Page 1


april 2013


cover story


Is Qatar taking on the World?

Qatar is no longer knocking at the door; it has blown off its hinges to announce its entrance on the world stage. As the West and the Arab region go through turbulent times, Qatar is bailing out distressed companies and supporting cash-strapped governments. Qatar Today looks at the country’s rising economic clout and how the world perceives it.


Breathing ABOVE THE limit

If policymakers don’t start thinking particularly about particulate matter, the minuscule specks of toxic dust could really undermine our long-term health. Annalise Frank investigates the fallout from this hazard and what’s being done to reverse it.

71 00


A connected world

Qatar has experienced tremendous growth in broadband capacity over the past year, with 63% of households connected to broadband networks with minimum speeds of 1 megabit per second. To expand on this capacity in the future, ictQATAR is developing a strategy that can utilise the best infrastructure possible and a combination of fixed and wireless technologies. Qatar Today brings you a special report on the information communication technology sector of the country.



Look after the family

Despite the impetus towards regulating and governing corporate firms around the world, to avoid the issues that caused the 2008 economic crash, family-run businesses still see regulation as unnecessary interference, regardless of whether it's beneficial or not.

april 2013

Qatar Today 3


april 2013


86 63

Hack Attack

Two of Qatar’s flagship enterprises, Qatar Foundation and Al Jazeera, recently found their networks compromised by malicious cyber attacks from Syrian loyalists. With Qatar playing such a prominent role in the region now, Rory Coen asks how seriously Qatar should take cyber crime.




It’s all in the journey

Muhammed Mekki took a brave decision to leave his secure job and go for broke with an idea that could have fallen flat. However, he has recently secured a $20 million investment to expand the project. Rory Coen finds out how it all came together for the Iraqi-American entrepreneur.


Investing in disruption

Be on the lookout for some bottom-up US stock-picking opportunities from small companies that are driven by disruptive innovation, including those companies displaying sustainable and bullish endmarket dynamics.


Art, anyone?

International attention will focus on Katara Cultural Village this month for Sotheby's art auction that will showcase a selection of extremely high calibre works from many leading Middle Eastern artists as well as international contemporary art.


Empowering women entrepreneurs

One of the greatest challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is how to bring more women into the workforce. The region has a large number of aspiring, young and welleducated women who lack exposure to work.

4 Qatar Today

april 2013

regulars News Bites.................................................1O O & G Ov e r v i e w. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 Bank Notes................................................16 Realty Check.............................................20 ARA B SNIPPETS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 W o r l d V i e w. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 TECH TALK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 6 AUTO N e w s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 0 Market Watch............................................83 D o h a D i a r y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 0

V o lu m e 3 9

issue 4

april 2013

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Chief Executive Executive Vice President Vice President

Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Sandeep Sehgal Alpana Roy Ravi Raman

Editor SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS senior Art Director deputy Art Director assistant art director senior Graphic Designer Photographer

Sindhu Nair rory coen eZdhar ibrahim abigail mathias Venkat Reddy Hanan Abu Saiam Ayush Indrajith maheshwar reddy R obert F ALTImirano

senior Manager – Marketing Zulfikar Jiffry ASSISTANT MANAGERS – MARKETING Chaturka Karandana THOMAS JOSE senior Media ConsultantS HASSAN REKKAB LYDIA YOUSSEF MARKETING RESEARCH AND SUPPORT EXECUTIVE KANWAL BALUCH senior Accountant Pratap Chandran Sr. Distribution Executive Bikram Shrestha Distribution Support Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai basanta pokhrel

Published by Oryx Advertising Co WLL, P.O. Box 3272; Doha-Qatar Tel: (+974) 44672139, 44550983, 44671173, 44667584 Fax: (+974) 44550982 Email: website: Printed at: Gulf Publishing and Printing Co WLL Copyright © 2013 Oryx Advertising Co WLL

Qatar Today invites readers’ feedback Share your views on the magazine or any issue connected to Qatar. One lucky reader will win an exquisite Mont Blanc writing instrument.

6 Qatar Today

april 2013

published by oryx advertising co wll, All rights reserved. qatar today is published monthly by oac, po box no. 3272, doha, qatar. subscription rate for qr. 180 per year. address for all subscription correspondence to qatar today, oryx advertising co wll, po box 3272, al hilal area, doha, state of qatar. for single copies call us on + 974 44672139 or mail to material in this publication must not be stored or reproduced in any form without permission. request for permission should be directed to reprint requests should be directed to the qatar today is registered trademark of oryx advertising co wll reprint requests should be directed to the qatar today is registered trademark of oryx advertising co wll reprint requests should be directed to the

Write to: The Editor, Qatar Today, PO Box 3272, Doha. Fax: (+974) 44550982, email: Qatar Today reserves the right to edit and publish the correspondence. Views and opinions expressed in the published letters may not necessarily be the publication’s views and opinions.

april 2013

from the desk


are a victim only if you allow yourself to be one.”

Though “victim” is not a term that can be used to label Qatar, there seems to be a lot of hearsay regarding the country – its investment plans and its benevolent benefactor role to needy neighbouring Arab countries. There was an Arsenal FC bid that proved to be idle speculation, followed by a hypothetical acquisition of Mark & Spencer shares by Qatar Holding. While Qatar Investment Authority is only the twelfth-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, it is arguably the most talked-about. Qatar Today rounds up opinions from experts in the country and outside, in an effort to decipher the complexity of the acquisitions game and the soft power tactics that the country seems to excel. All this as we come to realise that Qatar relishes all the attention that comes its way, and the quote above seems apt as each rumour puts the spotlight back on this “tiny thumb-shaped state”. Have you considered the consequences particlate matter has on your health? If you haven’t, it's time you did, and to know more, read our article this month on the health hazards of this particular matter. Another issue that should bother the institutions here are the cyber infringements that seem to be a repercussion of all the attention the country is attracting. Read the investigative report in detail inside. Qatar Today in an effort to be in touch with the business community here, has introduced two new columns, one that talks to an entrepreneur who is set to conquer the world with his or her innovation and the other one zeroing down on the people of the country and their experiences living here. We hope you enjoy the stories. While all this is part of change, the complete new redesign of Qatar Today will be effective from our May issue, with distinctive features, cutting-edge design and a compelling, crisp edit that enjoys conversing with its readers.

So look out for CHANGE in Qatar Today!

Sindhu Nair

8 Qatar Today

april 2013

letters “A new era in passenger travel”


I feel like I’ve already been in the Hamad International Airport after hearing the thorough description of it in your cover story this month. Now I can’t wait to go try it out. Thanks for all the information. I’ve never thought of airports as luxurious resorts, but as someone who does a lot of waiting during layovers, you won’t see me complaining. Andrea Schmitz

Women working well

It was interesting to read about the How Women Work conference. As a female resident in Qatar, I am glad to know there are conferences such as these for women like me. Smitha Bajaj

Shooting yourself in the foot

With reference to the article about media freedom in Qatar Today’s March issue, isn’t it absolutely ironic that a journalist can be detained for damaging the reputation of a country? It’s hard to understand the reasoning behind such legislation. M. O’Mara

Success through Health

I am enjoying Qatar Today’s recent segment on health and well-being. It’s nice to be able to correlate my own efforts at getting fit and staying healthy with those who are definitely juggling a few different loads, be it their careers and family or seeking further education. They are all smart enough to know that they cannot reach their limit unless they are active and living well. Ashvinder da Silva

qt poll – April



Poll result is based on messages received till 20th of every month

Idea for IKEA

IKEA has found itself quite a site on the Al Shamal road, but I bet I wasn’t the only one to miss the right turn coming from Doha. They really need to have a bigger sign further back declaring that exit. It’s surely cheaper than constructing a second slip road for those who missed the first turn. Jelizaveta Poom

SMS answers to +974 33072524


86% 14% Yes


1 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

Qatar Today invites readers’ feedback Share your views on the magazine or any issue connected to Qatar. One lucky reader will win an exquisite MontBlanc writing instrument. Write to: The Editor, Qatar Today, PO Box 3272, Doha. Fax: (+974) 44550982, e-mail: Qatar Today reserves the right to edit and publish the correspondence. Views and opinions expressed in the published letters may not necessarily be the publication’s views and opinions.

Check out all articles of Qatar Today on www.QATARTODAYONLINE.COM follow us on



Emir calls for extra funds for Palestine


alestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the Emir calls for a $1 billion (QR3.64 billion) fund for Palestinians in Jerusalem. “[Jerusalem] is in serious danger, which requires of us serious action. Palestinian, Arab and Islamic rights in Jerusalem cannot be compromised. Israel must realise this,” the Emir said in his address. Meanwhile, the summit was attended by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad Syria – a move which was condemned by Russia and Iran. "In Doha, another anti-Syria step was taken," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "Developments at the Arab League summit in Doha and decisions taken there, regardless of objections by some member states, cause bewilderment to say the least."

We believe in open competition, a level playing field, fair and equal access to markets and no barriers to entry. We believe in unrestricted globalisation of trade and production, free movement of goods and services.

Akbar Al-Baker CEO Qatar Airways, at the 7th IATA World Cargo Symposium in Doha last month

1 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

Jordan's King Abdullah II chats with the Emir, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani during the opening of the Arab League summit at the Sheraton Hotel last month. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB

Institutions asked to innovate


he first edition of Innovate Qatar, the nation’s first dedicated new technology and innovations exhibition, was held at the Doha Exhibition Centre last month. The Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who inaugurated the exhibition, said: “Innovate Qatar is still in its infancy, but already we see tremendous interest in this multi-industry innovation-focused exhibition. Next year, we hope to invite all government institutions to exhibit their innovations.” Featuring experts from Qatar University, Qatar Green Building Council, Qatar Plastic Products, Global Innovators Conference and Global Trade Links, the showcasing area displayed concrete examples of innovation research being undertaken in Qatar or relevant to Qatar. Among the topics discussed were “Inventions, Innovations and the Long Way to Reach the Market”, “Intro to Intellectual Property”, “Innovation in Design: Making the Invisible Visible” and “Innovating without Fear”.

news bites Richest and Fattest Qatar has overtaken the US as the most obese nation in the world. Experts speaking at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q)'S ‘Emerging Trends in HealthCare and Lifestyle Diseases: A Special Focus on Qatar’ warned Qatari residents that they face serious lifestyle decisions. The event was co-sponsored by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH).


of the people of Qatar are overweight


are obese

British royalty welcomed

Dr Fathy Saoud, President of Qatar Foundation, makes a symbolic presentation to the Prince of Wales of a gold leaf from the Sidra tree, which is the trademark

of Qatar Foundation, representing unity between Qatar’s remarkable growth and its strong roots to its culture and heritage.


he Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall were in Qatar last month as part of an official three-day tour of the country. Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) welcomed the prince at its grounds, where he was given a site visit to a number of research and development companies that operate from within QSTP, as well as a review of two key QSTP initiatives: Qatar Robotics Surgery Centre (QRSC) and the Sustainable Management of Fisheries Resources Project in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment. The pair also visited Katara and toured the prince’s School of Traditional Arts workshops and the Arts and Disability Festival. The school is part of one of Prince Charles’ core charities. Its post graduate education programme is rooted in practical arts and crafts-based degrees undertaken at both master’s and doctoral levels.

Looking to Cuba for Food Security Qatar is stepping up its food security agenda by acquiring modern biotechnology from Cuba to improve the weather-resistance of crops at the many agricultural farms scattered around Doha. Cuban ambassador to Qatar Ernesto D. Plasencia Escalante said: “We have done a lot of research in biotechnology and will start sharing our expertise with Qatar once the modalities of cooperation are finalised.” Qatar’s Ministry of Environment said this was part of the Qatar National Food Security Programme that was initiated in 2008 with the idea of reducing the country’s reliance on imports through realisation of the principle of self-sufficiency.

Health Centre strategies under discussion International health experts assembled in Doha last month for the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional Association of Academic Health Centres International (AAHCI) meeting, focusing on the development of and models for academic health centres. Academic health systems integrate research, education and clinical care in a unique manner to focus on improving patient care and delivering innovative healthcare solutions. The Washington, DC-based AAHCI was formed in recognition that the global healthcare community is rapidly becoming more interconnected, with many opportunities for institutional learning. AAHCI is the only international organisation providing a platform for this engagement, interaction and leadership. Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), together with six partner organisations, is developing a nationwide academic health system (AHS), a first in the MENA region. HMC Managing Director, Dr Hanan Al-Kuwari, said the gathering highlighted progress being made by Qatar’s AHS, which is using a model unique to the region. “We have made much progress since the launch of our partnership eighteen months ago, and have an ambitious strategy to deliver,” she said.

We have an ongoing programme with Qatar University (QU) and the American Bar Association that focuses on providing technical assistance for the establishment of legal clinics that will focus on women’s rights. Nazanin Ash US Deputy Assistant Secretary of state, Near Eastern Affairs.

april 2013

Qatar Today 1 3

news bites

Huge luxury yacht to be constructed


last month. The customised vessel will be built at Qatar’s state-of-the-art Erhama Bin Jaber Al Jalahma Shipyard by NDSQ, a shipbuilding joint venture between Qatari shipping company Nakilat and Dutch shipbuilding group Damen Shipyards. Based on the proven axe-bow hull of Damen’s 67-metre Sea Axe navy, coastguard and yacht support vessels, the new vessel will be equipped with the latest technology and will reach speeds of up 20 knots. Muhammad Ghannam commented: “We are honoured to be given this opportunity to deliver this landmark yacht project in Qatar. NDSQ continues to prove Qatar’s shipbuilding capabilities, while Nakilat, Damen and NDSQ are all fully committed to realising HH the Emir’s vision for world-class shipbuilding in Qatar.”

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Fahd Al Thani, State Minister, and Muhammad Ghannam, Chairman of NDSQ, sign the contract.

4G expected this month


oredoo will commercially roll out the ultra-fast 4G network this month, said company chairman HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Thani. Ooredoo has been in the final testing stages of the 4G LTE mobile broadband network. LTE is a wireless broadband technology that supports

atari shipbuilder Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar (NDSQ) will construct a 69-metre fast luxury vessel. HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Fahd Al Thani, State Minister, and Muhammad Ghannam, Chairman of NDSQ, signed the contract

roaming Internet access via devices and seamlessly interworks with 2G and 3G networks. Because of the significant improvements in download speeds and quality, it is called the “fourth-generation” (4G) technology. The service is expected to provide customers in Qatar with “universal connectivity at incredible downlink speeds” of up to 150 Mbps.

Switch 2022 World Cup to winter? “At the moment it has a tremendous amount of implications for Europe. For [the English Premier League], at this minute, the answer is ‘no’. But, if we take a proper view, we have to find a way to have a winter spell where we don’t play, and I think common sense will prevail. I think over the next few years. things will change and they will come to a compromise.”

Qatar is considered to be a very positive partner from this region. It has knowledge about this region that Nato doesn’t have in Brussels.


Arne Bard Dalhaug, Commandant of NATO Defence College

Sir Dave Richards Chairman of the English Premier League.

Ashghal launches work zone traffic guide


atar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) launched its new Work Zone Traffic Management Guide last month at a special ceremony at the Hilton Doha in the presence of Ashghal’s president, Eng. Nasser Ali Al-Mawlawi. Developed by Ashghal to replace the existing traffic control and roadworks guide, the new Work Zone Traffic Management Guide directs construction contractors and associated entities on safety policies and procedures that need to be adhered to on all national and local roads projects. The new strategy and related policies and procedures are being

1 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

mandated in all Ashghal contracts, and existing projects have six months to comply with the new stipulations. The guidelines in the Work Zone Traffic Management Guide are intended to reduce construction workers’ exposure to the hazards of traffic, and are said to offer road users “consistency and positive guidance at work zone areas”. Al-Mawlawi added that the new guide will improve traffic management around work sites, as it prescribes best international safety standards and regulations. The guide can be found on



O & G overview

Qatar discovers more gas


atar has discovered an offshore gas field containing 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, its first such discovery since 1971, according to Energy Minister HE Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada. The discovery was made at the 4-North offshore block near the large North Field by a consortium that includes Wintershall AG of Germany and Mitsui Gas Development Qatar. Al-Sada, who is also Managing Director of Qatar Petroleum, said: “We are very pleased with the discovery”. He said it was part of an effort by the country “to prudently explore for and develop our natural resources” as a contribution to the country’s economic prosperity. “We will start production, God willing, in the next few years from Block 4N,” Al-Sada told reporters. “We have already started planning and looking at different engineering options.” The discovery is larger than Germany’s total proven gas reserves, which the BP Statistical Review of World Energy published in June 2012 lists at 2.2 trillion cubic feet. Russia holds the world’s biggest gas reserves, followed by Iran, according to the data compiled by BP plc.


he first annual Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Energy Awards ceremony recognised five individual lifetime achievement distinctions. The awards were created and named to honour the legacy of HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, President of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, in recognition of his formidable contribution to the international energy industry over the course of many decades.

Winners HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, qatar's minister of Energy and Industry and chairman and managing director of Qatar Petroleum, ‘Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of the Qatari Energy Industry’ HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, ‘Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Future Energy Leaders' HE Abdalla Salem El-Badri, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), ‘Lifetime Achievement Award for the Advancement of OPEC' Randa Takieddine, Paris correspondent for Al Hayat newspaper, ‘Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Energy Journalism’ Dr Mark Weichold, Dean and CEO of Texas A&M University at Qatar, ‘Lifetime Achievement for the Advancement of Education’

Europe, plan your strategy

In Figures Qatar Natural Gas reserves

north field, Located offshore qatar

890 900 13% 77

shared with Iran, it was discovered in 1971 and provides

trillion cubic feet

trillion cubic feet in gas reserves

of the world’s total natural gas reserves

Qatar produces

million tonnes of LNG per year, making it the world’s biggest exporter of the fuel chilled for shipment by sea.

1 6 Qatar Today

Energy Awards presented

april 2013


Asia and other emerging markets are pulling on Qatargas’ flexible portfolio and thus our available LNG volumes are becoming limited. I believe that Europe needs to determine its desire for LNG and plan a path forward for the future. The clock is ticking, don’t wait until the last LNG ship has sailed away. Now is the time for Europe to secure long-term LNG supply to guarantee its energy security.” Alaa Abu Jbara, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial and Shipping for Qatargas Operating Company Limited.



bank notes

MultaQa Qatar analyses developments


ver 500 senior delegates from more than 30 countries discussed the regional and global developments that impact the MENA (re)insurance markets at the seventh annual MultaQa Qatar conference last month. Shashank Srivastava, CEO and Board Member of the QFC Authority, said: “The conference highlighted the attractive opportunities offered by the (re)insurance markets in the MENA region. Delegates have examined the industry’s prospects in a truly comprehensive way, taking into account the relevant global context as well as senior views from major corporations, the original owners of risk.” Akshay Randeva, Director, Strategic Development at the QFC Authority, added: “This year’s MultaQa Qatar was a great success. We facilitated more than 1,000 meetings that delegates arranged among themselves. It has clearly developed into a platform where the industry not only debates strategic topics but also prepares and takes decisions.” Qatari speakers included HE Yousef Hussain Kamal, Minister of Finance and Economy; Abdulrahman Ahmad Al-Shaibi, Managing Director and Board Member of the QFC Authority; and Eng. Essa Mohammed Ali Kaldari, CEO, Lusail Real Estate Development Company.

IBQ makes new appointments International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) recently announced that Andrew Ball is appointed Head of Retail Banking while Hassan Al-Mulla (pictured) is appointed Deputy Head of the division.

QFIB name change Qatar First Investment Bank revealed its new name last month. Qatar First Bank (QFB) will evolve from a pure investment bank to an institution offering a suite of Shariah-compliant products and services. Abdulla bin Fahad bin Ghorab Al-Marri, Chairman of QFB, hands over a gift to MOHAMED ALABBAR, CHAIRMAN, EMAAR PROPERTIES, PJSC.

1 8 Qatar Today

april 2013

QR1.62 trillion

($445 billion) the value of Islamic banking assets with commercial banks in the GCC at the end of 2012

Islamic banking assets in the GCC grew by

conventional banking assets grew by only

in 2012



Commercial Bank International unveils new identity


ommercial Bank International (CBI) began a new chapter in its history last month as it revealed a new brand that reflects its strategic partnership with Qatar National Bank (QNB). “The new brand embodies our thinking into a future of growth and prosperity as CBI, backed by the international reach of QNB Group,” said CBI’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mohammad Sultan Al-Qadi. He said CBI’s new brand would benefit from QNB’s brand profile, given that it ranked 120th on the list of the world’s top 500 banking brands in 2013, according to an annual survey carried out by Brand Finance. In tandem with the new brand identity, CBI is expanding its current branch network in the UAE with the addition of four new branches that reflect the new brand, and a personalised banking experience providing top-quality service, advanced and secure technology, an expanded product range and an increased international reach through the association with QNB. Kris Babicci, Chief Executive Officer, CBI, said: “Our new brand stands for our strength going forward. Our partnership with QNB, the experience and strength of our management team and their cohesion with the board of directors, all supported by proactive staff, are key factors to our aim of becoming a leading bank in the UAE.”

QFCA digs deep for answers Interview with Akshay Randeva, Director Strategic Development, Qatar Financial Centre Authority You recently published the MENA Insurance Barometer. What are the key findings of the survey? The MENA Insurance Barometer provides an overview of the current state and near-term prospects of the $40 billion MENA insurance markets with a total population of more than 360 million. The findings are based on 35 in-depth interviews with senior executives of regional and international insurance and reinsurance companies as well as intermediaries operating in the region. Most importantly, the industry is very confident about the sector’s future in the region. More than two-thirds of interviewees expect that insurance premiums will grow more rapidly than the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). Let us provide you with some key figures: In 2011, the MENA insurance market (including Iran and Turkey) was worth about $42 billion in annual premiums, up from $26 billion in 2007. Non-life markets, which account for roughly 80% of the market, grew by 7.5% annually, while the life markets expanded by more than 10% per annum. In comparison, the region’s real GDP grew at 4.2% per annum over the same period, well above the global average of 3.3%. Growth is expected to continue, albeit at a slightly lower pace. It will continue to benefit from the region’s favorable demographics – in most countries the average age of the population is below 30 – which boosts demand for personal line insurance such as motor, homeowner’s property, life and pensions. There are frequent complaints that the sector is rather competitively priced and overcrowded. How do the interviewees perceive the situation? Indeed, 90% of the surveyed insurance executives consider commercial insurance rates to be low. The assessment is slightly more favourable in personal lines where prices can be more easily adjusted. Here, just over half of the respondents consider rates to be low. However, the majority of interviewees do not expect rates to further deteriorate over the next 12 months. A mildly more positive view is expressed on profitability levels. 66% of interviewees consider them as low in commercial lines business but only 39% hold the same view for personal lines. Again, more than three-quarters of respondents expect no further deterioration but a flat development or even a slight improvement. Do you expect that the current market environment will translate into heightened mergers and acquisition activities? No, interviewees believe we will not see a significant increase in mergers and acquisitions in the region’s insurance sector. Only 36% of respondents expect the market to consolidate over the next 12 months. Basically this is due to two reasons: The average levels of capitalisation of the companies operating in the region are solid.

The pressure to merge is therefore relatively low. Secondly, most regional insurance companies are still family-owned. They typically pursue an agenda, which might be driven by other factors than pure growth or profitability considerations, as we would expect from a stock listed company. Furthermore, some respondents even expect the markets to fragment further as smaller foreign insurers enter the market. In contrast, those who believe that consolidation will increase, point to regulatory pressures, customers’ flight to quality, the waning profitability of smaller market participants and the regional expansion strategies of pan-Arab insurance groups as drivers for heightened mergers and acquisition activities. Finally, over the past years there has been a strong influx of foreign insurers to the MENA region. Will they be able to increase their market share? Well, the response seems fairly mixed, with approximately 50% of interviewees expecting that foreign insurers will gain market share over the next 12 months, pointing to their technical expertise, and distribution know-how.

A soft copy of the Mena Insurance Barometer is available on the QFC Authority website at the following link Paid Advertorial

ban k n ot es

Investing in disruption Be on the lookout for some bottom-up US stock-picking opportunities from small companies that are driven by disruptive innovation, including those companies displaying sustainable and bullish end-market dynamics.


past six years have seen an unprecedented $800 billion (QR2.9 trillion) flow into bonds and an unprecedented outflow of nearly $600 billion (QR2.2 trillion) from equities, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch research. But with the S&P 500 notching up a 13.4% gain in 2012 and the start of 2013 showing signs of an equity-bound headwind fanned by President Obama’s pledge to reignite the US economy, is now the time for investors to reassess their asset allocation to US stocks and lock into potential growth ahead? Yet while most of us know the big guns of the US equity market such as Google, Apple and Procter & Gamble, what about the new kids on the block? Companies that are the bedrock of the US small cap sector and offer what Driehaus Capital Management recently described as displaying exciting earnings growth as investing in equities makes a comeback.

as well as other internet infrastructure companies and web analytics providers. And in the biotech sector, there are significant opportunities for numerous biotech and pharma companies, particularly those targeting unmet needs in oncology and rare diseases. There’s also the “shale gas revolution”, which, while a controversial method of energy extraction in other countries due to “fracking”, is set to put the US economy on the path to energy independence by the end of the decade. Developments in this technology now also benefit manufacturing, transportation and chemical companies that supply the industry, as well as providing a source of the cheap energy needed to re-accelerate US manufacturing.

Consequences In terms of the particular considerations investors need to apply to investing in the small cap sector, all investors must take on board the consequence that along with the potential for greater returns comes the potential for greater risks. Smaller stocks will be less liquid, the companies’ fundamentals may be more volaDisruptive innovation These smaller companies tend to be successful at capitalising tile, and access to capital for smaller companies is harder to come on our appetite for technological improvements or pushing the by. Also, as small cap stocks are less followed by analysts, prices boundaries of medical advancement. They thrive on “disruptive do not always accurately reflect company fundamentals. On the upside, small cap stocks offer the potential for higher innovation”, a term which describes a product or service which grows to such an extent that it eventually displaces established growth due to the fact that investors are starting from a smaller earnings base and the size of the pool of stocks to choose from is competitors. With a particular expertise in the small cap sector, Driehaus much greater than the large cap sector. So what about timing? While the US has come up with a number of investment stock market as a whole is looking positive themes it believes underpin some good at the start of 2013, is now a particularly bottom-up US stock-picking opportunigood time for investing in the small cap ties from small companies driven by dissector? Along with Driehaus we believe ruptive innovation, including those comthat trying to time your entry into any panies displaying sustainable and bullish into bonds stock market is a risky business. Having end-market dynamics. consistent exposure to the market is the For example, the Internet continues to more prudent road to tread. As such, any be a rich seam for disruptive innovation. exposure to the US small cap sector should In particular, Driehaus sees some excitform a sensible part of your larger asset aling opportunities for many fast-growing out of equities location picture on a long-term basis Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies,

2007 – Present



BY David Russell Senior Executive Officer, Guardian Wealth Management David Russell joined Guardian Wealth Management in Geneva, helping from inception to establish an office which is now regarded as one of the leading providers of independent financial advice to the employees of many international organisations. With the expansion of the company into the Middle East, David was elected to take over the reins as the Senior Executive Officer for Qatar. He brings a wealth of experience to the Qatar office as well as a sound legal background, which stands him in very good stead in ensuring the team bring the best in financial advice to theIR many expatriate clients.

2 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

vie w point

Enter the private sector While the prospect of hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup is continuing to create a wealth of opportunities for infrastructure projects, the financial burden of these contracts is being carried by the state.

according to UK-based research group Oriel Securities, state capital expenditure on infrastructure in Qatar now totals $209 billion. However, a new focus on encouraging private sector investment is emerging, which could see the state’s burden being shared. The Qatari government has set aside more than 10% of its national output annually for building infrastructure in preparation for the World Cup. According to Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA) figures, some QR20 billion ($5.5 billion) has been allocated for a deepwater seaport and QR73 billion ($20 billion) for new roads, and QR64 billion ($17.5 billion) will eventually be spent on the new airport. The government also aims to build a QR131 billion ($36 billion) metro in Doha that will link stadiums for the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament, as well as a 490-kilometre rail line linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain through Qatar. Indeed, despite last year’s fiscal surplus – put at a record QR3.2 billion ($880 million) by the Ministry of Finance – there can be no doubt that the financial commitment is considerable. The benefits are equally, if not more, considerable. The construction sector, as might be expected, has been given a huge boost. A recent MEED “GCC Infrastructure Guide” claims that the rise in capital spending has helped Qatar maintain its position as the third-largest infrastructure projects market in the GCC. Furthermore, in January, a report from Business Monitor

International stated that Qatar’s construction industry will become the region’s “top performer” in the long term on the back of mammoth projects in transport and utilities infrastructure. Encourage private spending Yet whilst this and many other sectors are beginning to feel the benefits, until recently these have been derived from state investment, not private sector spending. The challenge therefore remains how to encourage greater private sector participation, not only to help shoulder the financial burden of these infrastructure projects, but also so that it can play a greater role in the development of the economy. In a recent interview with local press, Nasser Al-Muhannadi, COO at Enterprise Qatar, said: “Having surveyed the needs and challenges of over 200 small to medium-sized enterprises in Qatar, we can say with great authority and certainty that competing

Proposed Government spending



Deepwater seaport



New roads



Hamad International Airport


billion Metro and rail network

in tenders represents one of the biggest barriers to growth.” The benefits of bringing the private sector in are clear. Last year, a study released by Markab Advisory found that greater private sector involvement could result in savings of up to QR109 billion ($30 billion), equivalent to 25% of Qatar’s GDP. To help bring this about, the Qatari government has now put forward plans to transfer public sector-led development to a market-driven economy, enabling the private sector to engage with project enterprises. To help achieve this, at the time of writing the government was set to pass a new public-private partnership law which should ease private sector participation in major infrastructure projects. And while it is too early to tell how this measure will impact infrastructure developments, the prospect of these regulatory changes is already boosting private sector prospects, with demand picking up. In October, the local press reported that Arabtec, the major contractor on the Al Waab City development, would be re-launching construction on the project, with the first units due to be completed by July this year. Al Waab is one of Qatar’s biggest private real estate developments, with more than 200 luxury villas. There is now a fresh impetus to let the private sector play its part in the run up to 2022. Last year, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that Qatar’s private sector could be awarded 70% of all projects related to the World Cup. Moreover, preparations are under way to roll out several private sector contracts that would give a huge boost to the banking, tourism and construction industries


By Oliver Cornock The author is the Regional Editor of Oxford Business Group

april 2013

Qatar Today 2 1


realty check

Expect more from Katara

Buildings to be monitored



e are proud to unveil the new aspects of this exciting development, which include residential, commercial and retail units,” said Khalid Bin Ibrahim Al-Sulaiti, General Manager, Katara Cultural village. “The next step is expected to be complete and operational by 2018. Katara has quickly become the metropolis for arts and culture in the GCC and we look forward to seeing visitors enjoy our other facilities.” Katara collaborated with Aspire Katara Investment to use the EON Icube Mobile system at International property event MIPIM in France.

Qatar Rail: Visionary Project Qatar Railways Company, the organisation overseeing construction of the much-anticipated integrated railway network, participated in the 6th Global Infrastructure Leadership Forum, where it received the prestigious “Visionary Project of the Year Award.” Held in New York City from February 27 to March 1, the Infrastructure Leadership Forum focused on infrastructure projects locally, regionally and globally.

2 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

atar is set to install a next-generation sustainable resource and energy management monitoring system in over a dozen buildings, with the support of Quality Attributes Software (QAS). QAS, the New Jersey-based facility data management company specialising in energy management and sustainability, said it would install IntelliFace in 16 buildings in Qatar, including on buildings in Education City. IntelliFace is an intelligent software system that has the ability to collect and analyse limitless end-to-end real data. QAS said that 13 IntelliFace systems will be installed in buildings in Education City on the outskirts of Doha. In addition, three systems will go into facilities in Doha city. IntelliFace can interface with any type of existing system or platform in any format or language. This cloud application has the ability to collect limitless end-to-end “real data” from all measurable resources within a facility and then manage, analyse and store it. This highly intelligent application has the ability to process millions of data points in seconds and then adjust the data sets in real time. The graphic presentations present an X-ray view of the energy flow of the building, measuring the energy usage for optimum analysis and management, QAS said.



arab snippets UAE

Blessed by the Sun


bu Dhabi officially opened the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant, which cost QR2.2 billion ($600 million) to build and will provide electricity to 20,000 homes. The 100-megawatt Shams 1 is “the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant in operation,” said Sultan Al-Jaber, the head of Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, which oversees the emirate’s plan to generate 7% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. Masdar now produces 10% of the world’s concentrated solar power, Al-Jaber said during the official inauguration. The solar park features long lines of parabolic mirrors spread over an area equivalent to 285 football pitches in the desert of the Western Region, some 120 kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi. Masdar owns 60% of the project, while France’s Total and Spain’s Abengoa Solar own 20% each.


Loan for youth


he World Bank has granted Jordan QR254 million ($70 million) in financing to help it extend small loans to young people in depressed rural areas that have suffered most from the country’s sluggish economic growth. With almost 40% of the country’s seven million population aged under 15, youth unemployment is a particular problem and has almost doubled over the past decade. There are at least 50,000 new entrants to Jordan’s labour market every year.

2 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

egypt Fun turned fatal EGYPT, Luxor: This picture taken on July 29, 2008 shows a hot air balloon flying over EGYPT'S ancient temple city of Luxor. A hot air balloon caught fire and exploded over Luxor during a sunrise flight on February 26, 2013, killing up to 19 tourists including Asians and Europeans. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE

52 years of Freedom


KUWAIT, KUWAIT CITY: The UAE Hawks, the aerobatic team of the United Arab Emirates forces, perform during a military show in Kuwait City on February 25, 2013, as the Gulf state marks its 52nd Independence Day and 22nd anniversary of the end of the Gulf war with the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. AFP PHOTO / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT

world view

AFP PHOTO/Luis Acosta

Chavez mourned VENEZUELA, Caracas: Supporters of the late President Hugo Chavez are seen outside his funeral in Caracas on March 8. The late Venezuelan president was moved to a barracks where he lay in state for longer than had been planned. At least 33 leaders from five continents – including Cuba’s Raul Castro, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko as well as Brazil’s Dilma Vana Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - attended the funeral.

HABEMUS PAPAM Vatican City: Argentina’s Jorge Bergoglio, elected Pope Francis waves from the window of St Peter’s Basilica’s balcony after being elected the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013 at the Vatican.


2 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

world view AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza

Kenyans given hope KENYA, Ilngarooj: Maasai tribespeople leave after voting in Ilngarooj, Kajiado South County, Maasailand, on March 4 during Kenya’s elections. Long lines of Kenyans queued from way before dawn to vote in the first election since the violence-wracked polls five years ago, with a deadly police ambush hours before polling started marring the key ballot. The tense elections were seen as a crucial test for Kenya, with leaders vowing to avoid a repeat of the bloody 2007-8 postpoll violence in which over 1,100 people were killed and observers repeatedly warning of the risk of renewed conflict.


Having a ball UNITED KINGDOM, Manchester: Manchester United’s Dutch striker Robin van Persie miskicks the ball during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Manchester United and Real Madrid at Old Trafford on March 5. Real defeated Manchester United on the away goals rule to progress to the quarter-final stage. AFP PHOTO/Asif HASSAN

Car bomb rocks Karachi PAKISTAN, Karachi: A Pakistani man moves his bicycle from his damaged house at the site of a bomb blast in Karachi on March 4, the day following the attack. Pakistan’s largest city. Karachi shut down for a day to mourn 45 people killed by a car bomb in a Shiite Muslim neighbourhood, the latest in a series of devastating attacks as Pakistan prepares for elections.

april 2013

Qatar Today 2 7

v i e w p oi n t

Empowering women entrepreneurs One of the greatest challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is how to bring more women into the workforce. The region has a large number of aspiring, young and well-educated women who lack exposure to work.


the next decade, as part of a global trend, many women in MENA will start to participate in the economy, driving growth and prosperity, under the correct circumstances. In the Middle East there are around 90 million of these economically excluded women – women poised to become employees, producers, and entrepreneurs under the right conditions. One of the most powerful methods of economic inclusion is entrepreneurship, and it is one that Middle East governments should pursue. The Middle East lacks women in enterprise, and insufficient encouragement for young women is reinforcing this trend. Women own just 20% of Middle East companies, compared with nearly 40% in Latin America. Underlying this fact is the lack of students’ exposure to entrepreneurship and their consequent failure to demonstrate any interest. According to a recent Booz & Company’s survey, conducted to understand students’ voices across the GCC, young Qataris showed the least interest in becoming entrepreneurs. In particular, just 3% of Qatar’s local high school and university students expressed interest in becoming entrepreneurs, compared with 11% regionally. There is also a striking imbalance in interest between female and male students, in part because young women lack female role models. In Qatar, 62% of interest in entrepreneurship came from males, and just 38% from females. Challenging conditions Making matters more difficult for women entrepreneurs are the lack of finance and the challenging business environment. Women in business do not have easy access to credit, especially since they don’t have the required collateral to secure loans because of unequal access to land and property. As a result, only 10% of the funding for women entrepreneurs comes from commercial banks and other formal sources. Women are forced to acquire funds from family and friends, or use household funds or savings to cover new investments and to raise working capital. The

2 8 Qatar Today

april 2013

few women who try to run their own businesses are confronted with excessive bureaucratic regulations and fees to register a business. Infrastructure costs are steep, while rents for business premises and offices are expensive, as are the costs associated with establishing communications systems and other utilities. The other disadvantage that women have is that they rarely receive entrepreneurial training and support. There are few networks to support women entrepreneurs, few female role models, as mentioned previously, and few chances for advanced entrepreneurial education. Men take such support, colloquially known as the “old boys’ network”, for granted. For Qatar, bringing women into the workforce and ensuring they have the tools to become entrepreneurs will advance the country toward sustainable economic growth, a core goal of the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016. Women entrepreneurs also have the positive effect of helping more women to

Women constitute about 25% of the workforce in femaleowned firms in the MENA region, with many in professional and managerial levels, compared with 22% in male-owned firms, mostly in low-skills positions participate in the workforce and putting more women in higher-level positions. Women constitute about 25% of the workforce in female-owned firms in the MENA region, with many in professional and managerial levels, compared with 22% in male-owned firms, mostly in low-skills positions, according to research conducted by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Booz & Company.

v i e w p oi n t

Areas of focus Qatar, which has taken steps to advance women in the workforce, can boost these efforts by focusing on five key areas: introducing early entrepreneurship education into the school curriculum; developing an enabling regulatory environment; facilitating the availability of finance; providing access to business support services and mentoring; and ensuring openings for collaboration and networking. Early entrepreneurship education is important because it instils an entrepreneurial culture among women. This starts in the middle or secondary school classroom and should encompass the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, business and financial management. One system used by schools worldwide to teach entrepreneurship as a practical skill, rather than just theory, is supplied by the BizWorld Foundation. Students participate in workshops in which they run mock enterprises, allowing them to experience something akin to the entrepreneurship business cycle. An enabling regulatory environment is critical because it sends the message that enterprise is welcome. Determining this framework will require the government and stakeholders to establish an institutional body focused on women to collect data, formulate policy, and advocate it. Government and supporters should also define public procurement guidelines, thereby encouraging companies to integrate women-run small and medium-sized businesses into the supply chain. Facilitating the availability of finance involves the government ensuring that female entrepreneurs have access to information about the types of financing on offer. The government should also support their qualification for it, which may require that family and labour laws be amended to enable women to gain credit more easily. Governments should also make sure that women are aware of other financiers available to them such as equity investors, banks, microfinance loan schemes and government programmes. In terms of providing women with access to business support services and mentoring, governments can establish business incubators focused on supporting women entrepreneurs. Developed countries use this technique frequently. Incubators offer women the support they need to successfully run their businesses. This includes basics such as assistance with market-

Percentage of women who own their own businesses:

20% 32% 40%

Middle East


South America & the Caribbean

ing initiatives, accounting, training and regulatory compliance. Incubators can also provide female mentors and role models so that potential women entrepreneurs can acquire the necessary knowledge, expertise and confidence to start their own businesses. Finally, governments and other stakeholders need to come forward with structures for collaboration and networking opportunities for women. Local businesses and associations should be encouraged to offer entrepreneurship and management training. Business development centres and businesswomen’s associations can provide venues for networking opportunities. International women’s associations should also be encouraged to support and partner local initiatives, thereby creating regional networks of women entrepreneurs. By providing support and services that will start to redress the imbalance that exists against women in business, Qatar can help more of its women to become entrepreneurs and take advantage of the multiple opportunities arising from the country’s robust economic growth and ambitious development goals

Visit and

By Leila Hoteit, Principal at Booz & Company, and Mounira Jamjoom, Senior Research Specialist at the Ideation Centre, Booz & Company’s think tank in the Middle East.

About Booz & Company: Booz & Company is a leading global management consulting firm, helping the world’s top businesses, government ministries and organisations. Our founder, Edwin Booz, defined the profession when he established the first management consulting firm in 1914. Today, with more than 3,300 people in 60 offices around the world, we bring foresight and knowledge, deep functional expertise, and a practical approach to building capabilities and delivering real impact. We work closely with our clients to create and deliver essential advantage.

3 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

v i e w p oi n t

Southeast Asia has real thirst for LNG

Demand for LNG in SE Asia per year Today


2 million metric tonnes

47 million metric tonnes

The Qatari economy will be buoyed by the demand for LNG from Southeast Asia through to 2025. Represented predominately by Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, the region will account for one-third of that demand growth, increasing 45 million tonnes annually, according to latest industry reports.


and Indonesia will be the biggest absorber of LNG and have in the past been making sizable investments in developing their LNG infrastructure. For example, Thailand has beefed up its facilities at its southern industrial zone of Map Ta Phut to receive larger numbers of LNG from Qatar after Thailand’s oil and gas giant PTT Plc signed an agreement with Qatargas to buy LNG over 20 years at an annual volume of 2 million tonnes, with the first delivery set for January 2015, both companies announced in December 2012. Qatargas, on that occasion, said it sees Thailand as an evolving LNG market and recognises its potential within Southeast Asia to absorb significant quantities of LNG in the future. Thailand’s gas demand under the third revision of the Power Development Plan between 2010-2013 looks set to grow across the board in the power, industrial, petrochemical and transport sectors. This would require Thailand to import more LNG in the future and to expand the LNG receiving terminal’s capacity from 5 to 10 million tonnes a year, which is now planned for completion in 2017. In Thailand, higher gas demand is also driven by policy decisions in the power sector that will limit the scope for coal-fired electric power generation and result in increasing reliance on gas-fired electric power plants. This will most likely drive LNG demand in Thailand after 2020 when indigenous gas and pipeline imports will be unable to meet demand. Indonesia, on the other hand, is itself a sizeable producer of LNG but has said that it will seek to import overseas cargoes to meet growing domestic demand and at the same time maintain is export commitments. Indonesia, second only to Qatar in worldwide LNG sales, is boosting gas production and usage to compensate for declining crude output which led the nation to exit the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2008.Indonesia supplies about 56% of gas to local buyers as the government boosts its use in industries, transportation and power generation. By importing and re-exporting LNG, Indonesia is trying to bal-

ance its LNG revenues international as gas prices as LNG cargoes are more expensive than domestic supply. Overall, estimations of the industry are that total Southeast Asian LNG demand will hit 47 million metric tonnes per year by 2025, an increase of a whopping 45 million metric tonnes from current demand levels of two million metric tonnes. This would surpass Indian LNG demand, which would be 34 million metric tonnes by 2025. Furthermore, total Asian LNG demand by 2025 could reach 140 million metric tonnes. For Qatar, these developments are very significant as the country is targeting the heavy growth markets of Asia to offset diminishing LNG demand in the West, with the US pushing for gas self-sufficiency and European economies stagnating. The deliveries to Thailand will be accompanied with Qatar’s first-ever shipment to Singapore in the first quarter of 2013, which will be used to commission Singapore LNG Corporation’s first importation terminal. Also, first LNG shipments from Qatar to Malaysia will start in 2013 at a volume of 1.5 million tonnes annually for at least 20 years as per an agreement between Qatargas and Malaysia’s Petronas LNG Ltd. It is highly likely that more deals for Qatar in Southeast Asia will follow suit and Qatargas’ export share to Asia-Pacific of currently 47% will shift significantly upwards. Qatar has also been in talks with Vietnam to deliver LNG starting from 2013 either directly or later through the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline via neighbouring countries after it will be operational. And even the Philippines has said that it will join other ASEAN nations in exploring the opportunity of importing LNG to meet the strongly rising demand of its rapidly growing economy, a demand that cannot be absorbed through other means of energy production. With LNG production being the cornerstone of Qatar’s economy, the reorientation of global exports is essential to the government’s spending plans. Southeast Asia is the destination of choice, as coal - having been the conventional fuel in the region for a long time - is losing shares in the power mix, and natural gas has an opportunity to seize an increased role in the market as environmental concerns are increasing


Dr Arno Maierbrugger is Editor-in-Chief of, a news portal focusing on Southeast Asian economic topics as well as trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the GCC. updates its clients on current business news and financial market data and publishes interviews with prominent business people as well as government officials. The related website is currently being developed as an online platform connecting investors with investment opportunities.

3 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

By Dr Arno Maierbrugger

v i e w p oi n t

Walking the fiscal tightrope It would be easy to assume that the current sovereign debt crisis impacting much of the developed world is an outcome of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. But a recent study reveals that the true cause for many countries has more to do with a culture of short-term thinking and political expediency. What are the implications for the GCC and Qatar?


to a new report from KPMG International the fiscal policy settings of 19 of the G20 economies reveals that levels of government debt were already reaching their limits long before the global financial crisis hit, and the impact of aging populations and the interconnected global economy require long-term policies to prevent debt conditions from worsening. The report, entitled Walking the fiscal tightrope: a fiscal sustainability framework for government finds that those countries with high levels of gross debt prior to the start of the crisis - in excess of 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) - have been the most limited in their ability to adequately respond to the issue and are now facing a longer and more difficult path back to sound fiscal sustainability. The impact of short-term thinking and political expediency “Our research suggests that, in most cases, short-term thinking and political expediency tend to trump considerations of longterm fiscal sustainability,” said John Herhalt, KPMG’s Global Head of Government and Infrastructure, and a partner in the Canadian firm. “The only way to truly turn the corner on the sovereign debt crisis is for governments to commit to sustained fiscal policy implementation across the political cycle, a strategy that the so-called Fiscal Compact in the euro zone intends to create.” While the research indicates that these deep-seated issues will not likely disappear any time soon, it also notes that the

3 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

slow outlook for world economic growth in the near-term coupled with the rising costs created by intergenerational aging for many governments will further impact upon fiscal sustainability targets. This, in turn, will heighten the need for sustained fiscal policy action (such as prudent budget management and the restoration of balance sheet health) over the next 40 years. Developed world faces the biggest challenges The report finds that the greatest government debt burden is being carried by the developed world, even though both developed and developing economies command roughly the same percentage of world GDP. By 2015, the top seven developed countries included in this survey (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US) will make up 86.5% of the total general government sector (GGS) debt accumulated by the 19 countries, while the eight developing countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey) will hold only 11.6%. “This finding is particularly important given the increasing interconnectedness of the global economy,” said Nick Baker, Global Head of KPMG’s Finance and Treasury practice. “Slow growth outlooks within any sizable portion of the world economy will inevitably lead to fiscal challenges in other jurisdictions, making the government debt levels of the developed world particularly worrying for the prospects of those economies in the developing world.” Roadmap to a more sustainable future KPMG’s Herhalt, Baker and other authors of the report have recommended the adoption of a comprehensive fiscal sustainability framework as a remedy to the sovereign debt crisis (see graph on pg 34).

v i e w p oi n t

general government sector debt (2015)

The framework is built on: Balanced fiscal policies to govern for the common good of both current and future generations.

86.5% 11.6%

Clearly defined targets and measurements to monitor fiscal sustainability progress.

Top seven developed nations

Implementation addressing fiscal sustainability not just across the budget cycle (one to five years), but also the economic cycle (six plus years) and the intergenerational cycle (ten plus years).

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the Us.

Mechanisms and institutional objectives that will serve to sustain policy across the political cycle.

The eight developing countries Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey.

The coordination of robust regulatory and financial system institutional frameworks, fiscal policy and rigorous fiscal management practices.

“Ultimately, the fiscal sustainability of government finances for both developed and developing economies depends on managing a combination of global economic shifts; existing sovereign debt levels; potentially slower global growth; and the impact of intergenerational change upon government finances,” added Mr. Baker. “It is not about the size of government spending per se, nor is it about the extent of social welfare or the level of entitlement spending that a nation’s citizenry wishes to embrace - it is about ensuring that short-termism and political expediency do not endanger a nation’s long-term fiscal viability.”

Implications for the GCC and Qatar There are few countries as sheltered from the turmoil of global financial markets as Qatar. Qatar’s hydrocarbon resources have created extraordinary wealth that is bank-rolling short-term priorities, whilst at the same time financing projects to secure Qatar’s long-term future. Qatar’s economy is not without its risks: oil and gas prices go up and down and Qatar is in a volatile part of the world, politically. As Qatar continues to diversify its economy through acquiring overseas assets it also exposes itself to the economic uncertainties of foreign markets. Even so, it’s difficult to imagine Qatar experiencing a sovereign debt crisis in the foreseeable future. The lessons for developing countries like Qatar, from the sovereign debt crisis may well be for future generations to observe


Richard Kohinga is a strategic marketing communications professional and the head of markets for KPMG in Qatar and Bahrain.

About the report: KPMG examined the fiscal policy settings of 19 countries within the G20 group of countries across the budgetary, economic and intergenerational cycles. The report offers a country-comparative perspective in order to highlight some of the existing fiscal policy framework elements against the trend perspective offered by each country’s relevant government financial statistics. The report focuses specifically on the general government sector (GGS) to enable the application of an ‘entity’ lens rather than a macroeconomic one. The data tables and much of the commentary included in this paper is based on the extensive and ongoing work done by the IMF, World Bank and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

3 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

Is Qatar taking on the world?


cover story

is qatar taking on the world?

aving completed its first wave of energy investments within the country, Qatar is now consolidating its interests around the world. Its recent stake hikes in Shell and Total, and its expression of interest in Australian and American shale gas investments, suggest a desire to maintain its liquefied natural gas (LNG) dominance in the world. Through these stakes Qatar gets access to developing energy resources across the world. Qatar is now the world’s leading LNG supplier and is on course to become a petrochemical hub. It’s also been picking up stakes in petrochemical projects across the world, in Egypt, Malaysia and China. “Qatar has formed strong relationships with many of the major oil and gas companies over the past 20 years, and the ongoing investment in the energy space is a natural strategy to fully leverage these relationships and capitalise on being part of the entire value chain instead of simply being a provider of oil and gas,” says Jody Sanderson, HSBC’s Head of Global Banking in Qatar. According to Sanderson, even with these substantial energy investments abroad, Qatar’s overall portfolio will continue to remain diversified. “Compared with the investment being deployed into non-energy areas, the state does appear to be diversifying its exposure away from energy,” he says.

in the UK. The question arises whether this will benefit Qatar Airways. “The airline acts as an integral part of Qatar’s infrastructure, and the move should only assist Qatar in fulfilling its broader aspirations in the airline industry, where I see much focus from the country in the years to come,” says Sanderson. David J Bentley, Senior Airports Analyst and European Associate, CAPA – Centre for Aviation, a global aviation intelligence provider, thinks QH has bought into a powerful but stagnant entity. According to him HAH is a shrinking asset. “Its future is uncertain as HAH hardly has any other assets. Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh airports have been disposed of. There are rumours Glasgow, Southampton and Aberdeen airports will also be sold off, leaving the rump Heathrow Airport. That is still a significant asset; it remains the world’s busiest international airport, for now,” he says. In his view, Qatar Airways can’t get preferential rates just because QH has invested in Heathrow Airport. “It operates very selectively at other airports in the UK. Its presence is small in comparison with the other two big Gulf carriers. I see Qatar Airways becoming more ‘niche’, with a growing focus on West Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and in other parts of Europe,” he says.

Soaring ambitions Following Qatar Holdings’s (QH) 20% stake hike in the British Airports Authority (BAA) now known as Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH), which operates London’s Heathrow Airport, Akbar Al-Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, was appointed as one of two new non-executive directors of HAH. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports, and its take-off and landing slots are constantly in demand; hence this can be viewed as a strategic role for both Qatar Airways and the country. AlBaker had voiced his opinion on the need for a third runway at Heathrow, which is being opposed by the coalition government

Boardroom manoeuvre Qatar’s role in the Glencore-Xstrata merger brought to the fore Qatar’s boardroom maneuvering capability. QH, with a 12.3% stake in Xstrata used its clout to prevent the merger until its terms were agreed to. The deal was finally approved in November 2012 with Qatar negotiating its way through the deal; very unusual for a sovereign wealth fund, displaying its increasing clout. In another manoeuvre, leveraging its long-standing relationship with Barclays and Credit Suisse – Qatar struck deals with both to bring business to the Qatar Finan-

cial Centre (QFC), which has been entrusted with the task of promoting the country as a regional financial hub. The country is now in talks to buy the commodity business of Morgan Stanley, and owning stakes in these financial giants helps. Credit Suisse and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund launched an asset management joint venture named Aventicum Capital Management based in Doha. Credit Suisse is also reportedly moving its investment banking team to Qatar from Dubai. Barclays agreed to move the Middle East unit of Barclays Natural Resource Investments to the QFC after QIA, through Qatar Asset Management Company (QAMC) invested QR917 million ($250 million) in the funds portfolio. Post-Arab Spring, Qatar has been writing large cheques to the MENA region, be they grants or investments through state-owned companies. The Prime Minister, HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani committed QR66 billion ($18 billion) towards investments in Egypt in addition to QR18 billion ($5 billion) in grants. Other Arab Spring countries too have been recipients

a p r i l 2 0 1 3 | Qatar Today



422 billion

QATAR HOLDINGS Investments abroad (2012)

12 Qatar is


largest sovereign wealth fund

66 QR

Qatar Holding, with a 12.3% stake in Xstrata exercised its clout to prevent the merger until its terms were agreed to.

of Qatar’s benevolence. Sanderson says, “The Arab Spring has led to quality assets being offered at lower prices. This strategy has worked well for the country in the past.” In Egypt, however, it is viewed as “chequebook diplomacy”. A senior Egyptbased journalist who didn’t want to be named,mentioned in a telephone interview that Al Jazeera’s declining popularity in Egypt is a sign of rising suspicion among the local population. Egyptian media have cried themselves hoarse alleging that Qatar is trying to dominate and take control over the Suez Canal. The Prime Minister, HE Sheikh Hamad speaking at a press conference in Cairo, dismissed the allegation as a “silly joke” and said that Qatar is too small to influence a country as big as Egypt. Qatar’s use of its vast resources to buy political clout in the region has led to its GCC counterparts squirming uneasily. Its proactive approach in the region brings in new dynamics to the GCC and its members, says Abhishek Bhaya, a Senior Muscat-based journalist. “The regional bloc is seeing it-

self increasingly taking sides in conflicts in the neighbourhood, from Syria and Libya to Iran, largely due to the new leadership role that Qatar is playing within the GCC. Some GCC members are therefore reluctantly committing themselves on certain regional issues,” opines Bhaya. Qatar’s generous domestic economic policies too have a bearing on its GCC peers, says Bhaya. “Similar demands by the people in neighbouring Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain have become cause for unrest in those nations,” he says. European shopping spree Europe has been Qatar’s favourite shopping spot. Its investment in Britain alone totals QR124 billion, and has become the second largest foreign investor in British real estate. From high-end brands and hotels to top-notch real estate, Qatar has invested in it all. As Audrey Quek, Deputy Foreign Editor of Straits Times, says, the country comes across as “an energetic and well-run corporation and stands out for the way it uses its

billion COMMITTED BY QATAR to Egypt

124 QR

billion Qatar’s investments in the UK

cover story

is qatar taking on the world?

Mohammed Al-Fayed sold Harrods store to Qatar Holdings for QR8.4 billion in 2010.

considerable funds”. Apart from its acquisitions through QH, the government too has entered into a number of investment agreements with European governments. European Governments have been wooing Qatari investment because of the economic turmoil in their region. Qatar’s recent commitments in Europe include a probable £10 billion in various projects, a Euro 300 million Euro Joint venture investment in French SMEs and a Euro 2 billion JV to invest in companies that make luxury products. Its use of cash has not always been met with open arms. The huge sums involved have raised questions about Qatar’s intentions. Qatar has targeted prime properties and spent huge sums to acquire them leading to accusations of buying up Europe and creating “luxury ghettos”. When Qatar announced an investment in French suburbs dominated by Muslim immigrants, it was even blamed for harbouring religious intentions. Reacting to the media criticism, French Minister for Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq, in her interaction with Qatari media clarified that “Qatari investments are and will be welcomed in France. We will not listen to any sort of unfounded criticism. We are keen on doing business with Qatar.” Media and football interests Al Jazeera has evolved into a great media tool for the nation and has been instrumental in projecting Arab states on the world

stage. In a surprise move the news network entered America by taking over Current TV for QR1,820 million ($500 million) in January this year. “The news network’s expansion plan in the United States can be seen as the Qatari leadership’s desire to propagate a Qatari-sponsored narrative of events in the Middle East and elsewhere,” says Abhishek Bhaya. The network has also been active in the sports rights market. Al Jazeera owns television rights for a number of French football league matches. Qatar has been actively involved with soccer ever since it won the rights to host the World Cup 2022. QHbought the troubled Paris Saint-Germain and Qatar Airways’ logo will now appear on Barcelona FC t-shirts. These moves project Qatar as an international brand, and also helps identifying the country with sports. “There is a collective sense of pride among the soccer-crazy GCC-nationals over Qatar’s winning the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Hosting the world’s biggest sporting event is seen as gaining global prestige not only for Qatar but for the neighbouring Gulf nations as well,” says Bhaya. QIA – an integral arm QIA, through its investment arm QH have assets worth approximately $115 billion according to a data compiled by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. It is the 12th-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world according to Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

From a keen European focus, it is now spreading its interests across the globe into Southeast Asian economies and Africa. Its interests in South Asia include a $10 billion investment in a petrochemical facility in Malaysia (including s $5 billion petrochemical project); a 22% stake in CITIC Capital Holdings, one of China’s top investment funds; and joint investment commitments with Korea. QH has also received the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) licence from China that gives the country access into Chinese stock and bond markets. Europe continues to be on its radar as is evident in BAA, and its interest in French SME's and Italian product companies. “QIA believes the assets are perhaps valued at a price below their actual worth and with margin for profit and consistent future growth,” says David Russell, CEO, Guardian Wealth Management Qatar. Bentley agrees that QIA, like most sovereign wealth funds, is only interested in proven and/or long-term assets. “That is why it was a joint bidder (unsuccessfully as it turned out) for a stake in Turkey’s TAV, which has a good chance of getting the contract to build and operate the new Istanbul airport which is intended to be the biggest in the world,” says Bentley. In a hurry to secure its future before its formidable gas fortunes dwindle, Qatar is spreading its tenets far and wide.

By Sowmya Sundar

a p r i l 2 0 1 3 | Qatar Today


Aspiring to be a

worldplayer By gerd nonneman

or nearly two decades, Qatar has adopted a dynamic foreign policy trajectory that has given this small Arab state a front-row seat in international politics. Fuelled by impressive natural gas and oil reserves maximised through strategic partnerships with international corporations, the country has emerged as a major player in the political, social, and economic realignment of the region, both pre- and post-Arab Spring. Expansion of international investments and escalation of involvement in conflicts reflect its determination both to play a significant role in shaping regional dynamics and to carve out a position of mutual advantage within the broader global community. International observers have treated this small emirate with various degrees of irritation and admiration over aspects of its foreign policy. The increasingly influential Doha-based Al Jazeera network has been widely applauded for its coverage of the region and support of nascent democracies of the Arab Spring, but has faced recent criticisms that objectivity has been compromised to serve the country’s foreign policy objectives. The country’s preference for high-profile investments in Europe has been welcomed as a source of much-needed capital, but it has also triggered concerns about the consequences of Qatar’s strategic investments – although tellingly there has been much less anxiety in the Asian destinations of such investment. Its critically important role in Libya and Syria, following on from its mediating role between the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels,

Qatari HH Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (C-R) walks alongside Gaza’s Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya (C-L) during a welcome ceremony at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 23, 2012 in the Gaza Strip. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrived in the Gaza Strip in the first visit by a head of state since the Islamist Hamas movement took over in 2007.

between factions in Lebanon and Palestine, between Djibouti and Eritrea and between Sudan and the Darfur rebels, have been seen as examples of successful public engagement and diplomacy, which has also triggered questions about Qatar’s motivations and long-term goals. The main drivers of foreign policy for any state leadership are the security of its sovereignty, its political system, its citizenry, and its economy. The leadership of Qatar, ruling a very small national population that boasts

the highest GDP per capita in the world, has pursued a dynamic and ambitious strategy to present itself as a stable international partner and pragmatic regional leader. It developed a reputation for being an honest broker able to bring together players who were far apart, and dealing pragmatically even with highly polarising actors such as Hamas or Iran, thus offering them and others channels of communication that would not otherwise exist. It firmly anchored strong relations with the major

cover story

is qatar taking on the world? powers, while making quite clear in word and deed that it would not simply do anyone’s bidding, and retaining good working relationships with opposing sides.

Gerd Nonneman is both dean and professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q). Prior to his appointment as dean, he served as Professor of International Relations and Middle East Politics, and Al-Qasimi Professor of Gulf Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, where he has also directed the Institute of Arab & Islamic Studies and the Center for Gulf Studies. He currently also serves as associate editor of the Journal of Arabian Studies.

International interest For Qatar, the benefits of defining its role as an ally to both the West and neighbouring Arab states are manifold. Its proximity to current conflict hot spots in the region presents the country with the need to secure its borders and its sovereignty, a security that is provided through its position as a geopolitically strategic Western ally. Likewise, strong economic ties with major partners, both at home and through international investment, translate into increased security as its interests are shared by many stakeholders. This strategy further plays a role in Qatar’s interest in moving away from a single-export economy to a sustainable knowledge-based economy. A stable country and a stable region – which its foreign policy aims – will encourage international interest in Qatar as a regional trade, business, and technology hub, and will also serve to prove that despite its size, it is a notable player in the global economy. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Middle East, a region which exerts a strong gravitational pull on global peace and security, is now in uncharted territory. Qatar has benefited from its ability to adapt to changing local conditions. Its policy of stepping up to the plate when others were slower to recognise the changing na-

ture of politics in the region – including a recognition that Islamist strands of politics were an inescapable significant part of the new spectrum, as with An-Nahda in Tunisia or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – can be seen as a determination to “get ahead of the curve”, and not as evidence of ideological bias. Yet this, and the country’s principled engagement in the hugely difficult Syrian imbroglio, has nevertheless come at the price of raising concerns in some capitals and in some of the media about its political vision for the future, and emerging differences with some others in the region and elsewhere. Clearly, this complicates Qatari diplomacy, and equally clearly there are inevitable limitations deriving from the small size of its foreign policy apparatus, and from the intrinsic complexity of the issues with which it has now engaged. So there will be challenges, unintended consequences, and criticism. But at its heart, Qatar’s foreign policy is marked by an astute weighing of costs and benefits and by a vision of global security and of achieving longer-term sustainable political dispensations for the region – not by confrontation, subversion or ideology. Leveraging its natural resources to fuel domestic development and international partnerships, Qatar seeks to create a political, economic and cultural footprint that belies its limited geography, ensures long-term economic stability, and forges a legacy as a world player on a par with much larger, well-established states.

expert opinion

Elliott Abrams Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, US

Qatar’s foreign policy is dedicated partly to magnifying the ruling family’s regional and international influence, and partly to pursuing its ideological goals. As an American I often find those goals troubling, and the best example is support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s bias is very clear, and has been since it opposed the United States in the Iraq war. Given Qatar’s wealth, tiny population, and complete lack of democratic institutions, this ideological stance is quite strong (though no longer surprising) and may in the long run be damaging. Qatar’s commercial activities for many years seemed to me sensible and productive, and generally comparable to those of other sovereign wealth funds in the region, although more closely related to foreign policy goals. Today they appear to be more at the service of foreign policy and less to making a longterm profit. It’s a worrying trend.

a p r i l 2 0 1 3 | Qatar Today


the limits of qatari

soft power By Zachary Fillingham

overnment leaders, diplomats and analysts worldwide have been consistently impressed by the way that Qatar has leveraged its soft power assets throughout the course of the Arab Spring. Whether it was the question of arming Libyan rebels, supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, or being the first Arab country to close its embassy in Syria, there was a period when Qatar seemed to be gently guiding the course of history for an entire region. Not bad for a tiny Gulf state with under two million people, the majority of whom are foreign workers. Qatar’s activist foreign policy has been a resounding success so far, but this success has come at the cost of the country’s perceived neutrality. And now comes the next phase, when, having officially entered the fray, Qatar begins to accumulate enemies that found themselves on the wrong side of Doha’s regional interests. This is inevitable to a certain degree because, as the saying goes, “you need to break a few eggs to make an omelette.” But Qatar will need to proceed carefully and be mindful of not exceeding the limits of its own soft power, especially now that its desire for a larger role in the region is widely known. For example, the support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring represented a win-win insofar that it got a foot in the door of Egyptian politics while ostensibly aligning with the democratisation rhetoric of its ally in Washington. As such, it was heralded a foreign policy success for Qatar, drawing acclaim from both domestic and international audiences. Yet as this support continues, it is increasingly interpreted as foreign meddling in Egyptian domestic politics, which in turn risks alienating large parts of the Egyptian population. This perception – that Qatar is supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and not the state itself – is currently spreading

among the secular opposition in both Egypt and Tunisia, and it’s dangerous to Qatari interests because it could potentially wipe out all of its gains at the stroke of one democratic transition. Syria is another Arab Spring success story that might come back to haunt Qatar in the future. Qatar didn’t merely play the role of a trailblazer in Syria, leading the international charge to isolate the Assad government. Rather, it has actively enabled the conflict by arming opposition groups and rallying international support for their cause, most recently by pushing for opposition groups to take over Syria’s vacant seat in the Arab League. Qatar is “all in” in the case of Syria, and there is no guarantee that when the dust settles and a new normal emerges in the Middle East, it will be one that benefits Qatari interests. On the contrary, Qatar may one day find itself being blamed for the regional conflict. Such are the risks of an activist foreign policy, risks that neutrality used to preclude. Thus, in a sense, by over-leveraging its soft power assets, Qatar risks bringing its own hard power deficiencies into sharper relief when its list of regional enemies starts to fill out. Furthermore, since soft power is an intangible, abstract concept that is somewhat analogous to influence (or getting states to align with your interests without threatening them), it’s therefore possible to deplete the utility of soft power assets if they are abused or used excessively. For example, the United States’ interests might be served by NGOs promoting democracy worldwide, but if these NGOs are found to be installing pro-US governments, then they lose the confidence of the local population and begin to exert a drag on US interests. Similarly, Al Jazeera is undeniably a powerful tool, as it whispers Qatarstyled truths in the ears of large swathes of people throughout the Middle East. Yet

if there was a widespread conviction that these truths were completely skewed towards foreign policy goals, then Al Jazeera would suddenly become a far less effective tool. In other words, soft power works best when people aren’t aware it’s being used. The more it’s used, the more conspicuous it becomes. This brings us back to Qatar, and how it can best follow up its string of foreign policy successes during the Arab Spring. Ironically, there might actually be some merit to Russia’s UN jab that Qatar should “get back to its size,” as this would take the spotlight off Qatar’s soft power assets and thus replenish their effectiveness. If Doha wants to realise the social development goals set out in its National Vision 2030 and nurture “an increased regional role economically, politically, and culturally”, then it might want to begin viewing the exertion of soft power as something of an ebb and flow. The Arab Spring was a triumph for Qatari foreign policy, but now might be the time for the country to sit back and consolidate its gains.

Zachary Fillingham Managing Editor of and a Geopolitical Analyst Fillingham holds a BA in International Relations from York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and an MA in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England. Geopoliticalmonitor. com is an open-source intelligence collection and forecasting service.

cover story

is qatar taking on the world?

expert opinion Matthew Gray Associate Professor, Centre for Arab AND Islamic Studies at Australian National University, Australia.

Qatar is a small country in a tough but changing neighbourhood. I suspect that their foreign policy is driven by three key factors. One is to ensure that they have a relationship with all the main players in the region: this is why they seem to hold contradictory policies, for example in hosting the US military but at the same time having a working relationship with Iran, as just one example. They want all the major actors in the Gulf to have a stake in Qatar’s stability and security. Second, I think foreign policy is seen as linked to economic and trade policy: their foreign policy includes building commercial ties with major economic powers, whether the US, China, the EU, or others, and their encouragement of investment and joint ventures in gas and petrochemicals especially point to this aspect of their strategy. Again, it’s a form of security to have major powers hold a stake in the Qatari economy and thus, by extension, in Qatar’s security. Finally, I argue in my forthcoming book that foreign relations is also about “branding” the country. They want to send a message that Qatar is dynamic, cosmopolitan, open for business, and willing to contribute to international stability. This is probably why they contributed military forces to the NATO-led intervention in Libya in 2011 – to show that they are good international citizens, sympathetic to regime change, and on the side of democracy (again, overseas rather than at home, even if there is a fairly liberal political climate in Qatar compared with other parts of the Gulf). Qatar’s investments, especially through its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), are also linked to foreign policy and economic security. Long-term, I think they hope that the QIA will become a source of income for the state. But in the mean time, the QIA builds Qatar’s name abroad, provides an investment link with the same security aims as the joint ventures mentioned above, and is also part of the branding effort. Particular purchases might be profitable in and of themselves – and profit is obviously important– but there’s more to the strategy than that, I think. I recall an interview I did in Qatar in 2011, when I asked a journalist about the QIA, and he made the good point that acquisitions such as Harrods or Manchester United, which were being suggested at the time, were a branding master-stroke – a “great way to become a household name”. This is why they are hosting the soccer World Cup, and trying to get host of an Olympics, too – they want to become a household name around the world, like Dubai but with different tactics, on their own terms and for their own, unique reasons.

Qatari foreign policy is very different from the traditional Arab mould of reactive, status quo-oriented diplomacy. It is proactive and risk-taking, which thus far has served Qatar well during the Arab uprisings, but comes with its own risks, especially as the country has increasingly been taking sides in internal conflicts. It is very much personalitydriven, hence not always easy to predict, and sometimes seems to be born on the spur of the moment. Many of Qatar’s foreign investments have a diplomatic component and are also designed to serve as political and security links to pivotal Middle Eastern actors like Egypt or important European powers like Britain or France. This strategy so far seems to work, although there can be a trade-off between commercial and diplomatic objectives - the jury on Qatari investments in Greece for example is still out.

Steffen Hertog Senior Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

a p r i l 2 0 1 3 | Qatar Today


the Q-factor: from

london to gaza

By Ghanem Nuseibeh

hen I moderated last year’s Middle East session at the Milken Institute Global Conference, North Americas leading institutional investment conference, there seemed to be something missing in the jam-packed hall. We were discussing the economic aftermath of the Arab Spring and what it means to investors in the region and those working with regional investors. Conspicuous by its absence on the panel was the Qatar factor, or the Q-factor as some now refer it to. In just a few years, Qatar has transformed itself from being a mere observer to a super-power in small state terms. For outsiders, the role of Qatar on the world stage is intriguing to say the least. The new-found influence was enabled by the country’s wealth. But it was the way that wealth was being used that made the country so powerful. The Qataris are not shy to admit that they are using their wealth to create influence, and nor should they be coy about it. Qatar has the world’s highest GDP per capita. On economic and political influence, it is the world’s most influential country on a per capita basis. Qatar has succeeded in redefining the potential power a small state can wield. But this has also created critics. Whether it is for developing high-end realestate in London, investing in European bonds, its role in the Arab Spring or buying a TV news channel in the US, outsiders struggle to fully comprehend the motives. What intrigues so many is an apparent lack of strategy on investing. And this is where Qatar is badly, though unfairly, misunderstood. Like any other sovereign investor, Qatar makes foreign financial investments for two reasons: wealth creation and wealth preservation. Financial returns are a factor, but not necessarily the only means to protect wealth. The Chelsea Barracks redevelopment in

London, which Qatari Diar was responsible for, has cast an overall negative image. The delays on the high-profile project, however, have also given the impression that the Qataris are not merely throwing their money away. They are becoming less speculative with their investments. And they have good reason to be. Qatar is a majority stakeholder in Western Europe’s tallest building, the Shard in London. But the $2.3 billion project has not been selling like hot cakes. Not because of lack of demand from tenants, but because the Qatari investors prefer to wait for the right tenants. In other words, it is not under any immediate pressure but will happily wait longer, underlining the longterm view on why Qataris prefer to invest in London. Completed or not, Londoners are reminded of the emirate’s financial influence every time they look at their skyline. Other sovereign investors own as much as if not much more than, the Qataris in places like London and Paris, but the high-profile investments coupled with wide publicity has prompted many to formalise a view, often misguided, on what Qatari investments stand for. There are also many instances of cash injections or investments that are seen as being politically motivated. Egypt, Syria and Gaza are the more obvious examples. To many, investing in prime London property and apparent support for a political side in Egypt are totally disconnected, if not outright contradictory. That is where the challenge lies. Outside observers view Qatar through one of the lenses that they associate it most with: its role in Arab Spring, bailing out European states, or investing in prime London or Paris property. And this is why many simply do not understand Qatar’s intentions, even misinterpreting them. This is a challenge that becomes more complex as Qatar casts its net wider. Qatar may not feel obliged to explain itself, and it certainly need not. However, this may lead

to creating more sceptics regarding its expanding influence, for the simple reason of not understanding what the country is up to. Both Qatar and its ever-expanding circle of stakeholders, including the sceptics, need to view each other from both perspectives. The outsiders need to understand that Qatar is spending and investing where it is because it feels this is good for the country’s future. That is the primary goal of any sovereign investor and Qatar is rightly no different. Qatar is influential in places as diverse as Britain, France, Egypt, Greece, Syria or Gaza. What is good for Qatar’s stakeholders is good for Qatar.

Ghanem Nuseibeh is the Founder of Cornerstone Global Associates, a high-end London-based strategy and management consultancy. Ghanem specialises in political and economic risk, and works with governments, investment banks and organizations from around the world.He regularly appears in regional and international media commenting about regional affairs, including Reuters, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and others.

bottom line

In the Company of Stars: Seven Ways to Engage and Retain Top Talent

The fact that a whopping 75.9% of respondents on’s recent “Employee Retention in the MENA Workplace” poll (February 2013) believe that the turnover rate in their companies is “very high” or “moderately high” MAY be a source of worry to recruiters.


ecause as a company wanting to attract the best of the best you would have gone to great lengths to attract the top talent and then spent a fortune on orientation, induction and training activities. Now, the question is how to ensure these coveted gems remain on your headcount.’s recent “Work Satisfaction in the MENA” poll (November 2012) shows that 77% of professionals consider themselves very loyal to their company and 72% actually like the company they work in. But only 58% are actually satisfied with their job. Below are a few reminders from the HR experts on what it takes to retain your stars and keep them engaged and satisfied.

4 8 Qatar Today

april 2013

Keep communication channels open Communicating frequently, openly and honestly is one of our key values at and every effort is made to keep communication channels across the firm healthy, robust, creative and unhampered. Companies can encourage open communication in myriad ways ranging from open plan office spaces to open door policies, structured internal communications and regular meetings at all staff levels. According to a recent poll by entitled “Work Satisfaction in the MENA”, 36% of professionals feel communication channels in their own organisation are open “but not enough”, and 30% indicate they are not open.

bottom line

Compensate fairly Unfair or uncompetitive compensation levels are often cited as the main reason professionals are in the market for another job. The proliferation of data on MENA salaries gleaned from specialised salaries platforms such as Salaries by have made salaries very transparent and empowered jobseekers in all roles and industries to compare their salaries with those of their peers. Remember, you can be creative with compensation and complement basic salaries with performance bonuses and extra perks and non-monetary benefits. 32% of professionals polled in “’s Work Satisfaction in the MENA” poll say what they would most like to change about their current job is their salary.

Incorporate CSR elements into your mission Consider these statistics from’s “Employee Motivation in the MENA” survey (2013): a majority (59%) of MENA companies are involved in CSR activities. Professionals in corporations with the highest employee satisfaction and retention levels often cite they feel they are part of an important greater mission and are proud that what they do impacts the greater community positively. CSR can play a key role in making your employees feel part of a larger picture and find more meaning, pleasure, pride and satisfaction in their work and employer’s brand.

Recognise and reward Professionals crave and expect reward and recognition. The best managers recognise and reward their top performers publicly and often. Performance appraisals should not be an annual event associated with fear and trepidation; make constructive appraising and feedback part of the daily fabric and culture of your organisation. According to’s “MENA professionals' New Year Resolutions” poll (December 2012) the top three things professionals would ask for during appraisals was better salary (48%), more training (20.3%) and better position/title (19%).

Provide adequate career planning Visibility, consistency, fairness and transparency are essential when it comes to career planning and employers are well advised to establish formal frameworks for this whereby every employee is aware of the path they are on and versed in the skills they need and milestones that must be reached to progress to the next rung up the career ladder. 39% of professionals polled by in the “Work Satisfaction in the MENA” poll say there are no opportunities for advancement and promotion in their company, and 14% say they feel they are not growing and learning on the job.

Keep it challenging Another reason cited by many ambitious professionals for leaving their job is finding it unchallenging. However, the good news is that 58% of professionals are very challenged in their job and 26% are somewhat challenged, with only 17% claiming they are unchallenged, according to’s “Work Satisfaction in the MENA” poll. Don’t be afraid to raise the bar and take risks to encourage growth, innovation and creativity and to keep top talent at all times poised, enabled and empowered to learn and accomplish more.

Invest in training and development Today’s professionals have for the most part espoused the life-long learning path and seek companies who will generously and proactively invest in their training and development. 20% of professionals polled in’s “Work Satisfaction in the MENA” poll say what they would most like to change about their job is their training and development path.


About is is the the #1 #1 job job site site in in the the Middle Middle East, East with more than 40,000 employers and over 10,500,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. Post a job or find jobs on today and access the leading resource for job seekers and employers in the region.

april 2013

Qatar Today 4 9

bottom line

Players or Products? Have you ever wondered how elite football clubs decide whether a player is worth buying or keeping on its books? Where once players were analysed simply for their performance on the field of play, their “whole package” is now under scrutiny by asset managers who view them not as players, but as products.

Elite Top clubs spend

70–80% of their revenue on 2–3% of their workforce 5 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

professional football provides an interesting yet misunderstood platform for comprehending the notion of human capital maximisation and the parallels with asset management in the traditional business world. Asset management can be referred to “any system that monitors and maintains things of value to an entity or group”. Professional football at the elite level has changed beyond comprehension over the past decade. The sports sector globally is valued at around £100 billion (QR550 billion) annually and football sits at the top of the tree with respect to media, fan inter-

action and global appeal. Drill down on an economic level, and the average player in the top 20 teams in the world will be earning £2.5–10 million (QR14–55 million) a year. In the vast majority of these businesses they are spending 75–80% of their total revenue on 2–3% of their entire workforce – a strange and unique business model. However, until recently, sporting organisations very rarely viewed their players as anything more than individuals who pulled on a jersey every few days and ran around for 90 minutes with the intention of (hopefully) being more skilful and productive

bottom line

Stage 1

Stage 3

‘Design and construction’

‘Maintain and repair’

Young players join an Academy as seven-year-olds, being nurtured and taught how to be an elite athlete, both on and off the pitch.

Once into the key productivity phase of their careers (20–30 years old) work focuses on which “marginal gains” will give the greatest probability of success improvement. Manage injuries and illness and coach back to full peak performance.

Stage 2

Stage 4

‘Commission and operate’

‘Modify and replace’

Smooth out core competencies and fundamental talents and identify where they will have the biggest chance of success using their natural skills: a focus on strengths above anything else.

At this stage the consistency of performance is dropping as a function of age, accumulation of injury and general inability to sustain consistent high levels of physical effort and skill execution. Understanding when this deflection point around investment (financial and time) and return occurs is critical for evolving the team and managing out low-returning talent.

than the opposing group of individuals. The science traditionally stopped there. As football has developed, the players are now viewed as individual franchises within a greater corporate shell of a holding company. Each “franchise” has its own cost base (salary and transfer fee), key performance indicators (position-specific measurements) and projected return on investment (appearances, goals, assists and future transfer value). This has led to the bigger sports teams investing in and prioritising systems and resources to maximise their return on investment. Operationally, this manifests itself in the investment in coaching, medical care, sport and fitness science, psychological support and pastoral and lifestyle care models to support all varieties of needs. Risk management in this context is about taking away all the excuses for under-performance by providing an in-

the Sports sector globally is valued at

QR550 billion annually

frastructure and environment that reduces unwanted distractions, thereby allowing the manager/coaching team the purist opportunity to assess talent with one question – good enough or not good enough? Once players are recruited (“picking stock”) they are viewed like any product with the question “how do we maximise the life cycle of this product (player)?” The parallels with

how the asset management world would approach this same dilemma are incredible (see above graph). One can see that asset management is a combination of data, facts and screening (eg games played per positional physical and technical returns and repeatability of effort) and subjective and contextual understanding of the talent level required to meet the company’s (team’s) objectives. Finally, the worlds of sport and business have so much to learn from each other across a multitude of areas. Asset management and how we view talent as products that need investment, nurturing, maximising and replacement is an obvious bridge that links the elite level of professional sport and the cutting-edge world of toplevel business. We have just started this journey together but the mutual rewards for cross-pollinating ideas are obvious


Mike Forde Director of Football Operations at Chelsea Football Club SINCE 2007

MIKE is responsible for all areas of performance and team operations relating to the first team, including player recruitment, edical, sport science, psychology and performance analysis. He is widely recognised as a leading figure in the English Premier League and European Soccer. He is particularly known for innovative methods to create a sustained business model for elite player performance, in the most widely watched and competitive football league in the world. Between 1999 and 2007 Mike was Performance Director for Bolton Wanderers Football Club, NOW also in the English Premier League. Mike has a degree in Sport Science from Liverpool John Moores University and a Masters in Psychology and Sport from San Diego State University/Leeds Metropolitan University. The London Speaker Bureau represents and works with some of the most influential people in the world, from politicians and economists to thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and celebrities

april 2013

Qatar Today 5 1

tag this

Family Firms not yet open to regulation DESPITE THE impetus towards regulating and governing corporate firms around the world, to avoid the issues THAT caused the 2008 economic crash, family-run businesses STILL see regulation as unnecessary interference, regardless of whether it’s beneficial or not. But there seem to be GOOD REASONS for changing thIS attitudE.

in by S owmya S under

a region where 80% of businesses are either familyowned or family-controlled, corporate governance is still a “low priority”. As firms expand to become business conglomerates and raise finance externally, there is a “pressing need to implement higher standards of corporate governance”, says a study jointly conducted by the Pearl Initiative, a GCC-based not-for-profit organisation working in the area of corporate governance, and the global professional services firm, PwC. When Qatar Today asked some Qatar-based family firms what they were doing to improve governance structures, we were met with dead silence. A certain company spokesperson said it was a “sensitive issue”.

5 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

Not surprising, as the research shows that only 9% of the companies studied have a corporate governance committee; 37% have a family assembly, board or council; and 63% have a code of ethics in place. Summarising the attitude of family firms towards governance, David Dhanoo, Group Chief Legal Officer and Board Secretary, Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA), says: “Many family businesses are under the impression that governance in a family business is a contradiction in itself and is like having the health department inspect your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen – an outrageous suggestion! that is, until one realises that there are too many cooks in the kitchen and no-one can make a clear decision on what they

tag this

Delegates discuss the study which reveals there is a “pressing need to implement higher standards of corporate governance” as more and more firms expand into business conglomerates and raise capital externally.

increased transparency will are supposed to be cooking – a make them more profescertain recipe for disaster!” sional and enhance their inHe believes that the “deternational competitiveness mocratisation” of business – a view endorsed by AbuIssa development will force famHolding, which considers corily firms in the Middle East porate governance an “importo focus on scaling and raMany family businesses are tant” issue. tionalising their businesses, When asked if improving improving performance and under the impression that govgovernance structures had attracting new talent. “Many ernance in a family business is helped the company, Advisor family businesses are likely a contradiction in itself and is to the Board, Eyas Sabri says: to find themselves cash-con“Definitely yes, investing in strained as their businesses like having the health departcorporate governance and sysdemand management attenment inspect your mother’s tems was an excellent move. tion and further capital inkitchen It enabled the top executives jections to survive, grow and to focus more on strategic isprosper in a more competitive sues and expand the business environment,” he adds. outside Qatar. Our managers Highlighting some of the were more confident dealing measures taken by his company, Eyas Sabri, Advisor to the Board at Abuissa Hold- with international companies and had better negotiing, says: “In the past three years, we have developed ating power because of strong back office operations.” a complete corporate governance manual covering all aspects of organising and monitoring our operations Looking for external capital in accordance with best practice and international The pressure to improve financial disclosure is inaudit standards. Our governance is based on three creasing, as more than half the companies interpillars: develop, support and control. We established viewed expected to raise external capital to support an Internal Audit Unit and enforced a planning and business expansion. Seventy-nine percent of the businesses do not disclose financial information pubbudgeting culture in all companies and operations.” licly, though 76% produce an annual report for internal use, the study found. Transparency “There is a business case for better standards. The research found that many families believe

april 2013

Qatar Today 5 3

tag this Transparency mechanisms/policy in place





Code of ethics

Anti-bribery and corruption policy


Conflict of interest

(Figures denote the percentage of firms that answered in the affirmative)

Practical implementation of transparency policies

Percentage of Family firms with Board committees in place

31% Total




Not implemented

Firms that can demonstrate to third parties and financing partners that they have rigorous structures in place for corporate governance will get a higher credit rating and have a better cost of capital,” says Imelda Dunlop, Executive Director, Pearl Initiative. “Access to cheap capital is becoming difficult. Banks demand a balance sheet and a well-structured business. They do not lend based on a family name any more,” says Amin Nasser, Partner, PwC. Awareness and implementation “The next generation caught in the transition is realising the significance of governance. At least five or six firms in the region are well ahead of the curve in terms of implementation of governance structures. But a majority of them are still in the awareness stage or are starting out on that first stage of implementation,” says Imelda. Conflict management, succession planning and transition planning are core issues with family firms. “There have been many family feuds that have resulted in the family splitting up because of conflicts. These businesses have been protected due to the presence of the founder in many cases. Succession planning, if not done, can result in fragmentation. Firms are aware, but implementation is an issue,” echoes Amin. Sharing some of the best practice that Abuissa Holding has implemented, Eyas says: “We have developed a Family Constitution Manual that highlights all

5 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

Audit Committee ------------------------------------


Executive Committee ------------------------------


Remuneration/compensation committee -----


Corporate governance committee -------------


Nomination Committee -----------------------------


succession planning and family issues. It clarifies the relationship between the Family Assembly and the Holding Management. We established the Family Office that takes care of family members and enforces implementation of the Family Constitution. The decision making process at the corporate level is part of a full “lean and agile” system that gives authority to executives and managers at all levels according to business needs.” The report suggests that very few family firms have mechanisms in place to evaluate board performance. “Boards have to be more dynamic and should include non-family members. The issue in the Middle East is about getting the right person on board, a person whom the family trusts. It is about having somebody on the board who can challenge the family and its decisions,” says Amin. Woman power rising Women in the GCC are increasingly participating in the affairs of day-to-day decision making in family businesses. A third of family firms in the GCC have female board members, says the Pearl Initiative research. “A breath of fresh air” is how Amin describes women on boards. “Those on the board are very committed, professional and better than some of the men,” says Amin. Though data on how many of them are actively involved is not available, Imelda says: “We do believe that a number of them are very active”

tag this

Chequeing out on Cash

The world is moving towards a cashless society. NOTES and coins represent only 3% of Sweden’s economy, compared with an average of 9% in the eurozone and 7% in the US. However, 90% of payments are made with cash or cheques in the MENA region. smartphones ARE ALSO paving the way to a mobile payments revolution. so is a cashless society just around the corner? by r o r y c o e n

Emerging economies such as Qatar’s are slowly accepting mobile as a primary means of payment. Where there is a traditional reliance on cash or even a historical attachment to a national currency and an existing financial infrastructure, adoption of cashless micropayments tends to remain relatively low. Consumers are slow to change their payment habits, or the payment methods they inherently trust. “The Middle East is largely a cash-based society,” says MasterCard President for the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Michael Miebach. “Consumers tend to take out cash for their daily purchases out of sheer habit. This leads to 90% of transactions in this part of the world taking place via cash or cheques. Central banks and governments around the world are increasingly looking at this issue as they realise that cash transactions are actually quite inefficient and costly. Multiple studies estimate the cost of cash to be 0.5% to 1.5% of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).” These figures may show the region to be lagging behind the developed world, but there are real signs of progress. While

5 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

growth in the number of credit cards is pretty much flat in the MEA region, debit cards are growing in double digits and prepaid cards are growing at close to triple digits. As far as transactions are concerned, debit is growing twice as fast as credit, while prepaid is growing nearly eight times faster than debit. “This trend can be attributed to a number of factors,” says Miebach, “like tighter lending limits by banks following the global crisis. In all markets globally, the electronic payments cycle tends to start with credit cards, before the introduction of debit and prepaid, so while credit is maturing in many MEA markets, debit and prepaid starts from a low base. Consumers are starting to prefer the better control on their personal finances that is offered by debit and prepaid. They are also now getting more aware of the benefits and appeal of prepaid for gifting, travel, purchases by children.” Emerging markets will drive growth “The importance of the region stems from the fact that consumers in emerging markets will drive value creation and growth in

the global economy over the coming years, marking a major shift in global consumption from West to East,” explains Miebach. MasterCard’s “Insights” report Consumer Spending Outlook and Value Creation in the New Global Economy shows that between 2012 and 2016, emerging markets will add an average of $1.2 trillion (QR4.36 trillion) of consumer spending to the global economy per year, whereas developed markets will add only around $700 billion (QR2.55 trillion). “And as we all know, the MEA region is becoming a very important player within the emerging economies,” he adds. Payment solutions in Qatar Worldwide mobile payment transaction values were expected to be $171.5 billion (QR624 billion) in 2012, a 61.9% increase from 2011 values of $105.9 billion (QR386 billion), according to Gartner Inc., a leading information technology research and advisory company; the number of mobile payment users would reach 212.2 million in 2012, up from 160.5 million in 2011. Mobile phone penetration in Qatar is currently

tag this

in implementing a national e-payment gateway system by providing onsite and offsite technical and operational support throughout the project. The gateway leverages the MasterCard Internet Gateway Service (MiGS), and provides online payments solutions to both government ministries and private sector merchants. Consumers in Oman have the convenience of paying online, without having to go anywhere for their services,” he says. In the UAE, MasterCard works with financial institutions and payroll programme managers to support the government-led Wages Protection System programme, which was developed to safeguard the payment of labourers’ wages.

two and a half times the global average (approximately 165%) and Business Monitor International expects this penetration rate to rise to 190% by 2015. “The Middle East has one of the youngest populations in the world with one in five people aged between 15 and 24,” says Miebach. “These young people are the drivers of technological innovation, and tend to be early adopters of new technology. “Qatar also has one of the highest mobile phone penetrations in the world and a rapidly rising standard of living, providing significant opportunities in the payment solutions landscape. As an example, the MasterCard PayPass payments programme in Qatar is enabling more and more consumers to make contactless payments at a range of locations, including coffee shops, malls and cinemas. We believe that by working closely with the authorities and major businesses in Qatar, we can provide a technological framework that gives customers the ability to make payments in a way that best fits their needs and lifestyle,” he adds. Government and innovative payment solutions By supporting governments around the world with electronic payment programmes, MasterCard is helping save money, improve efficiencies, provide transparency and help cut administrative costs. “Today, more than half of the world is underserved, with 2.5 billion consumers globally, and 67% of adults in the Middle East lacking access to traditional financial services. Together with governments, we are

Consumer Spending Outlook 2012 and 2016, emerging markets will add



($1.2 trillion) to global economy per year developed markets will add



($700 billion)

opening up a world of financial inclusion for those who have previously not had access to traditional financial services,” says Miebach. Examples of how MasterCard benefits governments in the region include the Ministry of Finance MasterCard Prepaid programme in Egypt, which was launched in November 2010 through state-owned local financial institutions to drive the issuance of government payroll and pension payments for 10 million government workers in Egypt. The programme is the largest public sector payroll programme in the region, and through this initiative MasterCard cardholders were the only public sector employees who received their pay on time during the unrest in 2011. “In Oman, MasterCard supported the Information Technology Authority (ITA)

New trends Predicting new trends that are emerging in the region, Miebach says: “Card segmentation is very popular in the Middle East as it is a very useful way to reach out to a diverse consumer base. Credit card segmentation targets different kinds of consumers in various categories and offers payment cards such as premium and affluent cards, debit cards, Sharia-compliant cards, lifestyle cards and corporate cards. “We see great potential for contactless payments, such as EMV Chip and MasterCard PayPass. In fact, in 2012, Qatar National Bank (QNB) Group, Qtel, Oberthur Technologies and MasterCard announced the launch of the first mobile Near Field Communication (NFC) payments programme in Qatar. This is also the first programme to offer consumers a contactless PayPass ‘sticker’ in MEA,” he adds. Islamic banking has also gained tremendous popularity over the years – not just in the Middle East and South East Asia, but in markets such as the UK, says Miebach. “We will continue to collaborate with our customer financial institutions to enhance the usage of payment cards in lieu of cash through targeted promotional campaigns and loyalty programmes aimed at educating consumers about the significant benefits of using cards over cash,” he adds. MasterCard finally opened a brand new office in Doha in January. One of the primary reasons for this expansion was to get closer to its customers – the banks, merchants and other strategic stakeholders. A more intimate relationship may encourage more institutions and consumers to believe in the power of plastic, according to Miebach

april 2013

Qatar Today 5 7


Breathing above the


by Annal is e F r a n k

If policymakers don’t start thinking particularly about particulate matter, the minuscule specks of toxic dust could continue giving construction workers respiratory trouble and hurt Qatar’s image as an environmentally progressive country. 5 8 Qatar Today

april 2013


Particulate matter in the air (micrograms per cubic metre)



National standard required by law

Actual measurement at Qatar University

qatar's carbon monoxide pollution levels are extremely low – one fortieth of the suggested limit, according to the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA)’s recent Environment Day study. Ozone, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels lie well below their ceilings, too. So why is Qatar failing resolutely in one category, airborne particulate matter? The annual standard for particulate matter – essentially airborne dust and mineral particles – in Qatar is 50 micrograms per cubic metre, according to Qatari legislation. Basically, Qatar seems to be breaking its own law; levels range from 105 to 185 micrograms per cubic metre at the Aspire Zone, Qatar University and the Corniche. So the country gets a four-out-of-five for adhering to air quality standards, or a B- in most classrooms. But out of the five, particulate matter is the most hazardous to human health, according to the QSA. Particle pollutants in Doha multiplied at a yearly rate of 5.4% between 2007 and

2010, according to QSA’s 2011 Sustainable Development Indicators report. The study specified that the increase could be attributed mostly to sandstorms. The Middle East’s natural sands and salt from the Gulf are well-known contributors to particle counts. A construction industry that seems to be raising buildings on fast-forward and increasing vehicle exhaust add to the total as well. “This is a desert area, so it is natural,” says Khalid Al-Shajra, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Environment (MoE). But even if most particulate matter swirling around the city is an act of nature – which isn’t proven, according to Al-Shajra – should the progressive GCC state be combating it anyway? Construction dust from land clearing, diesel engines, demolition, burning, concrete mixing and wood cutting contributes to this airborne matter count, according to

april 2013

Qatar Today 5 9


Currently Qatar air quality measurements deal with PM10, or particulate molecules that are 10 micrometres or smaller. MOE has begun measuring PM2.5, as well, which are tinier, harder to pinpoint and more dangerous to humans. Qatar has not yet set its standard for PM2.5. Only then will they have an entirely accurate picture of particulate pollution in the city. The US Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Nevada, conducted the Enhanced Particulate Matter Surveillance Programme (EPMSP) on PM10 and PM2.5 at US military bases throughour the Middle East. To distinguish and quantify sources of dust and other pollutants requires chemical analysis,and modelling of the particularate matter, says Johann Engelbrecht, a research professor at the DRI.



baghdad, iraq

bagram, afghanistan

central kuwait

coastal kuwait

us sw urban










166 140 67

















All measurements were made in micrograms per cubic metre., an expert-based, eco-friendly construction website. AlShajra says that currently scientists are unable to confirm the exact sources of the offending particles in Qatar. Work while wheezing Dr Antony Joseph George of Aster Medical Centre doesn’t deal in the causes of particulate matter pollution, but he regularly treats its effects. An internal specialist of 40 years, George has treated patients from the Industrial Area as well as residential neighbourhoods. “Environmental health is a major factor in determining the health status of a society,” he says. “The air can be contaminated through many factors. To humans it can cause or precipitate many diseases.” Particulate matter can make its way into the lungs with detrimental effects, according to SustainableBuild. Possible health problems include asthma, wheezing, coughing, bronchitis and chronic respiratory illness. But average Doha inhabitants won’t necessarily feel these effects. “Those who have more or less exposure to dust, for example industrial dust or raw dust, they have more problems,” George explains. He insists that companies functioning in

6 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

“The employer and employee, they should both have the understanding that pollution can produce health problems.” Dr Antony Joseph George INTERNAL SPECIALIST, ASTER MEDICAL CENTRE

polluted conditions must provide workers with sufficient eye and mouth protection. It is also pertinent that they go to clinics regularly for check-ups, regardless of their mask usage. And if the issues persist, he advises moving a sick employee to a job with less exposure. “We get a lot of patients from some particular industries,” George says. “There are workers near the harbour, where a lot of sand is imported. It will produce a lot of atmospheric pollution with the dust, and we see many patients with chronic respiratory problems from the exposure to dust.

“Health education is very necessary to make them aware of the benefits of wearing the masks. The employer and employee, they should both have the understanding that [pollution] can produce health problems.” In addition to relying on protective gear, companies can use water to bring the particles down to the ground, says Al-Shajra. Planting trees helps trap the dust on leaves, and heavy materials laid over construction areas stop the dust from rising into the atmosphere. Workers should only spend one to two hours at a time under the heavy


“The industry is strictly regulated; whether we like it or not, expensive or cheap. safety training is absolutely mandatory” Assad Salem, Manager, health, safety and environmental security, qatar engineering and construction. The health of construction workers is being seriously compromised by the particulate matter in the air.

materials, and should be provided air conditioners or filters. The Industrial Area blues It’s a blustery day in the Industrial Area. Ezekiel Akujobi, a young Nigerian worker, stands to the side of Industrial Street clad in a blue jumpsuit hidden beneath layers of flaky beige. Unlike many others, he’s eager to talk. “I’m a frank person,” he explains simply. Akujobi doesn’t divulge what company he works for, but of the conditions he works in he says: “The environment is detrimental to our health. “The worst part is the masks, it’s not always available. It’s a problem. There’s no medical allowance. Most of the companies here.... are not competent, and the people tend to suffer more.” As Akujobi speaks, I recoil against the wind, covering my eyes and scooping grains of sand out of them. “See?” He points at me, saying that he has developed eye problems since moving to Doha a year ago. When I ask about coughing, he says that “respiratory problems” are “rampant” among his co-workers. One man from the Philippines, Ruben Caduyac, says that sometimes he gets a mask and sometimes he doesn’t. He works for cement company Al Amar. “It depends on the work,” he says. “This area is cement, no problem in this area.” I

explain that even the cement industry can create harmful air particles, but he doesn’t believe me. Two other labourers, Rajesh Rajappan of Al Balagh Trading and Contracting and Mahendra Mandal of Gulf Trading and Contracting, agree that it depends on which company they’re working for. Rajappan says he gets a mask or cloth scarf whenever he needs one, but Mandal says he isn’t always given the equipment he needs. Before becoming an employee at Qatar Engineering and Construction Company (Qcon), one must undergo safety training in accordance with company and state guidelines, according to Qcon’s manager for health, safety, environment and security, Assad Salem. “[The industry is] strictly regulated; whether we like it or not, expensive or cheap, it’s absolutely mandatory,” he says. Forging ahead in research “Policymakers” gave MoE, the Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar Foundation (QF) and a host of other actors the “green light” in 2011 to begin work on the Qatar National Research Strategy, Al-Shajra says. Set for completion in 2016, the strategy’s goals include conducting “research on the health impact of air quality in Qatar”. For about two years, MoE, QF and others are studying the effects of particulate matter and ozone pollution. Next their focus

will transition to decreasing those effects and making policy standards stronger. But only five experts out of about 50 have been hired so far, according to Al-Shajra, and 2016 is nearly peeking over the horizon. “Our department does monitoring,” Alshajra says. “We’ll send [the results] to the Environmental Impact Assessment Centre to see how they can solve this problem.” His occupation doesn’t require measuring particles emanating from Qatar itself, but he is confident that local industry isn’t a main contributor. He cites national and international regulations on the cement industry, exhaust and gas emissions. Two Ministry of Environment scientists, Tapas Kumar Bandyopadhyay and Utpal Mukherjee, head the Air Quality Monitoring Project. They use three main stations at the Corniche, Aspire Zone and Qatar University, as well as a mobile station, to continuously measure air pollution levels, according to US Environmental Protection Agency standards. “There is huge growth in Qatar,” Bandyopadhyay says. “It will continue to change, so we have to get the data to measure trends.” They haven’t published any official studies yet, but they contribute this data to the ongoing Qatar National Research Fund effort. “We really have to understand what type of air quality we breathe,” Mukherjee adds

april 2013

Qatar Today 6 1

enterpreneur exchange

It's all in the


What makes an entrepreneur tick? In this new segment, Entrepreneur Exchange, Qatar Today tries to answer that question. We start with Muhammed Mekki, the founder of online fashion website, which recently received a $20 million capital injection from keen investors. WHAT MADE Mekki quit his dayjob to go for broke with little or no experience in e-commerce or fashion? by rory coe n

6 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

About 170 employees in Dubai, of 25 nationalities In-house delivery company for UAE orders. Doorstep returns and option to pay credit card on delivery 600 brands online and in stock, largest online FASHION collection in MIDDLE EAST. Shipping to the entire GCC, AND launching Namshi in Lebanon in April 2013 Raised funds from top-tier VC/PE shops like Summit Partners, JP Morgan, Blakeney Management


ooking back at how he and his two business partners founded their start-up company must make Muhammed Mekki cringe with embarrassment. He has since taken a step back from his managerial role, now simply advising from afar as he concentrates on other projects, but he’d be the first to tell you how important that initial journey into the unknown is for budding entrepreneurs. In the space of 18 months, his company went from a discerning observation into a $20 million reality. Mekki grew up in Silicon Valley, immersed in invention and innovation, and it was this environment that proved to be the harbinger for his subsequent forays into risky business. The son of Iraqi medical professionals, his decision to quit his salaried job to run an e-commerce website might not have been greeted with the unbridled encouragement he’d hoped for, but his parents would also have known that his day job was just a stopgap until his “eureka!” moment arrived.

Mekki’s moment came in the summer of 2011. Working as a consultant in Dubai and perennially plugged in to the digital grapevine for opportunities to explore, he spotted a gaping hole in the regional market. “I realised there was nobody doing fashion – selling clothes, shoes or accessories – online,” announced Mekki. “So I decided this would be my focus.”

Whilst their approach was laden with enthusiasm and freshness, it was cloaked in naivety. “We realised we had to build slowly and surely. We had to take it step by step, build our name and reputation.” The idea didn’t stay dormant for long, and realising that two, if not three, heads were better than one, he invited two trusted and capable friends into his inner circle of trust. They needed to conceptualise the idea further before packaging it attractively for incubators and angel investors. This raw idea needed to be cooked. “So within a few months we needed to prove this concept,” said Mekki. “We had nothing to begin with – we didn’t even have a name, just an idea. The three of us got together in a little office, with a couple of com-

puters and a phone, and we started calling brands in Europe, the US and even some local brands in Dubai. We had some money, but we needed products.” They were at a whole lot of nothing, however. Mekki, armed with his PhD, had never worked in e-commerce or fashion before. Nor had his partners. Whilst their approach was laden with enthusiasm and freshness, it was cloaked in naivety. Brands could not have cared less for their business, regardless of their promise of cash. They needed to see evidence of success and reputation. Mekki hinted at the harsh reality he experienced at this early stage. “We realised we had to build slowly and surely,” he said. “We had to take it step by

You need to pick the right people and empower them to work to their potential. One of the things I learned is that the number one thing is your team and incorporating a working culture amongst them.

april 2013

Qatar Today 6 3

enterpreneur exchange

step, and build our name and reputation. So we built our website,, and tackled each targeted brand one at a time until we began to build up our portfolio, and before long brands were calling us to do business. Now we have about 550 brands, it’s more than you would find in Dubai Mall, so we have actually introduced some brands to the region.”

“You need to take risks as an entrepreneur, but they should be controlled risks with lots of research and professional advice behind the decisions.” Mekki and his cohorts weren’t immune from mistakes after recovering from their early one, however. He explained a few more costly errors of judgment as they tried to expand the site. “One of the things I learned with Namshi is that sometimes it’s better to just jump into the pool to learn how to swim,” said Mekki. “You need to take risks as an entrepreneur, and coming from a consultant and planning ideology that was a hard adjustment for me, but they should be controlled risks with lots of research and professional advice behind the decisions. “We launched the website in December 2011, primarily selling shoes at that stage. Early the next year we were across the GCC, including Qatar. We had added the Arabic language and the working currencies. So taking it all one step at a time, we decided we were ready for Egypt last April. It’s such a huge market, it was so enticing,” he said. It proved to be an expensive error. They ran successful advertising campaigns which translated into hits on their website. The orders came flooding in and for a while the decision must have seemed like an inspired one, but it soon transpired that the customers weren’t receiving their orders. There were issues with customs checks and delivery addresses. Even Napoleon had more luck in Egypt, so they decided to cut their losses last summer, less than three months after their initial break into the market. “We obviously didn’t do our homework

6 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

We had nothing to begin with - we didn’t even have a name, just an idea.

on Egypt,” said Mekki. “From here on we really started to focus on our costs and made sure we were able to ship our products efficiently. By September we got our television advertisement on MBC, and that led to big things – people really started to recognise our brand after this.”

being distinctive in the areas that matter most was the key driver of the business model. Namshi recently secured a $20 million (QR72.8 million) injection from JP Morgan and Blakeney Management. The e-commerce business isn’t even two years old yet! So what does it take to build an idea from scratch into a lucrative business that is worth a $20 million investment? “When you do a start-up, you forego a salary and a bit of security, but you get shares in your company,” explained Mekki. “So you try to build the company, add value to it,

We spent that little bit extra to make sure we did things better than everybody else.

produce something that is beneficial to the market, so that those shares will eventually command a much more valuable price. “You need to pick the right people and empower them to work to their potential. In starting up a company, one of the things I learned – and I had a sense of this beforehand but I didn’t really appreciate it until I got involved in Namshi – is that the number one thing is your team and incorporating a working culture amongst them. The most important decision I made was who would be the first person I turn to – who was going to join me as a co-founder in this project. So what I looked for in this person was one who had the same values as me, the same mindset, the same priorities. We discussed all this beforehand; we wanted to build a company that is people-centric, one that really cares about its employees, where we are all proactive and we do things in a legal and ethical way. Setting that common standard made life so much easier going forward because we both knew we were on the same page.” Mekki revealed that being distinctive in the areas that matter most was a key driver of his business model. He identified three areas in particular where they could gain an edge on their competition and “do things better than everyone else” – shipping, selection and customer service. “When we were thinking about Namshi, we looked at the biggest gaps in the segment or the biggest problems with shopping online. The most fundamental one was shipping – getting the product to the customer on time. We buy our products and store them in our warehouse in Dubai Logistics City, and ship them as soon as we get a confirmed order. This is different from other e-commerce players who get the order and then try to find and purchase the product in the market. “We also wanted distinction in customer service. We spent that little bit extra to make sure we did more than everybody else. One of the most difficult hires I had to make was for the role of Customer Service Manager. We ended up bringing in, eventually, the lifestyle manager at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa. Somebody who was used to dealing with sheikhs and sheikhas – this was the mentality we wanted for this role”

tech talk


Attack Two of Qatar’s flagship enterprises, Qatar Foundation and Al Jazeera, recently found their networks compromised by malicious cyber attacks from Syrian loyalists who cited Qatar’s continuing support for the rebels in their war-torn country as their motive. by rory coe n


Qatar playing such a prominent role in the region now, how susceptible is the country to more of these attacks and, what is being done to minimise their impact? Hacktivism, broadly speaking, is the use of computers and computer networks to promote political ends through free speech, human rights and information ethics. It’s the electronic cousin of more conventional methods of protest, activism and civil disobedience. Hacktivists are generally seen as terrorists, yet in some situations they are simply exposing a hidden truth. Whatever their motive might be, it’s understood that they can infiltrate highly secure networks and have their way. Patriot groups, such as the ones from Syria, organised themsleves into “cyber armies” to have their way on popular Qatari platforms recently. Whilst

Anti-Virus software

50-60% effective (RSA)

the damage caused was cosmetic, the significance of their attacks shouldn’t be underestimated. Up to now they have concentrated on the defacement of popular websites or distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks but these will improve in sophistication and aggressiveness, and their favourite targets will continue to be societies that denounce the extremist governments they support. At the end of last month, South Korean broadcast networks and banks were compromised by an IP address in China, but it was suspected to be another attack from North Korea. “Nation states and armies will be more frequent actors and victims of cyber threats,” says Essam Ahmed, MENA Pre-Sales Manager for security software company McAfee. “Many of the world’s military units are on the front line of social networks. Professional forums such as Company Command and profes-


of enterprise security professionals believe they have been targeted by an APT (McAfee)

The Internet is a vast network with no boundaries, attacks can be done from anywhere in the world.” McAfee


the reduction in the number of infected machines in Qatar (2008-2012) april 2013

Qatar Today 6 5

tech talk

Khalid Al-Hashmi, Executive Director, Qatar Cyber Emergency Response Team (Q-CERT), ictQATAR.

New legislation


ependency on ICT systems and networks that support the nation’s critical sectors such as energy, utilities and the financial sector continues to increase; thus, in order to proactively address the cyber risks and threats rapidly facing those critical systems, ictQATAR has drafted the Critical Infrastructure Information Protection legislation, due to be finalised in 2013, that introduces strategies for protecting the most critical information infrastructure systems in the country, including those used for power grids, oil and gas production, financial transactions, healthcare and government operations.

Cyber Security firms are too reactive. Their budgets are:


on prevention


on detection


on response


6 6 Qatar Today

sional wikis involve the development of online collaborative work. Furthermore, military operations use the Internet for e-mailing, social networking and, unfortunately, visiting dubious websites. All of these elements will increase the possibilities of infiltration and unintentional information leakage. “Experts are no longer reluctant to predict national responsibility in military and industrial espionage or precision attacks that cause physical damage, as in the case of Stuxnet or Shamoon. State-related threats will increase and make the headlines, and suspicions about government-sponsored attacks will grow,” says Ahmed. Sophistication How much preparation goes into these attacks and does it matter where the perpetrators are based when they carry them out? How sophisticated do they have to be to beat the high-level security systems that governments and corporates are investing in? “The internet is a vast network with no boundaries; attacks can be done from anywhere in the world,” says Ahmed. “A simple example is the ability to buy botnets (zombies) which can launch a targeted attack

april 2013

“Aligned with similar legislation being introduced around the world, as well as recommendations issued by international bodies like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), large and critical entities delivering services that are crucial to the well-being of the nation will be required to have an information security management system (ISMS) in place. "ictQATAR has also drafted Information Privacy Protection legislation designed to acknowledge and protect private and personal information for the citizens in this digital and networked age.” - Khalid Al-Hashmi, ictQATAR Cyber Security on any organisation. “Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are sophisticated attacks where adversaries break into systems undetected using long-term access to infiltrate data at will. Although the threats become more advanced once they gain access into a network, the entry point with many attacks is convincing a user to click on a link. However, once the APT breaks into a system, it is very sophisticated in what it does and how it works,” he explains. This is pretty much how the attackers compromised the networks at Al Jazeera and Qatar Foundation. They convinced somebody at those organisations to click on an enticing link that was loaded with tools to download critical security information. It’s a process called “phishing”. “Most attacks are a because of exploiting policy shortcomings, lack of awareness and contemporary training methodologies,” says Khalid Al-Hashmi, Executive Director, Qatar Cyber Emergency Response Team (Q-CERT) in ictQATAR's Cyber Security Division. “The reason [attacks] are successful is because the operator is not fully aware of how to deal with fraudulent messages. If nobody explained the

tech talk consequences of opening a distrustful link or what constitutes a distrustful link with no policy around it, why not open it?” Collaboration So is Qatar’s high-profile foreign policy and its relentless drive towards the 2030 National Vision proving to be a thorn in the side of the Cyber Security Division at ictQATAR? Al-Hashmi insists collaboration is the key: “The Middle East has seen unprecedented changes in recent years, helped in no small part by information and communication technologies (ICT),” he says. “As all sectors become more reliant on ICT to provide core services, the security of the critical IT infrastructure becomes ever more important. In Qatar, 70% of our GDP comes directly from the petroleum and natural gas industries, making the protection of the IT infrastructure essential for our national well-being. Similarly, across the government more and more core functions depend on secure, reliable networks.” As the networks and infrastructure have evolved, so too have the threats posed to them. The activities of cyber criminals have been flourishing, and by using advanced technologies and sophisticated techniques they often escape detection, compounding the risks. In order to tackle these issues head on and protect the citizens and resources of the nation, Q-CERT operates as part of the Cyber Security Division within the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), the nation’s ICT

The potential threat of cybercrime cyber attacks reaching the physical dimension could possibly cause: Giant electrical generators to shred themselves Trains and transportation channels to derail High-tension power transmission lines to burn Gas pipelines to explode Refineries to malfunction Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems to halt Aircraft to crash Funds to disappear Confidential and intellectual data theft Sensitive Data leakages Enemy units walking into ambushes (FireEye)

Essam Ahmed, MENA Pre-Sales Manager, McAfee

The reason [attacks] are successful is because the person is not fully aware of how to deal with fraudulent messages.”

policy and regulatory authority. Q-CERT works with government agencies, private and public sector organisations and Qatar’s citizens to ensure that online threats are monitored and risks are contained. It has also adopted a collaborative approach with other international CERTs, recognising that cyber threats do not respect state borders. In Qatar, Q-CERT helps protect sensitive information and ensure safety on the Internet through the adoption of a matrix of security controls that protects Qatar’s interests on many levels. On the technology side, the Threat Intelligence Team collects and analyses threat statuses from different security intelligence sources. They also gather information generated from our own sensors to give an overall view of the threat status globally, regionally and, most importantly, locally. Q-CERT proactively informs its constituency in the oil and gas sector, as well as other critical industries, of any possible malicious activity and works with them to rectify the situation utilising incidenthandling and digital forensics capabilities

april 2013

Once you are connected to the Internet, you can carry out attacks and are susceptible to them. Globally there are


billion connected computers


billion smart phones





Qatar Today 6 7

TECHTALK Samsung showcases eye-tracking technology


amsung unveiled its Galaxy S4 last month, which uses a camera to track and interpret eye movements. The company’s launch of the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II helped propel it to a record performance in the fourth quarter of 2012, and a 214% increase year-on-year within mobile communication device sales in the GCC. “Qatar is a very competitive market, as the consumers here are extremely tech-savvy and adopt new technologies early,” said Young Woo Jun, Director, Telecommunications Group, Samsung Gulf Electronics. Samsung continued to be Qatar’s leader in smartphones last year, recording a 56.5% market share. In 2013, Samsung expects demand for smartphones and tablets to continue to increase, partly due to the end-of-April release of the S4. Its user-facing camera monitors eye and hand movements, changing the screen at the wave of a hand or pausing a video when eyes turn away.

Microsoft talks Windows 8 in Doha


icrosoft displayed new software and capabilities including Windows 8 devices and applications in Doha in March. Office 2013, Office 365, Windows Server 2012 and cloud productivity solutions made their own appearances as well during the “Celebrate Windows 8” event at the St Regis Hotel. Twenty speakers from Microsoft and partners spoke to IT and business professionals. Topics included government performance management, innovation, productivity, and public and private cloud. The technology has been introduced to Qatar with the help of Microsoft’s local partners, EBLA, ICT, ITWorx and Mannai Corporation.

6 8 Qatar Today

april 2013

WCMC-Q app encourages healthy dieting


eill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) has launched a phone app that could help you finally start that difficult duo of exercise and healthy eating. Available on Android and iOS devices, the app was developed by “Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First”, WCMC-Q’s health campaign, and its partner Vodafone Qatar. It is available in Arabic and English. When you pull out your smartphone and select the app, you’ll be able to count the calories in foods you consume and decide which choices are healthier, or which have more sugar, salt and saturated fats. Eat a salad or some grilled fish, and you’ll be awarded a “green” light. But if you opt for the extra-large McDonald’s milkshake for lunch, get ready for the less desirable “red” light. Too many “reds” and the app will start suggesting healthy alternatives. “With this new application, WCMC-Q is embracing the opportunities offered by mobile phone technologies to deliver our message about healthy lifestyles to an ever-larger audience,” said Dr Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCMC-Q.

All users to experience new Pinterest site


fter testing its newly-designed website for three months with select Pinteresters, the image-hosting social media site began rolling out its new look on March 18. The changes are more subtle than anything. Unfamiliar visitors may not even recognise the differences. The design is a bit sleeker, and decreased space between pins allows users to display more images onscreen. Several new features let members see what “people who pinned this also pinned”, a new navigation bar, a category list in the top left of the screen and a right-side scrolling display of pins from the board you’re viewing.

Climb mountains through Google Maps


oogle Maps recently added adventurous photography to its interactive world atlas. Users can now virtually climb to the top of the Mt Everest Base Camp, Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Elbrus and Mt Aconcagua, all without leaving their monitors. Pictures show gorgeous landscapes, fellow climbers and small towns along the pathways. This collection is not Google’s first, either. Explorations of the White House, historic Italy, the Colosseum and the Amazon are already available.

april 2013

Qatar Today 6 9

tech talk


are the best


AGAINST a backdrop of newspaper closures and lost jobs, are tablets shining a light at the end of the tunnel for the media industry, asks Damian radcliffe.


seventh Al Jazeera Forum took place in Doha during March. Amidst a busy agenda came the announcement that the Qatar-based network would be launching a raft of new services later in the year. As Riyaad Minty, Al Jazeera’s Head of Social Media, tweeted: “This year we’ll be launching Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera Turk & Al Jazeera French. Who said journalism was dying?” Al Jazeera’s optimism, however, contrasts quite starkly with many other parts of the world, especially for the printed media. Whilst newspaper consumption is holding relatively steady in the Middle East – and in fact growing in India as a result of a burgeoning middle class – in much of the rest of the world publish-

Riyaad Minty @Riy

ers are trying to arrest a steep decline in circulations and revenues. In the UK, research in 2012 by the Press Gazette revealed 242 local press closures in seven years, while the (now sadly defunct) Paper Cuts website inserted pins into a map of the USA to graphically demonstrate where jobs had been lost and publications closed. Optimism Yet amidst this doom and gloom there are causes for optimism, from online only services like Doha News or the Western Seattle Blog (which enjoys traffic of more than one million page views a month) through to the ongoing launches (often in the face of the received wisdom)


This year we'll be working on launching Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeerz Turk & Al Jazeera French. Who said journalism was dying? 5:00 PM -18 Mar 13 16 RETWEETS

7 0 Qatar Today

april 2013


tech talk

share of Device page traffic for news category (Weekday) Source: comScore Custom analytics, us, august 2011









0% 12AM

of new titles at a local or regional level. It is against this backdrop that websites like Newspaper Death Watch talk about “Chronicling the Decline of Newspapers and the Rebirth of Journalism”. In a reincarnated digital world perhaps journalism’s greatest hope lies with the humble tablet. After several aborted attempts this new technology began to enter the mainstream with the launch of the Apple iPad (first generation) in 2010. Despite still being in its infancy, the technology is already having an impact with some global audiences in terms of their news consumption. Part of this impact is based around personalisation. Apps like Zite or Flipboard offer users their own magazine, based on their preferences and interests. Because these tools also learn from your consumption habits, their tailored experience continually evolves in line with your reading patterns. At the push of a button these apps also enable you to share what you’ve read with your social networks too. But whilst these apps have enriched many consumers’ experience, they’re not the sole means of news consumption. Users continue to source and read news via their browser or social networks, and of course harness other platforms too. Television and radio remain hugely popular in many countries, with television still the market leader for most demographics. “People who read the news [online] aren’t necessarily giving up one platform in favour of a newer one, but are instead




morphing into ‘multi-platform’ consumers for different news ‘experiences’,” says Amy Vale, VP, Global Research and Strategic Communications of Mojiva, Inc. Tablets are simply part of a consumer’s individual news mix, with the news platform often being determined by audience need at any given time. Mobile consumption, for example, lends itself to more short-form content, often on the move. In contrast, the peak time for tablet usage is after work, with users often consuming longer-form articles, or simply reading for longer periods of time. A 2012 survey of news use on mobile devices by the Pew Research Centre’s Proj-

ect for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) in collaboration with The Economist Group, also found that “for many people, mobile devices are adding to how much news they consume. More than four in ten mobile news consumers say they are getting more news now, and nearly a third say they are adding new sources.” Whilst this data is US-based, and indeed data from the rest of the world is not as rich, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2012 confirmed that many of these trends were not unique to America. Perhaps most interestingly, the Reuters report, which covered digital news use in the UK, US, Germany, France and Denmark,

percentage accessing news via mobile and tablet each week mobile


32% 28%

28% 21%



11% 8% 5%







which of the following have you used to access the news in the past week?

april 2013

Qatar Today 7 1

tech talk

Future willingness to pay by device - % Agree

q160: how far would you agree with this statement? “in the future i would be prepared to pay for access to online news (including tablet, mobile ect.) from particular news sources that i like."

tablet users' daily tablet activities getting news on the tablet is nearly as popular as e-mail and easily beats out most other activities, including social networking and gaming. percentage of tablet users who do these activities daily


play games



get news

read books

use social network

watch video

53% 39% 7 2 Qatar Today



april 2013

suggested that tablet owners are significantly more likely to pay for news online. As providers seek to monetise their services in a digital world, such a finding offers a small ray of sunshine for many a beleaguered press baron. What’s the reality? But before we get too carried away, we do have to note that willingness to pay doesn’t always translate into reality, and that the number of tablet users is still small compared with many other media platforms. One high-profile victim to fall foul of this fact was Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily. His iPad-only newspaper closed in December with Salon reporting that the paper was losing QR110 million ($30 million) per year. Pre-launch estimates suggested The Daily needed 500,000 subscribers to break even. It never got close. Finally, we also have to remember that usage of this relatively new technology is still evolving. And this evolution varies across different cultures and territories. Research agency TNS noted last year that: “While tablets are extra leisure devices in North America, in Latin America they have a more business-oriented role, whereas in the Middle East and North Africa people like their social features.” Instant messaging, video calls or

taking photographs dominate tablet usage in our region. And in Qatar, unlike in some countries, the tablet is still some way behind other technologies as a means to get online. Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013 report (published by ictQATAR in January) for example notes that 14% of mainstream Internet users use a tablet to log on to the web. This contrasts starkly with the 87% who use a laptop, or the 55% who are using a smartphone. No doubt these figures will change over time, especially as we start to see more Arabic content and apps designed for tablets, but it may be that the region will always be different from other digital markets in its tablet usage. Only time will tell. What we can tell however is that the global demand for these devices is seemingly unstoppable. As Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at International Data Corporation (IDC), says: “Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower price points, we expect demand to accelerate...” From a standing start in 2010 to an anticipated 172.4 million global sales in 2013, this is one type of new technology that consumers seem only too happy to swallow


Damian Radcliffe has been working in media and technology since 1995. His experience includes TV, Radio, Print and Online working in a variety of editorial, research and policy roles. He moved to Qatar in March 2012. Follow him on twitter where he typically tweets about tech, social media and issues relating to the future of journalism.

Developing ICT

ict today

The IT crowd


atar’s progress needs a communications infrastructure that can facilitate its every need. We can see tangible signs of the evolution of technology every day with companies like Samsung, Apple, Microsoft and Google continually leveraging their intellectual capital resources to beat the others to the next new innovation. By investing in these new products, Qataris are able to get faster and more reliable data than ever before. ictQATAR is working in collaboration with other government agencies, telecommunications providers, content providers, property developers and consumers to build a highspeed broadband network in the country. The Qatar National Broadband Network (QNBN) will connect all individuals and businesses to a fibre broadband network by 2015. Qatar has experienced tremendous growth in broadband capacity over the past year with 63% of households connected to broadband networks with minimum speeds of 1 megabit per second. Ooredoo, formerly Qtel, has been in the final testing stages of a 4G LTE mobile broadband network and is hoping to roll it out this month. Because of the significant improvements in download speeds and quality, it is called “fourth-generation” (4G) technology. The service is expected to provide customers with “universal connectivity at incredible downlink speeds” of up to 150 Mbps for a broad range of services including high-definition (HD) video on demand, interactive gaming, cable TV and highbandwidth content. Vodafone received the second public mobile networks and services licence in Qatar in 2008, and has been investing heavily ever since. It had over one million mobile customers at the end of 2012, which was a 25% increase on 2011 and shows that it’s making a real impression. Schools such as Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar are charged with training Qatar’s students to drive ICT post-2030. It offers top-ranked undergraduate degree programmes such as computer science and information systems, disciplines that will give graduates a very professional starting point in their ICT education.

74 Qatar Today

april 2013

ict today

Innovation at Carnegie Mellon

With more than a century of academic excellence and distinguished research, Carnegie Mellon University is a leader in education with real-world applications. In 2004, Qatar Foundation invited Carnegie Mellon to join Education City, a ground-breaking centre for scholarship and research that is the ideal complement to the university’s mission and vision.


arnegie Mellon University in Qatar, like all Carnegie Mellon campuses globally, is founded on the firm belief that through the encouragement of scientific inquiry and the promotion of practical preparedness, it can provide a generation of thinkers, business leaders, researchers and scientists that will change the world. Core values of innovation, creativity, collaboration and problem-solving provide the foundation for everything the university does. Aligned with Qatar Foundation’s mission to develop the country’s youth to become leaders and innovators, Carnegie Mellon implements its curriculum by main-

7 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

taining the academic standards, values and principles of its home campus in Pittsburgh, USA, while delivering metacurricular programmes that suitably reflect the ethos of Education City. In Qatar, Carnegie Mellon offers five of its top-ranked undergraduate degree programmes: biological sciences, business administration, computational biology, computer science and information systems. In addition to their core focus, the university is dedicated to enhancing the undergraduate educational experience so that students can explore other disciplines. Students can take classes in a wide range of other areas, such as architecture, philosophy and English literature. Students at

ict today

Carnegie Mellon is working hard on research relating to cloud computing, robotics, business process design and engineering, nextgeneration wireless networks, and information security.

7 8 Qatar Today

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar enjoy a low facultyto-student ratio of 1:7. The university’s graduates are highly sought-after by regional and international organisations. More than 90% of Carnegie Mellon’s alumni are either in graduate programmes or employed in top organisations like Google, Microsoft, Qatar Petroleum, Shell and Commercial Bank, to name a few. Carnegie Mellon is proud to be a part of such a significant movement to transform the nation into a leading knowledge-based economy, and to be a part of Qatar Foundation’s drive to equip the country’s population with the skills to get there. The programmes it offers at its Education City campus frame its commitment to the Qatar National Vision 2030 and are aligned with the country’s fundamental pillars of developing people, society, the economy and the environment. Much of Carnegie Mellon's research work embodies the principles of the national vision. Research projects Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar are actively engaged in developing cutting-edge technology. The university has been awarded 32 National Priorities Research Programme (NPRP) grants from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), three Junior Scientist Research Experience Programme (JSREP) grants and 19 Undergraduate Research Experience Programme (UREP) grants. The total funding from QNRF is approximately $30 million (QR109 million).

april 2013

The research projects include Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Qri8 lab, in collaboration with the National Robotics Engineering Centre, which explores the use of robotics technology to improve safety and production in the oil and gas industry. Another significant research project is human language technologies research on natural language processing, including using statistical machine translation to expand the Arabic-language content available on the Internet. The Automated Measurement of Galaxy Morphology project aims to develop software that can measure the physical properties of galaxies, which helps us to understand how these structures evolve over time. Another area of research, the Carnegie Mellon Air Quality Monitoring Station, will be the first air quality monitoring facility in Qatar to measure and make data available to the public and academia. Carnegie Mellon is also working hard on research relating to cloud computing, education, business process design and engineering, innovation-driven entrepreneurship, next-generation wireless networks, and information security. Consistently top-ranked, Carnegie Mellon has more than 12,000 students, 90,000 alumni and 5,000 faculty and staff globally. In Qatar, students from more than 40 different countries enrol at its world-class facilities in Education City, affording them a truly unique and multicultural experience. Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is committed to delivering a first-quality education, to fostering research creativity and discovery, and to serving society

wellness warriors

Leading her workplace in wellness initiatives!

Young, dynamic and already a leader in her organisation, Shefa Ali Nader was inspired to create and launch an innovative wellness programme that is really making a difference in her workplace. Find out how ALI NADER leads by example in her own life and in her role as Head of Healthcare Marketing at Sidra Medical Research Centre. I have had the pleasure of working with you on a number of occasions and can tell that you highly value your health and wellbeing. How do you invest in these areas? From a young age, I have always thought that if a particular food does not bring me any kind of nutritional benefit, there is no point in eating it. These days, we have so much access to information on health, nutrition and well-being through magazines, social media and television that there is really no excuse for not caring about your health and well-being. I believe in the saying “prevention is better than cure”. I really focus on maintaining a sense of well-being in my life. Once I feel well, by default I will look well, which leads to performing well. How does this investment in your wellbeing impact your work life? When I take care of my wellness I operate more energetically. I work better because I’m present, in body and mind. I can’t avoid stress and I believe it definitely has the most significant impact on employee productivity. This is why regular exercise is so important in my life. I try and do my best to manage stress and put a premium on actions and habits that encourage peace and calm. How many times a week do you exercise, and what is your favourite form of movement? I exercise two to three times a week for at least an hour at a time and enjoy walking outdoors. An everyday issue that I am faced with is that I don’t get enough fresh air. I travel

8 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

from home to the office and then home again, and then out to a restaurant or a mall. I am hardly ever outside. Even if I go to the gym, it doesn’t make up for the fresh air that I think we need every day. There are so many ways to exercise, and I think it's key for everyone to find what suits their own lifestyle and to make it enjoyable. Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable. For example, I find going to a gym stresses me. Sitting in traffic to get to the gym puts pressure on me. I find walking on the Corniche with a friend suits my needs better. I get fresh air, I can take in a beautiful view, and I get to have girl time with my friends. What do you eat (on most days) for: Breakfast Fruit is a must first thing in the morning. The natural fructose helps me start the day the right way. Lunch If I am honest, sometimes I don’t get to fit lunch in because I get so caught up in work, and that is something I need to change. Dinner Salad, veggies and either fish or chicken. I actually like most kinds of food and I think I just naturally like healthy food. Sushi is a favourite! Snacks I try and keep a bowl of almonds and walnuts on my desk. Green tea with fresh ginger is also my daily beverage. Before I sleep I like to have a glass of warm water with aniseed, which makes me sleep like a baby. How does your spiritual practice support your health and well-being?

“There are so many

ways to exercise and I think its key for everyone to find what suits their own lifestyle and to make it enjoyable.” follow

Twitter @AALNicole

top 10 health tips 1. Start your day right by getting a good night’s sleep. Eat a good breakfast. 2. Attend to difficult calls or e-mails as quickly as you can. Procrastinating just makes it harder. Getting them done gives you a big boost of relieved energy. 3. Sunlight and activity are good for focus and mood improvement. Go outside at least once a day, and if possible,take a walk. 4. Don’t go for long periods of time without eating. Keep healthy snacks close by. 5. Try to make a lunch date with someone outside the office at least once a week. It gives you something to look forward to 6. Don’t let your phone take over your life. Control technology. Set limits so you can concentrate when you need to and disengage when you need to. 7. Sit up straight and lower your shoulders. You will instantly feel more energised and cheerful. 8. Make your office space pleasant and organised. 9. Don’t keep unhealthy treats around. Choose nuts or dried fruit. 10. Spring-clean the loose papers that tend to pile up on your desk. It’s amazing the immediate sense of calm you feel once it’s done.

Our Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings upon him) has a wonderful hadith (a saying). He said: “Your stomach should be 1/3 food, 1/3 water and 1/3 air.” I find this very practical and useful advice, and I try to follow it in my daily life. When you are investing in well being, how does that affect the quality of the relationships in your life? Our prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings upon him) has another wonderful ha-

dith: “Treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.” Very simple, but if followed makes the world of difference in every kind of situation you would find yourself in with colleagues, family and friends. Understanding is a very important element in friendship. It’s all too easy to judge a friend if they do something we don’t like or something that bothers us. However, if you put yourself in their place and really understand them and their thinking process you might let a lot of things go. Listening is also really important in a friendship. Sometimes we have so much to say, we forget the power of listening. Even if you don’t have the best advice or solution to offer friends, sometimes all they want to do is be heard. You recently launched a wellness-inthe-workplace programme called “Bil Afia”. What was the inspiration behind creating this program and what benefits do you see from this programme for the organisation? A wellness programme is so important because it gives the organisation the chance to show employees just how much they mean to us and how much we care about their well-being. Bil Afia is an organised programme designed to assist our employees and their families in behavioural change that reduces health risks and improves quality of life. Our programme includes exciting workshops on topics ranging from green smoothies to work versus life balance that the Art of Abundant Living is hosting. We also celebrate and acknowledge world health days, such as No Tobacco Day and World Immunisation Day. A smoking cessation programme will also come up high on our list of priorities. In the future, we have plans for a Sidra Zen Room to give our staff space to de-stress for a few minutes a day. What does the name Bil Afia mean? It’s an Arabic saying that literally means “in good health”. It is usually said to someone while they are eating or when they have finished their food. But what it is really doing is telling someone to enjoy their food in health

interviewed By nicole van hattem Nicole van Hattem is the Founder and Director of the Art of Abundant Living, the only Corporate Wellness and Health Coaching Company in Qatar. E-mail:

april 2013

Qatar Today 8 1

auto news


Rolls-Royce Wraith makes debut


olls-Royce Motor Cars presented the world debut of its Wraith at the recent Geneva Motor Show. At its heart lie the hallmark Rolls-Royce attributes of luxury, refinement and hand-craftsmanship, but the new model from the world’s pinnacle superluxury marque also presents a unique character defined by power, style and drama – with just a hint of the noir. “Today we launch the ultimate gentleman’s gran turismo, a car that embodies the spirit of Charles Stewart Rolls,” said Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “The most powerful Rolls-Royce in history, Wraith promises the sense of adven-


ture and speed that drove our founding forefather. But of course, Wraith’s starting point is luxury, refinement and quality, traits that remain as important to Rolls-Royce customers today as they were more than a century ago.” Coach doors open to reveal a sumptuous interior complete with softest “Phantom-grade” leathers and expanses of wood called Canadel Panelling. The interior ambience is complemented by Starlight Headliner, a Bespoke feature available beyond the Phantom family of cars for the first time. 1,340 fibre optic lamps are handwoven into the roof lining to give the impression of a glittering, starry night sky.

Alfardan supports Traffic Week


lfardan Automotive Group was recognised for its strong support of the 29th GCC Traffic Week, which wrapped up its activities last month. Displaying an array of its most advanced vehicles, such as Jaguar XF, Range Rover Sport, BMW X5 and BMW 5 Series, Alfardan Automotive Group took part in the week-long programme that saw in attendance scores of highranking traffic officials from across the GCC. Alfardan Automo-

8 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

biles also provided a fleet of more than 10 vehicles to transport GCC VIP officials attending the 29th GCC Traffic Week. General Manager Mohamad Kandeel said: “We at Alfardan Automotive Group are committed supporters of core national initiatives, particularly ones that will help safeguard the future of our youth and the well-being of our society. Road awareness and traffic safety are key issues we should all truly consider and firmly drive in our community.”

auto news


promotes sport security


ecuring Sport 2013 brought together over 300 international experts and stakeholders to share knowledge and best practice in sport safety, security and integrity under the theme of “Advancing the security and integrity of sport to safeguard the future”. As the Official Car Sponsor of the event, BMW proveded a fleet of 60 luxurious BMW cars – the X6, X5, 7-series and 5-series – to ensure the safe and pleasurable transportation of all Securing Sport 2013 guests. The BMW partnership is with the Dohabased Alfardan Automobiles, the official BMW Group Importer in Qatar.

New Infiniti FX brings high performance


ollowing a number of exterior and interior refinements last year, the Infiniti FX performance crossover receives additional enhancements this year. For 2013, the biggest change is under the hood, with the addition of a 329-horsepower 3.7-liter VVEL V6, replacing the 3.5-litre V6. Now named the FX37, it joins the FX50 AWD, which once again features a standard 390-horsepower 5.0-litre VVEL V8 and Infiniti Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. Both engines are paired with a standard seven-speed automatic transmission. The 2013 Infiniti FX37 utilises Infiniti’s VVEL valve control technology, which continuously adjusts valve timing and lift amounts, enabling higher fuel efficiency with higher torque and improved emissions over conventional variable valve designs. The V6 engine features an aluminium block and heads and electronically controlled throttle system and has been tuned specifically for use in the FX37. The engine is rated at 329 horsepower and 360 Nm of torque (increases of 26 horsepower and 5 Nm respectively over the previous 3.5-litre V6). “The Infiniti FX is Infiniti’s iconic performance crossover world over. By enhancing its engine size and capacity, Infiniti has taken performance to a whole new level, offering more power and higher fuel efficiency,” said Juergen Schmitz, General Manager of Infiniti in the Middle East. “We’re certain that the enhancements to the FX line will be hugely popular among motoring enthusiasts and brand aficionados in the Middle East region.”

april 2013

Qatar Today 8 3

auto news

Harley-Davidson bears its official plate Maserati: Racing luxury for four


arley-Davidson Doha is the proud bearer of the brand’s official Retail Environment Group plate, turning the company into the only official and approved HarleyDavidson dealership in Qatar. The plate was awarded to Robert Andrew Kelly, Harley-Davidson Doha Dealer Principal, by the brand’s MENA representative and Dealer Development Manager, Tommy Dixon, in the presence of HE Sheikh Nawaf Nasser bin Khaled Al Thani, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nasser Bin Khaled, and Farrukh Abbas, Chief Operations Officer of the holding company. On the occasion, Robert Kelly said: “We’re very proud and excited to have hit this momentous milestone. The Retail Environment Group plate comes on the account of our new and modern showroom located on Salwa Road to certify that our retail environment here in Doha thoroughly complies with the entire retail standards of Harley-Davidson worldwide.”


rom the moment the spotlight hit the new range – starting with the new Quattroporte, which made its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show – Maserati reminded us of those luxury sports models that provided the basis for the brand’s growth. In line with this philosophy, Geneva also saw the world debut of the new four-seater GranTurismo MC Stradale, the optimum expression of sportiness combined with the luxury of a coupe made in Modena. Just like the previous two-seater version, the new four seater takes its inspiration from the racing version that competes in the Maserati Trofeo Championship, offering the perfect combination of sportiness, luxury, comfort and style, functionality and dynamism that can now be enjoyed by four people. The new aesthetic exterior features, with their clear racing edge, are highlighted by the new carbon fibre bonnet, which frames an important central air intake, and two rear extractors and the new forged 20” alloy rims. The new GranTurismo MC Stradale boasts a cabin that has four comfortable seats and an interior design featuring new materials and style.

LaFerrari unveiled at Geneva


he wraps are finally off the LaFerrari. The Prancing Horse’s eagerly-anticipated limited-series special, of which just 499 will be built, made its world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show last month. “We chose to call this model LaFerrari,” declared Ferrari’s president, Luca di Montezemolo, “because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company – excellence. Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving. Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it repre-

8 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

sents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design knowhow, including that acquired in Formula 1.” For Ferrari, the development of a limited-series special like the LaFerrari represents an opportunity to experiment with all the technological solutions that will later filter down into its production cars. Of particular significance in this context is the introduction of the hybrid system which, making full use of the Scuderia Ferrari’s F1 KERS know-how, has resulted in a

solution that exalts Ferrari’s fundamental values – performance and driving thrills.




Kempinski Bahrain is calling


mbark on a culinary journey from across the globe with the Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre’s eight exceptional restaurants and lounges within its two towers – venues which include romantic settings, private dining pods, a relaxing outdoor terrace and engaging open cooking stations. Plunge into the fast-paced world of modern business and meet at the premium Bahrain address. With 15 multipurpose meeting rooms outfitted with top-tier amenities, executive lounges, wide open cityscape views and world-class Kempinski service, deliver your dream results in this dream environment. Or slow down and rejuvenate within the beautiful spa. Expert therapists indulge your senses and calm your mind with their super-natural spa treatments, whirlpool,

The Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre at night

sauna and Turkish hammam experience. When not dining or relaxing, explore the extra dimension of convenience and entertainment at Bahrain City Centre next

door, the island’s biggest leisure and shopping paradise with over 340 retail outlets, Wahooo! Waterpark, Magic Planet and a 20-screen Cineplex.

Articles gets environment-friendly


he Articles store’s recently-launched recycled boat wood collection makes sustainability an evident goal for the company. The wood used to make the collection, fitted together with steel, is living a second life, its first having been in service as a working boat. The creatively crafted storage units, desks, drawers and lamps are now available at the Articles shop in Qatar’s Royal Plaza Mall. A “knock-down” system makes the furniture easy to assemble and disassemble, saving buyers storage and travel space.

april 2013

Qatar Today 8 5


Porsche releases first women’s handbag

Chili’s now at Hyatt Plaza


exas-based casual restaurant Chili’s opened its ninth Doha operation in Hyatt Plaza Shopping Mall early in March. “I am confident that Chili’s will surpass the expectations of our customers by creating a vibrant, fun-filled ambience that will complement the family-friendly and safe atmosphere of Hyatt Plaza,” said Feroz Moideen, General Manager of Hyatt Plaza. The Chili’s restaurant chain manages 1,500 dining locations in 32 countries. Its menu includes Southwestern items like BBQ beef ribs, fajitas, chicken crispers and decadent desserts like molten chocolate cake. It’ll open from 11 am to midnight on weekdays, and until 1am on weekends. The International Food Concept (IFC) manages Chili’s in Qatar, as well as Johnny Rockets, Popeyes and several other chains.

LG improves picture quality



ideo Home and Jumbo Electronics, Qatar’s LG distributor, has announced its record-breaking 84-inch HD TV. LG’s newest creation answers consumer demand for immersive home theatre systems, as well as more convenience and interactive capabilities. It comes fitted with 4K Ultra HD, 3D technology and Smart TV features. Eight million pixels per frame and resolution four times better than existing HD TV panels (3840x2160) give credence to LG’s reputation for high-quality enter-

8 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

tainment. 3D depth control allows users to customise their 3D experiences by changing the distance between far and near objects. The Sound Zooming feature analyses on-screen objects in order to produce accurate sounds, according to their locations and movements. The newest LG Magic Remote boasts even more intuitive access to settings, and fluid movement through the Smart TV ecosystem to apps, games, movies and other media content on laptops, flash drives and tablets. Its 2.2 Speaker System includes two 10W speakers and two 15W subwoofers.

orsche has widened its focus from luxury cars to luxury accessory design with the March release of its leather TwinBag. Crafted by experts in Florence, Italy, the uniquely-designed bag is available in all Porsche Design stores and online. Its adjustable handles allow the owner to carry it as a handbag or shoulder bag. The metal fittings are made from precious metals such as gold, white gold, rose gold, matt gold, silver and chrome, and polished by hand. Several TwinBag options are available. These include grey and chrome crocodile leather, green and gold or blue and gold ostrich leather, and 13 different calf leather versions. Each bag is given an individual number. They are also spacious enough to hold documents and most laptops.



opens its doors to swarming crowds The Swedish furniture retailer IKEA officially opened in Qatar last month, making it the 41st country to have a branch. Despite delays, a flock of eager residents turned up for the first official peek inside IKEA.


commemorate the Doha Festival City store’s opening, Omar Al-Futtaim, Vice-Chairman, Al Futtaim Group, the representative of IKEA in the UAE, Qatar and Egypt, hosted a traditional log-cutting ceremony in the presence of HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Qatar. IKEA is well known for the range and innovation of its products, ranging from food to furniture and kitchen gadgets. It can decorate your home or give you the inspiration to do it yourself. The Doha store, measuring 32,000 square metres and containing about 7,500 items, also features a restaurant and Smaland Children’s Play Area. Thirty-three cash registers keep traffic flowing through the massive building. “Visiting an IKEA store is a great day out for the whole family, an experience which is lived by nearly 780 million people who visit our 340 stores every year,” said John Kersten, Managing Director, IKEA UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman. “The opening of this store is a major milestone in IKEA’s history in the Middle East. IKEA is set to change the furniture retail landscape in Qatar the same way it has done in each of the 40 countries it is already present in around the world.” The Swedish company also brought the IKEA catalogue to Qatar in March. The 328-page magazine contains 500 photographs for inspiration or for direct purchasing. IKEA displays interior design ideas based on everyday activities like organising, sleeping, relaxing, cooking, eating and “living simple life at home”, Kersten said. The catalogue reflects IKEA’s ideology: functional and aesthetic pieces, contributing to a stylish but affordable home decor. “The catalogue features creativity in dynamic styles and rich colours to suit everyone’s taste and needs,” Kersten added.

april 2013

Qatar Today 8 7


The Deserts Night Camp


by Sm i t h a D e va d a s

Dune bashing, quad bike rides, sandboarding, camel safaris and live entertainment by a Bedouin Oud performer. Where? I hear you ask.

Age of Exploration can be dated back to the beginning of the 15th century, when European voyagers began exploring the world by sea, some in search of trade routes but some for the sheer quest to learn about the unknown. This could very well describe the wanderlust that still resides in our hearts and prompts us to step out of our wallpaper-like everyday settings into the adrenaline-filled, scintillating abode of indisputable charm. One such abode that will please even the most seasoned and discerning travel enthusiast is the Deserts Night Camp, an oasis right in the middle of the Al Wasil desert located 11 kilometres off the Muscat-Sur road in the Sultanate of Oman. The mention of a desert may conjure up images of a dry, hot, abandoned, parched or sandy mass of land inhabited by cactus or similar undemanding, drought-tolerant flora and fauna, but the enigmatic and luxurious tented suites of the Deserts Night Camp paint a picture that will cast a spell on you. As you venture deeper and deeper into the Wahiba Sands, that house this rustic camp, in the camp’s chauffeur-driven 4X4, you will have to fight to keep your curiosity at bay. The desert opens up to an exclusive camp that comprises 24 detached white tented suites that look striking against the golden backdrop of the desert. You will be welcomed with cold towels infused with rose essence, something that you will

8 8 Qatar Today

april 2013


and fully air-conditioned tent awaits you with five-star amenities like a king-size bed, tea and coffee maker, mini bar, hairdryer, bathrobes and much more. The interiors are done up to reflect traditional designs and the use of lanterns, silk and sequins with dark wood, brass and vibrant cushions is remarkable. Make yourself a cup of coffee and retire into the comfortable in-room living area or the outdoor seating. Tranquillity As the sun starts to set you will be taken up the sand dunes in a 4X4 to witness nature turning down its lights. This sunset experience will evoke a sense of calm and fill you with memories of the gentle breeze and sights of the golden ambers of the soft sand, homebound camels and the sky that looks magnificent while bidding adieu to the setting sun. Walk down the dunes to feel an instant rush and

appreciate like never before, as the cool, fragrant towel instantaneously reinvigorates your desert air-kissed skin. Traditional Arab coffee is then served with ripe dates and is a wonderful way to kickstart the authentic Arabian Desert experience. As you are escorted from the reception area to your luxurious tent, the desert air wraps you up in its warm embrace. The efficient

then retire into the camp’s Oasis Bar and soak in the tranquillity of the desert night over a glass of wine, spirits or fresh juice. The Two Dunes restaurant at the camp is the perfect place to sample traditional as well as international dishes. The aroma emerging from the grill will whet your appetite for the lamb, chicken, fish and beef on skewers. The buffet is a lavish spread fit for royalty. You can also experience the traditional Omani lamb barbecue called “Shuwa� around the camp fire on request. Traditional tattoo artists, belly dancing and a camp fire are all available based on prior notice and additional charges. The best time to visit is between November and February, but you can get discounted, off-season rates in August and September. A complimentary camel ride, live entertainment by Bedouin Oud performers, and a library and souvenir shop will be at your disposal at the Deserts Night Camp. Dune bashing, quad bike rides, sandboarding and camel safaris are some of the other activities one can embark upon. If you are looking for an exotic weekend getaway or a venue to host a corporate event, then the Deserts Night Camp is the place to go, as you can explore nature in all its glory. The hospitality of the staff needs a special mention, as they add life to the entire experience with their warmth and eagerness to please

april 2013

Qatar Today 8 9


Emirates striving for scale As a top airline in the region, Emirates Airlines has a lot to handle. Despite the many challenges facing the industry, it remains one of the safest airlines in the world while reaching 130 destinations per day with a nearly 200-aircraft fleet.

since its foundation in 1985, Emirates Airlines has grown every year except one, its second. Competing with its new rivals in the region, specifically Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, requires endless expansion and innovation, as well as constant improvement of the customer experience. In 2012, Emirates opened 15 new travel destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. In 2013 so far, it has started services to Warsaw and Algiers. Sheikh Majid Al-Mualla, the airline's Senior Vice-President Commercial Operations (Gulf, Middle East and Iran) says that flights to Tokyo Haneda and Clark International Airport in the Philippines will make appearances in the coming months. The airline has a list of destinations it hopes to include in the coming years. They’ll fly “to wherever it makes sense for business”.

9 0 Qatar Today

april 2013

If Emirates’ largest aircraft line, the double-decker A380, flies to a destination, that is a good indicator that the city has high demand. For instance, an A380 now flies daily to Moscow, where Emirates has been “ramping up our presence”, Al-Mualla says. Twenty-one other destinations garner visits from the double-deckers. Four airports in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, boast A380 service, but the Dubai-based airline is still looking to cultivate even more travel to and from the world’s most populous nation. Emirates’ aircraft also include Boeing 777s and 747 freighters, as well as Airbus models, but do feature too the recently problematic Boeing 787 planes. “As well as expanding, we are heavily investing in products and services, whether it be our 1,400-channel “Ice” in-flight enter-

MARKET WATCH Emirates is keeping up with the competition by pushing for more “green” policies and technology. Emirates’ overall CO2 efficiency is more than 26% HIGHER than the International Air Transport Association global fleet average. Emirates’ fuel efficiency is 25% better than the IATA average. The A380 burns 20% less fuel than its nearest competitor. Emirates’ 15 Airbus A380-800s are powered by GP 700 engines, which can save up to 700,000 litres of fuel per aircraft per year. Emirates’ fuel bill rose by 44% in 2012.

tainment system, gourmet chef-prepared meals or our luxurious lounges at airports around the world,” Al-Mualla says. “We focus on our own organic growth, connecting cities and continents while offering unbeatable value for money.” While flying with Emirates, passengers can catch up on the latest global headlines with BBC News, updated via satellite and view the skies they are coasting over with live onboard video camera feeds. The A380 even features a view of the plane’s tail fin. Since its initial launch in 1985, Emirates has also remained profitable every year, bar one, its second. The Emirates Group saw a profit of QR2.3 billion ($629 million) in the most recent financial year, ending March 31, 2012. The airline carried 1.8 million tonnes of cargo and 34 million passengers during that time period. In March, Emirates SkyCargo was presented with the Air Cargo Excellence Award at the World Cargo Symposium. Ram Menen, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice-President, Cargo, accepted the awar. Air Cargo World magazine’s readers also gave Emirates SkyCargo the highest overall ratings in its annual Air Cargo Excellence Survey. As a company in direct contact with passengers from countries all over the world, each with their own problems, Emirates has dealt with a wealth of challenges. “We’ve seen just about everything: wars, insurrection, 9/11, SARS, economic trauma, and more recently the Arab Spring,” AlMualla says. “One of our strengths is the size

“Emirates is known in the industry for taking an uncompromising approach to (safety), both in the air and on the ground” Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations (Gulf, Middle East & Iran).

of our network, enabling us to activate business between all sorts of city pairs – Guangzhou–Dar es Salaam, Moscow–Durban, Shanghai–Sao Paulo and so on, benefiting

from the East-West connectivity through our Dubai hub. The strength of our business model and the spread of risk have certainly helped us through the more difficult times.” Emirates will also always be combating the rise of fuel prices. Fuel makes up almost 45% of the company’s costs, and just this past year, its fuel bill shot up by 44%, reaching QR24 billion ($6.6 billion). Qatar recently developed GTL jet fuel, and could soon be using the natural gasoline in all its aircraft. Al-Mualla says that given the egregious price of fuel, Emirates is greatly interested in biofuel and other alternative technology. “However, Emirates is an end-customer,” he explains. “We are not a specialist fuel R&D company, nor are we a large-scale grower of agricultural or algal feedstocks. When aviation biofuels have been developed that are technically safe, cost-competitive and truly sustainable, Emirates will be first in line to buy them.” For over 20 years, Emirates has joined with organisations around the world by sponsoring major sporting events. The airline and the Formula One group recently announced a five-year partnership. Emirates will be a Global Partner for the 2013 racing season. “We see sponsorships as a vital tool in our marketing strategy and firmly believe these activities are one of the best ways to connect with our passengers,” Al-Mualla says. “They allow us to share and support the interests and passion of customers and build a closer relationship”

april 2013

Qatar Today 9 1

doha diary DEVELOPING ict


doha diary

Brazilian delight at SDC fundraiser


total of QR23,950,000 was raised during the fundraiser held at the Qatar National Convention Centre organised by Social Development Center (SDC), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The event was attended by the Emir, HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation and Community. Held in partnership with ExxonMobil in Qatar, the annual Gala Dinner is one of the centre’s most anticipated charity events, raising funds that are channelled to SDC’s key community development initiatives. The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brazilian band Tropicalia also performed a series of musical shows throughout the dinner. The event also featured D1 Autre Monde, who demonstrated the ancient art of Capoeira – a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and music. In addition to the live entertainment, one of the key elements of SDC’s 8th Gala Dinner was a charity auction including an exclusive range of prized collector’s items, such as a jersey and an autographed picture signed by retired Brazilian football legend Pele, a jersey and ball signed by the FC Barcelona team and an authentic letter written by Mahatma Gandhi in 1931.

9 2 Qatar Today

april 2013

ROTA helps in Cambodia


wenty-three female volunteers representing four independent Doha girls’ secondary schools made a real difference to the lives of local families and students during an eightday trip to Cambodia organised by Reach Out To Asia (ROTA).

QF’s interactive website Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development launched a new interactive website at With a heavy focus on news, and also housing comprehensive information about Qatar Foundation’s many centres and initiatives, the site delivers fresh, ever-changing content and provides a user-friendly experience.

doha diary

Widam goes traditional

Safety on the roads


atargas participated in the 29th GCC Traffic Week hosted by the Ministry of Interior at the Darb Al-Saaii pavilion near Sports Roundabout from March 10–15, under the slogan “Your Safety is Our Aim”. The main theme of Qatargas’ participation was “No Cell While Driving”, which focused on the hazards of using mobile phones while driving. The Qatargas pavilion also featured a rollover simulator that highlights the importance of wearing seatbelts.


alal Hal Qatar 2013, an annual festival that celebrates traditional Qatari culture through arts and crafts, food and entertainment, games and folk songs, among other things held last month. The festival gave a rare glimpse into the country’s livestock industry. Widam, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Nasser Sraiya Al-Kaabi said: “Starting with the name Widam, which represents a key element of the traditional Qatari culinary experience, we strongly feel that we are here to play a role in educating the young generation and encouraging them to know more about their past and beginnings.”

Project Taddreb launched


atar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA) launched its latest initiative, Project Taddreb, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha

last month. QFBA was given a mandate by the Financial Markets Development Committee (FMDC) to help establish the training and competency framework for the financial services sector in Qatar. Project Taddreb will see QFBA take on a second role as a local certificate regime developer. Project Taddreb was launched under the patronage of Abdulrahman Al-Shaibi, the Managing Director of the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA). This project has multiple objectives which include clearly defining qualification requirements for all key personnel in the financial services industry, strengthening the level of local competence and training and continuing professional development across Qatar.

april 2013

Qatar Today 9 3

doha diary

Switched Off: Earth Hour in Doha


otels and entertainment spots in Doha came together for Earth Hour, a worldwide event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually. The Torch Doha switched off its exterior LED lights in support of Earth Hour and offered a candlelight dinner. The highest building in Qatar saved 200 KW by switching off a total of 3,780 LED lights. The tower’s LED exterior lights were revamped last year and are currently saving 20% of the total energy used before. W Hotel Doha invited its followers to a special event in Wahm and also turned off its lights “to make the world a brighter place”. Kempinski Residencies and Suites switched off non-essential interior lighting and candle light was used in appropriate public areas such as Aroma and The Lounge. The Ritz-Carlton Doha promoted Earth Hour to its local guests and conducted a candlelight yoga activity in its spa during this hour for the second consecutive year. Grand Hyatt Doha invited all to a Stargaze event, while The Pearl-Qatar had events and programmes to celebrate the day. Conceived by the WWF and Leo Burnett, the first Earth Hour took place in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights; the international Earth Hour followed in 2008. In 2012 more than 7,000 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories participated, making it the biggest growth year for the campaign since 2009.

Design in progress


em Koolhaas, acclaimed Dutch architect and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, was the keynote speaker at VCUQ’s biennial international design conference, Tasmeem Doha 2013. Tasmeem Doha 2013 – “Hybrid Making” was open to the public and took place at Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Student Centre from March 10–17.

9 4 Qatar Today

april 2013

Year of Culture events announced the Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture announced Qatargas, Shell and Vodafone as Platinum sponsors for its year-long celebration of the two countries’ arts, culture, education, science and sport. The Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and British Council have developed the partnership’s programme of events. The most recent announcement of events included an Arts and Disability Festival held for the first time in the Middle East. Visitors to Katara can also view an art exhibition called “Hey’Ya: Arab Women in Sport”, by photographer Brigitte Lacombe and filmmaker Marian Lacombe, from March 7 to June 6 at the QMA Gallery, as well as an exhibition of photographer Martin Parr’s work from March 18 to May 18 and performances by the worldrenowned Sadler’s Wells dance company from May 25–30.

doha diary

Show time at Al Shaqab

In the presence of Al Shaqab Vice-Chairperson HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad al Thani, and with the flags of the 23 participating countries raised over the state-of-theart Al Shaqab arena, 31 riders and their horses cantered onto the arena floor to mark the beginning of the Chi Al Shaqab 2013 with a show jumping tour.


umping over obstacles set in place by the Argentinian Leopoldo Palacios, who designed the Doha-inspired course, the riders completed the Small Tour CSI3, a two-phase competition, over a 2.1-kilometre track. Alia Humaid Bin Drai, a female rider from the UAE commented on the course: “The Al Shaqab facilities are incredible, easily one of the best in the world. I am absolutely delighted to be competing here in Doha.” Omar Al-Mannai, CHI Al Shaqab Event Director said: “I am delighted that we can finally present to the world the CHI Al Shaqab. We had a busy schedule over the four days, encompassing three disciplines

– show jumping, dressage and endurance. The event was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate Qatar’s rich heritage in equine culture and sport.” The cream of world show jumping took centre stage on Thursday, March 28 when 35 of the very best riders went against the

clock in the CSI5 Big Tour. Among the starters were the reigning Olympic individual gold and silver medallists Steve Guerdat (Switzerland) and Gerco Schroder (Netherlands), plus the winner of the 2012 Global Champions Tour, Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia)

april 2013

Qatar Today 9 5

doha diary


is feeling very Olympic The Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum has completed the largest Olympic exhibition of its kind: Olympics – Past and Present.


he exhibition, the culmination of a year of preparations, will be running until June 30 at Al Riwaq exhibition space, located on the grounds of the Museum of Islamic Art on Doha’s Corniche. According to Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum Director, Christian Wacker, it’s not just an impressive feat, it’s also a trial run. “This exhibition is a test,” he says. “We are responsible for bringing together the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. It is going to happen during the next years, and we can test the visitors’ reception towards sports and towards sports heritage with this exhibition.” In order to tell the entire story of Olympian history in one interactive exhibit, Olympics – Past and Present has been designed in two sections: “Olympia: Myth – Cult – Games”, where visitors can meander through ancient Greek artifacts and discover the reality behind the ancient Olympic games; and “Olympics: Values – Competitions – Mega-Events”, which will describe Qatar’s role in the Games, as well as the tradition’s importance in promoting world peace. The exhibition space will host weekly sports-related events, including educational opportunities for children and an ancient Greek play put on by Northwestern University in Qatar students.

9 6 Qatar Today

april 2013

The Olympic stadium in Athens in 1906 with the delegations of nations celebrating the tenth anniversary of the reestablishment of the modern Olympic Games.

Usain Bolt (JAMAICA) winning the 100 metREs at the Olympic Games IN Beijing, 2008.

doha diary

Art, anyone? International attention will focus on Katara Cultural Village on april 22 for an art auction that will showcase a selection of extremely high-calibre works from many leading Middle Eastern artists as well as international contemporary art. If Doha’s last auction, in 2010, set a precedent, then this one shouldn’t be missed.


ith the much-anticipated launch of Qatar UK 2013 earlier this year, it has been a hugely rewarding time to reflect on the remarkable developments in the regional art scene. The past two years have undeniably been a transformative period for the MENA region as a whole, and despite the shifting tectonic plates during this time of spiritual conflict, the region’s contemporary art scene has continued to flourish. New galleries have launched both in the region and, with a specific focus on contemporary art created within the MENA region, on the global stage too. Of great significance to the global art community, Qatar has remained throughout this time at the very forefront of the arts and culture for

Ayman Baalbaki Yaillahi (Dear Lord) Acrylic and gold leaf on panel with brass frame and light bulbs 211.5 x 126 x 8.2 cm est. $100,000–$150,000 (QR364,000–545,000)

april 2013

Qatar Today 9 7

doha diary

Chant Avedissian Icons of the Nile 2010 Gouache, hand-coloured stencil, gold and silver acrylic paint on cardboard Overall: 52.4 x 72.6 cm est. $1–1.5 million (QR3.6–5.5 million)

the region. The regularly-exhibited worldclass collections displayed at Mathaf and the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha, in addition to the smaller but extremely impressive arts exhibitions, events and forums across the city, are consistently commanding international attention. In this same time frame we have witnessed not only exponential growth in the global appetite for contemporary art, but crucially an increased desire for artworks in this collecting category from our regionally-based buyers. Last October, Sotheby’s set the auction record for the work of a living artist with the sale of Gerhard Richter’s “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” for $34 million (QR124 million), and one month later the highest auction total in our 269-year history was established with a $375 million (QR1.4 billion) contemporary art sale. The interest and participation in our sales by collectors from the MENA region is an important signifier of the broader buoyancy of the art market today, with more than onesixth of the company’s clients from the region participating in our global sales of contemporary art and a 21% increase in buying in this field from the previous year. Of vital importance to the burgeoning strength of this area of the art market are both the tremendous artistic output by artists in the region and the international recognition that these artists are deservedly achieving on a global platform. The sheer

9 8 Qatar Today

april 2013

Manal Al Dowayan Suspended together, 2011 fibreglass with laminate coating, in two hundred parts dimensions variable est. $120,000–150,000 (QR437,000– 545,000)

depth of international bidding attracted at our last highly successful Doha-based auction in 2010 – “Hurouf: The Art of the Word” – illustrates this, with bidders from a remarkable 16 countries across four continents.

The timing and location of the company’s next regionally-based auction of contemporary art, in the established and international selling centre of Doha next month, during Qatar UK 2013, could not be more propitious. The sale on April 22 will include a selection of extremely high-calibre works from many leading Middle Eastern artists as well as international contemporary art. Outstanding examples of sculpture, photography and painting will be featured, and, combined, the sale is expected to realise in the region of $10 million (QR36.4 million). Among the modern and contemporary Arab and Iranian art highlights are works by Egyptian-born Chant Avedissian, Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki and Saudi-born artist Manal Al-Dowayan. Imagery “Icons of the Nile” by Chant Avedissian [est. $1–1.5 million (QR3.6–5.5 million)] creates a mosaic of Egyptian culture that retraces his country’s past, combining nostalgic imagery with a celebration of Egyptian iconographical motifs. Created between 1991 and 2010, the work comprises one hundred and twenty parts infused with the artist’s understanding of legendary iconography from the Pharaonic era; the geometry of Arab architecture; the floral patterns of Ottoman textiles; and 20th-century imagery of wellknown figures from the Arab world. Ayman Baalbaki’s powerfully charged portrait “Yaillahi” (Dear Lord) of 2008 is one of his most important paintings ever to come to auction [est. $100,000–150,000 (QR364,000–545,000)]. By focusing upon the kaffiyeh, the artist seeks to explore the acute tension and ambiguity that reso-

doha diary

AI WEIWEI Dust to Dust Thirty glass jars with dust from grinded Neolithic pottery on a wood shelf Overall: 78.7 X 94.5 X 14.2 in, 200 X 240 X 36 cm Executed in 2008, this work is from an edition of THREE and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the artist est. $550,000–750,000 (QR2–2.7 million)

nates from this everyday garment and has, through war, conflict and the media, morphed from a traditional utilitarian object into a powerful symbol of turmoil in the Middle East today. Manal Al-Dowayan’s installation works have not previously appeared at auction but have been shown to significant acclaim. Her installation work titled “Suspended Together” [est. $120,000–150,000 (QR437,000–545,000)], which we are delighted to be offering for sale, has previously been displayed at several major international shows, including “Edge of Arabia” in Dubai and “The Future of a Promise” at the 54th Venice Biennale (both in 2011). The eternal symbolism of the dove is, in this work, rendered inexorably more profound and complex, as the wings and body of each bird are stamped with an exact reproduction of a permission document, an official form of paperwork that allows a Saudi woman to travel only when issued by her male guardian. A superb offering of international contemporary art includes important works by Ai Weiwei, Mona Hatoum and Subodh Gupta, each of which is richly infused with the cultural heritage of these respective artists. The thirty glass jars in Ai Weiwei’s work “Dust to Dust” contain tiny fragments of Neolithic pots that have survived the vicissitudes of fate for around five thousand

years – a reinvention of archaeological relics of China’s past [est $550,000–750,000 (QR2 –2.7 million)]. The granules of dust further reference China’s building boom, in which more traditional buildings have on occasion been swept aside to allow for the undisturbed progress of the 21st century. Mona Hatoum’s work expertly fuses elements of East and West to form a uniquely innovative artistic language. Composed of intricately arranged iron filings, “Untitled” acts as a magnificently powerful presence within a room, exuding a sense of ineffable authority [est. $100,000–150,000 (QR 364,000–545,000)]. Although at first glance the grooved surface appears curiously abstract, closer inspection reveals that the maze-like patterns are reminiscent of entrails. A representation of the potential of human consciousness combined with the indefinable mysteries of the human body, Untitled can be regarded as one of Hatoum’s most thrilling works. “Pink Chimta” is a magnificent example of Subodh Gupta’s celebration and elevation of everyday domestic objects to an artistic plane [est. $450,000–650,000 (QR1.6–2.4 million)]. Composed of a cascade of steel tongs, or chimta – utensils routinely used within Indian cooking for the preparation of chapatti – the shocking pink hue adds another dimension to the work, imbuing “Pink Chimta” with connotations

SUBODH GUPTA Pink Chimta Painted stainless steel pincers, metal structure and cable ties 82.7 x 78.7 X 23.6 in. 210 X 200 X 60 cm Executed in 2008, this work is from an edition of THREE. est. $450,000–650,000 (QR1.6–2.4 million)

of festivity and good humour. Pink Chimta remains one of the most visually striking objects within the artist’s entire oeuvre to date: the sheer genius of its conception reveals why Gupta is considered to be one of the most influential Indian contemporary artists working today. In the lead-up to this important sale, exhibitions of the sale highlights have punctuated the arts calendar of events across the MENA region. Select works have been showcased in Saudi Arabia during Jeddah Art Week – a week founded by Sotheby’s to bring arts, culture and education to the kingdom, where new galleries are opening and instrumentally developing the nascent art scene – as well as in Dubai during Art Dubai. It is with great excitement that these events culminate with all eyes turning to Doha for the auction on the evening of April 22 at Katara Cultural Village, Building 5

By Lina Lazaar Jameel, Sotheby’s International ContemporaryArt Specialist, with Farhad Moshiri

april 2013

Qatar Today 9 9

doha diary

“Passion, purpose and vision”


One of the sessions at the "How Women Work" conference held at the Renaissance Hotel in early March.

Success doesn’t necessarily mean sticking with one goal for your entire career and making the most of it. The word has a bottomless pit of definitions – and one of those is “change”. This was one of the many principles discussed at the recent “How Women Work” conference. 100 Qatar Today

april 2013

atima Al-Dosari, a guest speaker at the fourth annual “How Women Work” conference’s “The Power of Change” panel, isn’t pursuing the career she spent most of her time at college studying. She switched from architecture to international affairs and human development, and she’s happy with the decision. A self-described “alpha woman”, Al-Dosari now works for the Al Jazeera Network. But first she had to “reset” the expectations in her life – her parents’ and her own. “I think this comes from the mentality of being in a small community,” she says. One of many messages How Women Work discussed with attendees is exemplified by Al-Dosari: “It’s not about where you’re at, it’s where you’re go-

doha diary

ing,” as Suzanne Grant, a keynote speaker, put it. Women who measure their success by their past accomplishments aren’t looking to the future, which is necessary for moving forward. The conference, which took place at the Renaissance Hotel from March 6-7, allowed women from different backgrounds throughout Qatar to come together to explore the opportunities available to them and find inspiration by getting to know their peers. “Look inward and reflect on how you want to be making it happen,” Grant continued. A Canadian and global entrepreneur, Grant did not hesitate when offered the position of keynote speaker. Qatar has been her home for much of her adult life, and she saw giving advice at the conference as a way to contribute in the community she knows so well. Diversification The founder of the organisation How Women Work, Carolin Zeitler, has seen the community event grow and diversify over the past few years. This year the International Bank of Qatar became a Strategic Partner. “One of the most amazing things about How Women Work... is the way in which we all support each other,” Zeitler says. “The conference takes months to organise, and it would be impossible to do without the determination of everyone involved. Whether we are nationals or expatriates, we all face similar challenges in terms of enabling authenticity and continuous, sustainable growth in our careers and lives.” Seminars, speakers and forums filled the two days. In a panel called “Advocating actualisation of talent and flexibility in employment”, experts examined the steps that need to be taken in Qatar to ensure that women can balance family responsibilities with a career. Chantal Mossess, a film producer with Adabisc Studio, moderated. “How women thrive amongst men”, moderated by Shell petrophysicist Nisrine Al-Kadi, gave women who have already risen to the top in male-dominated industries like IT and construction the space to share their stories. The 15 learning-focused workshops included “Know your career path”, “Women and wealth – the power of planning” and “Choose your business, start your dream”. “How Women Work offers many opportunities for women with ambitions and aspirations,” Zeitler says. “We have ‘How

Suzanne Grant, Keynote speaker at the "How Women Work" conference.

“One of the most amazing things about How Women Work... is the way in which we all support each other. The conference takes months to organise, and it would be impossible to do without the determination of everyone involved.”

Women Find Work’ for jobseekers, while established and aspiring entrepreneurs are united through our ‘How Women Do Business’ events.” Collaboration The coffee breaks and lunches provided throughout the conference gave women the chance to get to know the others attending. Radwa Darwish, a Qatari resident since 2008 and project manager since 2009, came to How Women Work to network. She learned about the conference for the first

time several weeks before, and asked her boss for the two days in early March off. He said yes. “I just wanted to collaborate, to hear out stories about different organisations, so here I am,” she said excitedly. Listening to stories of expatriate women’s successes could give Darwish an extra boost in her perception of her career, she said. “We just come – we’re taken out of our homelands and we are planted here and expected to reach out, and it’s not easy.” Darwish is from Egypt. She moved to Doha with her husband and children. With overwhelming family and work responsibilities, the window of time she has for socialising with women friends is quite small. On the “to-do” list for many women in Qatar, achieving that tricky balance is coupled with the stress of finding out what, exactly, they are meant to do. “Know what makes you wake up in the morning and lets you go outside to do your life’s work,” Grant advises. But how do you figure that out? It takes trial and error. Define three words in relation to your career: “passion”, “purpose” and “vision”. Find the intersection of those three, and follow it. “Promote other women,” Grant says. “Peers are your most valuable asset.” And if there’s one thing How Women Works does without a doubt, year after year, it’s bringing those assets together

april 2013

Qatar Today 1 0 1

Last Word

Qatar Today embarks on a new column, a fresh take on life in this city, as we look at two individuals from everyday life – one who has lived in Qatar for a significant amount of time, and another who has just made Doha her home.

My Home in Qatar Jackie Bowden

home country: England business: Business Development Manager, Realis Design

New beginnings

Rita Yared Assaf Business Consultant at Consultants

Home for 29 years I arrived in Qatar in 1984 as a young mother with two children. My husband was working for QGPC, now known as Qatar Petroleum. Qatar was not my first experience in an Arab country. I had previously lived in Saudi Arabia. That same year Qatar participated in its first Olympic Games. SMALL COUNTRY WITH A BIG HEART Qatar was a small country with a big heart. A warm and welcoming city, willing to share its unique Arab culture with the outside world. A city with much less traffic and fewer expatriates. It had four major hotels, no West Bay, just the Sheraton Hotel, majestically positioned at the far end of the Corniche. It was also fascinating to experience new tastes, the local spice, vegetable and fish markets, which you can still find today in the same locations. The English TV channel was broadcast just a few hours nightly and there was no obsession with mobile phones. PUSHING BOUNDARIES A country with a vision, pushing the boundaries, without forgetting its cultural values and traditions. A country that is experiencing enormous economic growth with its oil and gas production. I see abundant opportunities available for the young growing population of Qatar,

102 Qatar Today

april 2013

as well as many opportunities for the expatriate community to work together towards the 2030 National Vision. I Miss Being able to say, “See you in fifteen minutes” to a friend or acquaintance you would like to meet. There is far too much traffic on the roads, with a lack of courtesy for others. I Admire HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser’s leadership, her work in education, putting Qatar firmly on the international map. Her vision for the youth, especially as a role model for the women, giving them the courage and determination to excel. I also admire Qatar as a country that is growing but still does not forget family values. Qatar is Change Qatar has given me an opportunity to live and work in a safe environment, and to experience and gain knowledge of different nationalities and religions. It has taught me to be more tolerant of people and to remember that even the person who brings you coffee in the morning, cleans your office or home, or works in the construction industry, also has a voice and has something to contribute to Qatar in everyday life.



Background BA in International Affairs and Diplomacy and MA in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College, London. Just arrived After living in Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon and England, it was time to embark on a new mind-broadening adventure and move to Qatar, where my husband is employed. It has been four months since we arrived here, and moving to this new city was challenging, certainly, but also exciting and fun. In Qatar there is a lot to learn and explore, and there are a lot of interesting people to meet and a new culture to discover. Aspirations I have always believed that life is a wonderful journey and that change should be embraced. I find this city makes people feel more relaxed and secure than any other place. My goal is to make the best out of my new life here. On a professional level, I aspire to invest my studies and experience in contributing to the growth of this country and to enrich my professional portfolio. On a more personal level, I want to see my small family expand here, in this city, where I have found all the ingredients for a stable and happy life. This is my new beginning, expectant, hopeful, and full of things that have never been. (Do you have a story to share? E-mail us at

Qatar Today April 2013  

Is Qatar taking on the World?Qatar is no longer knocking at the door; it has blown off its hinges to announce its entrance on the world stag...

Qatar Today April 2013  

Is Qatar taking on the World?Qatar is no longer knocking at the door; it has blown off its hinges to announce its entrance on the world stag...