Qatar Today October 2012

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october 2012

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48 Corporate Governance – Has anything changed?

Qatar Today examines how corporate governance is playing out in Qatar and the region in light of the recent financial crisis. Although Qatari banks didn’t have much exposure to it, they were still able to assess the damage from outside and apply what they learned to their governance frameworks here. What has changed in Qatar in the past five years, and is it still lagging behind the larger markets in this segment of the industry?

41 Human Rights Watch respond to criticism



The Human Rights Watch report which examined the labour recruitment process and Qatar’s restrictive sponsorship system was criticised in Qatar Today last month by a Qatari lawyer – accusing the organisation of having vested interests and compromising Qatar’s national identity. HRW Researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Priyanka Motaparthy validates the report in light of this criticism.

66 Saluting Brand Heroes


What makes a brand great? Who are the “brand heroes” in Qatar? Who is pushing the boat out a little to really give their brand some definition? Iain Webster, Executive Director Qatar at The Brand Union Middle East, examines the organisations which are successfully equipping their businesses with compelling world-class brands.

86 Qatar’s ‘new age’ court

The Qatar International Court and Dispute resolution Centre was established as part of the national strategy to attract international business and financial services to Qatar. Sowmya Sundar discussed the ‘new age’ court with its CEO, Robert Musgrove.

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

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Technology synergies

Middle East telecom groups have demonstrated rampant growth through global expansion in recent years, but, as the dust settles, the focus is now shifting towards realising value from these international investments. Booz & Company examines how they are going about this.

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High demand in construction

The cost of building in Qatar has seen a dramatic rise in recent months. Construction costs are the highest in the Middle East and the 13th highest in the world. Yet it can’t slow down; Qatar’s 2030 Development Plan requires it to continue unabated. Oxford Business Group examines why the sector is still booming despite the high costs.

86 What is a “Boutique Hotel”?

Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels is the latest entrant into Qatar’s hospitality sector, and it brings with it a new concept in a truly traditional setting. Sindhu Nair asked Carl Henderson, its new General Manager, to explain this concept in more detail.

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Growing with the Qatari economy

Jamal Fakhro, Chairman of KPMG’s Middle East and South Asia sub-region, talks to Rory Coen about the Qatari economy and what he expects will happen over the course of the next decade. He explains that if you’re not growing with the Qatari economy, then you’re not a major player.


The Victorian Grand Heritage

The Grand Heritage Hotel attracts as many Qataris as GCC tourists. They like to take leave from their daily lives and enjoy the tranquillity of the surrounds of the hotel. Rory Coen spoke to its General Manager Pierre-Marie Vasseur, who explains why they are drawn to its unique, rather English, atmosphere.

regulars News Bites.................................................14 O & G OVERVIE W. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 B AN K NOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 arab snippets............................................28 W o r l d V i e w. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 0 TEC H TAL K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 8 auto news .................................................82 Market Watch............................................90 D o h a D i a r y. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 0

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

october 2012

Yousuf Jassem Al Darwish Sandeep Sehgal Alpana Roy Ravi Raman

Editor Sindhu Nair SENIOR CORRESPONDENTS cassey oliveira RORY COEN EZDHAR IBRAHIM CORRESPONDENT OLA HIYAB senior Art Director Venkat Reddy deputy Art Director Hanan Abu Saiam assistant art director Ayush Indrajith senior Graphic Designer maheshwar reddy Photographer R obert F ALTImirano

senior Manager – Marketing Zulfikar Jiffry ASSISTANT MANAGERS – MARKETING Chaturka Karandana THOMAS JOSE senior Media Consultant HASSAN REKKAB MARKETING RESEARCH AND SUPPORT EXECUTIVE EMILY LANDRY senior Accountant Pratap Chandran Sr. Distribution Executive Bikram Shrestha Distribution Support Arjun Timilsina Bhimal Rai

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

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

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

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

october 2012

from the desk


is nothing more gratifying than getting responses from readers. And last month we, the edit team at Qatar Today , were swamped with responses. Our social media campaign that ran with our September “Branding” cover was well received, and we had many readers writing in with their tagline for Brand Qatar.

We had many endearing ones, like “Awesome Qatar” and “Qatar, the Qutest Country”; some clever ones, like “Navigating the Present for the Future” and “Where Prosperity Awaits”; and a few astute taglines like “Where Deaths on the Road are Likely”, “The Land of Land Cruisers” and “Have Money, Will Spend”. Poring over the taglines, what seemed evident was that all the respondents, most of them expatriates but with a few nationals too, considered the country their own, and even if they were here “temporarily” and for “monetary gain”, they too shared the passions of this ambitious country and took pride in its achievements. Not a sentiment that is shared across the country. There have been a few voices of discontent over the large number of immigrants being a menace to the Qatari way of life. (The Permanent Population Committee, in a recent survey, found that a majority of Qatari youths believe the country has a problem with its population.) This was reflected in an article by Christina Paschyn entitled “Anatomy of a Globalised State” that considered the impact of this huge immigrant population. With the BBC quoting a UN estimate that immigrants are arriving in Qatar at a rate of 20 per hour, the immigrant issue is not to be dismissed lightly. Not when those immigrants falling into the labour category are also being scrutinised by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for any signs of abuse. Qatar Today talks to Priyanka Motaparthy, a researcher at HRW, as she responds to allegations made by two prominent Qataris in our last issue. Corporate governance is another sensitive issue that gains importance in the light of two senior executives of a major bank being pulled up for money laundering by regulators in the US. Although Qatari banks didn’t have much exposure to this, they were still able to assess the damage and apply what they learned to strengthen governance frameworks here – a topic discussed in detail in our Cover Story this month. Continuing with our country branding obsession this month is our “Brand Heroes” article, which throws light on some of the brands that put Qatar in the limelight. And… Jamal Fakhro, Chairman of KPMG’s Middle East and South Asia Region, reflects on the company’s growth pattern; Carl Henderson, GM of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, tells us what “boutique hotels” are all about; and the Grand Heritage Hotel serves a refined tea to visitors from around the Gulf. All this, and much more, inside…

Happy Reading.

Sindhu Nair

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letters feedback

Define Qatar Your cover-story makes an interesting point about marketing campaigns from around the world - they’re all different, but they’re all the same; ‘Incredible India’, ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’, ‘Remarkable Indonesia’. Where’s the punch? Where’s the angle? Qatar needs something truly unique to tell the world, but is struggling to find the right pitch at the moment. Conceptually, it’s somewhere between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but isn’t really either of them. It’s a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing. It needs to finally come out and define itself. Peter S

Sponsorship Firecracker

Kudos on the sponsorship story in September’s Qatar Today. I was delighted to see the Ministry of Labour trying to defend itself against these antiquated and unrighteous sponsorship laws. How do they think the country is going to progress if expatriate employees cannot move freely from one job to another, and instead must stay in their original job or leave the country? They really need to look at the bigger picture. Who’s helping who here? Amjeth

Education – the work hasn’t even begun yet

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

qt poll – october


Looking at your spotlight segment in last month’s edition, it looks like Education City has really settled down into a magnificent campus with some world-class institutions, which seem to be specifically chosen for Qatar’s next generation. However, whatever these colleges intimate about hitting the ground running here, it’s going to take some time to build a culture of learning among the students here. Build it and they will come – but will they necessarily study? Will Adams

A model for Qatar

I think Qatar should really nurture this relationship with Singapore. They certainly know how to build a business city from the ground up, with little or no natural resources. Urban planning and development, transportation and education in particular. This really is something Qatar should be trying to practise, because as soon as the oil and gas run out, they’re on their own! Elham Hashim



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

Qatar Today would like to apoloise for the incorrect spelling of the name of Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), Centre Director, Middle East, Shaik Umar in last month’s edition of the magazine. The IDA and ictQATAR signed their fifth Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and not their fourth, which was also incorrectly documented in the article.

DOES THE COUNTRY NEED A TAGLINE? Qatar Today invites readers’ feedback





The winning number of the last QT poll is 3477775

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

Check out all articles of Qatar Today on

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

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



Qatar leads the region in competitiveness

QNFSP downplays the impact of Saudi vegetables export ban


Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Chairman, QBA


atar leads the Arab world, jumping three places, to rank 11th on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Global Competitiveness Index. A report details the economic profiles for each of the 144 economies featured in the study, providing a comprehensive summary of the overall position in the index rankings. As conveyed in the report, Qatar’s strong competitiveness rests on solid foundations consisting of a high-quality institutional framework, a stable macroeconomic environment and an efficient goods market. High growth combined with prudent governmental support to the financial sector have contributed to maintaining strong

macroeconomic and financial stability. Throughout seven consecutive years, the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) has been the exclusive local partner of the WEF to highlight the strengths of the local economy, especially with respect to the investment climate and opportunities in all areas. Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of the QBA, stated: “The importance of the report lies in the fact that the survey outlines the factors that determine the degree of productivity in the country and thus the degree of prosperity and progress enjoyed by our local economy, which has effectively achieved a growth rate of 19%, the highest in the world last year.”

Sheikha Moza launches legal handbook on education HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser launched an important new legal handbook aimed at protecting education in times of conflict or insecurity. The launch came during her recent visit to New York for the 67th UN General Assembly where she was working as a global education advocate, as she highlighted the 61 million young children who are out of school in areas of conflict. “Depriving children of the right to education is not only a human tragedy, it is an obstacle to recovery and building a better future. As countries recover from conflict, education is a vital building block for improvements in health, peace-building and economic growth. The indifference we have seen to this issue is almost as bad as the problem itself,” she said. Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict: An International Law Handbook was commissioned by Education Above All (EAA), the Qatar-based policy and advocacy organisation chaired by Sheikha Moza.

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he Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) claims that the recent decision by Saudi Arabia to ban exports of five types of vegetables has had only a limited impact on their prices in the local markets of Qatar.  “Looking at retail prices of the five products over the past two weeks provided by the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) we see no significant changes in these prices, a QNFSP study documented. However, it added: “Out of all the products, potatoes are most likely to have a slight price increase in the interim due to the Saudi ban and large local demand. For the other four products prices may also increase, but to a lesser extent, and mainly due to other factors such as increased land transportation costs and seasonal variations.”  The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture had issued a decree banning the export of potatoes, watermelon, dry onion, sweet melon and pumpkin as of September 17. Subsequent media reports spoke of a new wave of price hikes including a possible 30-40% increase in the price of potatoes. Currently Qatar imports more than 65% of its needs of this crop from Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the study, the Executive Chairman of QNFSP, HE Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, said: “The new development shows the potential to easily increase local production for at least some of these crops, like watermelon, sweet melon and pumpkin. Local producers can take advantage of the market needs and relatively high prices,” he added. According to the study, the current situation provides a good incentive for increased local production of vegetables including potatoes which can also easily be stored for a long time with appropriate storage facilities.

news bites

QU collaborates with Aspetar Qatar University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital (Aspetar) signed an MOU to provide clinical training and supervised practical experience for students of the college’s Human Nutrition and Sport Science Programmes last month. The MoU was signed by QU Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dr Humaid Al-Midfaa and Executive Manager of the National Sports Medicine programme (NSMP) Abdul Rahman Al-Qahtani.

QU pushing ahead with Arabic instruction


atar University (QU) is committed to teaching its students in Arabic in certain disciplines, as President Prof. Sheikha Abdulla AlMisnad explained the proactive changes the university is making to stay competitive recently. In what has become a contentious topic in education circles, Prof. Al Misnad pointed out that Arabic will continue to be the language of instruction in Business, Law, Media, and International Affairs and that the university has ensured that sufficient English courses are integrated into curricula to ensure its graduates are competent in both languages in a way that responds to labour market needs. On the issue of Qatarisation, Prof. Al Misnad highlighted that Qatari faculty now make up 40% of the academic faculty, 21% more than last year. Through the National

Capacity Building Programme, QU supports professional development initiatives for Qatari academics to bolster their existing skills and competencies. Additionally, a scholarship programme at QU for nationals enables them to undertake their graduate studies at some of the best universities in the world, returning to the university as faculty or to join the various sectors in Qatar as leaders in their field. Some 52 are expected to return to QU in the near future as faculty in various majors. Thirteen additional students were recruited to the programme recently.

in figures

QU now has over

12,000 4,000

students in its ranks with some

students joining this academic year. This number is complemented by an additional

12 24 3

new undergraduate programmes, a total of

Masters and

PhD programMEs, and an increased faculty body.

Microsoft Qatar creating opportunities


icrosoft Qatar has helped to design YouthSpark, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people in more than 100 countries over the next three years.  “Through Microsoft YouthSpark we are making a commitment to help 300 million young people around the world achieve their dreams by focusing our citizenship efforts and other company resources on connecting young people with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship,” stated Naim Yazbeck, Microsoft’s Country Manager in Qatar. “Working closely with other organisations, such as Qatar s Silatech, we are committed to continuously providing unmatchable services to the Qatari youth to promote and empower small businesses and young entrepreneurs”, he added. Through Microsoft YouthSpark, the company will dedicate the majority of its cash contributions to nonprofit organisations that serve young people around the world, such as Silatech, GlobalGiving, TakingITGlobal, Foundation, the International Youth Foundation and the ASEAN Foundation.

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news bites

HMC distinguishes trauma care


amad Medical Corpora- is a huge milestone, not just for HGH but tion’s Hamad General Hos- for the global trauma care environment, pital (HGH) moved closer because now we are able to compare our to verification as a Level 1 performance with centres across the USA Trauma Centre through its and will use this data eventually to compare participation in the United States Nation- our services with those in Europe and other al Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). With this countries.” Meanwhile, Professor Peter Cameron achievement, HGH also becomes the first hospital outside the USA to contribute to will lead a new multi disciplinary team that is tasked with transforming emergency serthe NTDB. Trauma is a leading cause of death in the vices across all of HMC’s hospitals. Managing Director of Hamad Medical young adult population within the Gulf region. Headed by Dr Hassan Al Thani, Corporation Dr Hanan Al-Kuwari said: HGH’s Trauma Centre handles all of Qa- “These new appointments come as part of tar’s trauma injuries and aspires to achieve accreditation by the American College of Surgeons as a Level 1 Trauma Center. Holly Ann Hepp, Trauma Programme Manager at HGH said: “The NTDB has more than five million records, and by participating we gain access to information that enables us to compare our performance to that in other trauma Monira Mollazehi, Trauma Database Administrator; Dr Hassan centres and thus im- Al Thani, Head of the Trauma Centre; and Holly Ann Hepp, Trauma prove our efforts. This Programme Manager at HGH.

NU-Q Professor Granted Prestigious Fellowship Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q)’s professor Joe Khalil has been awarded a visiting research fellowship at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), where he will be publishing his research on youth media in the Arab world.

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a transformation strategy for improving the quality of emergency services across all HMC hospitals. That is part of a wider strategy of becoming an Academic Health System dedicated to providing high quality clinical care, training future generations of doctors and health professionals and developing research that is relevant to the health and well-being of our population.”

UPU Congress to affirm Doha as top MICE destination


E the Minister for Culture, Art and Heritage Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari was hopeful that the three-week-long World Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), would go a long way to affirm Qatar’s position as a top-class MICE destination. The congress takes place in Doha from September 24 – October 15. He hoped that, like many other economic, political, financial and cultural summits held in Doha in recent years, the participants would give this the thumbs-up and recommend Doha for future summits and meetings. “Through the hosting of a major event such as the UPU Congress, Qatar has demonstrated its willingness to play an active role in the development of the global postal sector in the coming years,” he said. He claimed Qatar’s reputation as a top-class MICE destination was made possible only because of the openness demonstrated by the country at different levels and its good track record in maintaining law and order. He recalled that even though methods of communication had evolved thoroughly in the past twenty years, and waiting for the post every morning wasn’t what it used to be, the postal sector is still considered a vital service, as those involved in the industry are dealing directly with people in many remote corners of the world.

news bites aljazeera telling the stories


Qatar to host UN Climate Change Conference



OP18/CMP8 represents more than just the largest conference to come to Doha; it is a global symbol of the nation’s commitment to building a prosperous and sustainable future for generations to come. Over the past few years, Qatar has risen to a global leadership position in the fields of research, education, media, international business, energy, sports and culture. This November, Qatar will demonstrate its commitment to leading international discussion on one of the most critical issues of our time: sustainable growth and development. From November 26 to December 7, Doha will play host to 194 nations, more than 1,500 members of the global media, and thousands of visitors from around the

world as the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8) negotiations come to the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). Qatar’s leadership Following the procedural rules of the conference, it is customary for the COP and CMP to elect as president a minister from the host country. The President of COP18/ CMP8 is HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman of the Qatar Administrative Control and Transparency Authority. HE Al-Attiyah brings significant experience to the role. Prior to holding his current office, HE Al-Attiyah’s career of service to Qatar has included the offices of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry, and Minister of Water and Electricity.

Under the leadership of HH the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al Thani, the country adds to its many successes a proud history of hosting credible negotiations on tough regional and international issues. Hosting COP18/CMP8 is the latest chapter in this vision. As a coastal dry land nation, wholly dependent on the sea for freshwater and more than 90% dependent on technology and trade for food, Qatar stands on the front line for risks associated with global climate change. Developing an effective framework for dealing with the impacts of a changing climate is a top priority for the government. But it doesn’t stop there. As a leading producer of low-carbon energy products and technologies, the country has increasingly voiced its commitment to working along-

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news bites

side nations dedicated to forging a responsible and sustainable energy future. Hosting COP18/CMP8 provides the opportunity for Qatar to bring the global conversation to Doha and take a more active role in moving forward its own commitments. Qatar’s Green Projects at a glance The first introduction that many visitors will have to Qatar’s leadership on this issue will be the convention centre itself. The QNCC, where UN negotiations will take place, is the first convention and exhibition centre of its kind built to the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards. Notable green technologies include state-of-the-art systems for water saving, energy efficiency and indoor environment quality. On the roof, 3,676 square metres of solar panels utilise constant sunshine to produce 12.5% of the building’s total electricity requirements. But the QNCC is just one small part of Qatar’s vision for the future. More than 3% of its GDP is invested into pure research, a sizable portion of which is devoted to finding ways to make growth and development greener. The development of alternative energy sources is critical for Qatar’s transition from a carbon-based to a knowledgebased society. Moreover, diverse energy sources will be of great economic and environmental benefit to Qatar. In that vein, Qatar has launched multiple initiatives that work towards mitigating CO2 emissions, as well as developing cleaner energy alternatives. At the forefront of these projects is the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), the member of Qatar Foundation (QF) that is an incubator for conducting and coordinating long-term and multidisciplinary research. It addresses critical national priorities in energy and the environment by integrating knowledge of the energy, environment, food and water resources in ways appropriate for Qatar and the region. QEERI’s long-term research portfolio includes: assessment of solar resources, development of an instrumentation test station, nanotechnology for solar energy applications, the water-energy-food nexus, modelling of the desert environment, biodiversity and environmental restoration

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Green steps from the nation

QNCC: Venue for COP18: 3,676 sq mts of solar panels produce 12.5% of the building’s total electricity requirements. QEERI: Research wing of QF: Development of an instrumentation test station; nanotechnology for solar energy applications; the waterenergy-food nexus; modelling of the desert environment; biodiversity and environmental restoration of the desert and Gulf ecosystems; purification and conversion of hydrocarbon compounds; mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions; solar photovoltaics; concentrated solar power; and more energy-efficient water desalination. QNFSP: National food security programme: The Global Dry Land Alliance is envisioned to be a collaborative undertaking by countries most severely affected by dry land challenges to combat the threat of food insecurity and create solutions to their common food security problems, and to provide mutual assistance in times of need.

of the desert and Gulf ecosystems, purification and conversion of hydrocarbon compounds, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, and more energy-efficient water desalination. Aside from traditional research, Qatar has developed innovative approaches which it hopes to share on a global scale. The work of the Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) represents just one of the ways that Qatar is pioneering new approaches to the climate challenge. The purpose of the QNFSP is to achieve food security for the country through sustainable and green technologies. Its mission is to develop a unified, overarching national policy for sustainable agricultural development and improved security of food imports, in accordance with the principles of the Na-

tional Vision 2030 and the country’s obligations as a member state of World Trade Organisation (WTO) and GCC. Another initiative that the country has undertaken is the establishment of a Global Dry Land Alliance (GDLA). The GDLA is envisioned to be a collaborative undertaking by countries most severely affected by dry land challenges to combat the threat of food insecurity and create new solutions to their common food security problems, and to provide mutual assistance in times of extraordinary need. For the benefit of its members, and in anticipation of sharing knowledge and best practices with populations suffering from hunger and poverty, the GDLA will engage in joint research and technological innovation; direct funding to existing organisations for specified research and programme implementation; improve members’ food security policies and planning; mitigate members’ food security vulnerabilities; and create food crisis response capabilities. Support from the sidelines But it won’t be all policy and politics in November and December. Doha has a wide range of events and activities planned to showcase the nation and region. Running alongside the conference, the “Qatar Sustainability Expo”, to be held at the Doha Exhibition Centre, will provide visitors and members of the international press an opportunity to experience and explore programmes, projects and companies leading the way in sustainable development and green projects. In addition to this public Expo, a full calendar of activities and installations throughout the city will give guests the chance to join the country in celebrating its natural and cultural heritage. The international event will mark the first time that a Middle Eastern country has hosted the sessions and only the second time for an Arab nation. In light of such a historic occasion, Qatar is first and foremost working to make sure that the negotiations will be transparent and inclusive, and has worked in bilateral and multilateral meetings around the world over the past months to build momentum with national delegations, nongovernmental organisations and media groups in hopes of mediating a productive outcome from the sessions


O & G overview

Carbon Capture and Storage:

The next step in climate change


hell, Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) have opened the world’s largest suite of laboratories to research the storage of the greenhouse gas CO2 in carbonate rock formations. The new laboratories form part of the Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC) at Imperial College London, and are part of a QR255 million ($70 million), 10year research partnership between Shell, Qatar Petroleum, QSTP and Imperial. The laboratories represent a significant step forward in the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution to climate change, by helping to build knowledge that can be used to unlock the vast CO2 storage potential of carbonate reservoirs. Researchers at the laboratory will

also analyse how liquids and gases move through carbonate rock to optimise oil and gas production. The research in the new laboratories will be the first in the world to utilise multiscale X-ray CT technology, more commonly used in hospitals to visualise internal structures of the body, alongside other state-of-the-art measurement and modelling techniques, to understand the way CO2 interacts with, and flows in, carbonate rock formations. With more than 50 researchers, including PhD students from Qatar, this new venture will create one of the largest universitybased CCS research teams in the world. Currently in its fourth year of activity, QCCSRC conducts research in a range of science and engineering disciplines relevant to CCS. This involves experimen-



million 10-year partnership between Shell, QP and QSTP


researchers involved tal, theoretical and modelling activities working in close harmony and includes an unrivalled combination of experimentally validated models for thermo-physical fluid properties, multi-scale porous media flow and reaction experiments linked with pore/core-scale modelling and field scale reservoir simulation. The programme will operate internationally in both Qatar and the UK over the coming years, with the main site ultimately located in Qatar and hosted at QSTP.

Qatargas supplies more gas to Japan


atargas announced last month that it is helping its Japanese customers by supplying over 20 million tonnes of LNG in the short term to help with the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Qatargas has increased its support for Japan by 11 million tonnes from the original nine million tonnes of short-term supplies announced last au-

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tumn. These volumes are in addition to the several new long-term LNG supply agreements reached between Qatargas and its Japanese customers over the past 12 months. This is a substantial commitment to the energy security of Japan. Qatargas CEO Khalid Bin Khalifa Al Thani said: “Being the world’s largest LNG producer, we are demonstrating one of our fundamental marketing principles, that Qatargas sells LNG to where it is needed the most. As of now, Qatargas has delivered LNG to 21 countries, with planned sales to several more in future. As we aspire to be the world’s premier LNG company, we seek to maintain the highest standards of safety, reliability and integrity whilst offering our customers the required flexibility to meet their operational requirements.” Qatargas has ongoing long-term commitments to deliver approximately 13 million tonnes per annum to term buyers in Japan and China.

Tasweeq charts success story Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Company (Tasweeq) hosted a reception for its business associates at the Renaissance Doha city centre. The reception was held to honour its business associates and to introduce them to Tasweeq’s new headquarters. Tasweeq’s Chief Executive Officer, Saad AlKuwari, welcomed guests and presented to them a brief on Tasweeq’s achievements over the years.



bank notes

Infrastructure key to Qatar’s Growth HE Sheikh AbdullaH bin Saoud Al Thani, the Governor of Qatar Central Bank, in the middle and on his right

HE Sheikh Abdul Rehman Bin Jabor Al Thani, Doha Bank Managing Director and HE Sheikh Fahad bin Jabor Al Thani, Doha Bank Chairman. On the left OF THE governor ARE Ahmed Obaidan, Doha Bank vice-chairman and Dr Seetharaman, Doha Bank CEO.


oha Bank hosted an exclusive regional knowledgesharing seminar on “Market Opportunities, Risks and Solutions” on September 10, with expert submissions from Wells Fargo Bank, Axis International (insurance surveyors), Cunningham Lindsey (loss adjusters) and Latham & Watkins (law firm). Doha Bank Group CEO Dr R. Seetharaman highlighted the trends at global and regional level and the key developments of the financial crisis to date. He elaborated on the financial stability of the world economies and the policy changes that are required at a macro-economic level. “Global economic growth is expected to decline from 2011 levels. The advanced economies debt issues are not yet resolved, and the emerging economies are also slowing down,” he said. He highlighted the proactive measures

QIB approves Sukuk issuance programme 26 Qatar Today


taken by the Qatar government to monitor and manage the crisis and its impact on customer confidence, stating that publicprivate partnerships worked effectively in Qatar during the crisis. He addressed the opportunities in infrastructure, saying that major projects are planned for Qatar’s infrastructural development in anticipation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Some of the major projects include New Doha Port and Barwa City. “Infrastructure execution will drive the market dynamics in Qatar for years to come,” he said. Aryam Vazquez, Global Emerging Markets Economist at Wells Fargo’s International Group, said: “Infrastructure-led activity is serving as a driver of regional economic growth. Infrastructure development is a mechanism to strengthen social fabric and will advance diversification and quality of life in the GCC economies.”

atar Islamic Bank (QIB)’s General Assembly has approved the Board of Directors’ recommendation to establish a medium-term $1.5 billion Sukuk Programme. The announcement was made following the General Assembly meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel on September 16. Based on the approval, the bank will now pursue all necessary regulatory approvals from the relevant authorities.

october 2012

GCC reinsurance market thriving


arket sentiment remains upbeat among reinsurers and brokers operating in the GCC, according to the Third GCC Reinsurance Barometer, a survey released on behalf of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority. The impact of last year’s near-record burden of global catastrophe losses, the aftermath of the Arab Spring, and growing primary insurance markets, will translate into an improved pricing and profitability outlook. The annual study is based on in-depth interviews conducted with 33 reinsurance and brokerage executives representing the majority of the region’s players. In 2011, the combined GDP of the six GCC countries amounted to $845 billion (QR3.1 trillion), ranking the region among the 20 largest economies in the world. From 2007 to 2011 the region’s economies grew at an average pace of 4% annually, twice as fast as the rest of the world. Insurance markets in the GCC reflect the region’s economic dynamics. Between 2006 and 2010, GCC insurance premiums expanded almost five times as fast as the global average, with Qatar registering an impressive 12% nominal growth per annum. “The attractiveness of the GCC as a marketplace for reinsurers continues to increase,” says Shashank Srivastava, CEO of the QFC Authority. “Economic and associated direct insurance market growth is set to remain well above the global average. In addition, natural catastrophe exposure is moderate, resulting in generally low and stable loss ratios. At the same time, crucial soft factors such as insurance awareness and the professionalism of reinsurers, insurers and brokers continue to improve.”

ban k n ot es

Financing your property dream For expatriates carving out careers in Qatar, investing in one of the spectacular luxury developments on offer is tempting. But in the current economic climate, careful thought should be given as to how to finance your venture.


in the property market has been an option since 2004 when the government opened up the market to foreign buyers. The move saw three main designated areas allocated to foreigners looking to buy freehold property – The Pearl, West Bay Lagoon and outof-town historic Al Khor City, whose name means ‘sea on three sides’. Elsewhere, there are nearly 20 leasehold areas where foreigners can also buy property. However, since the credit crunch of 2008 Qatar’s local property market – like everywhere else – has taken a knock. A glut of unsold property built during the boom period means prices have come down. So expat investors who will at some stage look to move away from Qatar should keep a weather eye on the secondary and tertiary buyers’ market. If there’s a surplus of property when prices are low, careful thought needs to be given as to who you will sell to when the time comes to move on. So while making an investment in property can still makes sense – particularly as part of a diversified portfolio – buyers need to look ahead when assessing the long-term value of such an asset and make sure their mortgage offers the right kind of protection if circumstances change. Determined buyers have a number of local formalities to put in place before they can go knocking on the door of lenders for a mortgage. Borrowers must provide proof of their financial ability to repay a loan. Financial circumstances will be investigated,


as will the terms of your employment contract and residence permit. So, having amassed your documents and secured an agreement in principle on the desired property, what type of mortgage is available for an expatriate living in Qatar? Starting with the local market, expatriates have been able to secure a mortgage for a local property purchase for the past seven years. Commercial Bank provides mortgages to resident expatriates and to non-residents buying in the designated areas. The bank promises a more personal service for those who visit the bank, where a manager will explain the bank’s mortgage policy as well as the process of buying real estate in Qatar. Doha Bank also provides home loan facilities to foreigners. Features of a typical mortgage include a repayment period of up to 20 years, insurance cover, loans on new or existing properties, and what the bank promises are “highly competitive interest rates”. The more familiar name, for some, of HSBC has a local presence in Qatar and offers local mortgages. You’ll need a minimum salary of QR20,000 for a loan to value (LTV) offer of up to 65% for a maximum repayment term of 15 years. The LTV offer on constructed properties is 65%, a property under construction reduces to a 60% LTV and it’s 50% for apartments. Given that expatriates cannot always predict how long they will remain in any one location – unexpected job loss, family circumstances, promotion are all reasons why expats unexpectedly leave a country – many turn to the international mortgage providers because of inherent flexibility on portability, currency denomination and other terms

and conditions that are structured with an expatriate’s needs in mind. Many expatriates secure peace of mind with an international mortgage that is based in one of the offshore finance centres such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Such centres offer a well-regulated environment providing a number of sophisticated options for property loans with enough intrinsic flexibility to match an expatriate’s itinerant lifestyle. That said, there are not that many international lenders advertising loans for Qatar-based property. Engaging the services of professional, well-regulated international mortgage brokers would cut out much of the leg-work in finding a lender, as well as enable you to find a bespoke mortgage offer tailored to your particular needs and suitability viz. length of the loan and currency – which is an area to which expatriates need to pay attention. In almost all cases, the currency you borrow in should link to the income stream from which you finance the loan. The Qatari riyal is linked to the US dollar, so if your income is part derived in a third currency – say sterling or euro – then you’ll need to bear in mind that the fortunes of the US dollar against your income currency will in all probability be your greatest element of risk, unless your actual loan repayments tie into sterling or the euro. If your income is predominantly paid in the local currency then taking out a local currency loan makes a lot of sense. However, you’ll want to check with the lender on the portability of such a loan and whether there is scope to switch the currency denomination

BY David Russell Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Wealth Management Qatar

David Russell joined Guardian Wealth Management in Geneva, helping from inception to establish an office which is now regarded as one of the leading providers of independent financial advice to the employees of many international organisations. With the expansion of the company into the Middle East, David was elected to take over the reins as the Senior Executive Officer for Qatar.

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realty check Construction Awards for excellence in the sector


he Construction Week Qatar Awards 2012 were held last month at the Grand Hyatt in Doha, paying tribute to Qatar’s burgeoning construction industry. A total of 13 awards were handed out in a range of categories, from projects to individuals, with about 300 people attending the high-profile event. The judges commented: “From humble beginnings, Qatar has become one of the most widely discussed countries of the world. Qatar is on the verge of what will be one of the most dramatic transformations a country has ever seen.” The Lifetime Achievement Award went to HE Khalifa Ali Al Hitmi, who the judges said “was investing in Qatar long before the country had seriously engaged the international community”. Consultant of the Year went to Atkins, lauded by the judges for “providing local value and consistent support to the National 2030 Vision.”

The full list of winners is as follows: HSE Initiative of the Year: Mace International Architecture Firm of the Year: Arab Engineering Bureau Sub-Contractor of the Year: Arabian MEP Contracting FM Company of the Year: MMG MEP Company of the Year: Arabian MEP Contracting Commercial Project of the Year: BASREC’s IKEA Doha/Festival City Tower Project of the Year: Qatar Silhouette Tower

Engineer of the Year: Andrew Darlington, BIM Manager, Ramboll Consultant of the Year: Atkins Construction Executive of the Year: Donna Sultan, CEO, KEO International Consultants Sustainable Innovation of the Year: Texas A&M University at qatar’s sustainable water and energy utilisation initiative Contractor of the Year: Atlantic Contracting Lifetime Achievement Award: HE Khalifa Ali Hitmi

Environment-friendly Concrete


sheireb Properties has been introducing more environmentally responsible concrete in the construction of its Msheireb Downtown Doha project. The project now operates an on-site concrete batching plant, which is one of the most environmentally efficient of its type in the region, using cement mixes that consume significantly less energy and produce fewer harmful emissions. The ‘green concrete’ produced at Msheireb’s now fully operational batching plant reduces emissions by using recycled materials as a substitute for cement. Ground-granulated blast-furnace slag, known as GGBS or ‘fly ash’, a by-product of iron and steel making, replaces up to 70% of conventional cement in the concrete mixing process. GGBS-based concrete is also stronger than ordinary concrete and emits less heat while curing. With construction of Msheireb Downtown Doha now well under way and concrete being poured around the clock, the environmental benefits of the new batching plant are considerable. Cement manufacture is generally energy-intensive, producing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Cement production globally is responsible for around 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, a figure set to rise in line with dramatic population growth and urban development. Locating the new batching plant at the Msheireb Downtown Doha construction site also saves fuel in the transportation of labour and raw materials, and reduces the need for cooling to maintain concrete at a stable temperature during summertime transportation and pouring.



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Compared with making 100 round trips per day to the nearest concrete batching plant, located 25 kilometres from Doha, the new facility will slash the distance travelled by supply trucks from 3.9 million kilometres per year to 1.4 million kilometres per year, and reduce vehicle CO2 emissions by 4,551 metric tonnes per year, the equivalent of 750 passenger vehicles consuming 1,759,470 litres of gasoline.



arab snippets GCC

Infrastructure Investment goes high


overnments across the GCC plan to invest $1 trillion to develop their infrastructure according to a recent report by Deloitte. Of these countries, Nabil Salim, AAA Construction Equipment Director, emphatically states that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the two countries with the most opportunity to attain a favourable return on investment. The report by Deloitte highlights the investments made by the Saudi Arabian government, including the estimated $400 billion plans to build schools, houses, universities, new railway infrastructure, airport extensions and road improvements. Furthermore, with the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, projects planned and underway are estimated to be worth $230 billion, reports Deloitte. The significant investments being made across the GCC provide both positive and negative trends in the demand and supply of heavy machinery in the region. UAE

Proceedings begin against Dubai Group


hree banks have begun legal proceedings against an investment vehicle owned by Dubai’s ruler in an unprecedented move to secure repayment of loans in the Gulf state that could delay a wider deal on restructuring $10 billion of debt. Royal Bank of Scotland said last month that it had launched the action against Dubai Group with German lender Commerzbank and South Africa’s Standard Bank. The banks began the proceedings in a London court on September 13, people familiar with the matter said. The move breaks with the precedent in previous restructuring cases involving Dubai state-linked firms which avoided courts due to the United Arab Emirates’ untested insolvency regime. Dubai Group, a unit of Dubai Holding, the investment arm of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 due to excessive use of leverage in its investments and a sharp decline in asset values. Since missing interest payments on two loan facilities in 2010, it has been locked in talks with its lenders to extend repayment deadlines. It wants time for asset values to recover before making sales in order to pay back its debts.

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Violence mars Islamic countries across the world Tunisian protesters lower and burn a US flag as they replace it with an Islamic flag, during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, outside the US embassy in Tunis on September 12, 2012. A purported portrayal of the life of the Prophet Mohamed in the low-budget innocence of Muslims movie sparked protests in Egypt and violence in Libya that killed US ambassador Chris Stevens and three American officials. AFP PHOTO


world view

Flying without Wings UNITED KINGDOM, London: Germany’s Reinhold Boetzel competes in the men’s high jump F46 final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London on September 8.

Sino-Japanese Tension CHINA, Xiangshan: Chinese fishing boats set off to fish near the disputed Diaoyu Islands, known in japan as the Senkaku Islands, from Shipu fishing port in Xiangshan county, east China’s Zhejiang province, on September 16, after the summer fishing moratorium in the East China Sea ended. Japan and China, Asia’s two largest economies, are at loggerheads over the archipelago in the East China Sea administered by Tokyo under the name Senkaku and claimed by China under the name Diaoyu.

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New Somali President survives attack


SOMALIA, Mogadishu: Somalia policemen walk away from the body of one of the suicide bombers who was killed as he attempted to enter the hotel Jazeera compound in Mogadishu on September 12, where the newly elected Somali president Hasan Sheikh Mohamud was staying. Al-Qaedalinked Shabab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack in which two blasts rocked the hotel.

No trunks allowed!


THAILAND, Hua Hin: A polo player from the Elephant Story team (brown) fights for the ball with a member of the Nellies team (pink) during the annual King’s Cup elephant polo tournament in the southern Thai resort town of Hua Hin on September 13. The King’s Cup tournament is held to promote elephant conservation.

Turkish Tragedy TURKEY, Izmir: A diver carries a young girl, after a boat carrying illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe capsized in waters off western Turkey, on September 6. Forty-five people including two crew members were rescued alive, but at least 39 people drowned. The captain and his first mate who were among the survivors, were detained.

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Qatar Today 35

v i e w p oi n t

Rising cost of construction points to high demand The cost of building in Qatar has seen a dramatic rise in recent months. Across the board, from labour to building materials, prices have increased.


in August it was announced that construction costs in Qatar were now the highest in the Middle East, with a report released by consultancy EC Harris finding that Qatar is now the 13th most expensive country in the world (having previously ranked 16th) for construction costs. Yet despite the potentially adverse effects on building projects this might have in theory, the construction sector is booming, with many large-scale infrastructure projects planned as part of the preparation for the World Cup in 2022 now gathering momentum. As such, although the sector has witnessed rising labour costs – which have almost doubled in the past year as a result of mounting pressure for better wages for workers – and rising costs of building materials, the sector shows no sign of slowing down. In addition to the new sports facilities and stadia set for construction in the coming years, transport infrastructure is also scheduled for significant expansion as can be seen from a slew of related activity. This includes Qatar Railway’s announcement earlier this year of plans to start drilling work on the new $35 billion (QR127 billion) metro and railway system at the beginning of 2013. Another large-scale development was agreed in August 2012, with the Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) winning a $124 million (QR450 million) deal from the Qatar Foundation (QF) to help build Qatar’s first rail link, a battery-powered tram linking various sections of the Doha complex. Construction work on the tram is set to commence immediately and is expected to be completed by 2015. In May, EC Harris and Mace were awarded a $113 million (QR411 million) contract for an infrastructure building project in Qatar which will include educational and healthcare facilities, ports and waterfront development, as well as public tourism facilities. Overall, it was estimated earlier this year by the MEED Tender Price Index (TPI) that over $15 billion (QR55 million) worth of construction contracts would be awarded in 2012. There have also been major construction projects in the energy sector. The first phase of the Ras Qirtas energy plant was completed in August 2011. The $4 billion (QR14.5 billion) plant will generate 2730MW of power and 63 million gallons a day of desalinated water, which will be used to feed the local network or the GCC

electricity link-up system. The development marks the commissioning of the biggest electricity generation plant in the country. Taken together, projects like these look set to ensure that the state maintains its top position among the region’s best performing markets. Indeed, according to a recent Qatar infrastructure report from Business Monitor International, the sector is going from strength to strength, growing by 9.3% in 2011, with year-onyear growth of 9.5% forecast for 2012. All this comes despite a substantial rise in the cost of building materials, part of the reason building costs in Qatar are now higher than in both the UK and the USA. The rates for bitumen products and asphalt alone have gone up 25-30% over the past five years. However, while cement and steel prices have also climbed, building materials have not been reported to be in short supply. The rising cost of construction is therefore not a result of any supply shortfalls, but rather of the strength of demand in the market; more specifically, it is the focus on large-scale infrastructure projects that is driving up costs. This situation does not appear set to change any time soon, since the government has allocated around 40% of its overall budget between now and 2016 towards developing its transport networks and social infrastructure. The total number of ongoing construction projects set to be launched in the next decade is now widely estimated to be worth over $250 billion (QR910 billion), a factor which the TPI maintains will be responsible for an increase in construction costs of 18% over the next five years alone, as the Gulf state starts work on projects for 2022. The sheer volume of work being undertaken now, and that planned for the future, is creating an increased demand for both commodities and skills, which is inevitably driving costs upwards. Going forward, the sustained pipeline of work is likely to see construction costs rise even further on both a short- and a mediumterm basis. Certainly, the World Cup may be a catalyst for new building projects, but only insofar as Qatar is able to take full advantage of the opportunities hosting the event is presenting; the state is not struggling with the debt burdens that continue to drive austerity measures in Europe. Furthermore, these construction projects are set to create a virtuous cycle, since continuing to invest in construction activities should in turn help fuel continued growth and sustainability long after the 2022 tournament


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

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v i e w p oi n t

Generating Value through Technology Synergies Middle East telecom groups have demonstrated rampant growth through global expansion in recent years, but, as the dust settles, the focus is now shifting towards realising value from these international investments. How are they going about doing this?


order to be fit for growth, telecom groups need to carefully manage costs and realise the full power of their global scale while staying lean to compete in their local markets. Since technology spending represents the largest portion of procurement spend for telecoms operators, many of these firms are looking for ways to realise technology synergies as they look to create value from their recent acquisitions. Keeping costs lean and capabilities focused is particularly important for those telecom players that increasingly have direct business interests outside their home markets, with large portfolios of wholly or partially owned stakes in operating companies abroad. Qtel, for example, recently took a majority position in Asia cell, a major Iraqi mobile telecom provider, and now has over 80 million customers-not bad for a company whose home market in Qatar has less than two million inhabitants. Faced with high and opaque technology equipment prices, these telecom groups have every incentive to use their scale to obtain favourable rates from vendors. This is not just about reducing costs, but it’s part of the greater process of becoming fit for growth, which involves sorting between investments that promote growth and less productive expenditures. The need to generate cost savings also stems from multiple financial pressures on telecom groups. Intensifying competition, along with regulation, makes it more difficult for companies to charge more. At the same time, customers from the different market segments are more demanding. They want telecom providers to offer

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the latest technologies with the fastest speeds and cutting-edge services, forcing companies to invest in greater network capabilities and increased connectivity. Centralised purchasing Telecom groups have responded to these pressures with a continuous rally to improve cost efficiencies, with centralised procurement an important approach. Centralising procurement has an intuitive appeal to telecom groups with holdings in multiple operating companies. By consolidating most procurement at the centre, groups save money through the standardisation of equipment and aggregation of purchasing power. However, the centralised procurement model may be less applicable to many telecom groups in today’s volatile marketplace. Centralised buying of technology helps large telecom groups that have spent several years building group-level procurement capabilities. Time and predictability are important factors in a viable centralised procurement programme. These conditions do not hold for emerging telecom groups such as those in the Middle East. They do not have the luxury of time required for long-term centralisation efforts and their technology needs are frequently redefined by the accelerating pace of innovation. Moreover, centralised procurement specifically poses three main difficulties for emerging telecom groups. First, it does not consider local technological considerations. Often a group’s individual operating companies face unique competitive, technological and economic factors.

A blanket approach can unintentionally tie local managers’ hands as they seek to adapt to local conditions. Second, centralisation requires that a group exert an appreciable degree of management control over its operating companies. Such control typically comes through majority shareholdings in the operating companies. There is a risk that operating companies opposed to centralisation will be marginalised. Lastly, for all its theoretical appeal, centralisation can lead to practical difficulties. It can be hard to ensure the correct balance in terms of procurement between the group on the one hand and its operating companies on the other. As some have found, even the most concentrated system needs some local procurement. Middle East telecom players are likely to encounter these three difficulties. Telecom groups in the region have expanded at a remarkable pace in recent years, branching out well beyond their home turf. For example, the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) is present in 17 countries and has 27 operating companies in these markets, a presence largely built up in the last six years. Etisalat, whose home market has a total population of just 7.5 million, now has 167 million customers. Maintain autonomy Given this recent expansion wave among Middle East telecom groups, an alternative way to tackle the technology synergies challenge is by implementing strategies that maintain autonomy for operating companies inside their portfolios.

v i e w p oi n t

Emerging telecom groups can take an approach that focuses on collaboration rather than centralisation. In this method, the group acts as a service provider for the operating companies and allows them to adapt to local considerations based upon their experience. This decentralised, cooperative approach is easier to establish than the centralised procurement approach, as it does not require large-scale restructuring and it can be just as effective. Indeed, one leading Middle East telecom group that used the collaborative approach generated short-term savings of 15-35% on different aspects of technology spending. There are two main elements to building a decentralised, collaborative synergy approach: making the group act as the service provider and allowing the operating companies the flexibility to adapt to local considerations based on their experience. First, in the service provider model the group-level synergy team proposes initia-

tives that the operating companies have the option to endorse. Operating companies can decline to adopt group proposals that do not fit with their locally driven strategies. Culturally, this means brainstorming ideas and deciding together, not handing down decisions or imposing mandates. Second, the collaborative, decentralised approach empowers the operating companies, giving them the flexibility to adapt and be sensitive to their individual markets. This can be achieved by enabling the operating companies to lead the synergy realisation programme through two bodies. One is a team of experts that draws on the experience of participating operating companies. The group team supports the implementation of technology synergy initiatives. The other is a governance council of operating company leadership

teams, which ensures adequate buy-in from all stakeholders. Ultimately, these elements bring together the group’s synergy team with their counterparts in the operating companies. Better yet, the decentralised approach to technology synergies can provide considerable quantitative and qualitative benefits. The quantitative gains include improving the group’s position with vendors, for example, thanks to the greater visibility of procurement prices within the group. On the qualitative side, sharing knowledge and experience across operating companies can improve the customer experience and encourage innovation. Better management of technology costs can make the telecom group and its operating companies fit for growth by turning technology spending from a problem into a choice. The group and its operating companies can concentrate on the capabilities that will differentiate them from their competitors, providing them with an essential advantage in the telecom marketplace

Visit and

By Karim Sabbagh, Senior Partner, Olaf Acker, Partner, Hilal Halaoui, Partner, and Dany Sammour, Senior Associate with Booz & Company

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

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v i e w p oi n t

Carbon footprinting: Fundamentals and benefits for businesses As delegates from around the world gather in Doha for COP18 (the 18th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), business executives will also congregate to engage in a number of side meetings and discussionsadjoiningthe conference.


recent years, regulators, investors, customers, employeesand other stakeholders have increased their requirementsfor businesses to help advance solutions to climate change and communicate openly about their efforts in this regard. For example, the Carbon Disclosure Project is a nongovernmental organisationthat is specifically engaged in collectingcarbon emissions and climate risk data from companies which is provided to institutional investors holding QR284 trillion ($78 trillion) in assets. Understanding carbon footprint is a fundamental step which businessesmust take in devising and implementing a strategic response to climate change. Deloitte has conducted hundreds of carbon footprint studiesglobally for numerous companies, business aspectsand events, including the COP15 climate change summit in Copenhagen in 2009. In our experience, a diligent assessment of carbon footprint is not only vital to establish an effective carbon management strategy but also creates certain economic opportunities for businesses. Commercial benefits of carbon foot printing Carbon footprinting, whilst it helps address climate change issues, also enables businesses to make more cost-effective decisions. Most organizations’ carbon emissions cost more than they realise, whether from energy and water use in buildings and industrial processes, vehicle fleets, logistics and distribution systems, or staff travel. Because carbon emissionsare a proxy measure for consumption of energy and materials, carbon footprints can be used as a tool to identify opportunities for performance improvements (e.g. lower production costs andgreater energy efficiency) and innovation (e.g. development of efficient and environmentally-friendly products and services).Some of the benefits of carbon footprint data-driven carbon management include: Direct cost savings – Rising energy and fuel prices, combined with tougher regulation and taxation in certain economies, are increasing costs for companies in all sectors and smart man-

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agement of energy usage can help mitigate some of these cost increases. Reputation and brand strength – Many companies report their carbon emissions, but few are reducing emissions in line with stakeholders’ expectations. Achieving significant carbon reductions can improve brand value by demonstrating a commitment to addressing climate change. Corporate communications or public relations teams can use carbon footprint data to enhance a company’s profile, improve transparency and attract positive media attention. Regulatory responsiveness – In some countries, mandatory carbon reporting requirements, emissions trading, and carbon tax regimes in certain economies are presenting risks for businesses, as well as opportunities to react early and get ahead of competitors. Efficient, resilient supply chains – Assessing suppliers’ performance in terms of carbon emissions (among other criteria) can help to reveal possible efficiency gains and cost reductions, as well as vulnerabilities (e.g. regulatory, operational) that can be mitigated. Goal setting and status comparison – In conjunction with analyzing potential projects to lessen carbon emissions, carbon footprinting provides a basis for settingemissions reduction goals that are meaningful and attainable. These goals can be communicated and discussed internally and externally with customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Dialogue about carbon footprint data can help companies to distinguish themselves from peers and competitors and increase public awareness of their carbon reduction efforts.

As Qatar and the GCC countries continue addressing their climate change and sustainability agendas, carbon footprint information will becriticalfor progress measurement for governments, investors, businesses, and the public alike. Considering the ways that carbon footprints are used in certain other economies, it would not be surprising if public reports that include

v i e w p oi n t carbon footprint indicators eventually becameone of the bases for selecting suppliers and managing relationships with customers and other stakeholders. What are carbon footprints? A carbon footprint is, generally speaking, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by an organisation, individual, event, or product. The process of carbon footprinting involves measuring the extent of activities that result in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasesand calculating the resulting emissions in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents. A company would calculate how much of a particular activity was conducted during a given time period (e.g. miles driven in company-owned cars) and multiplying each point of activity data by an emission factor, which indicates the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of activity (e.g. kilograms of carbon dioxide per mile driven). This calculation is performed for all the activities that a company chooses to include in its carbon footprint. Various standards exist for how to calculate carbon footprints. The most widely used framework for calculating the carbon footprint of a business is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute. This standard informs the article’s description of how businesses’ carbon footprints are calculated. One of the key considerations in carbon footprinting is to establishwhich emission sources are to be taken into account. Broadly speaking, there are three major categories of emissions to consider: 1. Direct emissions come from sources that a company owns or controls. These

may include energy generation equipment, manufacturing facilities, and company-owned transportation, among others. 2. Purchased electricity used in activities that the company owns or controls represents the second major category of emissions. 3. The third major category of emissions is from sources or activities that a company does not own or control but that are important to its operations. This category can be quite challenging to analyse. Another key consideration in corporate carbon foot printing is organisational scope: which businesses and operations should bepart of the footprint. Companies can account for emissions from operations according to their equity sharesof these operations (the “equity share” approach) or account for all the emissions associated with the operations that the company controls, even if those operations are not wholly owned (the “operational control” approach).

tics, reduce facility energy use, save money, and sell more products, all of which add value and increase profitability.An especially useful application of product carbon footprintsis finding opportunities to improve customers’ experience using a product by quantifying the energy usage and other costs that the product triggers for customers.Product carbon footprints can also be added to labels and packaging, in order to enhance the environmental credentials of a product and the company behind it. In summary Carbon footprinting is vital to understand and address the impact businesses may have on climate change. As Qatar, as well as other GCC countries, actively try to address their global carbon footprint, knowing what the footprinting process entails and the commercial benefits which it may bring to a business, is no doubt worth considering seriously. However, before embarking on a carbon footprinting exercise, executives should consider the following questions to help define their approach:

Footprinting at product level Product carbon footprinting is one noteworthy technique for executives to be familiar with, particularly in consumerfacing businesses such as household goods and retail. This technique involves measuring the carbon emissions associated with a unit of a particular product over its entire lifecycle, from extraction of raw materials through manufacturing and distribution, to its use and disposal by consumers. Companies have used product carbon footprints to help increase supply chain efficiency, improve product and packaging design, streamline transportation logis-

What is the objective of carbon footprinting: regulatory compliance, cost savings, external reporting, making decisions about strategy and operations, or other purposes? How much of the company’s operational activity is owned or controlled and how much is indirect? What existing data systems and reporting processes can the company leverage to streamline a carbon footprinting effort? What organisational resources can the company commit to the carbon footprinting task?


By Declan Hayes Renewable Energy and Cleantech Leader, Middle East and milhan baig Renewable Energy and Cleantech assistant director, qatar

Deloitte is a leader in the Renewable Energy and Clean technology sector. We focus on the entire spectrum of renewable energy and clean technology, from individual components to the wider ecosystem (e.g. smart cities). Deloitte’s Renewable Energy and Cleantech team is based in the Middle East and has unprecedented access to specialists across the globe. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Deloitte is the first Arab professional services firm established in the Middle East region with uninterrupted presence for over 85 years. Deloitte is among the region’s leading professional services firms, providing audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services through 26 offices in 15 countries with over 2,500 partners, directors and staff that are committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

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listening post


reforms needed urgently” And not in ten years’ time, says HRW researcher Last month, Qatar Today published interviews with two leading Qataris, one representing the Labour Ministry and another a prominent lawyer, both of whom criticised the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released in June 2012 that critically examined the labou recruitment process and Qatar’s restrictive sponsorship system.

R by S i nd h u na i r

eacting to the comments that were thrown at the US-based organisation dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, HRW, Researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Priyanka Motaparthy says: “HRW examined Qatar’s labour and sponsorship laws and regulations. These laws apply to all workers in the country, not just the 73 workers interviewed, and the laws fail to protect workers’ rights and can enable abuse.” Explain the process by which you collected data for the HRW Qatar Report? How do you react to the comment made by the Director of Legal Affairs at the Labour Ministry that the picture given by HRW is prejudiced by vested interests?

As our report states, we held detailed interviews with 73 migrant construction workers, whose conditions are the focus of the report. We met interviewees at random in public spaces where workers tended to congregate; at work sites, in labour camps and in front of the government Labour Complaints Department. Lastly, we gave the Labour Ministry and other government officials opportunities to respond to our findings, both by interviewing them and by sending them a detailed summary of our findings, and requesting their response, which we have published in full as part of the report. The comment made by the Labour Ministry director that HRW has prejudices or vested interests is neither clear nor credible. We don’t receive government funding, nor do we take funding from private companies engaged in the work our reports cover. We lay out our methodology in our reports, and give governments – including the Qatari Labour Ministry – an opportunity to respond.

october 2012

Qatar Today 45

listening post they are not adequately enforced. Though the country has more than one million migrant workers, it employs only 150 labour inspectors, and none of them speak the languages spoken by the majority of workers in the country, nor do they employ interpreters. Even the government labour helpline can only receive complaints in Arabic and English, which most workers do not speak. How can the Qatari government monitor workers’ rights violations when its inspectors can’t speak to workers? What are your observations on the HRW report on Saudi Arabia, which also practises the Kafala (sponsporship) system? Our criticism of the kafala system throughout the Gulf is that governments give employers the power to deny workers freedom to change jobs, and in some countries to leave the country without a private employer’s permission. Employers have nearly unchecked power over whether workers can earn their living and stay in countries they’ve spent huge sums (in some cases, their life savings or more) to migrate to. These conditions, created by laws and regulations that make up the kafala system in various countries, enable abuse. Saudi Arabia along with Qatar are the two Gulf countries that retain the particularly problematic requirement that workers get an exit permit from their employers before they can leave the country. priyanka motaparthy HUMAN RIGHT WATCH researcher for middle east and NORTH africa

Looking at the percentage of migrant workers in the country, with respect to the workers interviewed, do you think that the figures represent a minority? We interviewed 73 workers at random from locations around the country. However, our report did not merely rely on these interviews, but examined Qatar’s labour and sponsorship laws and regulations. These laws apply to all workers in the country, not just those interviewed, and the laws themselves fail to protect workers’ rights and can enable abuse. Explain your experience working with the Labour Ministry. Were they open to suggestions and criticism? The Labour Ministry has been very open to dialogue with us. They provided us a lengthy response to our findings and follow-up questions, which we published as part of our report. At the same time, they did not provide important data we requested, including the numbers of workplace deaths and injuries over the past three years, the number of companies sent to court for violating workers’ rights, and the number of worker complaints against employers that resulted in restitution to employees. We would of course still welcome this information. The Gulf region in particular relies on a large proportion of migrant workers for low-scale jobs. Is this human rights violation particular to these regions due to this dependence? We see no problem with employing large numbers of migrant workers who seek work. The problem arises when countries that employ these workers don’t put in place the laws and infrastructure needed to ensure these workers’ rights are protected. One of our most important findings was that while Qatar does have some good laws,

46 Qatar Today

october 2012

How do you react to the comment made by the lawyer, Yousef Ahmed Al-Zaman: “The broad aim of the HRW report is to give rights and freedom to expatriate workers but at the expense of nationals while obliterating their identity”? Our goal is indeed to “create the legislative and social climate for giving expatriate workers more rights and freedoms” as the Qatari lawyer interviewed states, because Qatari law currently fails to give them the minimum standard of protection of their rights and freedoms that international law requires. However, it’s not our view that the application of basic international standards would “obliterate Qataris’ national identity”. Qatar’s national identity can only be enhanced by protecting human rights commitments that the country’s rulers have already committed to upholding. Ultimately, human rights protections should benefit all, including Qatari nationals, which is why their government has agreed to uphold these standards. From a human rights perspective, do you feel this situation may deteriorate as World Cup 2022 approaches? The organising committee has intimated that they will need tens of thousands more workers here to complete that project. The World Cup 2022 certainly presents a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. If the government puts in place the protections needed now, then these tens of thousands of workers can earn their living in just conditions, with legal checks to ensure that employers don’t abuse their rights. If it does not, then indeed the situation could be dire. Are you expecting change here regarding the sponsorship laws? Will you be authorising a follow-up report in the coming years? We hope that there will be a change, but sponsorship reform needs to happen urgently, not in ten years’ time. We intend to follow up on our research to examine if the government does make positive changes to recognise those accomplishments

listening post

48 Qatar Today

october 2012

listening post


Court brings world-class

judiciary to Doha The Qatar International Court and Dispute resolution Centre was established as part of the national strategy to attract international business and financial services to the country. by S ow m ya Sund a r


atar Today caught up with Robert Musgrove, CEO, Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Centre, to find out about the country’s efforts in building a world-class judiciary; and also to understand what the “new-age” court is all about. The QICDRC is touted to be a “freefloating” technologically advanced court. How it is different from traditional courts?

We have built an international court that responds to the needs of business. The traditional system is too clogged up, expensive and time-consuming, with the experts unavailable most of the time. The national courts, as they exist now, are not capable of handling high-level specialised disputes. Most such cases are resolved abroad. Highlevel international commercial disputes with contracts written in English are not dealt with locally, as historically there has not been any expertise. That’s where we are placed. We are qualified to handle very high-level complex disputes. We have the world’s best

judges, world-class infrastructure and an arbitration centre. We can run our court ”virtually”where the evidences, judges and lawyers appear virtually from different parts of the world through video links. A virtual court saves time and money. We do not charge for using our court facility. It is part of the economic growth infrastructure offered as a service to businesses. From a client’s perspective, it’s cost-effective. An “opt-in” jurisdiction means even companies that are not in Qatar could choose to use it if they thought it was the best place to resolve their disputes. You need two institutional features in a court – ultimate

october 2012

Qatar Today 49

listening post

judicial authority and enforcement. Apart from that, it’s a free-floating court. The most advanced courts of the world are offering some of those choices. In terms of business- friendliness, what we offer can be a combination of what others offer. How does it work in relation to other international courts in the region? Dubai also has a similar court. The difference between Dubai’s and Qatar’s international court is that Dubai’s is offshore while here it is onshore. That means that we are a state court of Qatar. All judgments go in the name of HH the Emir and are enforced as part of the State of Qatar. We don’t have to refer to the local courts, while Dubai’s court does have to refer to a local court. With our friends in Bahrain and Dubai, and leading from Qatar, we are hoping to offer assistance in rebuilding the judiciaries, retraining of the lawyers, and bringing in legal systems that are effective. We are all carving a niche and co-operating. Bahrain has got its own financial arbitration tribunal, Dubai started on asset management, and we started with construction and insurance. The principle is that good law equals a good economy. If you have world-leading international law, you attract leading international companies to come and invest in the country. Most of the countries in the region being autocratic, how does the court propose to tackle issues regarding en-

50 Qatar Today

october 2012

forceability in other countries? One of the big issues in international commercial dispute resolution is the difficulty in enforcing. It’s always a very sensitive matter. Apart from certain businessfriendly jurisdictions like Singapore, the UK and the US, enforcement everywhere else is an issue. We are working on it. Because we are an onshore court, and a country’s court, we enjoy all the enforcement agreements that the country has signed. We believe that by keeping all the enforcement decisions within the international court the process is a lot easier. Can the court handle issues relating to state-backed companies objectively and independently? Qatar was brave enough to enshrine in the law a commitment to the independence of this court. We have that assurance from HH the Emir. The country is very sensible in its separation of powers. There has never ever been any indication of any attempt by the State to influence what we do. If such a thing happens our world-class judiciary will resign. How do you handle the reputational damage from that? We do hear disputes involving state-backed companies and we genuinely believe this court is fully independent. What progress has been made regarding product development? We are developing specialist dispute schemes for construction, insurance

claims, Islamic finance and intellectual property. We are capable of dealing with top-level high value disputes. We asked the leading international construction lawyers to put together the best scheme. They are writing the laws and procedures for the Q-Construct scheme. We are about to appoint one of the best judges voted by the best lawyers dealing in construction disputes in the world. It is still early days to talk about Islamic finance. There are no clearly recognisable Islamic finance vehicles to resolve such disputes. There is a reliance on consulting experts and there are very few of those. We are looking at whether we can offer the State a sensible effective vehicle of resolving Islamic finance disputes, as Islamic finance is growing very quickly. Our feasibility study is going to find out what mechanisms are being used to resolve these disputes. Preliminary discussions have taken place with experts. The next stage is to appoint a team. It is potentially a leading scheme coming out of Qatar. How is the industry reacting to the “new-age” court concept? We are attracting a lot of attention and expectation. Lawyers are conservative in recommending clients to use a new vehicle. We have built confidence in the business and legal community, and we have been told that an increasing number of law firms and businesses are now writing us into their dispute resolution clauses. The Council of Ministers has recently passed a new law to bring in more efficiencies and clarity in what we are able to do. That is currently being written on to the statute books. If you use a benchmark, in terms of how old we are, we are probably a little ahead of where Dubai was at this point in time. What steps are being taken to improve local talent in the legal profession? Integration of international benchmark standards in lawyering and judging is very much a responsibility of this court. We ran a global law symposium for judicial and legal education in May that brought in eminent Qatari and international scholars and judges to discuss different models of education and training for lawyers and judges and how they could be best applied to Qatar. We are working in partnership with law firms to build international standards: we have started training mediators and are about to start arbitration training in English, Arabic and French

Corporate Governance Has anything changed?

There’s hardly a hotter topic in the world of finance right now than corporate governance. The issues which are plaguing the industry in Europe, the US and in other large markets have their roots in bad corporate practice – loose control and poor understanding of financial risks which didn’t pay off. qatar today tries to find out why – for a country which wasn’t heavily affected by the global crisis – is there a need for Qatar to keep up with corporate governance standards determined by outsiders? QATAR is criticised by some outsiders for its poor standards in this arena and seen to be ignoring international best principles in many areas – yet it avoided much of the turmoil and profligacy witnessed in countries which brag about their ethical standards and principles. So is it a case of trying to be proactive instead of reactive? By Rory Coen

Corporate Governance

Have our banks learned their lessons?


c o v e r s to r y | o ct o b e r 2 0 1 2 | Qatar Today


last time the Basel Committee issued a set of Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision, the global financial crisis struck within two years. That was circa 2006. Just six years on from that – with all that happened in between – delegates met in Istanbul on September 13 and 14, 2012 for the 17th International Conference of Banking Supervisors to determine their next course of action. Drawing on lessons learnt during the financial crisis that began in 2007, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) – an entity which serves central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability – declared that their revised Core Principles – core principles for effective banking supervision and the associated core principles methodology, which were published recently – represented a significant step forward from the Basel Committee’s 2006 principles. They also reflected key advances in regulatory thinking in recent years that included, amongst other things, “fostering robust market discipline through sound supervisory practices in areas of corporate governance, disclosure and transparency”. Just under two years ago, the Qatar Financial Centre’s Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) and Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk and Compliance rounded up some of Qatar’s most prominent personalities in the industry to discuss the issue of corporate governance in Qatar, the region and beyond. Attendees included Risk Management Director at Qatar Central Bank (QCB) Mohammad Al Thani; Doha Bank CEO R. Seerathaman; HSBC Qatar CEO Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi; Standard Chartered CEO David Godwin; Michael Ryan CEO of the QFCRA; and executives from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA), Qatar Exchange and Dubai International Financial Centre Authority. Their exchange of views was frank and to the point and they chiselled out a consensus on what needed to be done on a national, regional and global scale to curb the escalation of unethical corporate practice.

“The importance of a more effective and functional board is a topic of great interest in the region AND MUCH EFFORT IS BEING EXERTED HERE.” ABDUL HAKEEM MOSTAFAWI CEO HSBC QATAR

Raising the bar


global financial crisis gave a profile to the fact that there were weaknesses in the financial system – an important one being in the way in which financial firms were being governed,” said George Pickering, Managing Director of Policy and Enforcement at the QFCRA. “Self-examination by both the industry and the regulators about how to strengthen corporate governance became a priority. “Since that time, the three regulatory agencies here in Qatar – QCB, QFMA and QFCRA – have strengthened the standards that they expect of their firms and have raised the bar within their individual/independent mandates,” he continued. But is this bar still hopelessly lingering beneath the unethical and greedy calls being made by boards that put risk ahead of reason in their pursuit of greater profits, bonuses and dividends? There was an infectious greed which transcended the guidelines that were issued. How long will it take this infection to wear off? Have corporate governance standards kept sufficient pace with the ever-changing business environment? Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi, CEO of HSBC Qatar said at the roundtable two years ago that “it is very important that corporate governance plays a part of a culture rather than part of a business. We need to go back to the ABCs of corporate governance and first define them and then standardise them to make them simple to understand.” KPMG Middle East and South Asia Chairman, Jamal Fakhro believes that standards have most definitely improved, but business has become more complex and the rules are unable to match the complexities in many key areas. “I would say we are doing much better than 15 years ago,” he said. “We have rules and regulations here in Qatar. We have a corporate governance code, and companies and regulators are taking it seriously.” But how effective are guidelines? Aren’t we back to the same problems as before? Fahkro was honest in his assessment of this. “Are we following guidelines absolutely? No. Are we following them to a high level? Yes. Are there loopholes? Yes. Are they major? No. “Regarding the recent scandals,” he continued. “They have nothing to do with regulation, because people start to lose values - they become greedy. They are willing to do anything to make money. “I would say the current regulations have been written to definitely minimise fraud. You can’t ever say that you won’t have fraud in an organisation or you will never have scandals. Regulators and auditors are discovering acute discrepancies faster than before. It may have taken two or three years a decade ago; now it’s a matter of months.” “Regulators have quite a bit of influence over firms through the supervisory process,” said Pickering. “It also helps to have things

in legislation and rules. Shareholders and other stakeholders are also more concerned about it and more involved in making things better. In Qatar and the GCC, corporate governance standards are being strengthened – they were probably lagging a few years back in best practice standards compared to some other countries, particularly in Europe and North America.” Abdul Hakeem Mostafawi saw a shift in pattern last year due to an increase in general awareness in the corporate world. He felt there was no appetite to return to the days of taking risks for the sake of it. “We have seen a positive change over the past year and witnessed that most companies are changing the business culture to have more effective corporate governance. This progress is due to an increase in general awareness as well as renewed action to review and implement best practices. The Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance has done outstanding work in this regard. And in the words of Dr Nasser Saidi [Executive Director, Hawkamah Institute]: ‘corporate governance is a journey.’ “There are drastic regulatory reforms which will remain as core for all businesses. No one will be allowed to return to old habits as it will not be tolerated and there is no risk appetite for this. We all agree that implementation of corporate governance principles is an indication of a sound and effective management system in any financial or non-financial institution. Robust corporate governance standards have been issued by QCB for banks and financial institutions since 2008. Similarly, QFCRA and QFMA have also issued guidelines to the entities that they supervise,” added Mostafawi.

A guide to better practice


mentioned by Mostafawi, early this year, the QFCRA released its “Guide to Corporate Governance” for QFC-authorised firms. This is exactly what it is: a guide. “Adherence to the principles contained in the Guide is voluntary and non-binding. However, it is the intention of the QFCRA to review the status of the Guide after it has been in use for a period of time, to determine if compliance with any of the principles should become mandatory by the establishment of specific rules,” it states. When designing the guide, the QFCRA drew on global standards and principles issued by such international organisations as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the BIS. It also took into account governance standards developed by other relevant regulatory authorities in the region and by the other two bodies in Qatar – the QCB and the QFMA. They say this is pretty much it – the culmination of months of research and study. “The QFCRA regulates banks through a set of rules,” explained Pickering. “Our rules deal with the key issues – including authorisation, how a bank sets itself up, approved individual processes, prudential regulations and conduct of business. Throughout our rules and our enabling legislation, there are already very clearly outlined responsibilities for the board, the roles of directors and the roles of senior management. Although we felt that it was a very robust

“Regarding the recent scandals, They have nothing to do with regulation, because people start to lose values – They are willing to do anything to make money.” JAMAL FAKHRO


framework for corporate governance, a year ago we developed a set of guidelines as a companion to our legal framework in order to give a higher profile to corporate governance. It provides in one single place the principles that we’ve developed which are fit for purpose in Qatar. “It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors, senior management and other important stakeholders. Because it’s a guide, it doesn’t have the same legal standing as rules, but we asked our firms to do a self-assessment of their own corporate governance against these guidelines. The QFCRA, as part of its ongoing supervisory process, is using the guide as a framework for discussion with financial institutions undertaking regulated activity in the Qatar Financial Centre.” Just last month, the QFCRA issued a set of proposals which were aimed at strengthening the QFC regulatory regime. The proposed rule changes are aligned with the recently revised core principles set out by the BIS for banks and the IAIS for insurance companies. They clearly outline the responsibilities and roles of boards of directors, particularly with respect to risk management and control procedures and important factors such as the remuneration policies of firms. For instance, boards will be expected to be more actively involved in making sure that the remuneration of senior management is linked to the longstanding performance of the firm.

Corporate Governance

Have our banks learned their lessons?

The draft rules also require the governing body of a QFC-authorised firm to approve and establish a formal governance framework; risk management and internal controls framework and a remuneration policy. In addition, the draft rules propose a new control function for internal audit for QFC insurers, QFC banks and QFC Islamic banks, and a new requirement for QFC banks and QFC Islamic banks to have a risk management function. The Basel Committee issued 39 new assessment criteria which govern authorities’ assessment of how closely banks adhere to the principles, the most important additions being in risk management and supervisory practices. The latest revision “goes back to the roots of banking supervision”, Teo Swee Lian, Co-Chair of the Core Principals Group, said in a statement on September 14. Lian, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Deputy Managing Director, highlighted the emphasis on a forward-looking perspective through early intervention and the application of a more effective risk-based approach as important elements of the new principles.

Is Qatar lagging behind international standards?



c o v e r s to r y | o ct o b e r 2 0 1 2 | Qatar Today

the round table discussion two years ago, Mostafawi said that “one of the things we don’t have in this region is independent directors who come in from outside the business and give feedback on different elements of the business model”. Michael Ryan, CEO of the QFCRA, noted that it was critical for regulators to be confident that bank boards had defined and fully understood their responsibilities, especially in the context of the financial crisis. At the same time Nasser Saidi, Executive Director, Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, cited a study which examined every board member of every listed company in the GCC to measure family interconnection. “If everybody knows each other, and everybody is sitting on five different boards, and they are doing business with each other, then even the concept of non-executive directors and independent non-executive directors gets thrown out the window,” he said, before urging the region’s financial industry to push efforts to address such conflicts. Pickering picked this up: “International best practice over the past 15-20 years is leaning away from boards that are controlled by insiders and large shareholders. One of the objectives, which can be challenging to meet, is putting together a board of directors comprising those who are directly involved in its ownership and management of the business with independent directors who are knowledgeable and independent thinkers. “For small countries, such as Qatar, it’s difficult to find people who qualify for the role of independent directors. Independent directors shouldn’t be on dozens of boards; they should be independent of the day-to-day business and not be involved in other companies which are closely aligned. I know, from my previous experience in Canada, it can be a challenge for firms to find good independent corporate di-

rectors.” So what have firms in Qatar being doing recently to catch up with international best practice? Mostafawi believes that there are certainly still challenges ahead for Qatar, namely in attracting qualified board members who have the capabilities and experience to handle the risk function, but it is getting there. “I believe our banks have the proper people sitting on the board, which will cover business as well as risk, although there is room for improvement in the risk culture, which is evolving by the day. “Getting qualified personnel for boards still remains a challenge, however. We have seen the recent inception of qualified people and calls for changes in board appointments in corporates. Regarding his comment from two years ago, about the lack of independent directors who come in from outside and give critical feedback, Mostafawi said: “We have not seen any real material change since then, but this will be encouraged to change again in the months to come. The latest IMF country report emphasised the importance of recruiting credible and knowledgeable people in these positions

“For small countries, SUCH AS QATAR, it’s difficult to find people who qualify for the role of independent directors.” GEORGER PICKERING


to mitigate risk. “The importance of a more effective and functional board is a topic of great interest in the region and much effort has been exerted in this area. Several initiatives in the region are supporting the development of competent and capable directors and executives making well-informed decisions on a firm level. The regulators are closely monitoring and issuing directives on adhering to the principles of corporate governance. This ensures professionals are appointed on the board/executive committee so they can drive corporate strategy and policies of business,” he said, when asked about the potential conflicts board members may have. Doha Bank CEO R. Seerathaman made a call two years ago for “whistle-blowers” within the framework of accountability to add value to the quality of governance at board level – or somebody from the outside with the ability to change what the management is doing. “The regulators have a clear policy on whistle-blowers,” said Mostafawi. “QCB assists customers in investigating complaints against the financial institutions under its supervision. This is in line with the IMF recommendations to have a more robust risk assessment culture and conduct regular stress-testing of banks”

Are the Retail Banks serving our needs? By Rory Coen


do you decide where to bank? Are you more interested in earning interest on your savings or does a bank which offers convenience and classy customer service do it for you? It’s probably a bit of both. Well, with most banks offering almost 0% interest rate on savings, you’re going to want service with a smile. Which of the options out there can best serve your acute financial needs? Qatar’s retail banking segment seems to be showing signs of confidence. There are over a dozen retail banking options currently serving a population of less than two million people. Innovations in online and mobile banking, customer service and product diversity have given customers a chance to shop around. Qatar’s Central Bank (QCB) said last month that it wanted to keep interest rates low to support lending to the real economy, and also reported that local banks had little exposure to the euro zone. “Inflation rates in Qatar remain much lower than in other GCC nations,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani, Governor, QCB, last month. “Qatar’s inflation rate will be around two to three percent this year. The Central Bank is very comfortable with current interest rates and is not concerned about hot money inflows.” Lower interest rates helped to boost growth margins in 2011. With lower interest rates there was more money floating about, but inflation levels remained static. With such optimism circulating in the segment, Qatar Today caught up with three retail banks to see what they were doing to

“Competition always works to the advantage of customers, but the differentiator is the service. With the projected population growth, I believe, in the long run, there will be enough for everyone to carve a niche in their respective businesses.” Hussain Al Abdullah

Head of Retail Banking at Barwa Bank

Corporate Governance

Have our banks learned their lessons?

bump up their profits and draw in more customers. The recent directive from the QCB to shut the Islamic windows of conventional banks meant that some customers were forced to close their bank accounts and look elsewhere. We asked banks how important retail banking was to their overall enterprise and how they were innovating to attract customers, from an information technology perspective, through internet and mobile banking to the security of their services.

Service with a smile?


CEO at Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) Ahmad Meshari said: “Retail banking is immensely important to QIB, forming as it does one of the two main strands of our operation (the other being wholesale banking). The bank’s commitment to the retail sector is total, and our branch expansion programme is evidence of this. Further, we see great opportunities in the expanding private banking and private asset management sectors of retail banking, so it’s a sector that continues to thrive for us. Customer deposits to the bank have increased to a total volume of QR33.4 billion as of end-June 2012, a growth of 26% above the figure from end-June 2011. Retail banking represents approximately three-quarters of QIB’s total deposits. “Providing a good customer experience is one of QIB’s stated strategic goals,” he continued. “This is evidenced by our branch expansion efforts, our unending quest to innovate and bring new, attractive products to market. We have had a busy year in terms of the bank’s IT resources to enhance the security of our customers’ data

“Under the recent QCB regulations, we focus on service to differentiate Mashreq from other banks, keeping the customer at the centre of our offerings with bundles and wellrounded financial solutions.” Howard Kitson

Country Manager at Mashreq Bank


c o v e r s to r y | o ct o b e r 2 0 1 2 | Qatar Today

in line with the requirements of the times. These developments will help us towards our goal of increased automation, and, additionally, we have enhanced our internet, phone and SMS banking facilities. QIB is now looking a lot more solid and productive in the application of current banking technology. “Our contact centre offers a variety of services to our customers and is available 24/7. You also have the option to complete your enquiries and transactions on our automated phone banking service interactive voice response. The services include general enquiries about the bank’s products and promotions, accounts and card balances and transactions; placing and changing maturity instructions for your fixed deposits; paying your utility bills and making card payments and transfers; and requesting cheque books and statements by e-mail or fax. “QIB is currently developing its mobile banking application which will offer a range of conveniences. The application is enriched with a range of services including a branch and ATM locator as well as a currency calculator, and we will continue adding more services as we go. The application will be available on a wide range of mobile operating systems and smartphones this November.” Country Manager at Mashreq Bank Howard Kitson said: “We are a full service provider in the retail banking segment and have been growing at a steady rate of 30% year-on-year. “We have invested heavily in technology to provide our customers with user-friendly e-banking solutions which provide flexibility to manage finances from the comfort of their homes or offices. Our online banking platform was awarded the Best Internet Consumer Bank in Qatar by New York-based Global Finance magazine for four consecutive years. Its services offer comprehensive banking and payment solutions based on individual customer preferences spanning services that include utility bill payments, local and international funds transfers, account opening, investments, loans and deposits in addition to standard account servicing. “Mashreq was one of the first banks in Qatar to introduce a fully functional mobile banking service where customers can access their accounts, check balances, transfer funds, request cheque books and effectively manage their financial affairs. “We have embarked on an ambitious project of replacing our existing core banking system with the state-of-the-art Flexcube platform, which benefits customers by allowing them to perform all their basic banking transactions online with just two clicks. Our goal is to continuously offer convenient banking solutions, and we are on the path to achieving that. The project was pilot-tested in Qatar and is being rolled out to other Mashreq locations around the world.” Head of Retail Banking at Barwa Bank, Hussain Al-Abdullah said: “Across the globe, retail banking has witnessed spectacular innovation in the commercial banking sector in recent years. The growth of retail banking, especially in this region, is attributable to the rapid advances in information technology, the evolving macroeconomic environment, financial market reform, and several microlevel demand- and supply-side factors. Retail banking business, on non-financial contribution, adds substantial brand strength to commercial banks, thereby making it significantly important to any commercial bank, and Barwa bank. “We have a customer loyalty model within retail banking whereby, through our different channels, we ensure customers are delighted at the time of acquisition. Then we endeavour to deliver great expe-

rience consistently throughout this journey by way of various initiatives (financial planning, advisory, cross-sell and event invites), especially in the first twelve months of the relationship.”

Differentiating products rates on savings account are almost negligible across the board. Forget customer service and mobile banking, customers want their money to work while it’s in the bank and not sit there earning no interest. Or do they? Does customer service really matter? How big a challenge is it to attract customers when there’s a 0% interest rate on savings? Barwa Bank’s Hussain Al-Abdullah said: “With a diminutive target market and an overbanked country it is indeed challenging, but with our proactive product innovations (i.e. tweaking the working mechanism of a product and bundling it with extra benefits) we are able to manage our liability needs quite smoothly. You can present the same thing in a ‘different way’ or a different thing in the ‘same way’, but what brings customers or generates loyalty is ‘the way’, i.e. your capabilities to deliver service excellence. “Competition always works to the advantage of customers, but the differentiator is the service. With the projected population growth, I believe, in the long run, there will be enough for everyone to carve a niche in their respective businesses,” he added. QIB’s Ahmad Meshari believes it’s no more a challenge for QIB than it is for other banks. “For one thing, if you have money to invest then there are many alternatives to savings accounts that can offer potentially superior rates of return. Secondly, as discussed above, customers place a lot of importance on finding a bank that is readily accessible and offers them a distinctive level of service. We believe that we have the right products, and we also believe we have the right team in place.” Mashreq Bank’s Howard Kitson believes that attracting new customers is always a challenge and it requires an innovative approach. “However, we have in place an Easy Saver account that offers one of the best rates in the market and it can be opened by customers online in real time. We also create special structured notes and deposits for our customers, based on their financial objectives, which offer higher returns than the normal savings account. With such products and offerings, we have been able to grow at a steady pace. “In a small but growing market like Qatar, all banks are competing for a share of the customers’ banking needs. Under the recent QCB regulations, we focus on service to differentiate Mashreq from other banks, keeping the customer at the centre of our offerings with bundles and well-rounded financial solutions, coupled with lifestyle benefits, 24/7 convenient accessibility and excellent customer service,” added Kitson.


Private sector assistance


a drive on in Qatar to encourage entrepreneurship and promote private sector growth. But such businesses need to have confi-

“Customers place a lot of importance on finding a bank that is readily accessible and offers them a distinctive level of service. We believe that we have the right products, and we also believe we have the right team in place.” Ahmad Meshari

Acting CEO at Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB)

dence in their banks to provide credit when they need it most. The first couple of years are the hardest for start-ups, and SMEs (smallto-medium enterprises) are always looking to grow further, so how are the banks helping these businesses get financial assistance? “After assessing the trade and financing requirements of our SME customers, Mashreq offers financing solutions up to QR20 million,” said Kitson. “We have also partnered with QDB (Qatar Development Bank) in its Al Dhameen finance assurance programme where we offer financing facilities to new start-up ventures. “Our leading product is the Small Business Loan, through which we give SMEs up to QR2 million in lending with minimum documentation - just a copy of a bank statement is all that’s required. In addition, our SME relationship managers also provide customers with competitive pricing and best in class service on branch banking, transaction banking, trade finance and working capital finance, LCs, LGs, guarantees, discounting, key man insurance and other financial needs,” said Kitson. Ahmad Meshari said: “The Qatari authorities know well the importance of SMEs in diversifying the economy away from its current reliance on hydrocarbons, and QIB is completely aligned and supportive to this position. It is for this reason that we have developed a suite of financing products specifically tailored to the SME sector so that we may give this market the attention and support that it demands. It’s certainly an area of special attention for us.” “According to reports, the Qatari market economy is now standing at 28%, of which 55% comes from trade and 16% from industry, so the sector is poised for big gains,” said Al-Abdullah. “With the awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting rights to Qatar, the growth of SMEs is expected to further improve due to heightened economic activity in several sectors of the economy. Volumes will only increase from here as SME business confidence in Qatar reflects an extremely positive environment for business growth”

Corporate Governance

Have our banks learned their lessons?


c o v e r s to r y | o ct o b e r 2 0 1 2 | Qatar Today

Qatar’s Banks have “aggressive” risk appetite How much risk are Qatari banks exposing themselves to? The average return-on-equity for the banking industry was 19% in 2011, which was a reflection on how well they did last year, but is it also tempting them to squeeze out a little bit more, especially with the Qatari government’s track record of providing liquidity and capital during periods of market turmoil? StEphanie MEry Carillon, Director of Financial Services at Standard & Poor’s, looks at Qatar’s banking sector from a distance.


& Poor’s Ratings Services rank the banking sector in Qatar “AA/ Stable/A-1+” – in group “4” under its updated Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) methodology. Other countries with a BICRA group “4” score include Kuwait, Mexico, Oman, Peru, South Africa and Taiwan. Our criteria define the BICRA framework as one “designed to evaluate and compare global banking systems”. A BICRA is scored on a scale from 1 to 10, ranging from the lowest-risk banking systems (group “1”) to the highest-risk (group “10”). The BICRA comprises two main areas of analysis - economic risk and industry risk. For Qatar, we have assigned a score of “4” to the economic risk and “5” to the industry risk.

“a Strong oil- and gas-based economy, but geopolitical and credit risks remain.” Our economic risk score of “4” reflects our opinion that Qatar has “low risk” in economic resilience, as Qatar’s hydrocarbon reserve contains almost 14% of the world’s natural gas – making it the thirdlargest reserve in the world – and 2.2% of the world’s proven oil reserves. As a result of prudent management of this natural resource

endowment, Qatar has very high per capita income; we estimate it was $111,000 (QR404,000) in 2011. Moreover, Qatar has made significant progress toward diversifying its economy despite the fact that it still depends heavily on oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production. We believe the economy will continue to show strong momentum, reflecting Qatar’s positive market dynamics and significant infrastructure development programme. High oil prices and long-term LNG contracts at fixed prices are also helping the country to secure its revenues. We also expect Qatar’s real estate market to recover from its sharp decline in 2009-2011, although the commercial sector still faces more risk than the housing segment. Political risk, however, heightens our assessment of Qatar’s economic resilience. Like other sovereigns in the region, Qatar is exposed to geopolitical risk such as a potential escalation of tensions between the West and Iran, with which Qatar shares the large North Field gas reservoir. In addition, Qatar’s more aggressive foreign policy stance could result in an escalation of antagonism amongst uneasy allies in the region. Institutional transparency and accountability are a further consideration in our assessment of Qatar’s political risk. One of the main risks for the Qatari banking sector is its exposure to credit risk, in our view. This is underpinned by very rapid loan growth (28% growth in 2011), lending and underwriting standards that we view as “aggressive”, and a high concentration in lending to cyclical or vulnerable sectors like real estate and construction (19% of total loans at year-end 2011 and almost 25% when contractors are included). In addition, foreign currency lending has recently increased dramatically and accounted for 47% of total loans at year-end 2011. We expect sustained lending growth over the next few years, although Qatar’s central bank is currently tightening regulation, which may limit business and lending growth in the short term. The banking system is also penalised by a modest payment culture, as shown by recently increased problem loans in retail despite the assignment of salaries on personal loans, something which usually protects banks.

Industry Risk


industry risk score for Qatar is “5”. The Qatari “institutional framework” is considered “intermediate risk” as banking regulations are in line with international standards, although we consider that supervision has some room for improvement. While the central bank could have taken more proactive measures during the global 2008-2009 crisis, the authorities identified potential problems relating to real estate or equity exposures and acted quickly to fix them. The central bank also severely tightened regulation surrounding personal borrowing in the second quarter of 2011 by capping the amount and rate at which banks can lend to an individual. We classify as “high risk” Qatar’s “competitive dynamics”. Even if banks in Qatar have stable market shares and barriers to entry remain high, we consider Qatar’s banks to have an “aggressive” risk appetite. The banking sector’s profitability has been higher than that of other sectors of the local economy for the past few years. The average return on equity for Qatar’s banking sector was 19% in

One of the main risks for the Qatari banking sector is its exposure to credit risk, in our view. This is underpinned by very rapid loan growth (28% growth in 2011), lending and underwriting standards that we view as “aggressive”. Stephanie Mery Carillon

Director – Financial Services Standard & Poor’s

2011. This high level of profitability is also the result of the low cost of labour and absence of income tax. In addition, the small size of the domestic market leads to high price competition and concentration, and pushes the banks to expand abroad. That said, strong margins and efficiency, and the absence of income tax, give them an effective cushion to face a potential increase in the cost of risk. Qatari “system-wide funding” is considered “intermediate risk” as banks rely mainly on customer deposits for funding. The banking system has a stable share of core customer deposits to loans, although the share of net external funding to loans has been increasing recently. We expect the deposit-to-loan ratio to decline further as a result of strong loan growth largely linked to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and infrastructure programme financing. This risk of decline is partially mitigated by the Qatari government’s successful track record in providing liquidity and capital during periods of market turmoil. The government’s role improves our score on system-wide funding for Qatar. We view the government’s role as “strong” and believe the authorities are likely to provide extraordinary liquidity support to the banking system, if needed. The government has recently significantly increased its borrowing in capital markets. In our view, enlarged government debt is being issued to foster the development of domestic capital markets and to build up a domestic sovereign bond yield curve

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Staying Relevant in the Workplace What does “staying relevant” mean? In these days of outsourcing, cost-cutting and continuous radical shifts in the ways companies produce, communicate, interact and source candidates, it is crucial to remain tuned in to the demands, trends and developments of the marketplace and fine-tune your qualifications and skill-set accordingly. Career experts at have some simple pointers to help formulate a framework for this:

Understand the dynamics of the industry you operate in


yopia serves nobody. If you are too busy poring over spreadsheets day in, day out, you may miss out on the fact that competitor companies have largely outsourced a key segment of their CRM (customer relationship management) systems, for example, or imported new CRM systems that are far more efficient or have completely redefined standards and parameters for measurement and monitoring. Keep your eyes and ears open to developments both in your company and externally so you are in the best position to understand if your own methods are optimal and sustainable. Try always to understand the big picture, not just your own particular set of tasks, as the latter may be defined and redefined by factors that may be outside your control. Remember, it’s not just about competency, it’s about optimal performance, and purely “competent” players are always in danger of being outshone and even rendered redundant by professionals who have maximised efficiency, optimised performance and somehow carved a niche by raising or, better still, redefining the bar.

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Be a lifelong learner


ccording to a Q2 2011 study, 30.5% of the MENA region’s respondents claim that willingness to learn is the most imperative quality required to succeed in one’s career. Seek to embrace learning in all its dimensions and embrace it as a lifestyle. Learn by seeing, by doing, by reading, by taking physical and online courses, by asking questions and talking to people, by experimenting and innovating; learn by whatever means are at your disposal and in whatever learning method you prefer; aim to stay ahead of the literature in your industry and pick up books that motivate, inspire and benefit you in your overall career and general well-being.

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Work on your public professional brand

Be flexible


on’t be afraid to implement what you learn and experiment with new ideas. At a minimum you should improve your productivity and performance. Even better would be to truly innovate. Innovation requires initially the willpower, courage and flexibility to try new things; secondly, the knowledge, research capabilities and analytical skills to adapt the experimentation to the needs of the marketplace and the company’s own objectives; and finally, the professionalism, energy and communication skills to get internal and external buy-in for the change. Seismic shifts in the way companies do business that are partially attributable to advances in information technology (and the increased sharing and connectivity this has enabled) have brought home the need to innovate or to very quickly adapt to innovations in the industry effected by others, or else risk being rendered obsolete.


f you don’t have a CV and/or a public profile parked on your region’s leading jobsite, you may be missing out on key opportunities. Remember, the objective of a public professional brand is to get you noticed by the region’s employers and also by clients and peers, so make sure you choose the best platform to position your personal brand and make sure it is truly professional and always updated. If you are not visible in relevant circles, and if your public profile is not accurate and attractive, you may well risk not being in the running for top jobs in your industry and other lucrative career opportunities.

Take a regular personal inventory Network


es, we have all repeatedly heard that in today’s career world “who” we know, and the quality of our relationships, is as important as “what” we know. A online study in Q2 2011 revealed that 78.3% of polled respondents felt that regular networking is extremely vital for enhancing career growth. Try to maintain an active presence in relevant circles, whether you are attending industry events, exhibitions, conferences, forums and courses, or even socialising with peers in the industry. You will make good friendships, remain top-of-mind in the right groups and also pick up valuable fresh business pointers and insights which should serve you well in your own role. Networking is a skill like any other, and if you are the shy retiring type you need only do a bit of online browsing to pick up some essential tips on effective networking and find a networking style and strategy and comfort level that suits you.


ake the time to sit back at regular intervals and determine if you are on the right career path and if your professional growth tangent and performance are as they should be. Examine your objectives, priorities, performance, competitiveness, skills, growth and development, relationships and any other variables related to your work life. Adjust your track based on this inventory assessment. If you feel you are at a career deadlock despite following a systematic and disciplined growth and learning programme and despite all measures, don’t be afraid to seek professional help and guidance, either from your manager or from a mentor. Also, take advantage of all tools available to you, whether selfassessment tests and career articles and guides or sophisticated career mapping, salary benchmarking and CV analysis tools


About is the #1 job site in the Middle East, with more than 40,000 employers and over 8,700,000 registered job seekers from across the Middle East, North Africa and the globe, representing all industries, nationalities and career levels. Post a job or find jobs on today and access the leading resource for job seekers and employers in the region.

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GE leading by

example governments are spending billions of dollars TO creatE employment opportunities for YOUNG PEOPLE, But there are some private institutions that also place a high premium on training their workers of tomorrow. “Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”


by rory c oen

Thomas Edison

ver the past few months, Qatar Today has focused quite heavily on the theme of entrepreneurship and how to empower Qatar’s youth to lead their country in the post-2030 era. Today’s teenagers will be tomorrow’s leaders. Through a number of different concepts – such as Qatar Foundation and its various initiatives – the government is trying to inculcate a fresh national ideology so these kids will be ready to take the reins of the country in the future. However, there are some local and multi-national companies in Qatar that are willing to carry some of this burden and responsibility. They recognise that the government can only do so much to train individuals for certain roles. It’s largely up to the companies themselves to mould talented and promising young-

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sters to their requirements – not just nine-to-five workers, but leaders who can inspire, create and take their company into a new ear of prosperity as well. Create the future At multinational conglomerate GE, they say: “Why predict the future, when you can create it?” GE’s President and CEO for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, Nabil Habayeb, is an ambassador for that slogan and stresses that preparing young Arab talent for professional and technical careers in sectors that are vital to drive social and economic growth is a fundamental part of GE’s approach for the Middle East region, which is led not only through traditional training programmes but also through partnerships with universities and academic institutions. “In the past two years we have invested more than QR1.8 billion in localisation initiatives,” said Habayeb, “significant among them being the GE Advanced Technology Research Centre (GE ATRC) in Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP); the QR900 million GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Centre in Saudi Arabia; and the GE Water and Process Technologies Regional Centre of Excellence in Jebel Ali (UAE). “Our strategy is to invest in localising GE’s capabilities and build the region’s capacity through a focus on innovation and training,” he continued. “We develop

bottom line local talent and skill at GE ATRC’s aviation training centre and our Leadership Acceleration for Business centre in Abu Dhabi. To encourage continued learning, we partner with Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) in Saudi Arabia, in addition to knowledge partnerships with more than 25 universities and educational institutions across the region, including King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.” Investing in GE talent GE invests in talent development through a variety of initiatives, including graduate programmes, experienced leadership programmes and workshops. But more specifically, they are bringing specialised courses and training to incumbent GE employees. “The focus of our leadership development initiatives is highlighted by our Leadership Acceleration for Business (LAB) centre, a corporate learning development centre in Abu Dhabi modelled on GE’s Crotonville executive education programme,” said Habayeb. “We also conduct specialised workshops for students enrolled in universities in the Middle East who have undertaken career outreach programmes in addition to taking part in career fairs. The topics covered at the workshops are varied and include operational aspects as well as self-development programmes for the students including resume writing, interview skills and job search. These workshops are led by experienced executives from the different businesses of the company as well as human resources experts. GE’s entry-level leadership programmes offer recent college graduates top development opportunities that combine real world experience with formal classroom study. “Every year we hire 1,000 students globally into leadership programmes. Through a series of rotating assignments – typically over two-year periods – new professionals receive accelerated professional development, world-class mentoring and global networking that cuts across all our businesses. Our leadership programmes cover many sectors in detail, from engineering to financial management. The majority of our candidates were hired from the GCC region.” The Business Management Course (BMC) is one of GE’s renowned training courses brought from the US to the region for the first time for senior executives from across GE’s businesses. “Its key objective is to enable our senior leaders to address opportunities with novel and innovative thought and approach,” said Habayeb. “It brings GE’s brightest and most capable minds from across the world to work on some of our customers’ issues in the region and find the right solutions, bringing in great minds to work together, thus adding a fresh perspective and cultural diversity to problem solving.” What is a leader? What is GE really searching for with these programmes and training courses? As Thomas Edison so modestly phrased it, regarding his achievements: “I

“Leaders must also continue to learn, evolve and build their expertise. They must surround themselves with a great team that brings diverse points of view to the table.” nabil haBayeb president and ceo, mena and turkey, ge.

merely continued where others left off.” Is it looking for the right people at the right time? What qualities must one have to become a leader at GE? “We have found that inspirational leaders share several core characteristics that successful entrepreneurs must also exhibit,” said Habayeb. “They are focused externally, collaborating with governments, partners, NGOs and customers from across the communities they serve. They must be decisive and strategic, thinking clearly through different possibilities and adapting actions based on new situations and information. “Leaders must also continue to learn, evolve and build their expertise. They must surround themselves with a great team that brings diverse points of view to the table. And finally, they must have both the imagination to solve problems in innovative ways and the courage to implement new ideas and take risks for the right reasons. Irrespective of the size of the organisation, these are commonalities that carry through inspirational leaders at every enterprise, from high-tech startups to established Fortune 500 conglomerates.” Failure Culture There’s a perception that a “failure culture” within an institution is proactive, as it means staff are willing to try something different – maybe a little risky – for the good of the company. But is this a realistic ideology? Is it something a CEO at GE should be promoting? “The fear of failure is in fact a bigger handicap for an organisation’s growth than failure itself. In today’s competitive growth environment, organisations must continuously evaluate and re-assess their goals, objectives and processes. This calls for a commitment to innovation and imagination - both central to GE’s organisational credo. Putting in the fear of failure stifles the desire and ability to innovate. I believe that all good leaders must promote a culture of innovation, where there is always the room to learn from errors and mistakes. The important aspect of this approach is to ensure that we continue to learn, so our next step forward is smoother and more efficient.”

october 2012

quick look


QR million – cost of the GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Centre in Saudi Arabia


Every year, Ge hire

students globally into leadership programmes.

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Qatari growth up close

By ror y c oe n


hy is Qatar’s economy firing so well at the moment? There are many reasons – none more obvious than the government’s fat wallet – but as businesses locate here to cash in on the prosperity, they also come with some anxiety. How will they grow in a market which may be unfamiliar to them? How can they be sure they will make the right decisions? As new enterprises get started, and more established ones push ahead with loftier goals, it’s essential they receive the guidance and expertise to make the hard decisions which promote growth and sustainability. The Qatari government will be watching closely too, of course, as it has an avid interest in private sector growth. The Qatari economy can easily survive on the back of the hydrocarbon sector, but this is the antithesis of what the 2030 National Vision is all about. As Qatar sprints forward, it needs every sector of the economy punching its weight and this is why it is critical that these companies get the qualified advice they need. Jamal Fakhro, Chairman of KPMG’s Middle East and South Asia sub-region and managing partner of its Qatar and Bahrain practices, never believed that the country could elevate itself to its current position. The government seems to be playing its cards right, but a country as young as Qatar – which really only started to develop in the mid-nineties – must be mak-

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ing a lot of mistakes as well? “Qatar is in expansion mode, so it’s normal to make mistakes,” said Fakhro. “The most important thing is to analyse the mistakes and correct them quickly – use the mistakes for long-term benefit. One area where I believe the country is focusing well, and has to continue into the future, is the area of education and the preparation of Qataris to take responsibility for the future of the country. Today we see lots of Qataris take the important positions in the private sector. Not so long ago, they would only work for the government or Qatar Petroleum. The country should be run by its own people.” Unfortunately, expensive mistakes are the premium when starting a new project – whether it’s a new country or a new business. Fortunately, there are experts and experienced personnel available to alleviate the number and the impact of these mistakes, and they work with both the government and the private sector. The country has experienced massive growth in recent years regardless of any errors made, and although the oil and gas sector has slowed a little due to external issues, the Qatari economy is still expected to witness robust growth of up to 8% due to the booming construction sector, which is very encouraging. Another sector is able to pick up some of the slack. Serious growth ahead Qatar started to develop itself in the mid-nineties, around the same time that KPMG brought its services

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“The government has been pouring money into the country and companies here are attracting top-quality personnel to really add value to their products. All the success factors are in place – money, a leadership strategy, a clear vision – and it has been successful with its strategy to date.”

Jamal Fakhro Chairman of KPMG’s Middle East and South Asia sub-region

here. Since then, the company has been helping businesses to redesign their practices, taking their ideas from the drawing board to the real world. It advises about getting ahead of the competition and avoiding costly errors, and provides a framework for sustainability. These services help businesses mitigate risk, improve performance and create value. These are qualities which drive a good business and a good economy. “KPMG has doubled in size here in the past four years and we definitely see ourselves continuing to grow with the economy,” Fakhro continued. “If you don’t grow with the economy, then you aren’t being a major player. We see ourselves as a major player – we are looking for more staff, partners, directors and senior managers, because we believe the market is in need of our services. It would be flippant of anybody to assume that the economy isn’t going to grow further. The government has been pouring money into the country and companies are attracting top-quality personnel here to really add value to their products. All the success factors are in place – money, a leadership strategy, a clear vision – and it has been successful with its strategy to date. If you had sole market share of a particular segment five or ten years ago, the chances are that this is no longer the case. There is a huge drive within the government to promote entrepreneurship and SMEs, which are the backbone of most economies. New businesses are getting remarkable practical, financial and advisory services to get off the ground, which means it’s a competitive marketplace in Qatar now. “You cannot continue to compete in this market, you cannot be attractive, unless you can be the equivalent or better than your competitors,” said Fakhro. “In the past ten years there has been an influx of contracting companies, hotels, businesses, banks, insur-

ance companies. Everyone can do business, everyone can invest, and nothing is closed. “I would expect, aside from oil and gas, that services such as banking and insurance companies will bring more growth to the economy. Competition brings a much better brand of service. The country is able and will continue to be able to pour money into the economy, and whether we like it or not, in this part of the world governments are the major players in economies.” GCC and further afield Talking about this part of the world, how is Qatar holding up against its peer states in the GCC? Is it following similar strategies or is its focus elsewhere? “Taking into account the size of the countries and their respective populations, and where it has come from in a short period of time, Qatar could be number one or two in the region in terms of spending progress and development. Its strategies are clear – we can see clearly that they know exactly what they what and what sort of role they want to play in the region and on a global scale. “I think Qatar’s investments outside the country are very wise, and this comes from a risk management point of view to ensure they don’t put all their eggs in one basket. There are lots of countries which will bring great return on long-term investment, so they are preparing themselves should there be a drop in the price of gas in the future, i.e. they have alternate revenue off investments, either for capital appreciation or for dividends to be used to support the economy. Qatar’s focus is clear: they are spending for specific goals and for specific international commitments, but at the same time are saving a lot through their investments abroad”

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brand heroes FOLLOWING Qatar Today’s September cover story on Branding, the Executive Director Qatar at The Brand Union Middle East, Iain Webster, celebrates THE COUNTRY’S Brand Heroes – the organisations successfully equipping their businesses with compelling world-class brands. He looks at what it takes to become a Qatar Brand Hero.


is appropriate to start with two of the country’s most prominent brand heroes – Qatar Foundation (QF) and Qatar Airways. Both have invested heavily in their brands and evolved distinct personalities – influenced in both instances by their high-profile leaders. As a result, both organisations are now clearly positioned on the world stage. QF is one of the strongest candidates for brand hero status. It is an organisation driven by a clear and worthwhile purpose – unlocking human potential – that manifests itself in its personality.

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From a visual perspective, QF’s brand fuses a traditional scripted typeface with a bold yellow and green colour palette. It is not an immediately obvious fit but results in a layered design language conveying strength of purpose, dynamism and compassion. The logo’s hero is the sidra tree – a provider of shelter to travellers and a setting for conversation in the olden days. The sidra tree is a smart reference to Qatari heritage (neatly side-stepping some of the more clichéd icons more often used) and demonstrates that the best brands often contain local references or stories at their heart. QF’s future status as a global icon has been given a boost by it’s sponsorship of FC Barcelona, which has greatly accelerated worldwide awareness. QF pro-

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Qatar Airways’ long-running ‘five star airline’ positioning is differentiating and bold. It is proving successful as the business grows from strength to strength. One concern with this is that it feels focused on a small segment of its audience.

vides a great benchmark for Qatari companies looking to create contemporary, world-class brands without selling out their heritage. The Gulf’s aviation industry has witnessed incredible growth over the past decade, and the “big three”look set to dominate the skies for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to watch each airline evolve and differentiate it’s brand propositions and brand experiences in the years ahead. Qatar Airways’ long-running “five-star airline” positioning is differentiating and bold. It is proving successful as the business grows from strength to strength. One concern with this is that it feels focused on a small segment of its audience. Qatar Airways may generate a significant percentage of its profits from passengers travelling in the front of the cabin, but it needs to ensure it delivers on its “five-star” brand promise to those consumers sitting further back in the aircraft. If a brand says it delivers a five star experience, it must ensure that every employee understands what the brand promise means with regards to their own role. If it does not, then it could create a misalignment of expectations and risk reputational damage. It will be exciting to see how Qatar Airways’ five star brand experience is further extended when the New Doha International Airport opens. It is hoped that it’s travellers are able to immerse themselves in “the Qatar Airways experience” outside of the aircraft cabin. Arts and culture Some of the country’s best-crafted brand identities and design work can be found in this category. This

is symptomatic of clients who are passionate about world-class design and agencies that are capable of world-class delivery, the result being that this sector contains more than its fair share of brand heroes. The Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) merits a special mention and has, under Sheikha Mayassa AlThani’s leadership, evolved a brand portfolio spanning both its own identity and those of its sub-brands that compares well with anything offered by the iconic museums of New York, London or Paris. QMA’s logo evolution is proof that a rebrand need not involve throwing away one’s identity. The result is an identity that retains its sense of authority and provenance yet is supported by a contemporary, clean and engaging design language. QMA’s website is worth visiting; it is one of Qatar’s best sites and deserves to win awards for its content, simplicity and ease of navigation. Two of QMA’s sub-brands also deserve to be considered brand heroes. Mathaf (the Arab Museum of Modern Art) wins an award as one of Qatar’s best logos. It is understated, yet playful and witty. It is supported by a website exuding self-expression and personality. The design language created for the “Mal Lawal” exhibition, currently showing Al Riwaq, has used seemingly simple design and an intelligent use of colour to transform an ugly grey warehouse into a form that complements the grass around the Museum of Islamic Art Park. This is an inspiring example of how smart design can enhance the urban environment and people’s daily lives. The Doha Film Institute’s DTFF (Doha Tribeca Film Festival) also stands out as one of the

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QF’s future status as a global icon has been given a boost by the sponsorship of FC Barcelona which has greatly accelerated worldwide awareness. country’s brand heroes. While the institute is another organisation to be driven by a worthwhile purpose (to develop the country’s film culture and industry), its design language ensures it is effectively represented on the international stage. DTFF employs a consistent visual language merging strong type with a bold but fun colour palette conveying purpose and authority. Critically, and perhaps not surprisingly, DFI/DTFF also recognises the role that distinctive photography has to play in establishing a brand personality. Banking and finance Given Qatar’s size, the number of players in its financial community is quite incredible. Several of its leading players are moving into new countries and sectors and are recognising the value of investing in their brands. From a design perspective, QNB and IBQ are emerging as Qatar’s strongest-looking banks. They have each developed responsible, confident and robust brands. QNB is currently evolving its brand as it embarks on an international expansion drive. IBQ has similarly retained the solidity expected of a bank through clean simple type and traditional banking sector colours. It has also developed an engaging and regionally relevant icon – the shafallah flower – that is intelligently applied across its retail branches.

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Some players in the financial sector have yet to address the challenge of how their brand can reconcile their provenance with a contemporary design language. Others have tried too hard to ‘look modern’ resulting in a design language lacking the credibility or solidity required of a leading financial institution. Those financial organisations with aspirations to be brand heroes now need to turn their attention to delivering brand experiences at their branches. The customer experience should be both efficient and rewarding and perhaps it is time for some of the banks and insurance companies to look at how other sectors, such as hospitality, train their employees to service their customers. The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was one of the first organisations in Qatar to invest in developing a contemporary brand, helping to position Qatar as a serious player within the global financial and investment community. It has a well-crafted identity that references its Qatari provenance via colour. It is however interesting to note that the opportunity to translate its brand design into a brand environmental experience (in the manner of a Vodafone or Qtel) has been largely passed up upon to date. Brand heroes in other sectors Mowasalat has used colour to differentiate itself with the result that its vehicles stand out in traffic, look

tag this WHAT MAKES QATAR’S “BRAND HEROES” GREAT? A motivating purpose/ reason for being

An awareness of the need to engage all stakeholders, not just customers

A balance between being world-class and retaining provenance

Recognition that a business strategy should go hand in hand with a robust brand strategy

Distinct personalities that have stories and myths at their heart

An ownable design language Stimulating, personable brand environments

cool and create an impression on first-time visitors. Everyone knows where black taxis and yellow cabs are from. Perhaps in a decade or so Karwa taxis will become icons in their own right. The company deserves credit for being brave with its choice of livery when it would have been safer to opt for a patriotic variation of maroon. However, great brands are not just pretty on the surface and have to be able to consistently deliver for their consumers. Hopefully Mowasalat will soon be able to take some of the uncertainty out of booking a brightly coloured Karwa taxi. Doha’s W Hotel also merits a nomination as a brand hero. While obviously a global brand, its combination of sophisticated, quirky design and stylish, friendly and empowered staff ensures that a visit is always a stimulating brand experience. Looking at “the W formula” it’s amazing just how so many global chains get their brand offerings so wrong. W’s brand ensures that it is a brand of choice, is distinct in whichever market it enters, and a world away from most impersonal multinational alternatives. Keeping with the theme of insightful design, Msheireb too deserves credit. The Msheireb Downtown Doha project is exactly the sort of intelligent, sustainable, people-orientated initiative that should help Qatar become a long-term destination of choice post-2022. For an initiative priding itself on intelligent urban design, it is fitting that Msheireb Properties’ logo references heritage in a contemporary manner via its icon. By featuring an ancient stone well - a traditional and sustainable source of life – Msheireb successfully and credibly weaves in a story-telling element to give the brand added emotional meaning. It is hoped that some of the country’s other major developments take lead from Msheireb with regards to valuing good design. Great design in Qatar is not restricted to the branding world. Qatar’s urban environment plays host to several examples of world-class design, from the reclaimed Souk Waqif through IM Pei’s Museum of Islamic Art to Jean Nouvel’s up-and-coming National

Charismatic leaders who live the brand

Recognition that great design is an investment

Informed and empowered employees Products that actually do what they say that they do

Clear positioning within the marketplace

An appreciation that a good brand is more than a goodlooking logo

A sincere desire to engage and reward consumers

Museum and Doha Tower. The Doha Tower is an incredible landmark whose innovative design concept surely merits a more distinctive name to differentiate it from Doha’s other skyscrapers. Perhaps the Qatari public will adopt an unofficial name that will stick as with London’s 30 St Mary Axe which is now known to all as “The Gherkin”. Brand Heroes of the future Most of the organisations highlighted here appreciate that branding can add purpose and direction, giving a company something to stand for, something to say and a foundation that can inform its culture. However there are many organisations that are yet to recognise that a well-positioned brand can be an important tool in winning the on-going battles for investment, custom, talent and reputation. Many “business to business” organisations who have either traditionally dominated their markets or enjoyed long-term success due to restrictive markets need to shift from being “leaders by circumstance”to being “leaders by reputation”. These organisations should be assessing whether their brands are “fit for purpose” for the challenges ahead. It is expected that many of these organisations will invest in their brand’s design and positioning in the future as every organisation needs to emotionally engage their stakeholders and provide a reason to believe beyond the transactional. Other categories, including the retail and financial sectors, must also evolve better brand offerings if they are to retain and satisfy demanding consumers. Qatar’s role as a progressive member of the global community also puts pressure on Qatar’s corporate sector to step up it’s brand offerings. The country’s leading companies have an opportunity to support their business strategies with brand strategies. As a result of this it is expected that the country will see a new generation of brand heroes arising and I look forward to experiencing their brands in the years ahead. Here’s to the next generation of brand heroes...

october 2012

Iain Webster is Executive Director Qatar at The Brand Union Middle East. The views expressed in this article are his own. Iain has been in the region for nine years and prior to that worked for top-ranking network agencies in the UK. In the region The Brand Union has offices in Doha and Dubai and has partnered with clients such as Abu Dhabi Ports Company, National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, Al Rajhi Bank, Al Hilal Bank and Abdul Latif Jameel. For enquiries please contact iain.webster@

Qatar Today 73

tag this

Payment Gateways in the

Middle East

By Kapil B h ati a

As e-Commerce sites continue to grow in the region, many online players are still looking for an affordable gateway to process payments.


here are several successful e-commerce companies in the region, like Souq and MarkaVIP, and an increasing number of entrepreneurs launching online businesses. For start-ups that are bootstrapped, cash flow is always a concern. ‘Cash on delivery’ (COD) is still the dominant channel. This year, at the COE E-Commerce conference held in Jordan, the CEO of Souq. com said that about 50% of online orders in the region are COD. He said that in order to build a brand that customers trust, you must offer COD. This also minimises the hassle of moving money across borders, which in today’s financially challenged world is proving to be cumbersome. A few months ago the region lacked a basic ecommerce infrastructure; now however there are many payment gateway companies available to fill the gap. Let’s explore the various payment options that are available to online entrepreneurs, we look at online gateway options in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and Egypt.

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Paypal – Has one million active users in the Arab world. You can set up a Paypal account and open a US dollar account in a local bank to receive payments. You need to charge your customers in US dollars. Set-up fee:


Security Deposit:


Transaction Fee $0.00 – $3,000.00

3.9% + $0.30

$3,000.01 – $10,000.00 (Merchant Rate qualification required)

3.4% + $;0.30

$10,000.01 – $100,000.00 (Merchant Rate qualification required)

3.2% + $0.30

> $100,000.00 (Merchant Rate qualification required)

2.9% + $0.30


They charge an additional for currency conversion (3.5% in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar). Available in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait

tag this

CashU – A service provider with a focus on internet payments in the Middle East and North Africa, with its head office in Dubai. You can get your funds transferred to any local bank in the region. Transaction Fees: Set up Fees: Security Deposit: Annual Fee:

2.9–3.3% + AED 2 $1,000 $10,000 $1–3K depending on number of products and sales volume.

Available in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt AND Lebanon.

Innovate Payments – Another payment gateway service having an office in the UAE. Their payment processing platform is integrated with a number of leading US, European and Middle Eastern banks. They accept payments in common Middle Eastern currencies as well as international currencies like US dollars and euros. Transaction Fees: Set up Fees: Security Deposit: Annual Fee:

MoneyBookers (Skrill) – One of the world’s largest online payment providers, currently being used by over 135,000 merchants. It provides more than 100 payment options, with 41 currencies covering 200 countries and territories, through just one partner. Set-up Fees: Security Deposit: Annual Fee:

Free N/A €239.40

up to €2,500.00

3.90% + €0.35

€ 2,500.01 – €25,000.00

3.50% + €0.35

€ 25,000.01 – €50,000.00

3.10% + €0.35

> €50,000.00

2.90% + €0.35

2CheckOut – Based in Columbus, Ohio and operates the broadest e-commerce payment platform in the world, with a huge currency and payment method selection. Transaction Fees: Set up Fees: Security Deposit: Annual Fee:

3.5% $1,000 $10,000 $492

3.9% + $0.45 Nil N/A $5.99 * 12 = $71.88

Available in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt AND Lebanon

Available in UAE. Settling upon a payment gateway is not an easy task if you don’t have deep pockets and more than a few ounces of patience. There are a few hindrances to adopting to the online payment gateways in the region:

needs to think twice before adopting a local payment gateway owing to its high set up costs. However, one can always look for other international payment gateway companies.

The fees and costs of setting up the gateway are very high. A start up who may want to venture into online business

Cash flow issues: The timeframe between the flows of money from the gateway to the e-commerce company does impact

follow @kapilkb blog: HTTP://TFOUR.ME amateur photographer @earsplease.

Available in UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt AND Lebanon.

Cashi – A payment service provider specialising in internet payments based in Jordan. Transaction Fees: Set-up Fees: Security Deposit: Annual Fee:

0.5% (min $0.01; max $5) Nil N/A Free

Available in – UAE, Jordan, Oman, Egypt AND Saudi Arabia.

operations. Lack of funds may hinder a start-up from enhancing its services or seizing new venture new opportunities. As time progresses we hope that people will get comfortable with paying online, as payment gateways will play an important role in facilitating this need.

By Kapil Bhatia Kapil Bhatia is an E-Business Manager, working in the Financial Services Industry for the past 10 years. His work ranges across Digital Marketing, e-Channels and development of marketing strategies, with a sound Information Technology base. is an upcoming technology blog in the Middle East which will feature talk about Tech Entertainment, Social Networks AND Digital Trends and list jobs. The blog wILL offer insightful analysis about Big Data and THE Internet industry and wILL feature Start-ups in the Middle East region.

october 2012

Qatar Today 75



to evaluate schools Having successfully completed its first year of operation, the Green Programme for Schools (GPS) will conduct a final evaluation session to award the prize for best performing school of 2011-2012.


fficials of the Green Programme for Schools (GPS) have announced that a final evaluation session will be held for participating schools on October 9-10, 2012 at the Msheireb Enrichment Centre. Schools will be invited to share their experiences of being part of this first-of-its-kind green initiative for schools in the country. Each school will talk about the various developments that took place during the course of the programme, such as water and electricity conservation, paper recycling and reuse initiatives implemented by them, as well as the effect of the programme on students and their change in attitude towards environmental conservation and preservation. Based on these criteria, schools will be evaluated by officials from Msheireb Properties, Qatar Today Magazine, the Qatar Green Building Council and other technical members. The best performing school in these categories will be awarded the “Eco School of the Year” award ceremony to be held in November. “It is both an exciting and a tense mo-

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ment for us to have reached the final stages of GPS. It is a moment when the commitment and consistency of all participating schools will be put to the test. I hope the panel sees some exciting results and case studies which others can emulate. The entire programme is the result of several stakeholders, namely Msheireb Properties, the Supreme Education Council, the Qatar Green Building Council, Mission 20 and iloveqatar, coming together for a common mission,” said Ravi Raman, Vice-President, Oryx Advertising Company.

first schools-based environmental awareness campaign in Qatar. Its aim has been to reach, inspire and reward students and schools by meaningfully engaging young people and inculcating in their minds the importance of building green equity. As part of the brand activation stage of GPS, Mission 20 coordinators visited each participating school, strategically placing creative stickers carrying the message of water and energy conservation as well as pledge boards all over the school campus that successfully served to constantly

GPS is an environmental initiative of Msheireb Properties in association with Qatar Today magazine and supported by the Supreme Education Council. Since its launch on June 5, 2011, GPS has seen the participation of around 25,000 students from more than 28 schools. GPS is the

remind and encourage students to utilise resources carefully. According to Mission 20 coordinators, the schools have recorded major reductions in their electricity and water consumption and have also implemented several eco-friendly initiatives to engage their students in green practices

To know more about the programme,

To know more about GPS,

visit the GPS page at http://www.

contact 44550983

simone caprodossi


Whale Sharks

exciting researchers The aggregation of dozens of whale sharks off Qatar’s northeast coast has stimulated a lot of international interest. Whilst they have been enjoying this habitat for a number of years, it’s only recently that their seasonal presence has been recorded and analysed.


ince the turn of the millennium, offshore workers from Maersk Oil have innocently observed some surprisingly large fish playfully circling their platforms and thought nothing else of it. Indeed, well before any oil was discovered local fishermen returned to land with stories about nehem – big fish that would eat you! People were naturally a little fearful. In 2007, a keen offshore worker reported

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an aggregation of more than one hundred whale sharks to the website, which collates global observations of whale sharks. David Robinson, a postgraduate student from Heriot-Watt University, uncovered these images as part of his preliminary Ph.D.research into whale sharks in the region. He brought them to the attention of special advisor Mohammed Al-Jaidah from the Qatar Ministry of Environment, and in late 2010 they established the Qatar Whale Shark Research Project (WSRP) – the purpose of which is to provide data necessary to establish a long-term monitoring pro-

michael pitts


michael pitts

throughs,” explains Mohammed Al-Jaidah. “This work was captured on film, and a documentary will be made for use in Qatar to broaden awareness and understanding of this unique population and the research work that is going on. “Following on from this productive start, and with the assistance of Maersk, we will improve our technology, such as leveraging acoustic equipment, to give us a better understanding of their behaviour. Last year we had seven tracking systems and we acquired some very useful information from three of them. This year, we are hoping to acquire more resourceful data.” Although the four-year research project is still in its early stages, some observations are beginning to reveal formative results. Several of the same sharks were observed in 2011, and the team believe that one contributing reason to the whale shark aggregation in the Al Shaheen oil field may well be the large offshore platforms. The structures form an artificial reef environment for fish, and fishing restrictions ensure large fish stocks prevail.

gramme and create a robust description of the ecology of whale sharks in Qatari waters. Marine biologist Steffen Bach, from the Maersk Oil Research and Technology Centre (MORTC), felt it was something his organisation should collaborate with. The strategic position of Maersk’s offshore platforms and the engagement of its staff make it possible for them to contribute significantly to the project. “The project is a perfect example on how the industry can work together with authorities and researchers to improve our understanding of the environment,” says Bach. “To be able to assist in the project is

important for us not just from a research point of view but also to demonstrate that we want to preserve biodiversity in areas where we operate.” One of the activities for 2012 was to conduct a two-week expedition to the Al Shaheen oil field, where satellite tags were attached to individual sharks in order to track movements within the Gulf and beyond. The team witnessed approximately 100 whale sharks during the expedition and used photos of their unique spot patterns to identify each one. “The team performed a number of scientific research activities during the expedition – and even made some scientific break-

Will it eat you? Fortunately, no. Although it might look like the meanest submarine creature and weigh up to 20 tonnes, it has no penchant for human flesh. Its colossal appetite is satiated instead by plankton, which consists of drifting organisms such as algae, crustaceans, fish and other aquatic animals. Like the world’s second-largest fish, the basking shark, it is a filter feeder, so in order to eat it protrudes its massive jaws and passively filters everything in its path, gulping down the plankton like cannon fodder. The whale shark’s flattened head sports a blunt snout above its mouth, with short barbels protruding from its nostrils. Its back and sides are grey to brown with white spots among pale vertical and horizontal stripes, and its belly is white. Its two dorsal fins are set rearward on its body, which ends in a large dual-lobbed caudal fin (or tail). Preferring warm waters, whale sharks populate all tropical seas and are known to aggregate in certain areas around the world such as the west coast of Australia. There, the coral spawning of the area’s Ningaloo Reef provides the whale shark with an abundant supply of plankton. The Qatar Whale Shark Research Project will shed more light on what is drawing whale sharks to the Arabian Gulf

october 2012

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TECHTALK Bringing the newest gadgets and global tech stories to you each month…

Is the iPhone 5 worth it?


o the iPhone 5 has finally been released. Such has been the hyperbole, you may be wondering if your current smartphone will cease to work anymore or if you’ll be ridiculed at the watercooler for pulling out something less. Is it worth getting up in the morning if you don’t have Apple’s latest design? Let’s look at five ways it upstages its predecessor. Screen: At 4 inches, and with a resolution of 1136 x 640, the iPhone 5’s screen is bigger and better. The 4S had a 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 960 x 640, translating to 326 ppi. The iPhone 5 has exactly the same pixel density, however, so don’t expect things to look any sharper. Size and Weight: Weighing in at 112g to the 4S’s 140g, it is decidedly more lightweight. This also makes it lighter than the Galaxy S III. The iPhone 5 is also 7.6mm deep whilst the 4S is 9.3mm. LTE: The iPhone 5 supports 4G. Until now only the new iPad has been able to connect to super-high-speed mobile networks. Camera: The iPhone 5 has a hybrid IR filter, dynamic low-light mode and sapphire crystal cover. With the improved image processing technology in iOS 6 and things like panorama mode, the new camera is much improved. On the front there is a 1.2-megapixel 720p video-capable snapper, which is a step up from 4S’s VGA quality. Battery: The major difference comes in standby, which is 225 hours on the iPhone 5 and 200 on the iPhone 4S.

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Will passwords be a thing of the past?


asswords for online banking, social networks and e-mail could be replaced with a wave of the hand. Aiming to do away with the need to remember passwords for growing numbers of online services, Intel researchers have put together a tablet with new software and a biometric sensor that recognises the unique patterns of veins on a person’s palm. “The problem with passwords,” said Sridhar Iyengar, Intel’s Director of Security Research, “is that we use too many of them, their rules are complex, and they differ for different websites.” He suggested biometrics as a possible solution, and demonstrated by waving his hand in front of a tablet. The technology could be used to securely communicate a person’s identity to banks, social networks and other services where the person has accounts, he said.

LG exhibits range of docking speakers

MoI Facebook page wins award


y offering a variety of technologically advanced docking speakers with innovative connectivity features, LG is aiming to satisfy the diverse listening needs of the smart device generation. The speakers offer wireless streaming, touch user interfaces and dual docking to deliver premium sound and enhanced smart device compatibility. The classy-looking ND8520 differentiates itself from the typical iPhone, iPod and iPad speakers with AirPlay. With AirPlay, users can also connect wirelessly to larger Apple devices, such as iPads and MacBooks. The ND8520 delivers impressive sound out of its compact 2.1 channel 80W speaker. The speaker even generates strong bass with a built-in woofer and minimises sound loss, resulting in music that is both crisp and rich in depth.

Another global sign: Arabic is going strong on Twitter and is now the sixth most popular language on the site, accounting for 2.8% of all tweets. Saudi Arabia’s user numbers were up by 93% in six months to 2.9 million. TOP 10 COUNTRIES IN TERMS OF TWITTER ACCOUNTS US BRAZIL JAPAN UK INDONESIA INDIA MEXICO CANADA SPAIN PHILIPPINES

digital camera






razil has overtaken Japan as the second-largest country after the US in terms of profiles on Twitter, but Japan is still the most engaged. It represents 10.6% of all tweets, but only 6.7% of users. Japanese after English, is the second-most popular language. Other trending nations include Indonesia, which has 29.4 million profiles and the most active Twitter city, Jakarta. These figures, from Semiocast, suggest that Indonesia may soon overtake the UK for fourth position in its rankings: the UK currently has 32.2 million user profiles but is growing slower than the Southeast Asian country.

shoots that work blackberry

Twitter gets popular in Arabic

Qatar’s Ministry of Interior’s Facebook page won ‘Best Interactive Platform Award 2012’ in the ‘Arab E-Gov Web Awards’ conducted by the Arab Administrative Development Organisation (ARADO) and Pan-Arab Awards Academy.

15% ipad




martphones are becoming the cameras of choice. What better choice for customers than a device with which you can click, and post on social media networks? But for the professional photographer, a DSLR will always remain the first choice, as the pictures it takes will always be far superior to those clicked by a smartphone. For everyone else, the convenience of a smartphone is fast overtaking the quality of a good old point-and-shoot camera. Qatar Today and TFour.Me tries tookthe pulse of the nation on this issue and the overall consensus was tilted towards the iPhone, with 36% of respondents choosing the Apple smartphone over others. The digital camera followed closely behind with 27% of respondents opting for this device to give the best results.

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What’s trending on Doha News this month?

Doha News has rounded up the stories everyone wanted to talk about in September for Qatar Today . Topping the list was the reopening of Villaggio Mall. From boycott calls to a postponed court hearing to Villaggio’s eventual reopening, folks just couldn’t get enough of the story. Qatar protests the anti-Islam video Some 2,000 people marched toward the US Embassy in Doha after Friday prayer on September 14, joining their voices with protesters from across the region against a YouTube video made in the United States that disparages the Prophet Muhammad. Called for by prominent Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Qatar’s demonstration was peaceful and orderly.

Villaggio Mall re-opens Three and a half months after a fire killed 19 people there, Villaggio re-opened its doors to the public, albeit in parts. Civil Defence gave the green light following an inspection of the mall’s new fire safety measures on September 19, but the damaged area between Gates 3 and 4 remains sealed. The re-opening was bittersweet for many residents, not least the families of those who were killed in the fire. The parents of the 13 children killed in the fire called for a boycott of the mall until key questions are answered and justice is served. Earlier in September, the criminal prosecution to determine responsibility for the fire was postponed after two out of three parties charged did not show up. Moataz Kamel: Let’s be realistic! In this severely underserved area, boycotting is a luxury that we can’t afford! We need to buy food and basic stuff, and Hyatt plaza is already overloaded. I wish we had ten other malls to choose from. But sadly that’s not the case. September 20 at 10:17am ALBAIH ?@khalidalbaih #Villaggio should have some kind of memorial for the victims next to the kindergarten

Hijab-wearing student ‘not excluded’ from school A news report about an 11-year-old Egyptian girl being banned from attending classes for wearing hijab spread rapidly on social media, with inflamed residents calling for the government to take action. But it appears no such ban actually took place. The controversy was sparked by an errant tweet sent by a friend of the girl’s father after Compass International School Doha asked if young girls normally wear the headscarf. Peter Draper:The power of rumour and the uncensored nature of the Internet can be a dangerous thing. People MUST check their facts before spreading bad info. September 12 at 11:15am

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Uzma Saad: Instead of protest we should tell the non-Muslims more about Islam. We can do that by distributing books that explain Islam and biography of our holy prophet (p.b.u.h)... September 15 at 11:00pm via mobile

Plainclothes officers out to catch Qatar’s bad drivers The Traffic Department has started deploying police officers dressed as civilians to make sure drivers don’t overtake people from the right side of the road. The move, announced by Captain Saood Al-Khater of MoI on Twitter, is a bid to improve road safety after schools officially re-open for the autumn term. Daya Devaiah: High time they did.

Counting down TO the much-awaited IKEA Al Futtaim Group, which is developing Doha Festival City, has launched a widget on counting down to the launch of the first IKEA store in Qatar. The counter puts the Swedish warehouse’s launch around mid-December, although the developer has previously told Doha News that it is slightly behind schedule and is expected to open at the beginning of 2013 instead. Meemzo: Finally #Ikea opening in #Qatar- Let the countdown begin!

auto news



BMW 7 Series brings new levels of class


lfardan Automobiles, the BMW Group importer in Qatar, launched the new 7 Series model last month. The flagship 7 Series model has consistently been amongst BMW’s best-sellers in Qatar and across the GCC region. A number of important design and

technology modifications have been introduced to the new car to give it a stronger presence on the road and provide an even more luxurious and powerful driving experience. Many of the new modifications in the 7 Series come as standard features in all the new 7 Series models in Qatar, but the most eyecatching one is the new adaptive LED headlights featuring hallmark BMW corona rings and a smart accent strip, which projects a distinctive appearance both day and night. The new high-performance LED headlights are fitted on the outside of the front apron in place of the fog lamps, and are computer-controlled to turn and illuminate the target object precisely. There is also keyless no-touch opening of the tailgate for optimal loading comfort. Features now standard in the BMW 750Li and the flagship BMW 760Li include internet access, and passengers can use the iDrive controller to browse through all the office functions and BMW apps. An optional rear-seat entertainment package comes with a new 9.2-inch flat screen monitor to ensure a refreshing diversion for extended journeys, while the new 1,200-watt Bang & Olufsen high-end surround sound system that delivers unrivalled sound quality is now available as a standard feature in all 760Lis in Qatar through Alfardan Automobiles.

New Audi S models arrive in Middle East


he brand-new Audi S models were unveiled in Dubai recently. The S6, S7 and S8 are powered by a new four-litre, twin-turbo V8, which combines ample power with low fuel consumption. The S6 and S7 use the 420 hp version of the new 4.0 TFSI. The twin-turbo V8 provides a constant 550 Nm of torque from 1,400 to 5,200 rpm. It accelerates the S6 and S7 from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and 4.7 seconds respectively. The Audi S8 is the new head of the Audi S model family. Its new 4.0 TFSI generates no less than 520 hp and delivers a constant 650 Nm of torque between 1,700 and 5,500 rpm. The result is outstanding performance: the sprint from zero to 100 km/h takes just 4.2 seconds. With all three models, the electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h is just a formality. New to the S family is the parking system with 360 degree camera. Four small cameras record images of the sedan’s immediate

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surroundings and a computer splices them together. The driver can call up a variety of views on the MMI monitor, including a virtual top-down view. The system enhances safety while manoeuvering and in narrow driveways.

auto news

Nissan unveils all-new Altima Nissan unveiled the all-new 2013 Altima in Dubai last month. “The all-new 2013 Nissan Altima offers the whole package - stylish design inside and out, outstanding ride, handling, acceleration and fuel economy, and thoughtful technology solutions not currently found in the segment,” said Atsuo Kosaka, Managing Director, Nissan Middle East. “For people who enjoy experiencing life to the fullest, we have the new premium midsize sedan just for them.”

Volkswagen launches new Polo Sedan


olkswagen Middle East launched the brand-new Polo Sedan last month in Dubai. At an exceptionally competitive price, the Polo Sedan is sleek, spacious and comfortable. Available with a 1.6 litre 105 PS engine and a six-speed automatic transmission, the Polo Sedan includes 15-inch alloy wheels, dual airbags for driver and passenger, ABS, spacious interior – especially in the rear – and central locking with keyless entry. “The new Polo Sedan is the perfect combination of German engineering to-

gether with optimum comfort and driving characteristics,” says Marcus Butros, Sales Director, Volkswagen Middle East. “It completes our sedan segment within the market following the Jetta and Passat, which have been extremely well received by our customers. The Polo offers high safety standards along with driving comfort, sleek styling and affordable innovation. We see high potential for this model in the region, and one that will drive volume growth as we continue to be the fastest growing volume brand in the Middle East.”

Record results for Ferrari


errari registered a record in revenues and in the number of cars delivered in the first half of 2012. Revenues reached QR5.7 billion (+11%), while a total of 3,664 homologated road cars were delivered to dealerships, an increase of 7.4%. Trading profits rose 13% to QR724 million, while net profits hit QR480 million, an increase of 10%. The company’s industrial net cash position as of June 30 reached a new record figure of QR4.3 billion with extremely high investment in product development. The net cash flow for H1 was 203 million euros before dividends. These results are the fruit of the continuing success of Ferrari’s eightcylinder models, particularly the new Ferrari California 30 – where ‘30’ represents the 30 extra horsepower and 30 kg lower weight – and the 458 Spider, the engine of which received the Best Performance Engine of the Year award for the second year running. In the 12-cylinder range, FF sales are strong while the new F12berlinetta has yet to make any impact on results as deliveries do not begin until the autumn. That said, the new model has been the subject of public and critical acclaim, taking a number of awards, such as the Auto Bild Design Award.

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auto news

Dynamic performance with the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet

Join the ride with Harley-Davidson


arley-Davidson Middle East and North Africa (MENA) recently announced its 2012 Open House Days with the theme “Join the Ride, Change Lives”, and invited both riders and non-riders to Doha for the weekend of October 11 – 14, when its newest 2013 models will

be revealed. This event will also raise funds for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting global hunger and feeding over 90 million people in over 70 countries each year. All riders will be invited to buy Harley Davidson pins, which will generate funds to feed over thirty underprivileged school children a day. “Our customers are our biggest group of friends, and we are always on the lookout for opportunities to expand our social circle. At the Open Day, both riders and non-riders will be able to experience the exhilarating spirit of Harley-Davidson. We look forward to seeing the entire community in Qatar gather to have fun,” said Robert Andrew Kelly, Harley-Davidson Doha Dealer Principal.

Porsche Cayenne GTS spices up local market

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he Audi RS 5 Cabriolet will be launched in the Middle East in the second half of 2013. The four-seat convertible with a cloth soft top entices with a unique combination of elegance and power. Its 4.2 FSI, a high-revving naturally aspirated V8 engine, outputs 450 hp. It accelerates the high-performance sports car from zero to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. In the RS 5 Cabriolet, Audi dynamics take on an especially beautiful form in the car’s flowing side profile with perfectly balanced proportions and sharp details. Matt aluminium elements, large air intakes embedded in the distinctively shaped front apron, wedge-shaped headlights with wavelight lower edges, elegant LED light strips at the redesigned rear bumper and a lightweight textile roof give the new Audi RS 5 Cabriolet a powerful and elegant look. The 4.2 FSI V8 engine outputs 450 hp at 8,250 rpm and produces a maximum torque of 430 Nm between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. As an option, Audi can deliver a sport exhaust system with black tailpipe trim. The car’s top speed is limited to 250 km/h at customer request; Audi can boost this to 280 km/h. The powerful V8 has a combined fuel consumption of 10.9 l/100 km.

orsche Centre Doha, Al Boraq Automobiles Co. WLL, has unleashed its sportiest SUV ever – the Cayenne GTS. After its global reveal wowed the audience at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, Porsche is introducing this most sporting SUV in a market already in love with the Porsche Cayenne. The Cayenne – which saw record sales and a 35% increase across the region in 2011 – now comes in an athletic, faster GTS variant, with all the space, comfort and clear layout of an SUV coupled with the driving fun, dynamics and agility of a sports car. George Wills, Managing Director of Porsche Middle East and Africa FZE, says: “The new Cayenne GTS is not simply a vehicle positioned between the Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo, but represents a model with its own distinctive character developed from tip to toe for emotionally-charged sportiness. It is a vehicle set to grab the hearts and minds of anyone passionate about driving.” The Cayenne GTS’s power unit is the most powerful naturally aspirated engine in the Cayenne model line, with uncompromising power: it has a 4.8-litre V8 engine which offers up 420 horsepower. It will rocket you from 0 - 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds and offers a top speed of 261 km/h.


Hospitality served from

the souq

by Sind h u N a i r

Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels is the latest entrant into Qatar’s hospitality sector. it brings with it a new concept in a truly traditional setting.


ties drenched in luxury. But then, isn’t here is a new breed of Doha all about luxury? designer hotels – a segTaking us through the properties, ment that is very sagaCarl Henderson, the new General Manciously coined “boutique ager of Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels, hotels” – that wishes to talks about the latest addition to Doha’s tap into the mid-budget range of hotel hospitality sector. offerings, a range that has not been exHenderson, who began his hospitaliplored much in Doha. Google “boutique ty career almost 30 years ago in London hotels” and you come with up classiand has had wide-ranging experience fications that get more ambiguous as from Indonesia to the Philippines, the your search intensifies. To try to put Turks and Caicos Islands, Seychelles some sense into the broad characteriand Barbados, including a stint in the sation, boutique hotels are just smaller Middle East, believes that listening to units, uber-chic in their presentation people is a much-needed virtue, esand furnished in a themed and stylish, pecially for someone in the hospitalif aspirational, manner. Boutique hoity sector. This was one of the lessons tels are individualistic and focused on he took away from his experience in offering their services in a comfortable, Jordan, where he was Manager for the intimate and welcoming setting, so Royal Palaces (Amman and Aqaba). He they are unlikely to be found amongst Carl Henderson general Manager, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels was responsible for 160 staff and rethe homogeneity of large hotels. (A ported directly to their Majesties, with statement that would surely come up full responsibility for operations. He reminisces about the peoplewith counter-arguments from bigger hotel chains.) Bringing this new concept to Doha is Souq Waqif Boutique Ho- skills of the “incredible” Jordanian king, a trait that influenced him tels, a collection of six individually styled boutique properties - greatly in his career. It is this “listening, giving the person you are namely Al Mirqab, Arumaila, Al Najada, Musheireb, Al Jasra and Al listening to all the attention and believing in what you listen” ability Bidda – ranging between 14 and 37 rooms, owned and managed by that he exercises most in his communications with his team members here in Doha too. “I strive to build the team, empower them Al Rayyan Hospitality. Nestled between the spice markets and other laid-back old shops and train them to high standards, and enable them to be confident, are these boutique properties with the elevation of all of them because in the hospitality industry there is nothing more important than a confident team that happily serves the visitors.” matching the souq ambience, giving all of them a cultural context. “Boutique hotels,” Henderson says, “are a new phenomenon But move inside, and you are momentarily taken aback by the luxury and sheer comfort that each one of the hotels has to offer. for the country and the region. The concept of having many small Something that you would never expect from a traditional souq entities within the souq environment gives people a benefit that is setting, not much earthiness or rustic designs here, but refined incomparable to any other offering in the country. The souq is the interiors with a few traditional elements thrown in and all proper- oldest known centre of activity for the country and it has been rec-

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Highlights Arab motifs seem to characterise Al Mirqab property, which is the largest of the properties with 37 rooms. But what makes it fascinating is the presence of a theatre, Al Rayyan Theatre, a 980-seat, state-of-the-art indoor amphitheatre that is managed externally, as Henderson specifies. It also has an outdoor rooftop theatre with a seating capacity of 300. Arumaila presents a fusion of traditional Arab hospitality and modern facilities with an up-beat, a la mode theme, characterised by its vibrant decor and ambience. Al Canteen and the Rooftop Grill–Al Matbakh are the highlights of this property. Looking out to the Corniche, The Rooftop Grill features an open kitchen and is said to accommodate up to

reated to its former glory by HH the Emir, and to live within this culturally steeped environment is the advantage of our boutique hotels. “All the properties have a different approach – ranging from pure traditional Arab design to cutting-edge Italian. We ask people to choose their own flavour.” Though all the properties are unique in design, the proportions are small, ranging from 14 to 37 rooms. So would we classify the property as high-end luxury or mid-range? “We do not fall under any rating, as the boutique hotels are not yet rated by the Qatar Tourism Authority. The facilities and amenities that we have are certainly five-star. We might not have beach-front location, but we have a local connect to the souq which is unique to us. We have a swimming pool that can be used by anyone staying in any one of our hotel facilities. We have a spa in our property which will soon be open. All the facilities are common for the guests staying in any of the properties. There will be three gyms within the four open properties, a series of treatment rooms and a pool,” says Henderson. “We have four properties open now and will have two open by the first quarter of next year, and a possible third one in the middle of

57 guests. Al Najada is a reincarnation of three old buildings originally completed in 1930. The designers have recreated the interior of almost all traditional Arabian homes here, where at the heart of it is a roofless inner courtyard that acts as an outdoor living room, artistically decorated with water features. But the soon-to-open Al Jasra is the one to look out for. Contemporary interiors, white walls punctuated by splashes of colour in a luxurious rich, yet cosy, seating arrangement in the lobby, a water body gurgling through the main lobby and art that seems to be straight out of a collector’s closet, all make Al Jasra my personal favourite.

next year,” he says. Since the concept is quite new and also taking advantage of the location, will Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels have more properties open as they expand? He says: “Hotels will not be made just for the sake of numbers. It has to fit into the theme or complement it.” On the kind of customers that the boutique hotels are aimed for, Henderson says that a business travellers and travellers from the oil and gas industry are the customers that the hotels have served till now. “But we are also targeting stop-over travellers. The profile of our hotels would suit them. To get a spice of the country in a short period, there is nothing like staying near the centre of business with a cultural flavour to spice it.” On the gap between supply and demand, with supply seemingly much more than demand in room availability in Doha, Henderson replies: “Historically, if you look back, there was a period of time when there was an enormous surge of rooms, and occupancy has caught up. Obviously now there is a bigger picture, and with the huge sporting events planned, there will be a surge in demand. The country is planning well – sustainably and prudently, keeping in mind all the factors involved”

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How very English at the

Grand Heritage As London becomes a popular destination for a summer retreat for Qataris, the Grand Heritage is returning a little bit of the Big Smoke to Qatar. The five-star hotel’s design and style – which is unique to the region – is Victorian and heavily inspired by the Lanesborough Hotel, just off Hyde Park, from its elegant architecture to the cosy feel of its Tea lounge.

by ror y c oe n


ust walking into the lobby of the hotel makes you feel like Johnny English, as you are greeted by a traditional elegance associated with the old country. The walls are clad in limestone blocking with a Victorian frieze crown moulding and the furnishings are of antique mahogany. The artwork on display establishes a homely feel. Pierre-Marie Vasseur, the General Manager of the Grand Heritage, spoke of this homely feel and how his guests feel it’s the perfect place to prepare for their day ahead and to de-programme thereafter. “We get a lot of regulars here,” he said. “We see the same high-profile people come to the Tea Lounge every morning and evening. They enjoy the atmosphere and the ambience – it gives them a sense of privacy and intimacy. You often see them working away on their iPads or reading the newspaper – or other times you see some ladies have a quiet discussion amongst themselves. “They always speak of the gravity of the staff here,” he continued. “They don’t even have to order anymore - they have a drink

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by their side within a couple of moments. If you search our hotel on any website – or – the reviews always compliment our staff.” Family-focused It was surprising to hear that Qataris are the most frequent guests at the hotel, followed by those from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Grand Heritage has tried to generate a family feel around the place, which seems to resonate with people from the GCC in particular. But surely they are not just moving across the street? “Qataris love to take their families to a local hotel for a weekend, and what better family hotel than the Grand Heritage?” Vasseur said. “We have Aspire Park right on our doorstep, where children can run around freely. The Villagio Mall, which is very popular, has just been reopened. During Eid, for example, we had mascots such as Spongebob Squarepants and Barney who played with the kids all day. We set up a special room where they could play their games and eat the food they enjoy.” For the adults, the luxurious Tea Lounge

Pierre-Marie Vasseur, General Manager, Grand Heritage.

and the soon-to-be-opened Turkish restaurant are the highlights. “We just hired a new Turkish chef from a hotel in Dubai, as we want to bring in a Turkish concept. We feel there is a real lacking for this in Doha, and since we get a lot of local guests, we want to give them the food they really enjoy. “The Tea Lounge has been created to give the belief that you are entering the library of an old English mansion. Some people come here just to drink the different kinds of tea. We have over 40 different types – which we get from a specialist tea production company in Paris called Palais des Thes – but the most popular one by far is our Moroccan blend. We have an Algerian lady here who makes the most wonderful cup in all of Doha”



Sony introduces the Cyber-shot RX100


Nokia Lumia is picture perfect


ony launched the Cyber-shot RX100 recently which includes a host of powerful features packaged into a sleek, compact aluminium body. The RX100 inherits many advanced imaging features from Sony’s Alpha range of A-mount and E-mount camera families. An accomplished partner for travel, portrait or street photography, with impressive picture quality and intuitive, comfortable control options, the RX100 is a step-up from point-and-shoot cameras. This camera features the world’s first 1.0-type EXMOR CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels and a bright F1.8 lens making it the perfect fit for a compact, pocket-sized second camera for enthusiasts who want to capture pristine stills with refined defocus effect and Full HD video while they are on the move. Specially developed by Sony, the sensor has an area that is four times larger than the 1/2.3-type imager in regular point-and-shoot cameras. Capturing far more light than small-sensor cameras, it is the key to beautiful, detail packed images and Full HD movie clips with very low noise. The RX100 is available at all Fifty One East’s outlets located in Al Maha centre, City Centre and Lagoona Mall in addition to Virgin Megastore at the Landmark mall.

Tangia Restaurant is reopened


he Tangia Restaurant was reopened – after a one-year hiatus – last month at the Wyndham Grand Regency Doha. Hotel General Manager Ayman Lotfy said: “We have done our best to provide authentic Moroccan ambiance and possess the admiration of all citizens of all nationalities. We are keen to have a Moroccan dishes featured in Doha, where each dish in the restaurant has been imported directly from Morocco.” Designed by one of Moroccan’s top interior designers, Tangia offers a casual-chic dining atmosphere. The dining room’s Moroccan dicor is full of colour and energy, dominated by shades of burgundy and earth tones, with Moroccan art pieces displayed throughout the restaurant. Tangia’s signature specialities consist of classic Moroccan dishes created from the most well-known Marrakesh cuisine and locally sourced ingredients.

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okia launched the Nokia Lumia 920 and the Nokia Lumia 820 last month in New York, the first in Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 range. The Lumia 920 is Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone 8 smartphone, including the latest advances in Nokia PureView imaging innovation. Using advanced floating lens technology, the camera in the Nokia Lumia 920 is able to take in five times more light than competing smartphones without using flash. “Nokia PureView continues to deliver cuttingedge technology to make it possible for a smartphone camera to take the kind of images usually only seen on a standalone SLR camera,” said Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices. “With the Nokia Lumia 920 we have made it possible to shoot pictures and video at home, outdoors, in a restaurant or even at night, and come out with professional-looking results.” “We view imaging as a core area for differentiation in the smartphone space,” said Crawford Del Prete, Executive VP WW Products and Chief Research Officer, IDC. “Low light photography has been a weak point for smartphones. Nokia has addressed this with PureView to create real customer value. By applying its rich expertise in imaging Nokia has created a best-of-breed experience for everyday use.”


Special Editions for the Officine Panerai Boutique


fficine Panerai pays tribute to Doha with two new Special Edition watches, sold exclusively in the Panerai boutique. Both watches are personalised with the same engraving on the case back, showing the Al Zubara fort. The first Special Edition dedicated to Doha (PAM00454), of which 50 units have been made, is a Luminor Marina - 44 mm with a case in polished steel and the bridge protecting the crown in brushed steel. The watch has a classic Panerai black dial, with its elegant alternation of hour makers and figures coated with a special ecru Super-LumiNova; the decoration consists simply of the words “Luminor Marina” and “Panerai” with a picture of a slow-speed torpedo, the vessel on which the frogmen of the Royal Italian Navy carried out their historic missions in the 1940s wearing the first Panerai watches on their wrists. The second Special Edition (PAM00472), of which only 10 units have been made, is a Radiomir 10 Days GMT - 47 mm, with the elegant cushion case in polished steel. All the elements on the black sandwich dial, as well as the hands, are in ecru SuperLumiNova: the figures, the linear indication of the 10-day power reserve, the small seconds dial at 9 o’clock, the calendar and the inscription “Radiomir Panerai”. The strap is of vintage leather and the movement is the automatic calibre P.2003, created entirely within the Officine Panerai manufacture at Neuchbtel.

Qatar Airways bringing Ajmal brings Bling to town their food to new heights


atar Airways introduced an incredible line-up of globally renowned chefs to their 5-star service. Chef Ramzi, from Lebanon, brings his exquisite experience of Middle East cuisine to the fore; Mumbaiborn Chef Vineet has his unique blend of exotic Indian food; Chef Aikens, from the UK, provides his own variety of European culinary offerings; and Chef Nobu, from Japan, adds a touch of Asian fusion cuisine to Qatar Airways’ ambassadorial line-up. Handpicked to set a new standard for dining in the sky while representing the finest international cuisine from every corner of the world, the all-star team of culinary ambassadors has collaborated exclusively with Qatar Airways to create the ‘Qatar Airways Culinary World Menu’ – a new range of tempting signature dishes to satisfy the tastes of the airline’s first class and business class passengers. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline’s collaboration with such global icons and gastronomic pioneers further proves Qatar Airways’ commitment to redefining the passenger experience by offering a truly 5-star service.

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jmal Perfumes, the region’s multi awa r d -w i n n i n g fragrance house, recently announced the launch of Bling, its latest fragrance. The premium French perfume which has been developed with infused oriental flavours has been on sale in Qatar since July. Bling is available to customers in 75ml bottles designed with crystals. With ingredients like cinnamon, rose, guaiacwood, patchouli and musk forming the core of the fragrance, it harmoniously blends French and Oriental scents in a spicy floral woody note. Abdulla Ajmal, General Manager – Sales and Marketing at Ajmal Perfumes said: “Following months of research and testing among our diverse customer base, we are delighted to finally introduce Bling into this market. This premium fragrance is a unique entry into this region as it is a modern oriental fragrance with an essence that is international in its composition. We invite everyone to visit an Ajmal store to experience Bling, and enjoy the boldness of this fragrance which will make them stand out from the crowd.”


LG bringing your screens together


G Electronics (LG) announced the beta opening of LG Cloud service on May 1 with the aim of providing seamless connectivity and streaming access to all digital content across various electronic devices. Although cloud is today’s hottest IT buzzwords, LG Cloud is the first that allows users to manage and consume all types of content on “three screens” which includes Android smartphones, PCs and smart TVs (including but not limited to CINEMA 3D models) without a separate set-top box. To use the service, users need to download the LG Cloud app from Google Play or LG SmartWorld app store from their Android smartphones, LG SmartWorld store from their LG Smart TVs or the LG Cloud website ( from their PCs or

laptops. LG’s Cloud service automatically synchronizes smartphone content with the cloud server and the user’s PC and TV. Photos and videos taken with the smartphone can be viewed and streamed to the PC or TV almost instantaneously. Videos edited on a PC can be uploaded to LG Cloud for viewing seconds later on a smartphone. Unlike other cloud services, there’s very little waiting or lag time since the content is streamed to the TV, PC or smartphone, not downloaded first. The difference is in LG’s Real-time Streaming Transcoding technology. The conversion happens on the server in realtime, not on the device. There is no need to worry about installing codecs or converters, everything happens seamlessly and in the background with no involvement from the user.

Middle East VIP enjoy Gala Night in Geneva iddle East VIP organised its first Annual Business Gala Dinner at Intercontinental Geneva in partnership with KBL Bank, the Arab Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Swiss Clinic General-Beaulieu, the magazine title Qatar Today and the Swiss Group Promo Guide. It started with a business networking cocktail where the Arab and Swiss participants had the opportunity to visit stands of Swiss companies to get a better understanding of the market in different fields such as media, jewellery, watches and finance before Najwa Karam performed during the dinner. Participants came especially for the event from GCC countries.


St Regis opens its Presedential suites


he St. Regis Doha is ready to welcome world travellers in luxury with the grand opening of two Presidential Suites, the largest hotel suites in the country. The two 720 square-metre Presidential Suites – a two-bedroom and a three-bedroom – offer the ultimate in sophistication. Both suites feature a living room with twostory high ceilings, which serve as a con-

temporary version of the traditional Arabian majlis, a private library, staircase and lift, and a comprehensive office. An elegant dining room with a long table seating up to 12 is a grand setting for private luncheons or exclusive dinner parties. Meanwhile, the culinary team is on hand to provide personalised dining experiences. Guests will also enjoy panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and the city’s skyline through the floor-toceiling windows.

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doha diary



For centuries, the Middle East has been the crossroads of world culture, and today this is perhaps more evident than ever before. While Western art collectors have long been fascinated by the rich artistic heritage of the Islamic world, the now global art market has given rise to a truly crosscultural appreciation of modern and contemporary art across the Middle East, Europe and America.

by A le xa nd e r R ot t e r


ajor art fairs that have emerged in the Middle East in recent years have been instrumental in bringing Western buyers into competition for works by contemporary Middle Eastern artists. Similarly, pioneering efforts made by museums and galleries in the region have brought paintings and sculptures by Western and international contemporary artists to the attention of the Middle Eastern public - sometimes for the first time. The Qatar Museum’s Authority (QMA) has taken a leading role in this initiative, bringing works by Japanese, American, French and British artists to the fore. 2012 has already seen two major retrospectives in Doha of works by Takashi Murakami and Louise Bourgeois respectively, and an exhibition of works by Damien Hirst is expected to follow in 2013. On the streets of Doha itself, monumental sculptures by Western artists have transformed the cityscape, most notably the American artist Richard Serra’s towering 24-metre-tall sculpture “7”, which was installed on the city’s waterfront in 2011, but also Louise Bourgeois’ iconic work “Maman”, a giant spider nine metres high, which can be found at the Qa-

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Alexander Rotter Head of Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art Department

tar National Convention Centre (QNCC). It is such initiatives, perhaps, we have to thank for the success of recent sales of Arab and Iranian modern and contemporary art held by the international auction houses, both in the Middle East and in London. Indeed, as the levels of international

participation in the art market have grown in recent years - for works valued at $1 million (QR3.64 million) in 2005 buyers came from 37 countries growing to 54 countries in 2009 - Sotheby’s has seen collectors of all nationalities, who often initially choose to focus on works of their own region, develop a taste for international art. This is especially true for works of contemporary art, which often speak a universal language, demonstrated by the depth of participation Sotheby’s witnessed in its last London Contemporary Art Auction series where bidders came from 40 different countries across the world. With this in mind, Sotheby’s will stage an exhibition of contemporary artworks in Doha at Katara Cultural Village on October 21 and 22. The exhibition will comprise a selection of the finest works from its forthcoming evening sale of contemporary art in New York on November 13. One of the highlights of the exhibition will undoubtedly be Gerhard Richter’s |Abstraktes Bild” from 1990. While the works of some artists are rooted in a particular historical or cultural language, Richter’s abstract, non-representational works have achieved universal recognition, making this

doha diary

Bacon: Untitled (Pope)

Richter: Abstraktes Bild 712

body of works by the artist among the most prized by collectors worldwide, further evidenced by the exceptional record prices that buyers are prepared to pay to acquire superlative examples of his work. Global showcases of Richter’s work, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2002, and at Tate Modern’s 2012 exhibition “Panorama” in London, for example, have brought his artwork to an international audience. Richter’s abstracts are instantly recognisable as the artist’s creations, and consequently they appeal to emerging Middle Eastern collectors now interested in Western contemporary art. Along with the Richter abstract work, Sotheby’s will exhibit in Doha a painting by the Irish-born British artist, Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992) another artist whose work transcends cultural barriers and resonates with a universal audience. Attesting to their

global appeal, both Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon are members of a hallowed group of artists whose works can command prices in excess of $20 million (QR72.8 million) at auction. This particular painting, “Untitled (Pope)”, is one of the most radical and provocative paintings to emerge from the era following World War II. Bacon drew upon the themes of war and destruction, which resonated powerfully when the painting was made in the mid-1950s – and are still familiar to us today – to create this devastatingly potent image of the Pope. Based upon a grand state portrait of Pope Innocent X painted in 1649 by Diego Velazquez, court painter to King Philip IV of Spain (1605 - 1665), the Pope – a symbol typically associated with enlightened perception and with order against chaos - is here depicted screaming. Violently racked by the brutal fact of the human condition,

this figurehead is transformed into a universal symbol of the pain and suffering tormenting the human race. The exhibition will also comprise highlights from part of the collection of Sidney and Dorothy Kohl, members of the family who developed the renowned American food and department store Kohl’s in the 1960s. The offering features prime examples by the titans of the American Abstract Expressionist movement – Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Joan Mitchell, Hans Hofmann and Adolph Gottlieb. Distinguished by their provenance and out of public view for decades, the collection is estimated to sell for $80 – 100 million (QR290 – 364 million) at the New York sale in November. The preview of these works in Doha further contributes to the fast developing cultural tapestry of the Middle East

october 2012

Qatar Today 10 1

sport file

Door left

open for Qatar After a hectic opening schedule of games in June, Qatar watched their 2014 fifa world cup afc qualification Group ‘A’ rivals square up against each other last month. Whilst South Korea could only manage a draw in Uzbekistan, Lebanon really opened the group up as they defeated Iran in Beirut.


ebanon, who are novices at this stage of the AFC World Cup qualification process, will be buoyed by this latest result in Qatar’s group. Their captain, Roda Antar, rose above the Iranian defence to head home a free kick from Mohammad Haidar in the 28th minute. After some stout defending, it proved enough to secure the three points for the Cedars and reignite their faint chances of automatic qualification. The result, however, heaped more pressure on Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz, the former Real Madrid and Portugal boss, who has been criticised for his tactics as the team have struggled for goals. They would have been expecting a easier passage through this group with only four points from a possible nine to date. Quietly confident It all leaves the group on a bit of a knife-edge, but the Qatar Football Association and Qatari coach Paulo Autuori must be quietly confident of their chances as the group approaches the business end. South Korea look like they will run away with the group, with Lebanon, Qatar and Iran – all on four points - fighting it out for the final automatic ticket to Brazil in 2014. The consolation prize for the team who finish third will be the draining “play-off” route.

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after recent results, Qatar’s Brazilian coach Paulo Autuori will be quietly confident of qualifying for the World Cup in his native country in 2014.

sport file

Qatar’s Paralympian throws two personal bests Abdulrahman Abdulqader Abdulrahman was Qatar’s sole representative at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London in September and he secured two personal best efforts and a seasonal best in his three disciplines. The 24-year-old came 9th from 15 participants in the F34 shot put, pitching it 10.86 metres, a personal best. In the F32/33/34 discus, his 40.15-metre throw was enough to get him a seasonal best and 6th place from 19 participants. He came 7th of 17 in the F33/34 javelin, with another personal best throw of 34.99 metres. What’s there to be confident about? 1. Qatar have two “winnable” home games coming up (Uzbekistan in October and Lebanon in November) which could, at the very least, secure third position. Lebanon have played an extra game and have just one remaining home game left, against South Korea. 2. Iran look to be disorganised and lacking confidence. They required a late, late goal to beat Uzbekistan and although they sit in second place, they still have to play South Korea twice, home and away. Qatar have already played South Korea in Doha, losing 1-4. The away fixture is in March. Group ‘A’ Table (as at October 1, 2012) Pld GD Pts South Korea 3 + 6 7 Iran 3 0 4 Qatar 3 – 2 4 Lebanon 4 – 3 4 Uzbekistan 3 – 1 2 Upcoming Fixtures: October 16 Qatar - v - Uzbekistan Iran - v - South Korea November 14 Qatar -v- Iran - v -

Lebanon Uzbekistan

Group ‘B’ Table Japan Jordan Australia Iraq Oman

Pld 4 3 3 3 3

GD + 10 – 5 – 1 – 1 – 3

Pts 10 4 2 2 2

3. Qatar gained four points from six in Tehran and Beirut and, crucially, have “home” advantage against both nations in their remaining duels. ...but on the flip side: 1. Uzbekistan are a difficult team to beat. They were unlucky to lose to Iran and managed a remarkable 2-2 draw at home to South Korea and a worthy 1-1 draw in Beirut. They won’t see themselves out of the picture yet, so Qatar will need to be on their game. Home wins are crucial in a qualification process. 2. Lebanon will feel the game against Qatar at the Al Sadd Stadium in November will be “make-or-break” for them. Win, and they’re right back in the hunt; lose, and they resign themselves to almost certain elimination. This is the kind of volatile attitude which could land Qatar in a very physical game. 3. Iran are very experienced at this stage of the competition and they will draw on this for their remaining fixtures. They are well capable of upsetting the Koreans and getting the three points in Doha in a crucial fixture. It’s all set up for a fascinating conclusion to the group, the climax of which won’t be until next June when there are three sets of fixtures over the course of two weeks. Qatar’s final game will be in Uzbekistan on June 18, while Iran will be facing South Korea at the same time. Group ‘B’ Group ‘B’ is taking similar shape to Qatar’s group and it seems to be just as volatile as well. Not surprisingly, Japan are the team to beat, but one would have expected Australia to be challenging them for top spot. Instead, the “Socceroos” are finding a lot of resistance from their group rivals and Jordan, in particular, who beat them 2-1 in Amman last month. Due to security issues in Iraq, Australia are due to face Iraq at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha on October 16. On the same night Oman face off against Jordan in Muscat

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doha diary

St Regis Doha opens Astor Grill restaurant


he St Regis Doha’s signature restaurant, Astor Grill, welcomed guests on September 4, 2012, the anniversary of the opening of the legendary St Regis New York. Offering modern cuisine inspired by classic French gastronomy as well as an interactive yet discreet service with an open kitchen and table-side preparations, Astor Grill promises to bring a new experience to Qatar’s dining scene. The menu includes a selection of steaks, including Wagyu, Black Angus and Kobe beef, available in customised sizes and served with side dishes like truffle potato puree and wild mushroom fricassee. Astor Grill will also offer a modern take on French classics, including traditional Chateaubriand steak prepared by the table on a silver trolley. The team at Astor Grill is headed by Chef Rudy Petersen, an award-winning chef from Mauritius. Astor Grill is open from Sunday to Friday, from 19:04 – a tribute to the St Regis New York opening year – until midnight. For reservations contact 4446 0000 or or visit

JCC plans new shows for kids


l Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) launched its exciting new series of shows last month to coincide with the start of new school semesters across the Arab world. Acting Director of Channels Saad Al-Hudaifi said: “Our back-to-school grid was carefully selected to cater to students’ specific requirements with an entertainment twist. This is a season when kids need reflective time after school hours, and therefore we

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have offered them novel and rich content. The new JCC grid shows and programmes are shorter but filled with more entertainment.” Some of the new programmes introduced this season are Slash://, Rekkit Rabbit and Contraptus, in addition to fresh new seasons of Garfield, daily live show Allo Marhaba and a re-run of the iconic game show Addarb. JCC will also re-introduce the comedy-filled chronicles of Shams and Rami and the puppetry show Uncle Mosleh’s Tales.

doha diary

Open auditions for TEDxYouth@Doha speakers


ollowing the success of last year’s event, TEDxYouth@ Doha is all set to find passionate speakers for their upcoming event on November 17, 2012 through a series of open auditions. The auditions come with a twist as those auditioning will be filmed, and shortlisted candidates’ videos will be put online for public voting. The TEDxYouth@Doha auditions are being held on: October 6 from 11am; October 10 from 5pm; and October 13 from 11am at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Education City, in room 3035 on the third floor. Each speaker will have 10 minutes for their presentation. TEDxYouth@Doha’s Co-Curator and Content Manager, Uzair Mohammad advises “There is no theme for the auditions. You can talk about whatever you want to talk about. What gets you up in the morning, what keeps you up at night-a project, a person, an idea? We want to hear you speak. Come tell us a story.” TEDxYouth@Doha will also be offering public speaking coaching sessions on the day of the auditions to help aspiring speakers fine tune their talks. If interested in auditioning, contact OpenAuditions@

doha diary

Doha Bank Wins World Business Leader Award

Dr R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank group, received the prestigious “The Bizz 2012 World Business leader” award at a glittering ceremony held at the Sharq village Hotel in Doha, attended by business leaders, bankers, academics and policymakers. The award was presented to Doha Bank for its corporate achievement, innovation, corporate social responsibility, quality commitment and excellence.

Students provide feedback for SOP

InterContinental Doha welcomes new Director of Sales and Marketing


nterContinental Hotels Group has appointed Cyril Mouawad as Director of Sales and Marketing at the InterContinental Doha. Mouawad has over 15 years of experience in the hospitality business with a main focus on sales and marketing. “Mouawad’s primary role will be to strengthen our relationships with our key business partners and the community, while effectively representing the strong InterContinental brand throughout the Middle East,” commented Gilles Nicolas, Resident Manager, InterContinental Doha.

Anlene launches


he Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC)’s Schools Olympic Programme (SOP) has for the first time formed a Student Advisory Board in collaboration with Enterprise Qatar (EQ), the official partner for the programme’s sixth edition with the theme “Sports and Investment”. Students met in two groups, one for high school students aged 15 to 18, and another for younger students aged 9 to 14; both groups will be meeting regularly throughout the 2012-2013 school year to provide advice and feedback on SOP activities throughout the season. High school students met with SOP

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Executive Director Mohamed Al-Fadhala, who outlined plans for this year’s programme and introduced the discussion topic of “Sports and Investment”. Al-Fadhala said: “We are delighted to have students partner with us to make this year’s SOP, now going on its sixth year, better than ever. We think that having students participate in making decisions with us will make the programme even more relevant to their interests, enhancing the experience for us all. We would like to thank our partner Enterprise Qatar for its endeavours to bring the fascinating world of enterprise alive for students as part of the ‘Sports and Investment’ theme.’’


aunched by Anlene, the brand of dairy products specially formulated for adults to help build healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis, is the Middle East’s first bilingual website offering local advice and support on bone health. Visitors to the site will find all they need to know about maintaining strong and healthy bones. They will also receive recommendations on where to turn for professional help in the Middle East, watch videos with personal advice from the Anlene Board of Ambassadors, and be able to ask Anlene experts bone health-related questions. In addition to, users can also visit the Facebook page facebook. com/BoneHealthArabia and BoneHealthAr for more health updates.

news bites

Orbis Flying Hospital lands in Doha


he Orbis Flying Eye Hospital – a training eye hospital housed within a DC-10 aircraft – arrived in Doha for the first time, offering visitors the unique experience of touring the world’s only “hospital with wings”. “We want to capture the attention of Qatar, and raise awareness of the 39 million people in the world who are blind, as 80% of them could see again with the right eye care,” said Dr Robert Walters, Orbis Chairman. “With 30 years of experience behind us, we are dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Our Flying Eye Hospital is a unique

tool that provides teaching and training to eye care professionals so they can take better care of their own communities in their own way. This skills transfer and knowledge is taught by our volunteer surgeons, nurses and biomedical engineers through specific teaching programmes, both on the aircraft and through hospital-based long-term partnership programmes.” In future, Orbis plans to explore potential youth development schemes in Qatar, where students from the region can travel with the plane to experience the work the Orbis medical team do first-hand with their host partners to save sight in developing countries.

Katara exhibits works by Sudanese artist


n collaboration with the Museum for African Art, New York, the Katara Cultural Village Foundation brings to Doha “Ibrahim El-Salahi: A Visionary Modernist”, the first museum retrospective of acclaimed Sudanese artist, Ibrahim El-Salahi. The exhibition will open at 7:00 pm on October 4 in Gallery 22, Katara, and will run until November 27, 2012. Including approximately 80 works encompassing over five decades of the artist’s career, this retrospective highlights drawings and paintings from international institutions and private collections.

Reputation Is more about What You Stand For Than What You Sell A newly released global reputation study of more than 100,000 consumers shows that who you are as a company is more important than what you produce, with BMW, SONY and Disney topping the list of the most reputable companies. The third annual Global RepTrak 100, conducted by reputation consultancy firm Reputation Institute, identifies how stakeholders perceive companies and how those perceptions affect purchasing behaviour.

The companies with the ten best global reputations are:











Key Findings Google, at the top of the list in 2011 and 2010, fell to sixth place this year. BMW is the new leader, and is the first company to break the mark for reputation excellence. New to the top 10 is Microsoft, who pushed out Intel for a top spot. “In today’s reputation economy, what you stand for matters more than what you produce and sell,” says Reputation Institute’s Executive Partner Kasper Ulf Nielsen. “People’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company

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and only 40% by their perceptions of its products.” The study shows that in order to win support and recommendations, a company needs to tell its story in a way that connects with stakeholders on a global level. This is a challenge that even the best companies struggle with. Nowhere was a strong reputation platform more important this year than with IT giant Apple, which maintained its high ranking despite the loss of its iconic leader, Steve Jobs

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