pacific Institute. One company planning to make the Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottle largely redundant is AquaDania, which has developed what it describes as a ‘multi-effect solar powered water distillation’ technology called WaterStillar. WaterStillar Water Works is a unit measuring 0.6 square metres in area, which can be fixed onto a rooftop or underneath the roof in a loft, or basement. It is a modular system designed to purify 50 to 300 litres per day of water from any source, using solar thermal collectors. Made of silicone and enamelled stainless steel, it is corrosion proof with a lifespan of 20 years. “We believe in a low tech solution to provide cheaper, clean drinking water, where you drink it, at home and at work,” explains Tom Juul Andersen, CEO and founder of AquaDania. “We put up a tap for our drinking water, so we do not transport water or need plastic bottles. We clean whatever water is available locally.” So far, the leisure and hospitality industry forms WaterStillar’s biggest customer base, although Bedouin communities have been using the technology for years. LAND RECLAIMING Another key part of the puzzle may have been identified by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), which advertises a method for recovering already contaminated, highly saline land for agricultural use. It has used plant beneficial microbes called Mycorrhiza in problematic soils for more than a decade, including those in the hypersaline region of Dukhan, in western Qatar. Here, the accumulation of white salts such as soluble chloride and sulphates of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, on the soil surface, is a common phenomenon. TERI also claims that with its method, the quantity of water required in farming is reduced by 25 percent; high water use efficiency is enabled by almost doubling the green matter produced per unit intake of water.
Qatar’s water reserves will be depleted within a few decades, prompting the public and private sectors to look toward vaiable alternatives, including solar powered water distillation and eliminating polluting plastic water bottles.
WATER ACT 2016 The good news for all these companies is that investment in the Qatari water sector is likely to remain high. Based on current trends, consumption through 2020 is expected to increase 5.4 percent per year for Qataris and seven percent per year for expatriates – leading the government to commit to a National Water Act by 2016, together with a system of integrated regulation. Soltvedt confirms, “alongside the country’s cradle-to-grave welfare system and increasingly assertive foreign policy, the country’s economic and infrastructural
modernisation process over the last two decades remains a source of popular support.” As part of the Act, Kahramaa will look to piping and leak-sealing operations to lower network water losses from 35 percent to 10 percent. Mandated use of water-efficient appliances could reduce consumption. The government will monitor diminishing fresh groundwater levels and seek to eliminate excess flows into the Doha water table. This strategy will no doubt prove to be a lucrative business over the next ten years, for those businesses able to successfully evangelise their technologies.
As part of the new Act, Kahramaa will look to piping and leak sealing operations to lower network water losses from 35 percent to 10 percent. TheEDGE
A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE DRAWN from two decades OF BUILDING many OF DOHA’S MOST ICONIC STRUCTURES, QATAR’S LEADING ARCHITECT IBRAHIM JAIDAH SHARES PERSONAL LESSONS AND INSIGHTS
Ibrahim Jaidah’s resume as one of Qatar’s foremost construction industry professionals, if not the leader in his field in the country, is impressive. Graduating in 1988, Jaidah worked in Qatar’s municipal ministry before he acquired Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB) in 1990. Now practising for more than two decades, Jaidah has been designing iconic buildings in Qatar, publishing books and racking up an impressive amount of awards for his efforts as an architect, consultant and leader of the his company, which now has a number of international offices. TheEDGE spoke exclusively to the AEB CEO and board member of Jaidah Brothers, who shared personal insights about himself and how he sees building design in Qatar. Souq Waqif and its surrounds had a major impact on my life and career. Growing up in Al Jasra in Doha definitely helped, and had an impact on the way I look at the make up of the human environment, simply because of the density of the amount of buildings and the courtyards. Souq Waqif was around the corner and this was where we went to have adventures, in the sikkas, between the shops, with all of the different architectural features of all of these different houses that we jumped on from roof to roof. In my opinion, that had the most impact on my life and even [later] as I was growing up. Later in the 1960s, with the beginning of Qatar’s modern construction movement – modern back then, was the building of the clock tower which had only just started to get built in the late fifties, and the old wing of the Emiri (Diwan) the older wing, the green wing and the mosque – they were the new contemporary architecture being built, while I was living in the older town. So it was a wonderful transition and was great to see all of these buildings being built and finished, and it really had an impact. Later on, as I went to college, in the beginning the first courses that I took were interestingly enough engineering courses and physics, but after one semester I realised that this what not what I wanted to do. I wanted to create a building, not engineer a building. So I went to the school of architecture and I loved every minute of it as a student, and when I graduated I realised that I made the right choice and I am still enjoying it to this day, and I hope to be still enjoying it for many years to come. My tertiary education made me realise research is key to good design. Studying at the University of Oklahoma was a good experience. It was a tough school that emphasised the research part prior to the design. In other words, when you design something, they want to know where did you get your concept from, so you need to research and have a story behind every line that you are drawing and that has really made my research ability and imagination take me places. Coming back and working in the ministry for a couple of years took me from the conceptual or the theoretical to the reality part of architecture, in the sense that everything I do has a budget, it has to built to a budget
“Studying at the University of Oklahoma was a good experience because it emphasised the research part prior to the design.” so you cannot just dream and do any shapes as if it does not meet the budget set, it would never see the light. So that taught me how to be realistic, and then when I bought AEB in 1990, with only six people this background information gave me a wonderful idea of what I want to create in terms of an architectural design, where I wanted to make a statement and build my career. Growing up in a family business environment and being part of a family business has transferred to my career. Despite the fact that I grew up in a business family, I am not really good in the accounting and business aspects of things, even though I am running a very successful business as such. The childhood that I had was very good, our dad used to take us to the Souq at a very young age, five or six years old, we would sit and listen to deals being done and sometimes we would even get involved in these deals, but I think listening to them and having lived the environment where these deals were made has helped make an impact on the way that we look at things. Later on, as we grew up and were creating the Jaidah brand, which is a continuation of what our ancestors built, as a brotherhood we have started our own and I think we have learnt that in sticking together and complementing each other in our different professions, we have all become totally different individuals, creating a uniquely driven business. TheEDGE
IBRAHIM JAIDAH’S CREATIVE LEGACY The following are just 10 of Ibrahim Jaidah’s designs in Qatar: Al Dhayaan Municipality – Reinvigoration of traditional Qatari village, Qatar. Barzan Tower (pictured) – blend of modern and traditional design in West Bay, Doha. Qatar Financial Center – “Q” shaped headquarters of QFC, West Bay, Doha. Kempinski – High-end luxury tower inspired by traditional wind tower, West Bay, Doha. Diplomatic Club – Design nominated for Aga Khan Award, West Bay, Doha. Grand Heritage Hotel – European influenced hotel complex, Al Waab, Doha. Commercial Bank Plaza – Headquarters of Commercial Bank, West Bay, Doha. Alfardan Twin Towers – Mixed use conjoined towers, West Bay, Doha. Omani Embassy – Traditional construction blending Qatari and Omani influences, West Bay, Doha. Qatar Foundation HQ – Appears on QR100 note, Qatar Foundation, Doha.
I am still proud to say that at least 80 percent of the AEB’s work is direct commissions and we have created lasting landmarks. Clients will come to us and commission us to the project rather than making us compete against someone else. It is interesting to hear the client’s vision, the statement that they want to create and then the challenges of making such a statement reflected in a feasible manner, to where it makes money. The time that comes between these, and delivering it, is what is keeping us going. All the projects that we have done have been successful business stories for them, and on top of that becoming landmarks etcetera. The favourite projects around the city in Qatar would be the Museum of Islamic Art, which is definitely one of my favourite [projects] and of course with the older buildings, like the Sheraton. There are also some landmarks that are there that I wouldn’t say are my favourites, that I have designed by myself. But the greatest success I guess is that one of my buildings, the Qatar Foundation headquarters, was printed on the hundred riyal notes and I think this is something to be really proud of. As far as the awards go, our projects have won the Arab City awards on several occasions, at least three of them. We also won one Islamic City Award and have been nominated for the prestigious Aga Khan award three times. One award that I am extremely proud of is the State Encouragement medal that I got from the state of Qatar a few years ago. I am very proud of this. I am also very proud of our local architecture, which inspired my book. After I returned from the United States I started to get a lot more impressed by the national architecture that I grew up with, so I started taking a lot of photos and getting hold of surveys and whatever information I could get. I wanted to document this, as it can be a perfect reference for a student to know his or her history in terms of architecture. Not only that, I think that it is important to publish such a book because of the influx of architects that are coming from all over the world, that we try to reflect something of our culture in one way or another – but there was one difference. You could call it “postcard research”, in that from just looking at a couple postcards they would think that they could understand the culture, which isn’t really the case. So I thought by providing research on the architecture of our culture, it would become a nice reference for designers, and it has. I have been getting a lot of compliments from famous architects.
However, when we get influenced by what is the Qatari culture it does not mean we should just copy what the Souq Waqif is, for example. We still can be influenced by the Gulf and by local architecture, but we must reflect it in an extremely modern manner to where the patterns, even an abstract pattern, can reflect the culture rather than the straightforward elements of architecture. Though AEB has grown to a few hundred employees I have never lost the joy of design. We have about four hundred and sixty employees. We will probably have five hundred by the end of the year and that is really a big challenge – how do I manage them and still have the joy of designing and being creative? That has been achieved with two things. A strong management team taking care of the day-to-day management procedures in the office. On the other hand, to maintain the design I have been blessed with a good design team who have been working with me for so long and now we have reached a stage to where we understand each other, whether we are sketching or describing something. With this we can achieve the vision that I have and that they have and we can combine our skills to create whatever we are creating. Now the other challenges and obstacles that we face on the business side of it is the growth that we have internationally. Now we have branches in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Hong Kong. With all of these branches, it makes the business side of it a challenge and we also have ambitions to go to North Africa. Those are the ambitions that we don’t have a time frame for, but I am still going to do it sometimes down the line. Business-wise it is a challenge because we want to maintain the quality and this is what I am trying to do with this great team. Qatar will definitely be one of the best places for young architects or for even signature architects to practice. This is because Qatar is currently a blank canvas where you can be as creative as you want to be and there is a lot of work to be done. In addition to that, in other places in the world, between what the architect’s concept is that is designed, by the time that he/she has finished it can take 10 to 15 years before it is finished. In Qatar while we are sketching something, a month or a couple of months later you would see it on site and in a year and half you would see your finished building, so your dreams come true a lot faster here. With the different names of architects that are currently practicing in Qatar, this is sort of currently like a small encyclopaedia of the most contemporary architecture that is happening in the world, in Qatar and in our region. It is unfortunate that throughout the history of mankind while there are some people that have had the creative thinking of the pyramids or of the great monuments and temples of the Pharaohs that have been built… at the same time somebody was developing and building an unpleasant design. That will obviously continue, but there is public awareness that is being driven by the government now, I think that these unpleasant buildings are going to be now reduced to the minimum. Especially because the government builds the state of the art buildings, top quality buildings as we have seen with the Education City and Musheireb,
they are top quality buildings and eventually this will influence the taste of the public, and slowly you will see that everybody will start to go towards that type of quality buildings. The Villaggio tragedy highlighted safety in Qatar, but we have always found the approval processes very strict. Every building that is being built now would have gone through the stringent safety process. For about eight years the civil defence department approval has been the most difficult process in terms of safety. They would go through our concepts, architectural and then as we progress and proceed with the design they would go through every piece of mechanical equipment, so that buildings that are being built now or built in the last five years or so will meet the highest standard of safety at an international level. They are even implementing NFBA, which is an international standard for fire and safety. In the past buildings, 10 to 15 years ago, didn’t have these standard but their scales are much smaller and not that much of a concern, as they are mostly houses and small shops open to the outside. Later on with all of these malls, all of the precautions are now being done. After this unfortunate incident I think that things are going to be much stricter and now it is going to be more of a burden for the civil defence department, because they were just running all of it alone, trying to do this protection. But now there is awareness, even with the developers and not just the clients themselves, as they have realised that the price can be very dear to everybody. Resources and affordability will be key construction challenges in the future, but not skills. Resources have always been a challenge for this part of the world, because we are not heavily populated and there are people from all over the world that have come to help us. Prices are extremely competitive at this stage, but as projects are going to start coming in in the next year or two I think that it is going to be a challenge to keep the prices from inflating in the construction industry. In getting skilled labour, maybe we have an advantage that there isn’t much happening in most of the rest of the world, so this is an opportunity to get the best brains available to help us build our nation for the next generations. AEB is and will continue to contribute to Qatar’s National Vision 2030. In many aspects of the designs that we do there will be something related to our Qatari identity, as the vision states that our identity should be maintained in a modern and contemporary way, so that we are following along with that. The other challenge is that the projects which we do have to be sustainable, so things have to link in with green architecture and to sustain the time and the usage. So we are very much in line with the vision and direction of 2030 in front of us in every step, and we also make sure that we are always thinking about it in terms of innovation.
Continued on page 68. TheEDGE
ON the PULSE
Qatar On the Verge Of A
Property bubble? TheEDGE Investigates
By Simon Watkins
High salaries and regionally high property and rental prices have spurred some to intimate that Qatar might soon experience a â€˜property bubbleâ€™ and runaway inflation.
With major investments and billions of dollar washing around the country, as well as highly publicised recent public sector salary rises, prices in Qatar are expected to increase both in property and consumer goods. Simon Watkins investigates whether, as some feel, Doha is on the verge of a rise in inflation that could see the cost of living here become unattainable for all but the most very rich.
ON the PULSE
wo of the main costs of living anywhere are property/rent and food. And although the consensus view among the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) real estate agents is for property rental levels in Doha to remain broadly static this year, following a 4.9 percent decline year-on-year in 2011 in the rent, fuel, and energy component on the consumer price index (CPI), it is equally the case that these values remain considerably higher than most of Qatar’s neighbours. Nevertheless, although in the lower-end segments of the Qatar’s property market, in which supply continues to outstrip demand, prices are not expected by the International Bank of Qatar to increase in the near-term, for the remainder of the property sector – and for day-to-day living expenses in general – prices are expected to spike higher in coming years. A Foundation Of High Prices The principal reason for the run-up in property and other prices over the past few years has been the extraordinary income generated by Qatar’s hydrocarbon industry, with the oil and gas sector still accounting for more than 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), around 85 percent of export earnings, and 70 percent of government revenues. Qatar’s position as having proven oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels (which should enable continued output at current levels for 57 years), and its proven reserves of natural gas exceeding 25 trillion cubic meters (more than 13 percent of the world total, and the third largest in the world) has resulted in its having the highest percapita income country in the world more than US$100,000 (QR364,000) per annum, and the lowest unemployment (just under one percent). A further lure to easing local Qatar and other regional monies back into the real estate market, has been the broadening
and deepening of the Islamic real estate investment trust (REIT) market in the past three years in particular, thinks Roger Nightingale, chief executive officer (CEO) of RN Associates, in London. These are in accordance with the rules of Shari’ah finance, the central tenets of which forbid activities that can be deemed speculative, involve uncertainty, entail the payment of interest, or are connected to gambling, alcohol or adult entertainment. Therefore they offer investors the opportunity to own shares in a portfolio of real estate assets with a steady paid dividend from the income earned on those assets. Aside from these eminently admirable investment parameters, Nightingale highlights, these Islamic REITs provide a highly attractive alternative investment in the Gulf Islamic finance industry as they inject more transparency and regulation into a property sector that has at times fallen victim to something of a mixed press. A key event in this context, he concludes, is likely to be the planned listing of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) first Shari’ah-compliant REIT, the ‘Emirates REIT’, aimed at medium-income investors and offering returns of six to eight percent annually. Recent Pay Hikes Against this backdrop, then, despite projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Qatar’s GDP growth rate will modify this year to six percent, it is unlikely that the net inflation trend in property and utility prices that has resulted from an average annual economic growth rate of 18.1 percent in every year from 2006 to 2011, with a regression in line with the global financial crisis, will be reduced substantively, he thinks. One major reason for this is the knockon effect from last September’s 60 percent hike in pay for Qatar’s public sector workers,
The longer-term future for Qatar’s housing and other daily living costs also looks increasingly expensive.
thinks Jed Wolfe, managing director of Asteco Qatar, in Doha. Indeed, he adds, it may well be that this wage boost that lay behind an upsurge of investor enquiries for residential property in Q1 this year, as occurred in Q4 of last just after the pay increases (with the majority of interest coming from locals). In this context, Wolfe says, about the only factor that has contained Qatar’s property market prices to current levels, be they private or commercial, rental or outright purchase has been the lack of new supply coming onto the market. This idea finds resonance in the QSA’s own projection for housing CPI to rise by 1.4 percent across 2012, with prices in the high-end residential property sector, and particularly the luxury villa segment (particularly in Qatar’s West Bay, and West Bay Lagoon area that have been given beach access, and the Pearl development), likely to bear the brunt of rising prices. Middle East Financial Hub Similarly supporting prices in Qatar has been its increasing profile among foreign investors as a major financial hub in the Middle East as a whole, thinks Sam Barden, CEO of SBI Markets in Dubai. In this context, he says, although Dubai or Bahrain had traditionally been regarded as the two principal claimants to being the centre for international finance in the region, a swathe of recent initiatives from Qatar has seen it move quickly to challenge this view. An early move in this respect, for example, was the announcement in late 2010 that the Qatar Exchange would commence general bond trading utilising the NYSE Euronext Universal Trading Platform, and would offer trading in Shariah-compliant sukuks shortly thereafter. Finally, concludes Barden, as the world’s biggest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), and holder of the third-largest gas reserves, Qatar remains ideally positioned to benefit in the broader geo-political scheme of things by dint of its membership of the ‘Gas OPEC’ troika with Russia and Iran. “Qatar is already at the centre of the GECF [Gulf Exporting Countries Forum], with the headquarters being in Doha; it has enormous funds at its disposal from gas; and, under the Al Thani ruling family, it has the will to traduce business away from Bahrain and Dubai over TheEDGE
ON the PULSE
time,” he says, “so, really, it is the one to watch over the next three to five years.” This said, an influx of foreign money into Qatar’s property market – and into its economy as a whole – has also resulted from changes in the regulations relating to foreign ownership of property in the Emirate, adding to the already short supply of rental accommodation there, highlights Matthew Green, head of UAE research and consultancy for CBRE, in Dubai. Until the enactment of Law 17 in 2004, in fact, non-Qatari nationals were not allowed to own or have long-term leaseholds on property in Qatar. Since the passing of the snappily-named law ‘Regulating Ownership and Usufruct of Real Estate and Residential Units by Non-Qataris’, though, foreigners have been permitted to invest in property for either their own use, or as a pure investment to rent to others. Although, as it currently stands, only three areas are available for freehold purchase (The Pearl, West Bay Lagoon, and the Al Khor Resort Project), there are another 18 areas in and around Doha that have been designated for foreigners to acquire the ‘right of usufruct’. This law allows the tenure of the initial lease for up to 99 years, and to be renewable, with the leaseholder also retaining the right to sell his lease or pass it on to his or her heirs. Wider Inflationary Pressure The longer-term future for Qatar’s housing and other daily living costs also looks increasingly expensive. Quite aside from the ongoing effects of all of the aforementioned factors, inflationary pressure across all aspects of local business landscape is likely to come from a massive US$100 billion (QR364 billion), according to the IMF boost in infrastructure spending up to 2016 initially, as part of the government’s stated priority of fully financing its budget from non-hydrocarbon revenues by 2020, and further spending in the run-up to Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup football tournament, highlights Green. According, though, to a statement last year by HE Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning, Qatar will actually spend at least US$160 billion (QR582 billion) in the lead-up to 2022 on developing various
elements of Qatar’s infrastructure, principally on upping the number and quality of available accommodation in the country, and on investing in the improvement of its major roads, port, airport, and metro system. Already, in fact, at least ten towers on the vast manmade island, The Pearl, has been either re-started or are likely to resume again, and Lusail, the 35 square kilometres city along the northern Doha, is also an example of renewed construction. Additionally, Damac is now pressing ahead with ground works, ready for its nine buildings in the Foxhills development. This is entirely understandable in light the embarrassment caused by a severe shortage of suitable housing in advance of the 2006 Asian Games that were held in Doha. “The problem with this type of spending is that it has to go somewhere, and in many countries – China is the most notable recent example – it tends to ultimately find its way into property, either through people up-scaling their rental living arrangements, or through buying outright at increasingly high prices, both of which are then passed onto the consumer,” says Nightingale. “The consumer, in turn, then has to place increased pressure on employers to fund this new cost, and this fires the flames of cost-push inflation across the board,” he adds. This said, the question of whether such housing will be sustainably suitable for other high-powered foreigners and locals to inhabit – rather than the sub-standard offerings which still languish unoccupied in Greece after its Olympics (before the current crisis hit), for example – seems to have been addressed to a degree with the recent creation of Qatar’s Urban Planning Department. Similarity To China? China’s example could prove to be highly pertinent for Qatar’s inflationary outlook, given that already, with just a moderate rise in Qatar’s government spending last year on non-hydrocarbon infrastructure projects, a study conducted by Saudi-based Samba Financial in early January of this year predicts that domestic credit growth in Qatar could hit 20 percent this year, well clear of any other GCC state. In China’s case, highlights Barden, the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans galvanised
around CNY10 trillion (QR5.4 trillion) in new infrastructure project spending, designed at the time to avert the worst ramifications of the then global recession. While this money was notionally intended for suitably sober-sounding initiatives (‘improving rural conditions’, ‘upgrading technology’, ‘energy saving efforts’, and ‘improving healthcare and education’), much of it ended up in less sociallybeneficial activities. “Money supply in China rose at a 40 percent rate in 2009 and the first half of 2010 as Beijing tried to maintain its stellar growth ambitions,” says Barden, “but a large proportion of this leaked into speculative activities, with domestic property values soaring by around 70 percent, and the domestic stock market jumping by about 80 percent in just the first six months after the first CNY4 trillion (QR2.2 trillion) extra economic stimulus package in March 2008 was announced.” The fact is, he adds, that such growth nearly always tends to militate into an environment of rising housing and food prices, just like that which presaged the Tiananmen Square protests, when food inflation in the month prior to the massacre was running at just over 18 percent year-on-year (yoy). In this context, in November 2010, although the overall Chinese CPI edged up to 5.1 percent yoy (against a government target of three percent maximum), food prices shot up by 11.7 percent. Additionally, like the worst sort of hangover, housing prices still continue to rise inexorably, with Lombard Street Research, in London, estimating that property prices in China are still around 22 times the level of disposable income in Beijing, and 18 times that in Shenzhen.
There is a possibility that excess supply in real estate would gradually converge with demands.
ON the PULSE
This compares to eight times in Tokyo during its 1980s bubble, and to 6.4 times in the United States (US) at the time of its own housing bubble prior to the sub-prime catastrophe. Even rental prices in China’s eight key cities presently stand at 39.4 times average salary levels (this figure was 22.8 times in the US just before its housing crisis). Further Revenues and Inflation In Qatar’s case, concludes Wolfe, although headline inflation remains subdued, inflation risks appear to have risen recently due to an increase in public sector wages, and going further forward, the authorities in Qatar acknowledge that the economy could face potential inflationary pressures over the medium term from two extra channels. These are, as highlighted as well by the IMF, the expansionary effect of the major Barzan gas project that will start in 2012, and the implementation of major projects in the non-hydrocarbon sector as mentioned. Having said this, the Qatar government maintains that the newly formed High-Level Committee on Prices would contain monopolistic price pressures, while the recently introduced limits on retail lending by banks against salary assignment will serve to pre-empt further leverage of the salary increase. Additionally, there is a possibility, thinks Wolfe, that any excess supply in real estate would gradually converge with demand as Qatar’s infrastructure projects are completed and the temporary transient construction workers are replaced by a white-collar workforce. This neatly aligns with the Qatar government’s viewpoint that the completion of the construction of the new airport would entail additional jobs for about 30,000 serviceoriented and skilled workers to run the facility, and that such new workers would be expected to migrate with their families, which would generate demand for other services such as hospitals, schools, entertainment, and so on. The multiplier effect of additional job creation in any service industry on other service industries would generate additional demand for housing, and so a virtuous cycle would be born. That is the theory at least, though how this current inflationary risk will be curtailed in practice remains the ongoing challenge
Consumer prices in Qatar have been slowly but exponentially rising in recent months, but the Qatar government maintains that the newly formed High-Level Committee on Prices will contain monopolistic price pressures. (Image ArabianEye)
Qatar Vs. Dubai Rental Property Comparison As Of End Q1 2012 (Average Per Month, Both QR and AED Equivalent To US$0.27)
Continued from page 60 It is important to train young Qataris and employ them in the private sector. There are less than ten Qatari people that I know working in the private sector in the consultancy business, while the scale needs and has thousands and thousands of people working in consultancy firms. It is extremely unfortunate to, not only be able to not employ locals, but to see there are opportunities that should not be let go. There are wonderful opportunities for young engineers and architects, interior designers to be in the private sector and there is an advantage that they could make use of. It is unfortunate at this stage even though that there are a lot of junior Qatari architects coming through, they are all mostly going into the oil and gas industry and the government. In the private sector, we do not,
even as locals, form half a percent of the working force in the consultancy business. Green, sustainable buildings are in our future. We have come a long way, I think at least in less than a handful of years, the green building initiative has taken mega steps. Five years ago, it would be big news and you would not really see it implemented. Now that the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS) has been created, we have started to see at least some buildings coming up in Musheirib and now in all of Lusail, they have implemented the QSAS and they have given incentives for those that will use green buildings, which I think is an extremely intelligent way to encourage green buildings. But the way that I can see it coming in the next very few years is that we are pushing it, as the green building council, eventually the green building movement will become legislation rather than a luxury. In other words, even if you are building a house there should be a minimum aspect of the green building that you should implement, and also the larger developments. I think if you see the big picture and we start implementing these ideas, we will have a much more sustainable environment to live in and we would be saving a lot of energy, rather than wasting energy and at the end of the day this is a part of the 2030 Vision: to have a sustainable city and a sustainable Qatar.
Continued from page 48 and the need for a winds of change that blew unpredictably with uncertain outcomes over the Arabian Peninsula. Nevertheless, the root problems lie in the fundamental issues that emerged on the surface within the last few years, giving the Arab wrath both momentum and direction, characterised by an increase in Internet social connectivity and information networks which acted as a gateway. The initial spark for the Arab uprisings is unsurprising when you consider it emerged and then conflagrated from within the nearly 90 million of young Arabs under the age of 30, who account for well over half the regionâ€™s population (this figure rises to two thirds in Egypt and three quarters in Yemen). This group is also among the regionâ€™s most economically stressed. Youth unemployment averages 18 percent in the Gulf, 23 percent in the Levant, 31 percent in North Africa and 25 percent in Egypt. Arab youth has reaped the greatest social and economic benefits from the rise in Telecom and information technology (IT) forms of networking. It also has the most to gain from open, diversified economies and a dynamic
cross-cultural discourse; and the most to lose from corruption and arrogant state controls. Young people, particularly from the educated middle classes, have articulated the political soul of the Arab protests. They have shown a new kind of anti-tribal social alliance in the call for political rights above even economic change, along more accountable, liberal and participatory lines. Largely cooperative opposition movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and even Syria have strengthened the potential for this equation, opening the door for eventual transition to a workable democracy. Support by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other international players created space for a discussion of common goals, cooperative structures and timing among these fragile coalitions, which was a necessary and positive start. Helping those coalitions deliver political change, while keeping the lights on and engine of state running, is a critical next step. A key driver of all these different factions is the potential for greater economic integration and diversification, starting with a fairer transfer of public revenues. Many Arab countries have high unemployment and weak, unequal delivery of public services. Economies are generally highly centralised and commodity-based, and where they are diversified (as with Syria), special interest groups hold the revenues. The successful revolutionaries must decide how quickly to push newly won but fragile institutions towards democracy, while ensuring economic growth and pre-revolution security.
KNOWLEDGE & EXPERTISE PRODUCTIVITY ANd WELLBEING • legal insight • BUSINESS management
The Start Up PROLOGUE (P.74)
Business plans are considered as a start for a successful enterprise but are not guarantees for success. John Mullins believes entrepreneurs need to think more about their prospective business before they write up their vision and begin to seek capital.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION: •
Productivity and Wellbeing: Lauren Penny explores the foundation strategies to enrich and sustain your career, since executives can find themselves under constant stress for prolonged periods of time – vulnerable to everything preventing their success, productivity and long-term sustainable career. (P.70)
Legal Insight: Andre Saade writes about the constant discussions around the translation of laws from Arabic to English, and the need to have consistency to ensure that the final version reflects the legality required in the Arabic document. (P.72)
Productivity and Wellbeing
SUSTAINING YOUR CAREER GROWTH Executives can find themselves under constant stress for prolonged periods of time and are vulnerable to everything from colds to high blood pressure and heart disease, preventing their success, productivity and a long-term sustainable career. Lauren Penny explores foundation strategies to enrich and improve workplace longevity.
e live in a fast paced world, striving to achieve the next promotion, the next salary increase, to finish our studies; struggling with stress, family crisis, work-life balance issues leading to a deterioration of our health, our mood and the potential increased risk of health related
issues. Do we not all want a prosperous career? The question that I raise: “How can we prevent these stresses, so as to sustain our career growth without us facing health related issues, burnout or our health being the failing factor?” Why is it that executives are more vulnerable, is that we mindlessly emotionally eat or overeat in the evenings after a stressful day in the office? Do executives find
themselves after a negative or stressful day, going home in a positive mindset, or is it the opposite – where they have now brought the stresses from the office to their home environment? Are some of these scenarios familiar to you? I am sure we all remember a time when you were deeply involved in an exciting project. You believed in what you were
Productivity and Wellbeing
REGULAR Exercise Regular exercise can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity; back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress. For the greatest overall health benefits, experts recommend that you do 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic activity three or more times a week and some type of muscle strengthening activity and stretching at least twice a week. However, if you are unable to do this level of activity, you can gain substantial health benefits by accumulating 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, at least five times a week. Include exercise as part of your daily life. Try yoga, pilates, martial arts, walking, running, bicycling, swimming, dancing, weight lifting or competitive organised sports. Experiment with an exercise style that works for you.
the stomach to shrink over time, leading you to feel fuller after consuming less food. Instead of counting calories, you may want to focus on a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise. Whole grains, beans, fruit, and vegetables provide greater feelings of fullness per calorie than processed foods. Start the day with a bowl of porridge, which will certainly gear your body to sustain the pressures of the day. Top up with portion controlled, natural wholesome foods. Avoid eating late at night, especially if you a have been caught up in the office. Late night eating can cause potential weight gain, several considerations to take into account are: • Portion sizes: waiting to eat could lead to consuming larger portion sizes. • Quality of food: after a long day of work, a few slices of pizza or a fast burger may seem easier and more tempting than steamed vegetables and fish. • Mindless snacking: evenings spent studying, out on the town or late nights working in the office may lead to excess calories from highly processed, sugary, on-the-go options. • Health concerns: consistent periods of going without food followed by a large meal can negatively impact the interaction between blood sugar and insulin and make you more vulnerable to Type Two diabetes. • Mindless eating: a day full of meetings and deliverables, often executives choose to eat at their desk while continuing to work; thinking this will save them time. Stop, have a break and enjoy your snack or lunch away from your desk, even if it is five minutes – this break can be your saviour for a more productive afternoon and a time for you to enjoy your food. • Healthy snacking: eat four or five smaller meals and snacks spread evenly throughout the day so you do not become overly hungry at any point. Following these tips can keep your energy levels consistent for work and play and can provide some long-term benefits to help you reduce your chances for diabetes, weight gain or other health issues.
Healthy Eating If you are looking to increase your energy, eat more frequently. Smaller meals may cause
Career or self-purpose Seeking and finding your career path or life purpose is very rewarding so as to align
doing and felt confident and stimulated. Time seemed to stop. You were energetic, motivated and often forgot to eat as you were powering through. As children, we all lived on primary food. We would be so excited that we lost track of time and missed our parents’ call to ask us to come inside for our dinner. The fun, excitement and love of daily life had the power to feed us so that food became secondary. Now think of a time when as an executive you were depressed, or your self-esteem was low and you were starving for primary food. During these times, we ate, and no amount of secondary food filled us. You ate as much as you wanted, but you never felt satisfied. This is the difference between primary and secondary food. Primary food is finding your balance of five elements; regular and enjoyable physical activity, nutritious balanced food, an inspiring career, a meaningful spiritual practice, and open and loving relationships that support and encourage us. Let us take a closer look at how you can bring these foundation strategies into your daily modern life.
your passion, your niche in life, what springs you out of bed each morning so that you never feel that you worked a day in your life. There are several methods you can undertake to find out your career or life purpose, I can suggest a Business Coach, Life Coach or Health Coach. There are a multitude of self-discovery tests that are valuable, such as personality profiling so as to understand your personality, strategies to build relationships with your colleagues and create a solid platform from where you can lead, inspire and communicate far more effectively with those you want to influence. By identifying your career path and/or life purpose and active self-development, you are empowering yourself to create your best life. Spiritual practice Having a connection spiritually, to a higher being. Regularly meditating prayer and connection: This practice allows you time to stop, relax and be calm for a certain period of time. Most spiritual traditions encourage people to fast during the year so that individuals have time to reduce secondary foods, thus allowing for a greater awareness of primary food in their life. Positive Relationships Focus your energy on positive and supportive friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues. Be open and communicate regularly with one another. You may have different friends for different purposes, age, background, similarities; your relationships can be positive relationships bringing the best out of you. At the rapid pace that businesses are now moving, executives need to hit the ground running by ensuring they are equipped with the foundation of primary food strategies to endure an effective, successful and sustainable career. It is important that companies and executives regard their health to be as important to them as their career, and I am not just referring to what we put in our mouths that give us energy; these are merely a secondary source of energy. It is our primary food that will sustain our energy, boost engagement, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism and turnover, bringing us a sustainable and healthy career. TheEDGE
Lost in Translation - The pitfalls of drafting bilingual documents
ith a raft of new laws and regulations expected over the coming few months, there are constant discussions in Qatar around the translation of laws from Arabic to English and the need to have consistency to ensure the final version reflects the sentiment sought in the Arabic
By Andre Saade
document. However it also raises another important, albeit less discussed, issue around the translation from English to Arabic. As legal and technical terms do not always have a literal Arabic translation, a number of serious issues arise. What is often forgotten is that the Arabic version supersedes the English in the majority of cases, and therefore it must accurately reflect the intentions of the English document.
As the Arabic language does not contain literal translation of technical terms, or use capital letters, it throws up a number of major issues when drafting legal or technical, documents. This is made more complicated when documents drafted in English do not take these issues into consideration during the drafting process, however more can, and should, be done to prevent the original
meaning being lost in translation. It would not be an exaggeration to say that translation from English to Arabic is one of the most meticulous and difficult jobs. Translating a document from English into Arabic, while maintaining the accuracy in the meaning without changing the contents, can be very challenging, especially when the English text contains complex and technical legal terms such as used in finance law, tax law, intellectual property or other complex laws. This is made slightly less complicated by having only one version of written Arabic that is used when drafting documents, unlike the plethora of dialects used when speaking. However there are still major challenges to overcome, many of which rarely noted or taken into consideration. One of the most pivotal issues faced is related to capital letters, regularly used in English documents, as the Arabic language does not contain capital letters. In other words, when drafting in Arabic you cannot have a defined term, as you can in English. For example, in English you can define a plot of land in an agreement as: plot number 222 located in West Bay, Doha, the (Property). The same definition is not possible in Arabic because all the letters of the alphabet are lower case. There is no set rule on what to use in Arabic for defined terms in an agreement, so it generally comes down to personal preference. The three most commonly used alternatives are writing the defined term either in italics or highlight it in bold, placing it between quotation marks, or repeating the term in full throughout the document. The latter making it very difficult to follow, especially in long agreements. There is no preferred method and it depends on the person drafting or translating the document that determines which Arabic style is used. Each of the above methods is acceptable as long as it is consistent through the document. However special attention should be given to the final editing or formatting of the document to ensure that the terms in italic or bold remain in the document after the final formatting exercise. The second main issue to consider is that the Arabic language is not a technical
There is not set rule on what to use in Arabic for defined terms in agreement, it comes down to preference. language. Legal terms, such as banking laws or Islamic finance laws, are very difficult to translate. For example, Cash Sweep Account, Day Count Fraction, Perfection Requirements are difficult to translate. In order to translate these terms sometimes a long sentence will need to be used to reflect the meaning of the English terms every time that it occurs, and using long sentences would generally make the Arabic text difficult to read. That is also why it is highly recommended to use ‘plain English’ and especially avoid archaic, old English, Latin or jargon. If the text requires the use of complex sentences in English it is desirable that the translator attempt to use simple terms in Arabic to reflect the English without losing the meaning. There have been many attempts to produce a thesaurus for technical legal terms in Arabic, but to date these attempts remain embryonic. A lot more attention is required from legal experts, governments and financial centres in the Middle East to put in place special committees to create a dictionary for complex legal terms in Arabic that would be endorsed by, and satisfactory to, courts across the Middle East. Laws across the Middle East are drafted in Arabic and based on the Napoleon Civil Code, whereas English is the language of common law. Concepts such as ‘time of the essence’, ‘best endeavours’, ‘reasonable endeavours’ have little importance and does not make any difference if they exist in Arabic text. In all cases such terms may not be enforceable, and it will be up to the courts to decide if such concept applies. With that said, common law concepts have similar concepts in Arabic, for example the concept “best/ reasonable endeavours” is better translated into Arabic as “the care of a good father” which is enforceable by courts in the region. English lawyers need to be aware that despite
many concepts in an agreement, there is a risk that they will not be enforceable by a court in the Middle East. As mentioned above, given the difficulty of translation there is always a margin for error. When a bilingual agreement is required it is best to get one translator to conduct the initial draft regardless of its length, in order to maintain consistency throughout the document. Alternatively, if more than one translator is working on the same document, we always recommend that the last version of the translation should be reviewed by one translator to make sure the English and the Arabic text are consistent. Importantly, the final review of any translated legal document should be undertaken by a bilingual lawyer to ensure that all defined terms are used properly and that there is consistency in the agreement. Translating document from English to Arabic is never easy, however by understanding the issues outlined above it can be made less time consuming and ensure the meaning is not lost in translation.
All Qatari Laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) to regulate its own business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purposes of drafting this article we have used our own translation and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari regulation and current market practice. This article should be used for information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. If any reader requires legal advice, this should be obtained from an experienced lawyer, who can provide advice, which is tailored to the relevant facts and circumstances. Should you have any questions in connection with this article or the legal issues it covers, please contact Andre Saade senior legal consultant, DLA Piper Middle East at Andre.Saade@ dlapiper.com TheEDGE
The Start Up PROLOGUE
What to do before you write a business plan
Business plans are often considered the lynchpin to starting a successful enterprise, but are no guarantee of success. The London Business School’s John Mullins believes entrepreneurs need to think more about their prospective business even before they write up their vision and begin to seek capital.
he evidence indicates that the vast majority of business plans raise no money. Of those ventures that are financed, many (if not most) will fail. What is wrong with this picture? At least three things are wrong. The first thing is that most business plans are written for opportunities that are fundamentally flawed. Why write a business plan for a no-hope opportunity? It is a waste of entrepreneurial time and talent. What is also wrong is that the inherently persuasive nature of business plans, a principal purpose of which is often to raise money, forces their proponent entrepreneurs into ‘everything about my opportunity is wonderful’ mode. Alas, the likelihood – for most opportunities, even the attractive ones – is that everything is not wonderful; but there may be one or two things that are sufficiently wonderful to outweigh those that are not. In the same vein, the aspiring entrepreneur who prepares and pitches an ‘everything is wonderful’ business plan – like the ones many books and software packages describe – risks his or her credibility with investors, people of experience who know the real risks that entrepreneurial ventures entail. This naiveté makes it harder, not easier, to raise the money needed. Worse, notwithstanding a risk section, (in which the typical plan papers over what might go wrong and explains why it will not), such a positive slant exposes blinding the entrepreneur to the real risks that conspire to bring most entrepreneurial ventures to their knees. The third thing that is wrong is that most business plans are focused on the entrepreneur, his or her idea, and why it is wonderful. They are ‘me-focused’ or ‘my idea-focused’ rather than customer-focused.
People do matter, true, but investors do not really care very much about you and your idea, at least not at the beginning. What investors care about is solving significant customer problems or needs that offer significant profit and growth potential. If you have a solution to such a problem, then their ears will perk up. If you have shown that you can deliver results in solving this kind of problem, you will have their undivided attention. Thus, the importance of people lies in the context in which they operate. Set the context first. Let the people story – of you and your entrepreneurial team – close your sale. FINDING A SOLUTION Like every problem or conundrum in business, there is a solution. Instead of diving into business-planning mode, step back and ask yourself whether the opportunity you have in mind is genuinely attractive. That is what an aspiring British entrepreneur named Cassian Drew did before embarking on a plan to sell climbing-wall hardware and exercise programmes to fitness facilities. He spent a summer examining his opportunity and, in the process, learned exactly how fitness operators assess the economics of the gear they acquire. It quickly became clear that the economics underlying what he had thought to be a great idea just were not going to fly. While he and his partner were well suited to the opportunity and the market was attractive – with booming interest in both fitness and climbing in the United Kingdom (UK) – there simply was not a business model that would work. As Drew and countless numbers of entrepreneurs have learned, usually the hard way, opportunities are best understood in terms of three crucial elements: markets,
Instead of diving into businessplanning mode, step back and ask yourself whether the opportunity you have in mind is genuinely attractive. industries, and the one or more key people that make up the entrepreneurial team. What I call a ‘customer-driven feasibility study’ is something that entrepreneurs, whether in nascent start-ups or deep in the bowels of an established company, might use to guide their assessments before they invest precious time and effort in writing a business plan. KEY DIFFERENCES There is considerable overlap in the content of a customer-driven feasibility study and a business plan, and that is actually a good thing. In fact, all of the analyses I advocate are essential, though not sufficient, for crafting a thoughtful, evidence-based business plan. So, what is new here? What is different from a business plan? Customer focus: The feasibility study is focused on the customer. As the renowned American financial consultant Peter Drucker wrote many years ago, the purpose of any business is to win a customer. The TheEDGE
feasibility study hones in on that purpose, one quite different than that of most business plans – to win an investor. Without the likelihood of there being customers, there will probably be no investors. Economic fundamentals: The feasibility study succinctly addresses the fundamental economics of the business, by identifying the key drivers of cash flow: revenue, customer acquisition and retention costs and timelines, gross margins, required capital investment and the working capital characteristics of the operating cash cycle. If these drivers are satisfactory, detailed strategies – for marketing, operations, and financing – can probably be developed to make the venture economically viable, provided the market, industry and team elements are sufficiently attractive. If they are not, there is little point in wasting time developing such strategies. Mindset: The customer-driven feasibility study asks the critical questions necessary to satisfy the entrepreneurial team’s curiosity about the attractiveness of the opportunity itself, and makes it possible to answer these questions before developing the detailed strategy necessary for the completion of a business plan. Thus, its mindset is to ask (and answer) questions, not to sell the venture’s merit. In contrast, the business plan organises the answers delivered by the feasibility study and goes on to develop marketing, operating and financing strategies in an effort to sell the opportunity, in a sharply focused way, to investors and other stakeholders. “Are these differences worth the effort?” you might ask. Why should not you, as a would-be entrepreneur, simply skip the feasibility study and proceed directly to preparing a business plan? First, researching and preparing a customer-driven feasibility study gives you a chance to opt out early in the process, before investing your precious time and energy in preparing a complete business plan. Thus, it can save weeks or months of time that might be wasted on a fundamentally flawed opportunity. Second, for opportunities that do look promising, the feasibility study jump-starts
Most business plans are fundamentally flawed because they are focused on the entrepreneur and why their idea is so wonderful. the business planning process and provides a clear, customer-focused vision about why your proposed venture makes sense – from market, industry and team perspectives, viewed independently and collectively. It identifies the customer pain, how you will resolve it, and the one or two domains that probably make the opportunity stand out. These factors become the drivers of your business plan. Third, by ensuring that all aspects of the opportunity are examined, your analysis can better understand and thereby reduce your risk of entering a fatally flawed venture. KEEPING AN OPEN MIND Asking and getting answers to the feasibility questions with an open mind – deliberately, objectively and comprehensively, based on real-world evidence, rather than hopes or dreams – is an important first step that entrepreneurs all too often ignore. No car buyer would buy a new car without a road test, and that’s a far less risky decision than the one you are about to make. A customer-driven feasibility study is the entrepreneur’s new business road test. Entrepreneurs who proceed without doing one ignore it at their peril.
John W. Mullins is Associate Professor of Management Practice in Entrepreneurship and Marketing at London Business School.
CUSTOMER-DRIVEN FEASIBILITY To compile an effective business plan that is not ‘dream-driven’ but rooted in the reality of reaching enough paying: 1. Executive summary that summarises what follows. 2. Micro-level market assessment: • Target market’s plan identified; compelling benefits of your solution identified, with evidence that those in this segment are willing to pay • Target market segment, size, and growth rate • Options to grow into other segments 3. Macro-level market assessment: • Overall market size and growth rate • Macro trends analysis to assess future market growth and attractiveness 4. Macro-level industry assessment: • Five forces analysis: Is the industry attractive? • Likely changes therein going forward 5. Micro-level industry assessment: • Proprietary elements? • Superior organisational processes, capabilities or resources identified that are not easily duplicated or imitated? • Economic viability of business model understood • Revenue forecast • Customer acquisition and retention costs, and time required to obtain a customer • Gross margins and operating costs understood • Capital investment required • Operating cash cycle characteristics 6. Team assessment: • Team’s mission, aspirations, and propensity for risk • Team’s ability to execute on the critical success factors in this industry • Team’s connectedness up, down, and across the value chain 7. Summary and conclusions [tell the reader(s) the key highlights of what you’ve told them]: • Why is – or is not – this opportunity attractive? On what one (or, at most, two) domains do you rest your case?
BUSINESS INSIGHT Inside the minds of leading business figures
TOWER TECHNOLOGY AND SAfeTY STANDARDS (P.78)
In light of Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup, Doha has seen its ever-expanding skyline become home to the freshest in architectural innovation. Hassan Al Dehaimi discusses with TheEDGE the attributes of the Doha High Rise Office Building.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION: •
CEO of Qatar Exchange, Andre Went: TheEDGE spoke with the chief executive officer of Qatar Exchange about the innovations he has introduced to Qatar Exchange and discussed how Qatar-based
expatriates can invest in the bourse. (P.80)
Unique architectural design, technology, green considerations and safety standards in the new ‘Doha High Rise Office Building’ Doha has seen its ever-expanding skyline become home to the freshest in architectural innovation. West Bay’s ‘Doha High Rise Office Building’ is certainly no exception, boasting industry leading technologies and a unique design that might easily propel it into becoming a Doha landmark. Along the coastline in the lucrative West Bay area which is dotted with uniquely designed superstructures, outshining the competition in this sector is certainly nothing short of challenging, and Ramy Khalaf met with the tower’s manager Hassan Al Dehaimi to further discuss attributes of the Doha High Rise Office Building, which was recently voted as one of the best new tall buildings in the world. would spring to mind when conceiving the 49 floor tower,” said Al Dehaimi. “ Through working with the most sought after designers and architects, we aimed to produce what would become an architectural feat, a landmark that would make onlookers want to learn more about its background and how it came to be,” he continued, pointing out the importance of allocating the best of their resources towards the project.
rofit was never the desired outcome; differentiation through quality is what matters, reveals Al Dehaimi. The Doha High-Rise Office Building is one that was set out to capture global attention from the start. It was devised with differentiation considered of paramount importance, and was never conceived to be ‘just another office building’ that happened to have a unique design. This is clearly reflected in its state-of-the-art technology as well as its eye-catching finish. What is apparent from first glance is that the building was designed with much more than offices in mind. “This is the image HE Sheikh Saud Bin Mohamed Bin Ali Al Thani was aiming
JEAN NOUVEL Although Sheikh Al Thani has employed various world-renowned designers for work in different projects, Renowned French architect Jean Nouvel’s alternate take on modern design was a perfect match for the level of distinction he was aiming for. Famous for innovative designs such as the Torre Aigües de Barcelona in Spain, Nouvel was the perfect candidate to take on a task of this magnitude. “We needed someone who would be able to create a completely new and unique design in order to ensure the building became the landmark it was always set out to be,” stressed Al Dehaimi. “Our choice was obviously largely based on his previous designs, but the design was completely tailored from scratch to set it apart from other towers in the Doha Skyline.”
Since the tower was planned to contain the latest in technology and equipment, Sheikh Al Thani wanted an exterior design that would reflect the complexity of what lies beneath it to everyone who laid eyes on it. “We wanted a tower that would not only accommodate our state of the art facilities but one that would convey that image to onlookers through the design. This is exactly why we felt that Jean Nouvel would be the best person for the job,” explained Al Dehaimi. CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUES REINVENTED The Doha High Rise Office Building features a completely new type of reinforcement, in the form of concrete diagrid columns hidden beneath the building’s oriental outer cladding. The cladding was constructed in such a way that the diameter of the openings in the cladding was varied in accordance with solar orientation in order to reduce sunlight penetration during the day. “The narrowest of these openings will still allow for safety personnel to gain access into the building if needed,” Al Dehaimi reassured TheEDGE. In addition to the aluminium curtain walling and
highly reflective glass, the cladding is sure to keep the heat from seeping into the structure. “One of the most common questions we are asked is how the cladding and walling is made accessible for servicing,” noted Al Dehaimi. “The building incorporates a walkway between the outer cladding and inner wall in order to allow for easy and safe access for service staff”, he explained, “We have also installed 360 degree lifts which can be used by maintenance staff on each floor.” The building’s lighting also came under scrutiny during the construction process. “We were cautious when choosing the building’s signature LEDs which we have used to illuminate the exterior to ensure they do not reflect inside the tower and are not a hindrance to the working environment,” he said. STANDING OUT With skyscrapers cropping up all around the world at a rapid rate, there is no doubt making an impression is becoming increasingly difficult. Al Dehaimi explained how, at any cost, they were determined to include all the latest technology into the tower in order to out equip other buildings in every way. “An example of this is the use of lifts which can travel at speeds of up to eight metres per second, which is extremely rare in the industry,” he said. “As much technology as we incorporate into the tower, what will draw people to explore it to begin with is what matters most,” he added, underling the importance of having an iconic design where distinction is concerned. Set one floor below ground, the tower’s rather unusual entrance is hidden from sight among lush greenery, giving a sense that it is hovering when seen from the Corniche. Al Dehaimi added that as well as being an integral part of Doha’s skyline, the tower provides a panoramic view of the city at every floor for occupants to be able to enjoy. ELECTRONIC MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS The Doha High Rise Office building makes use of technology in a way that will make managing the workforce less tedious for employers. The central control room serves as a centralised control panel for all the gadgetry inside the tower from the air conditioning temperature to security perimeters. “Every single access point within the building is regulated by the security system,” Al Dehaimi explained. “Upon occupying offices, all employees will be given identity cards
“We aimed to produce what would become an architectural feat, a landmark that would make onlookers want to learn more about how it came to be.” – Hassan Al Dehaimi which give them access to offices and floors to which they are entitled entry. Employers can, therefore, use this system to keep track of how long employees spend in their offices.” By incorporating systems that keep track of the workforce, the tower plays a role in work efficiency and makes managing a large workforce simpler. GOING GREEN, STAYING SAFE As Doha expands at a rapid pace, the issue of using technologies and techniques in construction which enhance sustainability and safety is always important. “When constructing the tower, we paid quite a lot of attention to heat isolation in order to keep energy consumption for temperature regulation under control,” said Al Dehaimi. The conventional double glazed glass panes coupled with the protective outer cladding serve to reduce heat within the building, which is therefore less taxing for the cooling system. On March 31, 2012, buildings around the world switched off their lights for ‘Earth Hour’ in effort to promote lower energy consumption and less climate change. Al Dehaimi mentioned their building’s participation with this initiative, in order to show their support for the cause along with other buildings in the Doha skyline. In light of the recent tragic events at Villaggio, there is no doubt that buildings in Qatar are becoming increasingly scrutinised for fire safety precautions. Al Dehaimi walked TheEDGE through some of the safety features the tower is equipped with, mentioning fire resistant escapes on every floor as well as specialised fans which remove smoke from affected areas and more. However, he insisted that having the necessary equipment will never be enough to save lives if it is not consistently tested to ensure its integrity. “We always make a point to regularly check that our safety equipment is on par with international standards and, during construction, cutting costs on this sort of equipment, even within our legal bounds, was never an option,” he stated. Al Dehaimi went on to reassure TheEDGE that the tower’s security staff have been employed at the building for a long period of time and are trained for fire hazards, should
such situations arise. In addition to taking necessary steps to ensure safety within the tower, Al Dehaimi urged project managers for other buildings never to lower costs where safety is concerned. “Although lower quality equipment might be legally acceptable, it is our duty to ensure that we install the best equipment possible to avoid unnecessary losses,” he said. UNIQUE SELLING POINTS Among an overwhelming amount of office buildings, the Doha High Rise Office Building provides one key selling point where its true value lies, said Al Dehaimi. “Businesses largely depend on reputation, and we can help contribute to that through our image. Being an occupant of a building that is considered a landmark will provide businesses with much more credibility to leverage with, especially when doing business on a global level,” he said. Not only will the building provide businesses with a better image, he continued, it will also give them access to the facilities mentioned previously. These should collectively serve to boost employee efficiency while providing easier day-to-day management for the employer. ONGOING CHALLENGES Bearing in mind the sheer size of the tower, it was not surprising when Al Dehaimi mentioned that there had been a temporary hold in construction three years into the project. “Problems will always arise in projects of this scale, the key to getting past them is with good administration,” he said. Although completing the project four years later than expected, it is obvious that everything was eventually executed as planned. “It consumed a huge amount of resources and needed support from quite a lot of people to ensure its success, but seeing the final result makes it worth it,” he added. Al Dehaimi concluded by saying, “We would love to see more projects of Qatari origin like our tower on display, and we hope that our building can be used as a source of inspiration. Profit should not be the priority; the goal people should be looking to achieve with projects like this is to create artistically and architecturally unique buildings as an expression of Qatar’s potential.” TheEDGE
CEO of Qatar Exchange discusses their recent innovations and how expatriates can invest in the bourse Formerly known as the Doha Securities Market, Qatarâ€™s Doha-based stock exchange, the Qatar Exchange (QE), was formed in 2009, when an agreement was signed between Qatar Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext to develop the existing exchange into amore regionally wider and more international exchange. Since then, Qatar Exchange has evolved into one of the most accomplished in the region, regularly outperforming its equivalents in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). TheEDGE spoke exclusively to chief executive officer (CEO) Andre Went recently about the innovations introduced to the Qatar Exchange, what the future might hold, and discussed how Qatar-based expatriates can invest in the bourse. You are originally from The Netherlands, so how did you come to be CEO of the QE? When the partnership was signed between the State of Qatar and NYSE Euronext and as a consequence the Doha Securities Market became Qatar Exchange, part of the agreements was that NYSE Euronext would also be involved in the management of the Qatar Exchange. That was to be the direct trigger for me to work in Doha. Before that I had worked many years in the New York Stock Exchange Euronext, mainly in European branches, such as Paris and Amsterdam covering almost all areas of an exchange operation. The bourse has evolved quite rapidly over the last few years or even in the last year with all of the new initiatives that have been introduced? This is true. If you look at the development of Qatar Exchange there are three phases that we identify. The first phase, which we are in the middle of, we call it the reforming of the cash market and the idea is to introduce international best practices to facilitate trading in the cash market. The second phase will be [to] launch the derivatives market if certain conditions are met, including a central counterparty and the third phase will be more international business development, such as developing international initial public offerings (IPO). We are now in the middle of phase one and we are developing in multiple ways. If you look at the
market infrastructure, which is what I call it, we introduced a new trading system called the Universal Trading Platform in September 2010. It is not just information technology (IT), it is new trading facilities, such as a closing auction to determine the last price of the day. In the past the closing price was always a volume weighted average and now the closing price is determined by a final closing auction. It is much preferred by people who depend on that closing price. We also enhanced the trading hours, half an hour more in the morning and half an hour more in the afternoon, so that we overlap with the Asian and European markets a bit more. We modified the tick sizes, meaning that it attracts more liquidity into the order book. We introduced the treasury bills (T-bills) in December 2011. And importantly as well we introduced delivery versus payment (DVP), which is related to the way of settlement of the trades. DVP is very important for the international investors, because they need to be comfortable that it is guaranteed that when they buy shares and pay for them, they get their shares at the exact same time. It was also important that we were able to grow the numbers of brokers; traditionally there were seven brokers in the exchange and now we have ten with new brokers joining the exchange such as QNBFS, Ahli Bank and Cb Financial Services. What is the advantage of having banks operate brokerage services? More opportunities and more options,
and we also believe that the banks would be bringing additional services in terms of asset management and of research and capital commitment, when we need brokers to maintain the market and act as liquidity provider. So those would be the immediate advantages in addition to the services that existing brokers provide. There are a number of very well established brokers, but more brokers that come into the market is generally a positive thing. Qatar Exchange is often the best performing in the region and one of the best in the world by certain measurement methods. How much do you think that is due the country’s economy itself, or the rapidly evolving and improving exchange? I think that it is a little bit of both but mainly the economy. As an exchange operator you create an environment that people trust and that people feel comfortable investing in and trusting their money to invest in these companies but it is the companies that offer the real performance. So when we say we are best performing exchange over the last two years, it is about the index development: the performance of the market and the performance of the economy of Qatar and the companies that are listed. In 2010 the index increased by 24 percent, which was a rather steep increase, and in 2011 the index went up 1.12 percent and was the only market in the Arab region with a positive price return. Who makes up the investor base on the Qatar Exchange? Around 60 percent is owned by Qatari institutions such as the government and institutional investors; around thirty percent is owned by Qatari individuals, and international investors account for around eight percent. Two percent of that is international retail and six percent of that is foreign institutions. These figures relate to share ownership. If you look at the composition of the trading, the composition of this is slightly different, the international investors are much more active, as they count for a third of the daily turnover How are the top performing companies determined? There are a couple of things that you can look at. One criteria is dividends yield. The average dividend yield of the market as a whole is quite high. If you compare the average dividend yield to the rate on bank deposits, it is more than double, about four or five percent currently which is very, very good. There are
“For the actual launch of the QE Venture Market we need a number of companies to be ready which will take time, but there is a strong interest.” companies with more, companies with less –and you can rank companies based on that. You can also look at the total returns, which is price change plus the dividend and there again, the performance is very good. If you look at the companies at the top of any of these criteria, it is quite diverse so there is not a general denominator, it is not just financial sector companies, it is not just construction companies – there is a good mix of companies, which is positive for the market. How evolved is the new QE Venture market that is being set up by Qatar Exchange for the SME market and how do companies qualify and enter this? The market is ready. In January we had a workshop, where we explained the rules as to how to access the market and how to trade in the market. Following that we have been engaging with potential listing candidates, and we are still working with them. It is not an easy process for any company to take the decision to list in an exchange and become a publicly traded company. For the actual launch of the QE Venture Market we need a number of companies to be ready which will take time, but there is a strong interest. We very much recognise that there is a strong focus in Qatar on the development of SMEs and we think that providing a listing mechanism for SMEs is a very important component for the exchange. The exchange’s primary focus is servicing the local market in terms of raising capital, providing investment opportunity for the local investor and the SME market is clearly part of that objective. The listing requirements for the QE Venture Market are really different from what they are for the main market: the capital requirement is only five million Qatari Riyals and the track record only one year. There are no profit requirements and the free float requirements are slightly different, so it is a lower barrier for entry, and that is what the whole concept of the venture market is. What are the advantages for companies to be listed and to become part of the exchange and the investment process?
Clearly raising capital is an important reason. It allows companies to grow and to attract capital to support their growth. For the existing shareholders it is clearly a way to diversify their investment, as prior to listing a major part of their capital may be invested in this single company There are other reasons as well, it helps the exposure of those companies; it brands those companies as quality companies, as they need to meet public listing criteria. It also helps those companies to focus on corporate governance issues and for third generation family owned businesses, listing on an exchange can help them in their further growth. Qatar has yet to be upgraded by MSCI from frontier to emerging market status, due to the country’s 25 percent foreign ownership limits. Do you see this as changing in the near future? Do you think an upgrade will be beneficial? In general foreign investors can contribute very positively to a market, and one of the reasons why markets open up to foreign investors is that it clearly improves the quality of the market. An upgrade by MSCI would really be beneficial in terms of adding liquidity to the market. Will the market perform without such an upgrade? Clearly it would, as it has been performing over the last two years. I am comfortable in the knowledge that we have created the market infrastructure that is required by international standards. All of market infrastructure developments required for an MSCI upgrade have been delivered. The remaining issue is the question of foreign ownership limits that apply to foreign investors and which differ from company to company. We have is a floor which says that at least 25 percent of the total free flow market capitalisation is available for foreign investors and individual companies can opt to have a higher percentage. It is therefore up to them to use that possibility or not, subject to regulatory approval. You have regular forums and company road shows in New York and Europe. Is TheEDGE
attracting this kind of foreign investment or interest the main agenda for that? We invite our listed companies along with us to go to interact with the international investors at the investors meetings, so there is always a general introduction of the Qatar Exchange and then after that it is one-on-one meetings, in which companies interact with analysts, investors to enable the analysts and investors to increase their knowledge of the listed companies.
“Investing in the exchange is not only available for Qataris, but it is also available for foreign investors, including the residents in the country.”
Does this increase investment? Yes and no. You don’t see an immediate doubling of the investments by these investors in companies that they meet, but you do see a strong interest of investors in participating in those events. Investors are very keen to meet managers of listed companies and listed companies are very keen to explain their business model and their performance. It doesn’t immediately overnight change the overall turnover in our market, but it is a part of creating awareness and an exchange of information. It is very common for companies to organise it themselves, and as an exchange we are very happy to facilitate this type of activity. There has also been some talk around the possibility of unifying the exchanges of the GCC in particular, with some pundits for it and some against it? It is always a possibility, but I think that you need to look into what the consolidation of the exchanges means and what does it bring for the market participants. At the moment each market in the GCC is focused on developing its own market and developing and sorting out its own local issues. There has been an exchange of information with the other exchanges, with the Arab Union of Stock Exchanges and in the OIC. I think that if you look at how the GCC market could develop it would be much more focused on harmonising regulation at first. I think that consolidation of exchange starts with a layer of harmonised regulation, which allows companies to cross list, which allows brokers to come across members without having offices in the other locations. We could do more in mutual recognition in the central depository. If an investor is registering in one of the GCC exchanges, potentially he could be allowed to trade it in the other exchanges, without having to open his own account in the other GCC markets as well. So I think there is a lot that can be done in terms of harmonising and integrating the market before you start to talk about consolidation of exchanges.
What further new initiatives can we expect from the Qatar Exchange? In December we introduced the treasury bills. Going forward, we would expect to have a bond market, with government bonds and corporate bonds, and we are also working on creating exchange traded funds (ETFs) and REIT’s as potential investments. So what we would expect in the context of the cash market is that we would be able to offer a wider choice of investment opportunities. REIT’s are clearly interesting as they allow investors to participate in the real estate development in Qatar and ETFs will allow people to have easy access into the market, without being obliged to do stock pickings, and to just participate in the development of the Qatar Exchange market which I believe will be a helpful instrument for a lot of the investors as well. So those are indeed two things that we are developing at the moment. We are working with the regulator to get the regulatory framework done and if that moves smoothly, then hopefully this year we will be able to have those products.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Well I think it would be good to mention that investing in the exchange is not only available for Qataris, but it is also available for foreign investors, including the residents in the country. We get a lot of questions about this and also on how people can open accounts and get involved in the process. So basically is it the same process? It is the same process, but slightly different from what people might be used to in their home domestic markets. The big difference is the fact that the exchange is also the central depository of shares and every shareholder needs to be registered within the exchange. So to be able to trade on the market you need to open an account with the exchange on top of having an account with the brokers. We have improved the account opening process. In the past you had to come to the exchange physically, but now you can open the exchange account through some of the QE licensed brokerage firms. It has become much easier for any resident to invest. With the performance of the market and the growth of the economy the potential is clearly there.
TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE DUBAI BUSINESS TRAVEL INSIDER (P.84) Victoria Scott gives an insight to the Gulf’s key business destination, Dubai, and shares tips for travellers to discover United Arab Emirates’ most fascinating city.
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A guide to Doha: TheEDGE recommends the best places to experience Qatar’s culture. (P.85) Read It: The Price of Everything: The True Cost of Living is a truly left field and different take on economics. TheEDGE tells you why it is a must read. (P.86)
10 Things: Islam’s most sacred month falls in summer. Victoria Scott shares 10 ways to enjoy Ramadan in Doha. (P.88)
Business Travel Insider: Dubai Big, brash and brilliant, Dubai never disappoints. Despite its own financial worries, it is still a key business destination in the Gulf. Victoria Scott shares her tips for travellers visiting the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) most exciting city. Getting there: Qatar Airways (www.qatarairways. com) flies to Dubai 11 times every day. An economy return fare costs QR900 in July, and Business Class starts at QR4420. For cheaper fares, consider low-cost airline FlyDubai, which flies the route eight times daily. Flights start from QR573 in mid-July. The flight time is one hour and 10 minutes. Qatari citizens and most nationalities with resident permits from Qatar can obtain a visa on arrival in Dubai. The main exception to this is Canadian citizens, who need to buy a visa in advance. Currency: Emirati Dirham. 1AED = QR0.99 Where to stay: Grosvenor House Dubai (www. grosvenorhouse-dubai.com) The Grosvenor House is located in two 45-storey towers on Dubai Marina. A dedicated business support centre backs the hotel’s fully equipped meeting and banqueting facilities. And if you need to kick back after a hard day, the hotel’s two spas are sure to help you unwind. The hotel’s cheapest room costs AED725 (QR652) in July. A premier room, which includes access to the executive lounge, costs AED1000 (QR900). Le Meridien Dubai (www.lemeridiendubai.com) Dubai’s oldest five star hotel is conveniently located close to the airport. Recently refurbished but retaining a classic, informal feel, this low-rise hotel surrounded by lush gardens is a firm favourite with business travellers. The hotel’s 1928 square metre conference facility can handle a complete range of events. The hotel also has 12 function rooms and a multitude of restaurants perfect for entertaining business contacts. A standard room starts from AED440
(QR396) per night in July, excluding breakfast. Royal Clubrooms start from AED640 (QR576) a night, including free airport transfers and evening drinks and snacks in the club. Where to play: Pai Thai at the Al Qasr Hotel (www. jumeirah.com) Diners have two choices about how they want to arrive at this waterside restaurant – either by buggy or by gondola. Both will set the mood for a special meal. It is a lovely romantic spot, with great Thai food and an outside seating area. Indego at the Grosvenor House (www. grosvenorhouse-dubai.com) Under the auspices of Chef Patron Vineet Bhatia (the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin Star) this place serves excellent Indian food fused with European influence. Splash your cash: Look no further than Dubai Mall (www. thedubaimall.com) The world’s largest shopping mall based on total area, it has a mind-popping 1200 shops. In 2011, it became the world’s most-visited shopping and leisure destination, and attracted more than 54 million visitors. From cheap throwaway fashion to high-end investment purchases, there is a whole world of shopping to enjoy here. Just do not forget your credit card and its limit. Culture vulture: The Dubai Museum is the place to go to learn about the ‘real’ Dubai hidden behind the glitz and glamour. Above ground (and the beginning of the tour) is the historic alFahidi fort with its traditional reed houses. Underground is the newly built section which houses a reconstructed souq from the city’s
pearling days, complete with sights and sounds from the era. Insider top tip: Dubai’s creek is popular with both visitors and locals, and it is not hard to understand why. Stroll along the banks watching the dhows unload their wares. Locals advise that you stay away from the touristy dhow cruises and instead see the creek from the water by taking a ride on an abra (a small water taxi).
TheEDGE Down time: The Fortress, Galle, Sri Lanka This luxury resort is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, minutes away from historic Galle. Guests can either choose to travel from the airport by private car or splash out on a helicopter ride, a sure-fire way of making your trip unforgettable. The hotel’s elegant architecture is reminiscent of Galle’s famous Dutch Fort. Fronting onto a lovely beach, its gardens are full of hammocks, daybeds and stunning water features perfectly placed for you to chill out and enjoy the view. The resort’s Spa Naturel is a must-do, with its special signature massages, private yoga classes and treatments inspired by the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. Other fabulous add-ons include a butler service, a kids’ club (with babysitters on request) and free Wi-fi. But if you tire of relaxation, the resort can organise a huge range of excursions for you, from whale watching in Mirissa to rainforest treks in Sinharaja. And if you are planning to get married, The Fortress offers full wedding packages, taking care of every detail for you (including traditional Sri Lankan dancers, who will dance to celebrate your union.) All you have to do is just enjoy yourself. A standard ocean room costs from US$355 (QR1292) a night in mid-July, including breakfast and all taxes. www.fortressresortandspa.com
Qatar Airways (www.qatarairways.com) flies directly to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, three times daily. The flight time is five hours. An economy return costs from QR1970 including tax in July.
GUIDE to Doha: The ultimate cultural outings in Qatar The Opera House, Katara Home to the Qatar Philharmonic, this beautiful building plays host to several classical music performances every month. Founded in 2008, this professional orchestra plays a varied programme that includes music from both East and West. For more details, see www.qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org Mathaf Qatar’s Museum of Modern Arab Art is located in an unprepossessing building in Education City, but its exterior belies the interesting collection inside. Housing over six thousand pieces from every decade since the mid-19th century, its mission is to challenge people’s conceptions of art in the region. www.mathaf.org.qa The Museum of Islamic Art No discussion of culture in Qatar could fail to mention the MIA. Housed in an iconic IM Pei designed building, the museum has an extensive permanent collection and also plays host to excellent touring
shows. It is also worth visiting its new park, which has a lovely cafe. Free entry. www.mia.org.qa Sheikh Faisal’s Museum Located near the Camel Race Track at Shahaniya, this less well-known museum is a treasure trove of items from Qatar’s past. Home to 15,000 artefacts that include camper vans, an aeroplane and fossils, it is slightly eccentric, fascinating place to visit. www.sheikhfaisalmuseum.com The Katara Art Center Housing gallery space, venues for art performance, and a section dedicated to art education, the Art Centre is an important new destination for art fans. It also has craft shops and an art bookshop. www.kataraartcenter.com
THE prIcE oF EvEryTHING: THE TrUE coST oF LIvING
Prominent South American business journalist Eduardo Porter is a member of the New York Times’ editorial board and has worked all over the world. This has given him perspective on world economics and an opportunity to author this book, which as the title suggests looks at the cost of living around the globe, but more importantly reveals that almost everything has a price, even waste, and why. Moreover, in The Price of Everything Porter actually goes into more detail about what is behind the universal value of everything and what it means to different people and their purchasing decisions. From the value per load of garbage in a dump in Burkina Faso, the price of life and how it relates to the cost of cars and safety helmets in the United States, insurance, cigarette packets and state medical budgets in Australia; to ancient slaves, Asian labourers, the salaries of sportsmen in South America (including Pele) and New York financiers; to global climate change, Porter covers a wide range of goods and services and the complex price structures behind them. A truly left field and different take on economics, that is as often as interesting and revealing, as it is bizarre and disturbing. Available at Virgin Megastore Landmark Mall for QR65.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s Spring/ Summer 2012 Sunwear Collection
For spring summer 2012, the Ferragamo eyewear collection embodies unique and timeless styles synonymous with the Ferragamo brand. A namesake that exemplifies luxury, the use of innovative materials and skilled craftsmanship combined with modern creativity is translated into the sunwear collection. Incorporated accents on the frame fronts, end piece, and temples create an air of sophisticated femininity and casual masculinity. Showcasing the Ferragamo sun collection’s use of rich materials, the classic aviator is revitalised with frame fronts and the logo scripted on the lense and end pieces wrapped in vivid colour leather. Elegant and eternally chic, the Ferragamo sunwear collection will continue to transcend expectations.
SONY MOBILE UNVEILS
xPeRIa MIRO aNd xPeRIa TIPO dUal
Sony Mobile Communications (Sony Mobile) recently announced two new Xperia smartphones, Xperia miro and Xperia tipo dual that are set for global release in Q3 2012. Xperia miro is a slim and stylish smartphone available in a fun range of colours with deep integration of Facebook throughout contacts, photo gallery and the music player, plus Sony’s xLOUD audio technology for crisp and loud sound. Xperia tipo dual is designed to offer an easy to use interface enabling consumers to get the most from their smartphones – whether browsing the web, sharing pictures or downloading apps.
SOUQ WaQIf BOUTIQUE HOTELS
Located in the historic and culturally rich surroundings of Souq Waqif, Arumaila, Al Najada, Al Mirqab and Musheireb belongs to the exclusive set of five-star boutique hotels, collectively known as the Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels. The hotel is located 15 minutes away from Doha International Airport, and within a 10 minutes radius of the Modern Art Gallery, Doha Corniche, Corniche Garden, Museum of Islamic Art and Qatar National Museum.
10 TEN THINGS
ways to enjoy
Ramadan in Doha
Islam’s most sacred month falls during Qatar’s hot, steamy summer. But there are still plenty of ways to embrace Ramadan in Doha despite the heat, says Victoria Scott. Scout out hotels’ luxury Ifthar offerings All of Doha’s best hotels lay on mouth watering Ifthar buffets. Many also offer entertainment, with musicians, dancers, miniature souqs, henna tattoo artists, and even falconry tempting you away from the food for (brief) breaks. Many also offer shisha and traditional Ramadan tents.
special experience. In many Qatari homes men eat their Ifthar meal in the majlis with the doors open, inviting guests to drop by. Dates and laban are eaten to break the fast, often followed by thareed (flat bread soaked with broth sprinkled with cinnamon) and lugaimat, a special Qatari doughnut.
Watch the world go by at Souq Waqif There is always a vibrant social scene at the souq in the evenings, but even more so during Ramadan, when families and friends take a seat at an on-street restaurant and mingle, eat, drink and people watch. So grab a lemon mint and a plate of delicious mezze and join in the fun.
Watch the Ramadan CanNon Every night at sunset, a canon is fired at the Corniche to signal the breaking of the fast. Historically it was fired so that everyone in Doha could hear it and know it was time to break the fast; nowadays it is also broadcast live on Qatari television. If you would like to go and see it all happen live, you will find the cannon near to the General Post Office.
Summer camps for kids A combination of searing heat and energetic, frustrated children does not a happy summer make. Luckily, many schools and nurseries hold summer camps to entertain (and exhaust) them with some also running during Ramadan. Little Academy (www.littleacademy.qa) runs its camp for 1-10 year olds until the 16th of August. The camp’s Ramadan hours are 7.30am to 2.30pm.
Relax in a spa Many of Doha’s spas are offering special packages during the holy month. For example Essence Spa, on the western edge of Aspire Park, is offering a special two-hour Royal Hamman treatment with a delicious sounding sesame and honey body wrap for QR580. Who needs a huge Ifthar buffet when you can smell like dessert?
Visit a Qatari home for an Ifthar meal If you are invited to a traditional Ifthar meal at a Qatari home, go. It is a very
Get educated Ramadan can be a confusing time for Qatar’s non-Muslim expatriates. Want to know how to behave, and why certain
rules are in place? Have questions about how the month is celebrated, and how it all began? The Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre (FANAR) is here to help. It organises events to help educate expatriates on Ramadan in Qatar. For more information, see www.fanar.gov.qa. Catch a film Cinemas are a perfect way to avoid the summer heat. Whiling away an hour or two in front of a blockbuster (in blissfully cool air-conditioning) is one of our favourite summer past-times. Most cinemas open for a few hours every morning and then re-open at around 8pm. Do not forget to wrap up warm – it is chilly in there. Get cultural at Katara Qatar’s cultural village is a great place to visit during Ramadan. Besides its lovely restaurants and cafes, it is holding a special Ramadan festival. Visit www.katara.net for more details. Camp out under the stars Although we would not like to do it every night, sometimes falling asleep to the sound of the waves and waking up surrounded by gleaming desert is simply divine. The sea breeze makes even the summer heat a little more bearable.
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