inside this issue JUNE 2014 / VOL. 40/ ISSUE 6
36 EMPOWERED CUSTOMERS: ENGAGED CORPORATION
How far ahead are Qatar’s corporations in leveraging social media platforms for building brand equity where there are no established rules for success?
16 “AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF AN ANNOUNCEMENT”
The excitement at St Regis, where “wide-ranging labour market reforms” were to be announced by the Ministry of Interior, made it clear that expectations were high of the change being significant.
21 QATARI BANKS ARE SAFE
The quantitative easing (QE) by the US government, which began early this year is expected to end in a few months and this is likely to result in the rise of interest rates tightening global liquidity from mid-2015 onwards.
28 CATCHING THE TRAIN
With the arrival of the first of 21 giant, tunnel-boring machines at the end of April in Doha, the city’s metro project took an important – if lumbering – new step forward.
34 OUR BRIGHTEST MINDS ARE NEEDED HERE
Mohammed Fakhroo, Managing Director of the newly launched Teach For Qatar, chats about his mission to tackle one of the key challenges facing the education sector today – the lack of young, passionate and talented leaders ready to invest their time and effort into shaping the next generation.
64 ALL THAT WASTE
Qatar is among the nations with highest per capita of municipal solid waste generated. But the country has plans to monitise its waste.
68 ESTABLISHING GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
After several years of serving multinationals, rapidlyexpanding Qatari companies and local telecom operators, British Telecom is opening its first office in Doha.
70 HONG KONG CALLING
When Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) conducted a fortnightlong Asian Road Show in Hong Kong and other Asian cities in 2010, it was with the purpose of promoting Qatar as an upscale destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).
inside this issue JUNE 2014 / VOL. 40/ ISSUE 6
50 CSR 2.0
Some of Qatar's most forward-thinking corporations talk about their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda for the year just ended and how they are doing their bit to usher the country and its citizens into a secure and healthy future.
30 PUTTING A PRICE ON INCOME
Most of us now are likely to contract a long-term illness. So why are income protection products still at the bottom of our list of financial priorities?
46 FIVE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
High levels of employee engagement are often linked to superior business performance, including more profitability, productivity, employee retention, customer metrics, and safety levels.
76 WHAT’S UP QITCOM?
We bring the most exciting news and events from QITCOM 2014, Qatar’s signature information and communication technology event.
82 AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR: RIDING ON SUCCESS
A look into how the automobile industry grew over the last few years in Qatar.
96 CHECK MATE
An intriguing exhibition from QM currently on in Doha showcases the origins of the much-loved board games that have enriched our childhood.
6 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
from the desk The power of social media cannot be discounted. And there is no better example in recent times than the decisive win of Narendra Modi, the new Indian Prime Minister, a fan of technology, who is said to have run the most costly, tech-savvy and ambitious political campaign in India’s history. The power of communication shines through in this historic win as Modi, different from his predecessors, most of whom did not communicate much even with the media, spoke to the younger generation through his Twitter account which incidentally has 4.5 million followers. The official website of the new Indian Prime Minister was up and running even as the cabinet was being sworn in. In a message posted on the site, he said, “Together we will script a glorious future for India”. This pro-industry PM seems to have the pulse of the youth, and the Indian sub-continent is waiting in anticipation for the new government to deliver. And if he doesn’t, the youth know where to react! If governments can be transformed on the back of social media and effective communication, the power that social media wields over organisations who need to be in direct contact with their consumers is immense. How are Qatari companies using this powerful medium of communication? Find out more about the new trends in social media that should be pursued by organisations in our cover story this month. There is no escaping technology this month, with QITCOM bringing the best in technology with more than 120 companies, delegates and industry experts converging here to discuss challenges and to support regional initiatives. Qatar Today takes you through the highlights of this tech event. While there is nothing optimistic on the labour law and the fiasco of the announcement by the Ministry of Interiors, Qatar Today talks to experts to try and put give perspective to the looming issue that has raised more doubts than answers. Waste is another looming evil but who knew that it is also one of the most profitable business models if put to use in the right way? Read our analysis on the waste management technologies in the country. Social media, meanwhile, has its banes too, like the increasing infamy of the modesty campaign renamed “Reflect your Respect”. It is indeed an irony that a campaign organised by a small group of locals has spread through tweets and social media to catch the interest of international media. How did dress codes in Qatar become breaking news!? SINDHU NAIR
8 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
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10 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
30059025 TO WIN A NOKIA LUMIA 625
DO YOU SYMPATHISE WITH THE REFLECT YOUR RESPECT CAMPAIGN? MAY QATAR TODAY POLL
Both my children are in their teens and it is impossible to monitor all the websites they visit throughout the day. In this day and age, the next generation is so vulnerable. I am glad your cover reflected that.
Figures in percentages
DO YOU BELIEVE THERE WILL BE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE LABOUR LAW IN THE COMING MONTHS?
THE WINNING ENTRY FOR LAST MONTH'S QT POLL WAS SENT FROM
DEMOCRACY OF MUSIC The piece on the British Paraorchestra was interesting. Must look out for more events like this which make Qatar such a good example for the rest of the world to follow.
SHALE GAS I remember reading another story where another expert from KPMG had the exact opposite opinion on how Shale gas would affect the Middle East. Looks like the debate is still on. KIMBERLY G M
SOCIAL MEDIA @QatarToday: PR director at @MOI_Qatar Col.Al Muftah says there’s increasing effort by the Qatari govt to communicate directly with people. Do you agree? @alharban: @QatarToday @MOI_Qatar yes I do and this is a proof; they replied to me after only five mins @MOLSAQatar put together a HSE workshop in Industrial Area with labour representatives from over 100 companies @YAbiRaad: @QatarToday @MOLSAQatar What about NOCs? @QatarToday: What will it take to kick-start a tech angel investor group here? We are keeping our ears open at the Angel Investor Bootcamp by @ ictQATAR @ictQATAR: @QatarToday Such events are meant to initiate the concept of Angel Investment in Qatar, the growth will depend on investors’ interest. Thanks @KhalidSawUs: @ictQATAR @QatarToday Educating the future investors & showing them forecasts. This shows that goverment support is crucial Qatar Today reserves the right to edit and publish correspondence. Views and opinions expressed in the published letters may not necessarily be the publication’s views and opinions.
12 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
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affairs > local KAHRAMAA AWARDS WORKS FOR QR7.1 BILLION The Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA) signed contracts worth QR7.1 billion for a range of electricity networks expansion projects with 20 companies for the first stage of Phase 11- Qatar Power Transmission System Expansion Plan.
HE Dr Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, Ministry of Energy and Industry and HE Eng Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari, President of KAHRAMAA at the contracts signing ceremony
FOREIGN OWNERSHIP IN LISTED COMPANIES RAISED Qatar is now upgraded to the coveted MSCI Emerging Market status, and a few days ahead of this upgrade,the country raised the limit of foreign ownership in listed companies.
oreigners (excluding nationals of other GCC states who are to be treated on a par with Qatari nationals) can now own up to 49% of the entire capital of a company listed on Qatar Exchange. The move is aimed at attracting more foreign capital into the Qatari equity market. Rules until now permit foreign ownership of only up to 25% of free float shares (listed shares) of a listed entity. HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
issued these directives as chairman of the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment (SCEAI) on May 26, Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. The Emir also directed that other GCC citizens be treated on a par with Qataris in the matter of ownership of shares of Qatari listed companies. Doha’s benchmark stock index is up more than 30% this year to date, ranking it among the top gainers globally.
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Company ‘Enterprise Qatar’ (EQ) has appointed Omran Hamad Al Kuwari as its new Chief Executive Officer. Al Kuwari, who had earlier founded his own company GreenGulf Inc in 2009, has held senior positions at energy giants Qatar Petroluem, Qatargas and ExxonMobil.
14 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
2.96 % 2.6 % 2.3 % I.85 % 0.73
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
HIGH ON INFLATION Inflation rates in the GCC registered increases of between 0.73% and 2.96% by end of March 2014 when compared to March 2013, according to a recently released inflation report says.
The report issued by the Statistical Centre for the Cooperation Council for the Arab Countries of the Gulf (GCC-Stat), revealed that Kuwait recorded the highest rate of inflation among the GCC member states registering an increase of 2.96%, followed by 2.6% for both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Bahrain followed with a 2.3% inflation rate, while the rate was 1.85% in the United Arab Emirates. Oman registered the lowest rate of inflation with a 0.73% increase in the consumer price index.
THE NEW GRADUATES
His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), witnessed the conferring of degrees upon graduates of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU), member of QF, and the celebration of the graduates of its partner universities at Convocation 2014, held on Tuesday, May 6, at the Qatar National Convention Centre. Five postgraduate students of HBKU’s Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) and 76 postgraduate students of Qatar Faculty and Islamic Studies (QFIS), make up HBKU’s graduating class of 2014. The newest alumni of HBKU represent Qatar and 23 additional countries. They were joined by the graduates of HBKU’s partner universities, which included an additional 468 students.
VISITORS IN QATAR OVERALL, GCC TOURISTS WERE UP BY
REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL VISITOR ARRIVALS TOTALLED
387,022 % 9 REPRESENTING A STRONG
year-on-year increase. Visitor numbers increased from most corners of the globe, with particularly good performances coming from within the GCC countries.
with Saudi Arabia the largest single source of visitors with
TRAVELLERS, AND KUWAIT THE FASTEST GROWING WITH
INCREASE. OVERALL VISITORS FROM OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD ROSE BY 26%.
The average hotel occupancy rate rose from 68% to 75%, assisted by the 1.9% decrease in available rooms from 13,551 in Q1 2013 to 13,251 in Q1 2014 due to renovation-related closures.
TOTAL REVENUE OF 4- & 5-STAR HOTELS INCREASED BY 5.4%, REACHING A TOTAL OF
MILLION FOR THE QUARTER. The revenue for 3-star hotel reached
million in the growing area of the hotel market. The total number of hotels under construction increased to 125 properties in the first quarter of 2014 from 124 at the end of 2013, corresponding to 21,812 rooms expected to be delivered.
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 15
affairs > local
CIVIL AVIATION HISTORY REWRITTEN
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker and NDIA Steering Committee Chairman HE Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Noaimi at the HIA on D-Day
ith the first Qatar Airways commercial flight QR1113 from Bahrain landed at HIA at 9:10 a.m, all of its operations for all airlines have now been transferred to HIA. Passengers travelling on QR1113 were greeted with roses, dates, coffee, chocolate and Qatari flags. Chairman of Qatar Civil Avation Authority Chairman Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Noaimi said that HIA is purpose-built for modern aviation needs, providing all that is necessary for the national carrier and other airlines. The airport is capable of 320,000 movements per year, thereby allowing Qatar Airways to continue with its expansion plans for growth of passenger numbers and cargo and adding destinations.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that HIA will also be able to accommodate the world’s largest aircraft, Airbus A380, which will commence operations to the UK in June and France in July. The transition to HIA and commencement of full operations has been carried out according to the time schedule set by the NDIA Steering Committee at the start of this year. The successful smooth transfer is due to the joint coordinated efforts and readiness of different stakeholders of HIA. With an initial capacity of more than 60,000 passengers per day, expected to double upon the full build out, HIA is set to become the international gateway to the world and to play a large role in the country’s future expansion plans.
Ushering in a new era in the country’s civil aviation history, the Hamad International Airport (HIA) has become fully functional as the new home of the national carrier, with Qatar Airways and other international airlines starting operations out of the airport at 9 a.m. on May 27.
IQ’S NET PROFIT DOWN
THREE NEW FTZS APPROVED
In a fillip to the industries, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning is said to have approved proposals to establish the three free trade zones (FTZs) in Qatar.
his was disclosed to the Central Municipal Council (CMC) in a presentation made by ministry officials on Qatar’s Urban Master Plan. Besides the FTZs, two massive industrial zones for setting up warehousing facilities and three new central markets are also being conceptualised as part of the Master plan. While one of the FTZs will be located in an area of 5.1 sq. km near Hamad International Airport (HIA), the second FTZ is being
planned in an area of 11.9 sq. km close to Al Karana industrial area and the third on 37 sq. km near upcoming New Doha Port Project to the south of Al Wakra. The FTZ near HIA is expected to cater to the needs of the industries that supply services for aviation, cargo services and food processing units, among others. The FTZ near the New Doha Port Project will support the automobile assembling units and other ancillary units.
1.7 QR Billion 2.5 QR Billion
1.4 QR Billion 1.7 QR Billion
1.3 QR Billion 1.6 QR Billion
Industries Qatar, one of the GCC’s industrial giants engaged in the production of petrochemical, fertiliser and steel products, has earned a net profit of QR1.6 billion for the three months ending March 31, 2014. The reported revenue for the three months for Q1 was QR1.3 billion, a decrease of QR 0.3 billion, or 20.6%, on the same period of 2013 (2013, Q1: QR 1.7 billion) Source: Industries Qatar
16 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
affairs > local
“An Announcement of an
announcement” OF LABOUR REFORMS THAT ARE STILL TO COME The excitement at The St Regis, Doha, where “wide-ranging labour market reforms” were to be announced by the Ministry of Interior, made it clear that expectations were high of the change being significant. Finally when it was announced, the sham that was the enacted drama of “impending change” hit all and a shocked silence filled the room with deafening impact. From frenzied news coverage to disbelief, the mood shift was palpable. BY SINDHU NAIR
f a k
a l a exi
mi r e p
change b o j E E R F NEW Labou r Law
18 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
o give credit where it is due, the “reforms” announced had some well-intentioned, progressive changes in the draft, but then it was all just that – a draft; a “project” that will have to go through the whole approval process. Before being implemented, the new law must at first be evaluated by the Shura Council (Qatar’s legislative power) and also the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry before being ratified by the Emir. The conference that was meant to highlight the “intention of enacting wide-ranging labour market reforms, to strengthen existing labour laws and improve the living and working conditions of all workers in Qatar”, was seen as an incident that lowered the reputation of the country, internationally, for raising false hopes. James Lynch, Refugee and Migrants Rights Team at Amnesty International Qatar categorised this as a lost opportunity for Qatar. He says, “Qatar has been in the international spotlight for some time now, receiving criticism for the abuse of migrant workers in its construction projects, in homes and in other sectors. We believe that Qatar missed an opportunity to conclusively demonstrate its commitment to addressing these abuses, by announcing truly fundamental reforms to the way in which migrant workers are employed and the way in which the authorities respond to complaints of labour abuse.” A lawyer, who declined to be named, commented that the content and timing of this announcement reflects the global pressure the country was under to act. “It looks like they were not in a position to make a definitive announcement. Laws of such magnitude and sensitive nature require deeper discussion and debate with all stakeholders. That process may have begun but clearly it has not been completed. Proper consultation is a key part of the legislative process. It will take time since many details of the reforms have to be clarified,” according to the lawyer. On the time frame this will require, the lawyer is vague. “How long is a piece of string?" the lawyer counters. “It could take many months, probably longer than we expect. We have to allow time for all voices to be heard.” Qatar had instructed DLA Piper to undertake an independent review of the legislative and enforcement framework of Qatar’s
labour laws in the light of the numerous allegations made regarding the conditions for migrant workers in the construction sector and the some of the recommendations is believed to have come out of this report. The review and modification of the “kafala” system, the amendment to the exit-permit and sponsorship law to allow migrant workers the right to apply to the Ministry of Interior for an exit visa prior to their departure, enforcing existing Qatari legislation relating to the confiscation of passports and increased penalties have all stemmed from the recommendations of the report. According to Vani Saraswathi, Managing Editor of JustHere, a local magazine-style news and community website, the DLA Piper report and Qatar’s labour law amendment seem to ignore one important fact; that Qatar’s need for foreign workers is not temporary. “It’s long-term and probably a permanent one,” she says. “But it chooses to see and treat foreign workforce as temporary solution to a transitory problem. While the fact is, Qatar is amongst the hundred-odd countries that is heading towards zeropopulation growth.” She points to a larger issue; that the report does not refer to the other half a million migrants, many of whom are of higher economic status. “It does not speak at all of those not covered by the labour law,” says Saraswathi. “But the change in labour laws is going to affect all foreign workers in Qatar, of all skill levels and economic status. The report addresses the concerns of low-income workers who make up the majority of the population.” Not just a change of name Lynch condemned the fact that the reforms were announced before their actual commencement but also some aspects of the “partial reform of the sponsorship regime”. “Ultimately, it is clear that they will not alter the fundamental relationship between workers and employers, which is excessively skewed towards employers and gives rise to human rights violations,” he says. He refers to the much-publicised “abolition of kafala system” wherein the MOI statement describes the impending change thus, “The current kafala system will be replaced with a system based on employment contracts. The current exit permit system, which requires the employer’s consent for an employee to leave the country, will now
“The change proposed is to move to a contract-based system and cancel the “two-year rule” whereby migrant workers cannot return to Qatar until two years after leaving the country. This appears to effectively time limit “kafala” to the duration of a contract.” JAMES LYNCH Refugee and Migrants Rights Team Amnesty International Qatar
be replaced with an automated system through the Ministry of Interior. In addition, with the new law the employer will no longer be financially liable for their employee. Any financial obligations incurred by the employee while in Qatar will be governed by State’s Civil and Commercial law.” Lynch feels that simply re-naming a system – unless it’s accompanied by concrete changes – does not equate to real reform. “The change proposed, as we understand it, is to move to a contract-based system and cancel the “two-year rule” whereby QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 19
affairs > local
INACCURATE FACTS IN THE GUARDIAN Qatar has come under intense scrutiny following its successful bid in 2010 to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup. The nature of the construction projects and the association with a universally recognised, extremely high profile sport has led to much global commentary on the issue of migrant workers in Qatar, some of which is factually inaccurate. DLA PIPER
QATAR: HIGHEST MIGRANT RATIO
MILLION MIGRANT WORKERS WHO MAKE UP OVER
OF THE TOTAL POPULATION, QATAR HAS THE HIGHEST RATIO OF MIGRANTS TO CITIZENS IN THE WORLD. DLA PIPER REPORT
20 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
migrant workers cannot return to Qatar until two years after leaving the country. This appears to effectively time limit “kafala” to the duration of a contract. During this time, which could be as long as five years, workers will still not be able to leave their jobs without the permission of their employer,” he says. There have been some concerns raised about the potential risks of companies using the proposed contractual system to tie workers into lengthy contracts. “These kinds of risks, which can result from partial reforms, show exactly why we have called – and are still calling – for the straightforward cancellation of the NOC requirement,” he argues. Reaction over social media were equally strong. Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch said: “The notion that the kafala system can be abolished by no longer referring to a ‘sponsor’ but an employer/ employee relationship is utterly preposterous.” Rima Kalush, at Migrant-Rights.org, said the reforms unveiled amounted to “an announcement of an announcement”. “My worry is that Qatar will follow Bahrain’s footsteps in renaming the sponsorship system without actually abolishing the majority of the exploitative laws and practices that encompass the system," says Kalush.
Iman Ereiqat, the Chief of Mission at the International Organization of Migration (IoM) in Kuwait, had recently said to a Kuwaiti daily that the continuation of current system in countries such as Kuwait “will help the sponsors or the employers to abuse their rights against their labourers.” She added, “The most important [thing] for labourers is the sponsorship system. As a system itself it’s not bad. It’s the misuse of the system that’s the bad thing.” Kuwait has plans to change the kafala system so workers will be sponsored by a ‘public authority’ rather than a specific employer – but the implementation of this plan has been long delayed. No other Gulf country has made any sweeping change to their labour laws. According to Lynch, many countries around the world place restrictions on migrant workers which cause human rights violations, and fail to effectively protect migrants from this abuse. While none of the businessmen in Qatar wanted to comment on these reforms in review, the MOI refused to give more clarification as the reforms were “in process”. If there was one most important reform that the country needs, Lynch says, it is the cancelling of the exit permit completely. “This would remove a really significant cause of suffering and driver of abuse. We
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Reform the sponsorship system, including cancelling the NOC and the exit permit – and stopping the practice of detaining people as criminals for “absconding”.
02 03 04
Grant domestic workers labour rights by removing the exemption which excludes them from the Labour Law.
Allow migrant workers to form and join trade unions.
Upgrade the Labour Court system, including cancelling all fees, to make it easier and faster for workers to lodge complaints and receive justice.
Carry out and publish a thorough independent investigation into the main causes of deaths of migrant workers.
Transform the inspection capabilities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
have met people who have been driven to the brink of suicide because they have been unable to get home for months on end. “The ability to leave a country is a fundamental human right. Under international human rights standards, there can be no legitimate justification for a private company ever having the right to block someone from leaving the country,” he says. The government’s proposal, whereby exit permits would be granted by the government if a company has not objected within 72 hours, would remain wide open to abuse, according to Lynch. DLA Recommendations DLA Piper has reviewed the relevant legislation and approach to governance and concluded that, while there were shortcomings, much appropriate legislation is already in place. “However, we have found a number of enforcement issues which need to be addressed,” the report said. The general observation was that there should be an increased transparency and communication between Qatar, state of origin governments, and major actors in public and private sectors, which are critical to implementing the recommendations contained in the report. In addition to focusing on communication and information sharing with key non-government
stakeholders and private contractors, including significant entities such as the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the report has also recommended that Qatar adopt a comprehensive set of worker welfare standards setting out the minimum mandatory requirements for all public contracting authority construction projects in Qatar. These worker welfare standards should be mandatory and incorporated in all lead contracts issued by public contracting authorities. Lead contractors should be required to ensure that these standards are incorporated in all sub-contracts. Lynch has even more concerns. Amnesty International fears that under the proposals announced, migrant construction workers are still likely to face many of the same practices that they currently do. “We urge the government to go beyond the announcement and make the changes that would really change lives,” he says. But he shares the DLA Piper report’s concern to say that the governments of countries of origin have a shared responsibility with the Government of Qatar to address these abuses. “Our report into the failure of the Nepali government to tackle exploitative recruitment practices is on our website and provides a number of key recommendations to achieve this,” he says
"Change in labour laws is going to affect all foreign workers in Qatar, of all skill levels and economic status. The report addresses only the concerns of lowincome workers who make up the majority of the population.” VANI SARASWATHI Managing Editor JustHere
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 21
business > bank notes A VISION IS NEEDED
“We encourage our SME customers to switch their banking activities from branches to online. Corporate Internet Banking offers advantages compared to visiting a branch in person, including lower fees for local and international transfers, 24/7 accessibility and security features.”
KENNETH CLARK Head of Enterprise Banking Commercial Bank
Deutsche Bank AG (DBK), Germany’s biggest bank, will raise about QR40.04 billion ($11 billion) by selling shares to shore up capital as it gains the Qatari royal family as a shareholder.
QATAR ROYALS INVEST IN DEUTSCHE BANK
n a statement, DBK says it plans to raise about QR31.43 billion ($8.84 billion) in a fully underwritten rights offer, and an additional QR8.73 billion ($2.40 billion) from the sale of a stake to an investment vehicle of Qatar. “We have placed approximately 60 million shares at a price of EUR 29.20 (QR145.74) per share with Paramount Holdings Services Ltd., an investment vehicle owned and controlled by H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani of Qatar, who intends to remain an anchor investor in Deutsche Bank,” the statement says. These measures will substantially increase the bank’s capital ratio, provide a buffer for future regulatory requirements, and support targeted business growth, the bank adds.
QATAR BANKS MAINTAIN STEADY GROWTH IN Q1 Total assets
Masraf al Rayan
22 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
QATAR PLANS DEBT MARKET The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is planning to develop a regulatory framework for local credit rating agencies that would be licensed in the near future. According to a report in a vernacular daily, many companies have applied to the QCB seeking licences to operate as credit rating agencies. Qatar is also keen to woo international financial institutions to help deepen the debt market. Even some government companies are reportedly planning to issue bonds in the coming months.
QATARI BANKS ARE SAFE
t is estimated that that for every $10 billion (QR36.4 billion) of QE by the US Federal Reserve, global liquidity can rise by approximately $24.4 billion (QR87.36 billion). Once the Federal Reserve stops engaging in QE, the volatility in the market is likely to increase further and inflation is also expected to rise, albeit in a slow manner. Despite Qatari banks having adequate liquidity due to high volumes of deposits raised locally and overseas, and also because of their healthy funding profiles, the risk factor present cannot be discounted. Besides the US interest rates, any drastic drop in oil prices will also have an impact on Qatar’s banking industry, which has been making substantial investments in the oil and gas industries for some time. However, the Standard & Poor’s Rating Services, in its latest report entitled “Risks Are Unlikely To Dent Qatari Banks’ Expected Robust Profitability in 2014,” allays such fears on the ground that the US Federal Reserve’s monetary
policy normalisation will be in a phased manner, giving time for the Qatari banks to adjust their pricing. “High interest margins, although contracting; briskly increasing business volumes mainly on the back of the government’s investments; and banks’ low cost bases are the main factors fueling this performance,” the report says. Main challenges Doha Bank Chief Executive Officer Dr R Seetharaman says that the major challenges faced by Qatari banks include pressure on net interest margins, payment delays from contractors and execution risks in geographical expansion. He says the cost of risk for Qatari banks has remained low over the past few years due to the strong government support extended during the real estate and stock market corrections. The public-private partnership (PPP) model has worked well after the crisis in Qatar.
The quantitative easing (QE) by the US government, which began early this year, is expected to end in a few months and this is likely to result in rising interest rates, tightening global liquidity from mid-2015 onwards. BY V L SRINIVASAN
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 23
development > bank notes
“The precautionary measures adopted by the government towards the banking sector have enhanced the ability of banks to cope with any possible repercussions of the global financial crisis and thereby not impacting its credit ratings. Qatari banks will strategise to meet the challenges arising from changing market dynamics.” DR R SEETHARAMAN
“The precautionary measures adopted by the government towards the banking sector have enhanced the ability of banks to cope with any possible repercussions of the global financial crisis and thereby not impacting its credit ratings. Qatari banks will strategise to meet the challenges arising from changing market dynamics,” he says. According to him, Qatar’s GDP growth could stay at around 5.9% in 2014 as the pickup in the public investment programme is roughly offset by a modest decline in hydrocarbon output. There is double digit expansion in the non-oil and gas economy in 2014. The investment projects contributing to the non-hydrocarbon sector entail the possibility of overheating in the near term, and low return and overcapacity in the medium term. “To address such risks, the authorities are monitoring price developments and attempting to identify and address any supply bottlenecks emerging from increased investment activity,” Dr Seetharaman says. 24 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
Cause of concern Sounding a note of caution, Standard & Poor’s analyst Mohamed Damak says the prevailing political uncertainty in some countries in the Middle East should be a cause of concern for the financial institutions. The impact on Qatari banks could primarily come from lower profitability of their affiliates in these countries because of higher provisioning needs due to less supportive economic conditions and lower growth of their loan portfolios. At present, the bulk of the Qatari banks’ growth is coming from the government and its related entities, followed by foreign expansion (because of the consolidation of the newly acquired subsidiaries) and finally retail loans as shown by the attached statistics of the Central Bank of Qatar. “The project finance helps the banks because of the significant ongoing and expected investments. Also, as the economic outlook remains good for Qatar, we continue to see a strong influx
CEO Doha Bank
Despite Qatari banks having adequate liquidity due to high volumes of deposits raised locally and overseas and also because of their healthy funding profiles, the risk factor present cannot be discounted.
“The project finance helps the banks because of the significant ongoing and expected investments. Also, as the economic outlook remains good for Qatar, we continue to see a strong influx of expatriates which would create additional opportunities for the banking system and continue to drive the growth of retail loans.” MOHAMED DAMAK Analyst Standard & Poor’s Rating Services
of expatriates which would create additional opportunities for the banking system and continue to drive the growth of retail loans,” Damak points out. In this largely favourable environment, and given the solid economic growth, Damak feels that lending by Qatari banks will continue to increase by 10%-15% over the next few years. “The lending by financial institutions slowed down in 2013 due to the administrative delay in taking up several infrastructure projects. The other reason is that Qatari banks outperformed their peers in the GCC region over the past five years,” he adds. Dr Seetharaman says that Qatar’s annual budget for 2014-15 has been planned at QR75.6 billion on infrastructure development for the FIFA World Cup based at a conservative oil price of QR236.6 ($65) per barrel. This is much lower than the current international oil prices, hence the current account surplus of Qatar will continue to get a boost because of high oil prices. Projects valued at an estimated QR664 billion are anticipated to be implemented during the next five years. Projects worth more than QR262.08 billion ($72 billion) are expected to be awarded in Qatar in 2014, out of which transport, water and construction are the major sectors which will witness activity. With Qatar receiving the MSCI upgrade, the markets can expect more than QR5 billion foreign fund inflows. Qatari banks, which are significantly exposed to Qatar’s real estate sector, will look forward to capitalising on the developments in non-hydrocarbon diversification and the MSCI upgrade will improve its performance. The Qatari banks will also enhance their enterprise risk management to address the delinquency concerns from contractors and challenges arising from exposure to the real estate sector, he says. “Accommodative monetary policy in the US has
been mirrored by low policy rates in Qatar. The Fed has kept the short-term interest rate it controls at nearly zero since December 2008. Interest rates will probably remain low until mid-2015 and Qatari Banks need to strategise their asset-liability management taking this into consideration,” Dr Seetharaman says. Basel III norms If strong profitability is not helping in capital build-up, will the banks be able to meet the Basel III norms? Damak thinks banks will not have any problem meeting the Basel III requirements because the banks’ capitalisation in Qatar is “strong.” However, over the past few years, the dividend policies of Qatari banks were somewhat aggressive, preventing banks from building capital internally. “On a positive note, we take comfort from banks’ financial flexibility as shown by capital injections received from shareholders or from government and the appetite of local investors for Tier I capital instruments issued by banks (CBQ Tier 1 issue is a good example),” he says. Damak also says that overseas expansion has certainly provided Qatari banks with the opportunity of diversifying their business and reducing their exposure within Qatar. However, banks are expanding in riskier countries and some of these countries are experiencing internal challenges. “To their credit, Qatari banks have financed their expansion through capital injection from shareholders, which reduces the pressure coming from these operations on their financial profiles. Also, for the time being, the overall contribution of these affiliates to Qatari bank bottom lines (around 20% for CBQ, 30% for QNB) or balance sheets (less than 10% of total loans based on Central Bank data) remain manageable,” Damak adds QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 25
business > oil&gas WE WANT MORE Demand for OPEC’s crude will be higher than previously estimated in the second half of the year, as inventories in developed economies remain depleted, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
million barrels a day in the second half
barrels a day more than it pumped last month
more barrels of OPEC crude than the IEA forecast in April.
MORE OFFSHORE INVESTMENT BY QP Qatar Petroleum (QP) has announced plans to invest over QR40 billion for the redevelopment of the existing Bul Hanine offshore oilfield, located about 120 km to the east of the Qatari coastline.
he project, which is currently at the pre-FEED stage, is one of the largest to be managed and executed by QP. It is designed to prolong the field’s life by countering its production decline and doubling its current oil production rate, a QP statement said. Minister of Energy and Industry and QP chairman HE Dr Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada said: “This important project is part of a development and production strategy based on maximum recovery of reserves through the longest possible plateau of sustainable production levels. It will help boost Qatar’s oil production capacity and reinforce its position as a reliable energy provider.” The minister said the Bul Hanine redevelopment constitutes another step in the utilisation of Qatar’s hydrocarbon wealth. In addition to sustaining economic growth and providing financial stability, the redevelopment is also an important step towards building the capabilities of local resources by providing a unique experience opportunity for Qatari engineers, the minister stated.
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The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will need to provide an average of 30.7 million barrels a day in the second half, or 800,000 a day more than it pumped last month, the IEA said on May 15. This calls for 140,000 more barrels of OPEC crude than the IEA forecast in April.
QPI TO BUY 40% OF CNA Qatar Petroleum International (QPI), the international arm and the wholly-owned subsidiary of Qatar Petroleum (QP) has reached an agreement with Centrica Plc (CNA), by which QPI is to buy 40% of CNA natural gas field projects in Canada to the value of QR671 million.
press release issued by the two companies said that as per such agreement, the assets will be operated in the project between Centrica (60%) and QPI (40%) under the title CQ Energy Canada Partnership, where the new percentage will be added to the assets which have already been jointly acquired on the part of Canada’s Suncor Energy, which was announced in April 2013 .
business > realty check
QATAR TOPS IN RETAIL CONSTRUCTION MARKET Qatar is likely to move to the top position in the retail sector by completing projects worth around QR1.9 billion ($522 million) in the GCC building construction market in 2014, according to a bi-annual study conducted by Ventures ME. Qatar was ranked fifth among the GCC nations in 2013.
2014 FORECAST FOR GCC BUILDING CONSTRUCTION MARKET
QR467.59 billion Total worth of GCC construction projects
QR 114.23 billion / Medical
The research analyses both the building construction and the fit-out and interiors markets, focusing on six main sectors – residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, educational, and medical – in each of the GCC countries. Qatar will also be the major spender with QR452.88 million ($117 million) as against a total investment of QR1.15 billion in the interiors and fit-out retail market in 2014.
DOHA PROPERTY SALES SURGE IN Q1 29% increase in the number of transactions between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014
35% increase in aggregate value of sales during the same period
QR 109.13 billion / Residential QR 105.86 billion / Hospitality QR 5849 billion / Commercial QR 27.40 billion / Education QR 27.40 billion / Education Land sales continuing to dominate, making up 77% of all transactions worth over QR7.35 billion Source: Ministry of Justice, Asteco Qatar
BARWA ANNOUNCES ACTING GROUP CEO Along with the appointment of Eng. Ahmad Abdulla Ali Al Abdulla as Acting Chief Executive Officer of the the group, Barwa Real Estate also started construction on Package 2 of Barwa Al Baraha project.
arwa Real Estate announced yesterday the assignment of Eng. Ahmad Abdulla Ali Al Abdulla Acting Chief Executive Officer for the group, following the resignation of former Group CEO Eng. Abdulla Al Subaie. He played a significant role in selling Barwa Financial District (now called QP District) to Qatar Petroleum. He established new projects such as Al Khor Shell project, Al Khor Sports Complex for Workers and Barwa Al Baraha. Incidentally, construction works for package 2 of the second phase of Barwa Al Baraha project also began in May. This development for workers in Qatar will involve 32 three-storey buildings containing 130 rooms each with the capacity to accommodate 24000 workers. In addition four dining halls, two play grounds, two mosques, as well as restaurants and utility shops will be constructed.
QIA TO ACQUIRE FIVE LUXURY HOTELS? Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is reportedly acquiring joint control of a group of luxury hotels in five European cities, according to Bloomberg.
ccording to the report, the Qatari sovereign wealth fund’s Katara Hospitality unit is taking on the Carlton InterContinental in Cannes, Amsterdam’s Amstel InterContinental plus hotels in Frankfurt, Madrid and Rome, citing a notice on the website of the European Commission’s competition authority. The hotels are managed by and will continue to be jointly controlled by the UK’s InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, it said. Katara’s international portfolio includes the Raffles Hotel Singapore, Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris, Schweizerhof Hotel Bern and Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort in Egypt. International properties under development include Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne (opening 2015), Royal Savoy Lausanne (opening 2014), Comoros Beach Resort (opening 2015), Tazi Palace Hotel Tangier (opening 2015), and a hospitality complex in Gambia (opening 2016). QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 27
news bites > regional
D E ST RU CT I O N SY R I A A picture taken on May 14 shows a partially damaged mosaic wall hanging in the monastery of Saint Takla in the ancient Christian town of Maalula, 56 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus. Residents of Maalula returned to the historic Christian town in mid-April to mark Easter, glad that the Syrian army freed it from rebel control but pained at the widespread destruction. Christians make up some 5% of Syria's population and have largely avoided taking sides in the conflict that erupted in March 2011. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID
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development > viewpoint
TRAIN With the arrival of the first of 21 giant, tunnel-boring machines at the end of April in Doha, the city’s metro project took an important – if lumbering – new step forward.
he seven-metre wide machine will soon begin its cutting and churning, at a speed of 14-21 meters per day, beneath the city’s streets. Yet while that speed is in fact a remarkable one for such a mammoth device, the speed at which the project as a whole might be completed continues to be a source of debate. Indeed, with the clock ticking on the completion of Phase 1 of the Doha Metro by 2019, the project faces some important challenges in meeting its targets over the next five years. At the same time, the region as a whole is seeing a major surge in rail projects, with this reflecting both in plans for more interconnection between Qatar and its neighbours – and in heightened competition for resources. Managing these challenges will likely be a major test for those agencies and compa-
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nies now getting their train programmes on track. From Red to Gold The Doha Metro, a project central to the Qatar Rail Development Programme (QRDP), will consist of four lines, colour-coded as Red, Green, Blue and Gold. Key stations include Msheireb, where Green, Red and Gold intersect, and Education City, where the Green Line will intersect with a future high-speed rail (HSR) link to Saudi Arabia. In March 2014, a contract to extend the Red Line to Al Wakrah was awarded, adding a further 7 km of track and three more stations. As at early May 2014, contracts for all the underground portions of the northern and southern sections of the Red Line (the longest), the Green Line and the Gold Line
had been awarded. Contracts for enabling works and for the major stations have also been settled – that for Msheireb and Education City alone, awarded to a Spanish-South Korean-Qatari consortium, worth some QR5.1 billion ($1.4 billion). Indeed, last summer saw some QR30.5 billion ($8.4 billion) worth of contracts awarded for the above work, while the Red Line extension added a further QR2.5 billion (EUR506 million). At present, Qatar Rail, the authority overseeing the project, is in the tendering stage for the remaining portions of Phase 1. These consist of contracts for the three elevated portions of Red Line North and South, and the Green/Gold Line, and the systems, rolling stock and track work for all four lines. All of these tenders are expected to be awarded during 2014, with one, final, remaining tender – for the operation and
maintenance contract – scheduled for two years from now. Enabling work has begun with the arrival of the first boring machine, with Red Line North the leviathan’s destination. Soon the actual tunnel work will begin, with press reports suggesting that this machine – named Lebretha – will start a 22-month work cycle in the third quarter of this year. Given the colour coding and the locality, comparisons between the Doha and Dubai metros are hard to avoid and might give some indication too of the issues such projects face. Work officially commenced on Dubai’s Red Line in March 2006. Some 10 of the 29 stations planned for this line were then ready to open by September 2009, three and a half years later. Eighteen more were declared complete by April 2010, with the final, 29th station opened for business in September 2013. The line is 52.1km long, with 5 km underground. The Doha Metro Red Line North, meanwhile, is a similar length – 55.7km – yet has more than twice the distance – 13.1 km – underground. Red Line South, meanwhile, adds a further 42.8 km, with 12.8 km below the surface. The other lines also have major subterranean stretches. The Green Line runs for 65.3 km, with 37 km underground, while the Gold Line is 30.6 km, with 13.1 km underground. Lebretha and its fellow machines will therefore have plenty to get their tungsten teeth into in the years ahead. The tunnels will also need large quantities of specialised concrete and steel, while above ground, the construction of raised lines and stations also requires a major input of materials. At the same time, the project also requires a heavy input of skilled labour – from the design level down to site workers. These conditions are, however, ones many contractors operating in Qatar and the Gulf are familiar with. What adds to concerns here is that the Doha Metro is
also being constructed at a time when many other major rail projects are on-going both in Qatar and throughout the region. Number one locally is the HSR to Saudi Arabia – with a branch to Qatar’s new port and a link to Education City. Tendering for this is also scheduled for this year. A further section, across the proposed causeway to Bahrain, is yet to mobilise, however, according to contractors who spoke to OBG. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia itself, the Riyadh Metro project is underway. This six-line, 175km, QR82 billion ($22.5 billion) project held its ground-breaking ceremony in April this year, with a schedule to complete in four-years’ time. Elsewhere, Oman is undertaking a major rail expansion project, which while largely involving intercity lines, also acts as a draw away from Qatar for rail technicians and specialists. Thus the question some are pondering in Doha now, is whether the deadline can be met. Some factors may help with an affirmative answer. Conscious of the timing, the project is being implemented via design and build contracts, known for their higher speed of delivery. Lebretha will also not be acting alone – a fleet of machines will be at work. Bottlenecks in construction materials may also be alleviated when the first phase of the new port comes online in 2016. Labour may be more of an issue. Skilled workers are never easy to find for such projects, and with Qatar going through a major construction boom in many areas – in the lead up to the 2022 World Cup – visas and work permits for the necessary staff may also need to be scrutinised, especially with the current quota system. Nonetheless, Qatar does have a record of delivering big and delivering quickly; phase one of the new port project itself is likely to complete 10 years ahead of schedule. The trains, many therefore hope, will still soon depart on time
BY OLIVER CORNOCK The author is the Regional Editor of Oxford Business Group.
"What adds to concerns here is that the Doha Metro is also being constructed at a time when many other major rail projects are on-going, both in Qatar and throughout the region."
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 31
business > viewpoint
PUTTING A PRICE ON
Most of us are likely to contract a long-term illness, but why are income protection products still at the bottom of our list of financial priorities? David Russell of Guardian Wealth Management assesses the facts and looks at why income protection is set to become more important for those living and working in Qatar.
nyone with a family will be aware of the benefits of buying life cover to provide a lump sum that protects loved ones against financial hardship should you die. But it may come as a surprise to some that there is now a far greater chance of contracting a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure than ever before. The figures are compelling. The Council for Disability Awareness (CDA) in America calculates that just over 1 in 4 of todayâ€™s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. A typical maled age 35, 5â€™10â€?, 170 pounds, non-smoker, who has an office job and who leads a healthy lifestyle
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has a 21% chance of becoming disabled for three months or longer during his working career and a 38% chance that the disability would last five years or longer. Throw in the fact that a man of a similar age who smokes and weighs 50 pounds more, and the risk of becoming disabled for three months or longer leaps from 21% to 45%. The risks are similar for a female of the same age. Nor is the problem restricted to the United States. Countries around the world are now grappling with the problem of illnesses that keep people out of work. In the United Kingdom the main causes of long-term sickness absence are now musculoskeletal disorders such as back and knee problems
(41%), mental health and stress (26%) and other long-term conditions (20%), with injuries at work accounting for only a fifth of sickness absence. Preparing for disrupted earnings One of the key benefits of living and working in the Middle East region is the potential to earn a good salary and enjoy an excellent standard of living. But what if that earnings potential were disrupted due to the increased likelihood of a long term illness or injury? Should the unthinkable happen, how much of a drop in living standards would you be prepared to take? While most employers will allow sickness absence on full salary for a stated period, your salary will decrease the longer you are off work until you are left to rely on state benefits which, in the case of expats, are virtually non-existent. For self-employed expats there is little financial back-up available should you be unable to work. So if your income is vital to your familyâ€™s economic survival and lifestyle, then one solution is to consider Permanent Health Insurance (PHI). PHI is designed specifically to help replace any loss in income should you be unable to work due to long-term illness or disability as a result of an accident. Depending on the terms of the policy, it works by paying out a monthly tax-free sum based on a percentage of your salary up to a maximum of 75%. Income payments stop once you return to work or if you are made redundant, reach retirement age or die. The monthly cost of PHI will vary depending on the usual insurance factors such as age, occupation and health status. You can also reduce premiums by choosing a longer waiting period before income is paid following a claim. This deferment period before payments begin is typically between 3 and 6 months. The lower the deferment period, the higher the premiums. PHI factors to consider Cost has always been a factor in buying insurance where there is no guarantee you will ever need it. But as we live and work longer and chronic illnesses become more common, the balance of cost versus necessity is beginning to level out. In addition, as
"So if your income is vital to your familyâ€™s economic survival and lifestyle, then one solution is to consider Permanent Health Insurance."
people become more aware of income protection, providers are keen to up their game in making products more transparent, fair and cost effective. Increasingly, providers are providing income guarantees and removing any state benefit entitlement from calculating monthly payments. As well as cost, other factors to consider include how long your employer will guarantee to pay your full salary if you are unable to work because of illness or disability, plus whether or not you are covered under any group PHI plan. You should also consider what assets you have to help bridge any earnings gap, while at the same time giving serious thought as to how you would replace those assets in the future, particularly if they are earmarked for other purposes. When looking at products on the market, make sure you understand any restrictions that may apply. For example, will you receive benefits if you can no longer perform your chosen profession, or does the policy require you to seek alternative work? What are the requirements and benefits surrounding rehabilitation and retraining? Will the policy make up the gap if you have to go back to work at a lower salary? Or what if your job is eliminated while you are on leave? There is no doubt that for those living and working abroad, where the security of those you care about depends on your ability to work and earn a regular income, there is a place for considering income protection as part of any financial strategy. And if the market grows as expected, then your ability to guarantee an income during periods of ill health is likely to get a whole lot easier
BY DAVID RUSSELL David Russell is an adviser at Guardian Wealth Management in Qatar and a specialist in income protection advice.
TOP 10 QUSTIONS WHEN CONSIDERING PHI 1. How long will your employer pay a full salary if you are absent due to illness or injury? 2. Do you have any entitlement to state benefits? 3. Are you part of any group PHI plan? 4. Do you have any other insurance policies that you can claim on? 5. What assets do you have to help plug any earnings gap if ill or injured and are you able to replace those assets, particularly if earmarked for future needs? 6. Do you have a stressful occupation, believed to be a factor in the onset of chronic illness? 7. What is the maximum percentage of your salary you wish to claim against? 8. Can you reduce the cost of premiums by opting for a longer deferment period? 9. Do monthly payments include or exclude any other benefits you may receive? 10. Are you clear on the policy restrictions in terms of your ability to return to work? QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 33
news bites > world view
A L L I N T H E GA M E A man dressed as Batman protests against the upcoming WC2014 FIFA tournament in Rio de Janeiro on May 15. Brazil faced a test of its security preparations for the World Cup as demonstrators, disgusted at the tournament's price tag, called widespread protests. Ongoing strikes by police and teachers and the threat of a nationwide strike by federal police also raised fears of chaos with just four weeks to go until football's biggest global spectacle. AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOPHE SIMON
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development > listening post
OUR BRIGHTEST MINDS ARE
Mohammed Fakhroo, Managing Director of the newly launched Teach For Qatar, chats about his mission to tackle one of the key challenges facing the education sector today – the lack of young, passionate and talented leaders ready to invest their time and effort into shaping the next generation. BY AYSWARYA MURTHY
ome of us wait forever to find a passion that will power us and give credit to our days; a passion so intense that it consumes our waking moments and percolates into our dreams. Mohammed Fakhroo didn’t have to wait forever. “I had been working in real estate investment and development for over eight years when it hit me that I wanted to do something meaningful and solid for the development of the country. We have been preaching the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the knowledge-based economy but if you look around us, it’s obvious that in the Arab region the one sector that doesn’t have enough investment is education,” he says. Not just the investment of money but, more importantly, that of human capital. Because while good policies,
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infrastructure etc. are essential, “teachers remain the key and they are the ones who can make a real difference in a child’s education”. “And what better to way to motivate and truly inspire a kid in the classroom than to learn from some of the smartest people in the country?” Fakhroo asks. This is why when HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani and he were brainstorming innovative solutions that could overcome some of the obstacles facing Qatar’s education system, the Teach for All model stood out for them among all the rest. The two-year fellowship seeks to “attract some of the brightest minds in the country and put them in schools so that they can have a positive impact on the children.” Just by doing this, Teach For Qatar is attempting to address one of the sad realities in education today. Some of our
HE SHEIKHA HIND bint Hamad Al Thani at the launch of Teach for Qatar.
“All our applicants were uniformly outstanding and hard workers who were up for a challenge. I am very happy with this kind of reaction in our very first year.”
smartest and most capable young leaders often shy away from entering this field. “I am effectively competing with the oil & gas companies and big banks to recruit the best talent out there and channel them into the education system. Can we attract the best of our youth into education today? No. It’s difficult. It’s not the first choice of career that comes to a student’s mind. And that’s what we want to change,” he thumps the table “and in the process, slowly start driving change by contributing the best talent towards the education ecosystem.” The recruitments was still ongoing at the time of this interview and Fakhroo was ecstatic about receiving more than 200 applications from students and young professionals. “All of them were uniformly outstanding and hard workers who were up for a challenge. I am very happy with this kind of reaction in our very first year,” he says. Through strategically-placed kiosks in Qatar University and HBKU and “ambassadors” in every school to spread awareness and headhunt the most promising students for the cause, Fakhroo says these numbers are only bound to grow. This year, the competition will be stiff with Teach For Qatar looking to fill just over 30 vacancies teaching maths, science and English for Years 7 and 8 in 11 independent schools across the country. And the recruitment process is no walk in the park either. A dedicated team is sifting through the applications to pick out those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities, either at work/school or in the community. “Once the applicants are further screened through some preliminary questions, they have to sit for a full day of assessment that tests various skills and helps us identify some of the traits we are looking for.” Once you make it through that round, you are assigned a school, introduced to the principle and will officially become a full-time employee of the Supreme Education Council. “This is when the exciting part begins,” Fakhroo says with glee. “The two-year development programme begins;
with intensive eight-week training, covering both the practical and content side. They would get to practise for two weeks at summer school before the school year begins in September.” The training and support programme has been developed partly by adopting Teach For All’s research, stretching back to over two decades, and partly through Teach For Qatar’s own strategy based on some of the considerations unique to Qatar. “Motivation is our priority,” Fakhroo says. Once school starts, “instructional mentors” will be making the rounds of the schools, sitting in on the classes and constantly giving feedback on your teaching styles and how effective you are in engaging with and motivating the children. “At the end of the fellowship, we plan to support you if you’d like to continue your path towards developing education. We would create different trajectories that help you stay on in teaching and go into policy making or shaping the curriculum. In reality, a large percentage of the fellows everywhere choose to stay on and continue. We’ll have a clearer picture of this after a few months though,” he says. But what is clear right now, he says, is that this could be the best, most transformative leadership experience ever for the fellows. “Qatar is a nation of excellence. A country that has given us everything and the people who apply just want to give something back to the country, make a difference and build a better Qatar.” And Teach For Qatar is not in it alone. “It’s amazing that regardless of our backgrounds and circumstances, kids are the same around the world. We learn from the stories of the program which is present in 32 other countries, study their approach, and contribute the learnings from our experience to the rest. We have the same mission. No education system is perfect. This is, and ought to be, a journey of continuous improvement that would never end,” he says emphatically. “It’s only natural that we all want to improve, that we are constantly striving to reach our full potential.” QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 37
COVERSTORY > HOW SOCIAL ARE QATAR'S CORPORATIONS
EMPOWERED CUSTOMER, ENGAGED CORPORATION
THE FORMULA FOR A POWERFUL SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TOOL
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HOW FAR AHEAD ARE QATAR’S CORPORATIONS IN LEVERAGING SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR BUILDING BRAND EQUITY, WHERE THERE ARE NO ESTABLISHED RULES FOR SUCCESS? BY AYSWARYA MURTHY
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 39
COVERSTORY > HOW SOCIAL ARE QATAR'S CORPORATIONS
"TEN YEARS AGO, COMPANIES WOULD HAVE SPENT MONTHS AND PAID MILLIONS FOR THE KIND OF FEEDBACK YOU CAN GET TODAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. AND NOW IT’S PRACTICALLY INSTANT AND FREE. CLOSE TO A QUARTER OF ALL VODAFONE CUSTOMERS IN QATAR ARE CONNECTED WITH THE BRAND ONLINE, WITH THE HIGHEST SOCIAL MEDIA PENETRATION FOR ANY VODAFONE GROUP AROUND THE WORLD."
avigating the social media space is tricky and nerve wracking enough when it’s personal. How many of your 300 friends are going to comment on the photo you just posted? Are any of your Twitter followers going to get that witty one-liner you thought up last night? Is there such a thing as too much information on LinkedIn? For corporations, the stakes are much higher. For too long they have taken refuge behind a freephone number or a nondescript mailing address, talking to their consumers from billboards, magazines and television screens and very rarely having to hear anything back. The speed at which the revolution came, shaking customer relationship management by the roots, barely gave corporations enough time to wrap their heads around how nothing would ever be the same again. Though the dust has cleared, things are far from settled. Not in Qatar. Not anywhere else in the world. Companies are still working out how to best handle this golden egg-laying goose with razor sharp teeth. Four years and a lifetime ago Rami Mansour, who handles internal training and consultancy in social media marketing for the Nasser
Jonathan Donovan, Head of Online - Vodafone Qatar 40 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
Bin Khaled Group, doesn’t like being referred to as a social media ‘expert’ or ‘guru’. “There are no such people. We haven’t reached that point yet,” he says. However, he has been keenly observing the social media space since the early 2000s. It was the era of Yahoo chat rooms and Hi5, when the avalanche that was to come was still a distant rumble. In 2010, when he was preparing his MBA thesis on ‘Social Media Adoption by Businesses in Qatar’, the massive potential of social media was beginning to dawning on corporations. “I was amazed by this technology that was connecting the world but there was so little research on how this would impact businesses,” he says. So he jumped feet first into the swirling vortex, speaking to over 300 organisations across the communication, education, media and other sectors, quizzing them extensively about whether the company used social media internally and/or externally and for what purposes, which outlets they preferred, how they planned to invest in this in the coming years, if they had a separate social media department and who took ownership of the department (marketing or public relations or human resources), did they have a social media policy indicating the rules of use? “It was just picking up among organisations like Qtel (later rebranded as Ooredoo), Qatar Airways, Qatar Foundation and in a few restaurants but hadn’t really infiltrated the SME sector.” Only 45% of those surveyed had some sort of social media presence. “Even among the organisations that had a Facebook page or a Twitter handle, they weren’t using it for outreach or community building,” he remembers. It was as if nobody was quite sure yet what they could do with it. We were in the ‘early adopter’ stage. The question is, are we still in it? A more detailed answer might be revealed shortly when Mansour conducts another survey to compare how far companies here have come since then. He is hoping to talk to about 500 companies this time. At least one thing has improved since 2010. “It is so much easier now to reach decision-makers and experts within the organisation. Social media has really helped in this regard,” he says. But there are still gaps, Julio Romo says, as is the case in most markets. Romo was very recently appointed to the newly-created Head of Digital post at public relations firm Grayling, overseeing operations across the Middle East and Turkey. He is
optimistic about Qatar however, given its huge smartphone penetration, good connectivity and high social media engagement. “There are lots of opportunities to maximise a client’s media relations activity through digital channels but many decision-makers are yet to perceive this potential. Especially if you are going for the specific demographic that is very active online, investing a bit in digital is smarter than investing more in advertising or traditional media relations.” Eddie Chau is the founder of iSentia Brandtology which provides social media intelligence through analytics tools to corporations and governments. He has clients across sectors and countries analysing tweets and posts in 18 different languages. Asked for his opinion on how effectively Qatar’s corporations are using social media, he says they are still in the beginning phase compared to North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. “China has a humongous number of users on social media and corporations there are very aware of that. Chinese companies are very advanced in terms of social media marketing strategies. Here the excitement is just beginning,” he says. Head of Online at Vodafone Qatar, Jonathan Donovan says when he joined the telecom operator four years ago they had a Facebook page (Interestingly, it had come even before their website; created to announce the launch of operations in the country) and YouTube channel hosting a couple of television commercials. “At that time we were a small team and everyone in the company was responsible for responding on Facebook. Sometimes the CEO would personally respond to queries. As we grew bigger and our content strategy evolved massively, we had to institute more of a control,” he says. So what does the building of this strategy from the ground up look like?
could tackle through social media, he explains. Once you have zeroed in on objectives that are realistic, straightforward and measurable, you can go ahead and create the strategy with the involvement of representatives from sales, after-sales, PR, marketing and HR. Gonca Gorjulu, ‘e-insider’ at W Hotel, who handles all of the property’s social media accounts, has got the concept bang on. Her strategy is based on achieving some of the hotel's goals through social media. “It keeps evolving with time because these platforms are always changing. Facebook is not what it was one year ago and now Twitter is redesigning its layout and how they promote tweets. So we have to figure out which areas need a push and which can be left to their own devices,” she says. For Vodafone Qatar, the direction they had to take became very clear in due time. “When we started out with our social media accounts we didn’t know where it was going to go. We just put ourselves out there and waited for customers to tell us,” Donovan says. And they did. It was not long before they realised their social media accounts were most beneficial as a care channel. This was not unique; globally telecoms had started using social media for care to a much higher degree when compared to other types of companies. The same goes for hotels and airlines who also focus
"W DOHA IS THE FIRST HOTEL IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO GIVE USERS THE OPTION TO MAKE RESERVATIONS WITH JUST A TWEET - BE IT A ROOM OR A TABLE."
ABC of building a strategy “Having a Facebook page where you plan updates each day and a competition each week is not a strategy. This is community management and social media updates scheduling that can be considered as a Social Media Action Plan,” Mansour says firmly, “Strategy is about how to link the overall objectives of an organisation to social media in a measurable way to assess results.” Before creating strategy you need to look at your business goals and figure out which of those you Gonca Gorjulu, E-insider, W Hotel Doha QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 41
COVERSTORY > HOW SOCIAL ARE QATAR'S CORPORATIONS
“YOU’LL REACH A BIGGER AUDIENCE IF YOU ARE COMMUNICATING ON THEIR TERMS, IN THEIR LANGUAGE, WITH AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR CULTURE AND VALUES.”
largely on customer relationship management on social media. People no longer like to pick up the phone for information or write a letter to complain about bad service, Gorgulu points out. “They simply tweet it.” And because online, just like anywhere else, bad news travels faster and good and critical mass can build up very quickly, corporations are compelled to be much quicker and more responsive. “It definitely keeps us on our toes,” Donovan says. “We have to act immediately and also be authentic as people can see right through ‘marketing-speak’”. The last part is especially important because social media is a great avenue to humanise the organisation, giving it a brand voice that has a natural response to customers. “So even if you are, to some extent, outsourcing all the ‘dirty work’ like regularly creating and updating content, it can’t be handed over to someone who doesn’t know your brand or culture,” says Mansour, “You still need to work very closely, involved at every level of conceptualising the content.” What and how much of your social media work you are outsourcing to an external agency depends on the organisation’s objectives, Romo says. “If it’s day to day engagement then an internal team might be sufficient, but if you want to be seen more, talked about more then an agency, with a strong PR knowledge, could do a better job at managing your accounts and building them up to certain level,” he says. Gorgulu is keen for W’s followers to get know the people behind the brand. “Everyone from the general manager to the staff are active on twitter. We
hold short training sessions to teach them about the platform – what is RT, what is DM, what are trending topics and how to get involved in them. We piloted this with our F&B managers and chefs who, most often, are the ones directly interacting with the guests. We’ll soon expand it to our supervisors and the rooms department,” she says. Because no matter what kind of sector you belong to, there is a common thread that runs through all social media strategies, says independent digital media consultant, Katie King. “It’s about relationships,” she says, “And it takes time to build. It’s very rarely a quick fix. It requires understanding your audience, figuring out what kind of content is relevant to them, developing that content, offering it up, inviting them into a conversation and then listening and responding to that,” she says. Donovan echoes her sentiment. “On a higher level, all social media strategies are to an extent based on understanding human psychology and our need to socialise. This doesn’t change from region to region. What might differ is your content strategy – what you say and how you say it.” “You’ll reach a bigger audience if you are communicating on their terms, in their language, with an understanding of their culture and values,” Romo says. “I have seen companies trying to activate visual content that have been successful in another market without putting it the money or effort to localise it. At best it won’t resonate with that region’s audience and at worst it could run the risk of alienating them.” If something doesn’t work, you go back and revise. “Social media is still a new area; there are no set rules. What works for one organisation might not work for another,” says Mansour. “But what’s most important is being consistent.” More than meets the eye Social media might be free but making an impact is by no means so. A good social media strategy needs investment – in talent, tools, content creation, advertising and more. When it comes to right people for the job, there are several interesting trends emerging, King says, “Companies are working hard to train existing communication teams on the social media platforms through external consultants or specialist trainers who are now increasingly becoming part of traditional public relations firms.” Not all PR firms are going this way though. “Some of them will decide their bread and butter lies in media relations and that will work better in certain
Julio Romo, Head of Digital for Middle East and Turkey, Grayling 42 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
markets,” Romo explains. “Others will go down a purely digital route thanks to their knowledge and expertise in promotion, engagement, managing issues and building brands online.” Grayling’s own move was predicated on its belief that digital underpins a lot of communications nowadays, he mentions. Universities have started to develop expertise in the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, not just in social media tools but also in thinking about social media strategy, according to King. “A lot of companies are hiring young people with technical skills to complete the communication team. With skills in information design, app development, and cross-platform publishing, people who just used to write press releases are now interesting multi-media teams that respond to changes in technology in how brands reach audiences,” she says. Qatari corporations aren’t here yet and they are also a little behind on investment-heavy content creation. “The way that we spend money on content is a little bit behind the rest of the world,” says Donovan. “But everyone is going to move in that direction. The immediate response is to spend on digital the same way you do on print. But in reality what we really need is smart content in the right context.” “Historically,” Romo says, “much of the content creation comes from marketing, while the social media budget comes from PR. So the nontraditional aspects of the business now have to work side by side with the digital. Silos that exist internally in a company – marketing, sales, public relations – are shifting and there is a more integrated approach to promote, engage, react and care.” But even if you are doing everything right and getting all the required engagement online, there is no direct way to measure if every riyal you are sinking into your social media is coming back to you as three. “The point is to develop loyal customers (by not spending much), who in turn will become your brand ambassadors,” says Romo when asked about how he can justify costs to his clients who might expect it to reflect on the ledger. “You can’t just think about the bottom line; it has to be looked at in a wider context.” Still, a lot of time is being spent working out how one can use social media reach to grow bottom their line and be able to measure it too. “ROI on social media is a hot topic. I personally would recommend creating a conversion funnel,” says Mansour. “Let’s say an organisation, an automobile dealer, wants to increase sales driven by social media. They can allow their social media followers to book test drives through a link and maybe win a
small prize. Or create direct a unique proposition for your followers through social media, like Qatar Airways does with their well-thought out online offers like giving a certain discount on tickets booked via a link posted on Facebook. This way you can directly measure click-to-sale conversion. It’s about integrating of your point of sale, customer relation management with social media in innovative ways,” he says. The power of the few “Since people are more trusted than brands and organisations, social media influencers with large followings can create a buzz among their network in a way brands never could,” according to Mansour. “They talk naturally and their message is sincere, lending credence to what they say” Isolated brands like Audi and Ooredoo have successfully engaged influencers with good results and the trend is slowly but surely catching on. And it’s not too hard either to find these influencers; Klout.com and Topsy list accounts with the highest following in your region, he notes. Donovan too feels they need to pursue more engagement with these influencers. “We have just started to do that on Instagram but haven’t attacked it in a big way. We know most of the influencers and interact with them often but it’s important to do more and we will soon,” he says. Gorgulu says loyal ‘tweeps’ are often invited to the hotel for a meal or a night out on the house, giving her an opportunity to meet and engage with them in person as well as to show appreciation for their support online. Romo agrees that there is still
"HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST TO PUT IN PLACE A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY? ANYWHERE FROM ZERO TO BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING?”
Katie King, Independent Social Media Consultant QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 43
COVERSTORY > HOW SOCIAL ARE QATAR'S CORPORATIONS
EVERYWHERE SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS IN QATAR, BOTH BIG AND SMALL, HAVE STRIVED TO CREATE CONTENT THAT RESONATES WITH THE AUDIENCES. FROM VIRAL VIDEOS TO TRENDING HASHTAGS, CHECK OUT HOW SOME OF THESE COMPANIES ARE TRYING TO CAPTURE A SLICE OF ONLINE BUZZ FOR THEMSELVES.
B. DONOVAN SAYS THEIR CONTENT IS SOURCED FROM ACROSS THE BUSINESS AS WELL THE EXTERNAL PR WHO OFTEN COULD BE A GREAT SOURCE OF CONTENT, HE SAYS. ONE OF HIS FAVOURITE CAMPAIGNS WAS THE VODAFONE NETWORK CHALLENGE WHERE A LOCAL COMEDIAN AND HIS FRIEND WENT AROUND DOHA TESTING VODAFONE’S NETWORK AND FANS WERE ABLE TO FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEY THROUGH GO-PRO VIDEOS AND GPS TRACKING.
44 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
A. “JUST THINK ABOUT HOW QUICKLY YOU THUMB THROUGH POSTS”, ROMO SAYS, “YOU HAVE MADE YOUR DECISION TO STAY OR MOVE ON IN UNDER FIVE SECONDS. YOU ONLY HAVE A SMALL WINDOW TO TELL THE AUDIENCE ANYTHING AND SO THE MESSAGING ON CONTENT HAS TO BE RELEVANT AND SHOULD CREATE VALUE.”
THE CONTENT ALSO HAS TO BE FINE-TUNED FOR DIFFERENT CHANNELS. DONOVAN ELABORATES: “THROUGH A SURVEY WE DID, WE FOUND OUT THAT INSTAGRAM IS A VERY QATARI CHANNEL WITH HIGH ENGAGEMENT AMONG LOCALS. SO OUR COMMUNICATIONS HERE ARE TARGETED TOWARDS THEM.”
C. Working closely with its agency, Vodafone Qatar focuses its content on technology, innovation, gaming, music and the like. The company won a few social media awards last year (Best Social Media Strategy for Telecommunications at the Marketing Awards Middle East; No. 1 most socially devoted Facebook brand in Qatar by Socialbakers; ‘Most Engaging Consumer Brand’ on Facebook, Qatar Chronicle’s Social Media 2013-2014 awards) and Donovan cites hard-toreplicate content along with responsive care from experts as key reasons for the recognition. “Our Interactive and Innovation team, led by Khalifa Al Haroon, saw an interesting opportunity a year ago. Strangely for a country with one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world with many people owning more than one phone, with a highly connected and technology-crazy crowd, there was very little local content around this.
“SO KHALIFA STARTED CREATING VIDEOS OF UNBOXING AND REVIEW OF DEVICES, WITH LOCAL RELEVANCE, IN BOTH ENGLISH AND ARABIC. IT RECEIVED AMAZING RESPONSES FROM VIEWERS. THEIR YOUTUBE CHANNEL HITS, WHICH HAD SOME 105,000 HITS LAST YEAR, NOW HAS CLOSER TO TWO MILLION."
D. ROMO IS NO STRANGER TO REQUESTS FOR TRENDING HASHTAGS AND VIRAL VIDEOS.
“CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, BUDGET MATTERS. SOME OF THE BEST TRENDING VIRAL VIDEOS ARE NOT AS CHEAP AS THEY LOOK. HOWEVER IT’S ALSO NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY. YOU HAVE TO BE CLEVER AND NIMBLE AND BE ABLE TO SEIZE AN OPPORTUNITY. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE AND UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE AND BUSINESSES.”
VIRAL VIDEO OR NOT, ONCE YOU MANAGE TO ACHIEVE GOOD LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT “THE INSIGHTS AND DATA ACQUIRED CAN GO A LONG WAY IN HELPING MAKE BUSINESS DECISIONS,” HE SAYS.
E. Sometimes hitting upon the right content is as simple as keeping with up the trends.
“ORYX ROTANA DID A VIDEO OF PHARRELL WILLIAMS' HAPPY FEATURING THEIR STAFF,” MANSOUR SAYS, “IT WAS FUNNY AND PROVIDES AN INSTANT CONNECTION WITH THE BRAND ON A PERSONAL LEVEL BECAUSE YOU SEE THE PEOPLE BEHIND IT, SMILING AND DANCING.”
But this is an exception. Innovative content creation (that is not an obvious marketing/sales tool) is one of the gaps he sees here along with social customer care and consistency.
Another popular type of content creation in Qatar seems to be the crowd-sourced variety. Torch Hotel ran a competition for the best pictures of the Hotel and posted the submissions online. Vodafone did something similar with the ‘Compete for a Seat’ campaign. So now your audience starts creating content for you. This is one of Gorjulu’s favourite types of engagement. Recently they hosted an Instragram-meetup with 10 contestants who were asked to take great pictures of the hotel. “We had more than 200 pictures by the end of it.” With the hotel’s focus on fashion, music and design, in addition to their own activities, finding engaging content is not difficult at all, Gorjulu says. It’s just a matter of where you are looking.
“RECENTLY WE ASKED OUR FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS FOR SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT NAME TO GIVE OUR CATERING TRUCK. THERE WAS A LOT OF ENGAGEMENT AROUND THAT WITH PEOPLE COMING UP WITH NAMES LIKE “W ON WHEELS” AND “WHEELIE”. THOSE ARE THE KIND OF POSTS I TRY TO FOCUS ON,” SHE SAYS.
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 45
COVERSTORY > HOW SOCIAL ARE QATAR'S CORPORATIONS
"AS DOHA TWEETUP’S EVENT BECAME BIGGER AND MORE FREQUENT, FOCUSED ON CREATING UNIQUE AND INTERESTING EXPERIENCES BASED ON A VARIETY OF INTERESTS RANGING FROM TECHNOLOGY, ART, FOOD, COMMUNITY AND MORE, BRANDS FOUND A WAY TO TAP INTO THIS NETWORK. AND IT ALL HAPPENED VERY ORGANICALLY."
there is a view that “influencers don’t really add value, but their followers do listen to what they say. But it’s not just that. When organisations are unavailable to comment, journalists often seek out a social influencer for their opinion who’d be only too happy to share it. So it becomes doubly important to engage them.” Brands have also started using the power of online communities too to create a buzz around their events and offers. Doha Tweetups is one such network, whose combination of a strong online following and regular offline networking has given companies an irresistible opportunity to get the “tweeps” talking; most of them are very active on Twitter and have a significant following, which can often create a ripple effect for the brand. But all this is relatively new. At its heart, Doha Tweetups is about connecting people offline; the brands came later. Doha Tweetups began four years ago with 3-4 people who, wanting to network outside of their particular nationalities and industries, came together in a coffee shop. Soon these meetups became bigger and more frequent, focusing on creating unique and interesting experiences based on a variety of interests ranging from technology, art, food, community and more. Brands found a way to tap into this network and it all happened very organically. “Virgin Mobile initially supported Doha Tweetups and helped it to its current phase. It used to receive a lot of online buzz with the people who turned up tweeting about the activities. As our numbers grew, we started searching for venues to accommodate the meetups and many hotels started expressing interest in hosting,” explains
Mufeed Ahmed, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, Doha Tweetups 46 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
Mufeed Ahmed, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Doha Tweetups. “They were among the first to recognise the group’s potential and soon businesses started coming into the picture as the Tweetup community became known for being able to generate chatter online and reach a wider audience in a more authentic way. Redbull, Blackberry and other businesses like Magnolia Bakery, Empty Cup, Let’s Popcorn and California Tortilla wanted to be connected to this community.” Restaurants in hotels, which often don’t have a separate social media presence, love hosting Doha Tweetups as it becomes a medium to take their brand online. “We have a good list of 2000-3000 social media influencers among our followers so brands have also started treating us on par with mainstream media, inviting us to press events and keeping us updated about news and launches,” Ahmed says. But he is very careful about the kind of brands they partner with; it’s first and foremost about the community, having fun and connecting people and ideas. “The brand has to have a position in the interaction that is going on.” The story behind the numbers Each organisation has a different approach to metrics. Some are happy with those provided by the various platforms, others like to dig a little deeper with a combination of sophisticated social media listening tools like Radian 6, SocialEye Tweetreach, Klout, Socialbakers etc., many of which are available cheaply. It all depends on what the organisation wants. “You can easily measure reach, what percentage of your followers looked at your content, unique visits but the gold standard for gauging your social media influence is engagement,” says King. This can take several different forms - follows, retweets, favourites, sharing. But even high engagement can be deceptive, she says. “People can RT a tweet without engaging with it; they might not have clicked through to the link, for example.” The simple tried-and-tested way to achieve success is to frequently measure and adjust as you go, according to her. There are several companies like Chau’s Brandtology which help corporations make sense of the chatter around their brand and sometimes even with individual campaigns. When Chau started his company in 2008 to help companies extract social media intelligence, it was hard to convince companies of the value of the insights they could receive. But this has been turned on its head in the last six years. The company has helped a lot clients across sectors, like LVMH, L’Oreal, several Procter and Gamble brands, Citibank
etc., strategise better and improve faster thanks to the instant feedback they receive about the online reactions to the brand. Allowing time for extracting and analysing data, the dashboard will provide his clients with real time sentiments about the brand. “You’d be able see, for example, which posts about your company in the last hour (or day or month) fall under which category – there are five classifications, ranging from very negative to very positive. This is entirely automated of course, and it ensures that the data is accurate and the brand can confidently base their actions on them. We constantly have to train the engine to learn new words, understand the language better and even recognise sarcasm,” he says. A peek into the future “Social media is here to stay; it’s not innovative anymore. It’s very much mainstream,” Mansour says. “We need to be on the lookout for new updates, tools and channels. Think of all those sites that were popular five years ago which are nowhere to be seen now.” Even a goliath like Facebook, with murmers around its declining appeal among the younger generation and companies expressing dissatisfaction with the revenue models, which King says is too big to disappear too quickly, can be challenged by new platforms or existing ones like LinkedIn. “The history of technology development shows that when something new emerges everyone jumps on board. There are initially a lot of small companies offering a lot of services and products and slowly they start disappearing as a select few get bigger and bigger until you end up with a 2-3 really big companies,” she says. She doesn’t expect it to be any different when it comes to social media companies. There is the also a need to look out for new trends in the market and try to be early adopters. When we manage to find a way to integrate the data acquired from social media with customer relationship management, the potential is huge for unique, customised service. But that is still a while away as the tools, research around it and analysis capabilities are not mature enough yet. “There is a lot of promise around Big Data but there is also a disconnect between that promise and practicality,” says Donovan. But what is clear is that the future of social media will evolve around the key themes of privacy, monetisation and mobility. “People will start to move away from what is perceived as not secure in terms of privacy. Platforms like Line, made up of contacts from phone, and Path which restricts the number of
followers to only 150 might become popular,” Donovan says. “It’s going to be harder for brands to break into that but it’s also going to be much more valuable once we build the trust to do so.” “The access popular social media platforms give brands to advertise will change and evolve as they find new ways to make money through advertising. It is important that they do not alienate the end user in the process and ensure that any advertising and brand engagement is valuable and will not turn users off,” he continues. “Additionally, as mobile capability and smartphone penetration increases, social media has become primarily viewed as a mobile medium and I believe this trend will continue. Mobile driven applications and integration with location and camera based services will grow. The rise of wearable mobile technology will also play a larger role, with social media aspects added to devices like FitBit, Nike Running and Nike Fuel,” he adds. Another trend King has been observing is how many organisations are investing a lot of energy on content marketing, not necessary derived from the core brand. “Coca Cola have declared themselves a content company which focuses on storytelling and original content around issues that they perceive as important to their audience. It’s called Coca Cola Content 2020. Engagement hasn’t been that great, I have heard, but it’s an important trend and their efforts are important. Corporations understand that keeping your audience ‘tuned in’ would be hard but when they appreciate the content, they feel connection to the brand”
"CUSTOMERS DON’T HATE SERVICE DISRUPTIONS AS MUCH AS THEY HATE BEING IN THE DARK. AND THEY ARE AN IMPATIENT LOT TOO."
Eddie Chau, Founder, iSentia Brandtology QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 47
business > bottom line
FIVE WAYS TO ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT High levels of employee engagement are often linked to superior business performance, including more profitability, productivity, employee retention, customer metrics, and safety levels.
48 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
hile 82% of employees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region claim to feel very engaged at work (as per the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll, March 2014), employers still have a long way to go when it comes to instigating true corporate citizenship among their staff. Here, the HR experts at Bayt.com, present five creative ways to encourage employee engagement in the MENA workplace. Have smart and self-driven leaders. Leaders’ own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours have powerful trickle-down effects in any organisation. Leaders of great workplaces don’t just talk about what they want to see in the future – they model it and keep practicing to get better at it every day. By sharing information and working on improving themselves, good leaders signal that such engagement is the only way to truly get ahead and achieve goals. In the MENA, four in 10 managers always do a good job of sharing information, with only 25% rarely hitting that particular benchmark.
Hire the best HR people Great HR people have a gift for influencing, teaching, and holding managers accountable. According to the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll, 64% of MENA professionals believe that senior management across the board is held accountable for achieving goals, though 76.4% strongly believe that employees are the ones who bear the weight of achieving goals. HR experts teach managers to stretch and develop employees in accordance with their natural capabilities.
Have a clear-cut approach to performance management. Results from the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll reveal that 52.2% of professionals in the MENA ‘always’ receive feedback to help improve their performance at work. Another 49.7% have regular career discussions with their manager, whereas 32.3% have the same on an irregular basis. Companies with the highest engagement levels know how to use performance appraisals as a powerful incentive currency. Indeed, a hallmark of these great workplaces is that they conduct fair and action-driven appraisals on a regular basis. These companies see recognition as a powerful means to develop and stretch employees to new levels of capability. They also see tolerance of mediocrity as the enemy. Any action or inaction that doesn’t produce appropriate consequences adds to workplace disillusionment and corrodes commitment.
Build a people-focused culture. Companies that reap the benefits of an engaged workforce understand that
people are their greatest asset. Find out the responsibilities of your employees and consider initiatives that enable them to balance work and life more easily. Encourage employees to balance hard work with socialising and fun. Promote the sharing of ideas, suggestions, and improvements. A work environment in which people feel valued and heard, and where a sense of camaraderie is prevalent is critical to employee engagement.
Let employees’ work be meaningful. Engaged employees believe that the work they are doing is important and has value. They believe they are contributing to a higher purpose and take pride in the results of their efforts. As a manager, it is crucial to frequently reinforce the importance of your employees’ roles. Help them to see the direct connection between their activities and company success. Set goals, and challenge your employees to meet them to promote a sense of purpose. Grant them the autonomy to improve the way things are done, and involve them in decisions to help them feel a sense of ownership over the direction of the company. In the MENA, nine out of 10 (88.7%) professionals claim to have a good understanding of the mission and goals of their organisation, and 95% understand how their work directly contributes to the company’s overall success. The majority (93%) are involved in decisions that impact on their work. Our research into a sample of over 9,507 respondents for the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll shows that a job has the potential to be at the heart of a great life, but only if its holder is engaged at work. Companies in the MENA do invest time, money and effort for a more engaged workforce – by making work more fun, less stressful, and even meaningful – but many of them still fail. The best companies will find that establishing emotional connections with their staff is the only way to have an empowered, engaged workforce. It isn’t easy, but if you focus on these five tips, you too can create a company where people love their work
The best companies will find that establishing emotional connections with their staff is the only way to have an empowered, engaged workforce.
BAYT.COM Bayt.com is the #1 job site in the Middle East, with more than 40,000 employers and over 15,100,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 49
business > bottom line
TALENT OPPORTUNITIES IN A UNIFIED CULTURE
Organisation cultures can be a strong tool for companies to create an organisational 'stickiness' that enables attraction, retention and engagement of the best talent.
50 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
sk people where they would like to work and more often than not they will name companies such as Microsoft, Google or General Electric. While many of these organisations do implement leading innovative and cutting-edge people practices, people’s responses do not stem solely from this knowledge. It is a complex combination of factors such as the organisational brand, innovation, stability, leadership and growth opportunity that contribute to these organisations being considered employers of choice. It is often hard to isolate any one factor that acts as the primary differentiator but collectively these factors
contribute to creating a unique culture that people aspire to be part of. At Aon Hewitt, we define culture as an organisation’s “operating environment” or more simply as “how work gets done.” For this reason, culture change is one of the most important pre-requisites for driving critical organisational changes. Our clients across the world often highlight challenges like various units of the organisation working in silos, slow decision making, inadequate diversity and inclusion, lack of transparency, no teamwork, high attrition, and low confidence in leadership. All these are symptoms of a sub-optimal operating environment that are in fact linked
with organisation culture. Some of these challenges become even more pronounced in our region, with its own unique context which includes the following. A highly diverse workforce: Most countries in the region are home to expatriates from across the world in large numbers. In Qatar itself, close to 75% of the population is made up of expatriates. Labour force forecasts predict a likely further surge in labour, especially expatriates, with the upcoming investment in megaprojects across the GCC (Qatar2022 and Dubai2020 to name just two). The success of these projects will no doubt hinge, in a large part, around how well we manage this diverse, and indeed further diversifying, workforce. Increasing participation of youth and women at the workplace: Approximately 40% of the population is under the age of 25 across the GCC region. More women are entering the workplace today than ever before. This means that the region’s employable population is expected to almost double by 2050, to reach 278 million from the current 145 million. This shift will significantly affect workplace dynamics. Rise of the private sector: The public sector has traditionally been the preferred employment choice for the national population in the region, given the promise of benefits, security and a sense of contribution to the community that the sector provides. However, with youth today looking for growth opportunities, varied experiences and greater global mobility, the private sector might provide real competition in the near future. In fact in Aon Hewitt’s Qudurat research we found that employees in the private sector are already more engaged (52.9%) that those in the public sector (39.3%). This war for talent between the sectors will soon be a very real phenomenon. These regional challenges present a unique opportunity for organisations, which recognise this culture challenge, to gain competitive advantage. While there is no ‘one size fits all solution’, Aon Hewitt’s research, both globally and in the region, highlights the following steps that organisations can take to unlock their talent potential by building a unified culture. Evaluate cultural gaps and strengths: Before undertaking any culture-related intervention, organisations need to understand key aspects of their existing
organisational culture both from the perspective of the leaders as well as employees. In addition to understanding the challenges, it is also critical to uncover the latent strengths that are already part of the organisation culture.
BY DR MARKUS WIESNER CEO, Aon Hewitt Middle East and North Africa
Link culture with strategy: It is not enough to simply have a generic competency framework or a values statement. In order to build the right culture, organisations need to consciously define and communicate the behaviours required to achieve the organisation’s goals, and then regularly evaluate the extent to which these behaviours succeed in doing so. Leaders as role models: Leaders play a significant role in driving the desired culture. It is critical for them to be aligned on how they view the journey from the existing culture to the desired culture. In addition, they should be held accountable for modeling desired behaviors. Many organisations seek to undertake the latter through periodic 360-degree exercises designed to seek feedback from employees regarding the behaviours displayed by leaders. Align and prioritise initiatives: Culture change is perhaps the hardest and happens only over time. It is unrealistic to expect cultural transformation to happen overnight. Organisations need to build cultural change roadmaps, to prioritise the areas that are critical and tackle those first. Alignment of changes in supporting systems and processes is another key aspect. For example, for an organisation looking to build a more performance-oriented culture, it is absolutely essential to have the right processes and tools in place for performance management, reward and recognition and learning and development. Measure impact: While recognising that culture change is a gradual process, it is critical for organisations periodically to measure the impact of interventions introduced by them. These could be done through various formal, metric driven interventions or through more informal ones. Ultimately, it is important for organisations to remember that culture change can never be successful if it is perceived to be the sole responsibility of human resources function. It is a business-critical exercise, and needs to be driven from the top. It is also an ongoing exercise, and not only one to be undertaken at times of significant business or strategic transformation
ABOUT AON HEWITT Aon Hewitt is a global leader in human resource solutions. For more information, please visit www.aonhewitt.com. QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 51
THE RISE OF
CSR 2.0 AND HOW QATARI CORPORATIONS ARE STEPPING UP THEIR GAME BY Z A H I D R A H M A N
Many of us tend to forget the core reason why companies and organisations exist. Some people believe it is to generate money and growth, while others believe it is to serve its stakeholders. Generally, the core reason why any business exists is to serve society, through the provision of safe, high-quality products and services that enhance our wellbeing without eroding our ecological and community life support systems.
y creating a company or organisation, people have already taken the first step of contributing to society which is the essence and basis for corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR is the principle whereby companies should contribute to the welfare of society and not be solely devoted to maximising profits. It is a concept that means organisations have an obligation to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all aspects of their operations. The field of what is variously known as CSR, sustainability, corporate citizenship and business ethics is ushering in a new era in the relationship between business and society. Simply put, we are shifting from the old concept of CSR – the classic notion of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ – to a new, integrated concept which can be more accurately labelled ‘Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility’ or CSR 2.0. The transformation of the internet through the emergence of social media networks, user generated content and open source approaches is a fitting metaphor for the changes businesses are experiencing as it begins to redefine its role in society. The modern-day CSR needs to be embedded deeply into each organisation and all employees for it to be effective. For example, corporate volunteer programmes, in a new pattern of thinking and led by creativity, have become key parts of the CSR profiles of many firms
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globally. This approach results not only in giving back to society, but also enabling and empowering employees with a reward-based approach helps them feel content and rewarded while doing CSR activities. It is such creativity and commitment from an organisation and its employees that makes all the difference. The goal should be, like at Sharp, to promote social contribution activities based on an organisation’s business philosophy “to contribute to the culture, benefits and welfare of people throughout the world.” We focus on social challenges from a global viewpoint and use our own resources to conduct community-based activities that contribute to society in all areas and around the world. In this modern age, companies can no longer afford to ignore their social responsibilities, having become part of the system. Next generation leaders are now starting to realise the need to focus on CSR to truly make that positive impact on society. Making this contribution is the essence of CSR, not as a marginal afterthought, but as a way of doing business. The contribution of companies must go far beyond charitable works, by providing mechanisms for addressing root causes, with an eye on the long-term. To that end, companies should seek to invest their effort and resources in providing tools, skills, and information to members of the community aimed at creating powerhouses of knowledge, and translating challenges into opportunities Zahid Rahman is the General Manager of the Business Operations division at Sharp Middle East
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CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
INVESTING IN QATAR’S FUTURE Apart from the responsible development of Qatar’s natural resources, the use of local contractors and the development of local staff, Maersk Oil is also contributing to the Qatar National Vision 2030 through Action for Qatar, its comprehensive social investment programme.
aersk Oil is a fully committed partner of the State of Qatar, focused not only on maximising the potential of the Al Shaheen, a complex field which they have developed in partnership with Qatar Petroleum into the largest offshore oil field in the country, but also on playing a full and active part in realising the goals expressed in the Qatar National Vision. Through Action
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for Qatar, founded on a commitment to high-quality projects and robust partnerships that provide real, long-term impacts, Maersk Oil aims to achieve benefits which are sustainable and which benefit Qatar, its citizens and its communities. Founded on three main strands – Action on Health and Safety, Action on Education and Capability Building, Action on Environment and Culture – it capitalises on the unique knowledge, skills and technology available within Maersk Oil Qatar and the broader AP Moller-Maersk group.
Action on Health and Safety With a primary focus on the major challenge of diabetes (which affects 16.7% of the adult population in Qatar; projected to reach 20% by 2030), Maersk Oil initiated Action on Diabetes in partnership with the Supreme Council of Health, the Qatar Diabetes Association, the Hamad Medical Corporation, Primary Health Care Corporation and Novo Nordisk. The project’s aim is to support Qatar in raising awareness of diabetes, to help those at risk avoid it, and to support people already living with diabetes to better manage their health. The three areas explicitly addressed by Action on Diabetes are research, education and awareness. Since Action on Diabetes was launched, the programme has tested more than 10,000 individuals, trained over 1,100 healthcare professionals in specialist diabetes care, educated over 7,000 teachers and students, as well as approximately 35,000 members of the public who have attended annual awareness events at Katara Cultural Village, Aspire and shopping malls. The partnership has also published the first research on diabetes in Qatar, distributing the Qatar Diabetes Briefing Book to healthcare providers locally and regionally. It has also created the first Qatar National Diabetes Registry and supported Qatar’s first dedicated diabetes training and accreditation scheme for nurses. Awareness about diabetes is also being increased through campaigns such as that run during the Holy Month of Ramadan, while the partnership also hosts
THROUGH ACTION FOR QATAR , FOUNDED ON A COMMITMENT TO HIGH-QUALITY PROJECTS AND ROBUST PARTNERSHIPS THAT PROVIDE REAL, LONG-TERM IMPACTS, MAERSK OIL AIMS TO BENEFIT QATAR, ITS CITIZENS AND ITS COMMUNITIES IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER.
Diabetes Dialogue which brings together General Practitioners, physicians, specialists, nurses and diabetes experts to discuss the latest developments. Action on Diabetes has also launched the first dedicated mobile diabetes testing facility that is currently visiting workplaces around Qatar. Maersk Oil Qatar’s focus on personal health is also supported by the exclusive sponsorship of the Schools
Olympic Programme, an annual initiative which involves around 26,500 students from across the country participating in a wide range of Olympic sports with the finals being held at the Aspire Dome each year. Designed to promote an active, healthy lifestyle for young people, the programme also educates them about a particular theme each year. In addition, the ‘Healthy Kids’ programme, run through Action on Diabetes, also raises awareness in schools via a nationwide campaign about the importance of physical exercise, how to select healthy food and the hazards of smoking. * Road safety is another leading cause that Maersk Oil champions. In conjunction with the Ministry of Interior and Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, Maersk Oil developed and launched the new national road safety brand ‘One Second!’ in 2013. A series of road safety awareness campaigns have happened since it was launched, including one on the importance of using seats belts and baby seats in vehicles. The ‘Qatar baby seat programme’ has distributed 7,000 baby car seats to families with newborn babies. School children are also a key focus as early education is an important factor in developing road safety awareness. A new road safety schools programme has recently been launched, called ‘Students for Road Safety’, which involves a state-of-the-art mobile driving simulator and schools programme for 12-18 year olds which will travel to schools across Qatar, helping children become promoters and ambassadors of road safety at school and at home. QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 55
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Action on Education and Capability Building Whether in schools, colleges and universities or in the workplace, Maersk Oil Qatar’s support for education is predominantly geared to focus on ST EM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – disciplines and technical skills, which ties in with its own specialism, while also developing leadership capabilities to support the development of economic diversification for Qatar’s knowledge-based economy emphasised in Qatar National Vision 2030. The Maersk Oil High Achievers Scholarship Programme provides financial support to outstanding Qatari students in engineering, geology, law and business administration. The GO ROBOT schools programme, created in partnership with the Supreme Education Council, College of the North Atlantic Qatar and Qatar Petroleum, aims to foster interest and develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through LEGO MindStorm robotics. Approximately 4,000 students and hundreds of teachers have been involved in the programme since it began in 2012, attending intensive robotics training sessions and receiving free robotics kits. Winning teams from the major annual national event qualify to take part in the World Robot Finals, which attracts over 400 teams from 30 countries. Ten teams represented Qatar in both 2012 and 2013 and during last year’s World Robot Finals in Indonesia, Qatar won the right to host the 2015 World Finals. Maersk Oil Qatar is also the leading industry partner in ST EM education with Texas A&M University Qatar, involving programmes designed to nurture and enrich local talent and build the next generation of highly skilled professionals for Qatar’s knowledge-based economy. Engineering Explorers, for middle schools, and Future Engineers, for high schools, are week-long programmes for Qatari students where participants are introduced to engineering disciplines along with science and maths through exciting hands-on activities and projects. 56 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
Around 100 students have already completed the courses in 2014. Furthermore, Maersk Oil Qatar is the exclusive sponsor and industry partner of the annual World Congress on Engineering Education (WCEE) forum, organised and hosted by Texas A&M University Qatar, which brings together many of the world’s leading academics, engineers and researchers in engineering education to Qatar, to discuss cutting-edge practices in the field. A new annual award and cash prize for the ‘ST EM Educator of the Year’ has recently been awarded as part of the WCEE to recognise the vital contribution that exceptional teachers make to student development in ST EM subjects. Through its annual LeaderShape programme and Desert Leadership Challenge, Maersk Oil Qatar give 120 outstanding students from Qatar University and Hamad Bin Khalifa University the opportunity to build leadership skills for the future. It also works with Virginia Commonwealth University - Qatar on the Young Entrepreneur Series, which is a graduate incubator programme. Action on Environment and Culture The central goal of this programme is to help minimise the environmental impact of operations in the Al Shaheen field. Maersk Oil works with the State of Qatar to protect and enhance the country’s natural resources, and to support and promote Qatar’s cultural heritage and understanding of its rich history. Among its focuses in this area are research, environmental awareness, education and outreach, community programmes, and support for organisations that promote Qatar’s natural heritage, biodiversity and culture. Maersk Oil launched a major partnership with the Qatar Museums Authority as the principal sponsor of the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, now a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, supporting the re-development of the Al Zubarah Fort and Archaeological site, the creation of a major new visitors centre and exhibition showcasing the history of Al Zubarah, as well as improved access to the site and a schools education and
community outreach programme that highlight Qatar’s rich cultural heritage. Since the opening of the visitor centre at the beginning of 2014 more than 30,000 visitors have visited the site, a 170% increase on the whole of the 2013. Qatar has an abundance of marine life and Maersk Oil is working to better understand and preserve this unique biodiversity. Qatar’s Ministry of Environment and the Maersk Oil Research & Technology Centre (MO-RTC) continue to work in partnership on research projects that explore this diversity. Maersk Oil’s flagship initiative is the Qatar Whale Shark Research Project, which involves satellite tagging of whale sharks and the deployment of other detection equipment around their offshore platforms. The aim is to understand more about the behaviours, life cycles and migratory patterns of the hundreds of whale sharks found in the waters off Qatar. The Maersk Oil Chair of Environmental Engineering at Qatar University continues to support offshore environmental studies, including a Masters degree in environmental engineering at the college of engineering. A further research agreement was also signed in 2013 to explore over the coming years new technologies for the treatment of water produced during oil and gas extraction. The company has also helped publish a series of books that focus on Qatar’s cultural and natural heritage – Common Birds of Qatar, a celebration of Qatar’s birdlife that describes 215 of the bird species recorded in the country; Qatar: Reflections of the Past, a book containing rare photos of Qatar which traces the nation’s journey from its pearl-diving era, through the period of oil and gas discoveries, to the early stages of the prosperous modern state of today; and Hidden in the Sands: Uncovering Qatar’s Past, a book for school children that charts the country’s history and cultural heritage through archaeology. A new book on the history of pearling in Qatar and the Gulf region will be published later in 2014
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
AT THE HEART OF RESOURCE CONSERVATION In a world where the global demand for water and electricity clearly outstrips the already depleting supplies, KAHRAMAA’s resource conservation strategies and smart utilities usage are setting an example in sustainable development.
he State of Qatar is among the countries in the world with the highest per capita water and electricity consumption. These statistics inevitably create the need for a better understanding of how we as a nation could consume more wisely and preserve the scarce resources we have. KAHRAMAA has been
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at the forefront of this conservation drive, actively participating in both strategic evaluation of our conservation activities and taking a consistent and structured approach towards raising awareness and changing behaviour. In accordance with the “The Sustainable Development Industry Reporting (SDIR) Program” initiated by the Ministry of Energy and Industry under
HE Dr Mohammed Saleh Al Sada in 2010, KAHRAMAA produced and published its first Sustainability Report for the year 2013. “The report highlights KAHRAMAA’s performance on social, environmental and economic aspects in order to run the business sustainably and to help achieve the Comprehensive Sustainable Development objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030,” according to HE Eng Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari, President of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation. Excerpts from the report, highlighted below, shed light onto the efforts of the organisation to cater to the needs of the present, while keeping the future in mind. In 2011, KAHRAMAA established the Conservation & Energy Efficiency Department which has been mandated with understanding resource conservation best practices, advancing regulations, initiatives and activities to enhance supply efficiency, loss reduction, energy conservation, demand-side management and energy source diversification. The department consists of four sections, namely Law Monitoring, Community Awareness and Development, Conservation Technology, and Renewable Energy Technologies. The department conducts gap analysis of the current situation in Qatar regarding the patterns of water and electricity use, and sets a roadmap plan for future regulatory development and project initiation, working in collaboration with the Corporate Planning and Business Development Department (CPBD), with Water Network Affairs (WNA), Electricity Network Affairs (ENA) and Technical Affairs Directorate. ON THE WATER FRONT Water demand in Qatar is expected to reach 361 million g/d by 2020, representing a growth of 10% a year, and more than four times the demand of 83 million g/d recorded in 2000. To be able to sustain our water resources, the Conservation Department at KAHRAMAA has communicated an ambitious target through the Tarsheed programme - to reduce water consumption per capita by 35% by the end of 2016. In 2013, a 6% reduction was achieved, exceeding expectations. Five water projects have been planned and launched since 2012 to help raise the potable water storage capacity of Qatar by 126% to 561 million gallons. The projects, which include building five new water reservoirs and pumping stations in Du-
hail, Umm Qarn, Mesaimeer, Doha South and Muaizer in addition to water reservoirs at existing water stations, involve a total investment of QR3.22 billion and are expected to be completed by the end of 2017. The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system has been installed for online water quality monitoring in all main water reservoirs. A first of its kind in the GCC, this allows KAHRAMAA to significantly improve the efficiency of its water management cycle by enabling real time control. KAHRAMAA has worked with Telvent GIT S.A. for four years to gain a better understanding of key water management issues, and hence to enhance its drinking water transmission and distribution network. In a similar vein, KAHRAMAA took part in a feasibility study on regional water linking and the implementation of a project to develop a long-term GCC strategy. To foster accountability, KAHRAMAA cooperates with various stakeholders (under the umbrella of the Permanent Water Resources Committee) for advancing the development of the Qatar’s water sector. In 2013, KAHRAMAA formed a high-level, six-member committee to promote the Smart Network project for the water and electricity sectors. KAHRAMAA is also actively involved in the development of Qatar’s Water policy, the update of the Qatar’s Water strategy, and the development of the new Water Law. POWERING THE FUTURE The demand for electricity has increased significantly, and so has the number of electricity customers. Subsequently the production levels in Q4 2013 reached 8,755 MW in comparison with just 4,032 MW in 2008. The National Control Cen-
tre (NCC) is responsible for the monitoring and management of the electricity transmission network, while the Distribution Control Centre (DCC) monitors the distribution network. The construction of a new DCC has been already planned to meet rising expectations. The Conservation Department has also established an ambitious target through the Tarsheed program to reduce electricity consumption per capita by 20% by the end of 2016. To meet growing demand, the new Power Transmission System Expansion Project has been commissioned and is in progress. Phase 8 included 30 contracts with a total value of more than $3.5 billion (QR12.74 billion) and Phase 9 is expected to be even bigger. With an annual growth of 10%, the development of the power grid in Qatar faces various challenges from expanding the electricity systems to meet demand, through to the delivery of high quality and convenient services, and the use of renewable sources for power generation. Recognising the urgency of providing quick but quality solutions, KAHRAMAA has turned to the smart grid idea which is strongly supported in Qatar as a result of rapid growth and a transition towards renewable energy sources. One of the first projects in this direction has been a partnership with Siemens on the provision of integrated smart metering solutions including the data management system EnergyIP. In 2013, a smart grid pilot project was launched in the city of Duhail, the first phase of which will have an installed capacity to produce 3MW to 5MW of electricity and about 500 cubic metres of water. They are not working in isolation and have established several strategic partnerships to work towards their common goals. A Memorandum of Understanding QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 59
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HE Dr Mohammed Saleh Al Sada Ministry of Energy and Industry
has been signed between KAHRAMAA and Qatar Foundation for approval to connect QF’s Solar Smart Grid Project Connectivity to KAHRAMAA’s main grid. Additionally, Siemens, Qatar University and KAHRAMAA have signed a MoU to carry out joint efforts on researching and developing energy-efficient systems and solutions to support the rapid development of Qatar’s infrastructure. Within KAHRAMAA’s electricity transmission and distribution networks, SF6, the most potent of the six greenhouse gases, is used as an insulating gas in substations. Acknowledging its damaging impact on the environment, KAHRAMAA is working towards reducing and controlling SF6 gas emissions by implementing various initiatives such as installing alarm systems in substations for observing SF6 potential leakages, changing defective equipment and transmitters, as well as safe handling of SF6 to ensure no release into the air. To increase efficiency on the consumer side, KAHRAMAA’s Conservation and Energy Efficiency Department has developed standard specifications for air conditioners energy efficiency and extensive research on the energy efficiency systems for air conditioners in Qatar. This has been approved by the World Trade Organisation and will be made effective soon. Also, as announced at the end of 2012, KAHRAMAA has banned the sale and import of incandescent light bulbs and will phase them out in favour of lower-wattage, energy-saving bulbs like compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs. REWARD AND PUNISHMENT KAHRAMAA has been working on raising awareness through Tarsheed and various 60 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
HE Eng Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari President, KAHRAMAA
“WE HAVE CARRIED OUT A NUMBER OF GENERAL SUSTAINABILITY REPORTING WORKSHOPS AND FOCAL POINTS TRAINING SESSIONS AND ONE-TO-ONE INTERVIEWS IN AN ATTEMPT TO BUILD INTERNAL CAPACITY AND SUSTAINABILITY UNDERSTANDING OF KAHRAMAA’S STAFF.” Eng. Ali Mohammed Al Ali Manager, Conservation and Energy Efficiency Department, KAHRAMAA.
other initiatives that reward conservation and punish waste. In 2013, Tarsheed celebrated its first anniversary and its national awareness campaign has been launched and communicated through appropriate visual branding, posters and lectures. Also, a programme for cooper-
Eng. Ali Mohammed Al Ali Manager, Conservation and Energy Efficiency Department, KAHRAMAA
ation with schools and universities with the support of the Supreme Council of Education has been initialised to help integrate sustainable consumption of water and electricity awareness and knowledge throughout the educational curricula. One of its successful projects in the first year has been getting the approval of the Permanent Committee of Water Resources to treated water for golf course irrigation and district cooling instead of drinking water in 2013. In 2013, KAHRAMAA introduced an annual new competition for Conserving Buildings, rewarding the sector that has adopted sustainable design, construction and operations across their premises. The competition, which aims to encourage effective participation in energy conservation efforts, has been opened to all buildings from industrial, governmental, commercial, and residential sectors. This year, a new category of buildings has been introduced – sport venues – to reflect the organisation’s commitment to a sustainable World Cup 2022. KAHRAMAA has contributed to the launch of Law No.26 2008 on rationalisation of water and electricity consumption. In 2013, KAHRAMAA also launched an awareness campaign under the theme of “Your commitment makes difference” to keep the community informed of this law. In 2013, it warned a total of 2,260 customers via mobile text messages against violating the Law. Fines/warnings are issued both for electricity and water wastage. For example, external lights left on throughout the day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. are treated as electricity wastage whereas running a hose to wash a car or a vehicle are regarded as wastage of water
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
STRENGTHENING EVERY PILLAR The objective of Qatar Shell’s social responsibility programme is to cooperate with Qatari partners to achieve measurable social impact, building a legacy aligned to the National Vision.
ith a focus on four key areas – Technical Capability Development, Supporting Local Businesses, Road Safety and Healthy Lifestyles through Football - Qatar Shell’s Corporate Social Responsibility “seeks to go beyond philanthropic donations, to contribute strategically with our Qatari partners to the Qatar National Vision 2030 in ways that generate measurable social impact and link to our core business strengths,” according to Wael Sawan, Managing Director and Chairman of Qatar Shell Companies. Listed
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below are some of the key initiatives taken by Qatar Shell to promote various causes. SMEs AND EDUCATION In Qatar, as part of a nationwide strategy to support Qatari small and medium enterprises, Qatar Development Bank and Shell are working together to help local suppliers compete for Qatar Shell business. An example is the recently hosted second annual ‘SME Business Opportunity Workshop’, where over 100 local SMEs and entrepreneurs were presented with details of seven new specific business opportunities, to encourage them to tender to become suppliers of choice for Pearl GT L, the world’s largest gas to liquids
plant delivered by Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Shell. Qatar Shell also recognises that cultivating entrepreneurship begins with another kind of investment – in young minds. Therefore, Qatar Shell partnered with Bedaya and Mosaic in 2012 to launch the Enterprise Challenge Qatar for university students. Subsequently, 14 teams from three different universities across the country participated in the competition. Following its success, Qatar Shell signed an agreement with Bedaya in 2013 to expand the Enterprise Challenge in Qatar to include high school students. This agreement saw more than 430 students from nine universities and six schools, from the northern communities in Qatar participate. The Enterprise Challenge is made up of two parts: the Ethical Business Challenge, which tests participants’ ability to balance the economic, environmental and social performance of their company; and the Business Simulation, which is designed to familiarise students with general business concepts from inception through to trading, finance, sales, marketing and production. Additionally, Qatar Shell Research & Technology Centre (QSRTC) works to position Shell as an active partner in supporting universities to help students discover exciting career opportunities in research, such as joint R&D programmes, knowledge sharing, outreach and
sponsorship programmes. In 2013, QSRTC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Qatar University and Texas A&M promising support for programmes in technology, science, research and development. Since 2008, Qatar Shell has also been sponsoring the Sustainable Development (SD) Professorship Chair at QU. This professorship provides academic expertise to help support Qatar’s current rapid economic growth in a way that ensures future generations can prosper and enjoy a higher quality of life based on social and environmental harmony. Qatar Shell is also celebrating ten consecutive years of Model United Nations sponsorship in Qatar, aiming to develop leadership skills in high-school students. It provides students from various countries and backgrounds with the opportunity to practise tolerance, live together in peace and to seek solutions to the various challenges facing the world through dialogue. Almost 1,300 students from countries across the region attended this year’s event held at the Qatar National Convention Centre. HEALTH AND WELLBEING Qatar Football Association (QFA) and Qatar Shell have partnered to develop KOORA T IME, an initiative designed to improve the health and wellbeing of Qatar’s youth through football. The programme aims to engage the local youth via three
different projects. Il’Ab We’Yana (Play with us, in Arabic) is KOORA T IME’s flagship initiative. It is an extra-curricular school programme based on the FutbolNet methodology created by FC Barcelona Foundation which uses football to develop healthy habits and positive behavioural change. It provides children aged 7 to 12 with an extra four hours of non-competitive physical education per week throughout the academic year. The second project, L’Batak (Your Game), is a high-tech football-themed Fan Zone that tours Qatar during the HH Emir Cup tournament. The Fan Zone consists of a range of fun interactive activities designed to promote greater physical activity amongst young people aged 13 to 17. Finally, the third project, Yalla Nal’aab (Let’s Play) will, when launched, make playing football as easy as possible. A ‘show up and play’ nationwide pitch access programme, it is designed for members of the community aged 18 to 24. On National Sport Day 2013, QFA and Qatar Shell officially launched KOORA T IME by breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever 5-a-side football match at Aspire Zone. The match ran continuously for 11 hours, 58 minutes and 12 seconds with 523 participants from all over Qatar. Following its success, the QFA, Al Dawri & Al Kass Sport Channels and Qatar Shell celebrated National Sport Day 2014 with a World Cup-style QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 63
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football tournament attended by more than 4,000 people, which was officially kicked off by HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry. COMMUNITY AND SAFETY Shell has a long history of working to improve road safety worldwide, with an objective to reach a goal of zero road crash fatalities in their operations and in all the countries they operate in. But road safety is also a community-wide concern and can only be addressed by co-operation between government agencies, the auto industry and road users. For four consecutive years, Qatar Shell has been sponsoring the GCC Traffic Week organised by the Ministry of Interior (MOI), in an effort to connect with the Qatari community and reduce road accidents. Early in 2014, The Supreme Education Council, MOI and Qatar Shell launched the Road Safety Educational Framework at Al Rashad School. The new Framework will now be incorporated into Qatar’s school curriculum, giving students the opportunity to learn about road safety behaviour. Along with other major companies that are part of the Ras Laffan Industrial Community (RLIC), Qatar Shell is an active participant in the Ras Laffan Industrial Community Outreach Programme (RLIC-COP), which is a grassroots level initiative by seven major oil and gas companies to connect with the communities of the northern municipalities of Qatar. While RLIC-COP contributes towards three strategic areas – Education, Health, Environment and Safety Awareness and Social Development – Qatar Shell’s strategy within the COP is to focus on addressing the social impacts of RLIC operations 64 > QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014
which are highlighted via ongoing community engagement. Additionally, Qatar Shell strives to support culture and heritage within the northern communities as they aim to preserve long-lasting traditions such as Garangao. RESEARCH AND INNOVATION The sustainable use of water has been identified as one of the nation’s key research grand challenges. In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, QSRTC runs an experimental farm in Rawdat Al Faras in Qatar, evaluating the potential for industrial water to be used to sustain plant growth. Meanwhile, in the QSRTC lab, various other R&D initiatives support their work on water use and reuse, including an anaerobic biotreatment testing facility at QSRTC, staffed by leading water research scientists. Another important aspect of QSRTC’s work is its research into carbon capture and storage. QSRTC is helping to better understand Qatar’s subsurface through a flagship research partnership investigating the injection of CO2 into carbonate reservoirs. Since 2008 Shell and Qatar Petroleum have been working on a $70 million, 10-year research collaboration in conjunction with the UK’s Imperial College and Qatar Science and Technology Park. Shell’s support for innovation that drives sustainability is manifested in the annual Shell Eco-Marathon, one of the world’s most challenging student innovation competitions held in Europe, America, and Asia. The competition brings together young minds passionate about energy issues, challenging them to design, build and compete with energy-
efficient vehicles. The winner is the team that travels the furthest using the least amount of energy. Teams from both Qatar University and Texas A&M University Qatar have now participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon for three years, with teams from the College of the North Atlantic joining the programme soon. CULTURE AND HISTORY Qatar Shell is a proud sponsor of several of Qatar Museums Authority (QMA)’s cultural initiatives. Last year, it was one of the platinum sponsors of the ‘Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture’; and this year again of the ‘Qatar Brazil 2014 Year of Culture’. QMA, Qatar Shell and Britain’s Royal Society worked together to bring two standout exhibitions to Qatar at the end of 2012 – 1001 Inventions and Arabick Roots – which were held at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art to celebrate the scientific and cultural achievements of the Muslim civilisation from 7th to 17th century. Over 72,000 people visited the blockbuster show, a new record within Qatar, including 15,000 Qatari schoolchildren who visited as part of organised school field trips. Camel racing is a hugely popular sport with a long tradition in Qatar. In the last five years, Shell has been the proud and official sponsor of His Highness the Emir’s Main Race Amongst Tribes, the highlight of the camel racing calendar, in the hope that the sponsorship support will help strengthen and preserve this dynamic spectacle. Along with these and several other such activities, Qatar Shell, as a long term investor in the nation, “seeks to create a positive legacy – a contribution to the Qatar National Vision of which we and our partners can be proud”
development > tag this
Qatar is among the nations which generate the highest per capita levels of municipal solid waste. But the country has plans to monetise its waste. BY V L SRINIVASAN
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apid industrialisation, high income levels, an increasing rate of urbanisation and a growing population, coupled with developmental activities are posing a new problem for Qatar – heaps of municipal solid waste. But there is a commercial angle to this too, as waste has tremendous market potential and can be used to earn millions. According to a Qatar Development Bank (QDB) report, the revenue potential from solid waste is estimated to be around QR2.42 billion ($663 million) by recycling and also by producing energy, a practice which is already adopted in other countries. The report also says that recycling the household refuse would raise QR979.16 million ($269 million), the commercial collection QR986.44 million ($271 million), construction and demolition debris QR387.25 million ($104 million), industrial waste QR10.92 million ($3 million) and hazardous waste QR58.24 million ($16 million). A small country whose population is a little over 2 million, Qatar generated 28,000 tons of garbage per day in 2012, up from 7% in 2011. Most of this comprises debris from construction material, domestic refuse, commercial and hazardous wastes. The country has one of the highest levels of per capita waste generation in the world, which ranges from 1.6 to 1.8 kg per person per day. This is expected to go up from the present levels of 7,000 tons per day (TPD), growing at a rate of 4.2% per annum. Of this, 92% is going to the three landfills. Umm Al Afai for bulky and domestic waste; Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste; Al-Krana for sewage wastes; 4% is incinerated; and the remainder is recycled. In order to maximise recovery resources and energy from waste, the government has set up an integrated Domestic Solid
Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Mesaieed, the first integrated waste management facility in the Middle East, which features one of the largest compost plants in the world at a cost of QR7.28 billion ($2 billion). It is the central component of the waste management strategy of Qatar. With an initial capacity to treat more than 2,300 tons of mixed solid waste, the DSWMC comprises waste separation and recycling facilities, an engineered landfill, a composting plant that can generate 800 tons of green waste per day, and a 1,500 ton per day Waste-to-Energy (WTE) incineration plant that can generate enough power for in-house requirements of 48 MW. The facility will be operated and maintained by Keppel Seghers for 20 years. But more important than ever is to tackle the issue at grass roots level. “Cities need to drastically reduce their waste streams and this will require a major shift away from our current linear model of waste management, where we make, use, and then dispose. Supplies of raw material are dwindling while urban centres across the developing world are expected to see a dramatic population increase over the coming years,” says Jeroen Vincent, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Averda. In order to tackle this issue, industry-wide cooperation to ensure a synergy between waste generation and the government’s legislation, and society’s outlook on waste, as changing perceptions is key, Vincent says. “Since stepping away from the linear model and moving towards a circular economy where the long-term objective is to prevent waste takes time and a lot of investment is needed, the tangible goals should be to reduce avoidable waste, and identify ways to use it for the benefit of our economy,” he says. A method that is particularly relevant to Qatar as it prepares for the FIFA World Cup is concrete recycling, an increasingly common method of utilising the rubble
“Rather than disposing of rubble in landfills, the concrete is crushed and used as gravel for new construction sites, therefore reducing the need for gravel mining, keeping concrete debris out of landfills and keeping construction costs down.” JEROEN VINCENT Chief Operating Officer, GCC Averda
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 67
QATAR'S SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT MARKET HAS A TOTAL OF
MILLION IN REVENUE POTENTIAL
“The other solution is that the government should encourage the recycling industry by offering some incentives, which will go a long way to achieving the desired objective. It will also help in the development of the recycling industry in the country." VENUGOPAL General Manager Al Haya Waste Management and Projects
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QR207 / Collection
QR276 / Collection
QR83 / Sorting
QR91 / Sorting
QR673 / Treatment
QR604 / Treatment
QR 14 / Disposal
QR14 / Disposal
generated from renovating or demolishing existing concrete structures. “Rather than disposing of rubble in landfills, the concrete is crushed and used as gravel for new construction sites, therefore reducing the need for gravel mining, keeping concrete debris out of landfills and keeping construction costs down,” Vincent says. Though Qatar is a front-runner in the GCC when it comes to converting waste to energy, and there are some excellent initiatives such as QAFCO (Qatar Fertiliser Company), much more has to be done to make the nation litter-free. Al Haya Waste Management & Projects Company General Manager Venugopal says there are many ways to reduce waste generation, one of which is to create awareness among people about its adverse impact on the environment. A more strategic approach is needed to separate the waste at its origin, according to Venugopal, which could result in increased recycling of the waste, which in turn may reduce landfill.
“The government should encourage the recycling industry by offering some incentives, which will go a long way to achieving the desired objective. It will also help in the development of the recycling industry in the country,” Venugopal adds. The Qatar Energy and Industry Sustainable Report, released in 2012, says that besides converting waste into energy, the DSWMC will also increase recycling from 8% to 25%. “Another possibility would be to develop a second processing facility elsewhere but with the basic infrastructure already in place at the DSWMC to allow for an expansion; this would likely be a more costly solution,” the report says. “There should be mandatory segregation at source by all companies and individuals, cap the amount of waste disposal by individuals and free access to landfills must be controlled and monitored by the authorities to reduce per capita waste generation,” says Salman Shaban, Manager (Commercial) at Lucky Star Alloys, a company which
SOURCE : ORIENTAL CONSULTANTS, MMUP, BEST PRACTICES DATA FROM SINGAPORE, EU AND US, BCG ANALYSIS
CONSTRUCTION & DEMOLITION
QR160 / Collection
QR7 / Collection
N/A / Sorting
QR3 / Sorting
QR342 / Treatment
QR44 / Treatment
QR3 / Disposal
QR0 / Disposal All figures in millions
has been engaged in dealing with recycling of metals in Doha for the last four decades. According to a report by the Oxford Business Group (OBG), the landfill option is not seen as an environmentally sustainable long-term solution, given the limited available land for this purpose. Qatar has committed to developing a comprehensive solid waste management plan to encourage recycling, incentivise waste reduction, promote source separation and develop a robust recycling sector, with the goal of reaching a national recycling rate of 38% by 2016. The recycling rate was 8% when the DSWMC was inaugurated in 2011, according to the OBG report. Shaban too says landfill can never be a viable option for any country, as it damages the environment in terms of air and land pollution. “If free access is given to the public and private sector to dispose of waste into landfills then there will not be any motivation or systematic approach to recycling,” Shaban adds.
Vincent believes that incinerating and land filling should be the last stage of a controlled cascade, which should include separation at source as a first step, followed by recycling and reusing all valuable materials. “At the end of the cascade, materials left over that have absolutely no value and are non-recyclable, can be gathered for disposal in either a landfill or incinerated. I cannot stress enough, however, that incineration as a go-to solution is a waste of valuable materials and is not the practical approach,” he says. Vincent expects that the government, which is reportedly planning to amend and re-implement waste legislation, will shift to a more heavily legislative and organised approach to sustainable waste management. The government is also considering offering incentives to companies engaged in the recycling business and is planning to launch public awareness campaigns to encourage waste separation. It also plans to improve collection networks and to provide more recycling bins
“There should be mandatory separation at source by all companies and individuals, cap on the amount of waste disposal by individuals and free access to landfills must be controlled and monitored by the authorities to reduce per capita waste generation.” SALMAN SHABAN Manager (Commercial) Lucky Star Alloys
QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 69
development > tag this
CONNECTIONS After several years of serving multinationals, rapidly-expanding Qatari companies and local telecom operators, British Telecom is opening its first office in Doha. BY AYSWARYA MURTHY
ael Kabbani, British Telecom’s Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has had a busy day; a slew of interviews and meetings followed by a big evening at the British Embassy in Doha, where, at celebrations for opening of BT’s new office in Doha, the Country Manager for Qatar would also be announced. But currently he is tight-lipped about the details. “Until now we had been serving the Qatari market out of our Dubai offices but we knew that we wanted to be on the ground to drive many of the projects we have in mind for the country. These projects would broadly involve expanding services to global MNCs and Qatari corporations but detailed plans will be drafted and announced in the next few months,” he says. BT is trusted with providing managed ICT services to many of the global multinationals, financial centres and exchanges
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(“Qatar Exchange, for example, is connected through BT”) and major airlines in this part of the world. “A few years back we established our global Point of Presence in Doha in partnership with Ooredoo which gives companies here access to BT’s global network. For example, a bank with operations all over the world would need to communicate, share data and collaborate with other branches and regional and global headquarters spread across the world.” If operations are contained within a country’s borders, the local provider could efficiently handle communications, but cross country data exchange is trickier – data integrity and security apart, the data exchange has to comply with the regulations of all the countries involved, which are often very different. “It requires a lot of experience and investment. BT at present covers over 170 countries and can be invaluable to international MNCs in Qatar. Qatari companies looking to expand out of the country also use our services. It is particularly our investments in the emerging market which
has positioned us as leaders in this domain,” he says. The opening of an office in Doha is the newest chapter in British Telecom’s expansion story in the Middle East that started three years ago. “As part of the second wave of our investments in people, infrastructure and services, we had three other major announcements in the last month,” Kabbani says. The first of these is the Innovation Showcase Centre in Dubai; the first of its kind in MENA. “This centre will serve to demonstrate to our future clients our full suite of managed services. They can come, touch, feel and work on those services in a laboratory-type environment and try out services before they purchase them. We have 15 such centres globally,” he says. “We also launched the first cloud computing node in Saudi Arabia through which the country’s enterprises could connect to our global computing cloud and access the full range of our cloud computing services. It is an advanced solution that BT has been
investing in for the last four to five years and the customer interest has exceeded our expectations. We are optimistic about the pickup rate of this service,” Kabbani adds. Kabbani denies the fact that governments and organisations are often apprehensive about hosting their data on a cloud that’s outside their borders. “A lot of governments are sharing information across countries. It’s about making sure the security around the data is right and data Acts are properly adhered to. It also depends on what kind of data we are talking about. You’d want to keep some data outside for purposes of disaster recovery, proximity and reliability,” he adds. And finally, BT, in association with VIVA Bahrain, launched the region’s first intra operability hub. “This is an extremely important milestone that will bring to all the operators across the region the use of the most advanced platform for global IP exchange.” BT has only three other such nodes in the world – in London, Singapore and Miami. Kabbani points this out to highlight the importance of the Middle East to the company. “It’s a regional node that will bring traffic from around the world and spread it across the Middle East. The support we received from the Bahraini government was
"Cross border connectivity requires a lot of experience and investment. BT at present covers over 170 countries and can be invaluable to international MNCs in Qatar. Qatari companies looking to expand out of the country also use our services." WAEL KABBANI Managing Director British Telecom.
very proactive and also the deregulation of the telecom market there makes it one of the most progressive environments in the Middle East. Together with this, we found the right partner in VIVA Bahrain who had the agility and the ability to move forward fast to implement and operate this solution of the future.” The World Cup 2022 should also hold a special appeal BT. “We were the official ICT infrastructure providers for the London Olympics 2012 and I can tell you it was the most targeted event on the planet in terms of cyber attacks. But it also changed the face of how ICT can help in the hosting of events of that scale which would have been unimaginable even four years prior to that. It has given us the expertise and accreditation to plan major events and we hope to share whatever is required – in terms of expertise, people skills, experience and even infrastructure – with the governments of the region. But even prior to 2022, the explosive growth of all feeding industries that will support the event – from airlines, to hospitality, to transport – is going to be unquantifiable and BT would like to help deliver advanced solutions to many of these companies,” he concludes QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 71
development > tag this
he 2010 event was also aimed at developing networks to facilitate business in tourism-related sectors. While Hong Kong made a lot of progress and developed into a financial hub during this period, Qatar too marched ahead to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Four years later, the effort bore fruit, if in a smaller way with Cathay Pacific, Hong Kongâ€™s flagship airline, entering into a strategic code-share agreement. Under the strategic agreement with its oneworld partner - Qatar Airways - Cathay Pacific first started servicing Doha directly on March 30.
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The agreement offered both Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways passengers greater flexibility and a wider choice when travelling from Hong Kong to Europe, Africa and the Gulf or from Doha to Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan. Accordingly, Qatar Airways, which was operating two flights to Hong Kong per day in the past, agreed to allot one slot to Cathay Pacific, which started servicing Doha from March 30. With this, officials of the Hong Kong Tourism Board as well as Cathay Pacific expect more visitors from Qatar and the other GCC countries. Tourist arrivals As many as 54 million people from around the world visited Hong Kong (whose
population is around 7 million) in 2013 and the corresponding figure for Qatar (whose population is 2.1 million) 1.32 million during the same period. The contribution of was tourism sector to Hong Kongâ€™s GDP is approximately 9%, whereas it was 1.8% in Qatar in 2013 and plans are underway to increase it to 5.1% by 2030. The QTA expects a surge in the number of tourists visiting Qatar, from 1.32 million in 2013 to over 4 million by the World Cup 2022 to around 7 million by 2030. With Dubai also hosting World Expo in 2020, these numbers could witness a boost as people flocking to the Emirate are likely to fly down to Qatar for a day or two. Another interesting aspect is that both Qatar and Hong Kong were former
WHEN QATAR TOURISM AUTHORITY (QTA) CONDUCTED A FORTNIGHT-LONG ASIAN ROAD SHOW IN HONG KONG AND OTHER ASIAN CITIES IN 2010, IT WAS WITH THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING QATAR AS AN UPSCALE DESTINATION FOR MICE (MEETINGS, INCENTIVES, CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS). BY V L SRINIVASAN
colonies of Britain. While Qatar gained independence in September 1971, Hong Kong was handed over to China in July 1997. Cathay Pacific, which has been servicing various cities in the region for the last 37 years, considers Qatar as one of the major destinations in the GCC that will attract both, locals as well as expats to visit Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific’s General Manager South Asia, Middle East and Africa Charlie Stewart-Cox says the agreement between the two airlines offers a wide range of benefits for customers of both, including more opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer points or miles. “Our current code-share agreement with Qatar Airways enables passengers to freely
book on either airline to an expanded network of destinations from Hong Kong to Europe, Africa and the Gulf or from Doha to Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan,” he says. Good response While definite figures about the number of people travelling from Doha to Hong Kong after the launch of new service are not yet available, Cathay Pacific officials are delighted by the response to their new service between the two cities. “Ours is a full-service carrier offering premium services to customers, and we focus on trying to do things that will attract them. The operating environment for airline business remains highly competitive
but we will continue to strengthen our edge by providing customers with the most comprehensive network of flight services, maximum scheduling flexibility as well as the best products and services to provide a better end-to-end travel experience for passengers flying with us,” Stewart-Cox adds. Cathay Pacific’s Assistant Manager Tracey Kwong feels that the number of tourists from the GCC region to Hong Kong and vice versa would increase with Cathay Pacific as well as Qatar Airways operating their services. “We hope that GCC nationals would tour Hong Kong instead of Europe or the Americas to spend their vacations,” she says. Hong Kong is a vibrant city with an array of contemporary and historical attractions. Among the more popular are QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 73
development > tag this “Our current code share agreement with Qatar Airways enables passengers to freely book on either airline to an expanded network of destinations from Hong Kong to Europe, Africa and the Gulf or from Doha to Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan.”
Hong Kong Tourism Board is adding attractions and announcing events constantly. Those planning holiday in Hong Kong are advised to check www.discoverhongkong.hk for more details.
CHARLIE STEWART-COX General Manager South Asia, Middle East and Africa Cathay Pacific
TEN “MUST SEE” PLACES IN HONG KONG
“The dynamics of GCC are different. The population in each country in the GCC is small and that of Qatar is even smaller, and the number of tourist arrivals in the country is also low. Hence, the government has to take much stronger lead at different levels and private sector has to play a further strong role in supplementing the government’s efforts.” PETER HOSLIN Regional Director for Europe and New Markets Hong Kong Tourism Board
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0I. 02. 03. 04.
The Peak: The highest point on Hong Kong Island, from where one can have a bird’s eye view of the high-rise structures of the city.
05. 06. 07. 08. 09.
Mid-Harbour City: The biggest and most diverse shopping mall with around 450 shops and more than 2,200 brands.
1881 Heritage: Located in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui, the former Marine Police Headquarters' unique Victorian architecture epitomises its rich colonial background. PMQ: Formerly police married quarters, the place has been made into a creative designing hub with studios. Former Legislative Council Building: The monument is the finest neo-classical architecture and was constructed 1912. It was used as the Legislative Council Building from 1985 until 2011.
Sky100: For more sight seeing, visit Sky100, the highest indoor observation deck in Hong Kong. Disneyland: It has four themed lands; Grizzly Gulch, Toy Story Land, Mystic Land opened in 2013. The fourth one - Iron Man Experience - will be opened in 2016. Ocean Park: Ocean is divided into main areas, the waterfront and the Summit. It has a total of 70 attractions. Ngong Ping 360: Take the 5.7 km cable car journey to have a glimpse of the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue at Ngong Ping village on Lantau Island. Man Mo Temple: Built in 1847, the Man Mo Temple is a picturesque tribute to the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo).
the Avenue of Stars, The Peak, Ocean Park Hong Kong, Hong Kong Disneyland, Ladies Market, Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (and Golden Bauhinia Square), Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple and the Clock Tower. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board Regional Director for Europe and New Markets, Peter Hoslin, there is a lot of tourism appeal for the Arab world, particularly the GCC, as Hong Kong is a family-friendly destination in many ways. “There are many attractions like Disney Land, Ocean Park and the Peak. Moreover, the city is considered safe for tourists as the crime rate is very low. Hong Kong’s cultural sensitivity is also very strong and tourists from the Middle East should feel at home while visiting the city. Besides, Hong Kong is a popular destination for the white-collar expats living in Qatar, as it is known as a place where East meets West. The multi-cultural cuisine, the restaurants and the night life are a mix
of both traditional as well as modernity,” Hoslin says. Destination Qatar The Hong Kong authorities have succeeded in promoting their city as Asia’s World City and QTA is also keen to promote its brand identity of Destination Qatar. But it has a long way to go before it can emulate Hong Kong. Should Qatar emulate Hong Kong in developing the tourism sector? “The dynamics of GCC are different. The population in each country in the GCC is small and that of Qatar is even smaller and the number of tourist arrivals in the country is also small. Hence, the government has to take a much stronger lead at different levels and the private sector has to play a further strong role in supplementing the government’s efforts,” Hoslin says. Though the Hong Kong Tourism Board has not entered into any formal agreement with tourism officials in other countries, it is keen to share market intelligence with them including QTA representatives
development > tech talk "I’M DOING A (FREE) OPERATING SYSTEM (JUST A HOBBY, WON’T BE BIG AND PROFESSIONAL LIKE GNU) FOR 386(486) AT CLONES." LINUS TORVALDS, inventor of Linux, posted on August 25, 1991
RUMOURS OF TWITCH ACQUISITION BY YOUTUBE Twitch allows gamers to broadcast live what they are playing along with their commentary, letting others watch and/or join in the conversation.
onsidered YouTube’s closest competitor in terms of time spent on the site, Twitch is reportedly going to be the video-streaming giant’s first big-buck acquisition, according to unconfirmed sources. Though Variety and Wall Street Journal are at odds as to when this deal might go down, with the former saying it’s imminent while the latter claiming it’s still in the early stages of negotiations, there is a consensus that the sale might be worth as much as $1 billion in cash.
23,000 FOLLOWERS IN MAY. FOLLOW US FOR THE LATEST NEWS IN QATAR
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E-BAY SUFFERS MASSIVE SECURITY BREACH
-bay announced that hackers raided its network in February, accessing some 145 million user records, making this one of “the biggest data breaches in history”, according to several news sources (this is based on the number of accounts compromised and not necessarily the severity of the attack). The records stolen by the cybercriminals contained passwords as well as email addresses, birth dates, mailing addresses and other personal information, but not financial data such as credit card numbers, a company spokeswoman told reporters. E-bay advised customers to change their passwords, especially if they were using the same password across several sites.
Just changed your passwords after the Heartbleed security scare? Brace yourself; you might have to do it again.
DON’T BE A GLASSHOLE AS THE NEXT-BIG-THING IN WEARABLES, THE GOOGLE GLASS, SLOWLY PERCOLATES INTO THE MARKET, A NEW BREED OF ANNOYING TECHNOPHILES HAVE EMERGED - THE GLASSHOLES. Google itself has released a set of Dos and Don’ts to help yourself avoid falling into the glasshole category. Respect the privacy of the people around you and ask for permission before you take pictures or videos. Just because you can do it on the sly, don’t. It’s creepy. It’s still a new piece of technology. Handle with care. Be polite to curious people who might walk up to you to question you about it. Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions. If you find yourself staring off at it for long periods of time, people are just going to think you are weird.
OOREDOO JOINS FORCES WITH MIT
Ooredoo has announced a new collaboration with the worldrenowned MIT Media Lab, in order to drive cuttingedge ICT innovation and research.
oredoo joined the MIT Media Lab as a Consortium Lab Member to be able to “leverage innovative research from one of the world’s leading institutes to deliver disruptive innovations and new life-enhancing products and services to our customers and also to support the development of a larger innovation ecosystem in MENA and Southeast Asia,” according to Dr Nasser Marafih, Group CEO of Ooredoo. Through its work with the research laboratory, Ooredoo will look to amplify innovative thinking developed in the MIT Media Lab, engage with researchers, and access member events to view new MIT research. It will also increase its efforts to share intellectual property rights on technology developed through the collaboration, a press release by the company said.
APPLE BUYS BEATS ELECTRONICS Apple’s $3 billion (QR10.92 billion) purchase of Beats which includes both Beats Audio hardware and Beats Music, the streaming radio service, is its largest deal till date.
o consolidate its already strong position in the digital music space, the tech giant reportedly shelled out $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock to buy Beats, founded by rapper Dr Dre and music industry executive Jimmy Iovine in 2006. The pair will be joining Apple’s management team, the company said in a statement which also mentioned that iTunes, which sells individual songs and albums and offers a streaming radio service, would be offered alongside the Beats music service and the premium headphones and speakers will be also retailed in Apple
From left, Jimmy Iovine, a longtime music executive; Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief; Dr. Dre, the rapper; and Eddy Cue, Apple’s executive in charge of Internet services. (Picture Courtesy: Apple)
MICROSOFT LAUNCHES SURFACE PRO 3 The new hybrid tablet that was announced recently will be faster and lighter than the previous versions, the company has said.
he new model sports a 12" screen and a Core i7 processor. Another noticeable difference is the 3:2 aspect ratio instead of the 16:9 ratio that other Surfaces have. 9.1 millimeters thick and weighing 800 grams, the new front-facing speakers make the new tablet 45% louder than the previous ones. As with other Surface Pros, it will accept pen input. Even the thin body has a full-size USB 3.0 port, microSD card reader, and Mini DisplayPort, 5-megapixel and 1080p HD front- and rear-facing cameras, as well as stereo speakers with Dolby Audio-enhanced sound. Other hardware specs include SSD storage from 64GB to 512GB; 4GB or 8GB of memory, Wi-Fi; and TPM 2.0 for enterprise security. The device is priced at $799 (QR2,909) but the innovative keyboard/cover is still only sold separately. QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 77
development > tech talk
WHAT’S UP QITCOM?
At Qatar’s signature ICT event, QITCOM 2014, which is back after a break, pivotal technology companies shared space with government organisations showcasing tech innovations, who rubbed shoulders with veteran and new entrepreneurs and thought-leaders from around the world.
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he Prime Minister and Minister of Interior HE Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani inaugurated the high-profile event on May 26 in the presence the Minister of Information and Communication Technology HE Dr Hessa Al Jaber; HE Ali Sharif Al Emadi, Minister of Finance; and HE Dr Saleh Mohammad Al Nabit, Minister of Development Planning and Statistics among others. In her opening remarks, HE Dr Al Jaber highlighted some of the landmark moments for the ICT sector in 2013, including the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan, the launch of Es’hailSat1, the country’s stellar performance in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Report, etc. “Over 120 local, regional and international companies are participating in QITCOM this year and I urge them, and others looking to enter the Qatari markets, to take full advantage of our excellent ICT infrastructure and
resources, including the skills and expertise of the students graduating from the universities here. This innovation-based market is thriving and provides the perfect environment to raise the standards of the ICT sector,” she said. HE Prime Minister Al Thani, who spoke next, announced three major national strategies: the e-Government Strategy 2020, aimed at improving online services and helping the internet become the preferred medium of connection between the people and government departments; the Qatar National Cyber Security Strategy, developed by the National Cyber Security Committee to improve Qatar’s cyber security to safeguard national interests and preserve the fundamental rights; and the Inclusion through Technology Strategy, developed for greater enablement of the people with disabilities through technology, which will be implemented by the Qatar
From technocrats to aspiring entrepreneurs and students to technophiles, QITCOM had something for everyone.
Assistive Technology Center (Mada). At QITCOM it was announced that free wireless internet is being introduced in two new parks in Qatar as part of the iParks initiative. The communities in Shahaniya and Umm Salalwill now be able to take advantage of free, high speed connectivity at their parks. This is part of an ongoing initiative through which Qatar aims to have the majority of its public parks and public places connected to wireless internet by 2015. Helpful little iPark trees dotted about the area were actually cleverly disguised charging stations that proved invaluable during the last few hours of the event. Under the theme “Innovating Today For The Future of Qatar”, several streams of talks were held that broadly focused on social media’s impact on society, the technology that was at the core of some of Qatar’s biggest projects, the next frontier of satellite technology, entrepreneurship and
innovation and more. Some brilliant speakers from Qatar and around the globe, like Former MD of LinkedIn Europe, Kevin Eyres; Co-Founder of Square, Jim McKelvey; Microsoft’s regional manager for Cloud and Enterprise, Ihsan Anabtawi; Meeza’s Chief Technology Officer Faisal Al Kuwari, shared their insights into the challenges and opportunities in their respective fields. One of the most interesting talks was that given by Qatar Rail’s Rafael Lucero who spoke about how new technology like Google Glass, Occulus Rift, geospatial technology and building information modeling are being used in tunnelling and station constructions, making work easier for technicians, engineers, supervisors and architects. The exhibition space was teeming with activity and innovative solutions. Some of the major booths included those of Qatar Rail, Ooredoo, Vodafone, the Ministry of
Interior, SAP and others. Ooredoo celebrated the three million customer milestone and the launch of its new community portal, while Vodafone showcased Qatar’s first commercial connected car – a BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. An awareness session familiarised attendees with Hukomi. A tweetup session also put Qatar’s tech entrepreneurs in touch with guest speakers Saeed Omar from Qatar Business Incubation Centre and Bemyapp’s Alexandre Sutra. The highlight was probably the Innovation Theatre, which was buzzing with activity all three days and featured pitches (with live judging), panels and talks on startups, animation and entrepreneurship. The three-day event ended on a sweet note with a gala event at Grand Hyatt where the QITCOM awards were announced. Marhaba, Qatar Living, Vodafone, Qatar National Library and Meeza were among the big winner on the night QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 79
business>marketwatch Danish designers BoConcept have been creating design furniture for close to 60 years. The brand is part of Al Mana Interior and opened its first branch in Qatar, in 2009. They have just opened a store in Qatar’s Lagoona Mall.
BOCONCEPT OPENS BRANCH AT LAGOONA
he brand’s design consultants and interior decorators offer a dedicated and professional service to help achieve room solutions that fulfill the dreams of their customers. With more than 270 BoConcept brand stores in more than 60 countries, the first one opened in
Paris in 1993 followed by Tokyo, Shanghai, London, Copenhagen, New York, Berlin, Athens, Dubai and Qatar. A high level of professional service is an important part of a BoConcept store's philosophy and the atmosphere in the store at Lagoona underlines this.
The Middle East’s best-selling buyone-get-one-free incentive provider offers over 250 discounts at leading spa, health, beauty and fitness merchants in Qatar.
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he Dubai-based Entertainer known for its popular buy-one-get-one-free offers, has launched its 2014-2015 Entertainer Qatar Body, providing over QR 75,000 worth of savings to customers. With treatments that range from facials, massages, manicures, pedicures and fitness classes, the Entertainer Qatar Body has something for everyone. Top merchants include Six Senses Spa - Sharq Village and Spa by The Ritz Carlton, Remède Spa at St. Regis Qatar, Saray Spa at Renaissance Doha, Angsana Spa, Chantara Spa, Fitness First, Diet Delights, Lucie Saint-Clair Paris, Jean Louis David, La Bonita Beauty Centre and many others.
“We know how important personal wellbeing is and our aim is to make it easier and more affordable to get healthy, look fabulous and pamper yourself as well,” says Donna Benton, Founder and CEO of the Entertainer. All offers are valid for 12 months from April 1 2014 to March 30, 2015. The Entertainer Body is available as both a printed book and a mobile product on the recently launched Entertainer App. Another important feature is that you can use the 'one for two' option or you can buy one treatment and get the second treatment free of charge at a later date, or book in for a double treatment (i.e. pay for a 60-minute massage and get 120 minutes).
business > marketwatch
CGC TO EMPOWER HAMAD MEDICAL CORPORATION MEDICAL AND SECURITY NEEDS
CTV-technology supplied by CGC will help HMC in strengthening and safeguarding public, personnel and building premises which comprise over 30 sites including hospitals, emergency units, medical supply rooms and accommodations making them more efficient, connected and secured. Tawfeeq Salem, Chief Financial Officer, CGC, thanked HMC and said, “We are privileged to have won this project from HMC. As a leading technology solutions provider, we are fully equipped with proven
capabilities, expertise and proficiency to meet industry needs. Our CCTV solutions have contributed in establishing safety and security for our valued clients in oil and gas, security services, construction, transport management, hospitals and other emergency services as well as to the shopping malls to offer a safe and secure environment all across Qatar. Being high-end, efficient and easy to operate, our advanced monitoring systems have led companies to act quickly and deploy responsive measures during emergency operations at big project sites.”
SHUKRAN, CUSTOMERS Landmark Group has just launched their facebook page “Qatar Shukran” dedicated to shoppers of Landmark Group’s brands – Homecentre, Centrepoint, Babyshop, Splash, Shoemart, Citylifestyle, Emax, Max Fashion and Funville.
he page updates users about the new offers, contests and various other entertainments that are organised at various outlets and malls. Qatar Shukran is featured in among the top 20 Facebook pages on socialbakers.com, with more than 70,000 fans and a weekly reach of 750,000 and more. Fans of the page get the chance to participate in weekly and monthly contests to win the prizes up to QR 1,000, as well as deals on home décor, beauty tips and many opportunities to win Shukran points.
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Consolidated Gulf Company (CGC), leading technology solution provider in Qatar, has been awarded a multi-million dollar contract by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to provide state-of-the-art CCTV surveillance cameras and access control systems linked to a centralised control and command centre in accordance with Ministry of Interior standards.
HEADING IN THIS DIRECTION The world’s hottest band, One Direction, have announce they will be visiting many cities and countries for the very first time, including a leg of the tour in South Africa and the UAE.
he show in the UAE is scheduled for Saturday April 4 2015 at the Sevens Stadium Dubai, with 30,000 fans expected to attend. Tickets will go on sale regionally from 22ndMay from www.doneevents.com and all Virgin Megastores. Fans in Qatar will also be able to purchase tickets from Virgin Megastore in Villagio Mall, Qatar. “We are very proud to finally present in concert what has been one of the most requested and in demand bands in recent years” says Thomas Ovesen, COO of concert organiser Done Events, “With only one night in Dubai and no other regional shows on this tour we expect a completely sold out show with fans from all over the Middle East and beyond flocking to the stadium. The event is destined to become the biggest concert this region has ever seen.”
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RIDING ON SUCCESS The automotive sector in Qatar is one segment that will never be touched by shifts in the global economy, thanks to the high disposable income of the citizens.
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ith the increasing number of expats in the country participating in the ongoing infrastructure projects, there has been a surge in the demand for passenger cars. This dependence on private transport is because Qatar is still in the process of developing an efficient public transportation system, which is expected to be ready only before the commencement of FIFA World Cup in 2022. The surge in car sales can also be attributed to high GDP per capita, increased public spending and a healthy banking sector while luxury car demand is driven by the affluence level. Along with the car sales, auto components consumption across all vehicle categories in the GCC region, which was estimated at QR32.214 billion ($8.85 billion) in 2012, is expected to touch QR52.41 billion ($14.4 billion) by 2016, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan. Reports say Qatar’s light passenger vehicle market rose by 7.6% involving record sales of as many as 90,291 units in 2013. However, this fell slightly short of the expectations of market watchers who forecast the sales would cross 100,000 by end of 2013 based on sales in the first six months, which were said to be around 42,000. Business Monitor International (BMI) in its report on Qatar’s automobile industry
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says Toyota remained the market leader, for the third successive year, by selling 15,346 passenger cars – most of them being Land Cruiser, Hilux, Prado and Camry models – followed by Nissan which sold 6,771 units and Korean manufacturer Hyundai was placed third with 3,850 vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors secured fourth position by selling 1,908 cars and the fifth place went to Kia Motors with a sale of 1,867 units. In all, the top five manufacturers accounted for 70% of the total new vehicle sales market in Qatar during the first six months of 2013. “We retain an optimistic outlook on the auto sector. This is based on rising government expenditure, a growing population and increased spending on construction ahead of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup,” the BMI report says. The BMI report forecasts that the new vehicles sales will increase by 40% to around 140,000, in 2018. It is not only the mid-price range of passenger cars that are most sought after. The demand for ultra-luxury cars is also high in Qatar. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha reported a sales growth of 18% in the first nine months of 2013, with the Phantom model seeing growth of 83% across its model range. The Ghost Extended Wheelbase model also saw growth of 75%. Alfardan Automobiles, the importer of BMW and Mini cars in
Qatar, posted 25% y-o-y and 19% y-o-y sales growth for BMW and Mini cars respectively during the first nine months period and the trend is likely to continue in 2014. The company also posted a 78% y-o-y increase in sales of the BMW 1 Series, while sales of the BMW X3 grew 65% y-o-y in the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period of the previous year. Likewise, Ford Motor Company has registered a 22% sales growth in Qatar, while sales in the Middle East witnessed a 12% year-on-year growth in 2013. Almana Motors, the local importer-dealer for Ford and Lincoln in Qatar, recorded a strong fleet sales growth of about 25% and a 17% increase in retail sales, respectively. The better sales growth is the result of the dealership’s continued efforts to expand its presence in the local market as well as investing in the development of the after-sales service capacity. The automobile companies are hopeful that the “feel good factor” will continue as the BMI expects that private consumption – a key indicator of likely consumer demand for new vehicles – will continue to grow at a rapid pace throughout 2014. This is because of the support extended by the government’s expansionary fiscal stance and a fast-rising resident population. In fact, the BMI raised the private consumption growth forecasts to 11% in 2014, from 8% in the past
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LEXUS MEANS LUXURY
Indicating the popularity among the new vehicles, as many as 37,284 Lexus cars were sold across the Middle East and North Africa region registering a 19% growth in sales in 2013.
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hile the sale of Lexus IS shot up by over 63% (1,864 vehicles) due to its impressive design, innovative technology and improved performance, the sales of LS increased by more than 55% (2171 units) and that of Lexus GX by over 63% (1060 cars) in the region during last year. With its focus on leading edge innovation and design in line with its brand campaign theme of “Amazing in Motion”, Lexus continues its impressive ascent to rank among the top in the luxury car segment across the region. The record sales is attributed to aggressive design, dynamic performance, and advanced environmental and safety technologies. In fact, the Lexus’ flagship LS460 catapulted to the top spot and won award in the Best Luxury Sedan category at the 2013 Middle East Motor Awards (MEMA) held in Sharjah in October last. The LS460 emerged a clear winner based on a 12-point scoring criteria such as its technical aspects, design, handling, safety features, performance, innovation, consumer aspects, driver satisfaction, emotional appeal, value
for money and comfort level. Toyota Motor Corporation’s MENA chief representative Nobuyuki Negishi says: “Our emphasis on design excellence has been a significant factor in the overall look and feel of our cars with a deep commitment to world class design and this has helped us maintain our growth momentum in the luxury segment. Building on the three main pillars of aggressive design, dynamic performance, and advanced environmental and safety technologies, we have made consistent, innovative progress and seen strong customer acceptance of our new design philosophy.” Leading the charge for the sedan range, the Lexus IS made its mark on luxury car buyers in the region with an impressive +63% growth in sales with 1,864 units. With its contemporary and elegant design, advanced driving dynamics and innovative technology, the IS has been a distinctive and premium sports sedan which provides a truly responsive vehicle as a natural extension of its driver. With a total of 3,000 improvements, the LS is the most refined Lexus saloon ever
built and has made a significant impact on luxury car buyers. With the Lexus LFA as a reference point during its development, the 2014 Lexus LS has been further refined to deliver an even greater performance. A more agile platform has been achieved with laser welding and an innovatively bonded body structure that also adds strength and lightness for a stable, smoother ride. Acceleration, seamless shifting, control and fuel efficiency is easily adjusted by the turn of the Drive Mode Select dial which offers four distinct driving styles. The thrilling drive of the Lexus LS is now even more engaging in the F SPORT model. In the SUV category, the Lexus GX remains a rarity, a full-capability model with exceptional off-road prowess, yet with onroad handling and ride quality that epitomize the Lexus brand. The bold design with a large spindle grille coupled with revolutionary driving dynamics takes the styling of luxury to a new high level. The Lexus GX is a premium luxury family commuter during the week that easily transforms to a trail-driving 4x4 on the weekend, with room for up to seven
HYUNDAI ON A HIGH It has been a smooth drive for Hyundai Motor Company as it has seen record sales in the Middle East region with total sales of 328,856 units in 2013, reflecting a 7.5% increase compared with 2012.
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his is the second year in a row that the world’s fourth largest automotive manufacturer has broken the 300,000 vehicles barrier leaving the Korean car manufacturer full of smiles. Saudi Arabia registered the biggest growth among GCC and Levant markets for 2013 while simultaneously maintaining its position as Hyundai’s single biggest market, with sales up 16% to 143,405 units. Kuwait posted sales increases of 11% on its impressive 2012 results, adding to the successes of the UAE, Oman and Bahrain, which registered sales boosts of 10%, 7% and 7% respectively. Hyundai’s compact cars again topped the sales chart, with the Elantra overtaking the Accent as the most popular car with Middle Eastern customers. The Elantra recorded sales of 81,401 in 2013; an increase of 28,245 on the previous year, while 61,059 Accents were snapped up across the region. Maintaining its third place position was the Tucson compact crossover SUV, registering sales of 28,370. Hyundai’s “Modern Premium” brand direction in the Middle East is spearheaded by the Genesis and the 2014 Centennial – Hyundai’s flagship model launched earlier the year, both of which saw an improvement in sales during 2013. The Genesis in particular proved popular with the region’s customers, resulting in a 24% sales increase to 3,112 units.The Santa Fe saw a boost in sales once again, with 22,605 units sold across the region – reinforcing the
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popularity of Hyundai’s SUV range. Other popular models with Middle East customers included the Sonata with over 23,700 units sold, and the Azera with sales of 11,099. Vice President and head of Hyundai Africa and Middle East regional headquarters Tom Lee said: “2013 was once again a very successful year for Hyundai Motor Company in the Middle East, as record-breaking sales for the second consecutive year helped us maintain our number two position in the market in the face of strong competition from Japanese, European and American manufacturers.” “Many of our models have also received accolades from automotive experts in the Middle East which highlights the quality of the products on offer to our customers in the region. Our flagship Centennial was heralded as Best Luxury Full-Sized Car for 2013 by Automobile Magazine, and was awarded Saloon of the Year by EVO Middle East. Hyundai was also named 2013 Manufacturer of the Year by Sport Auto Magazine - something that we are extremely proud of. “2014 is set to be a very exciting year for the company, as we look realise our Modern Premium brand direction and continue to provide the highest standard in both product offering and customer service – something we took great strides towards in 2013 with the introduction of a number of targeted initiatives, including our Premium Assurance Plus Programme the Hyundai Premium Lounge and Certified Pre-owned Programme,” Lee added.
Genesis arrives in Qatar In Qatar, Hyundai Motor Company and National Car Company, sole distributor for Hyundai in Qatar, unveiled the all-new Genesis – a premium sedan that has been designed to set new standards in its class. Genesis is the first Hyundai model to feature the brand’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design concept while also boasting significantly enhanced driving performance and technologies such as a head-up display, smart trunk function and autonomous emergency braking. National Car Company President Director Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser Al Thani said: “The Genesis takes premium luxury style and performance to a new level and will prove to be a strong contender in the premium sedan category.” Tom Lee said: “Genesis will compete head-on with top-tier premium models in the MEA and we are confident that it will set new standards in the sector for design and specification. The vehicle features Hyundai’s most advanced technologies and has been subjected to relentless performance tests and undergone thorough quality checking.” “ First revealed in Korea at the end of 2013, the all-new Genesis received a record 3,500 orders on the first day of pre-orders, underscoring the excitement surrounding Hyundai’s newest model. The premium sedan is expected to prove equally popular in the Middle East and Africa, which is set to be its second biggest market after the US
THE PORSCHE HYBRID The Porsche Macan heralds the first sports car in the compact SUV segment. Our Motoring Expert gives his thoughts after an adventurous trip across Ras Al Khaimah.
f you’re wondering what the allnew Porsche Macan is about, in brief, it is the compact version of a Porsche Cayenne but with the feel of a sports car. The new Porsche Macan is smaller, lighter and way more fun on-road. Having driven both the 340-hp Macan S and 400-hp Macan Turbo on-road and off-road, the difference in power between the two vehicles is obvious and the Macan Turbo is a delight to the senses, especially when the terrain is tough. Its efficient climb of the winding road of Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah is enviable, while the Macan S is equally safe as I drive it the downward descent. Both the Macans are impressive on-road with impeccable handling, optional air suspension and the legendary Porsche braking technology. The winding Jebel Jais mountain road was a perfect drive in the all new Macan, the
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smooth ride only interrupted by the few goats that would suddenly cross the road. Well, the goats did not seem very happy that I was exceeding the speed limits but then they did not know that the machine I was driving was a Porsche. The sporty DNA of the Macan, as with all Porsche vehicles, is immediately recognisable in the design. Many details are reminiscent of the iconic 911 sports car and the technological benchmark 918 model, and the Sports Utility Vehicle is unrivalled in its flat and broad profile on the road. The wraparound bonnet and gently sloping roof line accentuate the overall impression of sporty elegance and powerful dynamics. Many of the design elements have been taken from Porsche sports cars and enhanced for the Macan, making it evident from the very first glance that the Porsche Macan heralds the first sports car in the
compact SUV segment. A Porsche through and through, the Macan is setting benchmarks in terms of driving dynamics and enjoyment – both on paved streets and off-road terrain. The Macan brings together the most powerful engine range in its class with the sporty seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) and one of the finest drive systems in the world – Porsche Traction Management (PTM) in conjunction with a sporty mix of tyres, fitted as standard. Furthermore, the new Porsche model line offers a choice of three sporty chassis versions, one of which features air suspension – an exclusive in the Macan’s segment. The Macan is claiming the top spot in its segment from the very outset. The top model in the range, the Macan Turbo, equipped with a 3.6-litre V6 biturbo engine and delivering an output of 400 hp (294 kW), as well as the Macan S, equipped with a 3-litre V6 biturbo engine and delivering an output of 340 hp (250 kW), are defining a new performance class that competitor vehicles are yet to reach. The role of the high-torque powerhouse of the SUV trio has been assumed by the Macan S Diesel thanks to its 245 hp (180 kW) turbo diesel engine, which provides a torque of 580 Nm across a broad engine speed range. However, the Macan is not just setting the benchmark for driving dynamics: the vehicle also delivers a combination of efficiency, comfort and everyday suitability that has become a defining feature of the brand
THE SEVEN SERIES TOPS
MW Group’s flagship 7 Series model continues to dominate the luxury sedan segment along with the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé, according to Alfardan Automobiles. Organised by the BMW Group importer in Qatar, and led by BMW instructors, an exclusive media drive event took place in the Torch Hotel in Doha, has highlighted the power and attitude of both models on the roads.
ALFARDAN SPONSORS QIS SPORTS TEAMS
lfardan Automobiles, the BMW Group importer, has announced its sponsorship of the Qatar International School (QIS) sports teams in Doha. The initiative falls within the importer’s strategy of supporting the development of Qatari youth. Alfardan provided BMW-branded uniforms and athletic gear to the football, basketball, volleyball and tennis teams that compete in external inter-school tournaments across Qatar.
ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS SALES UP 17%
olls-Royce Motor Cars Doha, part of the Alfardan Group and the authorised dealer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Qatar, has announced a 17% surge in sales of their ultra-luxury vehicles for the first quarter of 2014. The y-o-y growth rounds off an impressive first quarter that saw exceptional sales of the Roll-Royce Wraith and Phantom models. The key driver of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha’s performance was the recent launch of Rolls-Royce Wraith. Also contributing to the performance was a 50% growth of sales of the Phantom Series II, Rolls-Royce’s flagship model, which has been thoughtfully updated with contemporary yet timeless design enhancements.
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HWW WORKSHOP: DREAMS CAN COME TRUE June 9, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. In this self-assessment and goalsetting workshop with Nadine Drummond, learn how you can turn your dreams into reality. ‘Dreams Can Come True’ will offer you the techniques to fight your fears and give you a Dream Realisation Plan. It’s not complicated, it just requires you to be honest and apply the principles consistently. Once we’ve crafted your vision for the future and if you remain consistent, your life will move in a whole new direction.
CITYSCAPE QATAR 2014 June 2-4 Qatar National Convention Centre In its third year, Cityscape Qatar 2014 has firmly established itself as the only must-attend real estate event focused on the burgeoning Qatari market, and it is the perfect platform for attendees to see and experience how the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the government’s 2030 vision is changing Qatar’s skyline. INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC ART June 21, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Museum of Islamic Art This all-day workshop will give participants a theoretical and practical introduction to Islamic Art. Participants will learn the fundamentals of Islamic Art: geometry, calligraphy, and Islimi (floral design), as well as gilding. MIA INSTAGRAM MEETUP June 16, 4 p.m. MIA Library A monthly meet-up group for Instagram users who want to share their Instagram experiences of the museum - bringing together a social media community off line into the museum. Each month there will be a
specific assignment to photograph and hashtag objects or themes within the museum and research them in the library. MUSEUMS IN ARABIA CONFERENCE June 13-16 MIA Auditorium This conference explores a number of themes addressing questions such as: What challenges do museums in the region face in their development? What is the nature of the heritage collected, curated and displayed in the museums? What kind of audience are the museums speaking to, and how do local communities engage with the museums? This conference will be of interest to academics and students working in the field of museums and cultural heritage in the region and globally, museum and cultural heritage practitioners, anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and, more broadly, those with an interest in the sociocultural, economic and political landscape of the region.
BEETHOVEN’S EROICA SYMPHONY June 7, 7:30 p.m. Opera House, Katara Cultural Village Building 16 Directed by Han-Na Chang, violinist Benjamin Schmid will be performing Behzad Ranjbaran’s The Sunrise from Seemorgh (part of The Persian Trilogy), Erich Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major. SCHUBERT OCTET June 5, 6 p.m. Museum of Islamic Arts Atrium In this latest instalment of Chamber Music at the Museum of Islamic Art, violinists Eugen Bold, Taehyun Kim and Merve Kenet-Bulun, cellist Hassan Moataz El Molla, double bassist Radu Mihaescu, Rony Moser on clarinet, Daniel Hrinda on bassoon and Gideon Seidenberg on horn will be performing Franz Schubert’s Octet in F Major.
FOR MORE INFORMATION LOG ON TO WWW.EVENTLY.QA OR FOLLOW @EVENTLYQATAR
INTERNATIONAL WEDDING EXHIBITION AND FASHION SHOW June 18 - 21 Qatar National Convention Centre The annual world-class wedding exhibition will feature trend-setting aspects to deliver a unique and individual experience in planning an exquisite day of perfection. The event brings fabulous wedding trends and themes, and the opportunity to connect with providers to prepare for the big occasion.
culture>qt take CHECK MATE William Greenwood Curator, MIA
An intriguing exhibition, currently on in Doha, showcases the origins of the much-loved board games that have enriched our childhood. BY ABIGAIL MATHIAS
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he next time you stroll down the cobbled pathway of Souq Waqif, you may find residents enjoying a game of backgammon. It is a fairly regular sight and speaks volumes in an age dominated by hi-tech computer games. Which is probably why the current exhibition ‘Kings and Pawns,’ at the Museum of Islamic Art, must not be missed. It explores the importance of board games like chess and backgammon and their role in art and culture, sharing fascinating insights on popular pastimes. With pieces dating back to the 7th century and recent examples from the 20th centuries, this is a treasure trove of discovery. A unique ‘Chessboard Carpet’ from the 15th century, belonging to the Timurid (Persian) or Deccan Sultanates, is believed to have originated either in Central Asia or India. It is the only remaining piece in the world. Intricately woven in silk and cotton, the carpet indicates how chess was played in the past. William Greenwood, the exhibition’s curator from the MIA, explains, “With this particular piece, it is interesting to see how people would have faced each other while playing a game of chess. This is lost with a
computer game.” As youngsters rush to download the latest games on their ipads and cell phones one wonders if the very nature of play has been transformed. “I think there is a danger of games which are meant to act as a socialising tool, to become very antisocial. To me, chess is a very social game. There’s nothing quite satisfying as physically taking away your opponent’s chess piece and calling check mate,” says Greenwood, who is also an avid chess player. Having taken more than two years to research the origins of board games, Kings and Pawns tells quite a compelling story. The curator mentions that he collaborated with many museums in London and Spain to bring this story to light. He explains, “I was always intrigued with the fact that most exhibitions on royalty have something related to chess. People rave about the 20th century chess pieces but I was interested in discovering older pieces and the history behind them.” Since its opening on March 19, the exhibition in Doha has been well frequented, perhaps because the subject is something that most of us can relate to. “Board games are a general human activity. They are something
Chessboard carpet, 15th century Central Asia or India.
An Indian pachisi (ludo) set made up of ornate pieces of gold, diamond and other jewels, from the 18th-19th century.
Elephant-form chess piece Samanid, 9th -10th century Iran or Central Asia.
An abstract Nigerian chess board from the 1920s.
people share. While language sometimes pushes us apart, these games bring people together. People notice this when they visit the exhibition,” affirms the curator. Some of the highlights have been a few live chess games held in collaboration with the Qatar Chess Association. In a fun interactive session, members of the general public acted as chess pieces in the foyer of the MIA. It is unlikely that chess, as it is played today, suddenly came into existence or was invented by one person. For instance what is now known as the ‘bishop,’ was once an elephant-form chess piece from the 9th10th century. A remnant sits majestically at the entrance. It is believed to have originated in Iran or Central Asia. “This is among one of the oldest pieces we have. After all this time, it is not in perfect condition, the man on the elephant’s back has been knocked off, but is a fine example of an early piece which retains the original figurative elements. In parts, it retains traces of red paint showing that it might have originally been red and white. That proves that chess pieces haven’t always been black and white,” says Greenwood noting that it is one of his favourite pieces. Who knew that a simple game like snakes and ladders was invented as a method of teaching good and bad behaviour?
What was perhaps once played in one’s childhood is indeed as old as the 14th century. The game was devised as a learning tool where good behaviour was rewarded with a ladder up to heaven and bad behaviour would bring misfortune – vis-a-vis a snake bite. “This is the gateway to let people in to learn more about these games and showcase a much bigger story about history, ideas and cultures,” says Greenwood. The organisers have tried to make the exhibition as child-friendly as possible. They even created a smiling mascot, named Faris. Two short animated films are also played at the venue, explaining the origins of the game. Pachisi was played by Indian royalty. We wonder if it bears any relation to the word, ‘pachees’which means 25, in Hindi. There is also an intricately designed backgammon board which has a chess board on the other side. The designs correspond to furniture created in the 14th century. Examining these pieces, which are largely decorated with ivory, it is clear that there was great cost and prestige associated with it. Another simple chess board, the most modern of the collection from 1920’s Nigeria doesn’t depict any cavalry and is abstract in nature. The cloth board acts as
a carrying case. When players are finished they can roll up all the pieces and take it with them. “One of the great things about games like this, especially chess is that it goes beyond cultures. You don’t need to speak the same language to play the game. It is an abstract concept, much like mathematics,” explains the curator. Many believe that chess is a highly intellectual game. Greenwood disagrees. “I think that chess is fairly simple. I taught the rules of the game to my six-year-old nephew and within about 10 games he got me to a draw. Everyone knows what chess is, even if they don’t play the game. When the Portuguese arrived in South East Asia in the 16th century, people would come aboard their ships and they did not have a common language but they played chess together.” “Chess is still played from Sydney to Sacramento. Perhaps backgammon and pachisi to a lesser extent. It is interesting and important to know where these things have come from. It is a lesson in human history,” says Greenwood. Go ahead, make your next move. Ensure it is to this exhibition before it comes to an end. The Kings and Pawns exhibition is on at the MIA, Special Exhibitions Gallery, first floor, till June 21. Entry is free QATAR TODAY > JUNE 2014 > 99
LOVE, REVOLUTION AND REDEMPTION Amateur theatre group, the Doha Players, staged the popular long-running musical Les Miserables for five straight days of fully booked shows at the Qatar National Theatre. Among the cast were West End actors and amateurs, teachers and bankers, all of whom were brilliant. The three-hour performance was well-received by Dohaâ€™s theatre lovers and the group now is starting auditions for its next performance, Black Comedy by Peter Shaffer.
A NEST OF LUXURY The Ritz-Carlton unveiled its new Presidential Suite last month. Measuring 190 square meters, guests can enjoy a spacious balcony overlooking views of Qatar and a luxurious living room. With the bedroom furnished with a king-sized bed, the large master bedroom also boasts a walk-in wardrobe, while the adjoining spa bathroom features a Jacuzzi bathtub positioned next to the window. Additional accommodation includes a dining room with seating for ten people, a separate study, and living room. An added luxury available for guests of The Presidential Suite is a personalised visit by the chef to customise the menu based on their wishes.
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EXCELLENCE IN DOHA InterContinental Doha The City won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award for the property as well as for two of its outlets, Hive Bar & Lounge and the steakhouse Prime. “Winning three TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awards is an amazing achievement and a true source of pride for the entire team at InterContinental Doha The City,” said Chris Jung, General Manager at the hotel. “There is nothing more meaningful than being recognised by our guests for our commitment to providing outstanding service. We thank those who took the time to provide their feedback on TripAdvisor.”
ART IN PROGRESS
TELL YOUR STORY Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (BQFP) has launched a competition for aspiring authors in Qatar and Kuwait, who are invited to submit a short story, of 800-2000 words, in English or Arabic about an object which is of particular significance to them.
The second edition of Mathaf’s Student Art Exhibition: Black and White opened to public on May 24. The exhibition is the result of a student art competition launched by the Education Department at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in the autumn of 2013. All schools in Qatar were invited to participate, and the museum received over 300 submissions from schools in and outside of Doha. Students created work ranging from installations, video, paintings, mixed media, sculptures and photographs.
This theme is inspired by BQFP author Mai Al Nakib and her collection of short stories The Hidden Light of Objects. A sample of her stories can be read on the Bloomsbury website. The competition is open until July 23. The winner of the best short story competition will see their work published on the BQFP website, receive a year’s worth of BQFP books, and have the chance to meet a BQFP editor to discuss their writing aspirations.
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Qatar Today looks at two expatriates from everyday life, one who has lived here for a significant amount of time and another who has just made Doha his home, for their take on life in this city.
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NEW BEGINNINGS AMAN PARKASH Lead Corporate Compliance Officer, Qatar Airways Been in Doha since October 2013 (seven months)
"I WAS AWESTRUCK THE FIRST TIME I CAUGHT SIGHT OF THE WEST BAY SKYLINE. THE BUILDING DESIGNS ARE SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING I HAVE SEEN."
FRIENDS AND FAMILY Having been raised in Bahrain, I have watched the rapid strides Doha has been making in recent years. It seemed like a exciting time to be a part of this unparalleled rise and I wanted to grow with it, be part of its success story. I was at ease in Doha from the very beginning as I am only an hour away from home and already had a lot of friends in the city. I made plenty of new ones too and have come to love its rich multicultural environment. CONTAGIOUS ENTHUSIASM I was awestruck the first time I caught sight of the West Bay skyline. The building designs are some of the most interesting I have seen. The government’s
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME GABRIELLE TURNER
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THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD Thanks to Qatar Airways, Doha does feel like the centre of the world. It’s so easy to catch a plane to anywhere and ever since I arrived I have been away most weekends. I do certainly miss travelling out without having to worry about having an exit permit though.
"IT IS A CITY THAT IS DEVELOPING SO FAST THAT IT HAS GIVEN QATAR THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL."
Founder and Clinical Hypnotherapist, Oasis Hypnosis Been in Doha since August 2010 (four years)
PEACE AND PERSONAL GROWTH We had been living in Bangkok for 14 years so Doha seemed like a very peaceful place to live a more relaxed pace of life. We came to Doha for my husband’s work. He works in construction and so is involved in the development of the infrastructure here. He loves his work and seeing the growth of the city. As Doha is so much closer to the UK I have also been able to take the opportunity to travel there regularly and to start my MSc in Clinical Hypnosis through a London university. There continues to be more on offer to see and take part in sports and the arts which in turn continues to make it more enjoyable to live here.
enthusiasm to showcase itself as a regional hub of international cultural activities is obvious. Some of my friends who have been here for a while are astonished at how quickly everything around them is changing. They complain about the roads but we need to take a few roughs with the smooth and it’s going to be amazing when completed.
ABOUND WITH OPPORTUNITY So I think the word that keeps occurring to me about Doha is opportunity. It is a city that is developing so fast that it has given Qatar the opportunity to develop something very special. It gives the opportunity to develop the arts, sports and education and we have seen over the four years that there is more and more happening here. Even with this speed of development it is being carefully planned so that Qatar retains and celebrates its cultural identity. As well as being a wonderful opportunity for the country it offers lots of personal opportunities for individuals. Our niece has also joined us here as there is very little work in the UK
for graphic designers and she now has a fantastic job here in Doha. NURTURING NEW TALENT We also found a fantastic school in ASD for our three daughters that, as well as a great education, offers them so many varied opportunities. Our eldest daughter was able to lease a horse, ride every day and start endurance racing. Our middle daughter loves team sports and the school offered her fantastic opportunities to play on the soccer and volleyball teams. Our youngest daughter loves acting and swimming and so Doha Players and H2o are great opportunities for her.