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march 2012

contents

c ove r s to ry

36 Build it and they will come...

36

Tourism sector gets ready for the boom

The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has pegged the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Events (MICE) sector as its priority segment in the market. Its immediate focus is on attracting business travellers, corporate functions and city-wide events to the peninsula in the hope that they will kick-start the other segments, such as leisure tourism, in its domain.

80 32 After the fall, the job spring

Silatech tries to unhook youth from the public sector...

What Silatech set out to undertake was a challenge to begin with – provide thought-leadership, invest and innovate technologically, towards one goal of youth empowerment – but developments across the region over the last year have made its climb that much steeper. Speaking to Vani Saraswathi, Silatech, CEO Dr Tarik Yousef, says that with the Arab Spring, Silatech has become more relevant.

32

80 Finding the visionary

Over half of today’s top 100 NASDAQ companies have won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) award and most of them received it before they even achieved a top 100 status. Held annually in Monaco, the country winners from around the world compete for the World EOY title which will be announced in Qatar for the first time. Qatar Today spoke to Ernst & Young, Country Managing Partner, Firas Qoussous who tells us more about the awards and how they encourage entrepreneurship.

18 Funding their future

As the old adage says, ‘it’s never too early to start saving’, so establishing a wellthought through savings plan while the children are still young is one of the most important first steps, says David Russell of Guardian Wealth Management Qatar LLC.

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

26 The Tech Industry in 2012 The technology industry has long been characterised by change, but 2011 stands out as a year of shocks and surprises – and there are likely to be more in 2012. Former industry leaders have stumbled in the face of missed trends, while others have made enormous gains in creating new value. march 2012 volume 38 issue 3 www.omsqatar.com

march 2012

Qatar Today 3


contents

march 2012

62 49 Country report:

Bulgaria

A land of opportunities

A small country rich in natural resources, with an attractive tax regime, Bulgaria is now trying to attract more foreign investment. Steeped in rich history, this country is high on tourism – from spa and ski tourism to golf, the country has it all to attract tourists with diverse interests. The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an agenda to focus on, improving Middle East relations, and in conjunction with this, they are organising an exhibition at the Doha Exhibition Centre from March 14-15.

49

62 Sparkle of luxury

Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2012

The ninth edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) organised by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) was marked with exclusive premieres of the world’s finest jewellery and watch collections. With more than 60,000 visitors, 320 exhibitors and 450 exclusive brands, the exhibition yet again placed Qatar on a competitive pedestal in the global luxury market. Qatar Today presents exclusive interviews with brand majors.

94 GPS brand activation in progress

The ongoing activation stage of the Green Programme for Schools (GPS) has had around 22 schools receive GPS branding as Mission 20 coordinators continue their visits to the rest of the participating schools.

109 Oriental art, a rich record of life in the East

Since the time of Marco Polo, the East, from the Ottoman lands to the Levant and beyond, has captivated the West’s imagination. As these regions became more accessible with the dawn of the steamship and the railway, artists were drawn to them by the rich array of new subjects afforded by the vibrant light and vivid colours, and unexplored cultures and traditions. Sotheby’s talks about the art from this period.

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regulars News Bites.................................................12 O & G O v e r v i e w. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 Bank Notes................................................18 W o r l d V i e w. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 braking News..............................................96 Market Watch............................................100 D o h a D i a r y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 4


V o lu m e 3 8

issue 3

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

march 2012

Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Sandeep Sehgal Alpana Roy Ravi Raman

Managing Editor Vani Saraswathi Deputy Editor Sindhu Nair Editorial Coordinator cassey oliveira CORRESPONDENTS RORY COEN EZDHAR IBRAHIM FASHION &LIFESTYLE CORRESPONDENT ORNA Ballout Art Director Venkat Reddy Asst art Director – Production Sujith Heenatigala Assistant Art Director Hanan Abu Saiam Senior Graphic Designers Ayush Indrajith Graphic Designers maheshwar reddy Photographer R obert F Altamirano Managers –Marketing Mohammed Sami Zulfikar Jiffry Senior Media Consultant Chaturka Karandana Media Consultant HASSAN REKKAB Accountant Sr. Distribution Executive Distribution Support

Published by Oryx Advertising Co WLL, P.O. Box 3272; Doha-Qatar Tel: (+974) 44672139, 44550983, 44671173, 44667584 Fax: (+974) 44550982 Email: qtoday@omsqatar.com website: www.omsqatar.com Printed at: Gulf Publishing and Printing Co WLL Copyright © 2012 Oryx Advertising Co WLL

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

Pratap Chandran Bikram Shrestha Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai

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

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


march 2012

from the desk

It’s

official. Qatar is the richest country in the world. With a per capita GDP of $88,000, it has relegated Luxembourg to second place. How does that translate to ground realities? We explore a few of those realities this month.

A sector that has been a focal area for a while now is MICE tourism. As always, Qatar is abuzz with activities in the first quarter of the year. Sports, culture, conferences – every facility that has been built over the past few years, be it the hotels and conference areas, or Katara and the museums, are being put to great use. But what happens some months down the line? Does the flurry of a few months compensate for the lull during the rest? Qatar Today this month attempts to get a clearer view of Qatar’s MICE ambitions. What kind of groundwork is being laid, and how is the seasonality managed? The figures are promising, but do they tell the true story? We speak to industry experts in the field, including prominent hoteliers here in Doha, to judge if there is scope for a viable tourism sector in Qatar. One of the main events for the country is the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE), the ninth edition of which was held last month. It attracts the best names from around the world, because this is fast becoming a highly lucrative market. We speak to both the brands and their local partners to get a feel of how the luxury sector is evolving in Qatar. Much of Qatar’s success is also due to its astute international relations. In our country report this month, we travel to Bulgaria and see how trade between the two countries has impacted the respective economies. Silatech CEO Dr Tarik Yousef, in an exclusive interview, talks about the challenges and opportunities post-Arab Spring and of Qatar’s combination of high ambition and extreme wealth, which demands the ‘right policy trajectory’. Personally, the March issue of Qatar Today is extra special. This is the last of the 95 issues of Qatar Today I have edited and managed, and brings to a close my stint with Oryx Publications. Over the past nine years, my team and I have strived to bring out publications of quality, maintaining as high a journalistic standard as possible in a nascent market such as this, and to offer a wide variety of well-received local magazines. I leave with amazing experiences, and will continue this journey with Qatar Today as an eager reader.

Vani Saraswathi

10 Qatar Today

march 2012


letters feedback qtoday@omsqatar.com

Inspiration to us all I am delighted to hear that Michio Kaku will be presenting at the upcoming QITCOM. I have been a fan of his all my life and his opinions and theories really astound and inspire me to think deep and like no other. I am sure he will provide us all with a lot of food for thought. Bernhard Ulrich

Saving for a Rainy Day

We should be glad, that in a country where we have no option but to commute by car, that the price of gas is subsidised. In London, commuters are shelling out QR8 per litre. In Qatar, you could fill your tank for QR40. At the end of the day, most people come to Qatar to save, so a rise in the CPI is not so much an impact on their annual budget, but more on what they can put into their piggy-bank. There aren’t too many rainy days in Qatar after all. This is in contrast with most other countries at the moment.

qt poll – march

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

Sandeep Shukla

Q

CAN DOHA REPLACE ITS UAE RIVALS AS THE MICE DESTINATION OF CHOICE?

Worth the Wait?

The Ferrari exhibition on the Corniche in January was such a thrill to witness, but I really felt the day dragged on and spectaculars were left wondering if and when it was ever going to happen. We were advised to be there at 12.30, yet the demo didn’t begin until after three o’clock. There was little or no entertainment for the waiting crowd. However, the Corniche was a spectacular setting for such a demo and credit the organisers for this. Atreyi Manola

Playing in a Sandblaster

Ever since the new Mission Impossible movie came out, people around the world have become wise to the sand-storms that we get in this region of the world, so they were a little bit excited when the skids were put on the Qatar Masters due to high winds and sand-storms. Graeme McDowell said it was like playing golf in a sand-blaster. Good to see they don’t perceive Qatar as a furnace all year round anyway.

Richard King

SMS answers to +974 33072524 A lucky winner will win a NOKIa C5-03

has the cost of living in qatar risen? Qatar Today invites readers’ feedback

85%

15%

Yes

no

The winning number of the last QT poll is 3317142

12 Qatar Today

march 2012

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

Check out all articles of Qatar Today on www.issuu.com/oryxmags/qatartoday

Write to: The Editor, Qatar Today, PO Box 3272, Doha. Fax: (+974) 44550982, email: qtoday@omsqatar.com

follow us on www.facebook.com/qatartoday www.twitter.com/qatartoday www.qatartoday.tumblr.com

Qatar Today reserves the right to edit and publish the correspondence. Views and opinions expressed in the published letters may not necessarily be the publication’s views and opinions.


blackberry devcon europe 2012 88

NEWS BITES

Doha makes official bid for 2020

SHEIKH SAOUD BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL THANI VICE CHAIRMAN, DOHA 2020, FORMALLY PRESENTING DOHA’S 2020 OLYMPIC BID LAST MONTH

d

oha officially unveiled its bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in February with its primary aim to inspire a generation of athletes from the Middle East to compete on the world stage. Doha has proposed holding its Games in October – a major departure from the traditional spot on the calendar – to offset the scorching heat. While disclosing details of the bid file Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Vice-Chairman of the Doha 2020 bid, told a large gathering of local and inter-

national media: “Our bid is all about legacy – for our nation, the region and the world. To host the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not only a great honour, it is an enormous responsibility. We have the determination – and the resources - to meet every responsibility.” “Look what’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East. A new generation is making connections across national boundaries to share their hopes for a better future. Change is in the air. We see Doha 2020 as a way to help channel all that energy into change for the better,” he added.

“The Games in Doha would help change the lifestyles of young people by encouraging a new interest in sports participation,” he said. “The Games in Doha would also provide greater empowerment for women and girls through sport, and change the world’s perceptions of the region – and the region’s perceptions of the rest of the globe.” Doha is competing against Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul and Baku. The IOC will select the candidate cities on May 23, 2012. The host city will be elected in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013 at the 125th IOC Session.

Qatar is the world’s wealthiest nation

Q

atar has been ranked as the world’s wealthiest country in a new list compiled by Forbes. The Gulf State with a population of 1.7 million topped the list as the world’s richest country per capita, thanks to a rebound in oil prices and its massive natural gas reserves. Adjusted for purchasing power, Qa-

14 Qatar Today

march 2012

tar booked an estimated GDP per capita of more than $88,000 for 2010, Forbes said, compared with $47,500 for the UAE, which was placed sixth while Kuwait stood at 15th in the list. In second place on the list was Luxembourg, with a per capita GDP on a purchasing-power parity basis of just over $81,000.

In third place was Singapore, which thrives as a technology, manufacturing and finance hub with a GDP (PPP) per capita of nearly $56,700. To rank the countries, Forbes said it looked at GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power for 182 nations. It used International Monetary Fund data from 2010.


news bites

IMF expects Qatar’s growth to exceed global average

t

he IMF forecasts robust economic performance here over the medium term (2013-16). Qatar’s real GDP growth is expected to average 5.3% for that period, exceeding regional and world levels. The IMF expects the nonhydrocarbon sector to be the main driver of growth, increasing by 9.6% on average during this four-year period. There will be little change in oil and gas production over this period, until the Barzan Gas Project comes on stream in 2016. According to QNB Capital, the strong growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector will be supported by high hydrocarbons prices. This is because strong hydrocarbons revenue tends to boost both government spending and private consumption, reinforcing economic activity in the non-hydrocarbon sector. Therefore, the recent strong growth in the hydrocarbon sector will trickle down to the non-hydrocarbon sector in the medium term. The oil price assumptions on which Qatar bases its budget tend to be considerably lower than prevailing oil prices. This suggests that unless there is a dramatic drop in oil prices below the conservative scenario assumptions, Qatar’s growth will continue to stay stable. The IMF is forecasting that there will be a 24% increase in the non-hydrocarbon component of government revenue over the period. This will take it to almost QR150 billion in 2016, when it will represent 56% of total fiscal income. This is a sizeable increase on 2013, when it is forecast to be just 50% of the total. QNB Capital notes that investment income from Qatar’s foreign

holdings is a major contributor to this growing non-hydrocarbon revenue. The government aims to fully finance the budget from its non-hydrocarbon revenues by 2020, providing a safety buffer in the event of hydrocarbon price shocks. The IMF’s medium-term forecasts suggest that it will make good progress towards this objective. The IMF also forecasts average inflation of 4% to 5% during 201316. Inflation has fallen in recent years mainly due to an oversupply of property, which led to lower rental prices. Additionally, strong economic growth will drive domestic demand and hence prices, according to QNB Capital. The IMF’s overall economic outlook for Qatar is therefore positive, with strong growth, moderate inflation and fiscal surpluses which will to continue in the medium term. Consequently, Qatar is going to outperform compared to regional and world averages. This will lead to real GDP growth in Qatar superior to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by an annual average of 0.6 percentage points and the advanced economies by an annual average of 2.6 percentage points during 2013-16, based on IMF forecasts.

Female athleticism growing in Qatar Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) sociologist Geoff Harkness and his course student Samira Islam shed light on the quite often overlooked gender revolution that has been brewing in the region in the arena of sports through their preliminary research, “Muslim Female Athletes and the Hijab”. The research was published in the latest edition of Contexts Magazine, a publication of the American Sociological Association. “Female athletes in the Middle East face pressures that include family, religion, politics and culture. These issues often take place over the use or non-use of the hijab, the traditional head covering for Muslim women,” their research notes. “There are a number of misconceptions about people from the Middle East, especially women. One benefit of this type of sociological research is that it can help reduce some of those stereotypes and paint a more accurate picture of what life is really like here,” says Harkness. On his collaboration with student Islam, Harkness adds: “The students in Doha can access arenas of social life that academics cannot permeate as easily. Because Samira was a basketball player at CMUQ, she had unique insights into the world of female athletics in Doha, and had established rapport with many of the players whom she interviewed and observed. That, along with her natural curiosity and tenacity, resulted in outstanding data that was key to the entire project.”

BSA hold IPR media roundtable

B

usiness Software Alliance (BSA), the world’s foremost advocate for the software industry, had a media roundtable on intellectual property rights (IPR) in collaboration with Qatar’s Ministry of Justice last month. The roundtable’s aim was to spread awareness of IPR, particularly the legal consequences of using and selling unlicensed software and other counterfeit products ,and the negative impact of IPR crimes on society, such as the loss of employment. The BSA also took the opportunity to highlight its major achievements in its campaign against piracy in 2011, and unveiled some of its plans for 2012. There were discussions to garner more support for anti-piracy initiatives being championed by the BSA and the Ministry. “In 2012, the BSA and the Ministry of Justice continue to generate greater awareness of intellectual property rights and the dangers of the various crimes against it. The roundtable served as a platform for us to explain the legal consequences of IPR crimes and how the media can help us intensify efforts against such activities,” said Abdulla Ahmad Qayed, Director of the Intellectual Property Centre of Qatar’s Ministry of Justice.

march 2012

Qatar Today 15


news bites

AL-QARADAWI recognised by Arabian Business

q

atar University (QU) Professor of Nuclear Science Dr Ilham Al-Qaradawi was named among the 50 top people of influence in Qatar by Arabian Business magazine. In the firstever Qatar Top 50 Power List, Al-Qaradawi was listed 48th among such luminaries as Al Jazeera TV boss Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-

Baker, ace rally driver Nasser Al-Attiyah and astronomer Dr Khalid Al-Subai. Al-Qaradawi has a long list of impressive accomplishments in the field of physics and nuclear science. She headed QU’s Positron Physics Laboratory in developing the magnetically-guided slow positron beam system, making Qatar the only country in the region with this stateof-the-art research tool. She also took part, with scientists from many other international research institutions, in anti-hydrogen experiments using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), one of the world’s largest and most respected laboratories for scientific research.

European Council President visits QF

t

he President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, visited Qatar last month in an official capacity. During his day trip to Doha, he visited the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF). President Van Rompuy was welcomed to the QF Visitors Centre by a delegation led by Abdelali Haoudi, Vice President for Research at QF. He attended a presentation of QF’s plans for the nation’s transfor-

16 Qatar Today

march 2012

mation to a knowledge-based economy. “It is an honour to host President Van Rompuy at Qatar Foundation today,” said Haoudi. “In our nation’s endeavour to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world and make Qatar a global leader in innovative education and research, some of the world’s greatest universities, including two European institutions, now call Qatar Foundation home. In addition, some of our brilliant young Qatari students are currently enrolled into research training internships in some of the best European research institutions.” “Qatar Foundation is one of the major achievements of Qatar and I came here especially between my trip to India and to China. What you are doing here is so impressive and vital to the transformation of Qatar’s hydrocarbon-based economy into a knowledge-based one — investing in human capital is a guarantee for the future,” said Van Rompuy.

Huge investments in QSTP The joint investments between Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and the companies and foreign foundations operating in the Park are worth about QR750 million annually, Executive Chairman of Qatar Science and Technology Park Dr Tidu Maini revealed. QSTP is currently implementing nearly 100 projects.

QNRF funding outcome announced

q

atar National Research Fund (QNRF) announced the outcome of the 11th cycle of its funding programme, the Undergraduate Research Experience Programme (UREP). In this 11th UREP cycle, QNRF received 135 research proposals, each of which was independently reviewed by three international peer reviewers, none of whom had any affiliation or connection to the institutions whose proposals they reviewed. In order to maintain a high quality level for the awarded UREP proposals while achieving a good success rate, the QNRF Steering Committee decided to adopt a cutoff score of 83% for this cycle, which resulted in the award of 52 research proposals engaging 179 undergraduate students across six academic institutions and distributed across the following disciplines: natural sciences, engineering and technology, medical and health sciences, social sciences and humanities. The results are shown in the table below. No. of proposals submitted

No. of proposals awarded

Natural sciences

26

12

Engineering and technology

49

16

Medical and health sciences

27

18

Social sciences

19

4

Discipline

Humanities

14

2

Total

135

52


SPARKLE OF LUXURY

62

O & G overview

Korea to buy more Qatari gas

R

asgas has agreed to sell South Korea’s state-run Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) an additional 2 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the next 20 years, the two companies said in a statement. Kogas, one of the world’s biggest LNG buyers, already has contracts with Rasgas to receive a total of around 7 million tonnes a year until 2024-2026. “This agreement is further evidence of these strong ties and helpful for long term security of LNG supply to Korea,” said

Young Sung Park, Chief Operating Officer, Kogas said in a statement. Qatar, which with an annual production capacity of 77 million tonnes is the world’s leading LNG exporter, had been struggling to find buyers for all of it until a tsunami wrecked Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011. A subsequent rise in Qatari LNG exports to Asia, combined with rising demand from new importers elsewhere, has stoked fears of tighter supplies in Europe over the next few years and put pressure on buyers to lock in long-term deals.

Tasweeq signs long-term contract

Q

atar Petroleum International (QPI) signed a “Joint Venture Agreement” with Siam Cement Group (or SCG) and its Vietnamese partners in Bangkok to invest in the petrochemicals complex in Long Son Island in southern Vietnam, valued at around $4.5 billion. Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd. (Tasweeq) and PV GAS (a subsidiary of Petro Vietnam) signed a

long- term feedstock agreement to supply propane and naphtha to the petrochemical complex. HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Salah Al Sada Minister of Energy and Industry and the Chairman of Tasweeq’s board always encouraged Tasweeq to strengthen the business relationship with end-users and to work with QPI in promoting ventures that provide win-win projects for the investors and for Tasweeq as the feedstock supplier.

Petrochemical production boost Qatar Petroleum and Qapco, signed an agreement on February 13 2012, to build an ethane and butane cracker that will produce 1.4 million ton a year of ethylene which, along with other products such as polyethylene, will be marketed abroad. This was announced by the energy minister, HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Salah Al Sada. “The complex will produce costcompetitive petrochemicals products and these would be marketed in highgrowth and emerging markets, primarily in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” he said. Feedstock will come from natural-gas plants in Ras Laffan,” HE Al Sada said. Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is looking to diversify state revenue beyond oil and gas sales by expanding its petrochemical sector to exploit its gas reserves, the third largest in the world. The State intends to more than double its annual petrochemical production by 2020, increasing output to 23 million ton from a current level of 9.3 million tons. Ethane is a component of gas used to make ethylene, a commonly produced petrochemical. Qatar Petroleum has an 80% stake in the project, while Qapco holds 20%. In December, Qatar Petroleum and Shell PLC agreed to build a separate large-scale petrochemical project in Ras Laffan capable of producing 1.5 million tons a year of monoethylene glycol.

Qatar to export LNG to Pakistan Pakistan and Qatar signed agreements to collaborate in multiple areas, mainly the export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Pakistan. Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani witnessed the signing ceremony as the representatives of Pakistan and Qatar’s respective Petroleum ministries inked the documents here. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain and Qatar’s minister for energy Dr MOHAMMED BIN Saleh Al Saada signed the MoU on import of LNG. Pakistan is interested in importing 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar that produces 77 million tonnes per annum of LNG. The imported LNG will be initially provided to the power houses in Pakistan to generate 2,500 mega watt of electricity.

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how women work

112

bank notes

Risk Management, a ICC to host common concern international Banking

c

entral bankers, regulators and senior risk professionals from across the banking, insurance and asset management sectors in the region met in Doha recently for the GCC Risk Management Symposium. Whilst effective risk management best practices have been examined extensively in many international venues, the Symposium was one of the first to address risk management issues that are specific to the Gulf region. The Symposium was opened with an address by His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Saud Al-Thani, Governor of the Qatar Central Bank. Topics for the Symposium included containing the spread of global financial risk in the GCC, key macro-prudential developments in the region and the benefits and challenges of implementing the Basel III Directive in the GCC. QFC Regulatory Authority, Chairman, Phillip Thorpe said: “The QFC Regulatory Authority is continuing to strengthen its ability to identify emerging macro-prudential risks to the financial sector, as well as to highlight financial risk management best practices that are specific to Qatar’s financial services industry. We have therefore organised the Symposium with the intention of bringing industry professionals together for the first time to discuss risk management issues that should be a common concern within the GCC.”

Commission meet

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he International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will host its biannual ICC Banking Commission Meeting at La Cigale Hotel, March 25-29. The event - which will be sponsored by QNB — will bring together 400 banking leaders and executives from 50 countries. The theme of this year’s event will be ‘Reframing the Future of Trade Finance’, and it’s designed to assess the unstable global economic climate. It will feature recent ICC market intelligence on trade finance, as well as discussions on ICC’s International Standard Banking Practice revision, the drafting of Bank Payment Obligation and forfeiting rules and a review of Basel III. A special Arbitration and Banking Summit will be held on the final day. The meetings will also include consultations with heads of global trade from major international banks on ICC’s G20 policy input. Speakers at the meeting include Neil Esho of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and Akshay Randeva, Director Strategic Development of Qatar Financial Center, as well as representatives from The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund.

IBQ Wins Euromoney Magazine Award

i

BQ was recently recognised as the Best Private Banking Service in Qatar for High Net Worth services by UK’s Euromoney Magazine. The award was presented to Chaouki Daker, Head of Private Banking, at the exclusive Private Banking Survey Awards Dinner which took place on February 16 in London, UK. The Euromoney Private Banking Awards are the most prestigious in the growing area of wealth management. They cover over 60 countries each year, as well as global and regional awards. They are voted for by the people who know the industry best, the private bankers themselves. George Nasra, Managing Director of IBQ said: “We’re honoured to receive such a prestigious industry award. This is a solid testament to our bank’s unparalleled levels of expertise, market experience and knowledge. It also underlines our strong performance and the capacity of our highly-qualified workforce who provide the best advisory and financial services to our clients. I take this chance to thank the private banking staff whose dedicated efforts contributed to this commemoration.”

Chaouki Daker, Head of Private Banking at IBQ receiving the awards from Euromoney.

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Qatar Today 19


bank notes

Funding their future For expatriates with families living and working in Qatar, having school fees paid for as part of their remuneration package is a major attraction. But such a benefit usually doesn’t cover the kids’ tertiary education fees. With the average cost of university fees on the rise, funding your child’s future requires some careful planning.

The

average cost of putting your child through uni- has to be potential for growth - finding the right investment mix to versity for one year – and remember studying make the most of the capital you have to invest and the length of for a degree can take up to four years – is around time the plan can run. The plan should offer enough flexibility and choice so that inQR96,000 (GB£20,000 )when living costs are added, which is a sizeable sum to come out of anyone’s vestments can be switched to take advantage of investment opporpocket. And, as many parents experience, it is not tunities as and when they arise, as well as safeguard investments uncommon to have more than one child going through university when markets become volatile. This is particularly important the nearer the plan gets to the date university fee payments are reat the same time. With this year’s UK university course fees rising to QR43,200 quired, as the ability to switch to a low or no risk investments can (GB£9,000) per annum, it’s no surprise that expatriate parents are safeguard your education pot. It’s crucial to monitor investments to ensure investments are, looking at their savings and investment options in order that they indeed, delivering returns, as well as overseecan meet their children’s university expenses ing currency volatility. After all the fund has when the time comes. to balance the currency paying into the fund, As the old adage says ‘it’s never too early to 5 Point Education the underlying currency of the investments start saving’, so establishing a well-thought Checklist held, and the ultimate currency that will be through savings plans while the children are 1. Start planning early used to pay the university fees when the time still young is one of the most important first 2. Opt for maximum investment comes. steps. flexibility 3. Check out tax benefits Check that the ability to switch does not While it’s vital to be realistic on how much 4. Monitor investment choices mean you are financially penalised or that you can afford to save, it’s equally important 5. Protect against unforeseen administrative charges are too excessive. to choose an investment vehicle that addisasters. Also check out whether there are any tax equately supports your savings goals. Simply breaks you can take advantage of. Expatriputting money aside often results in attempts ates are very often afforded a number of tax to save abandoned after the first few years as breaks because of their itinerant lifestyle - this allows your capital other bills and expenditure take priority. So establishing an investment structure that will maximise to grow more often than not in a tax free environment. Also check out contribution flexibility which allows you to those savings to increase in value is the name of this game. Qatarbased expatriates are helped considerably in their savings’ poten- top up the plan when, say, you have a financial windfall or if tial by earning a tax-free income. Where these long-terms savings grandparents want to contribute. Lastly, don’t overlook protecting your investment against unplans prove invaluable to parents, is they are built to minimise the impact of inflation, currency fluctuations, economic and market foreseen disasters such as illness. Were that to strike and the parturbulence and so deliver the required sum to cover the fees by ents find they are no longer able to put aside the necessary sums, it is possible to establish a critical illness policy alongside the savthe required date. So how do you go about choosing a savings plan with the best ings plan that will pay out a lump sum on diagnosis ensuring any levels of flexibility, accessibility and efficiency? The first objective future education funding doesn’t falter

feedback qtoday@omsqatar.com

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

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bulgariA - a land of opportunities 49

realty check

Real Estate sector revival

q

atar’s real estate sector is expected to continue the last year’s trend with most forecasts projecting optimism and a steady progress in 2012, according to an industry report. According to property consultancy, Asteco report, Oxford Business Group (OBG) said, there are concerns that oversupply in some segments could keep prices down in the short term as the flow of new developments more than matches current demand. Rents for residential properties had been broadly stable in the last quarter of 2011, there was a significant increase in the number of transactions and enquiries, a trend it expected to continue this year. There had also been a rise in the

number of sales in prime locations such as The Pearl-Qatar in the fourth quarter of 2011, a move the Asteco report said indicated a return of investor confidence. The improvement in the market could be given further impetus if contracts for major developments. In particular are those for the country’s rail network, sporting stadiums and associated construction projects were awarded, said the report. Asteco Qatar Managing Director Jed Wolfe told OBG, “Though the completion of new projects will continue to add stock to the market, with supply set to outstrip demand, Asteco does see the sector reaching sustainable growth levels by the end of the year. “The ever increasing amount of interna-

tional companies coming to Qatar is having a positive effect on the real estate market. Due diligence and research are being prioritised in order for efficiency and operational costs to reach sustainable levels.” The somewhat subdued level of activity in the real estate sector last year is reflected in recent data issued by the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), which showed that while the 2011 consumer price index (CPI) rose by 2.1%, the rent and utility component of the index eased by 5.6% over the 12-month period, the OBG report said. This could change though, according to a report from QNB Capital, which said the housing CPI was tipped to grow by 1.4% across 2012, as the country’s expanding population — especially due to inflow from overseas — would heat up demand.

Qatari Diar wins design award in Tajikistan

q

atari Diar Real Estate Investment Company won an award on its Diar Dushanbe mixeduse development this month, as the company opens construction tendering and begins earthworks at the development site. Diar Dushanbe project was named ‘best decorative’ architectural project in Tajikistan for 2011. The project will provide a range of residential, commercial and entertainment opportunities in the country’s capital, Dushanbe. The award honored Qatari Diar’s ‘Diar Dushanbe’ project for excellence in architectural decoration, and was presented by the Tajik government’s Agency of Construction and Architecture and the Association of Builders of Tajikistan. “We are honoured to receive this recognition from the Tajik government and the Association of Builders in Tajikistan. Diar Dushanbe has been carefully designed to bring together the best of modern architecture with the beauty of traditional patterns and design in a contemporary urban setting,” commented Eng. Mohamed bin Ali Al-Hedfa, Group CEO of Qatari Diar. In late August of 2011, Qatar and the Republic of Tajikistan signed an agreement permitting Qatari Diar to begin work on Diar

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Dushanbe. After an extensive study and rigorous design and planning process, the company has wasted no time in starting work on the 68,000 square-metre Diar Dushanbe development.


silatech WORKS FOR YOUTH EMPOWERMENT 32

arab snippets

Violence begets violence SYRIA, IDLIB : Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard in Idlib, northwestern Syria, near the Turkish border, on February 20, 2012. The Red Cross said it was in talks with the Syrian authorities and rebels to halt the violence so it can deliver aid amid calls to allow women and children out of the besieged city of Homs in central Syria. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC

GCC

jordan

$800 billion oil revenue

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he revenues of the oil-producing GCC countries reached $800 billion last year due to the increase in oil prices, Qatari Minister of Economy and Finance HE Yousef Hussain Kamal said. In his inaugural address at the 14th Arab Business Forum, he said that the GCC countries will look to use that income to increase local spending . The minister said that most of the challenges that face the region are a result of low budgets combined with the need to spend to lighten social tensions. He noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had lowered its expectation of growth of Gross Domestic Product in the MENA region in 2012 from 4.2% to 3.6%. The minister noted that the Middle East’s oil-producing countries saw economic growth in 2011, while the opposite occurred for oil-consuming countries. There are three main factors that explain the IMF’s decrease in expectation, he said. The first was the increase in the price of oil, which halts the growth of oil-consuming countries. The other two reasons were the European debt crisis, and the confusion due to the changes made by the Arab revolutions.

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Nuke plant site identified

J

ordanian energy officials have reached a final site for the Kingdom’s first nuclear reactor as the country moves ahead with its nuclear power programme. The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) has arrived at a final preferred site for the country’s first nuclear reactor in the Mafraq Governorate, some 40km northeast of the capital, concluding months of study, said JAEC Chairman Khaled Toukan. According to Toukan, the commission had forwarded its decision to the Prime Ministry for approval and was expecting a green light “soon”, with potential minor adjustments due to the “political sensitivities” surrounding the reactor. “The Council of Ministers may decide that we should move the site slightly west or east depending on the political considerations, but we are confident that after careful consideration we have arrived at the final site,” Toukan said. Upon the Prime Ministry’s approval, energy officials will proceed with an environmental impact assessment to gauge the effects of the planned 1,000-megawatt (MW) reactor on the area - which is home to several farms and pastoral lands. Atomic energy officials’ previous announcement of the relocation of the leading candidate site from the Port of Aqaba to Mafraq prompted a backlash from residents in the northern governorate, who led a series of protests urging officials to pull the plug on the nuclear programme. Amman has prioritised nuclear energy as key to solving Jordan’s emerging energy crisis, which has deepened in recent weeks due to an attack that marked the 12th act of sabotage on the Egyptian gas pipeline that conveys the vital commodity to the Kingdom.


world view

Queen of Diamonds UNITED KINGDOM, London : Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II listens to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at a Diamond Jubilee multifaith reception at Lambeth Palace in London on February 15, 2012. The event offered Christian leaders and leading members of the other eight traditional world religions in Britain an opportunity to show their affection and support for the queen in her Jubilee year. AFP PHOTO / POOL / MATT DUNHAM

THE WINNERS The Artist Director Michel Hazanavicius (L) speaks after The Artist won Best Movie at the 84th Annual Academy Awards on February 26, 2012 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO Robyn BECK

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world view

Putin Power? RUSSIAN FEDERATION, ST. PETERSBURG : A man holds a sign with a picture of Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Putin during a rally of his supporters in Saint Petersburg on February 18, 2012. Tens of thousands of Vladimir Putin’s supporters backed his bid for the presidency in rallies across Russia trying to outdo mass nationwide protests staged by his opponents. AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA

Greek Tragedy, Next Act GREECE, Athens : A man walks past a burned store in central Athens on February 13, 2012. Global markets climb after Greek lawmakers approve radical budget cuts vital to secure a 130 billion euro rescue package aimed at averting bankruptcy, after a day of street battles left dozens injured and Athens buildings ablaze. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

Songbird No More UNITED STATES, NEWARK : A person signs a large poster of Whitney Houston on the streets near the New Hope Baptist Church as a private funeral for the singer is held at the church on February 18, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA

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Qatar Today 27


v i e w p oi n t

The Tech Industry in 2012 The technology industry has long been characterised by change, but 2011 stands out as a year of shocks and surprises—and there are likely to be more in 2012.

Former

industry leaders have stumbled in the face of missed trends, while others have made enormous gains in creating new value. Asian players like Samsung, Huawei and HTC are rising fast, even as service disasters humble several established providers. In the Middle East, companies are rushing to build their capabilities to keep up with demand for tech services and provide quality. And many of the largest global companies have faced unprecedented leadership challenges. Against this backdrop of crisis and chaos, several trends continued unabated throughout 2011, and will continue to be important throughout 2012. Digitisation: The pervasive adoption of connected, cloud and mobile technologies across industries is transforming every company’s interactions with its customers, its suppliers and its global talent. The use of social media is increasing both within companies and as a tool for marketing and sales, even as ecommerce offerings are built out further. In the Middle East

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and North Africa (MENA) region, the role of social media—used primarily on mobile devices—has been even more transformative as it facilitated the so-called Arab Spring. Regional governments hope to use this platform to ease tensions and foster more participatory government. In tandem, the movement toward cloud computing is forcing the technology industry and its customers to rethink established ways of doing business, although most have yet to fully tackle the practical challenge of operating hybrid solutions and handling the transition from their legacy systems to new cloud models, with all the complexity that it entails. Large players are scrambling to take advantage of these new opportunities quickly by acquiring newer, smaller players— though rapidly rising valuations have slowed this activity somewhat. And the patent wars, particularly over control of critical mobile technologies, have led to renewed large-scale mergers and acquisitions—witness Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility—and fierce legal struggles such as Apple’s successful suit to stop Samsung from selling devices in Germany and Australia. Meanwhile, legislators and regulators have spent much of the year trying to determine what their role in the industry’s evolution should be. Their approach to the industry—


v i e w p oi n t

whether shaping it, managing it or leaving it alone—will be a matter of critical concern for information and communications technology (ICT) companies.

fore, will be to operate within a context of increasingly global partnerships, joint ventures and M&A activity, and to act fast when opportunities to improve the product portfolio arise.

Urgent: Build capabilities now As these trends gain momentum in 2012, a common theme is beginning to emerge. Established ICT players are discovering that the capabilities that made them leaders in the past will not ensure their success in the future. Every company will need to rethink the importance of the capabilities that defined success in the past, build entirely new ones, and manage this transition in real time while their ongoing businesses are under intense and increasing competitive pressure. The ability to do so will be what separates the future winners from the also-rans.

Compelling vertical strategies: All of these capabilities will be relevant as whole industries are transformed by ubiquitous broadband, mobility, and new platforms, services and applications. Healthcare organisations are introducing mobile access to medical records; financial services companies are introducing mobile payments; and transport organisations are using mobile ticket payments. Thus, a further, capability for technology companies will be to understand the process by which industry verticals will themselves be digitised and to devise specific strategies for them.

Deep customer insights: The first of these new capabilities is proximity to and insight into the digital consumer—especially Generation C, that cohort of the global population that will begin entering the workforce over the next decade. Already constantly connected through broadband and wireless, and at ease with shopping, consuming, and sharing personal data online, this generation will be the early adopters of new ways of doing things as yet unimagined. A further benefit of this insight is a better understanding of how to manage the next generation of talent.

Redesigned internal operations: Technology companies would also be wise to look at their own various corporate functions, from IT to human resources to finance, and see how digitisation might transform them as well. Business technology at the enterprise level has been dominated over the past two decades by offshoring, outsourcing and shared services; now it is time for technology companies themselves to apply new technologies to dramatically change how they go about their business.

Ability to leverage the ecosystem: Technology companies will also need to understand how digitisation is transforming the ICT industry ecosystem itself, to reimagine how their company fits into it, and to take advantage of the changes. As delivery mechanisms change, companies will have to reassess their interactions with upstream suppliers, downstream sales channels, go-to-market partners, customers, and the extended supply chains that connect it all. Flexible product portfolios: These emerging capabilities, however, will not bear fruit if high-tech firms cannot bring outstanding products and services to market quickly. The classic technology development cycle on which large companies have long depended is increasingly being outpaced and outsmarted by smaller, more agile firms. The third critical capability, there-

Effective governmental interaction: Finally, given how quickly digitisation is taking place—not just in technology but in every industry—it is no surprise that governmental efforts to affect the process are gaining momentum. A final, crucial capability for every technology company involves ensuring a clear understanding of the policy and legal environment in which it operates, and developing an effective voice for influencing the future course of that environment. Technology companies must demonstrate a true appreciation of the complex ecosystems, the industry-specific requirements and the real benefits of digital innovation, and then translate these into the new capabilities that they will need to build (and the old capabilities that will need to be scaled back). Those that successfully take on this task will be the best positioned to capture the value being created in the brave new world of digitisation

Visit

www.booz.com and www.booz.com/me

By Ramez Shehadi, Partner and Olaf Acker, Partner with Booz & Company

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

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v i e w p oi n t

Multinationals on board for World Cup preparations Deadlines, even long ones, can have a remarkably motivating effect. Although still ten years away, the prospect of hosting the 2022 World Cup – arguably the biggest sporting event in the world – is driving efforts in Qatar as it prepares itself for the kick-off.

While

much of the focus in terms of laying the foundations for the event has been on stadiums and air conditioning solutions to Qatar’s high summer temperatures, attention is now turning to transport and infrastructure. As part of the Transport Master Plan for Qatar (TMPQ), the state will spend around QR364 billion ($100 billion) over the next decade on a range of projects. But what characterises Qatar’s approach to these breathtakingly large projects is its strong encouragement of private sector – and international – involvement. Qatar’s public transport has traditionally been limited, with the country lacking a rail and metro network. High GDP growth, which hit 20% in 2011, has been cited as one reason for this, with high disposable incomes encouraging motor vehicle use over public transport. However, rapid population growth, now estimated at around 5% annually, as well as traffic congestion, has created the need to develop an integrated public transport system. This has opened up a wealth of opportunities for international partnerships. In mid-January 2012 Atkins, a UK-based engineering and design consultant, was awarded a three-year contract worth over QR389.5 million ($107 million) by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning to support the delivery of its transportation and infrastructure programmes, including planned road, rail and metro developments associated with the World Cup. Under the TMPQ programme, the country is on course to see the implementation of the first Qatari rail network, as a privatepublic partnership (PPP) between German railway company Deutsche Bahn, as well as its subsidiary, DB International, and the Qatar Railways Development Company (QRDC), now gathers momentum. The PPP will facilitate knowledge exchange, as well as technical consulting for Qatari staff. The completed rail network will serve both passenger and freight functions, and will provide a linkage between Qatar and the wider GCC network. A key component of this partnership with Deutsche Bahn will

be the construction of a metro system in Doha, which is set to become operational in 2016. This will connect the airport with the city centre, as well as the soccer stadiums that will host the World Cup. The combined cost of the rail and metro project is estimated at QR80 billion ($22.2 billion) with a budget of over QR3,276 million ($900 million) allocated to the QRDC. The metro network will consist of four separate lines, with an overall length of some 300 km and 98 stations. Metro station construction is already underway, with UK-based Mace International, a construction and consultancy firm, taking the reins for the project called “Passenger Rail Station Box”. And it does not stop there. The airport itself is set for an upgrade, with the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) currently under construction, designed to replace the existing international airport. The completed airport will increase annual passengerhandling capacity to an estimated 50 million, up from the 12 million capacity of the current airport. Again, Qatar looked abroad for a private partner, with the contract being awarded to US engineering company Bechtel, which is providing engineering, project management and construction management services. The NDIA project, which will cost around $14.5 billion, is set to be completed in 2012 and open in 2013, and is expected to run at full capacity by 2015. Since GDP growth in Qatar is likely to slow this year to an estimated 5.1%, and with the risk of lower oil and gas prices due to falling global demand, now is a good time for the economy to take stock, allowing the country to press ahead with its modernisation and diversification strategy, Vision 2030. Indeed, Qatar is unique among the GCC members in that the majority of investments are now in the development of non-real estate sectors. Moreover, by focusing on the future Qatar is ensuring good growth in the years ahead. The World Cup is an important focal point, and Qatar’s emphasis on PPPs will not only help spread the cost but also bring international expertise to ground-breaking construction projects. 2022 will see a World Cup built by a big slice of the world

feedback qtoday@omsqatar.com

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

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listening post

After the fall, the job spring

Silatech tries to unhook youth from the public sector 34 Qatar Today

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listening post

a

bout 30% of the Arab population is between the age of 15 and 29 years-over a 100 million youngsters. The two biggest issues facing them are unemployment and unemployability. What Silatech set out to undertake was a challenge to begin with – provide thoughtleadership, invest and innovate technologically, towards one goal of youth empowerment – but developments across the region over the past year have made its climb that much steeper. Silatech CEO, Dr Tarik Yousef worries that new regimes might, albeit with the best of intentions, end up reinforcing the very practices for which the old ones were criticised and overthrown. Especially in a society where the measure of success is getting a public sector job, which comes with security of tenure – a job for life, he points out. Just one of his many worries, as he guides Silatech’s operations through taut times. But what excite Dr Yousef are the opportunities that have opened up for direct communication with civil society, almost an impossibility not so long ago. Harvard-educated and of Libyan origin, with stints at the UN, IMF and World Bank, this combination of factors in his background affords Dr Yousef a sharper insight into the needs of the region. He believes that with the Arab Spring Silatech has become more relevant, as earlier it operated within immense constraints,

We should ensure that regime change does not translate to more entitlements. I think there is that danger now, and we saw this early on in Egypt...”

where governments controlled the process and they wanted to manage the outcome, and reaching out to the youth directly was much more challenging. Speaking to Vani Saraswathi, Dr Yousef said: “Now the question is ‘can you respond to the magnitude of demand and interest?’ This is where we have to adjust our own operations, expand our capacities, beef up our resources and gear up to delivering.” At this point does it seem like you’ve taken on more than you can manage? Of course, it’s always the case. In a region where you have very few players, very few with a track record in responding to the youth agenda, we and others in the same space become incredibly important at this particular juncture. We represent some of the fresh thinking and innovative ways, and we can champion the cause of youth. This is a moment of immense opportunity for anyone working on the youth agenda, let alone an organisation supported by Her Highness (Sheikha Moza), which had regional support to begin with. Given Qatar’s geopolitical role and diplomacy, how is Silatech viewed? Is there a conflict? There is conflict in the minds of those who wish to connect these dots. From the perspective of NGOs, development institutions, they are able to differentiate Qatar’s geopolitical role from Qatar’s development

mission. At the minimum, they should recognise that not every Qatar-based entity has the same mandate. We have a very specific and clear focus on youth issues. We have an international board of trustees that recognises the credibility of that mission. We have activities and programmes that we ought to be judged by. I would say, at no point since the Arab Spring have we encountered any resistance to us wanting to be present in a country. While people might be asking questions, ultimately they will judge you by what you achieve. Let’s talk about Egypt and Tunisia in particular. I would say they are priority countries for us right now. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco – countries with needs on the ground, and are in the process of political transformation, that want to accommodate and respond to those needs. These four countries are going to witness a significant growth in our activities. We are expanding our youth microfinance operations; we are funding and supporting technical operations that provide seed funding to SMEs. In Libya, we are working directly with youth organisations, helping them to understand their own needs and set their priorities and national agenda. We will follow up with actual programmes. We are also going to be doing more work in the policy field. How do you

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Qatar Today 35


listening post

“Nobody is interested in having a failing project be sustained by government hand-outs. That would be the wrong signal to send.”

actually influence policymakers to be youth-sensitive? How do you mainstream these issues policy-wise? There are other countries we have not worked in before where we will be making a significant commitment in 2012, including Mauritania, Sudan, Palestine, Comoros, possibly even Somalia. And in the Gulf region, Qatar and Oman have become two important countries where we will be expanding operations. What about Bahrain and Kuwait? Again, our ability to go into a country is a function of whether we have a counterpart. And that counterpart need not be the government; it could be an NGO, the business community, even the banking sector. If we are going to make an impact, it requires scaling up the resource. We need partners who are willing to go into the country with us. That’s what has happened in the countries I’ve mentioned (where Silatech is present), and hopefully that will galvanise others to do so too. The Arab diaspora is quite rich. Are there individuals interested in investing in the region? Venture capitalists or angel investors? Unfortunately not. One of our aims is to help mobilise individual investors. Members of the business community, people who do not necessarily bring money but bring knowhow and expertise. One of our key goals, as an interlocutor, is to create the links for individuals and organisations from elsewhere to come in and for us to create the space for them to cooperate and commit to programmes. That activity on the outreach side could potentially have financial applications on the ground. If you can find three to four good fund managers of Middle Eastern origin from

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North America or the UK and entice them to go back and start some of the SME operations, you will unlock one of the bottlenecks, which is not having technical people who can help. No single intervention is going to be the key to unlocking the opportunities. You need venture capitalists, angel investors, policy analysts, people who can talk to the government, people who can talk to the youth. You want to influence this whole space. You want to be picking up in a number of these areas – trying to create momentum. It is not a one-year problem or challenge; it is not a 10% of your population challenge. If you take the base facts, not assumptions: two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30. About 25-30% are unemployed and with under-employment you are talking about 40%. The future of this region is going to be shaped by those who are young now. Whether they have opportunities or not, whether they are employed or not, whether they have skills or not, they are going to determine the face of the society. This is the magnitude of the challenge, so we have to respond with an open mind, and also with a sense of ambition and determination that all of the levers are going to matter; all of the end reports are going to matter; all of the potential policy changes will matter. Isn’t unemployability a serious concern in the region? Yes, and you have to enhance employability. For that, you have to cross the bridge that will put you in direct conflict with the education system. But what do you do with those who have already graduated? This is where we and others like us are experimenting with a number of new models for retraining, skill-upgrading, career counsel-

ling and development. Part of the problem you also have in this region is that people come out of the education system and are thrown into the labour market. Nobody is there to advise them on approaching this as a career as opposed to a first job. Take Tunisia. It had a vibrant tourism sector before the problems. That sector is going through an economic decline on account of the political instability. But once political stability returns, that sector will pick up, will probably grow, and we will need more investment to build resorts. Tunisia does not have an institute that qualifies and trains youngsters for the hospitality industry. Someone will have to solve that problem. This is where we can come in, for example, and suggest a solution for the industry – create incubators for entrepreneurs, link them to mentors. Have you attempted mentorship programmes already? We just ran an activity in Libya recently, where we brought in accomplished entrepreneurs from the Arab world. A female media personality, an entrepreneur from the IT sector and another from retail. We ran workshops with the youth in Benghazi in January. The youth interacted with these personalities, heard stories from them. It allowed them to unpackage their success stories, demystify the notion that only a few can be successful entrepreneurs. It gave them a real feel for what it takes, how hard it is, and how challenging it is. In this region, public sector jobs were always the most sought after... They still are. It has not changed in any way, since the revolution?


listening post

“I’M Not necessarily sure that Qatar is setting the trend on employability...You can’t throw money at the problem or somehow delay the inevitable. And I think the pace of change and the ambition for change is sufficient now...”

I don’t think it has. There is a danger at this particular moment that these revolutions might in fact reinforce some of these older tendencies. A lot of youth who could not get jobs in the public sector blamed government corruption, not the lack of merit in the public sector job. Their skillset has not changed, and it was more suited for a public sector job. The fact that they could not enter the sector was largely attributed to corruption, cronyism and nepotism. Now that you possibly have more accountable or responsible governments, there is going to be more pressure on them to create these jobs as a way of responding to the wishes of the people. A public sector job is not going to be the right job for most people, it is not going to be available for everyone, and it is not going to be the job that achieves the broader goals of society. We should ensure that regime change does not translate to more entitlements. I think there is that danger now, and we saw this early on in Egypt – one of the first moves made by the interim government was to take tens of thousands of workers on to the public payroll as a reward for the revolution. In fact that could possibly undermine the revolution. You can’t just tinker with the old rules. The trick here, at this particular juncture, is to change the mindset. Are you saying that the ambitions of the youth haven’t changed? I think they are more ambitious, and they feel their goals are more achievable. But those goals may not have necessarily changed. If you happen to be a product of the public sector education system, your best fit for a job, or perceived best fit, is going to be in the public sector. That has to be worked on. That is not a function of

the revolution. That is not a function of political change. You’ve got a short-term challenge, and a medium- and long-term challenge. You’ve got to deal with a stock of unemployed or unemployable individuals, but you also have to work on the output of the education system. We have to change the priorities at student level, the parents who advise them, the teachers, and you can also do so by amending policies on the public sector over time – make it leaner and more competitive, and not an entitlement programme for anyone who passes out of university. Let’s talk about Qatar projects. There is the Bedaya Centre, and Roudha Centre, both run with Silatech’s support. Then there are Enterprise Qatar and QDB also working in the same area. Are the efforts too scattered, or will they coalesce? Everything is going to ultimately come together. Because the system is going to weed out the failed projects from the promising ones; it’s going to promote long-term projects, which is also a function of a country going through a growth spurt. But this system also allows unsuccessful projects to fester... A successful system will establish the right incentives for projects to succeed. At a moment in time you go through a growth spurt, with energy to launch too many projects. Part of it is because you don’t know what’s going to work and more because you perhaps want to create synergies. There’s also a chance that as you launch more projects you create opportunities for these projects to work together, specialise, or somehow restructure and merge eventually. I am not too concerned about the proliferation of projects – my concern is whether

all of these projects have the right incentives builtin for them to succeed, change, adapt or ultimately shut down because they are not delivering, or producing results on the ground. At this moment it’s OK to experiment, as long as these experiments are governed by the right set of incentives. Nobody is interested in having a failing project sustained by government hand-outs - that would be the wrong signal to send. This problem is difficult anywhere in the world, let alone a country where there is immense wealth and ambition and a sense of wanting to do something. There is going to be a tendency to want to do too much, to launch too much. So would you say Qatar is handling employability issues well? I’m not necessarily sure that Qatar is setting the trend on employability. There are challenges. You can employ all the Qataris in the public sector, but that’s not what you want. Dealing with the education system and what it produces is probably the biggest lever to tackle employability issues. You can’t throw money at the problem or somehow delay the inevitable. But I am very tolerant of mistakes made by late developers. You need to give them space. Qatar is a late developer, and it has been active in this space only in the last decade. They can learn from the mistakes of others. What is important is whether they are on the right policy trajectory at this time, and I think the pace of change and the ambition for change is sufficient now to give them room to manoeuvre, to make them learn from mistakes. As opposed to countries that have been doing this for 40-50 years, and some of them insist on repeating their mistakes and don’t seem to learn

march 2012

Qatar Today 37


Cover Story

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has pegged the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Events (MICE) sector as their priority segment in the market. Their immediate focus is on attracting business travellers, corporate functions and city-wide events to the peninsula in the hope that they will kick-start the other segments, such as leisure tourism, in their domain. by Rory Coe n

BUILD AND THEY THE Tourism

38 Qatar Today

march 2012


Y

T

he QTA has being playing ‘catch-up’ with all of its counterparts in this sector since their streamlined strategy was invoked. The facilities and infrastructure were non-existent up until recently; convenient, regular and luxurious transport into the country wasn’t available; and the skilled personnel to attract MICE events weren’t operating in the country. Verily, till a decade ago, nobody from outside the Middle East knew about Qatar and it’s only over the last couple of years that it’s enjoyed instant recall in the global memory. So it was with great pride, after the effort put in to drive the segment, that so many of the contributors were rewarded at the recent World Travel Awards (WTA) held at Katara Cultural Village in January. Hailed as the ‘Oscars of the Travel Industry’ by the Wall Street Journal, the WTA are chosen by important figures in the world of global travel and tourism to recognise and honour the leaders in the sector. The city of Doha was voted ‘World’s Leading Business Travel

Destination’, Qatar Airways was named the ‘World’s Leading Airline –Business Class’, while Regency Travel & Tours collected the award for the ‘World’s Leading Travel Agency’. With sport also being heavily backed by the Qatari government, it was another major coup for the project when the Aspire Zone was named the ‘World’s Leading Sports Tourism Development Project’, which rewarded the country’s sporting dreamers. QTA, Chairman, Ahmed Al-Nuaimi, said: “This is a great achievement and solidifies Qatar’s premier position as a great place to do business as well as one with first class leisure, sporting and cultural attractions. Graham Cooke, President and Founder, WTA, said: “Qatar، in particular، is playing a decisive role in generating new opportunities in travel and tourism, hence our decision to host our Grand Final in Doha. More than $100 billion worth of infrastructure is due to be completed before the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” he added. What makes a good Business Tourist destination? The QTA knew something about this category because they won the ‘World’s Leading Emerging Business Travel Destination’ for 2009,

WILL COME...

sector gets ready

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Qatar Today 39


Cover Story

tourists visiting qatar in 2011 Business Tourists:

GCC NATIONALS:

72%

845,633

TOURISTS from Asia:

Increase of tourists from Europe:

58%

15%

Increase of tourists from Arabic Region:

19%

Qatar’s World Travel Award is a great achievement and solidifies Qatar’s premier position as a great place to do business as well as one with first class leisure, sporting and cultural attractions.

Ahmed Al-Nuaimi Chairman, QTA so the signals coming from their peers were all green for go. But with so many of the large cities in the Gulf also focusing on the MICE sector, how can Qatar really secure their market share? The Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) is an annual event to promote the MICE sector in the GCC region and will be held in Abu Dhabi, March 26-28. Business Tourism destinations from the Middle East and around the world showcase a diverse range of products and services to enhance any meeting, conference, incentive or business travel booking for corporate, association and agency event planners and buyers. REED Travel Exhibitions Manager, GIBTM, Lois Hall argues that a good business tourism destination is “a combination of

40 Qatar Today

march 2012

world class infrastructure, extensive conferencing facilities and high quality venues for holding meetings, conferences and exhibitions, competitively priced travel packages and excellent flight connections. “Further developing the industry through showcasing the destination’s products and services, networking opportunities, gathering information through research reports and enhancing knowledge of business tourism through education will drive the business tourism industry forward in the country,” she adds. Later on, we will examine how the QTA and the hospitality sector are progressing with respect to Hall’s argument above. She details where a destination must excel to reach a certain standard to attract regular MICE visitors and events. If Qatar is to corner this market, and really promote itself as a global MICE magnet, the QTA will need to master each of her points above. If you build it, will they come? Qatar has obviously made great strides in recent years to reach their current level, but does the difficult work begin now? Constructing top-class facilities and laying suitable infrastructure to complement these facilities is one thing – and certainly made simpler with the significant wealth generated by the hydrocarbon sector – but Qatar is still only a pup; it’s still making a name for itself globally. What challenges are really facing the QTA and the MICE sector in Qatar and the region as a whole? Hall argues that there’s a lack of knowledge amongst the people who are actually in the industry itself, but there is help and guidance available to them to achieve their fair market-share and reach their global potential. These entrepreneurs may have grand facilities and be ready for business, but gaining experience and respect, acquiring contacts and developing loyalty doesn’t happen over-night; it takes a significant amount of time and skill.


QATAR AIRWAYS IN NUMBERS

2012

103 Aircraft 110 Destinations

Destinations

Europe: 27

Middle East & Africa: 32

2013 Plan

Asia Pacific: 19

120 Aircraft 120 Destinations

North America: 4

South Asia: 19

South America: 2

“A major challenge is education, as many people working on meetings and incentives in corporations, agencies and organisations don’t know that they belong in the industry,” she explains. “We want to reach out to all involved in the business to develop the industry. “GIBTM provides the perfect business platform for both international and regional venues, hotels, destinations and suppliers to meet with local, regional and international meeting planners, incentive travel buyers and those involved in the global meetings and events industry. The business tourism industry has expanded significantly over the past year and as a result we are creating an education programme that embraces every topic for anyone who is actively engaged in the profession.” Whilst a certain amount of savvy is needed to attract customers to your hotel door-step, they are beginning to arrive in larger numbers at the borders at least. New figures recently released by the QTA revealed that the country recorded one of its strongest years to date. QTA Chairman Al-Nuaimi said the figures highlighted that Doha is on track to become one of the main tourist destinations for the citizens and residents of the GCC. 845,633 tourists from the GCC region visited Qatar in 2011, a 50% increase on 2010, while international tourist figures increased by 12%. Asian tourists betrayed the greatest sense for the country, accounting for 58% of the total visitor numbers. (With respect to business tourism, the main market for Qatari exports is Asia – and in particular Japan, which buys most of the country’s oil products, and India and China to a lesser degree – so this could account for Asia’s interest in coming here). Arab countries increased by 19% and Europeans by 15%. All of this is of course welcoming news for Qatar’s hoteliers. The total income for four and five star hotels was just under QR2.8 billion last year, compared to just over QR2.3 billion in 2010, with revenue from rooms and food and beverage operations accounting for the largest proportion. Although the number of rooms in the city increased, occupancy rates remained stable. Al-Nuaimi pointed out that business tourism accounted for 72% of the passengers received by Qatar last year but he said the QTA’s strategy of targeting high-end tourism was showing results. “Tourism is central to Qatar’s vision of creating a diversified and sustainable economy,” he said. “These strong results can be at-

I am very proud that our Business Class product has again been recognised, as well as our long-haul international services and our willingness to target diverse and underserved markets.

Akbar Al-Baker Chief Executive Officer Qatar Airways tributed to the growth of the hospitality industry, especially in the area of hotels and resorts as well as our strategy to target travellers transiting to stop in Doha. 2012 will be another landmark year for Qatar’s tourism sector. We will see 3,500 new hotel rooms come online. We will continue our efforts at marketing Qatar as a destination, as well as bringing large scale events and conferences to Doha. We will also build on these results with a promotional campaign later in 2012 targeting the GCC countries.” So what’s bringing them here? The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) was completed at the tail-end of last year and immediately played host to the World

march 2012

Qatar Today 41


Cover Story

OCCUPANCY RATES IN QATARI HOTELS

We were the first events company here, starting in 1993, and due to the varied and extensive experience of our staff, every employee has at least five years experience in this industry. That’s what it takes at this level.

Georges Saliba Qatar-Expo Chief Operating Officer Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in November and the huge World Petroleum Congress (WPC) in early December. More than 60,000 visitors came to Doha for the QTA’s Food Festival in early February. The four-day event saw the country’s best and most popular restaurants take part as well as a range of activities for visitors including magic shows and Japanese cooking demonstrations as part of the 40th anniversary of Qatar-Japanese relations. “It is important for the QTA to bring these events to the community. Not only did visitors enjoy great food and fun entertainment in record numbers, they also had the opportunity to taste dishes from other cultures which all seek to promote cultural awareness in our

42 Qatar Today

march 2012

2010:

2011:

59%

59%

amazingly diverse community.” Meanwhile, more than 300 exhibitors, including some of the world’s most exclusive and well known brands, showcased their latest designs at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) at the Doha Exhibition Center, February 20-26. More than 60,000 local and international visitors attended the seven-day exhibition. Organised by QTA, the exhibition is billed as one of the region’s preeminent and again will bring to Doha some of the world’s finest jewellery and watch collections. In 2011 the show attracted more than 50,000 visitors, many of them coming from within the GCC. QTA Internal Exhibitions Head, Lahdan Al Mohannadi said: “The high quality profile of the exhibitors and artisans this event continues to attract has helped to make this show one of the most successful and sought in the Gulf and the world for retailers and those who appreciate fine jewellery and watches. “The timing of the DJWE is significant in that it falls between the two most important jewellery and watches exhibitions in Switzerland: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva and Baselworld in Basel. The Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition has thus become part of the preview series for the latest collections.” The ten-day Doha Trade Fair, which took place at the Doha Exhibitions Center, recorded an overall attendance of approximately 250,000, an increase of around 15% from last year’s event. “Over 570 world-renowned exhibitors from 29 countries participated in this year’s DTF, showcasing and selling a wide array of unique, exclusive and traditional products,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Fahed Al-Thani, events manager at q.media. “We have received positive feedback from agents, exhibitors and visitors for the second year in a row. Many exhibitors have already confirmed their participation in next year’s DTF, including business organisations from Cyprus and the Czech Republic.” Qatar was chosen to host the 18th Conference on Climate Change (COP18) in December, 2012. The conference is the most prominent international meeting in the field of environment, political, economic and environmental importance in light of the growing global interest in the adverse effects of climate change. Who organises these events? To stage a MICE event takes a lot of research, planning and promotion before the public see any tangible signs of the final product. There are many established event organisers through-out the country who all find themselves in a lucrative, but very competitive market. Everyone wants a large slice of the pie, but how do they generate their business? Qatar-Expo is one such enterprise who delivers events here in the capital and Chief Operating Officer, Georges Saliba explains:


Visitors to exhibitions in Qatar Doha Food Festival, 2012 (4-days)

DJWE, 2012 (6-days)

60,000

50,000

Doha Trade Fair (10-days)

World Petroleum Congress (4-days)

120,000 40,000

“We generate a lot of ideas ourselves, and implement them too, but most of our events are for organisations who reach out for our service, expertise and knowledge, especially government entities. Saliba reveals that his company gain a lot of business off the QTA – their main source of business and revenue – and that the country is still a baby in the industry, with a lot to learn, but with so much room for growth. It could be seen as an industry which anybody could take their hand at. “These days many people can open an events company, but do they have what it takes to organise events in a creative and professional manner? Qatar Expo is a 100% local company and has gathered the required knowledge to deliver internationally renowned events right here in the city. We were the first events company here, starting in 1993, and due to the varied and extensive experience of our staff, every employee has at least five years experience in this industry. That’s what it takes at this level.” “We have managed such events as INFDEX, the furniture show that was staged here in Doha; the Green Building Solution (GBS), which included mostly international companies; and the International Wedding Exhibition and Fashion Show (iWed).” Transporting them here Part of the QTAs strategy was to work with all relevant sectors closely – to form a synergic effect – to maximise the country’s potential make-up in the industry. This meant engaging with the hoteliers to reach and maintain a certain standard of product and service. It also meant having a special relationship with Qatar Airways and the new airport which is opening up at the end of the year, which will triple air capacity. Qatar Airways continues to expand its route network, as well as its fleet. They have orders worth over $50 billion for more than 250 aircrafts, including Boeing 787s and 777s, and Airbus A380s and A320s. They currently operate a fleet of 103 aircrafts to 110 diverse business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and North and South America. They plan to serve 120 worldwide destinations with a fleet of 120 carriers by 2013. Qatar Airways has recently announced plans to fly to Kigali in Rwanda and Zagreb in Croatia on a daily basis, whilst also committing to flying to Perth, Australia on a thrice-weekly basis. They will now fly to 27 destinations in the MICE-friendly Europe, including seven new routes in 2011; Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels,

developing the industry by showcasing its products and services, networking opportunities and gathering data through research will drive the industry forward in qatar.

Lois Hall Exhibitions Manager, GIBTM, reed travel

Stuttgart, Venice, Sofia and Oslo. Qatar Airways have really focused on its Business Class – of course winning the WTA in January in this field – to meet the requests of the QTA. They try to create an environment which has the business traveller prepped for his meeting when he deplanes, allowing him to work, sleep, dine or play. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al-Baker said the airline’s winning streak can be attributed to its high standards of quality and service. “Everything we do and provide, from personalised treatment and customer service, to in-flight duty free and onboard cuisine, is five-star and based on superior attention to detail and customer satisfaction,” said Al-Baker. “I am very proud that our Business Class product has again been recognised, as well as our long-haul international services by US-based travellers.”

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Qatar Today 43


Cover Story

Convening large-scale events in Qatar cannot be done without the cooperation of the hospitality sector. However, the hotels need assistance off the government to attract tourists to the country, whether they come here for leisure or business. As evidenced below, both groups are pragmatically working together to try to sell the country, and the products and services it offers, to a global standard.

Any room at the Inn?

R

ecent figures from the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) revealed that eight new hotels opened up in Qatar in 2011, bringing the total number to 74; this increases the total number of rooms to 11,341 – a figure which is still miniscule compared to the country’s ultimate aspirations. Despite the increase in hotel room inventory, occupancy rates in hotels remained at 59% for the year, with January and February recording the highest rates because of the Asian Cup. The ultimate commitment is for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 of course, where up to 90,000 hotel rooms are required. However, regardless of whether the country won the rights to stage this event, Qatar’s strategy was to promote business tourism anyway, and boosting the number of hotel rooms in the country was always a medium-term goal. QTA Chairman, Ahmed Al-Nuaimi recently explained that there are plans to reach 30,000 hotel rooms by 2013, with 5,000 new rooms coming online each year through to 2022. Speed of Development Al-Nuaimi agreed that over-supply was a key concern for everybody, but he was confident that any extra hotel capacity post-2022 could be absorbed with an airport that could process 50 million people per year as well as Doha Port being a hub for the cruise business. In fact, his biggest worry is the speed of the development of the hotels and infrastructure. Although the QTA are working diligently with investors and developers, and there is over a decade until the World Cup, the primary lesson they learned from the 2006 Asian Games was to promote a culture of preparedness in relation to staging large-scale events. Al-Nuaimi confirmed last year that their strategy was as a business tourism destination as opposed to concentrating on the tour-

44 Qatar Today

march 2012

ists who were in pursuit of a lazy vacation. The QTA figure the highend market will always flourish. Whilst private hotels can follow their own policies, the QTA will be primarily available to assist with attracting business tourists to their facilities. “We don’t want people to come for a $50 room to lie on the beach all day and walk around with a backpack and shorts,” he said. “These are not the type of people we’re targeting. For the last five or six years we’ve invested in high-end hotels and facilities, high-end convention centres and museums. But we’re not looking for it to be a revenue-generating industry. We are different from the neighbouring countries. They focus on tourism as a source of income. If (the tourism market) crashes, it makes no difference to us.” Qatar Today spoke to a couple of hotel groups in Doha to investigate what they were doing to promote themselves in the GCC region and globally, as well as their relationship with the Qatari Government. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company “We are working very hard with the Qatar Tourism Authority,” said Herve Humler, President and Chief Operating Officer of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co LLC. “The Ministry is working diligently with the hotels and you do not find this everywhere you go. It’s a very exciting relationship; they are going to create an organisation where they are going to gather all the feedback off the hoteliers in the country. In fact, they have a significant budget to advertise Qatar to the world, and this is something, as a company, we cannot do. So it is great to have them on our side like this. “We learned from the Ministry today that Qatar has 17,000 hotel rooms but the event organisers for the Conference on Climatic Change have requested 27,000 hotel rooms, so there is huge room for growth. They do not want to slow down – they want to push ahead because they know the day you become stagnant will be detrimental. “The new airport is amazing. It is extremely well positioned to


compete with any airport out there and will certainly provide extra distribution for Qatar. I am glad a second convention centre is being constructed, because you will be able to accommodate a second city-wide event that wants to come to the city at the same time.” Cluster General Manager for Ritz-Carlton Doha, Hoss Vetry oversees operations at the Ritz-Carlton and the Sharq Village and Spa Hotel on the Corniche, which he explained are two totally conflicting products and don’t in any way compete with each other. “Doha is very much a business oriented city, mainly driven by the government sector. 90% is very much business, 10% leisure, but it’s changing. The leisure segment has certainly improved to a degree. There are more entertainment facilities, water-park, Souk Waqif, the museums. I think the country will evolve into a leisure tourism destination eventually. “The Ritz-Carlton is the number one government hotel. Any government events take place there, simply because of the way the hotel is laid out. The banquet facilities have a friendly feel and the hotel is also very easy to secure. So that hotel is mainly government driven. We do have regional MICE groups coming too; we promote groups, city-wide events, and corporate programmes. “Sharq Village and Spa Hotel does both surprisingly – business and leisure. It has a relaxed feel. How great is it that you can have an important business meeting in a resort setting. You can leave the meeting and warm up for a period of relaxation straight away.” The facilities are definitely in place and the staff are well trained to stage an event, so what is The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company doing to promote a) Qatar as a tourist destination and b) the Ritz-Carlton Hotel itself. “We look for every opportunity out there. Our sales group is very active. Most of our visits are to our clients to say ‘hello’, to see if they need anything. Perhaps they might book something in our hotel at a later date; we have to have a continuous presence in the market. I am going to Turkey this week and last week I was in Saudi Arabia, the week before I was in Kuwait. In two weeks I’m going to Germany. My Director of Sales and Marketing is in Kuwait today, so you can see the effort we are putting in. “The QTA are preparing for a marketing blitz on seven regional cities in April. They really are doing a great job; they are very active, promoting the hotels and working with Qatar Airways. Together we have recently gone to Berlin, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Cannes, Frankfurt, Singapore and the UK to present the country. Actually ever since the winning 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, we just promote the hotels because people know the country now. I personally admire the Chairman [Ahmed Al Nuaimi]; he’s a very smart businessman, he has a great relationship with the hotels.” Is there a chance that Qatar won’t be able to attract the tourists and the events which it is aspires to? It’s all very well to have a halfdozen large events each year which flood the hotel industry, but what about the rest of the year. How do the hotels cope with the idle hours? “As a hotel operator I will always say I am worried about oversupply, but I can also look at it in a positive way: the more competition, the higher the standard, the better the overall product. We always want competition because every hotel chain that comes to Qatar brings their own customers, their own brand followers. If we maintain our standards, then we’ll always have these customers. “With the convention facilities which are being developed and the airport is going to bring huge capacity. If we could get six or

QTA have a significant budget to advertise Qatar to the world, and this is something, as a company, we cannot do. So it is great to have them on our side like this.

Herve Humler President and CEO, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co LL

seven events like the WPC last December every year, it would really help the hotel industry financially. As a result of QNCC and the other dedicated convention facilities, we are doing more weddings as compensation. We average at about three a week in both The RitzCarlton Hotel, Doha and Sharq Village and Spa Hotel, with maybe 600-700 guests at each one. It’s a different way of doing business.” Marriott International Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director of Marriott Middle East and Africa, echoed Humler’s sentiment about the relationship the Qatari government has with the hotels. “The degree of interest from the Qatari Government in the hotel industry is overwhelming. I’ve worked in the hotel industry all over

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Qatar Today 45


Cover Story

Marriott MIDDLE EAST CURRENTLY:

2015:

Hotels

Hotels:

38

90

Employment:

Employment:

12,000

30,000 Annual Growth Rate:

25%

There’s this perception that there are too many hotels HERE – ‘you need to secure business, how are you going to do this?’ – I’m not worried at all, we have a great product.

Tareq Derbas General Manager, St Regis Doha the world, and with many different governments and this is one of the few that takes a very close interest in the hospitality industry and wants to be a partner in it. Qatar cannot grow unless it can host visitors and to do this you need hotel rooms, so the partnership is crucial and that’s why we visited them – to help deliver the growth that Qatar is looking for. “Qatar is seeking to position itself as the meeting and conference hub of the Gulf. So what will drive this? If you look at the big industrial drivers of the economy here – the hydrocarbons, etc – you can easily see there’s outstanding business demand here. Then you have cultural tourism and the improved infrastructure. So on the back of these, the related industry exhibitions and conferences are being pulled into Qatar. So we think that the continued investments in infrastructure, coming alongside the major sporting events in the

46 Qatar Today

march 2012

Qatar cannot grow unless it can host visitors and to do this you need hotel rooms, so a partnership is crucial to help deliver the growth that Qatar is looking for.

Alex Kyriakidis President and Managing Director, Marriott Middle East and Africa


As a hotel operator I will always say I am worried about over-supply, but I can also look at it in a positive way: the more competition, the higher the standard, the better the overall product.

Hoss Vetry Area General Manager, Ritz-Carlton Doha

St Regis DOHA

Rooms:

266 Suites:

70

Empire Suite:

18

(190 sq-m)

Presidential Suite:

2 (600 sq-m) Restaurants: 10

Meeting space:

4,000

sq-m.

future, and the recent development of the conference and exhibition space will work synergistically to ramp up the conferences and exhibition space in Qatar even more. This will therefore raise the demand for hotels.” Marriott International has 38 hotels – under different brand names – in the Middle East and they are hoping to bring this figure to 90 by 2015, an annual growth rate of 25%. These 38 hotels employ 12,000 people, so they predict that if their growth continues as hoped, they should be employing 30,000 people in the region in three years. St. Regis Doha General Manager at the recently opened St Regis Doha, Tareq Derbas says his hotel is being built to cater for all sectors, but mainly corporate business and corporate groups. The hotel features 336 rooms including 70 suites, 10 restaurants and bars, 4,000 squaremetres of meeting space (which can also host bespoke weddings or other social events) and extensive recreational facilities including Remede Spa, an Olympic sized swimming pool and beachfront

cabanas with private Jacuzzis. “It also offers a 1,800 square metre boardroom, business centre and conference rooms, so conferences and business meetings are going to be the backbone of our business in this regard,” said Derbas. “We started promoting it six months ago going to the major global trade shows. It’s important to meet potential business and corporate clientele – they know we have the facility and we can cater for their needs. I went myself to the luxury travel market in China; our sales and marketing team came back from Cannes recently where they attended the International Travel Market. We got great leads and met a lot of business potentials. A lot of the time you get a facility with 150 or 200 rooms but they haven’t got the state of the art banquet and conference facilities like we do and rooms to back it up. We are also in every MICE publication worldwide.” “We also have a very good programme within Starwood’s Preferred Planner, which is an incentive plan for people who do business with them, so this helps us get the benefits of their booking channels worldwide. “Every brand creates its own market. We have 22 people in our sales team and they attract new business; they need to be creative to bring business from outside the city. There needs to be a public trust in the brand. There’s this perception that there are too many hotels - ‘you need to secure business, how are you going to do this?’ – I’m not worried at all, we have a great product. If you come up with a brand which will add value to the market, if you come up with a service which people will value, you will definitively get your fair market share. The demand for luxury is becoming more apparent as the clientele is becoming more sophisticated. “The QTA’s support has also been great. They recently saw our facility and they were very impressed. It takes two to tango. We need their support, but they also need us to do our part, like providing rooms and a quality service. Neither of us can do much on our own, we have to work together.”

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Qatar Today 47


Cover Story

In a recent edition of Qatar Today , we looked at how the country is perceived as a nation from a political standpoint. For such a small and relatively insignificant country a decade ago, it has fast-tracked its way to the top table in many sectors. One area where it’s perceived they are doing quite well is in Business Tourism. How does Qatar fare against its closest rivals?

Dubai and Abu Dhabi

T

SIZING UP THE OPPOSITION

ravel and Tourism is one of the most important industries in Germany, where each year German travellers spend more than $80 billion abroad for various products and services – this is even more than the US. Germany has also the eighth largest inbound tourist trade. Qatar Today spoke to Matthias Schultz, Sales Director for FVW Mediengruppe, Germany’s leading travel industry media group with more than 40 years of expertise in tourism and travel to gain a better understanding of how Qatar is perceived as a business tourism destination in the hotspot for the sector currently. “Qatar is a young player in the market,” he says. “Destinations such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi are well established, but Doha needs to push for exposure and awareness – it needs to spend more on communication, PR and marketing in order to outline the USPs (Unique Selling Proposition) or reasons to have an event in there. Last year, it started a strong communication campaign in the German market and has invited leading travel and MICE experts to Qatar to explore the facilities and opportunities. The outcome was that the overall product is attractive and can compete but there is still room for improvement. How much contact does a leading travel group in Germany have

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with Qatar and the Middle East in general? Why would Germans want to do business in a place as far away as Qatar? “We have long lasting and good business relationships with all governments (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al-Kaimah), with the airlines (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air) and with the various hotels groups. The business relationships are not only in terms of advertising business – for some of the governments we are consulting workshops for tourism marketing services. “The Gulf region has a strategically good position geographically. As the German industry is living from its exports and international business relationships (a huge amount in Asia and Middle East) it is extremely convenient to have conferences, events, meetings and seminars in the Gulf region. Asian business partners and their European counterparts can meet half way.” Schultz is of the opinion that it’s good to focus on both leisure and business tourism, but the competition is so strong in the leisure segment that it would be very difficult to compete here. He is however positive and optimistic about the future for Qatar in the business segment, and gifts some advice. “Large global events such as the FIFA World Cup will lead to a higher visibility of Qatar and will push the country to a much higher level in terms of event management and facilities. Again the hub situation will add benefit. Once Qatar achieves a reputation of not


Qatar needs to spend more on communication, PR and marketing in order to outline the USPs or reasons to have an event in there.

Matthias Schultz Sales Director, FVW Mediengruppe, germany

being “a second Dubai” or “another UAE” (which is of course inaccurate, but a lot of visitors don’t know any different), and is a valuable destination with its own USPs, Qatar will lead the industry. Especially as Dubai struggles to maintain its reputation due to the crises and real estate dramas.” Dubai How is Dubai doing, in light of their recent set-backs? It was the pioneer of business travel in the Middle East. Qatar Today asked the Director at Dubai Convention Bureau, Jerad Bachar how competitive Dubai is at the moment. “MICE is one of the primary tourism segments for Dubai,” he says. “Depending on the time of year and location of hotel, MICE can contribute as much as 25% of hotel occupancies. A strong focus has been placed upon the segment in the DTCM’s (Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing) next four year strategy. Dubai’s tourism strength comes from a diversification in market segments and in source markets. There is a strong, collective focus on MICE and this collaboration exists among hotels, DMCs, PCOs, the World Trade Centre, and the DTCM’s Dubai Convention Bureau.” How do those involved in promoting Dubai tourism feel about the rise of Qatar as a player in this segment? Is it good to raise competition for standards within the region, or do they feel that there’s not enough meat on the bone to feed all the MICE players? Are they all offering the same package essentially? “The MICE industry offers vast opportunities for us all,” he continues. “We find that more and more clients are looking at destinations from a business perspective, not only focusing on particular hotels, attractions, and activities. If an organiser has a strong business reason to be in the destination, they will typically favor that location. There will be occasions when customers will want/need to be in Doha, same applies to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. When it comes to regional development of MICE destinations, it doesn’t have to be a winner takes all outcome. There is enough business for us all to succeed. “Dubai’s strength comes from a number of areas. The commerce

and trade network that exists in Dubai is a strong attraction for many organisations; generally speaking the companies that participate in many of the events are generally based here in Dubai. Further the airlift, hotel options, expanded convention centre and the large number of expert service providers all contribute to Dubai’s attraction,” he added.

ABU DHABI, 2010

business visitors:

500,000 International/Non UAE:

95,000 (19%) Each International visitor spends (per 5-day event): AED 10,000 ADNEC’s worth to economy: AED 2.4 billion Economic Impact of Business Events: AED 2.4 billion (1% of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil GDP.) Proposed Impact 2020: AED 5.1 billion

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Cover Story Dubai is a strong attraction but generally speaking the companies that participate in many of our events are generally based here in Dubai.

Jerad Bachar Director, dubai convention bureau

Abu Dhabi According to the 5th Middle East meetings Industry Research Report in 2011, the UAE was the leading country in the Gulf for the number of business events held and Abu Dhabi came 2nd in the list of likely destinations to be chosen for business events in the next 12 months. The report is produced annually with the results being made public at GIBTM later this month. Business Tourism Manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cultural Authority, Gillian Taylor recognises there is a challenge from Qatar: “We welcome professionalism and experience in the region and global positioning and empowerment of the Arab world but clearly there is competition between the cities. “Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has a specialised division dedicated to attracting MICE business. We have started 2012 well with our largest congress

We have started 2012 well with our largest congress ever – the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 – which attracted more than 10,000 attendees, 80% who had never visited Abu Dhabi before.

Gillian Taylor Business Tourism Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Cultural Authority

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ever – the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 – which attracted more than 10,000 attendees, 80% who had never visited Abu Dhabi before. We are currently bidding on several major conventions associated with the medical and cultural sectors. In the main, we focus on sectors that are linked to the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan. Our key source markets are predominately where we have offices – UK, Germany, Italy, France, USA, China, Australia and Russia – andalso anywhere that Etihad Airways flies. In the face of some fierce competition from Dubai, Doha and other regional and global cities, what can Abu Dhabi bring that the others cannot. What kind of facilities are they trying to entice prospective MICE groups with? “Abu Dhabi is the administrative and business capital of the UAE and the place to do business so it is easy to justify the ROI and ROO of bringing a business event here,” Taylor continues. “In addition to ADNEC and ICC (International Convention Centre) and many hotels, there are other unusual and character venues for meetings and events, such as “Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – the world’s largest indoor theme park which significantly enhances our incentive appeal, has meeting space and is available for private functions.”


Bulgaria

A Country Report

A land of opportunities

A small country rich in natural resources, with an attractive tax regime, Bulgaria is now trying to attract more foreign investment. Steeped in rich history, this country is high on tourism – from spa and ski tourism to golf, the country has it all to attract tourists with diverse interests. The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has an agenda to focus on improving Middle East relations, and in conjunction with this they are organising an exhibition at the Doha Exhibition Centre from March 14 – 15. This will provide Bulgarian Companies a much-needed platform to draw interested Qatari investors towards their country.

By Sindhu Na ir

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Bulgaria

b

Macroeconomic Overview

ulgaria enters 2012 with a growing economy, but signs of approaching new slowdown are visible. The debt crisis in the eurozone threatens to stop the recovery of the Bulgarian economy, which is driven mainly by intensive growth of exports to the EU member states. GDP growth slowed for a second consecutive quarter at the end of 2011 and fell behind the rates projected by the government. However, these rates remain significantly higher than those of the eurozone. The deteriorating economic situation in Europe and the consequent problems for Bulgaria forced several international financial institutions to cut slightly their forecasts for the country’s real GDP growth in 2012. Nevertheless, Bulgaria managed to survive the global economic downturn relatively better than most countries in the region due to cautious and conservative public finance management by the government. It is the only European country to have an upgrade of the credit rating by Moody’s since the beginning of 2010. In the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom Bulgaria is ranked 61 in the world and 27 in Europe. Its score is slightly below the European average, but well above the world average. The decrease compared to 2011 is caused by the negative impact of business freedom, freedom from corruption and government spending. The most important advantages of the country are its macroeconomic stability, low tax rate and competitive trade regime. Domestic demand remains weak as Bulgarians cut consumer spending dramatically and increase savings correspondingly. This behaviour results from negative economic expectations, fear of a new downturn and constantly rising unemployment. The housing market, which was thriving before the global crisis, still does not show any signs of revival. The situation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) is permanently worsening and in 2010 the FDI inflow was only one-fifth of ITS value in pre-crisis 2007. In 2011 the fourth consecutive slump in annual FDI inflow was registered. Attracting new FDI is vital for the Bulgarian economy, the emphasis being on high value added industries. The economic policy of the government in 2012 is based on further tightening public expenditure to ensure the desired minimal budget deficit. Two reforms, expected to be unpopular, are expected to be started in 2012 – increasing the retirement age and the privatisation of loss-making state-owned companies, such as the national railway company and the postal service. The improved absorption of EU funds further supports the national economy, especially massive investments in public infrastructure.

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Bulgaria in figures: Nationality: 84.8% Bulgarian; 8.8% Turkish; 4.9% Roma; 1.5% Other (2011) Capital: Sofia Government type: Parliamentary republic Population: 7.36 million (2011) Language: Bulgarian National Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN) Climate: Temperate Area Total: 110,993.6 sq km Administrative division: 28 Districts (2011) Infrastructure: Highways – 437 km (2010) Airports – There are FIVE functional international airports Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria Plovdiv, southern Bulgaria Gorna Oryahovitsa, northern Bulgaria Varna and Burgas – eastern Bulgaria Ports – 30 ports of national importance, of which: seaports in Varna, Balchik, Burgas, Nesebar, Pomorie, Sozopol, Tsarevo and Rosenets, eastern Bulgaria, and river ports in Vidin, Lom, Oryahovo, Ruse, Silistra, Tutrakan, Somovit, Nikopol and Svishtov.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) GDP went up by 1.6% year-on-year(y/y) in Q3 2011, compared to a 2.0% y/y growth in the previous quarter Bulgarian GDP stood at QR189.56 billion (BGN 76.170 billion), up 1.6% on the year in 2011, according to flash estimates of the National Statistics Institute (NSI). Gross Value Added (GVA) marked an annual rise of 1.7% to QR163.53 billion (BGN 65.711 billion) in 2011. According to data of the National Statistics Institute, the country’s GDP increased by 1.6% y/y and totalled BGN 21.015 billion (EUR 10.745 billion) in the third quarter of 2011. Final consumption, which contributed 67.2% to the GDP, grew by 8.8% y/y in the third quarter of 2011. Gross capital formation went up by 19.4% y/y, contributing 21.7% to the GDP. Both imports and exports rose – by 17.4% y/y and 12.7% y/y, respectively. Bulgaria’s annual GDP growth outstripped the average for the EU-27 countries of 1.4% in Q3 2011. Foreign Trade Bulgaria’s foreign trade gap widened by 20.8% y/y in Q3 2011. In Q3 2011 the trade deficit stood at QR2,553.27 million (EUR 523 million), compared to QR2,113.89 million (EUR 433 million) in Q3 2010, according to data of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB).


top five bulgarian banks by total assets Bank

BGN

UniCredit Bulbank ad

11,906,377,000

dsk bank ead

8,559,030,000

united bulgarian bank ad raiffeisenbank (bulgaria) ead first investment bank ad

6,715,464,000 6,448,320,000 6,101,669,000

In November 2011 alone the trade deficit totalled QR2,334.55 million (EUR478.2 million), compared to QR2681.66 million (EUR 549.3 million) in November 2010. Government Ratings In 2011 global rating agency Moody’s upgraded Bulgaria’s government debt rating to Baa2 with a stable outlook from Baa3. The agency pointed out the country’s commitment to maintain a strong financial discipline and to provide effective management of the currency board and supervision of the banking system. The country’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s has been unchanged since the end of 2009. Exchange Rates Since the Bulgarian economy started to operate under a currency board system in 1997 the BGN exchange rate against the euro has been fixed at BGN 1.95583. For that reason, the BGN–USD exchange rate movement depends on the EUR–USD exchange rate fluctuations. Financial institutions The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) is responsible for supervision

of the local banking and credit system. BNB participates in issuance of banknotes and coins in the country. Bulgaria is operating a restrictive monetary mechanism, prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and called a currency board system that pegs the BGN at a fixed exchange rate to the euro and bans the BNB from lending to the government. The Banking Department can be a lender of last resort to local commercial banks but only to ward off systemic risk. There are 31 commercial banks in Bulgaria – 24 banks licensed to operate in Bulgaria and seven branches of foreign banks. Foreign capital is invested in 21 of the licensed lenders. At end-2011 the total assets of the Bulgarian banking system stood at BGN 76.8 billion (EUR 39.3 billion), according to BNB. The total assets of the top five Bulgarian banks were BGN39.7 billion (EUR 20.3 billion) in 2011, which was 51.7% of the total assets of the banking system. Capital Market The Bulgarian Stock Exchange (BSE) (www.bse-sofia.bg): The BSE indices, SOFIX is the benchmark index based on the market capitalisation of 15 companies with the greatest market value. BG 40 includes the 40 companies with the largest number of transactions and the highest median value during the last six months. BG TR30 is an index based on the price performance of the common shares of 30 selected companies. BG REIT covers seven issues of common shares of special investment purpose companies that operate in the field of securitisation of real estate and/or land. Two organisations regulate the Bulgarian capital market: The Financial Supervision Commission (FSC) regulates and controls the capital market participants and Central Depository AD – national system for storage and management of securities.

Foreign Direct Investment

t

he FDI stock in Bulgaria in the third quarter of 2011 was EUR36.331 million. Due to the slowdown in Bulgarian and European economies, FDI flow has been dropping for past four years. The largest investments by country came from Austria (EUR327.3 million), the Netherlands (EUR313.1 million) and Russia (EUR168.1 million). This sharp fall in 2011 was in line with the trend which began with the global economic crisis in 2008 and led to five times lower FDI flow in 2010 in comparison to the peak in 2007. Hot Economic Sectors Apart from the slump in the value of FDI, 2010 was characterised

by a significant change in these investment structure by industry. The three historically dominant sectors – real estate, finance and wholesale and retail – saw the greatest decrease. While from 2005 onwards their total share in the FDI flow was always over 50%, reaching 80% in 2008, in 2010 together they accounted for 25% of the foreign investments in Bulgaria. FDI flow in manufacturing recovered promptly after 2009 when it was negative and almost regained its level of 2008. The most dynamic growth of FDI was registered in the chemical industry, transport equipment, metals and energy production. Major foreign investors in Bulgaria are global companies in different sectors: IT and outsourcing – SAP, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, VMware Mechanical and electrical engineering – Liebherr, Schneider Electric, EPIQ, Yazaki

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Bulgaria

FDI Inflow forcast 4.4

% of gdp

4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0

2.2

2.4

1.9

2010

2011

2012

2013

FDI Inflow forcast Source: bnb

Source: bnb

Source: A.T. Kearney

Source: bnb

Construction materials – Aurubis, Holcim, Italcementi Group, Solvay Telecommunications - Telekom Austria, AIG, Cosmote Energy - CEZ, EVN, Enel, Energo-Pro, AES Finance - UniCredit, Citigroup, Eurobank EFG, Raiffeisen Bank Among the 15 foreign companies with the largest investments in the country in 2010 five were financial institutions; three were engaged in energy production, and two were each in telecommunications and chemical industry. Investment Strategy Bulgaria’s main advantages as an investment destination are its political and business stability as an EU and NATO member, the country’s easy access to large markets – the European Union, Russia the Middle East as well as an educated and highly qualified labour force. Bulgaria is the country with the lowest cost of doing business in the EU – 10% corporate income tax rate and the lowest

This information was provided by

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average wages in EU. Most of the FDI in Bulgaria has traditionally concentrated in economic sectors with low added value, such as real estate, financial services and trade. With its investment strategy the government aims to shift the structure of FDI towards sectors with higher added value. The economic sectors which are considered of high priority for attracting FDI: Electronics and electrical engineering Chemical industry Agriculture and food industry Transport equipment and machinery Transport and logistics Information and communication technologies (ICT) Outsourcing Healthcare and pharmaceuticals Other attractive sectors for foreign investment include mining, oil and alternative energy production.


Banking on Bulgaria

w

ith a heady mix of culture and rich history, tantalising sky resorts, award-winning golf pastures and exotic mineral spa resorts, Bulgaria is keen to expand its areas of expertise to benefit countries that are willing to invest. Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism in Bulgaria, explains to Qatari investors why Bulgaria is a country to look out for. What portion of the Bulgarian GDP does energy command? If we take into account coal mining, gas, electricity power generation and investments in the energy sector, then energy is around 20% of GDP. How about the tourism sector? Tourism takes 10% of GDP and is developing very well – we have an increase of 5% year-on-year. Even during the economic crisis the figures were quite high. Last year Bulgaria was visited by 6.2 million tourists and most of them visited our Black Sea resorts and winter ski resorts. We are now trying to bridge the two seasons with everything else that the country has to offer and promote Bulgaria as an all-season tourist destination. Bulgaria has a very rich history of seven different civilisations – the Thracian period, Roman, Byzantine, 1st Bulgarian Kingdom, 2nd Bulgarian Kingdom, Ottoman period (when we lived together as one country with Qatar of today) and the contemporary period. We have excellent historical artefacts from all these periods, especially from the Thracian and Roman eras. We also keep discovering new monuments from these periods and this is why we are focusing on the historical aspects of the country to attract tourism. Bulgaria is also famous for its hot spring tourism. Actually, Bulgaria has one of the richest sources of mineral springs in Europe; we have around 800 of them around the country. A number of five-star hotels have opened around these water sources and numerous spas have also developed in these areas. We are also famous for wine tourism, pilgrims and most recently golf tourism. Bulgaria was nominated by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) as the ‘2012 Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year’. The start of Qatar Airways flights to Sofia (QA flies four times a week to Sofia), is extremely welcome and we hope to attract more visitors from the Gulf region and around the world. Tell us more about the energy sector in Bulgaria. Do you export energy? We cover a considerable part of the electricity deficit in our region. Around 20% of the electricity generated in Bulgaria is exported. Bulgaria sells electricity to neighbouring Greece, Serbia and Macedonia. Our main focus is now to provide a high-quality supply for domestic

traicho traikov Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism

Exports to Qatar Exports and imports between Qatar and Bulgaria are rather low, but we want to encourage Bulgarian businesses to have more partnerships with Qatar. An economic commission is set up to improve business activities between the two countries. The Bulgarian Exhibition at the Doha Exhibition Center in Qatar this month is one of the activities of the commission and will hopefully foster more partnerships.

Message to Qatari investors: If you want to do business with the European Union, Bulgaria is the best place to locate your business, because of: low labour and overall operating costs, low taxes, investor friendly business environment, qualified workforce, excellent geographic location between Europe and the Middle East, good infrastructure and attractive investment incentives. With the World Cup preparations, Qatar should look at Bulgarian expertise in the construction sector. I believe that cooperation between Bulgaria and Qatar can be beneficial for both countries.

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Bulgaria

markets and to increase our energy efficiency. Around 35-40% of our energy supply is from nuclear power, 4550% is from coal and around 12% is from renewable energy sources which include hydro-generated power (9%). What is the country’s long-term policy on nuclear energy? Bulgaria was one of the first European countries to start generating electricity from nuclear power plants. Our first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1974. The government’s commitment to the future of nuclear energy is strong. We have an excellent track record in safety. We currently have two nuclear reactors generating about 3540% of the total electricity output. Their project life is until 2017 and 2019 respectively but we are confident they have the capacity to stay online for at least more ten years. The Bulgarian state will institutionally support the development of nuclear energy but we rely heavily on investments to the new reactors from private investors. We have one new reactor in the construction stage but the capital funding for this project is under negotiation. The technology being used is Russian. There are a number of issues in technology and capital funding that are still in the discussion stages. How dependant is Bulgaria on gas imports? All of the imported gas comes from Russia. Gas is mainly used for district heating facilities and as a raw material in industry. We have a local production of around 10%. Is Bulgaria looking at Qatar for meeting its gas needs? Is this a bid to move away from the country’s dependence on Russian gas? In 2010, when the Bulgarian delegation visited Qatar, we signed an agreement between our Prime Minister and the Qatari Prime Minister, HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani, from which Bulgargaz and Qatargas started commercial discussions. There are some issues here too. Firstly, we cannot bring gas directly through the Black Sea because of the 19-mile-long Bosphorus strait. This is the sole shipping passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. As a result, the waterway is heavily congested with tanker traffic to and from Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and southern Russia, and has been the scene of many maritime accidents and hence a very risky passage for the huge LNG ships. Gas can be imported via LNG terminals in Greece and Turkey. For this reason, we have to build interconnectors from Greece and Turkey. We have made advancements with the Bulgaria-Greece connectors. This will be complete in a year. The second issue with the Qatari gas is price. We hope that the price of LNG that we are being offered is comparable to the price that is made available to the rest of Europe. There will be further talks after the infrastructure needs are met.

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Now our gas needs are met by Russia and it is a monopoly. Everyone tries to benchmark their price against the monopoly, and when the monopoly is abolished, prices will be different. What is Bulgaria’s plan on renewable energy? We have a lot of renewable energy projects in the pipeline. If the planned projects are executed we will reach and exceed our targets for 2020. Our target is 16% of total gross consumption and we have reached 12% at the moment. The question is not about reaching targets but at what costs they will be achieved. Earlier we had a very generous approach to such projects and this generated more interest in renewable projects, so this year we have altered the law in such a way that new developments in wind and solar are completed in a more balanced way until the technologies get cheaper. How has Bulgaria weathered the economic crisis? In 2009 we had a sharp decline in GDP, but ever since then the situation has been improving. In 2010, real GDP growth was almost flat, with 0.2% growth. 2011, was better, with a real GDP growth of 1.6% and this year we expect it to reach 2.5%. So we are on a growth path. But we are largely dependent on what happens in the rest of the European Union, where 60% of our exports go. In 2009 and 2010 we resisted the temptation to fight the crisis through fiscal stimulus and instead focused on maintaining solid fundamentals such as: low taxes, low government debt and budget deficits. For example we have only 10% for corporate and personal income taxes (which is the lowest in the EU) and 16% of government debt in the GDP (the third lowest in the EU). Our budget deficit for 2011 is around 2.2% of GDP. The short fall of this budget is we cannot stimulate consumption so internal consumption has shown the slowest rate of improvement during periods of crisis. The main driver of our economic growth are exports, which have grown by around 30% for each of the past two years. Which are the areas that Bulgaria is intent to develop? Traditionally, Bulgaria has had competitive strengths in industries such as machine building, pharmaceuticals, ICT, , chemicals, nonferrous metals such as copper, lead and zinc, agricultural products like grain and processed food, and cosmetic products. Have there been any talks of Qatar buying Bulgarian land for agricultural purposes? Yes, this is one of the areas where Qatar has shown an interest. China has already invested in land here for agricultural purposes Agriculture receives a lot of support from national and European Union sources and foreign investment in the sector can additionally increase productivity. Non-agriculture real estate developments are also being planned with Qatari Diar.


Working Together for Democracy

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he Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Nickolay Evtimov Mladenov, has a special love for the Middle East. Part of it is due to his personal interest in the region, as some of his childhood days were spent in Syria; but it is not this fascination alone that steers the country’s current political agenda. He explains why the region is vital for Bulgaria. “Middle East-Bulgarian relations go back 30 years. But that was completely different era. Over the past 20 years we have disengaged from the region. This was not a conscious decision, but it was perhaps due to our continuous effort to attain EU and then NATO status. When our government came into power one of the tasks we undertook was to re-engage with the region, and the reasons for this decision are many,” he says. “Firstly, because we are close geographically. There are people working from Bulgaria in Qatar and vice versa. So there are existing peopleto-people connections. Secondly, because we think the Middle East is an important market for our country and a good source of investment for our industries. Thirdly, because Bulgaria is a growing tourist destination and it is constantly improving its services, so we would like to open up to markets in the Middle East.” As the government worked on this policy of relooking at the region, they had to reconcile with the fact that they had certain advantages and some gaps. “Advantages because of relationships that we have inherited in places like Lebanon, Libya and Syria, and large gaps related to the Gulf region. Bulgaria had little or no history with the Gulf region. This is one area that we have to focus on to understand the culture, the region, and establish more contacts. We were beginning to implement this when one fine day there was the Arab Spring.” Arab Spring and the European transition period Mladenov believes that the Arab Spring is one of the best things to happen to the region. “I am personally convinced that this is the most exciting period in the Arab world since the end of colonialism. It can only be compared in terms of size and effect to what happened in Central and Eastern Europe after the end of communism. We added a basket of activities and efforts to try and share the experience that we had with the transitions of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In the last 20 years this country has been subjected to a large amount of outside help to build our own democratic institutions. We have some appreciation of how to react when somebody else from the outside advises you on how to deal with your problems,” says the Minister. “So what we are trying to do is a storytelling process,” he says, “to tell the Arab world how we dealt with some issues the right way and some wrongly. What are our learnings from the situations presented, and

Nickolay Evtimov Mladenov Foreign Minister of Bulgaria

We added a basket of activities and efforts to try and share the experience that we had with the transitions of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. In the past 20 years this country has been subjected to a large amount of outside help on how to build our own democratic institutions.”

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Bulgaria

pass these stories on. Hopefully our friends there will learn from it and use it in their countries.” So Bulgaria formed the Sofia platform, a venue for dialogue and exchange of views between non-governmental organisations, journalists, politicians and practitioners from Europe, the Middle East and the US. It aims at facilitating an in-depth conversation about the lessons learnt during transition. The topics discussed within the Sofia Platform framework cover a wide range of issues: from institution building, constitutional and judiciary reform, reconciliation and justice to security sector reform, anti-corruption strategies, role of civil society and media freedom. “We started in May 2011, looking at the broader aspects of transitions. It was inaugurated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. We had an interesting mix of participants from bloggers in Egypt and Morocco to activists and politicians from Yemen. Later in December 2011, we had another talk on aspects of transition that the participants had specifically asked for.” Later the Platform was used to follow up on specific requests, like those from Tunisia. “We were helping train politicians from Tunisia, providing support to help in constitutional drafting. In other countries, such as Libya, we are looking to send a team there to train them during the election period. We wanted to engage with all strata of the community in Syria but it is impossible now with the government crackdown,” he says. And what is the role of Bulgaria in such a global movement? “I think there is an advantage being a small country. You are not perceived to carry the historical agenda that the larger countries usually do. You are seen as an honest broker. In case of conflicts, we can afford to work with different sides and help bring them together,” says Mladenov. The benefits that the Bulgarians see from their diplomatic work in these countries are evident. “Immediate benefits would be getting more Arab leaders coming to the country, and we are working to make this easier by liberalising visa transactions. “Outsourcing our visa procedures have made the process easier. Also events at the Sofia Platform will represent Bulgaria and garner interest globally.” “More specific benefits would be companies coming to Bulgaria and establishing their business here as we have the best business climate in the EU, with the lowest (10%) income and corporate taxes. Bringing investments to the country and also helping experts here find more sources of investments in new markets, like the Middle East is another benefit,” he says. But the most remarkable explanation was the country’s longterm benefit which according to Mladenov is: “Providing honest and friendly support to all countries in Middle East and North Africa who really want to build institutions of democracy. This is very important for Bulgaria because we are a diverse country, traditionally Christians, Muslims and Jews have lived here happily for years. In a way we are different from other countries in the neighbourhood that have undergone wars on ethnic issues, and we want to encourage peaceful connections.”

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On expanding ties Bulgarian–Qatari relations took a new turn with Qatar Airways establishing its link to Sofia in September 2011. “It is very important that we have a direct link between Sofia and Qatar and establish a bigger flow of tourists and investments. Qatar is a very dynamic country. We have not had a very close relationship until quite recently. I think it is an open and friendly country and they have been helpful to us on issues that are important to all of us.” Like the incident when some Bulgarians were held hostage in Sudan last year. “In an incident when three Bulgarian pilots were held as hostages in the western region of Darfur by local tribes we received helpful information from Qatar in trying to locate them. We also work closely with each other on other issues, including Libya, and now hopefully Syria,” he says. Qatar and Bulgaria have some similarities. “We both are small and friendly nations, but one great difference is that Qatar has a lot of oil and gas reserves which Bulgaria doesn’t, but we have our strengths,” says Mladenov. “One of the important things to help businesses move forward is to provide links and we have worked on that and hopefully in March when we have a bigger presentation in Qatar with our panel of businessmen we will be able to establish these links,” he says. “We will also follow this up with an invitation to Qatari businessman and policy makers to establish links with our experts. If people from Qatar Foundation (QF) will come and meet our representatives from the universities in Bulgaria and explore possibilities, it would open wide avenues for us and benefit Qatar in the long-run also.” Investments Bulgaria is open to business and there are sectors in which it is strong and which are worth exploring. “Tourism, the IT sector, educational initiatives, engineering and energy would be the business sectors that we would be interested in partnering in. We might not have gas reserves but we have a lot of water, and those are areas we could work on. We are quite focused on sustainable energy and also on energy efficiency. Bulgaria is also a good entry point to reach out to the rest of the Balkans and also beyond the Black Sea. Just like Qatar is a good entry point to the rest of Middle East,” explains the Minister. “We are working on setting up a Gulf Study Centre in Bulgaria and ask QF to send a delegation to help us understand and expand our knowledge in this area.” Another project in the making is with the Qatar Museums Authority. “Bulgaria has the third largest archive of the history of the Ottoman Empire. We have suggested to the Museum Authority to present this along with Bulgarian history there. But it will take some time for this to materialise.” The energy that Qatar has and the synergies that evolve in supporting democracies in the new Middle East are the areas where we come together, says Mladenov.


“Bulgarian Banks as stable as the Swiss”

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evon Hampartzoumian has been the CEO and Chairman of UniCredit Bulbank since 2001. He is also the Chairman of the Management Board of the Association of banks in Bulgaria. Hampartzoumian was chosen Deputy Chairman of Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG). Ask him about the exposure of Bulgarian banks exposure to the euro crisis and he answers emphatically, “No exposure at all.” “The average capital adequacy of Bulgarian banks is 17-18% , which is way above the Basel III requirements. The regulator here is very conservative. Even those banks which have shareholders from European countries are locally regulated in a much more conservative way compared to their own country,” says Hampartzoumian. “So with all this we withstood the shocks of the crisis. We are ready to support our clients and also do new business when it is bankable,” he says. External investments are crucial for Bulgaria because its local capital is not sufficient to produce more than 3% growth in a year. But it is a good country to have business, he says, citing the advantages in doing so. “Bulgaria has a very open economy; it is a full member of EU, with all trade barriers removed and the prospective of joining the euro zone in the near future. Tax rates are 10%, lowest in the EU; labour laws are liberal which allow flexibility for the workforce. The Bulgarian government is committed to giving visa work permit which are investment-friendly to the extent possible within the regulations. Bulgaria is very keen to support local and foreign investments in their entrepreneurial efforts.” On the European debt issue, he is equally clear, saying it is time that the issue is resolved, “no matter how it is done”. “The crisis does not directly affect Bulgaria as we have the lowest public debt. But if the matter is resolved there will be a wave of entrepreneurial activity which is currently dormant.” Bulgaria has six Greek Banks in the market. What will their fate be in this condition? “They are regulated by our local regulators so they do not have a risk factor. Their appetite for risk is again going down. For some of them their market share is also going down and part of their business is taken by other banks in the market. It does not have a dramatic effect on our economy. We might see some kind of consolidation but that will be done without any shock waves.” Is UniCredit Bulbank looking to buy out these Greek banks in the near future? “Not buying the Banks but maybe acquiring some of their best clients. We are already doing that,” he says. “The Middle East is very important as we have had historical

Levon Hampartzoumian CEO and Chairman of UniCredit Bulbank

connection between the two territories. We have to increase our partnerships. We need to evaluate the opportunities to increase the economic exchange between the two countries. Increased level of awareness is also needed about each other which will result in good projects, start new developments and discussions that take the relationship forward.” As a banker, he is interested in looking at the opportunities presented by Qatar. “We might not be as popular as Switzerland is in terms of financial services but we are as stable as they are.” Has the business climate in Bulgaria been easier post joining EU? “Not easier, especially with the Lehman Brothers incident. But we were already conservative. We were able to support our clients during the crisis and make them restructure their businesses in a more prudent way and these created additional levels of loyalty. Our market share has increased in these years. Our balance sheet is near six billion euros.” Explaining the banking sector of the country, Hampartzoumian says, “We have 31 banks here. The top five of them are in the global category with the rest having their own niche markets serving governments, private sector, green energy, SMEs etc. It is a competitive, diversified marketplace where you can choose services matching your own requirement.” UniCredit Bulbank classifies itself as a universal commercial bank with its arm spread over services from retail, corporate banking, leasing company, a consumer finance company, and also a small investment arm. “We have all the services you can expect from a large international bank,” he says.

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Optimising Water Wastage

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ato is an international company focused on water networks to serve the water and wastewater industry. It provides simple and practical solutions that increase the efficiency of water supply systems on all levels from water carrier to the final consumer. Wato combines services, products and knowhow in a single goal by maximising the performance of water networks.

Wato, Managing Partner, Dimitar Ivanov says the two areas they focus on are efficient network operations and leakage reduction. “We have people who design the networks from the academia who are experts in the area of water pipe designs,” he says. As a company they are not looking at direct investments but are on the lookout for strategic partnership. And by strategic partnership he implies, “Operator who would help us target the market in the Middle East.”

The Pill for Success

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opharma AD is a producer of pharmaceutical products based in Bulgaria and exporting to over 38 countries mainly in the region. The company’s shares are listed on the Bulgarian and Warsaw stock exchanges. Ognian Donev is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria and the Executive Director of Sopharma PLC. He is one of the few businessmen who struck gold. He says, “We were given a lot of opportunities during the period when communism gave way to democracy in Bulgaria. Some of us took it, some went bankrupt, some were lucky, and I happen to one of the lucky ones.” Crisis, he says, is the best time to take calculated risks and the risk that Donev took head-on is now one of the most successful business houses in Bulgaria. Donev doesn’t rest on his laurels; he is constantly improvising, expanding to markets outside Bulgaria and even setting up factories in neighbouring countries like Serbia, Ukraine etc, to feed these markets. “Sopharma is a strong regional player and is the third largest pharmaceutical player in the Balkan region. Last year we expanded to Serbia and Ukraine,” he says. The company has no presence in the Middle East but is selling to North Africa and Lebanon. “We will look at opportunities there. Qatar was never a market but we will study it and see if there are opportunities that we can build on,” he says. Sopharma AD manufacturing facilities are compliant with EU regulations. In 2012 the company expects to complete the construction of a new production plant with annual capacity of 4 billion tablets in Sofia, which is currently under construction. Sopharma AD is the only Bulgarian producer of ampoules and suppositories. “The company has more than 210 products in its portfolio: mainly generics and 15 original products, 12 products being phyto-based. The original products of the company (and in particular Carsil

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Ognian Donev Chairman of the Board of Directors of Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria and the Executive Director of Sopharma PLC

andTempalgin) are key contributors to its revenues from export markets, while for domestic sales the most important products are generics, among which is the leading drug Analgin. The product portfolio of Sopharma AD is focused on the following therapeutic areas: cardiology, gastroenterology, pain management, cough and cold, immunology and dermatology, respiratory and asthma, neurology and psychiatry, urology and gynaecology. Sopharma AD has over 15 subsidiaries in Bulgaria and abroad and its revenues on a consolidated basis for Q3 2011 exceed BGN460 million.


“The Middle East is our core targets. We have developed a particular group of products targeted at this market. A range of control valves is one such product. We have focused on issues such as the hydraulic hammer that will be used in the water network. We are concerned with the hydraulics of the network and pressure management is our core competence. Leak reduction in existing networks is also a priority.” Quite a lot of funds are being spent in the Middle East in new facilities, new pumping stations etc. It is important that they should be efficient. A lot can be saved on repairs, water losses and maintenance and this is an area where Wato could come in. “Though water loss in new networks is not so high when considering old networks like in East Europe, each cubic meter of water saved is important. If we reduce loss by 4% it is a huge saving. The cost of one cubic metre of desalinated water is around QR8,”

says Ivanov. “We want to concentrate on all the aspects of network management, from the reservoirs or the pumping stations going down to network pumps to the client. “Roughly two-thirds of the cost of running water services is the network cost. Efficient management of the network is what we want to focus on. This figure might be different in the Middle East due to high desalination costs, but it is still a matter of high importance.” Wato offers the tool, the expertise and overall support in the process of preparing balances, zoning networks and detecting hidden leakages. A comprehensive service that they have researched and brought to the market is the Wato Network Balancer, an application for gathering information on flow, pressure, balance preparation and trend analysis.

Keeping Strong Foundations

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van Boykov is the Executive Director of Bulgarian Construction Chamber (BCC), a legal entity established on the grounds of the Chamber of Builders Act and it is an independent, voluntary professional association and an official representative of builders in Bulgaria. It comprises over 1,870 members in 27 regional offices in the country. “Our goal is to represent our members.We also have seven associations which are collective members. Around 150 of these companies are implementing large projects in Bulgaria. “Our interest is in the investment programmes undertaken by the Ministry. Our goal is to facilitate contacts and work on more partnerships for the council which will help the building industry in Bulgaria,” says Boykov. “BCC has extensive experience in partnerships. It has already established business councils with Morocco and Algeria. And from our experience the best way to establish good partnerships is through the Chamber,” he says. The real estate sector in the European Union has been affected by the financial crisis and the sector that is most affected is the construction sector. “The situation is the same in Bulgaria. We had large volumes of activity in 2008 and that has considerably reduced. The construction activity has reduced by 50%, and this is the reason why companies are trying to enter developing countries with high growth rates in the construction activities,” he says. Bulgaria has large construction activities going on now, and most of these activities are funded by the EU and infrastructure projects. “Infrastructure projects in the country include the metro construction, highways and water cleaning systems,” he explains. But all is not dull in the sector, for the next budget period, 2014-

Ivan Boykov Executive Director of Bulgarian Construction Chamber

2020, around Eur9 billion is being envisaged for infrastructure. “Our leading companies are working in the neighbouring Balkan countries, like Serbia. We also have companies working in Germany as a result of an inter-government agreement.” The basic objectives of the Chamber are identification and transparency of the activities of persons who perform construction works, improvement of construction activities management, increase of the responsibility of builders with regard to achievement of the essential requirements, protection of the interests of construction service users and increasing the qualification levels of its members. Any company that needs to start any construction activity in Bulgaria has to come through the BCC as it can help foreign companies with its extensive data and expertise by helping them find the right associates.

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Exploring Infrastructure Opportunities

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race Group Hold PLC is a public holding company with a 15-year old history. Its activities are focused on construction related activities with major projects in infrastructure, energy and construction of buildings. Its market share includes foreign trade and logistics too. Prof Nikolay Mihaylov, is the Chairman of the board of Directors of Trace Group. He is also a lecturer at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy and the winner of a prestigious award for economics in Bulgaria, ‘Burov’ award for industrial management in 2010. Trace is already looking at opportunities in several key areas outside Bulgaria like the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and its neighbouring countries and also in North Africa and the Middle East. Trace is already negotiating for some projects in the Middle East, though it is too early to comment on this, says Prof Mihaylov. “Our interest is persistent and though we still have not executed a complete project in the Middle East, we hope 2012 will be a lucky year for us and introduce us into the construction market of the region,” he says. Trace has considerable expertise in the infrastructure construction projects such as underground construction, highways work, special-purposes projects as civil and military airports etc. Sofia is currently constructing an underground and Trace is involved in this construction. “This makes us one of the few companies which apply the modern know-how and methodology in underground construction. Our experience in building the major highways in Bulgaria provides us with a stable background. This in turn makes us an ideal partner in other such infrastructure projects,” he says. This is one of the reasons why Trace looks at Qatar as a probable

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Prof Nikolay Mihaylov Chairman of the board of Directors of Trace Group

associate with the huge foray that Qatar will make in the infrastructure projects for the 2020 World Cup. “Given our extensive experience in managing large projects and our qualified management and engineering professionals, we are hoping we will be participating in the country’s infrastructure projects,” he says. The infrastructure sector needs a highly challenging effective management system. “Public works requires not just professional knowledge but also a good understanding of technological process, tender procedures, cost and project management skills. With our expertise in all these areas we are hopeful to participate in Middle East’s infrastructure building activities especially in Qatar,” he says


djwe

Sparkle of luxury

Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition 2012

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he ninth edition of the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition (DJWE) organised by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) was marked with exclusive premieres of the world’s finest jewellery and watch collections. With an average of 15,000 local and international visitors each day, 300 exhibitors and 450 exclusive brands, and the total amount on display reaching QR3.6 billion ($1 billion), the exhibition yet again placed Qatar on a competitive pedestal in the global luxury market. “The high quality profile of the exhibitors and artisans this event continues to attract has helped to make this show one of the most successful in the Gulf and the world for retailers and those who appreciate fine jewellery and watches. “The timing of the exhibition is significant in that it falls between the two most important jewellery and watches exhibitions in Switzerland: The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva and Baselworld in Basel. The DJWE has thus become part of the preview series for the latest collections,” said Lahdan Al-Mohannadi, QTA Internal Exhibitions Head. Speaking to the local media at the inauguration, QTA Chairman, Ahmed bin Abdullah AlNuaimi said, “Qatar’s leadership has a solid vision to create a diverse and self-sustaining economy in Qatar to benefit all. A vibrant tourism and hospitality industry is very important to realise this ambition. To this end, we are proud to have events of the calibre of the DJWE in Qatar.” In addition to the regular exhibitors, this year’s event featured new exhibitors representing some of the world’s leading names in the industry from Europe and the Middle East. Among the significant Qatari exhibitors at the event were Al Fardan Jewellery, Ali Bin Ali Watches & Jewelry, 51 East, Amiri Gems, Blue Salon, Al Majed Jewellery, Al Muftah Jewellery, Makki Jewellery, Marzook Al Shamlan, Pari Gallery and Al-Zain.

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Al Zain:

Unveiling a new brand

Leading Bahraini jewellery designer and manufacturer, Al Zain unveiled their new corporate brand at the 9th DJWE. Designed around the motif of a swan, the new brand is a symbol of beauty and elegance and has been fashioned to reflect Al Zain’s long heritage and commitment to personalised designer creations. For this year’s exhibition, Al Zain brought its largest ever collection featuring exclusive new designs which include the signature collection of 18carat handcrafted white-gold and rose-gold pieces and a selection of stunning diamonds. Designed for the elite and the fashion-conscious, elegant Arabian woman, the stunning collections have already caught the eye of many socialites across the Gulf. CEO, Nabeel Al Zain said: “We felt that unveiling our new brand here at this prestigious event displays our commitment to this market. The fact that we will soon open our store in Doha is further evidence of our belief in the strength of this market and we look forward to bringing more examples of our quality and craftsmanship here in the weeks and months ahead.” From custom-made jewellery using high-quality gems and stones to luxurious corporate and royal

Nabeel Al Zain CEO, Al Zain Jewellery

gifts, Al Zain’s reputation has been built over the last 80 years based on their ability to consistently create innovative collections tailored to meet the exclusive, high-end taste of its customers. Al Zain Jewellery will open a store in Lagoona Mall in West Bay.

Arnold & Sons:

Watch-making history

As the original watchmakers to the British Navy during the times of the colonial British Empire, the history of Arnold & Sons stretches almost 250 years in the art of watch-making. It is one of the most reputable watchmakers outside the Swiss region that played an important role in helping the British Empire expand its influence during its colonial days. “The technology of watch-making and keeping time down to the second helped the navy navigate its way to discover new worlds at a time when everyone else was depending on stars and wind,” explained Phillipe Boven, the Middle East Brand Manager for Arnold & Sons. Staying true to its heritage, Arnold & Sons presented a collection dedicated to James Cook, the legendary British explorer at the DJWE 2012. The brand also presented a 2012 special edition watch with a golden dragon paying homage to the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. “Qatar is a very interesting emerging market with a voracious appetite for watch-making. The market has developed very quickly in the past decade and now the consumers have such a high knowledge and demand for refined watch-making rather than just buying pieces as a status symbol. 2012 is also a year of recovery as last year was a rather tumultuous year —

Phillipe Boven Brand Manager, Arnold & Sons

with regard to the Arab Spring — but you can slowly see that consumer confidence is back with an increased number of visitors to this exhibition.” In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewellery

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Audemars Piguet:

Elegance redefined

Nicolas Garzouzi Chairman & CEO, Audemars Piguet

Chairman & CEO, Nicolas Garzouzi describes an Audemars Piguet customer as someone who is refined, demanding and loyal to the brand. It is the ninth year it has been exhibiting at DJWE and every year their watches do exceptionally well with Middle East clients, their favourites being the Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Offshore lines. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Royal Oak. For this exhibition, two very important complications were showcased-the Chrono AP Jules Audemars in platinum and the Royal Oak Offshore Tourbillon. While the Jules Audemars is distinguished by a classically timeless round case, a streamlined bezel and an understated dial, the Royal Oak Offshore is characterised by larger-thanlife proportions, high-tech materials and components engineered to ensure protection from magnetic waves, as well as by its distinctive ‘Mega Tapisserie’ motif. “We are one of the very few watch manufacturers still running in the hands of the founding family. All our watches are made by our craftsmen rather than machines, and are made to last longer. Through this exhibition, we hope to please our loyal customers and get some new ones,” says Garzouzi. In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry

Baucheron:

Ring of glory

A stunning ‘store-in-store’ display at Fifty One East’s pavilion in the DJWE 2012 is the Baucheron corner which features gorgeous and luxurious jewelleries fit for a queen and displayed in a plush setting. Baucheron revealed its Quatre Collection specifically for exhibition featuring statement rings that are trendy yet classy. The Quatre ring is a signature piece of the Boucheron spirit and features the artistry of combining five gold bands; white, yellow, pink, chocolate or black. It features four motifs that have established the reputation of the brand; the gadroon - the raised decorative curves, the lines of diamonds, Clous de Paris - the nails of Paris, and grosgrain. The ring is the embodiment of the brand’s heritage in Paris symbolising the architecture, reflection and creativity of the city. At the exhibition, clients got to experience the Quatre White Collection, which is the Quatre Ring further enriched by the addition of a new material, white ceramic. Boucheron spearheaded the creation of ‘Hyceramic’, the first ceramic that could be sculpted and polished by hand. This new material highlights the Clous de Paris motif with an added lustre that is refreshingly light and elegant. The Quatre White Edition ring comes in four different models just like the original version. In partnership with 51 East

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djwe

Chaumet:

Tiara legacy

Tiaras are not just for princesses or brides. The latest 2012 trend sees the return of hair jewellery and Chaumet is at the forefront of this style as they have always been the purveyor of tiaras in their rich 200-year-old legacy. The Josephine collection is a tribute to the Empress, the wife of the great Napolean Bonaparte. A woman of power and taste, Jospehine was Chaumet’s first illustrious muse and client. She wore a variety of jewels; as headdresses or fashion statements and most were gift from Emperor Napolean himself. Josephine inspired three symbolic creations for Chaumet; a genuine jewellery tiara, the naturalistic tiara, and the slim watch. The genuine jewellery tiara is set with over 80 brilliant cut diamonds and crowns the case of a striking timepiece. It is an anniversary edition limited to 12 pieces. The naturalistic tiara is delicate as a shower of drop diamonds, exquisitely set at the heart of a large dial in deep gray gold. The slim watch, in either white or rose gold, replicates the pattern of Josephine’s empire style dresses lace collars. In partnership with Al Fardan Jewellery

Cartier:

Creative Craftsmanship

Cartier showcased its excellence in craftsmanship and creativity with its stunning collection inspired by Middle-Eastern myths, symbols and fascinating culture. “Louis Cartier studied the oriental culture and was impressed by the exhibition of Islamic Art in the Musee des Arts decoratifs in Paris. He started to introduce Arabic-style patterns into the collection in the 1920s, and to this day we have strong heritage with the Gulf region,” highlighted Louis Ferla, Managing Director of Cartier Middle East and India. The eye-catching range comprising diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, precious gems, and fine pearls, reflect Cartier’s DNA. “We always strive to remain true to our two core values of creativity and craftsmanship. Most of the inspiration is gathered from the archives and then reinterpreted to create timeless designs,” notes Ferla. There is a misperception about preference of style in this part of the world. “People think everything in the Gulf is bling, and that’s not actually true. Cartier clients are very well-educated, well-travelled and really understand what high jewellery is because they’ve been buying it for several generations,” says Ferla.

Louis Ferla

With close to 20 boutiques in the region, Qatar is a very important market for Cartier. “We are investing a lot in the region; we recently opened a boutique in Lebanon and will be opening two more in Abu Dhabi soon, and have some other projects in Saudi Arabia. It’s a very promising region for the future.”

Managing Director, Cartier Middle East and India

In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry

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djwe

Cvstos:

For the love of sports

This is the second year that Cvstos is exhibiting at DJWE, and it’s a good platform to observe how well their watches are received by the Middle-East clients, says Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Sassoun Sirmakes. “As Europe still faces difficult times, the Middle East market is extremely crucial for us.” Cvstos, known for its sports-centric watches, showcased two unique lines at the Al Fardan pavilion-the Jetliners and the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) line. The huge dials give a peek into the intricate technical movements that define the lines. Though huge in appearance, the watches are made light-weight using a mix of gold and titanium while the straps are made of a special heat-resistant material called nextel. “These are see-through watches. The dial is made of sapphire crystal which makes it so transparent that you can see the skeleton,” he says. “Cvstos is the official sponsors of the PSG football club, and given that the club is now owned by Qataris, it was important to showcase this line at the exhibition. We have also developed an exclusive diamond studded watch for this line which caters to the taste of the Middle East customer. One gets a complimentary shirt signed by PSG club players with every purchase of a PSG watch.” In partnership with Al Fardan Jewellery

Corum:

Classic Beauty

Lebanese singing superstar and brand ambassador par excellence for Corum since 2005, Elissa Khoury, aka Elissa, visited Corum at the AlFardan pavilion in DJWE 2012. Corum launched several new timepieces together with Elissa who modeled some of the collections. Elissa, as the ambassador of Corum, has made many public appearances at exhibition and festivals to help promote the brand’s latest timepieces. Her favorite piece is the Miss Golden Bridge, a modern take on the legendary Golden Bridge which was first presented by Corum in 1980. Corum also introduced the Lebanese singing superstar and brand ambassador, Elissa Khoury (centre) new Golden Bridge Automatic, taking with officials from Corum the classic model into a new era with the Caliber C0313, an automatic linearwinding baguette movement. DJWE 2012 also saw the brand’s new to 30 metres and secured to the wrist by a white or black satin strap piece, the Admiral’s Cup Legend 38 Mystery Moon, a complication equipped with a triple folding clasp bearing the engraved Corum specially developed for a demanding feminine clientele. It features logo. an endlessly spinning genuine mother-of-pearl dial carrying the In partnership with Al Fardan Jewellery Sun and Moon in its fascinating orbit. The model is water-resistant

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Jaeger-LeCoultre:

Innovative Movements

At Jaeger-LeCoultre, a craftsman sits at his bench while he works on the movement and complication of the watches on display. It is a demonstration of the brand’s dedication to the true definition of watch-making, something that is a rare find in the modern watch industry where most brands compete on trends and fashion. Jaeger-LeCoultre is the creator of the biggest number of watch movements in the industry with 1231 calibres to date. At DJWE 2012, clients experienced the brand while the artistic and design director, Janek Deleskiewicz explained in detail the construction and mechanism of each piece. The brand’s iconic Reverso series is the mainstay at the exhibition while the new Duometre A Spherotourbillon is the highlight with its new innovative movement that rotates in all dimensional directions. “The Reverso is a classic that has become the most-sought after piece by accomplished personalities. In this same line, we have introduced the new Reverso which is flatter than its predecessors and is well-received in our new markets especially Asia,” Deleskiewicz explained. “The watch industry is now becoming more and more global in the sense that all regions have their own input. Before this, the demand has always been linked to the European market, but the development now is different as consumers in different regions become more knowledgeable in the techniques and consistently demand for pieces that better and better.” In the Middle East region, the global recession which began in 2008 has seen a shift in consumer’s spending pattern on watches. “Before the recession, consumers were more likely to spend on watches that are trendy but now it has shifted towards buying pieces that are classic and timeless,” said Renaud

Janek Deleskiewicz, Artistic and Design Director (left) with Renaud Pretet, Regional Brand Director, Jaeger-LeCoultre

Pretet, Regional Brand Director of Jaeger-LeCoultre. In partnership with Al Majed Jewellery

Leo Pizzo:

Whimsical weddings

Designer jeweller Leo Pizzo offered a preview of its newest wedding sets at this year’s DJWE. “This week is very important because we present some of the new collections made especially for this market. We’ll take the goods back to Europe next week where they’ll be showcased at Baselworld 2012,” said Ginevra Pirotta of Leo Pizzo. “We can garner an idea from the DJWE of the reception we will receive there.” Pirotta explained that the Middle East is exceptional in its demand for wedding sets, one of the few markets in the world where that is the case today: “In this market, sets for weddings are very important, so we try to start something in the medium range because they already have very big names such as Enclave.” In addition, she stated that Leo Pizzo was highlighting long chains, and pink gold and brown diamonds at the exhibition. Leo Pizzo works in conjunction with Ali bin Ali, one of Qatar’s premier luxury goods retailers. “They decide where to go, what to do,” Pirotta said. “They know the market better than everyone else.”

Ginevra Pirotta a representative of Leo Pizzo

In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewellery

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Mouawad:

Dazzles yet again

Mouawad, the legendary jewellery and watchmaker with 121 years of history, unveiled its latest one-of-a-kind creation, the Snow White Princess Diamond Watch. The diamond women’s timepiece, valued at $6.8 million made its global debut at the DJWE 2012 on the wrists on one of the most glamorous women, Natalie Glebova, the international model and former Miss Universe. The diamond-studded wristwatch is crafted from 18K white gold and meticulously layered with 233 colourless diamonds of varying sizes. With a total of 106.93 carats, the Snow White Princess is an example of the mastery, exquisite attention to detail and absolute artistry that the Mouawad name exudes. “Mouawad is renowned for creating such items that use only the world’s finest gemstones and precious metals. The Snow White Princess Diamond Watch is a unique timepiece that combines our passion for the highest quality gemstones with the 121 years of experience in design and craftsmanship,” said Pascal Mouawad, Co-guardian of Mouawad. “After last year’s unveiling of the Guinness World Record-holding Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse, we wanted once again to surprise and delight exhibition goers and make their visit memorable.” “Qatari women have a great appreciation for the very best in haute joaillerie, and own some of the most important and valuable jewellery pieces in the world — including some of the very finest and rarest pieces we has ever created,” said Fred Mouawad, “We

Former Miss Universe, Natalie Glebova (left) with FRED Mouawad, Co-guardian of Mouawad

are so excited about the opening of our flagship new generation Mouawad store at Lagoona Mall.”

Mont Blanc:

True luxury maison

Sonke Tornieporth Global Business Unit Central Vice President, Mont Blanc (right) poses with a model.

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A brand long-renowned for its stationery and small leather goods, Mont Blanc’s foray into the world of jewellery and watches two decades ago has proven to be an exciting journey with its most recent release of the much coveted Princess Grace Kelly collection paying homage to the beloved late princess of Monaco. Taking inspiration from roses, a flower much adored by the princess, the full collection of jewellery with matching watches was designed with the intention to capture the female market. DJWE 2012 saw the display of the unique Grace Kelly bracelet watch which is the only piece produced in the world. “We are now developing the watch and jewellery story of our brand, introducing first time novelties and highend haute horologie with new complications and tourbillion movements in this region. This is an exciting chapter for us as we develop Mont Blanc into a true luxury maison encompassing all aspects of highliving which includes jewellery and watches,” said Sonke Tornieporth the brand’s global business unit central vice president. Represented here in Qatar by Ali bin Ali Watches and Jewellery, Mont Blanc has been present in this country for close to 20 years and is moving to expand its hold on the market. “Ali bin Ali is a fantastic partner, understanding the wishes and needs of both the brands and the local mar-

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ket. All the world’s best brands are here in Qatar and DJWE has become a leading exhibition in the world. Qatar has established a good image and platform in the region for watches and jewellery. The pace is fastgrowing and a very exciting market for us as a brand.” In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry


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Noudar:

Arab inspired jewels

Carrying the Al Fardan legacy forward, designer Noor Al Fardan added yet another covetable brand to the jewelley and watches empire-Noudar-at this year’s exhibition. “Noudar is an old Arabic word for gold”, explains Noor AlFardan, the Vice-President of Al Fardan jewellery and proud owner of Noudar. “The collections are based on modernised Arab concepts that seek inspiration from our rich culture and heritage. We have created jewellery that is practical for a Middle East woman to wear. Since she wears an abhaya, we focused on jewellery that is visible such as rings and earrings.” On display at the exhibition were dazzling earrings from the Al Andalus, the Enchanted Snakes and the Mint Leaves collections-all made in pure gold and encrusted with diamonds and precious-stones such as rubies, sapphires and tsavorites. For rings there were the majestic Henna, Imperial Lace and Zuhoor collections that beautifully drape the fingers in Arab-inspired patterns. “Being a Qatari, it was important to have the first official launch of my brand in Doha, at this exhibition. I needed to see the response from the market which has been positive so far. I am planning to expand the brand overseas as well, but keeping in mind that this brand was originally designed for the Arab women.” She says, “Al Fardan customers are extremely fashionable, avant-garde and style-savvy. It’s important to be on your toes to meet their demands and offer them something unique and exclusive in Qatar itself.”

Noor Al-Fardan, Vice-President of Al Fardan jewellery and owner of Noudar

Panerai:

Timeless Designs

Luxury watch maker Officine Panerai has built its reputation delivering outstanding pieces that stand the test of time. Managing Director Milvin George highlights the factors that differentiate the brand from others. “We have a unique DNA, an Italian brand made in Switzerland where they are renowned for making the best watches in the world. We’re not trendy, we’re classical but innovating, and by default we’re somehow trendsetters.” Although Panerai watches are targeted at males, the female customer plays a pivotal role. “The female element is very important to us as women often buy gifts for their husband or father; and we even have ladies who buy a watch and change the strap to a colour pink or red for themselves.” Officine Panerai watches appeal to a wide audience. “We appeal to mariners, collectors, Panerai addicts who only buy Panerai, and those keen to own their first Panerai watch. Age wise our typical buyer is between 25 and 60; a connoisseur, and someone who has a good understanding of the watch industry.” Instead of creating specific pieces for different markets, the brand prefers to stay true to its roots. “We don’t like to customise because we respect the DNA of the brand. However, we do personalise pieces, such as hand engraving on the back of the case. We always

try to avoid touching the face of the watch.” The future looks promising for the luxury watch maker, with a network of nine boutiques in the Middle East and a new boutique set to open its doors in Kuwaiti this April. “We’ll continue exploring new materials and watch movements will continue to develop more depth. Everything will revolve around the brand’s DNA; it’s about consistency – a masculine brand that was born out of the sea that also attracts the ladies.”

Milvin George Managing Director, Officine Panerai

In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry

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djwe

Parmigiani Fleurier:

The art of falconry

For the ninth edition of the DJWE, Parmigiani Fleurier exclusively unveiled a new innovative table clock/automaton manufactured in Switzerland entitled ‘Falcon’ worth QR15 million. The object d’art is a brilliant interpretation of the Middle Eastern tradition of falconry and pays homage to the famous animal sculptor, Edouard-Marcel Sandoz. Parmigiani has used some of the artist’s techniques, including silverwork, in creating this unique work of art. The sculpture depicts the graceful and mighty falcon mid-swoop, about to pounce on its prey, the bustard. The falcon is made in polished silver and each contour of its extended wings is highlighted by 6000 brilliant-cut diamonds. Its beak and talons are made of gold while the cap on the top of its head is set with brilliant-cut white diamonds. The bustard, made from finely forged metal, is perched on a sandbank formed of a mineralisation of smoky quartz depicting the desert landscape. The internal mechanism in the base lets the falcon seizes its prey six times every hour. There’s also a gong placed within the mechanism that chimes each time the bustard makes its escape. In partnership with Al Majed Jewellery

Prologue:

Hand-made Treasures

Pedro de Aranda President, Prologue

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Family-run business Prologue is the company that royal families and VIPS looking for exquisite hand-made jewellery and collector items look out for. Prologue, brainchild of Spanish-born Artist Pedro de Aranda, has been in the market for the last 25 years. “We missed the past two years of the festival because we didn’t have enough traditional stock to show here. It’s taken us two and a half years to put together a 30 piece collection,” de Aranda revealed. It’s difficult for de Aranda to pinpoint a highlight piece as it depends on varying tastes. “Under The Sea was one of the major ones because it took us a year and a half to manufacture using different metals and techniques. We started carving the shell itself, then engrave and carve it, and then introduce metal. All the rest you see is silver, gold, copper, brass and wood.” Inspiration is drawn from a variety of sources, but nature is at the top of the list. “I love travelling and I dive so I find peace of mind when I’m diving. I go to jungles and places where I can find fantastic flowers and details,” shares de Aranda. Business is good as not many have the patience for the fine art. “There is less and less people doing what we do, it’s a dyeing trade because of the hand-made aspect—the processes are very long to finish, from the

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design to the technical part, and today people want something fast moving. It’s sad but good for us.” With the aim to create pieces that are both beautiful and useful, the main challenge is to keep things interesting. “Our clients are always expecting something more daring. We try to make pieces with an artistic aspect but at the same time are useful, whether its perfume sets, lamps, cigar boxes or a tea set.” In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry


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Sevan Bicakci:

Treasures of Turkey

A standout star at DJWE 2012, Sevan Bicakci’s creations are unique and completely new to the market in Qatar. Debuting for the first time both at the DJWE and in Qatar, the boutique jewellery house brings forth one-of-a-kind pieces that truly embodies the soul of both the artist, Sevan Bicakci and his hometown, Istanbul, Turkey. Sevan Bicakci produces an ever-growing single collection of jewellery using different types of material ranging from the usual precious and semi-precious stones to interesting elements like camel bone and miniscule mosaic tiles. The jewellery is a class above the usual offerings as the artist utilises special techniques to create images of Istanbul like the Blue Mosque in gemstones giving his clients a piece of his life story. Sevan has won the coveted annual Couture Design Award in Las Vegas five times and has changed the art and jewelry design landscape in Turkey because of his achievements. Every piece in the collection is a one-of-akind piece which tells an interesting story of the history or landscape of Turkey. Sought-after by collectors and fineart enthusiasts around the world, Sevan Bicakci is now available in Harrods, Barney’s New York, Harvey Nichols and select galleries worldwide. The brand exhibited at DJWE 2012 under the umbrella of Al Fardan Jewellery and Watches.

Sevan Bicakci Owner, Sevan Bicakci

In partnership with Al Fardan Jewellery

Van Cleef & Arpels:

Legendary Collections

Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA) is renowned for its whimsical collections inspired by the beauty of nature. Boasting a prime location at the exhibition, it was difficult for attendees not be enchanted by the mesmerising designs. “With our partner Ali Bin Ali, we wanted a prominent location for VCA at the exhibition. It shows the trust of our partner and also means we are, in a way, rewarding the value and importance of VCA among the jewellery field. It has always been part of identity that excellence is at the centre of everything we do,” says Alban Belloir, Regional Director of Van Cleef & Arpels. VCA managed to woo the crowd with its Bals De Legende Collection which takes inspiration from five legendary balls of the 20th century including the Le Bal du Palais d’Hiver, Le Bal du Sihcle, Le Bal Black & White, Le Bal Oriental and Le Bal Proust. VCA opened its first store in Doha a year ago and has gone down a hit with high end jewellery lovers. According to Belloir: “The Villaggio boutique has been a great success and is one of the top performing boutiques in the Middle East. Qatar is very strategic market, not just because it’s a wealthy country, but be-

Alban Belloir

cause we believe that Qatari women in particular are connoisseurs and do have an eye for jewellery. When you buy VCA you buy a true piece of art— something unique and very timeless. I believe our clients are proud to be part of an exclusive circle of clients.”

Regional Director, Van Cleef & Arpels

In partnership with Ali Bin Ali Watches and Jewelry

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djwe

Bring on the dazzle

The ninth edition of DJWE welcomed luxury aficionados from across the region to a week-long showcase of high-end jewellery and watches by some of the world’s leading international brands.

1 Golden View

3 Inspiring taste

The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al-Thani looks at one of the items on display.

The High Jewellery California Reverie Hibiscus timepiece with a white mother of pearl dial and a total of 482 diamonds of almost 14.5 carats on display at the Van Cleef & Arpels stand.

2 Elegance A beautiful piece from the The Silk Road collection, made in pink gold and precious stones such as amethyst, emeralds and turquoise on display at The Bvlgari stand.

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4 Family Affair Owner Alberto Repossi, grandson of founder G. Pietro Repossi welcomes customers at the Repossi stand.


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Internal

Communications:

A Cultural Misnomer?

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ood morning, I’m John,” the new team member greets his new Division Head. The manager scowls and retorts: “I don’t know what sort of namby-pamby section you’ve been transferred from, but I don’t refer to anyone by their first name. It breeds familiarity and leads to a breakdown in authority. What’s your family name?” “Darling, John Darling.” The Division Head pauses. “OK, John, welcome aboard ...” Shakespeare’s Juliet may have asked “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but there is more than just a whiff of misrepresentation when it comes to the term Internal Communications. The ubiquitous staff newsletter, bulletin board and edicts from the CEO or Human Resources are collectively known as internal communication tools. They are valid

vehicles in a strategy, but it’s often the strategic foundation that is flawed. Internal communications is the generic expression for all formal and informal communication an organisation undertakes with its internal stakeholders - the board, management, staff or members. Internal communications practice was built on the principles of other disciplines such as human resources, marketing and project management, so it has different labels in different organisations: employee communications, employee engagement, internal marketing, company communications and staff communication are some. Whatever the name, the underlying ethos and greater goal of internal communications is how it contributes to enhancing the culture within an organisation. This foundation is often missing in internal communication strategies.


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Would You Like Fries With That? Let’s work backwards. Consider this internal communication by a Citrix Corporation senior executive: “Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say.” Whether in jest or all seriousness, what does it say about the organisational culture of Citrix? What was the unintended message about organisational culture when management at Microsoft’s Redmond complex issued this memo? “As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks.” So what is ‘organisational culture’ if it is the platform on which internal communications should be built? Academics Davide Ravasi and Majken Schultz describe it as the “specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organisation and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organisation”. Simply put, it is the internal manifestation of the organisation’s brand. Just as the brand must be communicated expertly externally, so too all communications internally should be ‘brand-congruent’ and draw from the organisation’s corporate values. In relation to corporate values, while many organisations proudly display them in their entrance foyers, these values are often not comprehensively translated into the set of behaviours they expect staff to exhibit. A number of organisations in Qatar would probably admit that the organisational culture around their corporate values is not well defined. One only needs to read anecdotes from the social media site Qatar Living to suggest that the values exhibited externally by some local organisations could be translated internally as ‘irrational, inefficient and careless’. Right tool for the right job So what are appropriate culture-enhancing internal communication tools? The

question is somewhat redundant as the tools will become evident if grown from a strategic base. A better approach is to consider the process that could be implemented to build an aligned strategy: 1. Cultural Audit: Undertake a survey or study to assess whether the reality on the ground is in line with the corporate values and desired organisational culture, and evaluate the existing and preferred internal communication channels and tools. Once the organisation has baseline data, the audit should be conducted annually. 2. Gap Analysis: Consider the gap between actual and desired culture. Organisations can also measure themselves against industry, country, regional and international norms in terms of the cultural attributes inherent in a healthy or optimum culture. 3. Internal Communication Strategy: Develop a strategy with the appropriate communication tactics required to bridge the gap, selecting the right tool for the right job, e.g. newsletter, intranet, town hall meetings, leadership sessions, e-mail, posters etc. The challenge is how to make the communication relevant and engaging. 4. Measure and Monitor: Build in measurement and monitoring mechanisms to ensure the strategy is having the desired impact, e.g. feedback, focus groups, etc. By way of example, here are two local case studies of innovative brand-aligned internal communication tools: At The Ritz-Carlton Doha all employees have a copy of the Ritz-Carlton creed, and each day teams, including management, recite the creed together: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. The Ritz-Carlton experience

enlivens the senses, instils well beingand fulfils even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests. Staff are actively empowered to enhance the guest experience. The Ritz-Carlton back up their cultural intent by rewarding staff who have demonstrated exemplary examples of fulfilling the creed, and a one-page newsletter is circulated internationally on a daily basis, acknowledging employees from different hotels who have demonstrated exceptional service. Qatar Foundation (QF) is well known for innovation and forward thinking, so its internal communication solutions must be equally inventive and culturally enhancing. The establishment of a corporate radio station as an internal communication tool that the 4,000-plus staff and students at Education City can access is innovative and culturally enriching. As a web-based radio station initially, it is timely (newsletters take time to produce but serve another purpose), current and available in real time to home campuses of the QF universities, and supports the development of an audio historical library for the organisation. These organisations have clearly bridged the potential disconnect between corporate values, internal stakeholder behaviour and organisational culture, seizing the dynamic opportunity that internal communications has to inform and transform. So should internal communications be renamed organisational culture communications? Indeed, our fictitious team manager may have muttered “what’s in a name” when he insisted on using John Darling’s surname. More importantly, he made the connection between communication and behaviour, realising that changing his modus operandi wasn’t necessarily going to result in the collapse of his division’s command and control culture. Perhaps John is hoping it will

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By Samson Samasoni, Managing Director, Grow Founded in 2005, Grow is a creative multiple award-winning brand communications and PR agency based in Doha. Grow PR specialises in strategic communications, public relations and change communications.

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Learn How to Say “No” Gently If you have a hard time refusing requests and saying no to people, you should know that you are not alone. Don’t try too hard to maintain a pleasant reputation at your own expense; in fact, the biggest favour you can do yourself is to learn how to say no 

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any people find it impolite to decline requests. However, keep in mind that saying no doesn’t necessarily make you selfish. On the contrary, sometimes it’s the best option. It’s a simple fact that you can’t be productive if you take on too many commitments. It is essential that you remember that good working conditions are primordial for your well-being, which directly affects your company’s overall performance. Bayt.com’s Good Working Conditions poll (March 2011) revealed that improved working conditions would result in more organisational loyalty, more productivity and more job involvement (64.3%). Meanwhile, 11% said more organisational loyalty, 11.5% said more productivity and 10.7% said more job involvement. To stay highly productive and minimise anxiety, career experts from Bayt.com have a few pointers to help you say ‘no’ gently. It is essential that you start by understanding your commitments. In order to know when to say no, you have to be aware of what’s already on your plate.Create a document that lists all your current projects, assignments, courses and meetings, updating it on a daily basis. Try to organise this list based on each items due-date, amount of time needed and priority to give you an instant overview of your schedule. It also helps

to have a separate action task list, made up not of projects but of concrete action steps that you need to complete in the next week or two. When you need to, pull up these two and make your decision based on whether you have the scope to say yes. Now, when your next request comes, you have to be aware of the implications of saying yes, by thinking twice before giving an answer. What’s going to happen if you say yes? What are the long-term implications? What are you going to lose if you agree? Be consciously aware that saying no is OK. No matter who you are speaking to and what the situation is, you have the right to say no. Only say yes when you know you have the scope, and when it is relevant to your vision and goals. A useful trick to use is never to give your answer right away. Always ask for time to check with your schedule. Use the extra time to assess properly how it lines up with your priorities. It also helps to have a prepared, scripted “no” sentence. Practise saying this sentence out loud, something along the lines of: “Unfortunately, I currently have too many responsibilities and this is not something I can do right now.”  If it helps, you can actually say “yes” in the beginning of the sentence and then explain why you can’t do what has been requested. It may sound counterintuitive, but it actually works. For example, instead of giving a straight “No, I can’t”, you can say something

along the lines of: “Sure, but I have too much on my plate right now.Can you get back to me in a month or two?”This way, you are both giving yourself time to accept a request at a future point in time and sending the decision back to the other party’s court. Keep in mind that if you have decided to say no, there’s no need to over-explain yourself. Simply say no, and give the key reason why. Some people run into the mistake of over-explaining, and it’s unnecessary. In fact, it might deteriorate your position. Even if the requests are coming from your boss, simply explain that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and endangering your existing commitments. If your boss insists, go over your task list with him or her and ask for help in prioritisation. According to Bayt. com’s Employee Motivation at the ME Workplace poll (January 2011), 73.7% of MENA professionals admit that transparent communication channels are very important and positively affect their loyalty motivation levels at work. Saying no isn’t necessarily selfish. When you say no to a new commitment, you’re honouring your existing obligations and ensuring that you’ll be able to devote quality time to them. Saying no can also allow you to try new things and pursue other interests. What it all comes down to, in the end, is knowing what you want to do in your life and in your job

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About Bayt.com: Bayt.com is the #1 job site in the Middle East, with more than 40,000 employers and over 6,750,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. Post a job or find jobs on www.bayt.com today and access the leading resource for job seekers and employers in the region.

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Finding the visionary By Sindh u Nai r Over half of today’s top 100 NASDAQ companies have won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year award (EOY)and most of them received it before they even achieved a top 100 status. Held annually in Monaco, the COUNTRY winners FROM ACROSS THE WORLD compete for the World EoY TITLE.

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(From left)

Hamad Mohammed Al Abdan, Chief Business Operating Officer, Enterprise Qatar, Noora Al Mannai, CEO, Enterprise Qoussous, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Qatar and Tom Kingsley, Marketing Director, Ernst & Young MENA

Qatar, Firas

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ast winners include Michael Spencer of ICAP plc, Guy Laliberti of Cirque du Soleil, Narayana Murthy of Infosys Technologies and the recent winners of US EOY 2011 were Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn Corporation. Now the awards have come to Qatar for the first time. Qatar Today spoke to Firas Qoussous, Country Managing Partner, Ernst & Young to tell us more about the awards and how it encourages entrepreneurship. “Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year programme celebrates entrepreneurs who build and lead successful, growing and dynamic businesses and honours their excellence in business. The event recognises outstanding entrepreneurs for their vision, innovation, courage, and leadership in

building and growing successful businesses — businesses that influence the way we live, the products and services we depend on, and the economic vibrancy of our local communities and global markets,” he says. Impetus to businesses And these awards and the success stories of the participants encourage others to follow in the footsteps of these exceptional entrepreneurs whose ingenuity, hard work and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures, says Qoussous. The selection process sounds simple enough. “To be eligible for consideration, nominees must be owners and managers who


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are primarily responsible for the recent performance of a privately held business that is at least two years old, or a founder shareholder of a listed company who is still active in senior management or is still a 51% owner. Awards are given to entrepreneurs who have demonstrated excellence and extraordinary success in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities,” he says. In a country where government jobs are more popular for the youth, due to their economic stability and high pay scales, how encouraging is it to start a business? Qoussous feels that fostering an environment for the emergence of SMEs has become a priority in Qatar, and that the government has demonstrated its commitment to support this sector. “Many state banks have set up specialised SME lending units and intervention programmes which have proven to be more flexible on reserve requirements, credit subsidies and credit guarantee schemes. In addition to conventional loans, Qatar’s Islamic banks offer Sharia’a compliant credits which are particularly attractive in their provisions to start-up businesses.” The forecast for 2012 “There is a general sentiment of positive change in the Arab region. Although the business climate remains affected due to the geopolitical uncertainties, countries like Qatar are emerging as one of the world’s fastest growing markets and even competing with developed global economic powerhouses.” The Build up The EOY programme originated in 1986 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in a time of slow economic growth in the US, explains Qoussous. The entrepreneurial spirit was in need of a boost, especially after the infamous Black Monday in 1987 when the world markets crashed. That was when the EOY award began in earnest. “EOY participants face challenges head on and find ways to succeed despite the odds, and the awards programme showcases and honours these important people as role models.” EOY is now entering its 26th year. As a result of its success, the programme has expanded from one category only to separate ones for emerging and social entrepreneurs, a unique programme for women, in

addition to regional programmes with several industry sector categories. “Prior winners include companies such as Amazon, eBay, Dell, Starbucks, Google and LinkedIn, and several of our EOY alumni were not identified as huge future successes at the time of winning the award,” he says. Beyond the awards “Ernst & Young is well known in the market place as a friend to entrepreneurs. Working with and supporting entrepreneurs has given us a profound understanding of the value of entrepreneurship. We have developed programmes that help individuals explore their potential as well as teamed up with several organisations on initiatives that support entrepreneurial growth. “In September 2008, we announced an in-kind donation of up to $1 million of professional services to Kiva.org, the world’s first not-for-profit website that provides person-to-person micro-lending. Ernst & Young is dedicating skilled professionals around the world to assist Kiva.org in performing compliance checks on the borrowers in its micro-finance network. We also have a three-year sponsorship agreement with Endeavor, the global non-profit organisation that pioneered the concept of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in emerging markets.” Ernst & Young has programmes that include the Ernst & Young Junior Academy which has developed a range of unique and exclusive one-week training events that help the next generation to explore entrepreneurial opportunities and introduce them to the challenges of running a family business. “We support and work with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a relationship that now includes nine countries around the world. Recently we also established the Ernst & Young EOY Alumni Fund, where we have committed to match donations up to $300k, to reward top NFTE students with college scholarships as well as aid initiatives,” he says. Finally, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women programme identifies high-potential female entrepreneurs and provides them with personalised oneon-one business insights and advice as well as insider access to strategic networks of established entrepreneurs, executives, advisors and investors. “Unlike many other programmes, which are focused on helping women start a busi-

Firas Qoussous Ernst & Young country Managing Partner Qatar

ness, this supports women with existing enterprises so they can scale up and become market leaders,” explains Qoussous. Qoussous feels that depending on the nature of the business, the idea and the resource can play different roles in terms of their importance. “Some businesses require large amounts of capital to start up whereas the successes of others are heavily reliant on the strength of the business idea. Although the idea and resources are crucial to any business, the heart of any business lies in the faith of the entrepreneur in his or her idea and perseverance in the pursuit of that idea coming to life.” There is a spate of entrepreneurial programmes from Qatar. How different will the EOY programme be? “First and foremost, we believe that by ‘celebrating’ the entrepreneurial spirit of these business pioneers, we actually complement the several initiatives designed to promote entrepreneurship in Qatar,” says Qoussous. “Since EOY is a global programme, we offer these exceptional individuals the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs from other counties. The format of the awards is such that winners from countries assemble in Monte Carlo to celebrate their achievements and to compete for a truly global award. In the process, they network, share notes, exchange ideas and inspire each other. This is an experience that every participant has told us of being unique, memorable and motivating.”

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FIRST COMES THE TOMATO, THEN COMES...

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Photo credit: Peter Larson

By Pe t e r Lars on

onsider the tomato: Solanum lycopersicum. Proclaimed the “wolf peach” when it arrived in Europe, the hermaphrodite of produce hails from South America. Hitched a ride on conquistadors’ ships (c. 1520) and left the gardens of Montezuma for Monticello (c. 1781). Today its shades of yellow and red crop up in colour backyard green patches, fresh produce containers and frozen food aisles. Everywhere (thank the Italians). Pasta and pizza. Cocktails and Campbell’s soup. Stuffed, grilled or just plain raw.

If a tomato grows in Qatar, the food phenom’s presence would be a major contribution to an agricultural sustainability movement that has popped up around the Arabian Peninsula since global food prices jumped in 2008, and could ultimately also be critical in teaching the rest of a warming planet how to adapt to some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Flowers in the desert OK, try to imagine: The water droplets fastened to your forehead that race across


Photo credit: Peter Larson

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Dr Ali Kharbotly (second from right) stands with three colleagues at the Qatar Biotechnology Center, surrounded by the plants they are successfully growing.

your brow but never fall. The opaque glare of sunlight reflecting off leaves and petals. Rows of pineapples, bananas, potatoes and petunias. A muddy aroma of life. Where are you? Hawaii? Strike one. Maybe somewhere in the Amazon? Strike two. Here on the rooftop of the Qatar Biotechnology Centre, crowded together on the cement path to avoid the greenhouse sprinklers – which the tall, mustachioed one turned on as a prank – stand four smiling scientists flashing grins as bright as their beaming white coats because they’ve done it. They really have. Some context: The Qatar Biotechnology Centre is in an unremarkable, mostly mirrored building next to the Medical Commission in Abu Hamour, an area of the city that seems sandier than the rest but only because the buildings tend to disappear in an overwhelmingly beige landscape and sky. It is an early morning in early February and 21 degrees. A storm came through the week before and dumped two fresh inches of sand. In the picture, Dr Ali Kharbotly is second from the right, in front of the miniature rainforest he tends with his research. In another you can make out the bands of mist flowing behind him. The light casts a rainbow. Dr Kharbotly doesn’t kid about the natural conditions that characterise Qatar’s environment: heat, salt and drought. In the

greenhouse, of course, he can control everything. But his goals, and Qatar’s, are outside of it. The subject of the tomato first came up in his office. “We have here harsh conditions,” Kharbotly said. “How can we combat them? We will get a tomato, and we are applying now for three projects for the Qatar Foundation. One for tomatoes that tolerate heat, one for tomatoes that tolerate salt and one for tomatoes that tolerate drought.” Food security In 2008 Qatar and its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries realised purchasing food from the global market was becoming less and less sustainable, and in fact was growing ever more dangerous. “We import 90% of our food needs and we are in a very desperate position,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani, Vice Chairman of the Qatar National Food Security Programme, part of the Ministry of Environment. Qatar Today covered the programme’s efforts extensively in a February 2011 cover article. Sheikh Hamad encapsulated the crisis as one of Qatar’s major national security concerns. “In 2008, prices jumped,” he said. “Qatar and the US were able to go through the storm without problems. Why?” He hit his desk for emphasis. “Because they could pay the price.”

Kharbotly echoed his concerns, declaring that despite Qatar’s desolate growing conditions, the even less stable political environment of the region left the government without a choice but to try. “We don’t own the world,” Kharbotly said. “If you own the world, you can grow whatever you want and you get it whenever you want. Now there is some trouble in Syria. Whatever goods come from Syria become expensive.” He went on: “We are in an unstable region and many things can happen around us. Maybe for Qatar it is good now, but in such a region you don’t know what’s going on. What will happen in the coming 10, 20 years...” And the idea that Qatar might still be able to automatically afford whatever prices the international market sets for food is dismissed entirely by Kharbotly and Sheikh Hamad. National prosperity is not to be taken for granted, Kharbotly said, particularly given any uncertainty around oil and gas prices. “Now we also have to think strategically. We don’t want to say today we are happy, and the next generation can solve its own problems. It can’t be like this. “We are looking for how much we can be self-sufficient, because when you are selfsufficient you own your decision,” Kharbotly said. “If you are importing your food most of the time, someone else will decide for you

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Photo credit: Peter Larson

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what you can and can’t eat.” Which gets to Sheikh Hamad’s main point: Even if Qatar can still afford to import the majority of its food supply, he is not certain there will necessarily be food to buy. Which brings us back to the tomato. Making it work It is one thing to grow a tomato plant, and a whole different thing to have tomatoes. Dr Kharbotly found that out while working on one of his cultivars. “The problem with heat is that the plant didn’t give tomatoes,” he said. “You can have a beautiful plant, but there is no tomato in it. So now we are trying to get one that is tough enough to go through the heat and have it fruit.” With purposeful-enough breeding techniques, that’s possible. Dr Kharbotly can effectively transform Qatar’s greatest natural weakness into a selling point for its research and development sector. “We are working globally now,” he said. “No one country can work alone.” He gives the example contrasting the types of projects they work on in Qatar with those that researchers are undertaking in Europe. “If I am here, and I am breeding a new cultivar or a new animal for cold weather, I can’t breed it here,” he said. “It’s too hot. The same thing in Holland, when they are breeding the seeds for hot weather. You can’t make them in Holland because it’s too

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cold there. Japan is the same. If you want to work globally, you have to have some stations somewhere outside to test your material.” The foundation for it all is the genetics. Fingerprinting processes allow Dr Kharbotly and his researchers not only to correctly identify which plant or animal they are working with, but also to understand the best way to improve it. He explained how fingerprinting is applied to successful cross-breeding. “Suppose for instance we would like to improve sheep or goats,” he said. “The normal thing is you just take a male and female and you grow them together. “But which is the good male?” he continued. “For instance, you want a character like milk. Well, you can’t see it in the male. But genetically, from the fingerprint, you can see that it has the right genetics for milk. Then when you cross with a female that also has good genetics for milk, you get offspring with milk.” Climate change: ground zero Food security is Qatar’s existential question, with unendurable consequences if it fails to act and newfound prosperity and global leadership if it establishes itself as a pioneer now. “If we become leaders in this sector, we will have a continuance for our country,” Sheikh Hamad said. The bureaucratic bigwigs have already said all that. But Qatar’s concerns are now the world’s,

as scientists continue to predict global climate change. Dr Kharbotly declined to comment on record about his personal opinions on the subject, but called it “a kind of fact” that a larger percentage of the world’s population would face conditions of extreme heat and drought. At a recent GCC workshop titled “Agricultural and Environmental Biotechnology Applications”, Dr Hamad Saad Al Saad, the Chairman’s Advisor at Hassad Food (Hassad Food is Qatar’s preeminent investment and development company for securing land it can cultivate overseas) said Qatar and GCC countries have the potential to become the ultimate testing ground for new agricultural technologies, because conditions are so hostile. “If you can test it here, it will work on the moon,” he said. With testing come patents, Sheikh Hamad said. “IP is going to be critical to us,” he said. “Once you have R&D, you have IP... If tomorrow you want to give it away, first you have to have it.” Dr Kharbotly has his sights fixed on a tomato cultivar capable of standing some of Qatar’s most extreme summer temperatures, and ideally taking it and other projects to the private sector by establishing a national seed company. So could climate change be a good thing for Qatar? Al Saad laughed. “It will take time to be a blessing, and it will take time to be a curse.”


TECHTALK Is Qatar really a fat nation? j

ournalism students at Northwestern University in Qatar have some bad news: That piece of chocolate? Put it down. The doughnut? Throw it away. And the cupcake? Resist! Or do your best about it. Your health could be in serious jeopardy. That’s according to qatarsweetepidemic.org, a new multimedia reporting initiative launched by students in the university’s Advanced Online Storytelling course. The website comprises print, audio and video stories, and photo slideshows. Students are also responsible for promoting

it on Facebook and Twitter (@sweetepidemic_). Seventy-five percent of Qataris are overweight and 40% are obese or morbidly obese, according to the Qatar National Health Strategy 2011-2016. Recent studies show Qatar is one of the fattest nations in the world. The students decided to investigate why, despite the increased likelihood of contracting type 2 diabetes and other major health problems, incidences of obesity continue to plague the country. “I chose the topic of diabetes and obesity in Qatar so my students could raise awareness about the country’s health crisis and, through their reporting, possibly save lives,” said Christina Paschyn, instructor for the course. “Our reporting goes beyond facts and figures, exposing the underlying cultural, gender and societal reasons for the increase of these diseases in the country.” Advanced Online Storytelling is a capstone course that journalism students take during their junior year at Northwestern, preparing them for their 10-week public relations or journalism residencies working at professional news and communications organisations. Stay tuned to our Tumblr page (qatartoday.tumblr.com), where we will feature upcoming interviews with students from the class.

Have you the stamina for an Appathon?

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t QITCOM 2012, scheduled to be held at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) from March 5-7, Vodafone is sponsoring a 48-hour marathon competition for you to bring your original ideas for smartphone applications to life. Indie Fikra: Appathon 2012 is a team competition with the promise of QR40,000 and an invitation to ictQATAR’s incubation programme for two years for the first-prize winners. Arriving at QITCOM without any prior coding, the teams will have from noon on March 5 until 11:59 a.m. on March 7 to complete a functional, demo application. The categories for judging will be apps in Arabic, apps for women, mobile games and apps for the Al Sadd Fan Club.

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Teams must have chosen their preferred development platform – Android, BlackBerry or iOS – at the time of registration. Team registration ended February 25, according to Vodafone’s competition details page on its website and no walk-ins will be registered on the day of the event. Appathon 2012 comes as Qatar has seen growth in its information and communications technology sector, due in part to its attractive high GDP growth, young population, purchasing power and nationwide interest. In Qatar, mobile subscriptions outnumber the population by 40%, and 89% of households are equipped with a computer. The software market here is the fastest growing in the GCC.


Private cloud is top focus at Qatar Open Door

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survey conducted by Microsoft at its Open Door event in February indicated that almost two-thirds of Qatar’s IT professionals are looking to focus more on the potential benefits of a private cloud service in the future. Of 109 participants at the event, 60% said they were interested in learning more about the benefits the private cloud could bring to businesses in the country. “Cloud computing offers the promise of agility, economics and focus that can unlock new innovation and transform the role of IT in driving business success,” said Naim Yazbeck, Country Manager for Microsoft Qatar. “A private cloud delivers fundamentally new capabilities that represent a generational paradigm shift in computing and Microsoft is well positioned to meet this demand.” The two-day Open Door event took place from February 7-8 and brought together IT professionals to allow them to experience new solutions and support technologically-enabled economic development in what is rapidly becoming one of the fastest-growing markets in the region. Event participants had the opportunity to preview a number of cutting-edge technologies, while discussing the role of technology in boosting productivity. Open Door Doha was part of a series of Microsoft experiential technology showcases taking place in the Gulf region in 2012. The event will also be held in Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

#QTtrending: 5 must-have smartphone apps

Dropbox

Evernote

Hootsuite

LastPass

Google Voice

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he free file saving and sharing website has led the surge in cloud-based storage applications. Registration comes with 2GB and subscriptions are offered for up to 100GB, making your files available online, on your desktop and on all your mobile devices (it’s compatible with iOS, Android and Blackberry operating systems). @YasserM86 said:   Dropbox was a life-saver when I wanted a file that I needed & backup solution when my machine died. Can’t live without it! 

vernote takes notetaking features and services and makes them available anywhere by automatically syncing any changes made to all of your devices. Its web-clipping feature lets you quickly save a webpage directly from your browser. Responding again on Twitter, @YasserM86 said:   Can’t leave out Evernote as it’s proven to be my best note-taking app on my iPad at any situation. 

ootSuite is the Twitter dashboard application for your browser and devices that the real Twitterati professionals are using. The app allows users to monitor and post to multiple social networks at once, including Facebook and Twitter, and also features capabilities to view custom analytics and schedule the posting of messages. @Qanect said:   HootSuite definitely keeps you organised when you’re juggling multiple client accounts! 

astPass is the application probably born most out of the shared user grievances of the Information Age. It promises one master password that will be the last one you’ll ever have to remember. It can also establish profiles with your saved personal information to automatically fill out web forms and sync the information across all your browsers.

oogle Voice applies Google search and messaging technology to improve the mobile phone you already have, or introduce you to a life of calling without one. One phone number can be set up to ring any of your devices, be it your phone or your computer. It makes use of Voice over IP systems instead of your regular service provider, so you can send and receive regular SMS messages over just a WiFi connection.

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Blackberry

calling out to developers By ror y c oE n

It may have been bitterly cold in Amsterdam last month, but application developers weren’t about to give the cold shoulder to blackberry producer Research-in-motion’s (rim)first ever ‘DevCon’ in Europe, as word spread that its new CEO, Thorsten Heins, was to detail plans to provide a framework to help developers get RIM back on track. Although Heins will tell you they were never derailed.

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Young developers getting a feel for their newPlayBook’s at the recent DevCon summit in Amsterdam

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cepticism has shrouded RIM’s policy decisions in recent years, as Samsung and Apple have not only caught up with the pioneer of smart phones but innovated to such a degree that BlackBerry devices are now perceived as antiquated, or out-of-touch. Many reckon that RIM will go the way of Palm, feeling that it reneged on one of the first principles of good business – promote your strengths. Instead they tried to compete in the tablet market from scratch – abandoning any development with their performing smartphone for a significant period. But Heins was bullish about RIM’s prospects and threw water on the flames of doubt as he reeled off countries where BlackBerry devices were outselling their competitors. “Netherlands, UK, Spain, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia and South Africa,” he boasted during his keynote address to over 2,000 attendees, most of whom were developers from across Europe.


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Motivating developers The theme of his address was well speculated in advance, but all the signs were pointing to one thing: motivating these developers to grant him their time. RIM had offered a free PlayBook 2.0 tablet to developers who submitted an Android application to RIM’s App World. One of its key targets is to have complete compatibility with Android by the end of the year. Repackaging an Android application for Blackberry’s App World is only a ten-minute process. One country which is conspicuous by its absence in the list above is the US, which currently holds 10% of the world’s smart-phones. A study by the Pew Research Centre concluded that 24% of these American phones were Blackberries (34% Android, 24% iPhone). RIM’s Vice-President of Developer Relations, Alec Saunders, claims the negative perception in the media regarding BlackBerry is all generated from Silicon Valley in California. “The US made some changes in the way they operate their broadband markets to make it attractive to build devices like the iPhone, devices with unlimited

data plans,” he explains. “You can look at the handset as being a great media consumption tool, and that’s what happened. In other parts of the world, where those kinds of unlimited data plans aren’t available, it’s simply not practical to think of a handset as a media consumption device in the same way. “There’s lots of activity coming out of the US around IOS and Android development, but we’re doing quite well in the rest of the world. Our application base continues to grow: just before Christmas we announced 50,000 apps available in App World, now there’s 60,000, so it’s growing at a rate of 21% every month. I think it’s true we have a smaller ecosystem than our competitors, but developers are still targeting BlackBerry.” Heins noted in his keynote speech that research from Evans Data intimated that BlackBerry was one of the most profitable platforms to work for. They resolved that 13% of all BlackBerry developers had made more than $100,000 in revenue from what they uploaded to App World, BlackBerry’s resource for mobile applications.

Middle East developer seeing huge potential

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ne particular company that is making strides in this region is apps2you. It is based in Beirut, but also has offices in Riyadh, Dubai and Egypt where it employs 16 developers in total. Qatar Today met up with Managing Partner Mario Hachem – who describes himself as a dynamic innovator and entrepreneur – at DevCon Europe to see what kind of business it is attracting in the region as well as globally. “We are a company who develop applications for all platforms. Apps2you was founded by Mobile Technology Tomorrow, MT2, which is mainly a value-added service provider, or a content provider for telecom operators for the past 12 years and has direct connections with 29 operators to develop any kind of mobile solution, mobile application service or mobile content. “For the past four years new operators in the region have been asking MT2 to develop apps to make their content richer for the user; to make it easier to use and to download new content. For big events these operators compete to offer the best app to

promote it. MT2’s job is to deliver such apps on all platforms – BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, Android. “During the past six months we have witnessed an incredible growth in the demand for mobile apps from several medium to large corporations coming from different sectors. These mobile apps come as a complementary channel within the online digital campaigns, generating traffic, completing the social media, by creating valuable mobile experience and accessibility to end users. After developing around 100 different types of apps for operators including mobile apps for the past four years, MT2 was able to establish itself as an expert in mobile apps development, and founded apps2you to respond to the growing demand for apps, and to serve private enterprises and corporations in addition to telco operators.” One such app they created for the media group Impact BBDO is ‘Cheyef 7alak’ which is a CSR campaign raising awareness and influencing behaviours for social change in Lebanon. MT2 are also promoting application development in schools and universities, where they give out prizes and incentives for innovative ideas for mobile apps.

march 2012

“Evans Data intimated that 13% of all Blackberry developers had made more than $100,000 in revenue from what they uploaded to App World, Blackberry’s resource for mobile applications.” Thorsten Heins

Qatar Today 91


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The BlackBerry App World has seen more than two billion application downloads to date, which is about six million on average per day. It has 75 million subscribers, and has an annual growth rate of 35%. RIM has sold over 180 million smartphones. BlackBerry 10 RIM claims that BlackBerry 10 – the successor to its latest Blackberry 7 OS – combines the best of BlackBerry OS and the powerful QNX real-time operating system, which was acquired by RIM in April last year. Heins outlined that QNX was so secure and reliable it was trusted in everything from nuclear power stations to internet routers and medical devices. BlackBerry 10 will offer developers a single converged platform, built from the ground up to deliver the most powerful, secure and social mobile computing experience yet. “BlackBerry 10 takes advantage of a deep integration into the core experience and also integration with cloud services. It is a seamless experience between the devices, the cloud and the embedded OS, and it can all be used in cars, homes and vertical segments.” Without giving a date for its release, Heins revealed that it would be available in 2012 and developers would be given preview software well in advance. BlackBerry has its World event in Florida this May and it’s possible that this could be the launch date.

“The Blackberry Jam concept is an overarching ‘brand’ concept. It’s associated with the Blackberry developer community. People compare developing software to the way musicians work.” Alec Saunders

PlayBook 2.0 Meanwhile, RIM’s tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, which was an attempt to rival the iPad, has been a disappointment since it came on the market in Spring of last year. RIM actually announced a provision for $485 million for writing down the value of unsold PlayBook inventory at the tail end of the year. In their efforts to get a product on the market, they may have sold themselves short and gone to the consumers with an unfinished unit. However, RIM continues to persevere with its vision of a tablet, as their second effort, PlayBook OS 2.0, became available last month. There is now a universal inbox for e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, so that users will no longer require a BlackBerry smartphone to “bridge” to the tablet to receive e-mail. Critics didn’t hold back in their assessment of this limitation in the original. The PlayBook is pretty unique in itself. The embedded QNX operating system allows it to run an entirely different operating system as another application on top of the standard PlayBook OS, which is how PlayBook will run repackaged Android applications. For the most part, though, repackaged applications will appear to run just like regular PlayBook applications. BlackBerry Jam RIM’s focus is clearly on attracting supreme developers to App World, but they are also keen on developing

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potential. Saunders and his team have been working on a concept which will harness the phenomenon of collaboration. Multiple developers can remotely work on the same problem from their own machine, “jamming” together to resolve an issue. “The BlackBerry Jam concept is an overarching ‘brand’ concept,” says Saunders. “It’s associated with the BlackBerry developer community. People compare developing software to the way musicians work. With music, people get together and they collaborate to produce a piece, this is like what happens in a typical jam session with software developers. There’s a phenomenon sweeping across the United States at the moment called “co-working”. A team of one or two people can go share their acute issue with other teams of people - in meeting rooms, white boards - they hash out the best course of action. There’s this creative kind of process, so this is what this BlackBerry Jam concept comes out of. Helping, collaborating, assisting.” Clear focus Amidst the negative PR which RIM executives have been fending off recently, Alec Saunders was quick to negate any sentiment that the organisation was still on loose ground and without a focus. He did however empathise with notions that RIM was being unclear about its vision and focus in the past. “When I started working for the company, in August last year, we had made all kinds of announcements about different pieces of technology, but nobody had taken the time to try to unify the picture of how they might be used together. Fluidity hadn’t ever been articulated. “So at DevCon last year we made a strategic decision to really focus on how we could do this. We really defined the BlackBerry 10 vision, how we were going to get there and how developers could participate in it, and I think it was a great step and we cleared up a lot of uncertainty about our strategy.” Heins concluded his keynote with a warning to competitors that BlackBerry was ready for them. “The smartphone market is still a young market. We see a huge opportunity there for us. There are about a billion phones out there that are not yet upgraded to a smartphone. Sixty-five percent of the market is roughly still on feature phones or regular phones, so we are just getting into this huge growth curve for smartphones. We are going to kick off the next growth curve for BlackBerry with this technology. “We are focused on the future. We’re focused on listening, innovating and, based on this fantastic platform, we are ready to compete, make no mistake. Upgrades to PlayBook 2.0 and our vision for BlackBerry 10 reflect our commitment to get it right, to get the right user experience, to get the best value out of this platform.”


GREEN SCENE

GPS brand

activation in progress

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he ongoing activation stage of the Green Programme for Schools (GPS) has had around 22 schools receive GPS branding as Mission 20 coordinators continue their visits to the rest of the participating schools. The activation stage of the programme involves creative stickers carrying the message of water and energy conservation as well as pledge boards to be strategically placed all over the school campus. These stickers serve to remind students to utilise resources carefully. There are also GPS ‘idea boxes’ placed in every school for students to drop in their ideas and suggestions regarding GPS which will be taken into consideration. GPS is an initiative by Msheireb Properties in association with Qatar Today magazine, and is supported by the Supreme Education Council. The programme aims to “Reach, Inspire and Reward” students and schools by meaningfully engaging the youth and inculcating in their minds the importance of building green equity. To know more about the programme,

visit the GPS page at http://www. facebook.com/GPSQatar. To know more about GPS,

contact 44550983

Here’s what some of the GPS coordinators had to say: As a member of Mission 20, I was aware that we were activation partners for GPS, and so chose to become a GPS coordinator. The programme is a good way to inform students about saving water and electricity and proper waste management. By learning about conservation from an early age, it helps to make this their habit.”

Naresh Lal, 20, CNA-Q

The best thing about being a GPS coordinator is that we have to spread an ecofriendly message among young minds, so that they not only understand the purpose of this programme, but also try to implement it in their daily lives. The programme aims to save the daily resources which we have been overusing. As GPS coordinators, we get to meet many people and explain to them the agenda, why we are carrying out this programme and what will be its positive effects in the coming years.”

Anam Shafiq, 18, CNA-Q

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I learnt about GPS through the Mission 20 facebook page as they are the activation partners for GPS. The regular posts of GPS on the page made me visit the link and now I know more about the amazing and unique eco-friendly programme. I love participating in programmes such as GPS, which is all about creating awareness among the younger generation about the three main concerns of today—electricity, water consumption and waste management.”

Foziya Mohd Kassim, 19, IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University)

GPS is really helpful for the schools and students. They get to learn many things through this programme and they get an opportunity to give their own suggestions as well. On a personal note, I try best not to waste water. I avoid littering and I make sure to switch off the lights before leaving a room.”

Mohammed Gulam Kibriya, 18, CNA-Q


braking news

the technology industry – 2012

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Infiniti opens IREDI showroom

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aleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co., the exclusive distributor of Nissan, Infiniti and Renault in Qatar, inaugurated the new Infiniti showroom this past month, which is built on the Infiniti Retail Environment Design Initiative (IREDI) platform, Infiniti’s unified global standard. Infiniti, the fastest growing Japanese luxury automotive brand, is at the start of a new six-year growth plan that it claims will see sales rise to take 10% of the global luxury market by 2016. Inside the showroom, the inauguration was marked by pomp and show. The Infiniti vehicles were guided down a “catwalk” by a quartet of glamorous models in front of the packed crowd. The showroom was inaugurated by Chairman Hisham Al Mana and Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co. Executive Director Kamal Al Mana, alongside Gilles Normand, Corporate Vice President for Africa, the Middle East and India (AMI). Speaking at the showroom inauguration, the chairman reinforced the commitment

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of Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co. and the Infiniti brand to the Qatar market in providing world class products and delivering total ownership experience to customers. “Our investment in this new facility is a testimony to our commitment to our customers in Qatar in providing highest quality products and ownership experience,” Al Mana said. “At the heart of our strategy is what we call the ‘Infiniti Total Ownership Experience’. It is at the core of what we do. Ensuring quality service is an interwoven feature of our extraordinary vehicles.” He continued: “It is our collective objective to ensure that every aspect of ownership is a rewarding experience for our customers. Great efforts have already been made by us to embed this philosophy into the new Infiniti facility inaugurated today.” The IREDI concept includes two aspects, a dynamic exterior which gives visitors a sense of warmth, whilst a glass wall and the Infiniti logo create a strong visual impact at night. The interior includes a spacious separate lobby area and an artistic layout of the exhibition area. The IREDI-compliant

showroom places a high degree of focus on customer service. The FX is one of the most popular Infiniti models and a key performer in the Middle East, and the enhanced for 2012 model was recently launched at the 2012 Qatar International Motor Show. It features five-star safety equipment and has been given an aggressive new front grille and fascia – with a heavy influence from the Infiniti Essence Concept – as well as a new 20-inch wheel design and an updated instrument cluster. It is available with a choice of a 390-horsepower V8 or a 303-horsepower V6 engine. The Infiniti G25 sedan, which also made its debut earlier this year, features a new 2.5-litre V6 and 7-speed automatic transmission, and shares the same dynamic exterior, interior and chassis as the G37, but with improved fuel economy. Infiniti is attempting to broaden the appeal of the G Line with a model designed to provide an alternative for buyers looking for a luxury sedan, but who might not need the higher levels of performance of the larger engine-equipped G37.


Braking news

BMW introduces the 7 Series M Edition In an effort to further emphasiSe the BMW 7 Series as a leader in the Middle East’s premium automotive segment, BMW Group Middle East unveiled the BMW Series M Edition as an addition to its highest volume selling model line-up. The car arrived in the Middle East in February. It features the BMW M sports package as an available option for potential customers to accentuate the sportiness and dynamism of the 7 Series, as well as customise the model to their individual liking. The M leather steering wheel now has a slightly smaller diameter and special thumb rests to try to improve the vehicle’s handling. Exclusive 19 and 20-inch M light-alloy wheels contribute to more precise steering at higher speeds. The flagship BMW 7 Series remained BMW Group Middle East’s highest volume selling model in 2011 with a total of 4,511 cars sold.

MOHAMED KANDEEL GENERAL MANAGER ALFARDAN AUTOMOBILES.

Porsche showcase Panamera GTS

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orsche caused a sensation at the Qatar Motor Show in January as it revealed what it called the sportiest Panamera ever produced. The vehicle is set to go on sale in the region this month, but auto aficionados were given a sneak preview at the Motor Show. “This marks a new direction for the Porsche Panamera,” said George Wills, Managing Director of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE. “GTS stands for Gran Turismo Sport. The GTS badge is a promise that you are driving something extra special and a link to our extraordinary historical performance – the first Porsche vehicle to carry the GTS moniker was the legendary 904 Carrera GTS, back in 1963.” The Panamera GTS is powered by a modified 4.8-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, delivering 430hp at 6,700 rpm. It hits 100 km/h in under 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 288 km/h. The body also was lowered by 10 millimetres and the sports chassis features air suspension and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). Wills added: “The new Panamera GTS ticks all the boxes of what we at Porsche want to achieve. This is a beautiful, fast sports car which offers great stability, an incredibly smooth drive and all the efficiency our discerning clientele has come to expect from Porsche.”

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Braking news

Aston Martin reveal V12 Zagato

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ith the final design signed off and engineering development work in progress, Aston Martin revealed the first images this month of the new V12 Zagato road car, which is scheduled for production later this year. The V12 Zagato is the latest expression of a creative collaboration between Aston Martin and Zagato that has given rise to a series of GT cars in the past half-century, the original and most iconic of which being the DB4 GT Zagato. Its 50th anniversary provided the inspiration for the V12 Zagato. Aston Martin’s CEO Dr Ulrich Bez called the V12 Zagato “a celebration of both the Aston Martin’s heritage and its future.” He continued: “Our relationship with Zagato stretches back more than 50 years. Together in that time we have created a series of very special cars. The first – the DB4 GT Zagato – is a true icon: fast, beautiful and incredibly desirable. In the V12 Zagato I believe we have captured the spirit of that car and combined it with a confident twist of modernity to give it a character all of its own.”

Mercedes-Benz carries momentum into 2012

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ercedes-Benz Middle East & Levant celebrated regional sales figures from its 125th anniversary year in 2011 as the second best ever achieved, nearing the record highs experienced in 2008. The luxury German automotive manufacturer also announced the branding of 2012 as both the ‘Year of the SUV’ and the ‘Year of AMG’, at a press event held at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The impressive roster of new models launched in 2011 – including the SLK Roadster, C-Coupe, CLS and C-Class facelift – contributed to the positive sales, with nearly 17,000 units sold overall in the region. Mercedes-Benz SUVs had their best year ever, with year-on-year sales up 16% across all models in the range. Highlighting the performance, the flagship model GL-Class grew 93% versus 2010. “Driven by Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Best or Nothing’ mantra throughout our 125th anniversary, we are delighted to congratulate our re- Frank Bernthaler, Sales & Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars, ME & L, ‘Tees-Off’ gional distributors’ best ever performances, and celebrate a second Director, 2012 strategy best year ever for us in the Middle East,” said Frank Bernthaler, Director of Sales and Marketing for Mercedes-Benz Cars, Middle East & Levant. “We must thank our regional distributor network for helping us to achieve this and underline the importance of compliance in everything we do, which has further catalysed our sales success while supporting our long-term goal to achieve profitable growth and higher customer satisfaction,” he said.

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MARKET WATCH

after the fall, the job spring

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SUQ students set new record

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group of students from Stenden University Qatar (SUQ) succeeded in breaking the Guinness World Record of the game “Hide & Seek” with a whooping 1,240 participants. The previous record stood at 508 participants in England. The event was held at Katara and the funds raised will be going to Qatar Red Crescent and their campaign towards the Horn of Africa. Tarika Vara, the official adjudicator from Guinness World Record, was present during the event to ensure the game’s rules and regulations were being followed. The event ended with a number of musical performances by local talents such as Rabee DJ, Let us Run band, Lavinia Kanagaendran, Sa Mad band, Ousama beatboxing and Cronkite Satellite. The event was organised as part of the Event Management course at SUQ which requires students to work in groups and apply all theory learnt throughout their studies in a practical project. The organising team included Nadine Assi, Abdulla AlGhanim, Abdulrahman Al-Mulla, Kahlid

Al-Shamlan, Hesham Dakoroury, Faisal Darwish and Nasser Al-Manaa. The goal of the event was to have a wide impact, to raise charity, to unite as many people as possible for one goal, and be interactive and fun.

Participating schools and universities included Qatar International School, the Lebanese School, Qatar Academy, American School of Doha, Cambridge School, Doha College, VCUQ, ABP, CNA-Q and CMUQ.

LG Electronics appoints new Gulf President

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G Electronics announced its appointment of D Y Kim as the President of LG Electronics, Gulf FZE. Kim succeeds H S Paik who was appointed President of the region in 2009. Kim has been with LG Electronics since 1989 and his extensive experience into the electronics field will be crucial to lead the company forward to embrace new challenges and opportunities. “It is an honour to become President of the Gulf Region as it has been a region where LG has been achieving important milestones and where we anticipate an enormous potential for growth. Nowadays LG has the second market position in the LED and flat panel TV category within this market and it is very well perceived by our customers. Our focus will be to continue working as we have been doing so far in order to meet their expectations and keeping their trust,” he said. Kim holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern California (USC) and a B.A in Electronics from Pusan National University.

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MARKET WATCH

Toyota Dream Car Art Contest

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bdullah Abdulghani & Bros. Co. WLL (AAB), the sole agent for Toyota and Lexus in Qatar, organised the sixth Toyota Dream Car Art contest for school students in the Toyota Showroom at Al Abdulghani Tower. More than 100 children from various schools in Qatar participated in the contest. The contest was held for three different

age categories: under 10 years, 10-12 years and 13-15 years. The five winning artworks under each category will be eligible for the world contest to be held in Japan in August. Winners received prizes from Dr Nasser Abdulghani Abdulghani, Managing Director, AAB. Karim Manssour Dahbi, CEO and R K Murugan, Director of Sales and Marketing, and Senior Manager of AAB also attended the event.

The contest is part of a world-wide ‘Toyota Dream Car Art contest’ organised by Toyota Motor Corporation in more than 50 countries. For the last edition, more than 120,000 children participated worldwide. The contest aims to create an opportunity for children to develop their interest in cars by drawing pictures of their ‘dream cars’ under the theme ‘Your dream-the Car of the Future’.

Home Centre gets a makeover

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ome Centre revealed an all-new stylish image at its branch in Al Asmakh Mall which is the retailer’s flagship store in Qatar. The store has undergone a huge makeover as per company plans to inject a more modern, chic and polished feel to the brand and enhance the shopping experience at the store. The store’s sleek new concept was developed by leading American architect and design firm Callison, who also planned and designed Porto Arabia at The Pearl-Qatar. Under the brand’s new tagline ‘Find your Home in Ours’, shoppers will be allowed to leisurely browse the extensive range of

products in room sets that have been designed to reflect particular rooms and areas of a home. Landmark Group, Territory Head, Suresh Sarma said, “This is such an exciting time for all of us as we continue to forge ahead in implementing some very exciting changes to the Home Centre brand across the region and we are absolutely delighted with the results of the Al Asmakh mall store makeover. The flagship store has been given a new lease of life and now looks fabulously stylish, modern and fresh.” Home Centre will continue to roll out the brand new design concept across all of its stores in the region in the coming months.

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MARKET WATCH

Jumbo Electronics opens new duct works factory

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umbo Electronics has taken a step further in its growth as a multi-discipline engineering company by opening its own HVAC duct works factory. Situated in Street No. 36 at Industrial Area, the factory is equipped with the latest automatic machinery including CNC plasma cutting and Auo fold duct forming machines. In addition to the fabrication of the in-house projects requirements, Jumbo will now undertake fabrication and supply of HVAC ducting for other HVAC/MEP contractors in the market. The factory will produce standard and specific designs of ducts to meet the design specifications of various HVAC industry requirements. The hi-tech CNC machinery successfully meets special project requirements such as cutting of steel pipes or sheets up to a thickness of 20mm and fabrication of G.I ducts for heating, ventilation and air conditioning applications. The factory was inaugurated by Jassim Mohammed Sulaiman - Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Video Home & Jumbo Electronics group, in the presence of C V Rappai - Director and General Manager, G N Raju - Assistant General Manager (MEP Division) and other senior officials from Jumbo Electronics & Electromech Engineering.

Taste of the Orient Barwa Shopping Festival

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yndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel recently held a cocktail reception at the Chopsticks restaurant to treat the media and their corporate business partners with their savoury new sushi dishes made of chicken, beef and duck. The highlight of the evening was the biggest sushi ever placed in the middle of the restaurant complimented by delightful month watering Sushi platters. Ayman Lotfy, General Manager along with the hotel management team welcomed each guest and expressed their gratitude to all who attended. Chopsticks is the only sushi restaurant in Doha that offers true far eastern taste quality and value for money. There is a sushi open buffet for families on Saturdays. The restaurant also offers corporate lunches with several unique business lunch promotions.

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he Barwa Village in collaboration with Network Advertising and Events is holding a Barwa Village Shopping Festival 2012 from March 15 - May 12, 2012. The festival will spread over a time period of 60 days and will stage exciting events and competitions for the family. BARWA Village Shopping Festival is one of a kind shopping fiesta that will feature many brands which will be offering its shoppers amazing discounts, thus turning the festival into a vibrant shopping paradise. The festival will also entertain window shoppers as they can participate in various activities while strolling in the village. The shops will be open seven days a week from 12 pm – 12 am.


MARKET WATCH

Nokia X2-02 comes with dual sim

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onsolidated Gulf Co. (CGC) has announced the launch of the Nokia X2-02 — with Easy Swap Dual Sim functionality. The Nokia X202 features the unique ‘Play via Radio’ functionality which allows music lovers to transmit and share individual playlists over a music system, car stereo and even a mobile phone. The phone is fitted with a great music player and hi-quality FM radio. It also offers a special audio processing feature that ensures audio clarity. There are built in dedicated music keys to help users control the player, powerful loudspeakers and music playback for up to 23 hours, making the Nokia X2-02 the perfect device for music lovers. The 2 megapixel camera phone supports up to 32GB with its MicroSD mobile

memory cards. The dual sim functionality lets users manage and personalise up to five SIM cards, without the need to switch off the phone or remove the battery cover. Powered by the Nokia Browser, the Nokia X2-02 allows fast, easy and more affordable access to the Internet and favourite social networking sites. Nokia X2-02 is available in a range of colours, including bright red, dark silver, orange, violet and ocean blue. The phone has pre-installed games, and you can have access to gaming and apps through the Nokia Store.

Fight child hunger with THE One

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ou can now make a difference by helping The One “feed” the hungry children of the world by purchasing the eco-chic FEED bag available exclusively at THE One. Founded by Lauren Bush and Ellen Gustafson, FEED Projects LLC aims to feed hungry children through the sale of its 100% organic cotton and burlap bags. THE One already sells a variety of FEED products, including the original FEED 1 Bag, which provides school meals for a child for an entire year through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The home fashion brand is now selling a selection of other products that enable its customers to do more. These include the FEED 10 pouch, which provides food and job skill training to 10 women, and the FEED peace bag, which pays for 25 meals to be donated to the WFP’s initiative to promote peace through food on every continent in the world. There’s also the funky FEED love bag which supplies 25 school meals to a child in an HIV-stricken country. Visit www.wfp.org and www.FEEDprojects.org for more information.

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MARKET WATCH

Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip Grand Opening

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ne extra large, chocolate chip (still warm) cookie split in half, and Qatar’s first Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip was officially open for business on the first floor of City Center mall. Ali Bin Ali’s hospitality arm celebrated the grand opening of the café with its senior management, guests from Nestli Toll House Café by Chip USA and the media all in attendance. Nestlé Business Development Manager, Nadim Hajjar and Ali Bin Ali’s General Manager of Hospitality, Hashem Melhem inaugurated the new café and split the oversized dessert. “I am very pleased to be here to celebrate the inauguration of Qatar’s first ever Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip, which has built a solid reputation of consistently delivering high quality products and enjoyable moments for families,” Hajjar said. He continued: “To be here at this grand opening and partner with one of Qatar’s leading conglomerates, the Ali Bin Ali Group, is something we consider a special privilege because it not only cements a valued partnership, but it also paves the way for families in Qatar to

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enjoy a greatly-loved, internationally sought-after brand.” The Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip will serve cookies, of course, in addition to other traditional bakery items, including macaroons, cupcakes and brownies. For a more refreshing option, it offers frozen ice cream, yogurt and smoothies, as well as a variety of coffee and espresso-based drinks. The Nesquik Bunny made his own appearance, wading through a mob of delighted children, right in time for the pastry-breaking ceremony. Speaking about plans for brand expansion, Melhem said: “What we can promise our customers who visit the café is an opportunity to enjoy the ultimate dessert experience through unrivalled service, superior performance and a positive impact on our community... Starting with one location in 2000, Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip currently has more than 100 locations in the US, Canada and the Middle East. This is the first café in Qatar and we hope to open more in additional malls.”


sport file

Azarenka

grinds out Open win

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or a few moments early in the second set of her Qatar Total Open semi-final match against Agnieska Radwanska, it looked like the Belarusian might be forced to retire with an acute injury. As she twisted her body to retrieve a splendid little trick-shot from the Pole, she went over on her ankle and lay on the court in what seemed to be considerable pain. The crowd suddenly felt tense after seeing Marion Bartoli cry off injured in the earlier semi-final against Australia’s Samantha Stosur. They weren’t in the mood for another premature ending. However, much to the delight of the crowd, and after some intense treatment by her physio, Victoria Azarenka returned. She didn’t seem at all at ease, though, as she lost the first game back to love to fall behind 2-1 in the set, but remarkably she closed it out with some brave tennis to win the match 6-2 6-4. The win set her up for a mouth-watering final, on paper at least: the reigning Australian Open champion going toe-to-toe with the reigning US Open champ. However, Azarenka went into it with an impeccable record against the Aussie, having beaten her in all five previous meetings. As it turned out, Azarenka’s semi-final injury didn’t impede her whatsoever in the final and she coasted to a 6-1 6-2 win, with some devastating tennis, in front of a crowd which included HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Misnad. This was Azarenka’s 17th straight victory and her first title since replacing Caroline Wozniacki at the summit of the WTA world rankings after winning the Australian Open in January. It was her third title overall in

2012. “It’s amazing. I can’t believe I could play that kind of tennis today,” Azarenka said. “I knew I wouldn’t be 100% so I had to change and adjust. I was just surprised that everything was going in. I was really trying to be aggressive out there and not let her com-

mand, because that’s what she likes to do.” Overall, it was a very successful tournament and it was certainly a very enjoyable family day out, with plenty of entertainment away from the tennis courts to keep children amused. It’s certainly a tournament the top players love to play in

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sport file

Bahrain ready for ‘UNIF1ED’ Grand Prix

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ahrain International Circuit (BIC) recently announced an exciting programme of events for the upcoming 2012 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. It is scheduled to take place April 20-22 as the fourth round of a 20-race calendar that makes up this year’s FIA F1 World Championship. Organisers revealed this year’s slogan for the race: ‘UNIF1ED - ONE NATION IN CELEBRATION’. This mantra reflects the unifying spirit of true F1 fans, who share a passion for the sport and who long to see the very best of motor racing take place in the Kingdom. The Chief Executive at BIC, Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, commented: “Sport

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brings people together, especially the truest and most dedicated of fans. Be it in football, tennis, golf or motor racing, there is something special about sport that makes it a great unifier. “We in Bahrain should feel extremely privileged to be part of an exclusive club of only a handful of countries who can say that they are a host of a Grand Prix and are a part of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Our race is a source of pride! “Based on the success of past Grands Prix, we are all together looking forward to staging yet another spectacular Formula One weekend. We are excited about making Bahrain proud and for the whole world to see that we are indeed One Nation in Celebration.” GP2, PORSCHE SUPERCUP AND SUPERCARS Just as in years past, the 2012 Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will boast a line-up of three of the very best international support series that will complement all the Formula One action. These supporting categories are headlined by the GP2 Series and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Also set to feature is the most popular circuit racing category to come out of the region, the WGA Supercars Championship Middle East.

GP2 is the chief feeder category to Formula One, and it is from here that half of the top flight’s current grid has graduated. GP2 will be staging its second round of the 2012 season in support of the Bahrain Grand Prix. There will also be the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, which will be holding its opening round of the 2012 season. The Porsche Supercup is a favourite amongst motor racing fans worldwide and car enthusiasts in Bahrain alike. The championship is among the most popular in the world, with the large number of powerful Porsche 911 race cars battling each other side by side. Off the race track, there will be plenty of recreational activities for people of all ages throughout the three-day Grand Prix weekend. They will be located mainly at the Formula One Village behind the main grandstand, and all of them will contribute to the lively and engaging family friendly atmosphere here at Bahrain International Circuit. Tickets can be purchased in advabce online at www.bahraingp.com, or by calling the circuit’s hotline on +973-17-450000. They can also be purchased in Bahrain on the weekend of the race. All three-day ticket holders will have plenty of additional incentives that can be enjoyed throughout the Grand Prix weekend


doha diary

Oriental art, a rich record By Cl aude Pie ning

Aivazovsky - View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus.

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ince the time of Marco Polo, the East, from the Ottoman lands to the Levant and beyond, has captivated the West’s imagination. By the 18th century, European artists, often attached to Western embassies and missions to the Ottoman Court, began recording local landscapes, costumes, and diplomatic encounters, thus giving rise to a whole new genre in Western art called Orientalism. But the vogue among European artists for painting the Orient (a term used to refer to Turkey, North Africa, Egypt and the Levant) reached its zenith in the 19th century. As these regions became more accessible with the dawn of the steamship and the railway, artists were drawn to them by the rich array of new subjects afforded by the vibrant light and vivid colours, and unexplored cultures and traditions. Today, their artistic output provides an invaluable record of the daily life, religious and social customs of the re-

gion, as well of its topography, during this pre-photographic era — a record eagerly sought after by collectors and institutions not only across the region, but around the world. The Russian artist Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky was one of the most talented practitioners of this time, and his View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus, an oil on canvas estimated at QR6.91 million – QR10.35 million ($1.2-1.8 million), is one of his most spectacular landscapes. He first visited Constantinople in 1845 as part of his duties as official painter to the Russian Admiralty. Aivazovsky’s composition celebrates the beauty and dynamism of a busy port, with the Nusretiye Mosque displaying a distinctive blend of baroque and Islamic architecture, making it an important landmark for navigation of the Bosphorus. It is interesting that despite this painting being produced during the final year of the Crimean War, the artist makes no reference

to the conflict in his painting, instead presenting to us the Constantinople of peace time he had known 10 years earlier. Whilst European painters were the first to introduce the Orientalist genre, it was soon adopted by painters from the region itself to depict their own culture in new ways. Among the first Turkish artists to embrace the European academic style was the artist, archaeologist and diplomat Osman Hamdy Bey, who trained in Paris during the 1860s and exhibited at both the Paris Salon and at the Exposition Universelle. A Young Emir Studying is the first of two known compositions by Hamdy Bey depicting a reclining man at study before a richly detailed background. Executed in 1878, it predates a second, later version, in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, by 27 years, and shows the young artist at the very height of his powers. Hamdy Bey was a central figure in the cultural life of the Ottoman Empire, having served in diplomatic positions on his return

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doha diary

Highlights from Sotheby’s auction will be on exhibition in Doha on the March 30 and 31, 2012 at the Katara Galleries, Katara Cultural Village. Hamdy Bey - A Young Emir Studying.

from Paris, and later becoming the founder and director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul. Many Western painters immersed themselves in the everyday life of the region to gain a meaningful understanding of their new subjects. John Frederick Lewis, for example, spent 10 years living in Cairo and consciously assimilated himself into Egyptian society. His impressive watercolour, Halt in the Desert estimated at QR460,000 -QR690,000 ($80,000-120,000), depicts the Bedouins’ gestures and costumes in minute and sympathetic detail. Eughne Fromentin was one of the first French artists to spend extended periods in Algeria in the 1840s, and one of his most iconic compositions, Le Simoun, is featured in the sale (estimated at $200,000-300,000). Painted in 1864, it depicts to dramatic effect a group of horsemen silhouetted against an ominous sky, braving the simoun —the hot, dry, sand-laden windstorms of the North African and Arabian deserts — with wellpracticed determination. The wild eyes of the two bay horses indicate their fear, as they seek solace in whatever source they can. Such evocative scenes were the result of first-hand experiences processed, as Fromentin wrote, ‘through memory’, and the visual expressions of a very particular aesthetic and personal philosophy. Painter Edward Lear, on the other hand, was fascinated by the beauty of the scenery and wildlife of the region, which he saw whilst travelling up the Nile and captured in fine detail. Its colours astonished him most.

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Fromentin - Le Simoun.

His oil paintings, with few exceptions, were derived from his rapid ‘on the spot’ pencil or pen sketches. His Philae (estimated $30,000-40,000) is taken from a viewpoint on the rocky bank of the Nile to the west of the island. The focus is upon the foreground and the colours and rounded forms of the rocks are depicted in minute detail. The island takes a secondary role in the picture and the Ptolomaic Temple of Isis and the Kiosk of Trajan are dwarfed by the towering cliffs along the banks of the Nile. Today, this view provides us with a fascinating historical record of how the area looked in the 19th century and before the construction of the Aswan dam. After his first trip up the Nile in 1854, Lear went back to Egypt 13 years later, this time

travelling up the Nile as far south as the second cataract just beyond Wadi Halfa. After he returned home, he used his sketches and colour notes as preparatory studies for a number of oils such as his Sheikh Abadeh on The Nile (estimated at $30,000-40,000). Here, the glazes of pure paint capture the brilliance of the light which Lear had so carefully studied

Claude Piening is the Senior Director, Head of Sotheby’s Orientalist Paintings Department


doha diary

How Women Work conference

The third How Women Work conference (HWW)is taking place March 7-8 in the Renaissance Hotel.

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he concept and structure of the conference is the same as in previous years, with lots of interactive workshops, panels and forums. The organisers of HWW believe that every woman has a voice and that small workshops help ensure interactivity. “The conference is about women, but it’s not only for women, it’s for anyone who has the development of women at heart. Recruiters, sponsors, speakers, husbands are there as well every year and are very welcome,” say the organisers. “This year, for the first time, we also have a majlis with direct access for the participants to some of the speakers and the possibility of a live coaching session right then and there.” A member of the organising team, Birgit Radl-Wanko, said about her involvement in the conference: “ Why am I doing this? I have experienced the spirit of HWW as a speaker last year – and it seems I can’t get enough of it! Why? These are exciting times for women, especially in this country and region. It’s great to be part of something bigger and to create something: an initiative that helps women succeed with their aspirations, no matter how big or small. We offer workshops ranging from finding your

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vision all the way to how you get funding for your business and how you lead a team effectively – where else can you find all that in two days?” “The theme of the conference is about personal development, professional growth and organisational change, and actually more than half of our tickets are corporate tickets. The companies of Qatar thus also seem to believe that we offer effective training and development for their employees,” she says. This year, HWW focuses on creating more resilience for the employees when organisations change. “Organisational change is a buzzword in most parts of the world these days and here it seems to be magnified by the fact that Qatar as a country is developing at a breathtaking pace.What do you do to keep up? One of our workshops is dealing with this: Creating Positive Change in the Workplace, by Liz Fleming, Managing Director at Qatar Development and Consultancy Centre.” Many companies here have experienced that their female employees who start off a career and get pregnant – and never come back after maternity leave. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it requires rethinking the infrastructure of the family – and it requires support from the companies and the

surrounding society. The statement is merely a pragmatic one, and the conference examines this question as well with the help of some of the prominent persons at an HWW forum entitled ‘Women and the City – Infrastructure Needs and Solutions in Doha’. All the speakers live and work in Doha (or have done until recently) so they can address the topics with the necessary insight. “How often have you left a conference refreshed, energised, inspired, with goals and tools at hand? “Chances are that the HWW conference will provide just that. Add the great networking opportunities and you have seized the atmosphere and the aim of the conference,” stresses team HWW. Even better, the conference is now more than an annual conference. Throughout the year workshops and many other projects are planned. “Doha has seen a new community to support and develop new ideas. We already have many examples of women who found business partners and sponsors and finally launched their own business or other initiatives and we shall see many more like them,” says Radl-Wanko. Qatar Today magazine is a media partner for the HWW Conference


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doha diary

ROTA’s fifth Wheels ‘n’ Heels a success

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housands of nationals and expatriates took part in yet other successful Wheels ‘n’ Heels Family Fun Day organised by Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) at the Museum of Islamic Art Park. The highlight of the day was the unveiling of the Doha 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee official logo, attended by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation. Also present during the event was ROTA Chairperson HE Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani. The ROTA Zone at the venue seemed popular with the visitors, where they discovered more about Qatar’s leading education and humanitarian not-for-profit organisation, and how to get involved

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in the ROTA volunteer programme. Visitors were also kept entertained with a number of enthralling performances from nine-year-old singing sensation Hala Al-Turk, UAE singer Fayez Al-Said, Qatar’s singer Ali Abdulsatar and Jordanian Super Star singer Diana Karazon. Other celebrities included Ghanem Al-Muftah, Nada Zeidan, Rania Alwani and a host of Qatar Stars League players. “Seeing so many families enjoying an active lifestyle together is really encouraging. Thank you to everyone who came along – children, parents, families, celebrities, partners, volunteers, activity providers – for once again making Wheels ‘n’ Heels such a huge success,” said Essa Al-Mannai, ROTA Director.


doha diary

QF hosts international educators conference

Sailing Arabia Tour

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he first leg of the yacht race “Sailing Arabia – The Tour” (SATT) concluded at The Pearl-Qatar in Doha. The fleet will cover a total distance of 1,408 kms, sailing from Bahrain to Qatar, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah) and then three stops in Omani waters at Musandam, Musanah and the final port in Muscat. The event brings the Gulf nations together with teams representing Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE. A French entry, Courrier Dunkerque, claimed the leg one victory, as the only non-GCC team competing. They crossed the finish line 31min 32sec ahead of Team BAE Systems, with Team Commercialbank finishing a close third. Ahmed Al-Mamari and his all-Omani crew on Team Renaissance finished fourth while the all-women crew sailing Al Thuraya BankMuscat, representing Oman, finished a close fifth. Saeed Al-Sulaiti, General Manager at The Pearl-Qatar who presented the awards to the top teams, said: “We always support activities related to sport and we are privileged to host SATT on Qatar National Sports Day. By hosting the in-port racing we have provided the GCC teams with the opportunity to race close to shore, but also to support this strategically important day for Qatar”.

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atar Foundation (QF) held a prestigious international educators’ conference, the NASPA–ACPA Gulf Conference 2012, for the first time in Doha, entitled “Sustainable Strategies for Student Success”. The conference showcased strategies for preparing students for success in the classroom and beyond through debates and brainstorming amongst 180 educational practitioners worldwide. A symposium was also conducted on “Enhancing Student Learning Around the Globe”. The panel included HE Dr Abdulla Al Thani, Hamad Bin Khalifa University President and Vice President of Education at QF, and Professor Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad, President of Qatar University, while the sessions were moderated by Dr Susan R. Komives, Professor and Programme Director of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland in the US. The main discussion revolved around the implementation of effective strategies by student affairs educators worldwide. “The work of educators must be focused on students, making sure that they know how important it is to get fully involved in their learning,” said HE Dr Al Thani. “I believe that Qatar’s families are key to the success of our students. They are involved in their sons’ and daughters’ lives, and this has to be harnessed to add value to students’ learning.” According to Dr Al-Misnad, “today’s university graduates must be prepared for the knowledge-based economy by learning to be innovative, risk-taking, courageous, persistent, flexible, open-minded and compassionate. We are fortunate that Qatar has great wealth and opportunity, but our students must look beyond the glitter if they are to contribute their fair share to the advancement of our country.”

Food Fiesta

Taste and Fun Food Festival

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ore than 60,000 food lovers visited the Qatar Tourism Authority’s (QTA) “Taste and Fun” Food Festival this year to sample culinary delights from 75 stands. The four-day event saw the country’s best and most popular restaurants take part as well as a range of activities for visitors including magic shows, Japanese cooking demonstrations, a mystery box competition and children’s entertainment. On the final day of the festival, The Ritz Carlton Doha, the Kempinski Doha, Moevenpick Towers and The Torch Doha were announced gold medal winners of the cooking competition involving 15 of Qatar’s finest hotel chefs. The Intercontinental Doha was honoured with the “Best Sales” award and La Cigale won the “Best Design”. According to QTA Chairman Ahmed Al-Nuami, the special emphasis on Japanese cuisine as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Qatar-Japan relations proved especially popular. “The

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Taste and Fun Food festival is fast becoming a landmark community event in Doha. Not only did visitors enjoy great food and fun entertainment in record numbers, but they also had the opportunity to taste dishes from other cultures which all seek to promote cultural awareness in our amazingly diverse community.” The festival sponsors included Jungle Zone, Askar Industrial Company and Worldwide Tents and Halls.


doha diary

National Sports Day

Qatar’s commitment towards sports

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atar celebrated its first National Sports Day with fun and fervour as several government ministries and private sector organisations held a wide range of sports activities for all age groups. Katara Cultural Village had over 300,000 visitors during the day who participated in games of beach volleyball, beach football and an exclusive football match. Visitors also made use of the 150 bicycles on display, which were available free of charge to ride around the cultural village with the family. Qatargas too arranged a full day of sporting activities for its employees in Doha and Al-Khor Community. Members kick-started the day’s activities by participating in a two kilometre walkathon followed by other popular sports such as football, beach volleyball, basketball, table tennis and cricket. Qatar’s National Sports Day came about as a result of the Emiri Decision No. 80 of 2011 issued by HH the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, whereby the second Tuesday of February every year shall be observed as National Sports Day.

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Qatar Today 11 9


QT TwitPick

By P e t e r Lar so n

From 3:14 until 3:43 on the afternoon of FebRUARY 12, @SultanAlQassemi was silent.

The account was mute (which I doubted the entire time) because its real life author, Sultan Al Qassemi, was in the middle of an exclusive interview. With me. I watched my Timeline attentively, expecting him to spit out some comment or update as I rambled away over the phone with my compound-complex questions. Maybe an SOS. Up until January 2011, the user whose bio simply reads “commentator on Arab affairs”, was just another Gulf-based journalist. He had written for Foreign Policy magazine and The Financial Times. By his own estimates, he had about 3,000 followers. Today he has more than 98,000. Ninety-eight thousand. It can’t be done by bots alone. To understand how it happened, Al Qassemi tells a story from the start of the Arab Spring, when a thenignorant Muammar Qaddafi made a fool of himself by calling out the rioting Tunisians and the evil “vacuum cleaner” of the Internet. Al Qassemi was translating Qaddafi’s speech from Arabic into English in real time, a reporting method that would become his trademark. “And that was the tipping point,” he said. “Qaddafi embarrassed himself by responding to Bookface when he meant Facebook, and he mispronounced Wikileaks... I think there was a lot of humour in it.” The Internet agreed. By the end of the day, @SultanAlQassemi’s followers had doubled. And from there the climb was exponential. Al Qassemi’s attention often focused on less comical news, and not all of his new followers were friends. He has a daytime job he prefers not to write or talk about, because he doesn’t want his company

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picture credit: Katy Watson, Editor, Middle East Business Report, BBC World News.

Not a single tweet. Not even a retweet. Unusual for the man who has admitted to having posted once every 45 seconds at times as disgruntled Tunisians and Egyptians took to the streets and kicked off the Arab Spring last year.

to get any of the threats he has privately received. He prides himself on his methods: scouring the web for the best articles and essays, translating live news and tweets from Arabic into English and adding his own analysis. He said he spends at least five hours every day just reading. Referencing a recent speech by the Qatar Prime Minister, which spanned nine minutes in full, Al Qassemi drew contrast with the news channel sound bites. “There is a niche for people who want to know what he said in the other eight minutes,” he said. “And they want it instantly, rather than waiting for the news wire to translate it all afterward.” Despite his social media stardom, Al Qassemi only joined Twitter at the insistence of a few friends in mid-2009. He used it to keep up on the news and follow writers he admired. His handle has never changed. Scrolling through the tweets of @SultanAlQassemi, it isn’t a monologue. Often he is replying or commenting on things others have posted. People are a powerful source, he said. “I try to answer every single tweet,” Al Qassemi said. “I know it’s crazy. I must

know how to say thank you in 10 different languages.” His logic? Human decency, he said. “Out of respect, the least you can do is type five characters back when someone takes the time to send you a hundred,” he said. He said he’s also curious to get to know a few of the thousands that subscribe to him. He has attended “tweet-ups” in Dubai, Cairo and New York to talk with followers in person. And then there’s the folder in his inbox, where he automatically directs all of the new follower notification e-mails Twitter sends. Near 100,000 and he still hasn’t disabled that setting. But sometimes, when a follower mentions him, Al Qassemi runs a quick search. He wants to know the day and hour the person began following him, as well as what topic he was tweeting about when they did. At 3:40 p.m. I thanked him for his time and with one hand put down the phone as the other was still scribbling a final quote. I shut my notebook and, out of an obsessive quirk of mine, refreshed the page to get rid of the notification number at the top. Sure enough, there was @SultanAlQassemi: 3:43: “@MinaNaguib90 @manaeltahawy @gamaleid I just sent them your name to be included this morning Mina.” 3:46: “@Mohamedlootah two wrongs don’t make a right.” 3:52: “CNN: Egypt: Parliamentary committee demands moving the Ministry of Interior”...

(Every month Qatar Today will feature an interesting Doha tweep in this new column. So if you have a favourite, do send a direct message to @QatarToday)


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GPS Technology Since its development in 1978, it is now used in cars, aircraft and boats. Geologists use it to track the movements of continental plate tectonics and glaciers while conservation scientists have tagged turtles with GPS receivers to follow their epic migrations.

The Sony Walkman

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The Bar code These boring sets of black and white lines can now be found on almost every single item bought from a shop. At first glance, it seems hard to see how they possibly made any impact on the world, but they have fundamentally changed the way we shop. They are now in stores to instantly access product details, prices and stock levels with a sweep of a laser.

In 1979 Sony spawned the era of wearable technology with its iconic personal stereo. It enabled music fans to listen to their music while on the move without inflicting their choices on those around them. It provided the soundtrack to millions of morning commutes. This wearable technology has now evolved, thanks to Apple, into the iPod and has changed music for ever.

Ten

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innovations that changed the World!

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TV Dinners Food on-the-go has been around since the time of Ancient Greece, but convenience food really took off in the 1970s and transformed the way families ate meals, the high-street, the countryside and national health. Traditional family dinners around the table disappeared and pre-packaged “ready meals” eaten on the sofa became the norm.

Combined with internet banking, cards have made the cheque almost redundant. Credit cards gave us greater convenience for spending, greater security and the ability to spend money anywhere in the world. They also brought us internet fraud and record levels of debt that have contributed to the global credit crunch.

Text messaging created a new vocabulary and new grammar that is almost incomprehensible to those who do not use it. LOL and FYI have now passed into everyday English. Among 13-17 year olds, text messaging now outweighs old fashioned phone calls by seven to one.

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Microwaves Not the ovens, but the electromagnetic waves. Microwaves electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging between 1 millimetre and one metre - are used by mobile phones, wireless broadband internet and satellite television. They also gave us a new way of cooking food.

12 2 Qatar Today

march 2012

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Social Networking

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Although games consoles had been around for some time, Sony’s PlayStation took gaming out of spotty teenager’s bedrooms and into adult living rooms when it was released in 1994. Here was a computer with more power than the average family PC.

ictQATAR are trumpeting innovation and entrepreneurship as the theme of QITCOM 2012, which is being held at the QNCC in March. They’re encouraging young Qataris to show their potential on the world stage as the country tries to make the switch to a knowledge-based economy. A panel of 20 experts from the British Science Association drew up a list of the top ten innovations that changed the world.

Text messaging

Electronic Money

PlayStation

Around the world, every day, more than three billion minutes are spent by computer users on Facebook. Along with other social networking sites such as MySpace and Twitter, it has completely changed the way we interact and who we interact with. Online social networking has allowed people to rekindle friendships with friends they lost touch with years ago.

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Trainers Nightclub bouncers might not like them, but trainers changed fashion and the feet of generations. The Goodyear Metallic Rubber Shoe Company was the first to use a new manufacturing process that melded rubber to cloth in 1892, but it was not until the 1970s they took off.



Qatar Today March 2012