Qt november 2013

Page 1

inside this issue november 2013 / Vol. 39/ Issue 11 cover story

42 Qatari Banks: flexing muscles

Banks in Qatar are in expansion mode. Despite creditors in several countries in Europe and Asia experiencing economic slowdown in the recent past, the Qatari banks, buoyed by rising profits and political stability, are spreading their wings in a quest for global growth.

38 Ringing in Change

A new Vodafone CEO has arrived, the fourth one in the five years since the telecommunication major hit Doha shores. Given the history that trails each new arrival, we can expect a wave of change soon to blow over the organisation.

30 Winning the Mobile Government Game

Efficiency, engagement and cost-effectiveness present a strong case for m-governance in the region.

82 An Ace up its sleeve

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Today, Jakob Olsen, Vice-President of Acer’s Commercial Division in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, explains how his company hopes to engage with the Qatari market.

inside this issue november 2013 / Vol. 39/ Issue 11

32 Qatar’s logistics gears up

As always with challenging situations, innovative and entrepreneurial spirits are on hand to step in; and Qatar is no different, with several local firms looking set to meet logistical demands by increasing capacity, efficiency, and quality of service.

66 Software piracy on a high

The rapid gains made by Qatar in the development of its ICT sector are being dented by software piracy, a malady which is plaguing dozens of nations around the world.

64 The eternal enemy

Post the screening of his documentary – Reel Bad Arabs – Dr Jack Shaheen, celebrated author and media critic, gave an engaging talk at the QNCC, on how Hollywood has been vilifying and dehumanising Arabs for over a century.

86 DFI showcases Ajyal - a youth festival

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Today, Fatma Al Remaihi, Director of Ajyal Youth Film Festival, shares what the Festival means to her, personally and professionally.

56 Engage for success

Employees, who are engaged in organisation activities, significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged, says study

and regulars 12 news bites 18 bank notes 22 o&g overview 24 realty check 70 tech talk 72 auto news 74 market watch 84


86 doha diary

from the desk Microfinance was hailed as a survival tool that lifted 10 million Bangladeshis out of poverty between 1990 and 2008, a saviour of the poor that empowered women by stimulating income-generating activities by providing collateral-free loans. But its repayment structure and the apparent inability of microfinance institutions to determine whether borrowers have multiple loans with other institutions rarely come under scrutiny. And now it has reached a point where the poor in Bangladesh have fallen into a vicious cycle of borrowing money from other NGOs to repay existing loans, leaving many ultimately unable to repay and some having to take extreme measures for repayments. As with any lending regime, all gaps have to be covered to have an efficient system in place, especially since the livelihood of the poor is dependent on these tools. Qatari banks have a different story to tell, in a setting very different from poverty-stricken Bangladesh. With a strong net foreign asset position (high and rising international reserves and a large sovereign wealth fund) and high hydrocarbon revenues, Qatar is well insulated from the capital flight risks faced by other emerging markets. But another major factor contributing to the growth of assets is the major diversification that many local banks, like QNB, Doha Bank and QIB, are indulging in. One Qatari bank leads the list of the fastest-growing banks, globally and its asset growth was driven by the strategic acquisition of NSGB in Egypt, and higher international stakes. It is this lure of foreign lands, the risks involved and the growth that is inevitable for these asset-hungry local banks that Qatar Today is focusing on this month in its cover story. Even with double-digit growth figures and a strong banking structure, the country has still not been able to shake off its demons; the labour issues that rankle international organisations are still marring its reputation. And it doesn't help to have images of lewd sheikhs flashing on our TV screens, all thanks to Hollywood movies and the lazy stereotypes they resort to while depicting Arabs, an issue that Dr Jack Shaheen has researched for years and shares with Qatar Today in this issue. Giving us a glimpse of stronger content from regional and other celebrated filmmakers is Doha Film Institute, which brings two completely diverse film festivals to the country. Traffic gridlock still remain a major topic of conversation in a bursting-at-the-seamsDoha. At this stage, the Doha Metro project is awaited with much anticipation. A project that will change the dynamics of transportation, and even try to obliterate the status of Qatar as one of the most polluting countries in the world, when it becomes part of a larger network in the GCC railway project. Qatar Today talks to rail and metro experts to highlight the dynamics involved in such a huge venture. Happy reading. Sindhu Nair

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Chief Executive Sandeep Sehgal Executive Vice President Alpana Roy Vice President Ravi Raman editorial Editor Sindhu Nair DEPUTY EDITOR v L Srinivasan SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS eZdhar ibrahim abigail mathias ayswarya murthy Sub editor sue eedle art senior Art Director Venkat Reddy deputy Art Director Hanan Abu Saiam assistant art director Ayush Indrajith senior Graphic Designer maheshwar reddy Photographer Robert F ALTImirano marketing and sales senior Manager – Marketing Zulfikar Jiffry ASSISTANT MANAGER – MARKETING THOMAS JOSE senior Media ConsultantS HASSAN REKKAB LYDIA YOUSSEF MARKETING RESEARCH AND SUPPORT EXECUTIVE KANWAL BALUCH senior Accountant Pratap Chandran distribution Sr. Distribution Executive Bikram Shrestha Distribution Support Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai basanta pokhrel

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to win a Nokia Lumia 720

is qatar ready for an art revolution (and the subsequent social changes)? last month's qatar today poll

22 YES

78 NO

Figures in percentages

Will the global media attention bring about change in sponsorship laws?

Worldwide remittances

the winning text for august's QT Poll was sent from

Very nice and exclusive information on global remittance flow. Sherazur Rahman (responding online)


Damien Hirst's exhibits This is a work of art! I am glad that Qatar is into art. And Damien Hirst is a true artist! He depicted human life very well in his sculptures.

Powered by

Debi Mendez

HR Policies Your cover story on HR policies was an interesting one. As a new resident of Doha and also of this region, I found the piece a personally compelling read. Kumara P.N.

MERS Scare Thank you for putting a clear picture on the impact of the MERS virus in the region. It has been an issue that has been discussed but not clearly defined till now.

experience a new era of reading

Misra Fallouk

Credit Card fraud Most of my family transacts online and we were all interested in this piece. From movie tickets to flight bookings and even meals, we use plastic money, for us, this was a personally interesting piece. S. Garreth

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affairs> local

Qatar submits to international labour inspection The Builders and Wood Workers' International (BWI) delegation, made up of union leaders, labour inspectors and health and safety experts from nine European and two Asian countries, presented its findings on the conditions of labourers in Qatar.

All eyes on Qatar: The BWI delegation addressing the media in Doha, NHRC Chairman Dr Ali bin Samikh Al Marri (right).


lthough BWI’s visit to Qatar was planned months in advance, the Guardian expose and BWI’s subsequent “Red Card for FIFA” protest weighed heavily on the delegation and the hosts. “The first day was tense,” Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI. “But of course we expressed our desire for an independent mission, and from the second day onwards we were given full support by the National Human Rights Committee.” They also had to remind the Qatari authorities that these inspectors required full and free access to workplaces that weren’t “prepared beforehand”. Reiterating the harsh living conditions that low-income migrant workers here face, the statement from the mission grazed over

issues like non-payment of wages, confiscation of passports, illegal recruitment fees, and lack of unions or access to judicial recourse. The group concluded that the “plans and reforms presented by the authorities lack the urgency needed in this situation”. The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee’s “one-page Workers’ Charter” was not well defined and didn’t refer to any internationally recognised standards. On the other hand, the team found that Qatar Foundation’s standard for migrant workers' welfare is detailed and “would represent a substantial improvement if implemented and enforced”. And therein lies the core problem. “There is a glaring discrepancy between public policies and ground reality,” said Hoie Altle, Internation-

Qatar’s outlook “stable”

Standard & Poor’s ratings service affirmed its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for the State of Qatar at "AA/A-1+".

In a statement, the credit risk researcher said that it could lower the ratings if developments in hydrocarbon production and prices or in the banking sector were to weaken the country’s external or fiscal positions, or conversely raise the ratings if they see domestic institutions mature faster than expected or if transparency with regard to government assets and external data quality improves significantly.

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al Secretary at Norwegian trade union Fellesforbundet. BWI made a list of recommendations ranging from allowing the right to self-organisation, increasing funding for labour inspectorates (there are currently only 150 labour inspectors in Qatar while there need to be at least 2,000, they said), abolishing kafala (sponsorship) and exit visa systems, establishing labour courts, setting up complaint cells and imposing meaningful sanctions on erring individuals and organisations. NHRC Chairman Dr Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, who addressed the media immediately after BWI, stressed the need to open a dialogue with the Qatari government and work quietly and effectively towards achieving human rights goals.

Workplace engagement in MENA hits new low

With 35% of the region’s workforce “actively disengaged”, Middle East and North Africa has the world's highest proportion of unhappy and unproductive workers, liable to spread negativity to co-workers. Gallup’s latest "State of the Global Workplace" report puts this figure among the highest percentages of actively disengaged workers in any global region, statistically tied with workers in sub-Saharan Africa at 33%.


United Arab Emirates











Kuwait 19% Saudi Arabia



not engaged





actively disengaged

For results listed in this table, the margin of sampling error ranges from ±3 to ±7 percentage points.


Euronext sells stake in QE Qatar Holding has bought out NYSE Euronext’s 12% share in the Qatar Exchange, making it the sole owner of the fastgrowing bourse.


he buyout coincides with the partnership’s objectives being achieved, a statement released by the bourse said. Cooperation between Qatar Exchange and NYSE Euronext, which started out in 2009 with a 20% stake in the exchange bought for $200 million, will continue in different fields, including technology and expertise, according to the statement. Late last year NYSE Euronext had reduced its stake from 20% to 12%, along with the appointment of new local CEO Rashid bin Ali Al Mansoori.

Miami’s beaches beckon Qatar Airways has announced its sixth US destination – Miami – to which it will be operating four non-stop flights per week beginning June 10, 2014. qatar today > november 2013 > 17

affairs > local

Cyber security threatened

Jail term for poet upheld

Convicted of incitement against the Qatari regime, Mohammed Al Ajami’s 15-year sentence will not be reduced, the courts decided. Cyber criminal group the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into and took down a number of Qatar-based websites for several hours.


aving previously hacked into the Associated Press’s Twitter account and Huffington Post and New York Times websites, the SEA targeted government portals in Qatar, including the Ministry of Interior and the Supreme Education

Council, facebook.qa, google.com.qa and several Qatar-based news sites by hacking into the registrar managed by ictQatar. “It was a temporary hitch and the hackers could not do any serious harm,” ictQatar said in a statement.

Deloitte predicts increased activity on the Qatar Exchange According to Deloitte Middle East’s first Equity Capital Markets Confidence Survey, the Qatar Exchange (QE) is expected to be among the most active GCC exchanges over the next 12 months.


he report entitled “From a trot to a canter?”, names QE along with the Tadawul (Saudi stock exchange) and the Dubai Financial Market, where there is a strong pipeline of issuers looking to launch IPOs regionally as well as on international stock exchanges. “Of the respondents (equity capital market practitioners) interviewed in Qatar, all ex-

pected an increased number of new listings in the coming year. "It will certainly be interesting to see how QE will respond to attract issuers, given that all Qatar respondents cited increasing regulation as a trend within the coming two years,” said Robin Butteriss, Head of Financial Advisory Services at Deloitte & Touche, Qatar.

His lawyer, Nejib Al Naimi, told AFP that the poet had run out of chances to appeal and his only hope lay in the Emir granting him a pardon. The lawyer had tried to bring his jail time down to five years with the argument that his controversial poem was never meant for public consumption. He described the court ruling as “a political and not a judicial decision”.

Ooredoo looking to list on foreign shores Chief Executive Officer Nasser Marafih told Reuters that the telecom operator may list on the London Stock Exchange or another major bourse.


hough he said that there is no specific plan or timeline as of yet, it would do it if it were possible as it sought to attract more liquidity for its shares. “We have been looking at [a further listing] for some time, because one of the issues is the liquidity of the shares. It’s not only us, it is most of the companies in the region,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

18 > qatar today > november 2013

affairs > local

Qatar’s growth rate to lead GCC

Real GDP Growth Rates (%) 12 10



China sub-saharan africa


GCC countries emerging markets



2 Source: IMF and QNB

ccording to Ernst & Young’s Rapid-Growth Markets forecast, the UAE’s economy is expected to grow by 3.9%, Saudi Arabia by 4.3% and Qatar by 6% over the next few years. Qatar’s position on the leader board has been boosted by its diversification in non-oil sectors such as manufacturing, construction, transport, communications, trade, hotels and government services, the report said. This growth rate (Qatar National Bank expects it to be 6.5% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2014) will put Qatar in the driving seat along with other GCC countries, plus China and sub-Saharan Africa, which are likely to power future global growth with the world economy facing stagnation in advanced economies and a slowdown in emerging markets in 2013-14, QNB said.

united states euro area

0 -2








-4 -6

Grin and bear it,

Traffic Dept says

S Destination CERN Qatar could become an associate member of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in two years, Dr Othmane Bouhali, Research Associate Professor and Director of Research Computing at Texas A&M University at Qatar, told an English daily. Speaking on the sidelines of a high-energy physics workshop at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, he said: “It is the right time, as we have a momentum in research in Qatar. The visiting professors from CERN are here to understand and appreciate the research initiatives in Qatar and help provide us with the means to join the organisation.”

20 > qatar today > november 2013

peaking to an English daily, the Director of the Traffic Department advised residents to put up with roadworks and the resulting traffic jams for a while, as short-term solutions would not work for this congestion. “You need to be patient,” said Brigadier Mohamed Saad Al Kharji. “Traffic jams need long-term solutions. Once the mega public transport projects are completed, the situation would improve.” No timetable was given for completion of the projects, though. He also said that the current restrictions on issuing driving licences to certain categories of foreign workers will be lifted once the development projects are over.

business>bank notes Qatar Finance Minister HE Ali Shareef Al Emadi and Qatar Central Bank Governor HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani led a delegation of Qatari banks which hosted a reception during the IMF and the World Bank Group’s annual meetings in Washington on October 12. The reception was aimed at promoting the State of Qatar and its robust financial sector whilst building long-term relationships with industry leaders around the world.

Real estate Qatar’s economy loans touch sustains growth momentum QR80 billion Qatar’s economy continued to maintain its strong growth momentum in H1 2013 in Q2 of 2013, according to QNB Group. Qatar’s real GDP expanded at a robust 6% pace (year-on-year), spurred by double-digit growth in construction, transport and communication, and financial, real estate and business services.


he economy expanded at a similar pace in Q1 of 2013, according to revised figures. QNB Group expects real GDP growth to accelerate during the second half of the year (reaching 6.5% for the full year) and into 2014 (6.8%), as the implementation of large infrastructure

Sorce: Qatar Statistics Authority (Qsa) And Qnb Group Analysis

qatar real gdp growth by sector (% change year-on-year, q2 2012 - q2 2013) 18.0

Qatar Gas Industry




Real Gdp

12.0 10.0 8.0 6.0





q1 13

q2 13


4.0 2.0 0.0 q2 12

q3 12

q4 12

22 > qatar today > november 2013

projects accelerates and higher population boosts aggregate demand. The oil and gas sector only expanded by 1% year-on-year in Q2 2013, reflecting the moratorium on further exploration of the North Field. On the other hand, financial, real estate, and business services was the fastest-growing sector (15.4% year-onyear), as banking intermediation accelerated and real estate services were boosted by the growing population. Construction activity accelerated (11.4% year-on-year) as Qatar’s infrastructure development programme is gathering momentum. In addition, manufacturing grew by 6.4%, boosted by production from the new Pearl gas-toliquids (GTL) facilities. The acceleration in economic activity in the second half of 2013 is expected to be driven by the implementation of additional large infrastructure projects like the Doha Metro Rail project. The key driver of growth will therefore continue to be the non-hydrocarbon sector at least until 2015, when the Barzan gas project is expected to start production.

The real estate sector loan book in Qatar touched QR80 billion at the end of the first half of 2013.


he country’s contract financing sector loan book reached QR19bn during the period, says Doha Bank Group Chief Executive Officer Dr R Seetharaman. “The Qatari contract financing sector has been growing steadily at the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27% between 2005 and 2012 and is set to benefit hugely from the World Cup-related infrastructure spending,” he told the latest issue of The Banker magazine. Dr Seetharaman says Doha Bank has a market share of 8.9% of the total real estate sector loan book in Qatar. The loans portfolio is approximately 90% on completed real estate projects and the remaining 10% on greenfield or under construction. The bank has a 29.8% market share in the contract financing. He says the second phase of Doha Bank’s capital increase will lift real estate lender limits and in general allow for an expansion of the loan book in Qatar and the GCC with a further strengthened capital position.


Malcolm Ford & Max Snow make culture. #GapLove

business> bank notes

QIB climbs in the Banker’s latest rankings of World’s Top 1,000 Banks

Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) has jumped 35 positions in The Banker magazine’s latest ranking of the world’s top 1,000 banks. QIB now stands at 316, compared with its previous position of 351, ranked as the best Islamic bank in Qatar and also the third biggest bank in the country. The Banker’s Top 1,000 World Banks ranking tracks the largest bank holding companies based on Tier 1 capital as at the end of 2012. Foreign-owned banks are not tracked in the main ranking, though foreign-owned subsidiaries are included in the country breakdown if their Tier 1 would be large enough for them to feature in the top 1,000. Among the Islamic banks in the MENA region, QIB was ranked sixth, the seventhhighest mover over the past year, and the highest mover in Qatar, with a 21.54% change to its Tier 1 capital, representing QR9,284 million (USD2,550 million).

third quarter results The first three quarters of 2013 have been uneventful for most Qatari banks, which registered profits during the period. Following are the results of four banks, including one Islamic bank, for the nine months ending September 30. Only Qatar Islamic Bank reported a 12.4% drop in third-quarter net profit. The bank made a net profit of QR345.1 million ($94.8 million) in the three months to September 30, compared with QR393.9 million in the same period a year ago, it said in a bourse statement.

Net profit / Growth in % 24 > qatar today > november 2013

business>oil&gas Second Doha Carbon and Energy Forum in November


rganised jointly by Qatar Foundation, Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil Qatar, the DCEF will provide a platform for a select panel of experts to discuss challenges revolving around energy efficiency, climate change, carbon capture and storage and solar energy in Qatar and the wider region. Saif-Al Naimi, DCEF Steering Committee Chair and Director of Health,

The Doha Carbon and Energy Forum’s (DCEF)'s steering committee has officially announced that the forum will be held in Qatar between November 11 and 13. Safety and Environment Regulations and Enforcement Directorate at Qatar Petroleum said during the announcement: “This year’s DCEF will bring together participants from global academia and industry to debate and explore practical ways to advance research and development and discuss policy and regulatory frameworks, and industrial applications in these four key fields.”

Qatar Petroleum’s global mission

QP has unveiled its new corporate vision which focuses on a strong international presence while bringing home the maximum benefits for Qatar.


eld under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, the special ceremony commenced with the mission statement being announced by Energy Minister and QP Chairman HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada, stating that QP aims “to be a world-class oil and gas corporation, with its roots in Qatar, and a strong international presence.” Issa Shahin Al-Ghanim, Director of Strategic Planning and Policy at QP, reiterated the above while also saying: “Our mission is to ensure that Qatar receives maximum benefit from its oil and gas resources by engaging in activities that add value to these resources.”

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Doing what we do best The eighth Doha International Oil and Gas Exhibition witnessed the participation of more than 90 exhibitors from 20 countries.


he Doha Exhibition Centre was brimming with industry giants from across the world exhibiting some of the new technologies and innovations that have given the sector new momentum in recent years. Hosted and sponsored by Qatar Petroleum, the four-day exhibition featured several interactive workshops and expert talks on the latest products and issues that face the oil and gas industry today. These were also open to all school and university students. The event was formally inaugurated on October 8 by HE Dr Mohammed bin Saleh-Al Sada, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry.

business > realty check

Qatar ranked third in GCC construction market in 2012

Qatar was the third most active country in the GCC construction market in 2012, with QR37.85 billion (USD10.4 billion) worth of contracts awarded, according to the Deloitte GCC Powers of Construction 2013 report.

SWOT analysis of Qatar’s construction sector Strengths • Construction of large-scale transport infrastructure projects is under way, a move that will ease the strain on existing infrastructure. • A number of international companies operate in the country, which is open to international private-sector involvement. Weaknesses • There is just a single mode of overland transport (roads). • Much of the transport infrastructure is nearing maximum capacity. • Power generation infrastructure is strained. Opportunities • Qatar is developing its non-oil sector, thereby supporting infrastructure development. • Hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup should yield considerable contracts across the construction and infrastructure sectors.


he report, quoting the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED), says transport infrastructure dominated Qatar’s construction sector, with four of the five biggest contracts in 2012 awarded for major transport projects.MEED estimates the total value of projects planned or underway in Qatar at QR808.1 billion ($222 billion) at present. In terms of contract awards, the UAE replaced Saudi Arabia as the GCC’s largest

construction market in 2012 with a little over QR57 billion ($16.2 billion), 4% more than the QR54 billion ($15.6 billion) of contracts awarded in Saudi Arabia. This is the first time since 2008 that Saudi Kingdom has not recorded the largest value of construction awards in the region. Kuwait was the fourth most active construction market in 2012, with QR29 billion ($8 billion) worth of deals awarded.

Threats • Demand for Qatar’s luxury commercial and residential sectors is still weak as a result of the global downturn, which may in turn threaten existing and planned projects. • Contract disputes between Ashghal and Bilfinger Berger may lead to the perception that there are regulatory uncertainties.

QF wins Cityscape award

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development has won this year’s prestigious Cityscape Award for Emerging Markets in the Residential (Built) Project category, for its sustainable male and female student housing.


he award was presented to Qatar Foundation representatives at a ceremony held in the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai. The Student Housing Project, which is located within the Qatar Foundation campus in Doha, was chosen from amongs a high volume of impressive entries spanning the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

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Qatar Foundation President Saad-Al Muhannadi expressed delight that the project had garnered international recognition and highlighted the importance of implementing more environmentally-sustainable dsigns. “We are honoured to receive this award among such an excellent group of submissions. This is a reflection of the outstanding commitment and teamwork that has gone into making this sustainable housing project a reality,” he said.

Mshreib Properties bags award for Sustainability Msheireb Properties won the award for Sustainability for its flagship project Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) at the Cityscape Awards for Emerging Markets 2013 held in Dubai. MDD won the award based on a number of criteria, including innovation, strategy of the project, design, quality and sensitivity to the surrounding environment and community.

business > viewpoint


energy sector in transition

The economies of the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are growing rapidly, and so is their demand for energy. In a bid to reduce dependence on oil imports, a number of countries have laid out alternative strategies, a move that could affect hydrocarbonexporting countries in the Gulf, among them Qatar, which is currently setting up a huge liquefied natural gas hub in Singapore in cooperation with the city state to supply the ASEAN region. Energy mix in ASEAN





Solar energy

Hydroelectric energy

Geothermal energy

Nuclear energy

gigawatts of solar power by 2021

megawatts of hydroelectric energy by 2020

of energy demand by 2025

nuclear plants by 2030





ast and Southeast Asia will see the highest energy demand in the period up to 2035, according to the International Energy Agency, as many developing countries in the region have made great steps towards industrialisation, and many of them will need external resources to meet their rising domestic demand for power. Thus, diversity in energy supply and an expanded energy mix will become more important in the future for a number of reasons. Following is an overview of current energy trends in ASEAN countries. Thailand Thailand has recently increased its com-

30 > qatar today > november 2013


mitment to solar energy investments by 50%, pledging to get 25% of the country’s total energy demand from renewable sources in the long run. Thai officials recently announced plans for a new feed-in tariff and are aiming to install 3 gigawatts of solar power plants by 2021. That solar energy investment would be part of a greater goal to hit almost 14 gigawatts of renewable energy, including wind, biomass and hydropower, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Energy. That’s one of the most aggressive national renewable energy portfolios in the world. The country’s aggressive feed-in tariff system has been effectively encouraging solar development since 2006. Thailand installed more than

1 gigawatt of solar between 2006 and 2010 and has contracts for another 2 gigawatts in various stages of development. The new goal requires significant investment in distributed solar projects. That lofty goal is a big increase from the previously stated goal of 9.2 gigawatts. Laos Hydroelectric power is one of the biggest natural resources in Laos, and it is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years. Laos has an exceptionally high annual rainfall and a mountainous terrain, which together are a perfect combination for hydropower generation. Laos is the only net exporter of power in the Mekong Region and has been dubbed the “Battery of Asia”, exporting electricity to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The Mekong River and its tributaries in Laos have an estimated 20,000 megawatts of potential hydropower capacity, according to the Asian Development Bank. By comparison, the largest hydroelectric power station in the world is the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, China, which has a generating capacity of 22,500 megawatts. While the Three Gorges Dam generates an incredible amount of electricity in one massive power station, Laos is attempting to do so with many smaller ones combined into one power grid. In fact, Laos could build as many as 70 new dams over the next decade. As of 2011, only 2,570 megawatts of Laos’s 20,000 megawatts hydropower capacity had been developed. There are 12 dam projects currently under construction, which should bring Laos’s hydropower output to around 8,100 megawatts by 2020. The majority of this power is slated to be exported to Thailand and Vietnam. But the Lao government has also set the goal of ensuring that 90% of Laotian homes have electricity by 2020, up from around 60% today. Indonesia Due to the volcanic geology of Indonesia, geothermal energy plays an increasingly important role in the energy mix of the nation. Geothermal energy is a relatively environment-friendly energy source that is derived from the earth’s inner heat. Water that is pumped into the earth is collected at the earth’s surface in the form of steam, which can be used to drive turbines for the production of electricity. However, exploration costs and the capital cost of the geothermal plant are higher than plants that run on fossil fuels. But once in use, production costs are low compared with

fossil fuel-fired plants. Besides electricity generation, geothermal energy can be used for heat pumps, bathing, space heating, greenhouses, aquaculture and industrial processes. According to the International Geothermal Association, Indonesia ranks third in geothermal energy production behind the US and the Philippines, having created about 1,197 megawatts in energy from geothermal sources in 2012. Indonesia is estimated to contain the world’s largest geothermal energy reserves. Around 40% of total global potential in geothermal energy is located beneath Indonesian soil. The development of Indonesia’s geothermal energy potential is important, as the country’s electricity demand will increase by around 8% annually. Indonesia is estimated to have more than 29,000 megawatts of potential geothermal power. Currently, the country has one of the lowest electrification rates (66% ) in Asia, implying that there are around 80 million Indonesians not yet connected to the nation’s electricity grid. The government intends to raise the role of renewable energy sources in increasing the electrification rate and has set the ambitious target that by 2025 renewable sources will account for 25% of domestic energy demand. Around 17% is intended to be supplied by geothermal energy. Vietnam Vietnam badly needs to develop new power sources because its domestic coal and hydropower production is levelling off. The country is set to be a net energy importer by 2015. The Asian Development Bank has said domestic electricity demand may rise by up to 14% per year until 2015 and plateau at 11% annual growth until 2020, fuelled by a rising middle class that demands air conditioning and other energy-intensive creature comforts. Thus, Vietnam is pressing ahead with Southeast Asia’s most ambitious civilian nuclear energy programme. Foreign companies and governments are competing to get a toehold in an industry that could be worth $50 billion by 2030. These plans received a boost in mid-October with the announcement that the US and Vietnam had signed an agreement allowing US firms to develop civilian nuclear power in the country. Although no plants are under construction yet, Russian and Japanese investors are in the lead, with one project each. South Korean and American firms are following on their competitors’ heels. The country plans no fewer than ten nuclear power plants by 2030

By Arno Maierbrugger

dr arno MAIERBRUGGER is Editor-in-Chief of www. investvine.com, a news portal focusing on Southeast Asian economic topics as well as trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the GCC. Investvine.com updates its clients on current business news and financial market data and publishes interviews with prominent business people as well as government officials. The related website www. insideinvestor.com is currently being developed as an online platform connecting investors with investment opportunities. qatar today > november 2013 > 31

news bites > regional

32 > qatar today > november 2013

Deliverance Cameramen and photographers take images, from the top of a building, of Muslim pilgrims performing the Friday prayer at Mecca's Grand Mosque, on October 11, 2013, as hundreds of thousands of Muslims poured into the holy city of Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory once in a lifetime for all Muslims provided they are physically fit and financially capable. AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE

qatar today > november 2013 > 33

business > viewpoint

Winning the Mobile Government Game

Mobile technology, such as smartphones and tablets linked to social media, is fundamentally changing the way that people interact and process information. The adoption rates for mobile technology in the GCC are truly astounding.

34 > qatar today > november 2013


martphone penetration is now at 73.8% in the UAE, more than any other country in the world, and rates in Saudi Arabia are above 70%. At the same time, prices for mobile technology are falling fast–witnessing Apple’s recent iPhone 5c launch, with a purchase price of just $99 (QR360) in the US (with a contract). Increasingly, mobile is the platform of choice to reach customers. Because of these shifts, many private-sector companies have fully embraced mobile apps, yetsome governments in the GCC region are slow to make a full and impactful move in that direction. Instead, they still rely on e-government portals–large and complex websites with links to every government service, making them difficult to navigate (and virtually impossible to use on smartphones). This is a missed opportunity. As mobile technologies become more popular, governments must catch up to the

mobile game if they are to remain relevant to their citizens. Mobile apps offer several big advantages over web-based e-government portals. They are designed to perform a set of very specific functions, making them simpler and more intuitive to use (the best apps require no instruction or guidance). In addition, mobile apps can take advantage of the features that are now standard on smartphones, like GPS and video cameras, giving them greater functionality. By helping deliver government services more efficiently and effectively, apps can generate real financial savings. They allow governments to reduce reliance on costly channels (such as in-person service counters) and less popular ones (such as kiosks). Mobile e-government apps can also lead to improved revenue collection, for example by spurring citizens to pay their bills on time. There are broader socioeconomic

benefits as well. As the world becomes increasingly digitised and mobile, a push to build a digital ecosystem can increase a region’s technological prowess and create jobs in a high-growth field. The UAE government has recognised this shift and is now seeking to offer all government services through mobile applications by 2014. For example, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development recently created a business registration and licensing app, that allows start-up companies to reserve trade names, renew business licences and inquire about the status of fines, all through a smart phone or tablet. Qatar is increasingly investing to build up its IT landscape, through existing organisations like ictQatar, and mobile government apps must be a component of that effort. In developing mobile e-government apps, however, policymakers should keep the primary objective in mind: rather than just launching a high volume of apps as rapidly as possible, they should aim to create well-designed apps that spur citizens and other customers (such as tourists and businesses) to connect more frequently and directly. Engagement is critical. How best to achieve this? Governments can borrow approaches that have already proved successful in private-sector apps. Specifically, three mechanisms have a proven track record in driving engagement among mobile apps. First, loyalty programmes, also known as affinity programmes, offer incentives that reward customers and citizens for frequently accessing e-services through apps. For example, participants who use a government bill-payment app may be eligible for a prize draw. Bahrain’s Electricity and Water Authority recently ran a promotion in which citizens who paid online through an app were eligible to win a refund on their bill. Discounts are another type of loyalty incentive–citizens who pay a number of bills online can qualify for a reduced payment. Other loyalty programmes offer points for transactions (similar to airline miles) and let citizens redeem them after reaching a certain threshold. A second mechanism to increase engagement with mobile e-government apps is gamification. The aim is to introduce a sense of fun to seemingly mundane tasks, tapping into the psychological drive in people to pursue rewards, achieve goals, advance to higher status levels and compete. Gamification has already been applied successfully to mobile apps in other areas, such as weight-loss and fitness apps, which

reward users after they have achieved goals. In the government services realm, mobile apps can apply the same principles. For example, citizens could gain points by using an app to pay bills (and gain more points for paying on time), report local issues such as faulty traffic lights, refer their friends to digital services, and post feedback about their experience with government. Conversely, they could lose points for negative behaviours like late payments or traffic violations. Third, social media is a key mechanism for governments to engage with the public, in part because it is growing so rapidly. Facebook now has more than 1.15 billion users globally. LinkedIn has roughly 238 million, and Twitter has close to 500 million. In the UAE, approximately 1.8 million people follow HH Sheikh Mohammed, and his Facebook page has 831,000 “likes”. In Qatar, 34% of the population is on Facebook and over 15,000 follow ictQatar on Twitter. In the context of e-government apps, social media is not an aspect that functions in isolation. Instead, it can be layered onto the other two mechanisms–loyalty programmes and gamification–to make them even more engaging. For example, users could post Facebook updates regarding their e-government app usage, or share opinions regarding the app with their friends. Governments can also use social media-based apps to let citizens vote on priorities. Developing apps at this level of sophistication requires skills that some government entities may not possess, such as writing advanced code, applying game principles (including psychology) or developing payment systems. Given this challenge, governments should consider developing an ecosystem that leverages the power of central government, the expertise of sectoral agencies, and the capabilities of the private sector. Critically, governments can spur innovation by making their data more accessible, allowing the private sector to build innovative apps that leverage the data (at no cost to government). These open-data initiatives would help foster a broader digital ecosystem, creating jobs and value. As mobile technology becomes more pervasive throughout the region, governments must keep pace. Mobile e-government apps are an opportunity to close the gap and deliver services in a well-designed and efficient way. If developed effectively, they will lead not only to more compelling technology but to stronger ties between governments and their constituents

By Ramez T Shehadi, Dr Raymond Khoury and Fady Kassatly, partners and principal at Booz & Company

About Booz & Company Booz & Company is a global management consulting firm involved in helping some of the world’s top businesses, government ministries and organisations. Its founder, Edwin Booz, can be said to have defined the profession when he established the first management consulting firm in 1914. Today Booz & Co. has over 3,300 people working in more than 60 offices around the world. qatar today > november 2013 > 35

business > viewpoint

Qatar’s logistics gear up for the challenge

While successes and challenges in projects related to the FIFA 2022 World Cup may be hogging the headlines globally, on the ground the focus is increasingly turning to the wide range of projects being carried out as part of Qatar’s National Vision (QNV) 2030 and the National Development Strategy (NDS). 36 > qatar today > november 2013


ith tight deadlines set, and their integral role in achieving the goals set out in QNV 2030 noted, concerns are being raised over the capacity of the local logistics infrastructure to facilitate the acquisition, storage and transfer of building materials and any number of other elements and processes crucial to the successful completion of some QR550 billion worth of projects. The recognition of the obvious need for increased logistics capacity going forward, given the recent spate of tenders and infrastructure works anticipated, seems to have had an effect on the stock prices of domestic logistics companies, who have recently been performing very well on the Qatar Ex-

change. There are still however some fundamental issues that could yet throw up further challenges to achieving development goals in the nation. QNV 2030 aims to develop a “worldclass infrastructure to create a dynamic and more diversified economy in which the private sector plays a prominent role” in order to secure the wealth of future generations long after hydrocarbons have declined. Such aims are set to be achieved by a variety of vast projects, with transport at the forefront. Major road-building and improvement projects such as the Bahrain Causeway (QR11 billion), Dukhan Highway (QR2.64 billion), Doha Expressway (QR1.6 billion), Qatar North Highway and Al Khor to Al Ruwais Road (QR2 billion each) have

been undertaken, with billions of dollars' worth more planned. A QR113 billion rail project set to be completed in four phases up to 2022, and linking Qatar with other Gulf states, is also a crucial part of this strategy, with the QR40 billion Hamad International Airport, set to open early in 2014, opening Qatar further to foreign leisure and business visitors. Other infrastructure projects include an upgrading of sewerage networks, with 30 km of main wastewater pipes and 70 km of tunnels and shafts costing an estimated QR273 billion, and a QR10 billion water reservoir project. As these primary infrastructure projects have taken shape over the past few years, a secondary wave of construction has followed, with an estimated QR61.88 billion to be spent on tourism infrastructure and many more billions to be spent on real estate projects and free-trade and industrial zones, along of course with construction of stadiums. It is this secondary wave of construction that is crucial to the diversification, job creation and long-term economic stability and sustainability that the QNV 2030 is aiming for. Despite progress so far, there are still some major issues that must be overcome to see this second wave successfully completed. One such challenge relates to the bottlenecking of resources in Qatar’s ports, notably at Doha Port, which, due to depth constraints, is not able to berth large ships, adding to congestion at present. The QR27-billion New Port project is slated to boost its import/export capacity to some 6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year from the current 1.2 million, and to boost bulk capacity, a move that looks set to alleviate this pressure but is not due for completion until 2016. This leaves open the question of how goods are going to come in to supply building materials for the forementioned projects. Similarly storage, customs clearance, distribution and other transport logistics systems are also being put under pressure. Immediate solutions to these problem must be found if projects are to be completed on time. As always with challenging situations, innovative and entrepreneurial spirits are on hand to step in; and Qatar is no different, with several local firms looking set to meet such demand by increasing capacity, efficiency, and quality of service. A number of companies have recognised the importance of logistics and supply chains for Qatar in the coming years. As

As always with challenging situations, innovative and entrepreneurial spirits are on hand to step in: and Qatar is no different, with several local firms looking set to meet such demand by increasing capacity, efficiency, and quality of service.

By Oliver Cornock Regional Editor, Oxford Business Group

Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman and Managing director of Milaha, a large local logistics firm, recently told Oxford Business Group, “without an efficient supply chain, economic growth may be slower than anticipated and stakeholders may be reluctant to commit to investments and completion milestones�. As such, firms like Milaha, Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC) and Nakilat, a major natural gas transport and marine logistics firm, are all seeking to expand their operations and overcome the various issues facing logistics in the country at the moment. GWC, for example, is set to expand its warehousing capacity into a new logistics village, as it nears 100% capacity at its existing facilities. Similarly, Milaha is in the process of developing additional warehousing, handling and distribution facilities located within easy reach of all major entry points into Qatar. Each of these projects as it comes online will help to overcome bottlenecks and supply chain issues that at present appear to be among the most significant barriers to completion of the vast array of projects being undertaken in Qatar. In some ways, the successes of progress in infrastructure projects so far are causing the main challenges currently faced by those seeking to meet the World Cup 2022 deadlines and maintain progress in other projects. On the back of the successes already seen, a second wave of construction is under way, which is adding to the strain already being put on logistics services. However, with this rise in demand having been spotted early by several firms, it appears that they will be able to provide for both the projects that are under way and those in the pipeline, not only ensuring readiness for the FIFA World Cup 2022, but also helping with the longer-term ambitions for Qatar as a nation qatar today > november 2013 > 37

affairs > international

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T h e A m e r i ca n Sp r i n g? Protesters hold placards urging the US Congress to end the federal government shutdown on October 9 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Congress finally agreed to a bill which brought a temporary end on October 17 a stand-off that had threatened to pitch the US economy into another historic default. AFP PHOTO / Michael MATHES

qatar today > november 2013 > 39

business > viewpoint

Are you a good financial role model?

BY David Russell Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Wealth Management

Parents should be open about their financial situation regardless of their status and take a hands-on approach. 40 > qatar today > november 2013


ook after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves” is an expression we’re all familiar with, and one that will resonate with many adults. The same, however, cannot be said for children, unfortunately. Recent research by the British Bankers’ Association would suggest that children have no problem spending the pennies, especially when it comes to surfing online. In a survey of 8 to 11-year-olds, findings showed that the majority are familiar with flexing their parents’ plastic, with up to 58% of children having purchased something online thanks to some three-quarters of children having access to tablets and iPads. Of the 58%, almost all had downloaded a paidfor app at some point. While this may rouse a few “awwws”, it has also roused some rather hefty bills for unsuspecting parents. New technology and the changing world we now live in mean children are faced with growing temptation and are more exposed than ever to financial activity from a surprisingly early age. It’s a world away from our parents’ generation, who had to make do with a few pennies as pocket money. But while those parents staring at larger-than-expected credit card bills might not necessarily agree, learning the ins and outs of finance and how it works at a young age is no bad thing. We might have different ideas of what makes smart financial practice, but we’re all agreed that being able to order your financial affairs is one of the most important life skills you can learn, so why refrain from teaching our future generations early on? The same research revealed that many children under the age of 11 already have their own bank accounts, long before they fully understand the concept of saving or indeed what it means to budget for purchases. Surely one cannot exist without the other? We’re faced with an onslaught of headlines screaming of a pensions crisis as longer life expectancy and a global economic crisis wreak havoc with people’s savings. Being financially savvy is something each of us – regardless of age – could benefit from, but many don’t. Instead of trying to shield our children from the world of finance, we should

be actively encouraging them to understand, learn and explore such matters. In my view, there should be much greater emphasis on financial education in schools, but we shouldn’t leave it until they reach secondary school. Financial education should start well before children start clicking away on their computers, unaware of the consequences for their parents’ bank statements. Kicking off early with tips and information on how to budget money, the importance of saving, the dangers of debt and how a bank account works would prove invaluable for their later development. But of course for education to work, parents themselves need to be good role models for their children. How many of us can say we’re truly careful with our spending habits? Especially for the expats among us, who are usually attracted to foreign shores by the lure of a tax-free salary and the flamboyant lifestyle that it buys us. Indeed, a recent article in Time Business & Money claimed that a whopping 77% of parents are not always honest with their children about money, with up to 15% lying on a weekly basis. Many parents hold back from discussing or fluff over financial matters with their children, either as a result of money being seen as an “uncomfortable” topic to broach or simply because they don’t know how to explain it. Parents should be open about their financial situation, regardless of their status, and take a hands-on approach. There’s no point sugar-coating the reality; by opening the gates, parents will encourage their children to be more financially astute in the future. From counting the pennies in their piggy banks to checking the balance of their bank accounts, letting children have some understanding and control over their finances even at a very young age will boost their confidence in handling money. Groaning in horror every time the bank statement arrives or checking your bank balance through one eye are not good financial habits for children to learn. Rather, parents should adopt a positive and sensible attitude, encouraging questions and interest among their offspring. Only by encouraging learning at a young age and setting ourselves up as good role models will we create a financially savvy future generation

development > listening post

Ringing in Change

A new Vodafone CEO has taken the reins. Expect a new STYLE of leadership. By Sindhu Nair


he new Vodafone CEO has arrived, the fourth one in the five years since the telecommunication major hit Doha shores. Given the history that trails each new arrival, we can expect a wave of change soon to blow over the organisation. Whether the change will be in its office environment (Richard Daly, the last CEO, had changed the interiors to reflect the “seriousness” of the business), a spurt of leadership talent (the enigmatic Grahame Maher, the first Vodafone CEO, touched the lives of many with his principles) or more fundamental changes within the organisation, that is the big question. An hour with Kyle Whitehill, the new CEO, and I know that Vodafone IS in for change, in many levels: a new leadership style, in making renewed partnerships work for the telecom company, in making use of the global Vodafone image to leverage even more local interest and then, of course, there is an alteration in office interiors also in the making. The first-quarter results have been optimistic and Whitehill is not anticipating a major change in the half-term results, but Vodafone employees can surely

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anticipate a change in the way the telecom company is run. Whitehill’s inspiration is Sir Alex Ferguson, former Scottish football manager and player who led Manchester United from 1986 to 2013 – the most successful manager ever, who guided the team to win 33 trophies, in 26 years. “He is from my place in Scotland,” says Whitehill. “He had played for my home soccer team and since he took over the Manchester United captaincy, his achievement or rather the teams was phenomenal. A team that had not won any titles before 1967 with his guidance went on to win so many trophies.” What Whitehill admires in Ferguson is his “bullet-proof” confidence. “His confidence in what he wants to achieve, and in the people he guides to achieve it, is phenomenal,” he says. The 1999 UEFA Champions League Final was played in Barcelona, Spain between Manchester United and Bayern Munich. The match is best remembered for Manchester United scoring two last-minute goals in injury time to win 2-1, after having trailed for most of the match. Whitehill remembers one inspiring story from

“With 1.14 million customers, 64% of the population is making a phone call on Vodafone Qatar.”

qatar today > november 2013 > 43

development > listening post

Quarterly results




Vodafone has 1,146,000 mobile customers as on 30 June.this is an increase of 31% compared with June 2012 and a 5.7% growth over the previous quarter.



growth in revenue

Quarterly revenue of QR459 million: 31% growth over the same quarter last year

QR123 92%

Mobile average revenue per user (ARPU)

an increase of 92% year-on-year on Quarterly earnings. It reached Qr99 million (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – EBITDA)



Distributable profit was QR16 million for the quarter and Net Loss was reduced to QR85 million, an improvement of 28% over the same quarter last year. 44 > qatar today > november 2013

this phenomenal win. “Three of his best players were not playing, and with just ten minutes to go and no goals scored, I was almost sure that they were in for a loss. With the game seemingly drifting away from the English side, Ferguson introduced another striker Ole Solskjaer and what happened was phenomenal,” he says. Whitehill was watching the game with his customers and rejoiced at the turn the game took. As he was leaving, he chanced upon Ferguson and some of the team members. “I said to Sir Ferguson, Wow, that was really lucky that you won. And he replied, 'What do you mean by lucky, I knew when I put my men there that they would score.'” says Whitehill, “And I thought that was very cheeky of him. But it was not. He knew that if he put the right people at the right place, they would win.” It is this confidence that Whitehill desires to imbibe, to position capable men/ women in the right places and to get the best out of them, and in effect the desired results for the telecom company. But this is not the first thing on the priority list for Whitehill; he has a few others that require his immediate attention. “Number one on the list is to build the network; number two to build the brand in Qatar. The challenge in Qatar is to continue to meet the global Vodafone equity while keeping the brand relevant to all the different segments in Qatar. I think we have done a very good job in making it relevant to the various segments of population now it is time to make our brand exciting to Qataris as well,” he says. “The third is to build on our products, services and market segments. We have a very high share of consumer mobile segments; we have a 35% share of the market but a smaller share in fixed lines and an even smaller share of the enterprise market, so clearly the job is now to build on fixed lines and also to work on businesses, which is historically Vodafone Globals’ strength," he says “The fourth on the list is consumer experience.” Whitehill likes to get a direct experience of the Vodafone market while finding out what the Company can do to make connectivity faster and flexible. And finally, “find the perfect environment in which we can embrace people from different parts of the world to create an atmosphere of creativity and productivity” is an interesting

personal challenge for Whitehill and “for the country” as well. Competition is not always good “The main challenge for Vodafone,” clarifies Whitehill, “as it is to other telecommunication companies in all GCC regions, is due to the fact that most of the telecommunications companies in the region are owned by governments and have been in monopolistic situation for decades. Each competiton that has come in has had upsides and downsides of the situation.” The upside, which all Qatari consumers have experienced, is that of choice, and which inevitably brings competition and thus a better price. The downside, according to Whitehill is that the second operator has to work very hard as people here are “slower to embrace change”. “People are loyal, and when it is the government that provides them their telecommunication needs, it becomes difficult to forge customers away towards a newer experience. So we would be optimistic on a longer-term basis to be a credible supplier of telecom needs,” he says. But even then, with technology availability, there should be more choice, which Whitehill notes is not the case at present. “It becomes extremely frustrating to know your customer’s needs but not be able to provide for it due to the industry structure at the moment. Thus it becomes difficult for Vodafone Qatar to answer consumer needs in certain areas as fibre is being deployed by someone else in certain areas,” says Whitehall, expressing his displeasure at certain existing rules within the telecom sector that effectively clips the organisation’s efficacy. To cloak his criticism he quips: “The city is already dug up and there is not much space for more digging (for fibre networks).” Giving a more detailed explanation on the fibre networking that is being rolled out, Whitehill says, “There are three elements in the fibre network. There is already a nice big backbone of fibre network we have, so we can run the digital traffic, the voice traffic over the network, the next is the large corporates, and we do that with our partners QNBN, and we have already connected 30 of the 49 main towers and should finish it all by end of March next year. But the third and the most challenging and also the most expensive of the fibre connectivity is to physically connect to all

individual homes.” Vodafone has already given fibre connectivity to Barwa City and The Pearl, but Whitehill would love to provide more homes with this high-tech solution, even though the economies are quite challenging. Network OK? Vodafone has always been on the receiving end of complaints on connectivity and network issues. How will Vodafone clear this reputation that precedes it? Why has Vodafone has still not been able to improve on its network issues is a nagging doubt that consumers may harbour. Whitehill throws light on this. “Networks are judged by physical coverage and by the quality of service,” he says, “Physical coverage across the country has already been achieved, with Vodafone covering almost the same percentage of geographic areas that Ooredoo covers with just a small percentage left of the desert coverage and that will be done before the winter session begins.” On the coverage issue, Whitehill feels that Vodafone has filled all gaps. The quality debate goes on, though. “There are no call drops, time for set-up is the same as the competitor, and the signal strength is also very relative,” feels Whitehall. Indoor coverage can be improved, he agrees but Whitehill feels that the quality debate is more perception-based, as the scenario has completely changed from the initial issues any consumer might have faced with Vodafone. “With the huge technological advancements made, we are way above criticism,” he stresses, adding: “Now what we need is for people to try us out and understand this. It is difficult to break a habit.” And changing perceptions is indeed a huge challenge. “Most people have two SIM cards here but they just don’t use Vodafone as much as they do Ooredoo,” he says, “And it is not a price issue for Qataris but an issue of trust which we have to work on.” But Whitehill has some innovations up his sleeve that will be brought out only by the beginning of December and then he promises “something very big in March”. Innovations for Vodafone With most Qataris travelling to London, Vodafone UK is their preferred telecom there and it is frustrating for Whitehall

that they opt for the global brand while travelling but go back to the competition in their country. And then there is the Passport facility that was introduced by Ooredoo to the country, with Vodafone Qatar launching it in July 2012, which made connectivity much easier while travelling. But Whitehill clarifies that this Passport facility was introduced by Vodafone in the the UK to give its customers a roaming experience while they travelled around the EU. So he sees it as a clear case of regional competition walking away with a product that was introduced by Vodafone Global. Now Whitehill wants to use this global network that Vodafone has to bring something unique to customers in Qatar who travel to the UK regularly:“It is an exciting opportunity to exploit the Vodafone global presence.” Vodafone enjoys a 35% share of the market and to reach parity with its strong competitor seems like almost an impossible task. “Realistically when you have a strong competitor, it takes a long time to reach there, but with positive economic conditions and with increasing population, the market will inevitably grow. We can take a bigger share of the corporate sector with the huge growth seen in businesses, the opening of the new port, Valley City etc,” he says. Leadership rules Whitehill loves diversity in his workplace, just as Vodafone Qatar is known globally for its diverse culture. He has already hired his first Qatari employee to join his strategic team, Dalia Al-Khalaf, Strategy Director, and says, “There is a whole new dimension to the work place when you have a Qatari in your team.” For someone who has travelled and worked across continents, Whitehill is not new to diversity nor to working in different environments. He has some qualities to take away from each of his sojourns in his career. From the UK, he has imbibed discipline, “the right way to do things, a structured, predictable and professional way to doing business”; from India he has gained confidence, “to be fast-paced with the need for customer-focused, dynamic, and get a strong sense of what is happening every day”; and in Ghana, he learned, as in other emerging economies, to bring your sensibilities to work, “to create boundaries for your organisation to work under”

Kyle Whitehill was the Chief Executive Officer for Vodafone Ghana from June 2010 to June 2013. Under his leadership, Vodafone Ghana became the second largest telecom operator in Ghana and grew the subscriber base from 2 million to over 5 million. In February 2008 he moved to Vodafone India as Chief Operating Officer. During his his time in this role, the subscriber base of Vodafone India’s business grew from 47 million to over 100 million.

qatar today > november 2013 > 45

cover story

Qatari banks are

flexing their muscles

46 > qatar today > november 2013

Qatar’s favourable macroeconomic operating environment is emboldening several locally listed banks to look at global opportunities and expand their offshore operations. By V L SRINIVASAN qatar today > november 2013 > 47

coverstory > banking

gcc banking sector asset growth to end-June 2013 (% GROWTH YEAR-ON -YEAR)








Source: QCB and QNB Group analysis.

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anks in Qatar are in expansion mode. Despite creditors in several countries in Europe and Asia experiencing economic slowdown in the recent past, the Qatari banks, buoyed by rising profits and political stability, are spreading their wings in a quest for global growth. The domestic banks have witnessed robust asset growth in the past decade and are keen to expand their overseas operations to other countries, particularly in the emerging markets, eyeing mergers and acquisitions leveraging their strong capital base and liquidity position as global banking asset prices are relatively attractive. Compared with the low borrowing rates in Qatar, the interest rates on loans offered to consumers are more than double in some countries like Egypt and Turkey, which is another reason for the domestic banks to step up their offshore activities. While the rate of interest charged by the Qatari banks is 4.5%, the corresponding figures in Turkey and Egypt are 9% and 10.25% respectively. Besides improving their businesses, the Qatari banks are also expected to strengthen their beachheads outside the country and liaise with foreign investors looking to expand their businesses into the growing Middle East markets and facilitate investments, particularly in Qatar. The growth of the domestic banks is being driven by ongoing infrastructure projects costing billions of dollars, which provide ample credit opportunities for the next ten years. Even the growth of non hydrocarbons sector has been instrumental in the healthy business activities of the domestic banks in the last few years. The main drivers of the Qatari banks’ growth have been domestic assets, comprising credit (71%) and investment (21%) ; and the conventional banks account for the largest share of assets (72%). The contribution of the banking sector to the economy continues to expand, with the ratio of total banking assets to GDP increasing from 97% in 2008 to 127% in June 2013. A look at the revenues and balance sheets of these banks reveals that they are strong and likely to continue to grow in the coming years. The total assets of these banks grew at a rate of 18.4% in the year to June 2013. (see infograph). In fact total assets of the domestic banks increased more than eight times – from

around QR100 billion in 2002 to around QR877.25 billion at the end of June 2013, during the past decade (see infograph). Likewise, deposits increased by 41% to reach QR535 billion by the end of the first half of this year, compared with QR212 billion in 2008, and credit facilities by 15%. Even the profits of Qatari banks have increased along with assets, reaching QR8.74 billion ($2.4 billion) in the first half of 2013, 9% higher than the same period in 2012. The Non–performing loans (NPLs) were as low as 1.7% of total loans at the end of 2012. “The NPLs have been kept down by strong government support, which stepped in to purchase bad real estate loans and equity portfolios from banks following the 2008-09 financial crisis,” Qatar National Bank (QNB) said in a report entitled "Qatar Economic Insight 2013". European banks like National Societe Generale Bank (NSGB), Lloyds TSB, Barclays and BNP Paribas, which focused on mergers and acquisitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for many years, have been retreating from the region, either by selling them to other lenders or by winding up their operations and concentrating on consolidating balance sheets in their respective domestic markets. On the other hand, banks in the GCC, particularly the Qatari banks, which insulated themselves from the global liquidity crunch as they never depended on foreign capital for funding, are awash not only with liquidity but also with renewed confidence. In view of these tailwinds, the local banks want to make their presence felt globally and try to fill the gap created by those international banks. Local commercial lenders like QNB, Doha Bank, Ahli Bank and Commercial Bank have already started operations in other countries, and their overseas assets registered growth of 9.5% between 2008 and 2011. The overseas assets of the listed banks in Qatar increased from QR81.54 billion ($22.4 billion) to nearly QR107.02 billion ($29.4 billion) during the same period, the QNB report says. (see infograph). Of this, QNB, with a presence in more than two dozen countries, has the lion’s share with 67.3% as of 2011, while the remaining assets are shared by other banks. With the acquisition of NSGB in Egypt and the opening of the offices in India and China in the last six months, QNB’s international assets have risen further in 2013. Doha Bank, which has already opened representative offices and branches in

expected to grow by 6.5% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2014, according to the QNB report, and lending growth is projected to be around 20% as the contribution of the banking sector during the same period. Latest reports suggest that the real GDP of Qatar in the first half of 2013 was pegged at 6%, depicting the country’s positive macroeconomic operating environment where leading banks would continue to flourish. However, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) issued a circular imposing limits on financial investments, both locally and overseas, by the Qatari banks a few months ago. According to the circular, investments by these banks have been brought down from 30% to 25% of capital and reserves, and investments made outside Qatar, it have been limited to 15% of total securities. This is aimed at ensuring the local banks invest more in the government debt market in Qatar to bolster the country’s financial sector, whose finance requirements are huge in view of the ongoing infrastructure projects like construction of hotels, stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, Education City, Lusail City and the Doha Metro project, rather than parking the funds in global markets. In another directive, the QCB prohibited conventional banks from offering Islamic banking products to their customers also led to concede their business to the four Islamic banks in the country. The domestic banks have been offering Islamic banking services since 2005. These have included QNB Al Islami, Al Safa by Commercial Bank, Doha Islamic, Ahli Islamic, and Yusr by International Bank of Qatar. While one view is that the ban-hit domestic banks stepped up their global operations to regain lost ground, Engin feels that the expanding overseas operations need not necessarily be linked to Islamic banking and the QCB’s regulation banning the conventional banks from operating “Islamic windows”. “The Qatari banks’ plans seem to be driven more by structural issues such as the limited bankable population in Qatar versus the large populations in some of the countries of acquisition such as Turkey,” he says. Similar to some other GCC banks, certain Qatari banks have been showing interest in these banking assets. Qatar’s bankable population is very limited and markets such as Turkey and Egypt, with their large populations and relatively limited banking penetrations offer long–term growth opportuni-


2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 end June 2013 0






Source: qatar central bank

overseas assets of local listed banks (2008-11) ($ billion, % share and Compounded Annual Growth Rate shown)


% 29.4 %


22.4 %


67.3% 55.8%


2008 QNB


Source: QCB and Bankscope

Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Turkey, the UK and Canada, is planning to expand its global footprint to Sharjah, Hong Kong, India and Saudi Arabia to “generate new growth in promising markets”. The Commercial Bank of Qatar acquired a 70.84% stake in Alternatifbank (ABank) in Turkey recently, and its chairman HE Abdullah bin Khalifa Al–Attiyah says: “Turkey is a key growth market for Commercial Bank, and ABank represents a strategic entry-point to Turkey’s fast-expanding banking sector.” The return on equity for this investment is expected to be around 15% per annum. Dubai-based Standard & Poor’s Associate Director (CEEMEA Financial Services Ratings) Fevzi Timucin Engin says there are two separate trends in the overall expansion of the GCC banks overseas. While one is expansion of activities in Asia, the other is recent acquisitions by the Qatari and other GCC banks in regional emerging markets. Similar to the overall trend for GCC – based banks, certain Qatari banks are also establishing small branches and representative offices in Asia to capitalise on the increasing trade flow between the GCC and the Asia–Pacific region. “It is important to note that for most GCC banks this is an expansion limited to opening a few branches or representative offices in other countries and the focus is on transactional banking, whereas we do not see large balance-sheet expansion such as opening a very large number of branches or acquiring sizeable assets of the existing local players. We observe particular interest by the GCC banks for Singapore and Hong Kong, as these two cities are major trade finance centres in the Asian continent, allowing the banks to tap into these trade finance markets,” Engin says. Since the Qatari banks are expected to benefit from the country’s expansion plans, many have already tapped the debt capital markets abroad this year to raise cash for long-term lending and are also keen to continue their overseas business next year. “We also expect the credit growth in Qatar to remain strong over the visible future in line with the large–sized infrastructure investments, and given our outlook on credit growth we expect to continue to see the Qatari banks remain important issuers of bonds and sukuk in the GCC markets,” Engin says. The confidence of Qatari banks stems from the fact that the country’s real GDP is

qatar today > november 2013 > 49

coverstory > banking

"We also expect the credit growth in Qatar to remain strong over the visible future in line with the large-sized infrastructure investments, and given our outlook on credit growth we expect to continue to see the Qatari banks remain important issuers of bonds and sukuk in the GCC markets.” Fevzi Timucin Engin Associate Director (CEEMEA Financial Services Ratings), Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services

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ties, Engin adds. While Qatar’s population crossed the two million mark only a month ago and its addressable banking population is around 400,000, the domestic banks are being attracted by the population in emerging markets like Turkey and Egypt, which have 74 million and around 81 million people respectively. The prospects of doing retail banking in countries such as India and China are brighter than in Qatar due to the huge prospective customer base in those countries. While China’s GDP growth is said to be more than 7.5%, that of India has been hovering around 5% in the current fiscal year. Indian central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan told a gathering at the recent IMF and World Bank annual meetings that as part of banking reforms, his country would issue fresh guidelines relaxing the norms further in allowing foreign banks to start their operations, including mergers and acquisitions, soon. As of September 30, 2013, there were only 43 foreign banks operating in India. The Kuwait-based Global Research, in its report issued a few months ago, says that from the valuation standpoint and based on the analysis of four key parameters –Net Interest Margin (NIM), Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR), Return on Equity (ROE), and Price-to-Book Value (PBV) ratio – Turkey and Indonesia, which are said to be trading at low valuation levels, are potential target markets for Qatari banks, which are keen on expanding their reach by acquiring quality assets. “Qatari banks are exposed to lack of major trigger in the domestic market this year as public sector remains the major driver for loan growth. Under these circumstances, we remain highly optimistic that the acquisitions are likely to be the key agenda for Qatari banks to propel their loan book growth. Qatari banks are all set to capitalise on their firm capital base and strong liquidity positions by tapping growth opportunities in the MENA region and other emerging markets in 2013. Our argument draws further strength from the fact that banks in the MENA region are trading at historically low valuation levels, which make acquisitions more lucrative,” the report says. But what has come as a big boost to the Qatari banking sector is the government’s decision to take up infrastructure projects totalling around QR550 billion ($150 billion) during the run-up to the 2022 World Cup. Global rating agency Moody’s expects

the government’s extensive infrastructure investment programme will boost the Qatari banks’ business opportunities in the coming months and lead to lending growth of between 20% and 25%. The agency also says that the Qatari banks’ 2013 bottom-line profitability metrics will remain broadly stable, with the return-on-average-assets ratio ranging between 2.2% and 2.4%. Higher lending volumes, low provisioning requirements and banks’ low cost bases will support the system’s overall profitability. “However, the banks’ net interest margins will decline, due to the regulator’s imposition of interest-rate caps on retail lending and banks’ increased exposure to lower-yielding project finance lending,” the rating agency said six months ago. In fact, Mashreq Bank has already teamed up with three others banks – Barwa Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank and Union National Bank – to form a consortium and lend QR2.11 billion to one of the successful bidders for the Red line North underground section of the Qatar Rail project. This is expected to further accelerate the growth of the sector in the coming years. According to Deloitte Qatar's Director Milhan Baig, over 60 banking transactions have been completed and publicly an-

nounced across the Middle East, and more than 10 of these were in the last two years. “Qatari banks are becoming increasingly keen to improve this statistic and are seeking out strategic opportunities to engage in cross-border acquisitions. This highlights their strengthening liquidity and increasing loan and deposit volumes, combined with more tactical planning,” he says. Better liquidity, good ratings and improving profitability for banks in Qatar and the GCC has two implications. “While it provides a better sense of security to the banks’ customers and investors, making them a somewhat ‘desirable’ bidder for transactions, it also helps in increasing positive returns and portrays a healthy economic climate which may in part support wider foreign direct investment interests in the GCC and Qatar,” Baig adds. “Many parts of the world have suffered from economic recession or a slowdown in growth in recent years," says Ross Officer, the newly-appointed Country Head of Mashreq Bank in Qatar. "In addition to that, many banks globally are being forced either to raise extra capital or downsize their balance sheets to meet the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) standards and to provide for loan losses. As a result of all of these factors, asset prices

have been knocked down, and some banks, especially those in developed countries, are willing sellers of various parts of their businesses. In these circumstances, the expansion by Qatari banks into some markets and/or acquisition of banks in developing markets can make a lot of sense.” The global expansion, that many Qatari banks are engaging in, makes sense in terms of risk diversification, and also maximising the returns on their shareholders’ funds. “Provided that they have done their homework correctly in terms of investment fundamentals, I think that the future should be good for them. My assumption is that they are opening more branches globally because they think they can make a profit on their investment, and to complement their existing networks,” Officer adds. Echoing similar feelings, Engin says: “For several years prior to the global economic crisis in late 2008, certain European banks had been acquiring or building up banking assets in emerging markets, including those in the MENA markets such as Egypt and Turkey. The banks in Europe are facing problems at home and are concentrating more on domestic markets to consolidate their position rather than looking at other countries, and within this context they have been selling some of their non-core assets

"Qatari banks are becoming increasingly keen to improve this statistic and are seeking out strategic opportunities to engage in cross-border acquisitions. This highlights their strengthening liquidity and increasing loan and deposit volumes, combined with more tactical planning.” Milhan Baig Director, Deloitte Qatar

(Note: The opinions expressed by Milhan Baig in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Deloitte & Touche Middle East.) qatar today > november 2013 > 51

coverstory > banking The Qatar National Bank (QNB) Group recently announced thaty it has raised QR5.446 billion ($1.5 billion) from a dual tranche under its Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme in the international capital markets. Under this programme, two tranches were issued on October 23, one tranche of QR2.73 billion ($750 million) with a three-year maturity, at a coupon rate of threemonth London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) + 1.25%, and another tranche of QR2.73 billion ($750 million) with a five-year maturity, at a fixed coupon rate of 2.75%. QNB said the highly successful issue reflected strong interest and participation by key global investors that led to the issuance being several times oversubscribed. The proceeds of the issue will be utilised for general banking purposes, it added. QNB’s Chief Financial Officer Ramzi Mari said in last December that the bank was looking at its international business to contribute around 40% of profit and 45% of total assets by 2017.

"Any bank will deploy its capital and funds raised where it thinks it can generate the best returns for its shareholders, within acceptable risk parameters. Competition in both the retail and corporate markets in Qatar amongst banks is strong, and I do not foresee any change in that.” Ross Officer Country Head, Mashreq Qatar

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in other markets such as Turkey and Egypt, and bank valuations are visibly lower than the pre-crisis levels.” Are the local banks trying to deploy a large chunk of the surplus funds generated by them for corporate investment rather than for retail customers? Says Officer: “Any bank, will deploy its capital and funds raised where it thinks it can generate the best returns for its shareholders, within acceptable risk parameters. Competition in both the retail and corporate markets in Qatar amongst banks is strong, and I do not foresee any change in that.” He also discounts the feeling that the Qatari banks are not bothered about the domestic retail market. “I don’t think so, as even the most global amongst the Qatari banks will never lose sight of their business in the local retail banking market. Typically, truly global banks always have a strong presence in their home markets and it is difficult to think of any banks that either ignore their home market, or lose significant market share over time. Having a global business can actually permit a bank to grow its presence in its home market,” he says. According to Officer, expats tend to prefer banks that have an international brand and can provide global services, especially in their home country. Mashreq Qatar has introduced a new offering where a customer’s bank account, ATM card and credit card are produced and delivered to their employer even before they land in the country. “The Egyptian expats living in Qatar can, without having to visit Egypt, establish a banking relationship with Mashreq Egypt and transfer funds, save in their home country, use ATM/debit cards internationally and much more,” he points out. Sounding a word of caution a report from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) says: “We believe bank capitalisation will increasingly be a constraint for Qatari banks, even though they hold healthy capitalisation versus global peers, as capital

levels continue to drop versus previous level at the same time, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is expected to decide on implementation of Basel III norms. We expect the QCB to decide on Basel III during the second half of this year. At the same time, the QCB and QNB are set to utilise a considerable portion of their excess capitalisation in M&A deals, while Doha Bank has already announced a capital raise.” But Engin feels capitalisation will not be a major issue for the Qatari banks with the introduction of Basel III norms. “We could say that we generally feel comfortable with the capital levels of the Qatari banks but we need to see how the Qatar Central Bankguides the domestic banks,” he says. The BofAML also says it expects the overall loan growth to continue. “We see two upside potential drivers for credit growth, one being a potential pick-up in 2014 ahead of a building a phase to prepare Qatar for hosting the World Cup, and the second a re-focus on local spending and development post the ruler and government transition earlier in the year,” its report says. As per Basel III norms, which aim at making the banking system across the world, including in Qatar, more resilient to deal with financial and economic stress, improve risk management and strengthen banking transparency, the banks are expected to hold common equity of 4.5% and 6% of Tier 1 capital of risk-weighted assets. While the minimum Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) should be 12% according to the Basel III norms, the Qatari banks are much ahead of the minimum level and were maintaining a healthy 18.9% at the end of December 2012, largely due to the sound fiscal position and also support from the government. This is slightly lower than the 20.6% level for Q3 2011. However, the Qatari banks are relatively well placed to manage the transition toward Basel III and meet the demands of a high-growth banking system.




"Qatari banks benefit from healthy capitalisation and strong growth momentum, supported by high confidence in the Qatari market from investors and businesses around the world." R seetharaman CEO, Doha Bank


oha Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Raghavan Seetharaman feels that the global expansion plans of the Qatari banks are justified and would be advantageous for the country on many counts, such as improving trade opportunities by identifying suitable business partners, attracting foreign direct investment and also helping local banks to enhance the full range of services across wholesale, retail and treasury for the benefit of customers. What is the reason for Qatari banks opening more branches in other countries whose projected growth rates have been lowered by various rating agencies in the last two years? Qatari banks benefit from healthy capitalisation and strong growth momentum, supported by high confidence in the Qatari market from investors and businesses

around the world. Seeking growth beyond the home market is essential to sustain the growth momentum for the Qatari banks, which see the long-term potential in various trade blocs and economic fundamentals of countries before planning international branch expansion. Challenges such as slowing growth, rising inflation, geopolitical tensions and changes due to the monetary policies of central banks in advanced economies will be reviewed and monitored periodically both from short- and long-term perspectives. Doha Bank has always maintained strategic plans that seek growth in external markets that are major bilateral trade partners with the GCC. This strategy is directly related to the needs of the clients who seek a financial partner in their global evolution. The strategic location of each Doha Bank branch and representative office around the world is secured based on bilateral trade trends, demand and opportunities for supporting the needs of entities across markets. The opportunities come both from Qatar and the GCC region and from other far-flung economies, that are seeking to do business with Qatar and the GCC economies. Is this move (opening more branches) aimed at helping Qatar to attract foreign investors to park their funds in the country? The opportunity to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 will create opportunities to form strategic alliances externally and to connect to global value chains. Hence Qatari banks that have a global presence will improve its connectivity for tapping more business. Improved connectivity may result in attracting foreign players into Qatar and not just investors. Qatar is fortunate to have a strong and stable government with commercial laws that encourage investment, as well as an economy that is witnessing growth and diversification. Qatar’s qatar today > november 2013 > 53

coverstory > banking

favourable corporate tax laws also support the business plans of many foreign investors and institutions. We must also remember that many Qatari brands are seeking similar multinational growth and these investments are bidirectional, particularly in key sectors. The branches of Qatari banks including Doha Bank will be in a position to channelise foreign investments and also serve the corporate sector in those markets and in Qatar simultaneously.

world investment report 2013 inward fund flow into qatar

qatar saw a marginal increase of



taking it to


billion in 2012

What future do you see for Qatar banks that decide to expand their operations globally? The main objective of global expansion is to look for cross-border opportunities arising from bilateral trade and investment. Once branch expansion happens, a full range of services across wholesale, retail and treasury can be provided for the benefit of the customers. It enables banks to spread their business and risks beyond the host country. The international branches of the Qatari banks will also help the Qatar banking market to adapt and/or to enhance their product range and other specialised banking services. Doha Bank has a presence in those countries which have major bilateral trade partnerships with the GCC and plays a crucial advisory and financial support role to key clients and investors. Doha Bank acts as a financial partner and is capable of bringing together multinational expertise and tailoring solutions for Qatari and foreign clients seeking to establish and build their presence in the respective markets. We play a strong advisory role and act as a partner that can facilitate their success. The bank ensures the availability of cross-market nuances to ensure business continuity. These include financial planning, liquidity management solutions and trade finance services such as guarantees based on financial position. How much foreign direct investment is needed for Qatar to further improve its growth rate to achieve the desired objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030? According to the Qatar National Development Strategy (QNDS), during 2011-2016, total gross domestic investment may reach circa QR820 billion, out of which the gov-

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ernment’s investment is expected to touch QR347 billion, the private hydrocarbon sector QR84 billion and the private non-hydrocarbon sector QR389 billion. Gross investment is expected to average 25% of GDP over this period. There are various sectors where FDI is needed to support economic diversification. According to United Nations’ “World Investment Report 2013”, the inward fund flow into Qatar saw a marginal increase of 0.6% taking it QR1.1 billion ($327 million) in 2012. Qatar’s diversification will require further FDI in various sectors. Qatar has a clear vision for the future and is on its way to fulfilling this vision, so the quality of the investment and the expertise it brings with it is also important, apart from the actual investment. With sport, education, hospitality and other key sectors differentiating Qatar’s approach to economic diversification, the state remains a unique destination in the region for foreign participation. While some banks are going global, will the retail business, which is expected to witness robust growth in the coming years due to an influx of expats, be captured by the banks which have no plans to go overseas? Retail is a segment which will grow on account of influx of population into Qatar, as its economy witness diversification. According to the QNDS, the population in Qatar expected to grow steadily at an average of about 2.1% during 2011-16. Most of the Qatari banks will continue to penetrate the Qatar retail market irrespective of global presence. In a global and digitally connected world, people are looking for advanced digital banking channels and access to services. For expatriates, these include services such as remittance and money transfers from their computers and mobile devices from wherever they are. Doha Bank’s digital banking channel is one of the best and with offering remittance services with banks and financial institutions across countries viz; India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Turkey, Jordan, Oman and Ethiopia from where most expatriates originate


LOOK WEST Qatar’s four Islamic Banks may have to tap the international markets to sustain the growth

qatar today > november 2013 > 55

coverstory > banking

Q 364

a QUICK LOOK At qatar's FOUR islamic BANKS








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atar’s four Islamic Banks are on a roll as their growth rate, attributed to the government support and also their increased participation in capital expenditure programmes, has outpaced that of conventional banks in the country; but the moot question: Will these banks sustain the momentum once the projects are completed a decade later? The four Sharia-compliant Qatari-centric banks – Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa, Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIB) and Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) – need to expand their operations beyond the country’s borders, as retail banking opportunities here may be restricted due to the limited bankable population in Qatar, in order to stay afloat in the business. At present only QIB, which has pioneered Islamic banking in the country, has set up branches and offices in the United Kingdom, Sudan, Malaysia and Lebanon and is planning to increase overseas business activities further, while the remaining three Islamic banks have yet to take the call. These banks’ credit outside Qatar is limited to 6.3% of their total credit stock, or 4% of the Islamic banks’ asset base, as of July 2013. Additionally, the Islamic banks’ gross foreign asset position is limited to about 8.3% of the total balance sheet as against about 20% for the overall sector. This is because a significantly larger portion of the Islamic banks’ interbank and investment exposure is within Qatar. In a report titled “Qatar’s Islamic Banks Are On A Fast Track To Growth”, Associate Director (CEEMEA Financial Services Ratings) of the Dubai-based Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Fevzi Timucin En-

gin says the small bankable population in Qatar could hinder the growth prospects of the Islamic Banks, and they have to launch offshore operations in the long run, like the conventional banks, and acquire assets in emerging markets like Egypt and Turkey, once the credit growth in the country slows to visibly lower levels and also to conform with the Basel III norms. “Islamic banks have not been very active in the debt capital markets, with only Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar International Islamic Bank having issued sukuk. In addition, the contractual maturity of the deposits collected by the Islamic Banks is very short-term, whereas the lending tenors are substantially longer. However, we believe the funding and liquidity requirements of the incoming Basel III regulatory standards will move the Qatari Islamic banks to tap the debt capital markets more actively over the next few years and raise longer-term funding,” Engin says. By accessing the debt capital markets more frequently, the funding profiles of the Islamic banks would diversify as about 65% of their total balance sheet is funded by customer deposits and another 18% is shareholders’ equity. At the same time, the gross interbank funding on their balance sheet is limited, at about 12%. These four banks have prospered in the past few years due to the rising demand for local credit for project finance for the government’s infrastructure and investment projects. As the government has announced more development activities in the next decade, they are set to grow along with their contribution to the country’s banking system. “The balance sheets of these four banks will touch QR364 billion (USD100 billion) by 2017, up from QR196.56 billion (USD54

billion) at the end of 2012, assuming that they grow by an average of 15% per year over the next five years. This will make Qatar’s Islamic banking markets the third largest, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in the GCC region,” Engin says. With the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) already taking steps to implement the Basel III norms, the Islamic banks, which have not traditionally been active in the debt capital markets, will have to change their strategy because of funding and liquidity requirements. According to Engin, the four banks currently represent one-quarter of Qatar’s banking system in terms of assets of QR198 billion ($54.4 billion) and are likely to grow further, as the QCB has banned the domestic commercial banks from offering Islamic banking products through what are called "Islamic windows" in the onshore conventional banking system. Due to this the conventional banks, barring Qatar National Bank, have not only conceded part of their market share to the Islamic banks but also had to face competition from the latter, especially in retail lending. Further, the Qatari government and its related entities are the main sponsors of these four Islamic banks. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, is a key shareholder in three of the Qatari Islamic banks – Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar Islamic Bank, and Qatar International Islamic Bank. In addition, two government-controlled entities - Qatar Holding and Barwa Real Estate - are the principal shareholders of Barwa Bank, the nation’s youngest Islamic bank that started operating in 2010. Statistically speaking, between 2006 and 2012 Qatar’s Islamic banks grew their domestic loans and resident deposits by an average compound growth rate of 46% and 40% respectively, as against 31% and 23% for the entire banking system. Engin says the foreign liabilities of the Islamic banks are similarly limited, representing about 11% of total liabilities as of July 31, 2013. Unlike the conventional banks, they enjoy a net foreign asset position, albeit a limited one, because they selffund predominantly from the local deposit market. The domestic credit-to-resident deposits ratio of the Qatari banking system stood at 109% as of July 31, 2013, whereas the ratio is lower for the country’s Islamic banks, at 96%. Qatar Islamic Bank: Established in 1982, Qatar Islamic Bank is the oldest Islamic

bank in Qatar and the largest in terms of assets. It had a balance sheet of $20.3 billion on June 30, 2013. QIA, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, currently holds 16.7% of the bank’s capital. Individuals, including members of the Qatari royal family, hold about 50% of the shares, and the bank’s shares are listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange. Qatar Islamic Bank is a corporate bank, with retail lending limited to about 16% of the bank’s lending book. It is also highly active in real estate lending and contracting, which together constitute about 36% of its gross lending book as of year-end 2012. Masraf Al Rayan Established in 2006, Masraf Al Rayan is the Qatari government’s main Islamic bank, lending about 63% of total funds to government and public sector entities at year-end 2012. Masraf Al Rayan’s lending relationship with the government enabled the bank to report 55% compound annual growth in lending between 2007 and 2012, which was well above the average sector growth rate. Consequently, the bank is now the second-largest Qatari Islamic bank in terms of its asset base ($17.7 billion as of the first half of 2013), and the largest in terms of its lending book of $12.1 billion. According to publicly-available data, QIA and the Qatar Armed forces are the largest shareholders in Masraf Al Rayan. Qatar International Islamic Bank Established in 1991, Qatar International Islamic Bank is the third-largest Islamic bank in the country, with total assets of $8.6 billion and lending of $4.6 billion as of the first half of 2013. Like the other Islamic banks, Qatar International Islamic is largely a corporate bank, with real estate and service sectors constituting 26% and 27% of its gross lending respectively at year-end 2012. QIA is one of the key shareholders of the bank. Barwa Bank Barwa Bank is the youngest Islamic Bank in Qatar, and although its first full year of operations was in 2011, the bank operates with a balance sheet of $7.8 billion as of March 31, 2013. Barwa Bank has the highest concentration of lending to contractors among the Islamic banks, and at about 15% as of year-end 2012 also has the highest exposure to non-bank financial institutions. Barwa Real Estate Company is the largest shareholder of the bank, followed by Qatar Holding







qatar today > november 2013 > 57

business > bottomline


Collaboration and


Some employees are very productive when working individually BUT fail to engage in teamwork and group activities.


his problem amplifies when you promote one of these employees to a managerial position in which they have to oversee the work of others, or train a new joiner, as they project the inability to pass on their knowledge to others and communicate with them comfortably. So, how can you go about transforming an introvert employee into a proactive, dynamic team player? Here are seven tips from the HR experts at Bayt.com.

Spend some time getting to know your future leaders better If you have your mind set on a team member as a promising future manager, take them out for lunch, or any other non-work situation, as it is less stress-inducing and more likely to put them at ease. Initiate casual talk with them so that you can get to know them more and understand what it is that truly motivates them and pushes them forward. This type of conversation will give you clear insight into their character and will help you determine their key strengths, as well as their essential performance-enhancing triggers. As a result, you will be able to place your leader within a team that best matches their leadership style and personality traits.

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Invest in development programMEs There are several types of development programmes that are primarily designed to assist employers in developing their leadership and managerial teams. Invest in courses and workshops that train employees in how to become better managers and better leaders and role models for other team members. Being a leader is not about learning to give orders but about being an inspiring figure others are willing to learn from, emulate and follow.

Try a matchmaker role People can be like jigsaw pieces where there is always a best match for every person. Place your employees in the groups in which you believe that they fit best with others who share or complement their mentality, skills, work style, aptitudes and personal attributes. This will facilitate collaboration and the sharing of views and should improve the group’s overall performance.

Build synergy Introduce your employees to the graceful concept of "synergy". The idea is basically that if two employees work individually, each at their own pace, they will produce a certain output; however their outputs are maximised when they come to work together. With synergy, the output of merging several employees’ efforts together as a team should be higher than their combined outputs having worked individually. Make sure everyone is aware of this concept and goal, so that they can appreciate and value their colleagues’ efforts and ideas, and understand that the company’s targets and objectives are achieved in most optimal manner when they are working as a cohesive team.

Develop social skills One way to ensure that your employees are active team players is by engaging them in social activities. Social skills are like any other set of skills that can be acquired with time and practice. You can hold monthly cultural events for the company’s employees, or those belonging to a specific department, where they can bring their families and perform group activities altogether. Ideally this will encourage interaction and in turn help employees become more social with time.

Create an atmosphere of trust and open communication

Let them know that their opinions do matter Be open to new ideas and invite your employees over to share their own insights out loud. If the employee feels that their ideas are considered seriously and are being implemented, they might well come up with new ones later on and feel more comfortable with speaking up and sharing their own views with others. Being heard creates a sense of confidence and comfort for a person, which in turn will affect their conversational and social skills positively and will contribute to their developing stronger leadership and managerial skills.

Data from the Bayt.com “Employee Motivation in the MENA” survey of January 2013 shows that MENA professionals feel that those who command the least loyalty are line managers, with only 44% saying their manager communicates what is going on in the organisation to them. Trust can only be built through respectful interaction and cooperative teamwork between employees. Build trust consistently and watch this kind of open communication trickle all the way across the organisation and permeate it at every level. Where an employee builds a sense of trust with the company, they will also build a sense of loyalty and engagement and this will better ensure the company’s overall goals are met in every dimension and true leadership is better allowed to flourish.

Bayt.com is a job site in the Middle East, with more than 40,000 employers and over 13,300,000 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. qatar today > november 2013 > 59

business > bottomline

Engage for

success Employees who are engaged in organisation activities significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged, says study

60 > qatar today > november 2013


hat can make an organisation more successful than its competitors? Superior services, products, technologies, processes or perhaps better financial strategies? Certainly, all of these help an organisation in driving effective performance, but all of them can be imitated over time. The most important factor in gaining sustainable competitive advantage is the human capital of an organisation. Our extensive research and consulting experience with best-in-class organisations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region has proved that employees who are engaged in organisation activities significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. This was also evident from Aon Hewitt’s Best Employers Study 2013, which showed a stark difference between the employee engagement levels (83%) seen in Best Employer organisations., where employees are motivated to achieve organisational objectives, and those in other organisations (64%). Organisations in the region talk about many workforce-centric challenges, but perhaps one that concerns them like no other is the mandate to engage employees across the organisation and handle the myriad roadblocks that make that journey increasingly difficult. Through years of research, we know that high employee engagement not only delivers greater shareholder value; it also reduces staff turnover and improves customer satisfaction. In a cut-throat talent landscape where employees define the quality of their employment experience by the conscious efforts made by an organisation in motivating its employees, the challenge today lies in effectively meeting their requirements. To address this critical challenge, Aon Hewitt conducts Best Employers research in Qatar and the wider region every year to help organisations engage the intellectual and emotional commitment of their employees. This research enables an organisation to measure the effectiveness of its people practices and provides definitive benchmarks and insights into how organisations can drive business results through people. It is Aon Hewitt’s strong belief that the insights of the study can help organisations in translating visionary strategies into meaningful actions. The Best Employers Middle East and Africa (MEA) 2014 is the fourth cycle of comprehensive research and is being conduct-

aon hewitt's View on Employee Engagement:

“Engagement is the state of emotional and intellectual involvement or commitment an employee has to an organisation.”

By Dr Markus Wiesner CEO, Aon Hewitt, Middle East

Based on this philosophy, three key behaviours cumulatively indicate strong engagement: Say Engaged employees consistently speak positively about the organisation to co-workers, potential employees and customers. Stay Engaged employees have an intense desire to be a member of the organisation. Strive Engaged employees exert extra effort and engage in behaviours that contribute to business success.

ed in Qatar, and eleven other countries: the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Ghana, Egypt and South Africa. Based on our previous three cycles of Best Employers studies in the region and extensive consulting experience, we have seen that Best Employers succeed and achieve their strategies irrespective of their size or industry. The key factor in driving results for these organisations is valuing their people and bringing out the best in them. Through conscious efforts and commitment, they capture the hearts and minds of their employees and ensure that employee aspirations are in alignment with organisational objectives. For Best Employers, economic difficulties have not altered their efforts in maintaining positive relationships with their employee base. In fact, these challenges provided them a platform to renew their focus on employment relationship and build a sense of loyalty that will endure beyond the downturns of economies. So what can organisations do to embark on this journey towards being a Best Employer? Perhaps you have taken some initial steps, or have just begun an assessment of where your organisation is today. Just remember, the effort to become and remain a Best Employer is both a sprint and a marathon. Best Employers must move quickly to demonstrate immediate, recognisable value to employees, while sustaining the longterm focus that achieves lasting change

About Markus Wiesner and Aon Hewitt With more than 15 years of senior HR consulting experience, Dr Wiesner is responsible for overseeing Aon Hewitt's strategy and client portfolio, as well as spearheading the expansion of the practice across Middle East and North Africa. His wealth of experience in the areas of large-scale HR transformations, rewards, performance management and HR structure design help to maintain the firm's position as a leading consultancy. He is a frequent commentator on HR issues in the media. Aon Hewitt empowers organisations and individuals to secure a better future through innovative talent, retirement and health solutions and claims to be the global leader in human resource solutions, with over 30,000 professionals in 90 countries serving more than 20,000 clients worldwide. For more information on the study, visit www.aon.com/bestemployersme

qatar today > november 2013 > 61

development > tag this

On Track

The GCC Rail Opportunity

The ambitious GCC railway project is a proposed regional link to connect the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-member states and boost transport services across the region. Experts in rail transport discuss the rail infrastructure needs of the GCC countries in a report compiled by Sindhu Nair.

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he concept of public transport is new to the Gulf countries. Public transport used to be confined to taxis and in 2005, when Mowasalat introduced buses to Qatar for the first time, a mode of travel that has now become popular for labourers and low-income groups, it was seen as a big step in public transport development. But that was long before Qatar became a hive of activity with the 2022 World Cup projects work that has now begun in earnest. Public transport is the next stage of infrastructure development that all of the Gulf countries are actively investing in. But one of the biggest challenges facing the governments of the GCC countries will be to persuade their respective citizens to use the public transport systems. According to one expert, that is not an unachievable task given the success model of the first metro system in the region, the Dubai Metro. Qatar is set to spend up to QR550 billion (USD150 billion) on infrastructure projects over the next nine years as it starts preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to HE Yousef Hussein Kamal, the former Minister of Economy and Finance. A whopping 40% of its budget between now and 2016 is allocated to infrastructure projects, including QR40.04 billion ($11 billion) on a new international airport, QR20.02 billion ($5.5 billion) on a deep-water seaport and QR3.64 billion ($1 billion) for a transport corridor in the capital. It has also allocated QR182 billion ($50 billion) to upgrade its transport infrastructure, including new rail and metro systems. Figures provided by MEED Projects show that this phenomenon is not seen only in Qatar – there are 108 separate railway, metro, monorail, tram and bus rapid transit projects under bid, under design or under study in 14 MENA countries. More than 50 of them with a combined value of almost QR509.6 billion ($140 billion), are in the GCC.

Value of MENA rail projects by status (in $ million)

Saudi Arabia has the greatest potential with projects worth QR182 billion (USD50 billion) due to be completed by 2025, according to MEED Projects. Rail, metro, tram and BRT projects in Qatar worth more than QR109.2 billion ($30 billion) are scheduled to be finished by 2020, ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The third biggest rail market is the UAE, where QR98.28 billion ($27 billion) worth of projects is due for completion by 2030. But the most interesting of all the developments is the talks and even some action, about having an integrated rail network between the GCC countries. Talking about this project, Marco Stegher, Project Manager of the Arab Railway Study, says the ambitious GCC railway project is a regional link proposed to connect the Gulf Cooperation Council member states, to boost transport services across the region. It is splanned that the route of the GCC train project should start from Kuwait, amd run via Dammam in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to the Kingdom of Bahrain over the proposed causeway to be built parallel to the King Fahd Causeway, and from Dammam to Qatar through Salwa. The GCC train would also link Qatar with Bahrain via the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway to be established between them, and run from Saudi Arabia through Al Batha to the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi – Al Ain) and then end up in Oman across Sohar to Muscat. The total project length is approximately 2,116 km, and the length of the track inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totals 663 km. Bids for implementation of the GCC rail project, have already been invited, the design stage of the project has already commenced, and it is expected to be completed in 2017. “The GCC network would support economic diversification, encourage investment, boost trade and create jobs,” says Stegher. Opportunities in the Middle East and

"Qatar is ideally located to benefit from increased trade across the region. A rail network will only serve to make it easier to do business across borders and help to strengthen the country's economic growth." Dr Amjad Bangash Managing Director, Rail Bechtel Ltd (UK)

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North Africa (MENA) region's QR819 billion ($225 billion) rail, metro, tram and bus rapid transit (BRT) capital investment programme to 2030 were highlighted at the MEED MENA Rail and Metro Summit held in Abu Dhabi on October 29. The participants discussed with Qatar Today the huge opportunity this presents.

"Operating practices, customs and immigration policies and other divisive issues that could slow the development of a GCC network should be also tackled from a supranational level." Marco Stegher Project Manager, Arab Railway Study

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A gap to fill Stegher gives us an outline of the work planned in Qatar. “The proposed Qatar National Railway Network is an integral part of the future integrated multi-modal transportation currently being considered, which also includes a modern metro system in Doha and light rail transit schemes in other strategic city locations,” he says. These national and international transportation systems together form the Qatar Railways Development Programme (QRDP) and will provide a solid backbone to encourage economic development and support the foreseen population growth. This will reinforce the role of Qatar in the region as an international business hub, also considering other ongoing developments such as the West Bay area, Lusail, Education City, the new Port Mesaieed, and the New Doha International Airport. The integrated railway network aims to fulfil short-, medium-and long-term demands related to passenger and freight transport in Qatar and from other GCC member states. “Major sections will be ready for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, allowing mobility from New Doha International Airport (NDIA) and neighbouring countries to Doha,” says Stegher, stressing on the importance of the public transport system as a means of transport from and to neighbouring Arab countries during the World Cup. Whether Qatar has the need for such infrastructure upgrades given its comparatively small population, of which a majority are migrant workers, is another question that analysts have asked.

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Dr Amjad Bangash, Managing Director, Rail atBechtel Ltd (UK), strongly defends the project saying that with one of the fastest growing economies, Qatar is home to one of the world’s largest gas reserves and that transportation, construction and property will also boosts its economy. Yiwen Wang, Chief Technology Officer, MEA Government and Enterprise Business of ZTE, a leading provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, agrees with Bangash’s views, reiterating, “The pace at which Doha is growing would necessitate a rail network. As it is, more than 200 new cars rush to roads every day, and the expat worker population is expected to double in the next five to six years. With the current limited road transport capability, a rail network is a must infrastructure to support the country’s further development.” “A regional rail network can support diversification and growth in non-oil based sectors,” says Bangash,, “Helping to make manufacturing and mining more cost competitive, and supporting the container trade in major ports. Qatar is ideally located to benefit from increased trade across the region. A rail network will only serve to make it easier to do business across borders and help to further strengthen the countryís economic growth". Siemens Infrastructure and Cities, Middle East, CEO, Joerg Scheifler feels that to realise Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and build a sustainable environment for the future, creating an environmentally-friendly and efficient public transport system is crucial. The GCC challenge There will be challenges building a rail network between the GCC countries. A GCC network will involve more challenges than individual countries' rail works as the project will involve a lot more of interaction and cooperation among the GCC states while

THE Dubai success model


eflecting on the Dubai Metro model, Stegher feels that “they have done it the right way”. The Road and Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA) is aiming to reduce the use of private vehicles and increase the use of public transport to 30% by 2020. The Dubai Metro has been open since 2009 and statistics from RTA report that Red and Green Line passengers are growing year after year. The two lines carried 109,491 million passengers in 2012 compared to 69 million passengers in 2011. “There are now plans to expand Dubai Metro by a further 421 km. New metro lines – Blue, Gold and Purple – and a Jumeirah tram route will be running by 2030,” shares Stegher. “The Red and Green lines are also to be expanded,” he adds.

“The Dubai metro was the first metro system to be built in a Gulf country and there were many risks on the success of the project and mostly the challenges of persuading the Emirate’s car drivers to take public transport were one big challenge. With the usage on the public transport growing by huge rates in three years, it suggests that changing commutersí mentality may be hard, but possible. Many technical factors affect the success of a metro system: a proper alignment, the position of the stations, the operational plan, the trip frequency, the comfort of vehicles, information system, ticket policy, etc. The proximity of metro stations to key retail developments in Dubai is also a major factor behind the increase in traffic.” he says.

"With the current limited road transport capability, a rail network is a must infrastructure to support the Qatar's further development." Yiwen Wang Chief Technology Officer, MEA Government and Enterprise Business, ZTE

designing and even more during execution. A major challenge for Gulf countries, according to Scheifler, “is creating awareness among the public about using public transportation systems after decades of relying on private vehicles for commuting”. According to Stegher, “interoperability of the network is a must. From the infrastructural point of view, since with the exception of Saudi Arabia the countries didn’t possess existing railways, it would make it easier to overcome technical constraints to the creation of an interoperable network. “The creation and fast empowerment of

a GCC Railway Authority is recommended to encourage the use of uniform technical standards and to control their adoption of them,” he says, “Operating practices, customs and immigration policies and other divisive issues that could slow the development of a GCC network should be also tackled from a supranational level.” Bangash feels that one of the main challenges for the development of a GCC rail network is the issue of interoperability. “Harmonising technical standards and operating rules between neighbouring countries is naturally critical to the success of any regional network,” says qatar today > november 2013 > 65

development > tag this Value of MENA rail projects by mode (in $ million) 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000



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RTMS/ETCS is the acronym of the European Rail Traffic Management System and its European Train Control System designed to achieve the train interoperability and safety on the “Old Continent” railway network, and applying the latest technologies and related functionalities. The ERTMS/ETCS is a signalling standard for trains travelling through an international and heterogeneous network and observes a “common language” that connects the track side system (ground) and the train side system (on board). The UNISIG standard defines the procedures for the ground and the on-board signalling information exchange, identifying the transmission techniques and the message format. The ERTMS/ETCS equalises the incompatibilities among the national train rules, since each country has an own rail

Bangash, “There is still much to be done to harmonise standards, but governments have recognised the need to work together to address the issue and are making good progress towards achieving a solution.” Scheifler agrees that challenges are part of any infrastructure project. “The GCC network challenges include choosing the right technology that can fit with the region’s climatic conditions such as high temperatures and sand storms during the summer, while also providing an efficient solution that can help reduce energy usage and reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” he says. Wang agrees that construction of the rail network will be mired with difficulties 66 > qatar today > november 2013

“language” to manage train traffic. The ERTMS/ETCS system assists the driver by providing all the required information and checking each step the driver takes to ensure high safety levels since the emergency brakes operates if the speed exceed the maximum limits. “In the course of our Arab Railway Network Study, we have assumed this technology as a standard for the entire Arab Core Railway Network,” says Stegher. “In that context, considering the different characteristics associated with Level 1 and 2 of ETRMS/ETS systems, even knowing that some countries have planned, for some specific lines the direct implementation of Level 2 (such as Morocco, Algeria, GCC Countries), we suggested the adoption of ERTMS Level 1 as a unified signalling standard for the future Arab rail network.”

but “our experience working in the development of the Chinese high-speed railway tells us these issues can be a big challenge, but can be surmountable”. He adds, “From the information we have gathered, besides Qatar, all of the GCC countries are pushing ahead with their domestic rail plans. The UAE's Etihad Rail has already built up their national railway for Phase I and is ready to kick off the project's phase II this year, both of which will be critical components of the planned GCC network. Qatar’s own railway and metro development plan is an important part of this regional network and can make the topology of the Gulf railway from a single line to a real network.”

development > tag this

Arab Stereotypes:

The eternal enemy

Following the screening of his documentary – Reel Bad Arabs – Dr Jack Shaheen, celebrated author and media critic, gave an engaging talk at the Qatar National Convention Centre, on how Hollywood has been vilifying and dehumanising Arabs for over a century.


Dr Jack Shaheen 68 > qatar today > november 2013

hose who tell the stories, rule society,” Dr Shaheen began in a quiet voice, pausing for effect. The documentary, adapted from his book by the same name, had just come to its conclusion. There was a stunned silence. Though it might have been common knowledge that the perception of Arabs in the West was skewed, watching how the image took shape through clips from over 60 movies from the turn of the 20th century up until 9/11 was a revelation. Film after film, churned out from America’s most effective propaganda vehicle, Hollywood, depicting Arabs as lecherous sheikhs, sexualised belly dancers, nomadic Bedouins, spoilt rich boys, faceless and voiceless women, and terrorists. “We never see an Arab man with his wife and children, at a playground, at a picnic,” says Dr Shaheen, “or as doctors and nurses saving lives. Just being everyday humans. Because when we humanise them they become difficult to stereotype.” And these were just 60 films out of over 1,100 that he has analysed. “If we were to host a film festival and screen three anti-Arab Hollywood films a day, we’d have enough for over a year,” he says. At first there is a tendency to dismiss his concerns. Maybe he is being over-sensitive. They are just movies after all. Meant purely for entertainment. But Dr Shaheen illustrates how cinema has been used for propaganda since the days of World War I. “Lenin recognised the importance of cinema, even in the era of silent films,” he says. “Around the same time, the president of Paramount Pictures observed how movies were a channel for conveying thought and opinion. Ten

years later Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, realised that ‘the most brilliant propaganda technique confines itself to just a few points and repeats them over and over’.” And that has what American popular culture has been doing – unnoticed and uncontested. It took the best part of 40 years for Dr Shaheen to bring attention to the problem. “I was teaching in the [US] Midwest – basic courses in journalism, mass communication, criticism in the public arts and working with public television, mostly children’s programming,” he says, talking about his journey. “One Saturday morning my children, 6 and 7 years old, came running to me, saying there were bad Arabs on TV. And there I saw Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Donald Duck – some of our favourite characters – beating up this Arab. This was what first got me thinking. I then subscribed to the TV Guide and every week would pore over it, looking at the description of the shows with Arab names and characters.” For him, the trend was unmistakable. Across the board – comedy, drama, documentary, and children’s shows – he came across the same Arab image. “I submitted this research proposal to my university and it was turned down instantly. They called it Arab propaganda. Overnight I had gone from ‘Shaheen from Pittsburg’ to ‘Shaheen the Arab professor’,” he remembers. “It took me three years and 60 rejection letters to publish my first article, and another six years to bring out my first book, The TV Arab,” he says, reminding the audience that if you are going to effect change, it’s going to take a long time. “I knew I was on to something. It took a while to gather momentum,” he says. “The book Reel Bad Arabs took me 20 years. I travelled to research institutions across the country, looking for films with Arab characters, reading every film review of every movie Hollywood ever released at the Library of Congress. There was no Internet, no DVDs, and the research process was painstaking. And the films that misrepresented Arabs seemed endless. I finally stopped after going through more than 1,100 movies, and keep in mind, all of these were pre-9/11. Imagine their impact on opinion and policy!” he says. Stereotypes exist for several reasons, Dr Shaheen points out. “Political interests, economics (these movies make a lot of money), apathy, ignorance, silence and lack of presence.” To illustrate the last point, of

Saladin from the 2005-movie, Kingdom of Heaven

of presence, he talks about a specific scene in the movie Kingdom of Heaven. The Arab and Muslim hero Saladin has just emerged victorious in battle and as he walks past the destruction and debris he comes across a fallen cross. “He reverently picks it up and places it back on the altar. This wasn’t part of the script. But the Syrian actor playing Saladin, Ghassan Massoud, pointed out to director Ridley Scott that Saladin would have never left it lying there. They tried it, and it was the best part of the movie for me,” he says. The presence and voice of an Arab on the project made possible this subtle peek into the character of a great king. There have been dramatic changes over the past 12 years, Dr Shaheen says. “The emphasis on film in the Gulf with the different film festivals in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha didn’t exist a couple of decades ago. Young people now are aware of this image and they are not going to wait around. Particularly women. A number of Arab and Arab-American filmmakers are making outstanding independent films – All-American Muslim, Just Like Us, The Muslims Are Coming! The Citizen, to name a few. But the problem lies in the lack of support, he says. “These film festival organisers tend to get taken in by Hollywood glamour. Stick with image makers who have your best interests at heart, not those who just want to make money.” He passes the mantle on to the young Arabs in the audience. “Do something,” he says. “Don’t be silent. Don’t be passive. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr: If ever we are to illuminate justice and our common humanity, we must challenge these hateful words and action. To break the appalling silence of good people, we have to be the mover and shakers.”

Crimson Jihad, the Palestinian terror group, who are the antagonists in True Lies (1994), are not only depicted as brutal but also incompetent, according to Dr Shaheen.

qatar today > november 2013 > 69

development > tech talk

Software piracy on a high

Will the rampant malaise undo the achievements of Qatar in the field of ICT? V L Srinivasan finds out.


he rapid gains made by Qatar in the development of its ICT sector are being dented by software piracy, a malady which is plaguing dozens of nations around the world. According to a report called “Shadow Market: 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study�, which was released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) in May 2012, the piracy rate in Qatar has been 50%, with a commercial value estimated at around QR226 million ($62 million). It is estimated that each riyal invested in properly licensed software will contribute over four times as much to the economy as the same amount spent on pirated software. Oman tops the list among the GCC countries hit by software piracy with 61%, followed by Kuwait (59%), Bahrain (54%) and Saudi Arabia (51%). The UAE has the distinction of having the lowest piracy rate, at

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37%, the report says. While half of the software programmes used in Qatar are pirated, the government has not turned a blind eye to the issue. Qatar is a signatory to most international treaties and conventions, including the convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The government has put in place legislation to deal with the menace, and legal actions can be launched through either the Cybercrime Department located at the Capital Police Station or the Intellectual Property (IP) Protection Centre at the Ministry of Justice.

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In practice, most claims are launched by the Cybercrime Department while the IP Protection Centre tends to concentrate on trademark protection. Both entities have the (discretionary) power to conduct raids following a complaint from a software provider. The government’s intentions are clear in acting against piracy dealers. Anyone found to have published software without permission can be imprisoned for between six and 12 months and/or fined between QR30,000 and QR100,000. The owner of an establishment found to be distributing, selling or reproducing software without authorisation can be sent to prison for up to a year and/ or fined between QR30,000 and QR50,000. These penalties are doubled for repeat offences and the court has the power to publish a report in the press "naming and shaming" the establishment or individual.

Naim Yazbeck Country Manager, Microsoft, Qatar

The courts can also require anyone using unlicensed software, whether a business or an individual, to pay compensation and confiscate any profits gained, the technology used to make copies and its software. In addition, companies such as Microsoft can launch civil actions against users of pirated software to claim the compensation due to them. “As many as 30 cases of infringement of IP rights were referred to the competent courts in 2011,” says Abdulla Ahmed Qayed, Director of the IP Protection Centre at the Ministry of Justice. In the past, first-time offenders were let off with a serious warning. The existing laws are strong enough, and there is no need for more stringent punishments for the violators. “Recently, we received new cases of piracy. Two companies were pirated and our judicial inspectors qatar today > november 2013 > 71

development > tech talk

Christopher Jobson Chairman, Eversheds LLP Middle East

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adjusted infringed CDs and flash memories for these companies. We referred the cases to the public prosecution to follow up with the competent courts,” Qayed says. Besides referring the cases to court, the IP Protection Centre has held awareness campaigns such as conducting WIPO training courses for owners of small and medium-sized enterprises and the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) has organised many training seminars, he adds. Microsoft, which is the worst affected by the problem, fully supports the government in the enforcement process. With the help of an international law firm, Eversheds LLP, Microsoft works to identify users of pirated software and to notify these users of the potential consequences of such use. The ultimate aim of any such activities is for the users to use legal software so that they can enjoy the protection that such software offers. “We always emphasise the importance of government support in ensuring effective and widespread anti-piracy measures. We appreciate the Qatari government’s enthusiasm in allowing us to impart our experience and know-how to its key personnel. This consistency in deterrent enforcement would achieve the optimum results of further protections to right holders and bringing into the economy the considerable amount of proceeds lost to pirated software,” says Naim Yazbeck, Microsoft’s country manager in Qatar. He says the government has recognised that software piracy seriously harms a country’s ability to innovate and grow. As Qatar proceeds on its transformation into a knowledge-based economy, as part of its 2030 Vision, protection of IP rights is becoming an increasingly important focus. Qatar’s increasing importance on the global stage and involvement in foreign investment also bring enforcement of rights in the country to the forefront of governmental agendas. “Qatar has a comprehensive system of laws designed to stop piracy and is always considering whether these can be updated and improved. It is keen to utilise the experience of international companies, such as Microsoft to identify the best methods of addressing the problem and to combine the forces of the government, software industry, resellers and users to ensure protection for all,” says Christopher Jobson, Chairman of Eversheds LLP Middle East. For its part, Microsoft Qatar is carrying out open communication and transparent relationships with its clients and partners

Key Findings The global piracy rate for PC software hovers at 42%. The commercial value of this shadow market of pirated software climbed from approximately QR208 billion ($58.8 billion) in 2010 to approximately QR228 billion ($63.4 billion) in 2011, a new record, propelled by PC shipments to emerging economies where piracy rates are highest. Country by country, the frequency with which people report acquiring unlicensed software closely aligns with the actual rates of piracy that market research firm IDC calculates annually for The bsa report using hard market data. The users who say they pirate software most frequently are disproportionately young and male – and they install more software of all types on their computers than do infrequent pirates or non-pirates. Emerging economies, which in recent years have been the driving force behind PC software piracy, are now decisively outpacing mature markets in their rate of growth. They took in 56% of the world’s new PC shipments in 2011, and they now account for more than half of all PCs in use. Source: Shadow Market: 2011 BSA Global Software Piracy Study

on the problem and working closely with them to ensure their software needs, growing as their organisations and businesses expand, are met, and to help them acquire legal software in a manner that is mutually beneficial. “From a marketing perspective, we will continue to place print ads and run radio campaigns to combat piracy and to inform and educate software owners and users alike of the many disadvantages created as a result of piracy. We held an anti-piracy press conference in partnership with the IP Protection Centre and with the attendance of our legal firm,” Yazbeck says. The users in the country should know that software piracy affects them as well as the genuine producers and their shareholders. “Companies using licensed software are more efficient, as they have better protection from viruses and other security issues – meaningless downtime, IT repair costs and system malfunctions. Licensed software users have easy access to upgrades, patches and support services. The use of fully licensed software helps users as much as the use of pirated software harms them,” Jobson adds

development > tech talk

The face behind the voice

Susan Bennett, a 64-year-old voice actor from Atlanta, "came out" to CNN as being the voice of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant with whom users have always had a love-hate relationship. Having done tons of voice-over gigs and airline, TV, and radio ads, Bennett recorded random phrases and words for four hours every day for a month to help build Siri’s impressive vocabulary. Image courtesy – CNN

MENA’s most Internet-savvy state A report by the Broadband Commission released in September ranked Qatar among the top ten countries for internet use.


mong the 192 countries surveyed, all but two of the top ten – New Zealand and Qatar – were in Europe. A staggering 88.1% of the Qatari population was online and 72.1% of the inhabitants had access to mobile broadband. Qatar’s National ICT Plan 2015 was featured in the report, and ictQATAR has said that it will invest QR2 billion ($550 million) to accelerate the roll-out of nationwide high-speed and affordable broadband fibre network. Fur-

thermore, it mentioned ten programmes that have been developed to “unleash the potential and benefits of broadband”. The report said that by the end of 2013, some 2.7 billion people will be online, equivalent to a global penetration rate of 39% (up from 32.5% or 2.27 billion internet users at the end of 2011). In the developing world, internet penetration will reach 31% by the end of 2013 and 10% in the less developed countries.

Facebook fever

The social networking firm announced that it has 56 million active users in the Middle East and North Africa. Facebook, which become an important communication tool during the Arab Spring, has remained at the centre of people’s lives in the Middle East. Half of the reported 56 million active users visit the site on a daily basis, the company said.”33 million people in MENA use a phone or tablet to access the service every month, while the number of daily active users on mobile has reached 15 million. People in the GCC countries are particularly well connected, with a mobile connectivity rate of 196% – an average of two SIM cards per person,” the report added.

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The Pearl in your palm

A new free app, which can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store, will help you navigate the island and keep you posted on all things Pearl.


eed a personal shopping assistant to give you the lowdown on what to shop for and where when you are at The Pearl? Download this new app developed by Dubai-based Emaar Technologies and it’ll do all the heavy lifting for you. Browse stores and restaurants by category or search by name to get more detailed information, a map location and a

phone number for every establishment at The Pearl-Qatar, or reserve a table at your favorite restaurant through the online reservation tool. The augmented reality feature helps you identify restaurants, outlets and entertainment locations through your camera. Real-time updates on events happening on the island and access to great offers just sweeten the deal.

Curves are in

Two bendable and curvy phones from LG and Samsung will be released shortly, according to company releases and unofficial online leaks.


amsung’s concave phone, Galaxy Round, whose highlight is the gently curved 1080p 5.7-inch AMOLED screen, is likely to be the first one to hit the market. The company says the device will be equipped with interesting features to take advantage of this design, including a Roll Effect that updates users with information like date, time, battery level, calls/texts, etc. when the home screen is off, and the Gravity Effect that’ll bring the phone to life, ready for interaction, by tilting the device. Useful

One-Hand Operation features bring a user’s most desired controls closer to a preferred side of the screen. The device will hit Korean markets soon with a price tag of around one million won (QR3,400). LG’s long-rumoured G Flex is however only in the production stages, but leaked photos show a curved display that is also supposed to be bendable, but along the horizontal axis of the phone, unlike Galaxy Round, which is curved around the vertical axis.

Who’s the best networked of them all?

Ericsson’s first MENA Networked Society City Index has named Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha among the bestconnected cities in the region.


he three cities ranked highest in terms of ICT maturity levels, measured with respect to infrastructure development and usage of ICT services, according to the report. Furthermore, mobility was also a key indicator from the study, with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha all revealing 100% mobile phone usage, and other analysed cities falling no lower than 83 per cent.

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business>auto news Stars in the sky

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha is offering its customers an exclusive opportunity for added personalisation where they can have a star that will be certified and coded symbolically under their name.


his exclusive offering builds on the unique design of the Rolls-Royce Phantom family and Rolls-Royce Wraith roof. True to its brand values of exclusivity and elegance, the roof headliner comes with between 640 and 1,600 individual fibre optic lights hand-fitted into the lining of the roof. Inspired by the starlight roof, RollsRoyce Motor Cars Doha, the sole dealer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Qatar, will offer customers the opportunity to have their own star that will be named symbolically after them. The Rolls-Royce Stars in the Sky programme is available exclusively through Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha. Commenting on the programme, RollsRoyce Motor Cars Doha General Manager Mohamed Kandeel said: “This unique pro-

gramme is yet another initiative aimed at offering our customers something different with their bespoke motor cars. The luxury of owning a Rolls-Royce vehicle is truly an ‘out of the world’ experience and as such we felt that having the ability to name your own star is the perfect incentive." The GCC 2013 Rolls-Royce road show began in Qatar on October 21 and will conclude on November 10. Customers will

have special test drive opportunities for the model range cars at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Doha. Moreover the road show will be a unique occasion to get a first-hand insight into the marque technological enhancements and craftsmanship, and the luxurious experience of driving all three members of the Phantom family, namely the Phantom, the Phantom Drophead Coupe and Phantom Coupe.

Infiniti expansion plans gather momentum

The construction of the first Infiniti production facilities in Europe commenced in Sunderland in the UK.


art of an overall £250m investment in the UK, a groundbreaking ceremony was performed by Executive Vice-President Trevor Mann and Vice-President for Infiniti Europe, Middle East and Africa Fintan Knight. Mann said: “Securing the Infiniti Q30 for production at Sunderland was a tremendous achievement by the workforce and reflects the quality levels they have reached. The existing Sunderland plant is already the largest in UK automotive history and this investment will move the plant even further up

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the value chain and reconfirm our commitment to their future.” Knight said: “This is a significant step as we establish manufacturing here. The design centre in Paddington, the technical centre in Cranfield and the ongoing partnership with the Infiniti Red Bull racing team in Milton Keynes testify to our strong link with the UK. Our investment here amplifies the brand’s presence in Europe, one of the key markets for Infiniti, but provides clear intent as we gear up for sales of the compact premium Q30 in 2015.”

BMW Coupe makes its debut in Qatar The new BMW 4 Series Coupe – big, athletic, and a real looker – has arrived in Qatar following its unveiling to global audiences at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in September.


tarting with a large, wide airintake in the front apron which accentuates the vehicle’s increased width, this is capped at both ends by apertures for aerodynamically-motivated air-curtains which are complemented by air-breathers located just behind the front wheels. The new model is visibly larger in width and wheelbase, and its dynamically stretched coupe silhouette sits considerably lower to the road. This, together with its hallmark BMW short overhangs, a long bonnet and set-back passenger compartment with flowing roofline, gives the BMW 4 Series

Coupe a balanced appearance. Commenting on the launch, Alfardan Automobiles General Manager Mohamed Kandeel said: “The BMW 4 Series Coupe has been one of the most eagerly-anticipated cars in recent time thanks to its perfect blend of design, sporting performance and advanced technology. Our customers are constantly on the lookout for the best and most premium vehicles, and as such, I have the utmost confidence that the vehicle will be a huge success. It’s an exciting new addition to our portfolio of BMW vehicles.”

Nissan ZEOD RC launched in Japan


fter an intense eight months of development, design and construction, Nissan's revolutionary Nissan ZEOD (Zero Emissions On Demand) RC electric racecar was unveiled at the headquarters of Nissan's performance arm, Nismo, in Yokohama. The racer has gone from zero to ZEOD in just 33 weeks after Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn in February announced Nissan's goal of returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year with electric power. The Nissan ZEOD RC was unveiled by Nismo President Shoichi Miyatani; Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox; and Nissan Director of Motorsport Innovation Ben Bowlby. "The ZEOD RC utilises our technology gained through the development of the

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC, the first EV [electric vehicle] racer based on the mass production zero-emission vehicle," Shoichi Miyatani said. The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first car to complete an entire race lap of the

8.5-mile (13.6 km) Le Mans circuit on nothing but electric power. The car will reach speeds in excess of 300km/h (185mph) and lap the famous French circuit faster than an LM GTE car. qatar today > november 2013 > 77

business>marketwatch Amouage’s new products for men

BATH & BODY COLLECTION Amouage’s Bath & Body Collection includes deep cleansing shower gels, soaps and guest soaps formulated exclusively for men. The men’s products are housed in beautiful black boxes, incorporating Amouage’s signature jacquard design to express a more contemporary and elegant look for the sophisticated male consumer. The Bath & Body Collection is available in Gold, Dia, Reflection, Jubilation XXV, Lyric, Epic, Memoir and Honour.

The House of Amouage has announced a diverse range of products for the sophisticated and discerning gentleman from its Bath & Body, Travel and Leather Goods Collections.

LEATHER GOODS COLLECTION This collection comprises a contemporary and distinctive variety of products from wallets, business card cases and passport cases to iPad sleeves and wash bags in supple leather, genuine crocodile leather, crocodile prints, snakeskin and patent leather. In creating the collection, Amouage turned to the city of Florence, the home of the best quality of leather goods in the world. All products are hand-made of the highest quality, using the very top grade leather and exotic skins, by artisans whose skills have been passed down through many generations.

TRAVEL SPRAYS The perfect accessory to accompany a gentleman on his travels, the elegant Travel Spray vial is presented in a hand-finished black leather case that is embossed with Amouage’s signature jacquard. Available in the house’s most popular fragrances – Gold, Dia, Reflection, Jubilation XXV, Lyric, Epic, Memoir and Honour – the Travel Spray set includes three 10ml vials.

The world converges


HE One's newly launched Autumn/ Winter 2013 Collection combines black, gold and purple hues with buttoned leather, rich velvets, mixed patterns and Oriental touches. Some baroque and vintage elements, a few kooky accessories and eccentric motifs round off this eclectic ensemble. Let the world into your living room with paisley wallpaper in deep purple, a golden Oriental patterned rug, a Moroccan pendant lamp, antique sepia postcard prints of Paris and New York, "Cheshire cat" wall plates and bulldog bookends.

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CSR is synonymous with Qatar Fun Ville unveils its first centre at Ezdan Mall

Landmark Leisure, the entertainment division of the Landmark Group, launched its first-ever Fun Ville centre amidst great fanfare at Ezdan Mall in Doha.


t was a special moment when students of Ezdan Mall’s “Education for All” initiative had a fun time at the centre to mark the launch in the presence of Landmark Group Qatar COO Santosh Pai, Landmark Leisure COO Silvio Liedtke and Ezdan Mall General Manager Malik Qaiser Awan. Pai remarked: “We aim to provide funfilled times to our little visitors at our Fun Ville centres, that are designed and equipped to cater for children aged 0-12 years, keeping in mind the relationship with the community around. All our Fun Ville centres are tailored with handpicked activities, games and attractions that are loved by children in the neighbourhood where we are present.”

The Fun Ville centre houses a Fun ’N’ Learn play area that is designed to engage younger children with arts and crafts, singing, dancing, colouring and pretend play. Fun ’N’ Learn allows children to make choices, achieve crucial developmental milestones and have fun while they are learning in this process. A selection of popular rides that enjoy a huge fan following like Happy Swing, Drop and Twist Tower, Bumper Cars, Beach Safari, Tour de Paris and Mini Dance Party 360 are also present at the centre. For 4-12 year-olds, Fun Ville is also equipped with its highly popular "Play Zone" soft play area that aids their physical, social, mental and emotional skills.

The CSR Qatar Summit will be held at the Renaissance Hotel, Doha on November 24 and 25. The event will have Corporate Social Responsibility practitioners, corporates, foundations and thoughtleaders who will share local initiatives during the summit.


r Daan Elffers, the conference chair, founder of the Anglo-Dutch sustainability firm EMG in 2004 and an advisor with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute in California, said ahead of the conference: “Countries like Qatar, with their strong ambition and unique potential to make a positive contribution to both society and the environment, are in an ideal position to accelerate innovation and take the lead in transforming natural sustainability challenges into their competitive advantage.” The gathering will focus, among other things, on maturity drivers to align CSR initiatives with the business agenda. The summit will conclude with a certified workshop on repositioning CSR initiatives into a business model.

Doha Bank receives THE BIZZ 2013 award Doha Bank was presented with The Bizz Arabic Award 2013, at a glittering ceremony in Dubai in September. The event recognised companies from the Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Europe and Latin America for outstanding achievements in business excellence. These companies have gained success for their high standards in corporate leadership, management systems, the quality of their goods and/or services, innovation and creativity, CSR etc., thus demonstrating their good business practices.

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business > market watch

Qatar’s First International Boat Show

L’ Occitane and Plisson offer shaving accessories L’Occitane has partnered with the Plisson brand to sell its shaving accessories, for a limited period, in its boutiques for men who want to enjoy a luxurious and sophisticated shaving experience.

The first edition of the Qatar International Boat Show (QIBS), being held at Lusail Marina from November 12 to 16, has signed up numerous international shipyards and maritime companies.


aysal Mikati, owner and managing director, Snow Comms Conceptual Communications and Events, which is organising the boat show, says the number and quality of the international companies that have signed up for the event is testament to their confidence in its organisation and execution. “The international boat show industry is not a one-off event, and takes years to become a solid show. We are already talking to potential exhibitors for the 2014 edition, as well as continuing to sign up yet more for this year’s edition; and we are confident that the first QIBS will set the scene for successful boat shows to be held in Qatar in future,” Mikati concluded. Entities that have signed on include the Ferretti Group, represented in the region by Gulf Yachts and Art Marine; Sunseeker International; Princess Yachts International; the Bilgin Shipyard; Sunreef Yachts; Overmarine; Sea Ray; Sanlorenzo; Benetti and more.

GF Ferre Executives from Al Jaber Watches unveil their latest watch collection at La Cigale.

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business > market watch

Where technologies converge

With over 80% of the world’s biggest information and communication technology brands represented, Gitex (Gulf Information Technology Exhibition) Technology Week 2013 gave us a peek at the absolute bleeding edge of innovations coming our way.

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t Gitex, technophiles would have had the distinct sensation of being let loose in the earthly equivalent of heaven. There was always the problem of how to negotiate the labyrinth of next-gen technological innovations. Dis you go systematically from hall to hall and take in all that was on offer, stall by stall, or did you just plunge in and go berserk? We chose the latter. From Sonic Chairs that let you immerse yourself, literally, into the multimedia experience, to the still-in-development Google Glass, you could stare the future in the eyeballs at this massive technological event that boasted international exhibitors from over 150 different countries, up by 26% from last year, with over 130,000 ICT professionals in attendance. Companies from countries like Belarus, Brazil, Finland, Kenya, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovenia, Tunisia and Ukraine were exhibiting for the first time. “Year on year, we have improved our ability to attract and support international businesses, organisations and visitors, and we are proud to say that 2013 is one of our

most internationally diverse shows yet,” said Trixie Loh, Senior Vice-President at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Over at the Sheikh Saeed Halls, the most tech-forward government bodies from MENA region exhibited cutting-edge technology that is expected to be part of everyday life soon, if it isn’t already. Often it’s something you can experience for yourself first hand – Smart Taxis that allow you to, say, reserve a table at a restaurant while you are on the way there or automated immigration gates; in other instances, it’s a coming together of complex IT infrastructure that impacts you only indirectly, like the massive framework in place behind the smooth functioning of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company, or automated survey vehicles. Dubai, well on its way to becoming a Smart City, unveiled several new applications on behalf of the government, offering residents the option to pay bills and phone charges, among other services, though their mobile devices. As the public sector giants flexed their tech muscles, in a small but boisterous cor-

ner of the hall, at the Student Lab section, 10 university teams from across the region competed to showcase their innovations for the first time. Students from An-Najah National University in Palestine won first place for their Android-based home automation application that’ll help handicapped people negotiate tasks around the house with a single click. They received a cash prize of AED30,000 to help make their idea a reality. Other notable entries were an automated phishing detector and a mobile app to connect users interested in voluntary work. The buzzwords at the event were security, cloud computing, mobile apps and big data, with conferences and seminars aplenty revolving around these over the week. IT research and advisory company Gartner predicted that the Middle East and North Africa would experience one of the highest global growth rates for public cloud services, increasing from 2012 to 2013 by 24.5% to $462.3 million. At Cloud Confex, industry experts from the region’s influential companies participated in panels, demonstrations and interactive network-

ing sessions to illuminate the opportunities and challenges of cloud computing, and explain best practices to maximise Return On Information. Diego Arrabal, Director, Middle East Sales, F5, said: “As an increasing number of organisations in the Middle East incorporate cloud computing and new flexible data centre architecture into

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business > market watch

their application and service delivery arsenal, F5 solutions help them ensure scalability, security, availability and manageability across their environments and systems.” New this time at GITEX were the talks on Big Data. While the technology to harness Big Data has already come of age, businesses are still grappling with how to operationalise it, experts said. The opening note for the Big Data Conference was delivered by Francis Maude MP, Cabinet Office Minister in the UK. While all this was in progress, major product launches vied for attention in the exhibition halls. Microsoft launched Win-

dows 8.1. Ford introduced its newest virtual test drive interface. Prologix Distributoion is bringing in Cambium’s new low-cost ePMP devices to help set up wireless networks in saturated markets, usually in the licence-free and unregulated bandwidths. “This is based on a simple concept of GPS or time-based synchronisation,” said Aditya Sahaya, Director of Business Development at Prologix. “Here we are using the GPS for timing the Tx and Rx packages and synchronising them according to the base station. This is just fresh off the shelves, launched worldwide only seven days ago, and we are very excited to bring this to the Middle East market.” Another crowd-puller was the Gitex Hot Stuff Awards, which featured gadgets like Asus PadFone Infinity, a smartphone that can transform into a tablet; the Nvidia Shield, a pocket-sized gaming platform that promises to put high-end graphic-heavy games in the palm of your hands; PlayStation 4, which is set to go on sale by Christmas; Fitbit Flex bracelet that tracks your activity (and inactivity) and won’t hesitate to guilt you into waking up for that early morning run. Ultimately, the Cubify 3D printer emerged as the winner. At QR7,000 ($1,920) you’ll ideally be able to manufacture everything from your own gadgets and shoes to washing machine parts and even human ears at home with your 3D printer. How’s that for cutting edge?

Size does matter

Panasonic was on a launchspree with three new products unveiled at Gitex, putting the company firmly at the core of the visual devices market.

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op technocrats from Japan arrived along with their development teams to introduce the Middle East to their new line of technological marvels. “Middle East and Africa is a key market for us with abundant potential,” said Panasonic's Masao Motoki , Managing Director for Marketing (MENA). “Middle East has made significant contribution to Panasonic’s overall sales and continues to grow year on year. We are working closely with our business partners in these regions to further boost sales and tap into Africa’s potential. We are aggressively working towards expanding our reach in residential, non-residential, mobility and personal spaces and aim to add 100 more service centres to the 597 existing ones in the region by March 2018.” Introducing their new range of lamp-free

professional projectors, Kouichi Kawashima, director of the company's visual systems business division, said that innovative display solutions and services were Panasonic’s home turf. “We have a long continuous history in this market starting from 1975. And from classrooms to largescale outdoor events, our customers have come to expect the best kinds of solutions to suit their respective needs. This is one such product that the Middle East has been demanding for long.” Launched for the first time in the region exclusively for the B2B customer, this range of LED and laser-diode powered projectors is an efficient alternative to conventional lamp projectors. “It guarantees greater shelf time (the device can handle two years of continuous use or 20,000 hours) and less heating. The device can be used in new, unimaginable

ways, with projections being made even on the floor and people walking across do not affect the screening,” he said. The London Olympic Committee wanted to use this device for their opening ceremony last year and Panasonic had to push the launch date from November to May. Shigeo Okuda, Panasonics's director of Business Development Centre, introduced the world’s first 20-inch tablet to the audience. “The Toughpad 4K promises a viewing experience four times better than HD,” he said. Designed especially for CAD development, the device can be used along with the Touch Pen, which can distinctly read each pixel using infrared signals, giving designers a paper-like feel for sketching, annotations and writing. “Portable and rugged, this helps you carry your designs with you and make changes that can be viewed by clients or team members in real time. It also halves the time needed from start of design to client approval by streamlining the process and negating the need to go back to the drawing board after every feedback session,” Okuda said. The Toughpad, which comes preinstalled with Window 8.1, can be transformed into a working desktop with a cradle, and reduces the need for designers and engineers to use multiple devices. Later at Gitex the company also launched a new interactive video wall combining 4x4 55-inch LCD panels with full HD quality, and invited the audience to learn more about these devices and experience them at their stand. Speaking exclusively to Qatar Today, Motoki said that currently the Panasonic B2C market was much bigger than their B2B, and they were looking to expand more in

this sector. “Our security cameras and PBX (private branch exchange) are one of the more popular B2B products in the Middle East since these are very high-performance, high specification devices accompanied by a larger price tag. Many of the Middle East governments are our customers as they require products that are highly reliable and give better performance.” Talking specifically about Qatar, he said that Panasonic is working closely with both its consumers and project partners, and the country is a big market especially for panel displays and CCTV cameras. “We expect the demand for these infrastructure products to rise as the country continues to develop,” he said

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business > market watch

An Ace up its sleeve

By Abigail Mathias

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Today, Jakob Olsen, Vice-President of Acer’s Commercial Division in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), explains how his company hopes to engage with the Qatari market.

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n a competitive global arena, few tech brands are willing to spend time bridging the gap between people and technology. Acer is one such company. That is probably why 100 media professionals from around the world were invited to learn more about the Taiwanese brand in September 2013. “We want everyone to understand that the Taiwanese value people,” explains Jakob Olsen, Vice-President of Acer’s Commercial Division in EMEA. He is based in Lugano, Switzerland and visited Doha a year ago. Qatar has left an impression on him, he says. “It just blows my mind. We were fortunate to meet a few people who could show us how much the country has developed in a short period of time. For me that was very impressive.” During his 15-plus years in technology, Olsen has held numerous leadership roles his most recent being Hewlett Packard's Vice-President of Sales, Alliances and Marketing for emerging markets. He also leads the development of Acer’s EMEA commer-

cial channel and go-to-market initiatives like education – a subject dear to the brand and this region. “For markets like Qatar, where the officials are so actively involved in promoting education, the focus is extreme and that is good news for us. What these ministries of education and the local governments are looking for is not just merely buying 100,000 laptops. That is relatively easy. They are looking for more. They are hoping to create an environment that optimises the way children can learn. We can help fulfil that vision,” he says. “We have noticed a few trends when it comes to education. Some markets are decentralised, where the government allows the schools to create their own learning methods. Others are centralised, which is focused and more controlled by the government. With our ecosystem of partners and our own software, we can tailor-make the solution so it fits your needs. Some may say they have very small classes with access to individual laptops and to a projector. Others might have big class-

rooms and a problem with control. For instance, in a class of 30 or more children, the chances of each student paying attention to the teacher is not very high. Intel has provided more than 10 million students with technology designed for education and more than 10 million teachers with professional development, and helped more than 100 governments around the world to transform their educational systems. Acer believes student success is best served by a combination of learning and teaching platforms with tablets, notebooks, desktops and connectivity, as well as the data centre at the back end. The company’s Intel-based solutions offer the flexibility of an open architecture so educators can choose the peripherals, software, instructional content and infrastructure they need, making it easy to integrate into the classroom now and in the future. Olsen explains: “We have the complete solutions, which is very unique in the business, and we are very proud of that.” Acer Education notebooks and tablets combined with Intel Education Software, will provide a foundation to help prepare students for success in the 21st-century knowledge-driven economy. While many believe that technology will take over learning, Olsen feels that learning is taking over technology. He thinks that it is not the technology itself that matters but what you do with it. During the September event, Acer also introduced its partnership with Intel Education Software, presenting software features in a range of its notebooks and tablets to its partners. ` Built with both IES features and Intel processors, these products are designed to withstand the rigours of the education environment by offering dependability, security and a long battery life. The software is already available on the TravelMate B113, X313 Ultrabook and the Iconia W510/ W510P tablet, with plans to expand the offering to the full line of products targeted at the education market. Connected classrooms The IES suite helps students to foster 21st-century skills, such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and digital literacy.

In addition to empowering educators by enhancing the learning experience and efficiently managing their classrooms it also supports existing IT systems by protecting students, securing data and managing infrastructures. The mobile landscape When it comes to mobility, Olsen feels small and medium-sized business customers change a lot from a device point of view. “We don’t see one trend in the market suggesting all customers will have a tablet. We are going to see a multitude of people who want a desktop and a tablet. We will be able to offer what you want.” There is no doubt that the value of the mobile phone is here to stay. He adds: “The Liquid S2 from Acer is a very interesting product. It is big enough to work on yet small enough to put in your pocket. There is a big future for that. The question arises on how this will affect the tablet market. We are again not too worried about it. We want to offer people a phone, a tablet, a laptop, a two-in-one, a desktop – we have all that. From a revenue point of view we want to make sure we are close to our customer’s needs.” When it comes to Qatar, the brand sounds optimistic. According to Olsen, “The Middle East is an important market for us as a whole and in fact Qatar in particular. With respect even to Saudi Arabia we have a very good chance here to collaborate with our product offerings. We are eager to expand our partner programmes there. The good news for Acer is that we have the right brand. Our team in the Middle East is an experienced, solid team, so I don’t have to be worried about that. If you run a small business and contact us tomorrow, we are ready to go ahead and build.” The tablet market in Qatar is relatively stronger than other countries in the region. This is perhaps music to any manufacturer’s ears. In a highly engaging presentation, Olsen shows off the Travelmate X313 the company’s latest touch ultrabook designed with senior management in mind. It has an in-built 11.6 inch HD display with in-plane switching (IPS) technology and is available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a starting price of approximately QR 5,000.

“People in Qatar are focused on nice products. We have markets in Switzerland and Austria and the Middle East where people want high-end products. I am hoping that the people in Qatar select our products and enjoy them.” Jakob Olsen Vice-President of Acer’s Commercial Division in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

Stats Acer was established in 1976 and is ranked No. 3 for notebooks globally. It employs

8,000 $14.7

people, and 2012 revenues reached


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focus > sports file


Crunch time for Qatar’s Asian Cup dreams

Qatar face two crucial games in November in their bid to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.


l Annabi currently lie in second place in Group D, just one point behind the leaders, Bahrain, and two ahead of third-placed Malaysia. Only two teams in each of the five qualifying groups are guaranteed their passage to the finals, so Qatar will need to stay ahead of the south-east Asians to progress. After beating Yemen 6-0 in Doha last month, Qatar travel to Al Ain in the UAE for the ‘away’ match on November 15. Yemen must play their home games at a neutral venue due to security concerns. Meanwhile Bahrain face Malaysia on the same night. Then four days later, on November 19, Qatar will make the long-distance journey to Malaysia for what could be a makeor-break game at the intimidating Shah Alam Stadium in Selangor. Qatar coach Fahad Thani knows that there is still a lot of work to do to qualify, and even after the six-goal drubbing of

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neighbours Yemen he feels his team have a higher level of performance in them. “I’m satisfied with the result [against Yemen],” he said. “But I expected the players to show a better level. Their good physical condition helped us perform better than our rivals. We shouldn’t be complacent, but take all remaining matches seriously.” Qatar’s sixth and final group game will be at home to Bahrain on March 5. Australia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea qualified automatically by virtue of their performances in recent regional tournaments. In the other groups, Oman and Jordan are in pole position in Group A, Iran and Kuwait occupy the two qualifying spots in Group B, Saudi Arabia and China look good in Group C, and the UAE and Uzbekistan are controlling Group E. The Asian Cup will take place on January 9-31, 2015 at five venues in south-east Australia.

Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic

UEFA - November 15 & 19 Portugal v Sweden Ukraine v France Greece v Romania Iceland v Croatia

CAF - November 16-19 Senegal v Ivory Coast (1-3) Nigeria v Ethiopia (2-1) Cameroon v Tunisia (0-0) Egypt v Ghana (1-6) Algeria v Burkina Faso (2-3)

Intercontinental Playoff November 13 & 20 Jordan v Uruguay Mexico v New Zealand


nfortunately, the tournament will be without the magic of either Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristiano Ronaldo, because Sweden have been paired with Portugal in UEFA’s second round of qualification. Elsewhere in Europe, France, who finished runner-up to Spain, face Ukraine; Greece play Romania; and Croatia meet Iceland. In the final round of qualifiers in Africa, with the first leg completed, the Ivory Coast have a 3-1 lead over Senegal; Ethiopia must overcome a 2-1 deficit



After a long qualification campaign that started with the match between Montserrat and Belize on 15 June, 2011, the final eleven places for the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be decided this month.

against Nigeria in Lagos; Egypt look dead and buried as they are 6-1 down to Ghana; Burkina Faso have a 3-2 lead on Algeria and the Tunisia-Cameroon tie is evenly poised at 0-0. The final two spots are decided with a pair of inter-continental playoffs, where Mexico, who finished fourth in the CONCACAF section, play the winners of the OFC section, New Zealand; and Uruguay, who finished fifth in CONMEBOL, take on Jordan, the playoff winners from the AFC.

Vettel wins Indian Grand Prix and Championship

Sebastian Vettel cemented his championship title at the Buddh International Circuit with three more races still remaining this year.


he youngest-ever racer to win four championship titles ( joining Prost, Fangio and Schumacher), Vettel had a strong 90-point lead over his closest contender, Fernando Alonso, even before the race. He kept his two-month winning streak intact, beating second place winner, Nico Rosberg, over the 60-lap, 300 km race by 30 seconds. Romain Grosjean came in third 40 seconds after Vettel. The German driver, who rides for Red Bull Racing, achieved pole position the day before, and his triumph seemed almost inevitable. At the podium, he said, “I’m speechless. I crossed the line and I was empty. It was one of those moments you want to say something and you can’t. It’s a pleasure to jump in the car and give it all for the guys. The car was phenomenal all season.” qatar today > november 2013 > 89

culture>doha diary

DFI showcases Ajyal – a youth festival By Abigail Mathias

In an exclusive interview with Qatar Today, Fatma Al Remaihi, Festival Director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Head of Programmes at the Doha Film Institute (DFI), shares what the festival means to her, personally and professionally.

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atima Al Remaihi is no ordinary film buff. Besides working with the DFI since 2009, she is also a mother. One who takes her job very seriously. Her four children keep her equally busy at home, and it is easy to see that they have influenced her. How? you may wonder. They have orchestrated the need for a youth oriented film festival in Qatar, the Ajyal (Generations) Youth Film Festival, which will take place from November 26-30, 2013. Ajyal Youth Film Festival builds on the DFI’s history of community-based programming. Ajyal invites generations to come together to discuss cinema through events that inspire creative interaction, opening up a fun, collaborative environment where young people can express

themselves. The Festival engages families and educators through a celebration of the best in international youth cinema, and year-round activities that enrich film appreciation. Al Remaihi explains: “At the Doha Film Institute, we tried to incorporate everything into one event in the past. Sometimes it is hard for audiences to comprehend what you are trying to achieve during an eightday festival (the Doha Tribeca FilmFestival in 2012). We have noted some specifically popular days, the family day, being one of them. We then thought it would be nice to do a festival focused on a younger audience and families.” The Ajyal Youth Film Festival will run for five days, with the final two days marked as a family weekend. Activities exhibitions,

screenings and a few red-carpet events will form a part of the event. The theme of the festival is Japanese animation. “Five classic anime (Japanese animation) films will be screened during the event,” confirms Al Remaihi. The DFI is also organising a second festival, called the Qumra Doha Film Festival. It will focus on emerging directors and expand competition to films from around the world. According to Al Remaihi, “this will serve our mission to support emerging filmmakers and new talent. This festival celebrates first-and second time-filmmakers, as we try to build the industry from the grassroots up.” With four years of experience of hosting the festival, has film appreciation really grown in Qatar? “With everything that the Doha film Institute is doing – and it is a lot throughout the year, especially with our year-long screenings, workshops and educational programmes – I believe there has been increased appreciation,” says Al Remaihi adding, “We have to fight against big blockbusters and studio films. Our films have good stories, but their themes may be difficult.” Among its many activities, the Doha Film Institute is conducting an art series in collaboration with the Museum of Islamic Art

Save the date Name of the film

Film Director

Venue and Date

The Wind Rises

Hayao Miyazaki

Katara Drama Theatre, Tuesday 26, 7:00PM

‘The Castle of Cagliostro

Hayao Miyazaki

Katara Open Air Theatre, Thursday 28, 7:00PM

Horus: Prince of the Sun’

Isao Takahata

Katara Open Air Theatre, Friday 29, 10:00PM

Panda and the Magic Serpent’

Taiji Yabushita, Kazuhiko Okabe

Katara Open Air Theatre, Wednesday 27, 7:00PM

“No one in the MENA region has given this much focus on children’s content. The fruits will not be seen till a few years later, when these collaborative efforts will get noticed.” Fatma Al Remaihi Festival Director of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Head of Programmes at the Doha Film Institute

(MIA) along with the Qatar Museum Authority (QMA)’s organised art exhibitions. To highlight the recent exhibition, ‘Hajj: the journey through art,’ at the MIA, the Doha Film Institute screened a film related to the subject . “We showcase a lot of films at different events. I think that through word of mouth, the interest keeps growing. The Ajyal Youth Film Festival and Qumra Doha Film Festival are actually a celebration of all the efforts we do year-round,” she says. The vision for the Ajyal Youth Film Festival is clear. “What is our youth going through every day? Their issues are not specific to Doha or the region; they are universal topics. Which is why, when you bring a film from Germany but discuss a subject that is universal, everyone can relate to it,” claims Al Remaihi. Age appropriate The DFI is particularly cautious about the relevance of the movies on display. According to Al Remaihi, “we bring films that are international, but are global in theme.” qatar today > november 2013 > 91

culture > doha diary

Festival Exhibition A special exhibition called Otaku will be held from November 27 to 30 at Katara Cultural Village, building 6. ‘Otaku,’ which refers to people with special passion for anime and manga works, pays tribute to the complex and numerous streams of the innately Japanese form of art. The space will be repurposed to display Otaku art, where each participant within the exhibition will be given a window to assimilate their artworks into the overall theme.

Costume event A special highlight of the Otaku exhibition will be the "Otaku Cosplay Event" (a costume play) scheduled for November 29.

Family Days On November 29 and 30 the whole family is invited to enjoy activities during the weekend of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival. All events at the Family Days are free and offer activities for children of all ages. Highlights include storytelling, video games, music, dance, shows and performances from talented local youth and international artists besides other surprises.

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Content is top of mind, especially since the festival will be dealing with young people and a younger audience. The DFI is also hoping to invite speakers to discuss the films, which for Al Remaihi “is equally important.” She adds, “It is one thing to screen a film, but to have someone discuss the subject matter is crucial, as the issue has a more lasting impact.” For the DFI, the festival it is not just about entertainment. “It is also about issues that we want to bring to the table and we want to talk about openly,” says the festival director. “The first element of the festival is how to discuss topics that affect our youth. The second element is something, I feel very strongly about and we lack in the Gulf region – the discussion of content aimed for younger audiences.” “What are we allowing our children to watch?” asks Al Remaihi. “Be it in film or the online world, children today have i-pads and their mobiles, and they see everything at the click of a button.” This is a subject that will be discussed at the start of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival. She adds: “DFI cannot of course make content safe on its own. All the media outlets and content providers have to work together to make sure that available content is safe.” A two-day industry forum is being planned to address such pertinent issues. “We will have interactive workshops and hopefully, by the end of two days create a working document on what to do next,” says Al Remaihi. Of course the subject of violence in cartoons isn’t new, Al Remaihi acknowledges. “Film should be intriguing. It should capture one’s imagination, but at the same time it should not be an immoral archetype for kids to emulate.” The forum encourages teacher and parent participation. Al Remaihi is optimistic. “No one in the MENA region has given much focus on children’s content. The fruits of our efforts may not be seen now. With industry professionals we can discuss the problems and work out the solutions together.” Our films, their films The jury programme, part of the Doha Experience is an important aspect of the Ajyal Youth Film Festival. Youngsters aged 8-21 can apply to become official jurors, who help select the best films screened at the festival. They will include youngsters based in Qatar as well as 20 international jurors who will be flown in for the festival. “We are

hoping to recruit hundreds of jurors,” states Al Remaihi. The jurors meet filmmakers, conduct workshops and attend special activities created for them. “My son has been doing it for three years now and he waits for this experience,” beams Al Remaihi. After the event the best jurors will be selected to attend an Italian film festival. “We recently took six of the best jurors from last year's Doha Film Festival to Giffoni, Italy. We hope everyone is encouraged to enrol, as this is a life-changing experience for the children. The films reflect daily issues and they get to freely discuss topics that affect their lives. It is an environment that helps them comprehend what they see and discuss it openly,” adds Al Remaihi. With such ambitious plans, a thriving film industry in Doha may not be a very distant dream. “There is great potential,” affirms Al Remaihi. “We need to work with every sector in the country to achieve our goal. Like any other country it will take a while to establish a firm base. But we are taking the right steps with this festival.” Nurturing young talent is perhaps the best foundation for future filmmakers from Qatar. “A film has so many aspects to it, including infrastructure, art and costume. Our young jurors are introduced to all these elements.” Clearly stating her passion for the medium, Al Remaihi says: “Film is a great outlet for us. For our hopes, dreams, aspirations, disappointments – everything. You can put it all in a film and share the experience with everyone.” Funding is an important, almost defining, aspect of filmmaking. Al Remaihi explains, “400 films applied for grants this year. Our film financing committee goes through the subjects and selects the best ones.” While a previous category was only open to Arab filmmakers, it is now open to international films as well. With such a tall agenda, what makes the festival special? “I’m a mother and I see the jurors as the main aspect of the festival. These are our future generation of filmmakers, film lovers and critics. They offer a lifetime of participation. They are very committed and we are committed to them, to provide the best.” The road ahead seems like a challenge but for the Youth Festival Director, “this is nothing. There is a lot more planned,” she smiles. The box office opens on November 13. Check www.dohafilminstitute.com for more information

culture > doha diary

Helping unlock your potential

Raw Health Coach Nicole van Hattem, who has been with How Women Work for the past four years, talks about her first conference, her practice in Doha and figuring out what you really want to do.


olistic health coach Nicole’s journey with How Women Work (HWW) started in 2010 at the Golf Club. “It was such a small event compared to what we’re doing now,” she says, reflecting on how she was drafted in to help with registration on the very first day, in addition to conducting a workshop, and on its very exciting growth since. “By the time the event had moved to Katara and then the Renaissance Hotel it had become bigger and much more professional and slick. My own experience has been with running workshops, being on panel discussions and most recently as an attendee, where I was fortunate enough to relax and enjoy it as a participant.” Nicole says she has got more from HWW than just memories. “Watching the professional development and evolution of the conference from something that we were very passionate about, that we had a vision about, has been priceless.” She remembers that she met her first Qatari business partner right there at her very first conference. “She was the keynote speaker, and as I sat listening to her I

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remember thinking I could see a synergy between her vision and approach and mine. That attracted me to her, and it provided me with a fantastic opportunity to go have a conversation with her.” Talking about what sets HWW apart from other conferences for her, Nicole says: “It’s the opportunities and framework that have been created to make it very easy for people to network. It’s wonderful to be able to have an opportunity to be connected with like-minded women from different cultures and nationalities who are facing similar challenges and have overcome them.” Qatar didn’t have that sort of platform before. And Nicole was pleasantly surprised that as a female entrepreneur in Qatar she wasn’t as alone as she thought. “A lot of the expat women here have potentially put their careers on hold and followed their spouses to Qatar with space and time to be really able to investigate what they want to do with their lives, and maybe potentially evolve that into a business,” she says. “The conference really gave me access to a lot of information, resources, inspiration and support to make it possible for me not to

feel so alone and isolated.” The opportunity for reinvention here is huge, she feels. “Through the years I have seen women really step into themselves and blossom in terms of whether they are moving their career up a corporate ladder or evolving. Because they are expatriates they have a different environment, different focus, while they are here. And also the Qatari population has embraced the opportunities for women and what is acceptable and how that can be supported. Really, the growth and investment that comes from a network of women that are all there to support, collaborate, benefit and uplift each other is quite phenomenal. It’s very exciting to be part of.” Making friends at the conference isn’t the end-all of it, Nicole reminds us. “The conference itself is a very powerful opportunity to network, but the relationships are built over time. So it’s important that after the conference you take the time (which I did) to build on the key relationships by having regular contact with people, finding out how you can contribute to what they are going through in terms of their evolution in business.” While with HWW, Nicole has built and sold a successful business and started another one from scratch. “The point of starting my own business was to be able to explore the different opportunities that come with it – where you work, how you work, how much you work. I took some time out to really think about what I wanted, and decided to close the business and open something that was a bit more authentically me. So it was coming from the right place. So you end up having less effort to do what you love doing.”

About How Women Work The fifth annual How Women Work conference is coming up in March 2014, with the theme “To inspire joyful and fulfilling careers”. The HWW community offers events every month, which you can find out more about on hwwqatar.com or on Facebook “How Women Work”.

culture > doha diary

Akbar Al Baker named Business Leader of the Year

The American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar recognised Akbar Al Baker with its inaugural award for his business achievement and contribution to Qatar.


ith over twenty-five years of business experience in Doha, Al Baker has been an instrumental figure in spearheading the development of Qatar Airways into one of the fastest-growing and most highly-acclaimed airlines in the world. Accepting the award, which recognises individuals

The Torch Doha wows with its Design


he Torch brought home “Best Hotel Construction & Design Arabia” and “Best New Hotel Construction & Design in Qatar”, presented at the One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai. The hotel faced tough competition from a number of hotels and resorts in Qatar and the region to receive this recognition. The awards were announced recently at a high-profile gala

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dinner and awards ceremony. As a top-scoring winner in the Arabian region, The Torch Doha will go on to compete in the International Hotel Awards global competition and judged against the other regional winners from across the world. The “World’s Best” winners will be announced at the international grand finale event in London on November 3.

for outstanding business achievements and contributions to the State of Qatar, he said “I accept this award not as one person but as a representative of 28,000 people in a global network who are dedicated to the relationships we have built in countries all over the world – the United States especially.”

The hotel won in two categories at the International Hotel Awards in the Arabian regionals held in Dubai this month.

Qatar prepares for IASP 2014 At the closing ceremony of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation’s annual world conference (IASP) in Brazil, Qatar kickstarted preparations to host the event in Doha next year.


ead of the IASP 2014 Organising Committee and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Managing Director Hamad Al Kuwari vowed to “lead a robust discussion in the coming year among entrepreneurs, science parks, academia and industry about how technology goes to work in science parks to create knowledge and commercial opportunities." Ex-

cited about the prospect of hosting the first IASP in the Arab world, he said, “Our challenge is not just to keep pace with the world’s most empowered generation of innovators, but to support and empower them further.” IASP 2014 Doha will take place from October 19 - 22 next year at the Qatar National Convention Center

Chi’zen makes an offer you can’t refuse

The contemporary Chinese restaurant at the Oryx Rotana has launched a new beverage menu. Guests at the hotel can experiment with their drinks and choose from a tantalising array of beverages, each of which comes with its own unique twist. Sanjeev Thakur, Country Operations Manager, Foodmark, the company that runs the restaurant said, “With everchanging preferences, our guests rely on us to stay ahead of the curve and that’s exactly what we’ve done with our new beverage menu.”

Art Attack

culture > doha diary

Doha is Hirst’s Canvas from birth to death

Damien Hirst is now irreversibly bound to Doha, it would seem. In addition to the eye-popping sculptures outside Sidra, his Relics exhibition has caught the fancy of the city. Speaking about the former, he said, “I was approached by Sheikha Al Mayassa for a special, big outdoor project. She wanted to do something educational and cultural and wanted me to come and have a look at the sights and think of ideas. To invoke religious feelings about conception is what I was looking for with these sculptures.” While one celebrated new life, the other dwelt on death. “I was taught when I was young to confront things I can’t avoid. The beauty of life is that it can

A passion for Pilgrims (right) Brass Qibla Indicator, 17th century; (further right) Ka'ba key, 14th century

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be taken away at any time,” he says, talking about the eventuality of death. He says that he’d like to think there was no difference between his exhibition here and anywhere else in the world. “As an artist you transcend the cultural differences. I look for and use universal triggers – we are all afraid of the dark, we all think butterflies are beautiful. Even when I am talking about dark things, the nature of my art is optimistic. So when I use a skull, it’s a celebration of death.” Even as an artist who has faced criticism at home, at the hands of more mature art audiences, Hirst refuses to accept that his exhibition might be met with scorn and confusion here. “It’s ridiculous to think people won’t like it. You don’t have to understand it. But enjoy it. Have a reaction to it," he says. That’s all he asks.

Hirst Highlight (Clockwise from left) A Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst outside Sidra Medical Services; Hirst addresses media in Doha; Away from the flock, one of the exhibits at Al Riwaq.

A revered journey: brought alive through art Hajj – The Journey Through Art at the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the first exhibitions of its kind in the region exploring the art revolving around the pilgrimage of Hajj. Presenting artworks from the MIA and objects from Qatari collections like photographs, videos, books, manuscripts, historic artefacts, textiles, coins, maps and contemporary works of art, many of which have never before been displayed in public, the exhibition offers audiences a local interpretation of the pilgrimage. It achieves this by focusing on the routes taken from Qatar to Mecca, gifts brought back by local pilgrims and a section dedicated to the oral histories of Qatar.

Cry me a river For his first exhibition in the Middle East, Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli celebrates femininity with his most striking portraits of iconic female figures adorned with Vezzoli’s signature of an embroidered glittering tear. Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor and Lady Gaga and more make an appearance to reflect the drama of a female divided identities, and show the anguish between living a public and a private life.

A window to Qatar Entitled Magic of Nature in Qatar, the exhibition captures the country’s natural landscapes through the lens of the award-winning photographer, Ahmed Bin Yousef Al Khulaifi. 17 photographs will be on display at departure terminal of the Doha International Airport (DIA).

Sarah Bernhardt image at the Museum for Crying Women

Material Man French-Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed’s exhibition entitled L’age d’or (The Golden Age) brings together his recent works including drawings, paintings, sculptures and videos, many created especially for this show in Doha. The artist takes materials into great consideration and is often provocative in their use; camel bones, gold, salt, brass, gum and terracotta take on new and multiple meanings.

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Qatar Today looks at two expatriates from everyday life, one who has lived here for a significant amount of time and another who has just made Doha her home, for their take on life in this city.

My Home in Qatar James Townsend Head of Real Estate, Pro Properties Here since 2008 (five years) The call of opportunities 2008 was a bad time in Europe. But there was a lot of potential in the Gulf which was faring much better than the markets back home. If you are ready to look past the traffic (which is really not as bad many major cities), the growth here is unparalleled. We still have easy access to high net worth individuals, high-ranking heads of companies and ministers, which is not possible in Europe. This kind of access leads to opportunities. It has brought me closer to my aspirations – to create a successful company and grow with Qatar. Waking up to blue skies My favourite part about living in Doha is waking up to blue skies. Of course I miss plenty of things from back home – family and friends, flexibility, social normality – all the things that you tend to take for granted. The change in me that’s most obvious since my move here is that I have become more pro-active – in both my personal life and work life. I have had to. Unlike in Europe, there is very less structure here. We have to go find business. It makes you stronger. Same goes for your downtime as well. You have to make your own fun and activities to keep yourself amused unlike in London where everything is laid out for you. Talking shop When I first moved here the real estate and rental prices were high. The crash in Dubai impacted prices here which started to fall and only now, with demand outpacing supply, the status-quo is returning to pre-2008 levels. I do think that eventually expats will be allowed to purchase more freehold properties (like at The Pearl, as opposed to real estate in Zig Zag Towers which are on leasehold) in Doha; in fact there is a Barwa project coming up in Al Khor though it’s a long way from completion.

New Beginnings Nora Maki PR Consultant, Grayling Here since January 2013 (ten months) The first sight of Doha I was offered a job with Grayling and I jumped on the chance to move to Doha. My first impression was very positive! Having arrived in the early hours of the morning, Doha looked magical with its stunning architecture and the glittering lights of West Bay. It immediately felt like home. I can’t think of anything in particular that I miss about my

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home in Finland, however having lived in the UK for the past 13 years, I do long for greenery from time-to-time. If I were to take a piece of Doha back home There are actually a few things I would like to take with me; the architecture, the food, the weather and the friendliness of the people!

Aspirations It’s a very exciting time to be in Qatar. On a professional level, to be able to work on groundbreaking culture, infrastructure and aviation related projects that will shape Qatar’s future. On a personal level, I am hoping to grasp the basics of Arabic and explore the region the further to enrich the cultural experience.