INCOME TAX LAW
TRAVEL AND TECHNOLOGY
ACCESS TO FINANCE
numbers what smes need to know
qatar.smetoolkit.org/qatar/en PATENT LAW
IMPORTANCE OF CONTRACTS
CONTENTS June 2012
Travel 20 ADOPTING TECHNOLOGY FOR TRAVEL
Nasser Batha, Regional Director, Markets MENA, and Wafiq Al Wahidi, General Manager, Amadeus Qatar, advise on how should SMEs adjust to the new market environment in order to benefit from the enormous potential of travel and tourism industry within the region.
Business setup 24 TAKING AIM AT QATAR 2022
Know your numbers! News 10 UPDATES
Elias Mazzawi, Managing Director, EMS MENA, explains to us the concept of metrics and how can we avoid misusing them.
28 WHO DO YOU BELIEVE IN?
14 Products Take a look at the new launches that make your work life easier. It’s not like you need an excuse!
Increase your workplace productivity
Tax Kurian Kuriakose, Managing Partner, Sohila and Kuriakose, gives an overview of the various significant developments introduced by the new income tax law in Qatar.
Business Guru 18 KNOW YOUR NUMBERS One of the basic pre-requisites of starting a business is, access to finance. Abdulla Al-Khalifa, General Manager, Corporate Banking, QNB, talks to us about the importance of securing finance and which sectors show promise
Management 26 BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU MEASURE, YOU MIGHT GET IT
Get to know about the latest events and happenings in Qatar that will have an impact on SMEs and large enterprises.
16 PAYING YOUR DUES
With the World Cup 2022, only a decade away, Qatar is whirlpool of activity. Wayne Merrick, Country Manager, Links Group, Qatar, brings to our notice, the opportunities for foreign companies.
It is common knowledge that businesses need a lot of input and different forms of investment to grow. Carolin Zeitler, Director, Arcata, explains to us why our business can only grow as much as we can.
Technology 32 KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR INFORMATION Nick O’Connell, Senior Associate, Technology, Media and Telecommunications, Al Tamimi & Co. gives us an overview of the key aspects of law governing information technology in the region.
36 PICTURE THIS! Graphic recording is the way to go, if you want to captivate your audience and get your message across, says Jenn Wicks, Instructor, School of Language Studies, College of the North Atlantic – Qatar
Business Advice 38 NEVER GIVE UP Aparna Shivpuri Arya got talking to Christos Mastoras, Director, Business Development, MENA Yahoo! Maktoob, on what is his take on the ICT revolution and how can entrepreneurs from the region take advantage of it.
SMEs 40 YOU ARE NOT ALONE The government of Qatar has been working towards providing a support system to SMEs. In the first, of a two part series, Reji Cherian, Director, Investment Strategy for State Holding Group, highlights the important role of SMEs in Qatar’s economic expansion and gives an overview of the various initiatives.
Legal 44 ENFORCING YOUR RIGHTS Emma Higham, Senior Associate, Clyde &Co, explains to us the status of the Patent Law in Qatar.
46 THE CONTRACT IS YOUR FRIEND Why talk about the legal stuff when business is all about deals and relationships? Mark Hill and Fiona Robertson, from therightslawyers, have some thoughts on that matter that they wanted to share with us.
Trade 50 FTAs: PROMOTING REGIONAL TRADE
We bring you the highlights of the panel discussion organised by TASDEER, on the status of intra-regional trade in the GCC.
Marketing 52 RELATIONSHIP RULES Public relations professionals need the media to get their message out to their clients and target customers. To do this effectively, it’s essential to build mutual respect, says Sawsan Ghanem, Managing Director, Active Public Relations.
About Town 54 GRAB THE OPPORTUNITY The ninth Project Qatar was held in Doha and attracted 2,000 plus exhibitors. Private Sector was there and brings you the highlights.
Publisher Dominic De Sousa Group COO Nadeem Hood Managing Director Richard Judd email@example.com +971 4 440 9126 EDITORIAL
Senior Editor Aparna Shivpuri Arya firstname.lastname@example.org +971 440 9133 Assistant Editor - English Tamara Pupic email@example.com +971 440 9130
Follow the buzz
Assistant Editor - Arabic Huda Kamal firstname.lastname@example.org +971 440 9140 Contributing Editors Mike Byrne email@example.com +971 440 9105
Time sure does fly – we are already half way through the year and we still have so much left to share with you. And not to forget, we are just a decade away from the World Cup 2022!
ADVERTISING Commercial Director Chris Stevenson firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9138 Advertising Sales Manager Zaid Abdel Hadi email@example.com +971 4 440 9163 CIRCULATION Database and Circulation Manager Rajeesh M firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9147 OPERATIONS AND DESIGN Operations Director James Rawlins email@example.com +971 4 440 9108 Production Manager James P Tharian firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9146 Art Director Kamil Roxas email@example.com +971 4 440 9112 Head of Design Fahed Sabbagh firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9148 Photographer Cris Mejorada email@example.com +971 4 440 9108 DIGITAL SERVICES www.smeadvisor.com Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy Maagma Web Developers Jerus King Bation Erik Briones Jefferson de Joya Louie Alma firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9100 Published by
We want to keep our readers engaged and cover every possible issue that might be of interest, so we thought it might be a good idea to expand our team. As I mentioned in the previous issue, we have two new additions to our editorial team. So please put your hands together for Tamara Pupic and Huda Kamal. Both of them have been hard at work to put together an issue that informs you on all aspects of doing business in Qatar. As the temperature soars, so does the tempo of the activities in the country and in the June issue, we get talking to some of the country’s business gurus, who are very successful and knowledgeable individuals in their respective fields, to pick their brain on what entrepreneurs and startups should and should not focus on. One advice stood out – Never be afraid of taking risks! So don’t miss the interviews of Christos Mastoras from Yahoo! Middle East and Abdulla Al-Khalifa from the Qatar National Bank. In the last few weeks we were also privy to a number of events, such as Project Qatar and the Arabian Travel Market and we got some interesting inputs from the people we met there. Turn the pages to read some interesting technological developments in the travel industry. And the list doesn’t end here, as we bring forth some attention-grabbing articles on business opportunities because of the World Cup 2022, the implications of the new income tax law and the advantages of graphic recording as a mode of presentation. So please grab your copy of this issue and sit back and enjoy the read. Till then...
Aparna Shivpuri Arya, Senior Editor (English), Private Sector Qatar Talk to us: E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @PrivateSectorQA Facebook: www.facebook.com/PrivateSectorQatar LinkedIn group: Private Sector Qatar
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Dar Al Sharq Distribution © Copyright 2012 CPI All rights reserved While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.
QDB BriDgeD the gap to starting my own Business through aL Dhameen.
Do you have a promising business or new business idea? But do you also have trouble finding the funding that you need? Ask us about Al Dhameen Indirect Lending Program from QDB. We will guarantee up to 85% of your business loan *, leaving you free to focus on developing your business. Click on www.qdb.qa or visit one of our partners listed below.
* Guarantees of up to 85% are for new businesses. Exiting businesses can get guarantees of up to 75%. Terms and Conditions apply.
Ms. Amal Al-Mannai
advisory Board Gail Gosse Gail Gosse, is the Dean of the School of Business at College of North Atlantic-Qatar.
Ms. Al-Mannai is the Executive Director of the Social Development Center (SDC).
Hamad Mohammed Al-Kuwari Hamad AL-Kuwari is the Managing Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park.
Professor Nitham M. Hindi
George M. White, Ph.D.
Professor Nitham M. Hindi, is the Dean of College of Business and Economics at the Qatar University.
Dr. White is Associate Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar.
Abdulaziz N. Al-Khalifa
Hamad Al Abdan Al-Marri
Mr. Al-Khalifa is the Executive Director, Strategic Planning and Control at Qatar Development Bank (QDB).
Eng. Hamad Mohamed Al Abdan is the Chief Business Operation Officer at Enterprise Qatar.
Mr. Al-Emadi is the Deputy CEO, Silatech.
Mr. Salman is Executive Assistant, Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
For more information, please visit www.privatesectorqatar.com/en
The new silk route Tarik Yousef, CEO of Silatech, Qatar, Nader Mousavizadeh, CEO of Oxford Analytica, and Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), joined Friedman in the panel discussion, moderated by Serge Schmemann, Editor of the IHT editorial page.
Thomas Friedman highlights challenges at first IHT Global Conversation in Dubai
The first IHT Global Conversation, to kick off the 125th anniversary of the International Herald Tribune (IHT), presented compelling viewpoints on the post Arab Spring world, with the panelists discussing the region’s current developmental challenges, the role of the US and Asia, and the significance of the Middle East on the “New Silk Road.” Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Correspondent of the New York Times, who delivered the keynote address, highlighted the challenges in today’s hyper-connected world, reminding audiences that the age of
“average is officially over.” To be competitive in the new world order, one has to “think like an immigrant, create like an artisan, work like a startup and provide service like a waitress, and continuously create a unique value add”. On the conference’s key topic, “The Middle East’s Role on the New Silk Road”, Friedman observed that the region is witnessing the end of a 100-year-old order and the lid has been thrown open for the winds of change, reminding policy-makers and governments on the need to enable the region’s youth to realise their full potential.
Introducing the topic, Serge Schmemann said, “There is no question that Asia and the Middle East are facing critical political and social challenges. But that makes it all the more important to discuss the “New Silk Road” because the shift of economic power from West to East is inexorable. The huge economic opportunities opening along the arc from China to the Middle East and beyond to Africa and South America will require enlightened and creative leadership, and it is important to start talking now about what this means in concrete terms.” The IHT Global Conversation will progress on to Hong Kong on 15th June 2012, where it will address the topic “Can Asia Manage an Asian Century,” and Paris, on 4th October 2012, to discuss “Restoring European Competitiveness on the World Stage.”
QAMC and Barclays come together The Qatar Asset Management Company (QAMC), a collaboration between the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFC Authority) and the Qatar Investment Authority, and Barclays Natural Resource Investments (BNRI), a division of Barclays Bank PLC, announced the formation of a strategic partnership. BNRI is a global private equity business focussed on natural resource investment opportunities.
Under the partnership terms agreed, QAMC will co-invest USD 250 million in BNRI’s current and future portfolio companies, of which a substantial proportion will be allocated to BNRI’s existing USD 2.1 billion portfolio of companies. BNRI will continue to source, execute, manage and exit private equity transactions in the natural resources sectors on a global basis and co-investors will be invited
to participate immediately upon completion of each transaction. The BNRI office in the region will be located within the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC). BNRI employees, including senior members of the BNRI team, will work on the ground in Doha. BNRI will also add local as well as international talent as its growth strategy unfolds.
QDB and IFC workshop: Scaling up SME Banking Business “As part of our commitments to promote sustainable private sector development in Qatar, we are very pleased of QDB’s collaboration with IFC’s Bank Advisory Services department to strengthen the capacities of other banks and financial institutions in Qatar for SME financing”, said Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, Executive Director, Strategic Planning and Control at Qatar Development Bank.
Mansoor Bin Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud , CEO, QDB, speaks at the workshop
Following QDB’s successful launch of the SME toolkit in collaboration with the IFC (International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group), QDB and IFC continued their collaboration through a three day training workshop from 14th to 16th May 2012 for all banks and financial institutions in Qatar, to assess the potential benefits of targeting the SME sector and help them to build and expand their SME business offerings. This programme provided an overview of the best practices in SME banking from around the world, and methods for adapting these practices to the local market conditions. This training programme was part of the QDB’s broader strategy to build to overall private sector ecosystem of Qatar. QDB sees the commercial banks and financial institutions operating in Qatar as integral partners to its efforts and commitment to achieve the QNV 2030.
Mr. Mansoor Bin Ibrahim Al- Mahmoud, CEO, QDB, congratulated all the participants for completing the training programme and said that he was delighted to see the workshop was attended by the IFC staff and number of other financial institutions from different parts of the world such as the USA, Egypt, Pakistan, India and Turkey. He appreciated all the trainers from IFC who have provided their valuable time and inputs to make this program successful especially: • Mr. Xavier Reille ( Manager, Access to
Finance, Advisory Services MENA Region) • Mr. Kaiser Naseem ( Manger Bank Advisory Services MENA Region) • Andrew McCartney ( Senior SME Banking Specialist) Trainer • Qamar Saleem ( Senior SME Banking Specialist) Trainer The training programme was especially tailored to address the needs of SME banking to meet the growing challenges of the private sector. It will also form a pillar in building the capacities and capabilities of the participants to assess the potential benefits of targeting the SME sector and help them to build and expand their SME business offerings. “Our experience working with financial institutions globally shows that when the right systems are in place in an institution targeting SMEs can be profitable, as risks can be mitigated. IFC believes that SME banking is a huge opportunity for banks to tap,” said Kaiser Naseem, IFC’s Head of MENA Banking Advisory Services.
Mansoor Bin Ibrahim Al-Mahmoud , CEO, QDB, presents certificates to the participants
UNCTAD XIII concludes on a positive note Hamad bin Abdulaziz bin Ali AlKuwari, UNCTAD XIII President and Qatar’s Minister of Culture, Arts, and Heritage, said, “UNCTAD’s message of reform is a contemporary one that recognises the changes that have taken place in the global
economy in the last ten years. A new generation of policies and reforms in trade, finance, investment and technology will be needed in this next phase of post-crisis globalisation.”The President will continue in the post for the next four years.
Save the date!
At the closing of the quadrennial conference, he also said that consensus texts adopted here have the organisation well-positioned to face contemporary challenges and to continue traditional work that remains relevant and effective.
"HYA" Abaya Exhibition June 2012
Doha Exhibition Center
3 - 7 June
World Stadium Congress
Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Center
10 - 13 June
2nd Annual Underground Infrastructure and Deep Foundations
Oryx Rotana Hotel
1 - 10 July
Doha Trade Fair 2012
Doha Exhibition Center
2 - 3 August
Strategies, Governance & Social Research Conference
Mövenpick Doha Tower
5 - 8 September
Made in USA 2012
15 - 19 September
"HYA" Abaya Exhibition September 2012
Doha Exhibition Center
18 - 19 September
Capital Markets Conference
Qatar Central bank
18 - 19 September
MEED Qatar Banking Summit 2012
23 - 26 September
HR Congress Qatar
Oryx Rotana Hotel
24 - 25 September
Building Information Modeling Summit
Doha Furniture and Decoration Exhibition - INFDEX 2012
Doha Exhibitions Center
26 - 29 September
World LP Gas Forum
Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Center
30 September - 04 October
Investment Management Forum
Throwing light on the issue enables a wider colour gamut to deliver better colour saturation.
Acer Inc has revealed its LED-laser hybrid K520. This projector uses unique hybrid LED-laser light-source technology to achieve vibrant imagery with longlasting 2000 lumens brightness. The hybrid LED-laser light source significantly improves colour brightness when compared to high-pressure mercury lamps, and also increases the light source up to 20,000 hours. In addition, this innovative technology
Utilisation is easy for business meetings or classroom situations because instant on/off capability lets the user turn the projector on and off immediately, without an ignition and a cool-down period. Users can even project on uneven surfaces thanks to 40 vertical keystone corrections. The K520 is equipped with Acer EcoProjection, an environment-friendly power management suite. It features ExtremeECO mode for advanced lamp power control and reduced power consumption of up to 90%. AcerEcoProjection also includes Acer ePower Management for customised power-saving configurations.
A new system The eagerly awaited update to BlackBerry 7 is here! BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Torch 9810, BlackBerry Torch 9860, BlackBerry Curve 9360, BlackBerry Curve 9380 and Porsche Design P’9881 SmartPhone from BlackBerry owners can now upgrade to an exciting new experience with the BlackBerry 7.1 OS! With the update comes a host of new features to make your BlackBerry SmartPhone experience that much better. Be on the lookout for, enhanced BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) integration
that makes communicating easier. BlackBerry Tag helps to easily invite BBM contacts, exchange information and more using NFC. And unique to BlackBerry Curve 9360 or BlackBerry Curve 9380 users, is a new app that allows them to tune in and enjoy local FM radio stations without needing a data plan or use data services. The update also brings fun and engaging ways to communicate via an updated BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app, which brings with it new emoticons, animated avatars and the ability to customise chat bubble colours!
Increase your workplace productivity Nokia announced the availability of Office Mobile apps from Microsoft – including Word mobile, PowerPoint mobile and Excel mobile – via a software update for the new Nokia Belle range consisting of the Nokia 701, Nokia 700 and Nokia 603. The update is also available for Nokia E7, Nokia X7, Nokia C7, Nokia Oro, and Nokia C6-01. Office Mobile completes the suite of Microsoft productivity applications for Symbian SmartPhones with Nokia Belle, including OneNote mobile, Document connection, Lync 2010 mobile and PowerPoint broadcast. Business users using SmartPhones with Nokia Belle range, can also enjoy the latest Nokia applications like Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps that feature free turn-by-turn voice guided walk and drive navigation in more than 100 countries, maps for more than 190 countries and live traffic in 26 countries maps.
The “chic” notebook Sony’s new VAIO E14 Series, a 14-inch notebook with stylish new “wrap design” and long battery life, is set to be rolled out across the region. The laptop is equipped with third generation Intel Core i5 and i7 CPU with AMD Radeon HD 7670M discrete GPU (VRAM: 1GB). Available in five refreshing colours, including white, black, pink, silver or gun metallic, its design is accented by complementary colour flourishes around the notebook’s edge, touchpad and keyboard. The device also comes with a premium diamond-cut finish VAIO logo on the lid and a personalisation kit comprising matching mouse and keyboard skin. The battery life of over five hours is enhanced by the discreet GPUs that automatically switch off to boost battery life when less graphic-intensive tasks are being performed. The efficient VAIO Display, energy-saving processors, and the onboard optical drive that shuts down to zero power
consumption when on stand-by or sleep mode further stretch the battery’s endurance capacity. Featuring the new “Rapid Wake + Eco” energy-saving mode, VAIO goes into an ultra-low power deep sleep, keeping all your data safe for up to ten days. Once the PC’s lid is opened, the laptop is up and running in seconds, with the files exactly as they were left. Sony’s xLOUD and Clear Phase technologies enhance volume levels without distortion
for impressive-sounding movies and games. Alternatively, one can switch to Dolby Home Theatre V4 for rich, cinema-style audio. VAIO also makes for a handy charger in the absence of a quickly accessible AC socket. Users just need to plug in their phones via USB, even when the computer is switched off or in sleep mode. To further increase the usability, VAIO E14 comes equipped with comfortably-spaced isolation backlight keyboard for error-free latenight typing.
The green printer Canon Middle East extended its range of smart laser printers with the launch of the i-SENSYS LBP6680x and i-SENSYS LBP6670dn. The new black and white, single function printers (SFPs) can be easily integrated within an organisation’s print fleet. Enhanced security features, such as secure release, user authentication at the device and job selection, provide controlled access to sensitive documents and information. The i-SENSYS LBP6680x and LBP6670dn also bring high-level print functionality to small workgroups and small businesses as a standalone, desktop device.
The new SFPs enable staff to work more productively, with print speeds of 33 pages per minute (ppm), the ability to print double-sided documents, and a quick and easy to navigate five-line LCD control panel. They are also capable of producing high-quality documents, printing at a resolution of 1200x 1200 dpi.
designed with the environment in mind, with an auto shut-off feature, the option of two-sided printing as standard and class-leading low energy consumption levels of 1.3kWH/week.
Organisations will also benefit from reduced print downtime. Efficient device management, through eMaintenance, enables the remote servicing of devices and the close monitoring of consumables ensures that toner and paper supplies never run low. To help minimise energy consumption, both the LBP6680x and LBP6670dn have also been
Paying your dues
Awareness of the advantages and shortcomings of a particular tax regime is of crucial importance for any business entity, particularly, for SMEs. Kurian Kuriakose, Managing Partner, Sohila and Kuriakose, gives an overview of the various significant developments introduced by the new income tax law.
mall and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) represent a significant majority in most economies, both developed and developing. Role of SMEs in ensuring equitable wealth distribution and, thus, contributing to the well-being of majority of the population is well understood across the world. With the oil and gas production reaching its capacity levels, experts predict that Qatarâ€™s accelerated growth can only come from the non-oil sectors and that too from SMEs. Therefore, providing the right environment for this segment is an important factor in the continued and accelerated development of the country. The tax regime is one of the important factors that determine the economic environment in any country. The new income tax law, which came into effect in Qatar from 1st January 2010, has brought several changes, mostly favouring the enterprises, entrepreneurs and potential investors in Qatar. Tax rate reduction As stated earlier, there are many changes in the new income tax law which favours businesses in Qatar, the most commendable one being reduction in the tax rate. The new law replaced the erstwhile method of tax slab system, wherein the tax payer was taxed at progressive rates
starting from 10% and going up to 35% of the net profits, by introducing a flat tax rate of 10% on net profits. As evident from the rates, the tax rate has been fixed at the minimum applicable levels compared to the old tax regime. Further, 10% tax rate is significantly low compared to most jurisdictions in the world, where business income is taxed. The lower tax rate will ensure
Old vs. new Yet another significant development in the new law is the introduction of the withholding tax liability for certain type of payments. Under the new law, payments for the services to non-residents which are not in connection with a permanent establishment in Qatar attract withholding tax at 5% or 7%
The new income tax law has brought several changes, mostly favouring the enterprises, entrepreneurs and potential investors in Qatar. that there will be higher percentage of the profits remaining with the business owners as compared to the earlier tax regime. The flat rate also simplifies the computation of tax. While this being the case, the old law had a basic exemption whereby profits up to QR 100,000 were taxed at 0%, whereas the new law does not provide any such basic exemption limit. Some may point out that the removal of such basic limit is a dampener for small businesses as compared to the old law which exempted this category from paying any tax. Further, the low tax rates need to be taken in context with the â€œno taxâ€? status in some countries in the region, especially within the Gulf Cooperation Council member states.
depending on the nature of service. Royalties and technical fees attract 5% withholding tax, whereas interest and payment for other services attract 7% withholding tax. As per the executive regulations, interests paid by a permanent establishment in Qatar to the head office or to an entity related to the head office outside Qatar are exempted from withholding tax. For a branch, the recharge of head office expenses is exempted from withholding tax. For the companies that do not have a permanent establishment in Qatar, withholding tax will be the final tax. However, they may be able to benefit from the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, if it applies to them. It may be noted that the withholding tax is applicable only on payments for services
and is not applicable for payment for goods and materials. With the introduction of withholding tax on services, the new law exempts filing of tax returns for non-resident companies providing services in Qatar other than through a permanent establishment. Under the old law, such companies were required to maintain accounts for their Qatar operations and file returns. Under the new law, the onus has shifted to the recipient of services in Qatar to deduct withholding tax at the time of making payment for services and remit same to the Income Tax Department. The new law prescribes that the withholding tax so deducted shall be remitted to the department before the 16th of the subsequent month failing which penal provisions become applicable. Tax registration and obtaining tax card has been made mandatory under the new law for all entities deriving a taxable income. The application for tax registration is required to be submitted within 30 days from date of commercial registration, start date of activity or day on which income started to derive, whichever is earlier. Taxpayers who fail to apply for tax card within prescribed time limit will be subject to a fine.
If one wants to participate in the enormous growth in infrastructure and civic amenities in the country, one should heed calls for compliance to tax law as an essential sacrifice and duty of every resident. who satisfy any one of the following criteria need to support the tax returns with financial statements duly certified by a registered auditor: • Capital exceeding QR 100,000.00 • Total taxable income exceeding QR 100,000.00 • Headquarters situated outside Qatar
The new law makes it mandatory for entities undertaking an activity that is tax exempted, to file tax returns within the prescribed time limits. The tax returns must be supported with financial statements duly certified by a registered auditor.
civic amenities in the country, one should heed calls for compliance to tax law as an essential sacrifice and duty of every resident. The overall impression of the new income tax law is that it has made positive changes making it easier for tax compliance, which in turn has spurred growth of business, generally, and SMEs, specifically.
With the introduction of the new law, it has been mandated that even fully Qatari owned entities satisfying the following criteria must file tax returns: • Capital of QR 2 million or more • Annual turnover of QR 10 million or more
The introduction of the withholding tax and the tax card has been a great relief for companies, as they are no more required to produce the tax clearance certificate to obtain their final retention released. Under the old provisions, the amount retained by the contractor could be released only upon the production of a tax clearance certificate issued by the department. Under the new provisions, the amount retained may be released upon the production of a valid tax card. This change has helped to ease the cash flows for companies undertaking contracts in the Qatar.
Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) The new law prescribes for Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) with other countries to save the businesses with crossborder operations from being taxed twice in respect of those operations (being that in the state of source and in the state of residence). Qatar has entered into a number of tax treaties already and is actively expanding its network of tax treaties to make it easier for the international investors to enter into various ventures in Qatar. While the individual DTAA will prescribe the modalities for claiming tax credit, a common procedure is to file a tax return paying the due tax in Qatar and availing credit for the tax so paid in the home country of the entity.
The new law continues to apply the principles existing under the old law in respect of filing tax returns. The law prescribes individuals and legal entities practising a taxable activity in Qatar to submit a tax return within four months from the end of the accounting period. The tax payers
While some may argue that any kind of taxation will impede business activity, an underlying principle of taxation is public participation in building the country and its infrastructure. If one wants to participate in the enormous growth in infrastructure and
About Kurian Kuriakose is the Managing Partner for Sohila and Kuriakose Chartered Accountants and Chairman of Morison Menon Chartered Accountants LLC, independent members of Morison International, a global accounting, audit and tax association. He has over 24 years of experience in auditing, taxation and Finance. He is a fellow member of ICAI (India) and a Certified Information System Auditor (USA). He holds double bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Law. He is also an MBA from Bradford University UK. His experience includes senior positions in Emirates Airlines, Air India and Budget Rent A Car. He is a member of the Board of Governors for IIA Qatar, Treasurer of IBPN Qatar and a past Chairman of ICAI Doha Chapter. Kuriakose has been assisting SMEs to setup their business in Qatar as well as supporting them through provision of quality audit, accounting and consultancy services. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know your numbers! Access to finance at a start up level is quite difficult, even if a startup or an entrepreneur is ready for financial support and does not need any additional guidance. Abdulla Al-Khalifa, General Manager – Corporate Banking, QNB, guides startups and entrepreneurs what to do in both cases and also advises them which sectors to focus on and how. What is the vision of Qatar National Bank (QNB)?
Our vision is clearly determined – to become a MENA icon. Our mission includes the following: • To be the institution of choice for customers, employees, investors and suppliers • To be the dominant market player • To maintain the highest credit ratings • To have strong brand recognition and high brand value • To achieve sustainable profitable growth • To enhance shareholder value How has the banking sector changed in the past few years? Has technology lead to innovation?
As technology is at the heart of most successful businesses, it has a direct positive impact on the economy, especially
in emerging markets. Banking is known worldwide for predictable business practices which have had to evolve as technology improves. In line with that, banking as any other type of business relies on innovative technology to be successful. As customer
Technology has also helped banks migrate customers from busy banking halls to alternate channels. QNB’s Cash Deposit Card for Business Banking customers recently won the award for “Best SME Card” at The Banker Middle East Product Awards 2012. QNB also offers an
As customer demand requires new levels of personal service at an unexpected fast rate, the level of competition in the banking industry is growing. Therefore, many banks now rely on improved technology in order to remain relatively competitive in the market. demand requires new levels of personal service at an unexpected fast rate, the level of competition in the banking industry is growing. Therefore, many banks now rely on improved technology in order to remain relatively competitive in the market.
electronic banking service (easy business) which allows corporate and SME clients to conduct their daily banking transactions via a secure internet portal. In addition, they directly interact with various Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems used by businesses today.
There are a good number of sectors that offer opportunities for new ventures, however, there are two particular sectors in Qatar which are gaining greater focus as the country grows and strives to meet its development goals in line with National Development Strategies. Those are education and healthcare. How does QNB help SMEs, startups and entrepreneurs gain access to finance?
We have a dedicated SME team which manages an existing portfolio of customers. They attend to their direct and indirect borrowing needs, as and when required, and act as a “partner” in the development of their business. Access to finance at a startup level is generally perceived as a “no go area” for banks. To challenge this perception, QNB SME has a close working relationship with Qatar Development Bank on the Al Dhameen Direct Lending Programme. This programme allows those companies who don’t have access to finance from commercial banks, facilitate their lending possibilities. In addition, those startups and entrepreneurs who are not quite ready for financial support and need further guidance are forwarded to various government initiatives and programmes that support early stage development. For an SME looking for a loan or financial help, what would your advice be to them?
Our advice would be two-fold depending of their needs. If the SME is an existing, profitable business with sound financials that requires financial support for a new project or business expansion, they can call on an SME Relationship Manager based at any of our Corporate Branches, in Ain Khalid (Salwa Road), Wakra, Industrial Area (street 3) and Corporate Head Office. If a startup or entrepreneur is looking for initial guidance on where to start, I would encourage them to visit the QDB SME toolkit website at www.qatar.smetoolkit.org/qatar/en. The
Toolkit is a Web-based online resource that supports and promotes the development and growth of private sector businesses in Qatar. Developed in association with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, the online resource provides interactive tools and educational resources as a guide to starting and growing a business. According to you, which sectors offer opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs?
There are a good number of sectors that offer opportunities for new ventures, however, there are two particular sectors in Qatar which are gaining greater focus as the country grows and strives to meet its development goals in line with National Development Strategies. Those are the following: • Education Education is starting to become a top priority in Qatar as the larger part of the expat population are young (mid 30’s to mid 40’s) and have young children. For that reason, reasonably priced and good quality training courses and after school activity classes for young children are now in demand. Also, the middle class in Qatar is growing and more families can afford to spend for these life quality improvements. • Healthcare Health sector is, perhaps, the business sector which will benefit most and, thus, can offer greatest opportunity to entrepreneurs. This is particularly relevant for the alternative healthcare providers like community wellness programmes, out of which acupuncturists, masseuses and yoga instructors could benefit the most.
Abdulla Mubarak Al Khalifa
And, as people live longer, there is going to be rising demand for home health care companies, physical therapists and others who cater to the elderly. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs about the financial dos and don’ts in starting a business?
Here are a few of the general dos and don’ts which I would communicate to any potential entrepreneur. Dos:
• Take time to research all components of your business plan. • I nclude detailed market research. • Most importantly, know your numbers. • Have a basic understanding of what are the
financial requirements and impacts. Don’ts:
• Don’t assume anything. Get to the bottom of the detail. • D on’t try and complete a plan overnight. Take your time to ensure that all avenues are covered. • Financially, don’t be conservative and
under estimate your expenses and costs.
About Abdulla Al-Khalifa joined Qatar National Bank in 1996 as an account officer in the Marketing Department where he was gradually promoted to reach his current position as General Manager - Corporate Banking. He is a US graduate from the Eastern Washington University (1995) with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration. He has attended many international courses and conferences in and outside Qatar.
Adopting technology for travel Technology improvements have fundamentally changed the manner of business operations within travel and tourism industry. Tamara Pupic and Huda Kamal asked for advice from Nasser Batha, Regional Director, Markets MENA, and Wafiq Al Wahidi, General Manager, Amadeus Qatar, on how should SMEs adjust to new market environment in order to benefit from the enormous potential of travel and tourism industry within the region. Tell us more about your company and its operations in the Middle East, in general, and Qatar, in particular? We are a technology company which enables travel trade to get more efficient. We have two wings, which are the travel agency side of our business and the airline IT side of our business. We distribute the airline content to the travel agencies and we also help airlines to get more efficient with airline IT solutions. We are present in the MENA region and Dubai is the hub for this region. Regionally, we are present through 17 organisations servicing 21 countries. We have roughly about 300 employees in the region and, thus, we are one of dominant players in the region as travel agencies’ support, as travel technology provider and as transaction processor for the travel agencies. We focus primarily on seeing how we can bring value to the travel agencies. Basically, our efforts are construed
to enabling them to become efficient and to reduce their cost of operations. We’ve been here since 1999 and we are constantly growing. Three years back, in 2009, we signed a deal with the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO). AACO is the organisation which consists of 18 Arab carriers, out of which we have signed with 13. So, in each country we have joint venture with various airlines and, in Qatar, for example, it’s Qatar Airways.
a market leader with quite a big market share. In that market we are, again, focused on travel agencies and on deploying a new portfolio of good solutions which helps them to be at the edge of technology. This should improve services offered to their customers. Within that, we also help them in cutting their costs and having a full control. Basically, it is similar to our operations in the rest of the MENA market. In addition, we run a lot of training programs, so we are also focused on how to improve efficiency of travel agencies’ staff.
We adapt to market changes, but, more importantly, we prepare ourselves to market changes in advance. Therefore, the advice would be – do not just wait, and then react, be proactive!
We started a joint venture with Qatar Airways in 2001. In the last two years, we have become
It’s intended to enable them to satisfy their customers and to be ahead of their rivals.
Firstly, embrace technology in order to achieve efficiency and, thus, reduce costs. Secondly, focus on a service to be offered to consumers and track them on that basis by using the automation capabilities of your organisation. Otherwise, it would become very difficult.
What technology and distribution solutions do you provide for the benefit of travel agents and how it can help them better market in a region? There are two areas. One is efficiency and how to get them be more effective. Our role is to engage with travel agents and solve operational issues by building technology and ensuring they can provide services to their customers. That’s the role we play. For example, we have an auxiliary service and we try to facilitate solutions to enable the travel agency to sell extra leg space or duty free stuff in the aircraft. Again, that’s our role – to enable them and support them in executing consumers’ desires. In addition, we enable them to separate customers according to destinations
and send them packages according to customers’ profile. We follow them, so that they can target their customer. The other one, which we are now effectively working on, is a way in which customers today engage in travel. It is completely different than how they did it a couple of years ago. Before, they would call and depend on the travel agency to tell them where to go, what is the price and so on. Today, the consumer has access to information and sometimes knows even more than the travel agents. So, the whole process of making a ticket booking is changing from buying a booking to shopping. Shopping process is now supported by the social media through which the customers’ choices are now influenced by the choices and recommendations of their family and friends. For that reason, Amadeus comes up with the solutions. For example, exchange search is our meta search solution which allows a consumer to search, not only based on a destination, but just on the basis of the available budget. So, if you have, for example, USD 200 for a two day trip, the solution will choose the destination, the hotel, the ticket and all you have to do is to choose from suggested results. So, it drives not only on a choice of an airline and destination, but on your budget as well, and sometimes even links it to choices of your friends in social media. In this manner we help our travel agencies to stay in business, since now they can offer that service to their consumers. Otherwise, existing social media would directly offer these choices to their consumers.
Wafiq al Wahidi
How have you managed to respond to these market changes and what would be your advice for SMEs in this regard? We adapt to market changes, but, more importantly, we prepare ourselves to market changes in advance. Since 2004, we have invested EUR 2 billion in research and development. So, in that manner, we try to stay ahead of competition. Therefore, the advice would be – do not just wait, and then react, be proactive! What sales and marketing advice would you give to the SMEs in usual market circumstances? I have already mentioned one advice which is a proactive approach. We cooperate with large organisations, SMEs and very small customers. Out of them, our main advice for SMEs and small customers would be to manage their costs more effectively. In line with that, we would further give them a two-fold advice. Firstly, embrace technology in order to achieve efficiency and, thus, reduce costs. Secondly, focus on a service to be offered to consumers and track them on that basis by using the automation capabilities of your organisation. Otherwise, it would become very difficult.
We would recommend potential investors in this sector to invest in technology, since once the technology is developed you can only improve further and never go back to traditional way of doing business. With the FIFA World Cup 2022, how do you see the opportunities in this sector? The upcoming event is huge, and will have long-lasting impact on Qatar. Qatar Airways, our customer, is expanding to meet increased demand anticipated by the upcoming event. We engage very strongly with them to create new airport solutions through our Altéa IT Platform.
more skilled people. Also, we try to support airlines in their cost management, so that they can offer more jobs.
We think that with all the opportunities the future will bring, government is focused to turn Qatar to a capital of culture and a capital of sport championships which has started already with the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Also, great efforts are being invested to promote education and scientific research as well, like are the initiatives of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
The Arab Spring has affected the travel and tourism industry of the Middle East. Did you change your marketing strategy to adapt to the new challenges and how? In terms of our business the impact was very minimal, because the loss was somewhere else and the growth was somewhere else. For example, some countries in the region benefited enormously from what had happened and became the biggest destinations for visitors who would in the past go to Syria, Egypt or Lebanon. But, the speed in which things have come back in Egypt, Lybia, Lebanon is pretty fast. The first two months of this year have been fantastic in terms of regional market movements, so we are very optimistic.
Do you see any regional challenges which still need to be resolved and what should be the next focus of your company and the entire sector? Freedom! The manner in which the region will manage freedom. We are watching and preparing for the young generations. We try to provide as much as trainings we can to have
There is going to be a lot of changes in the region. In our view, regional governments now understand importance of this sector for generating government revenue.
Qatar market has already grown by 12% which is a good start. So, Arab Spring didn’t really affect Qatar market at all.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs interested in being a part of this sector? We would recommend potential investors in this sector to invest in technology, since once the technology is developed you can only improve further and never go back to traditional way of doing business. In addition, investments in technology will open business horizons for other parts of this sector. Lastly, technology is the only business not affected by the recession or recent political changes. Each one is different and there’s no general advice. In principle, within a travel business there is a lot of sectors like corporate, leisure and so on, and it all depends on what they specialise in. So, specialisation is very important, because by being general it would be a bit difficult to capture the audience. Once they determine their specialisation area, we will support them with the right solutions for that market segment. In the last two years, there have been many new entries to the Qatar’s travel and tourism market since there are no restrictions for opening a business. Due to 2022 FIFA World Cup, the sector will have a lot of new opportunities. In addition, we have a growing market for medical tourism.
About Nasser Batha was appointed as Regional Director of Markets in October 2010. Prior to that Nasser was Business Development Director for Middle-East and North Africa and joined Amadeus after 5 years at Alshamel Holding Co (CWT) in Dubai where he was Chief Operating Officer. Nasser has Masters in Business Administration and he is fluent in English, Arabic and Hindi. Wafiq Alwahidi was appointed as General Manager of Amadeus Commercial Organisation Qatar in 2007 prior to which he served at the organisation as Sales Manager for five years. In 2006, he earned the Amadeus Sales Champion Award for his achievements in propelling the market share of Amadeus Qatar to its peak. Amadeus is a transaction processor for the global and regional travel and tourism industry, providing transaction processing power and technology solutions to both travel providers and travel agencies. For more information, please visit: www.amadeus.com.
taking aim At Qatar 2022 Qatar is one of the most promising project markets in the world today due to the need to meet the immovable ten year deadline for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Wayne Merrick, Country Manager, Qatar, Links Group, explains what opportunities are put in front of international businesses in the country which is experiencing a construction boom.
hile the Qatar government remains committed to supporting and developing local enterprises, it recognises the importance of bringing in external expertise to achieve its many goals. Opportunities abound for international businesses, particularly for consultants, contractors and suppliers. Be ready for ambitious infrastructural projects Over the next ten years, Qatar will need to build the USD 60 billion worth of infrastructural projects it has committed to in its 2022 FIFA World Cup bid documents. A big push is needed to bring Qatar’s roads up to the standards required for such a prestigious international sporting event and an extensive integrated railway network will need to be designed and built. The country will also invest heavily in hotel and stadia developments.
Ashghal, the Qatar Public Works Authority, has confirmed that it will invest USD 20 billion in building and upgrading roads and drainage infrastructure up to 2015. So far, only USD 2 billion worth of projects were awarded in 2011. With such a tight delivery timeline, Ashghal is expected to expedite its tendering process. There are plenty of opportunities for contractors and suppliers, with design and build experience and exceptional project management capabilities, to capitalise on these projects. International companies may also consider consortium or joint venture arrangements to make their bids more attractive (read competitive). Currently, Ashghal is working on the tender for Al Khor Highway project for the Lusail development. The highway will be a multi-level road that runs along the western border of Lusail City and will include up to five interchanges. Ashghal will also oversee the construction of the planned 107 km New Orbital Highway, which will
be Qatar’s longest road running from Ras Laffan in the north to Mesaieed in the South. In addition, Ashghal is awarding contracts for the development of 50,000 new hotel rooms, which is more than half of Qatar’s current supply. According to the Katara Hospitality (previously known as Qatar National Hotels Company), that equates to 77 new hotels and 42 new hotel apartments. Add to that the construction of nine new stadia and the upgrade of three existing stadia and it’s easy to see why Qatar offers ripe pickings for architects, interior designers and contractors. Qatari Diar, the country’s national real estate developer, is heavily focused on completing its USD 33 billion Lusail City project, which is the site of the main stadium for the World Cup event. The 35 square kilometre mixed-use development will contain residential clusters, commercial districts, shopping and leisure facilities as well as the Lusail Iconic Stadium.
But, perhaps the most ambitious of projects in Qatar’s 2022 World Cup pipeline is its USD 35 billion integrated rail network.
Ashghal is also moving ahead with infrastructure schemes to link Lusail to Doha through the Lusail Expressway, a 16 lane highway stretching approximately 12 km. The Lusail project will also include a 22 km light rail transit system, featuring 34 stations, to transport people around the development. Qatari Diar and Ashghal are now awarding contracts to local and international suppliers to deliver on the various phases of these developments. But, perhaps the most ambitious of projects in Qatar’s 2022 World Cup pipeline is its USD 35 billion integrated rail network. Overseen by Ashghal and designed and implemented by QRail, the project comprises the USD 2.2 billion West Bay peoplemover, the Doha Metro, a freight line which will run from the northeast to the southeast of the peninsula, a high-speed passenger line serving the New Doha International Airport and light rail networks for Lusail and Education Cities.
Again, efficient project management and engineering excellence will be important differentiators for landing these lucrative contracts. Suppliers that provide solutions for mitigating the impact of Qatar’s harsh climate on the rail network will also improve their chances of standing out in the bid process. Opportunities in oil and gas sector In line with the country’s growing economy, water and power demand in Qatar is expected to increase rapidly in the coming years. Kahramaa, the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, has confirmed it will invest over USD 5 billion in building new projects to boost its power and potable water by the end of 2013. New projects include, a 2,250 megawatt power plant, two desalination plants with a total capacity of 194 million gallons per day and large water reservoirs. Qatar’s expected increase in total energy consumption, coupled with its investments in 2022
The Doha metro will span 300 km and will have 80 stations. The USD 41 billion project will include four rail lines and will link stadia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup via underground tunnels in the centre of Doha. Both the freight and passenger rail network will span 651 km and will have 98 stations. The 340 km freight line will run from the industrial city of Ras Laffan in the northeast to the New Doha Port in the southeast and will have the capacity to transport 11 million tonnes of cargo a year. The high-speed passenger line will span 311 km and will run at up to 220 km per hour from New Doha International Airport through Doha and to the northwest of the country. The Doha metro will span 300 km and will have 80 stations. The USD 41 billion project will include four rail lines and will link stadia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup via underground tunnels in the centre of Doha. According to a recent announcement from the Qatar Railway Development Company, tenders for the work will be awarded by the end of this year.
FIFA World Cup infrastructure, will likely accelerate the government’s plans to exploit its gas reserves in the North field. This is the world’s largest offshore, non-associated natural gas reservoir with estimated reserves of more than 900 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas. Should the Qatari government pursue gas recovery in the North field, there will also be numerous opportunities for companies working in the oil and gas sector. Compliance with the QNV 2030 The looming 2022 World Cup deadline will undoubtedly put pressure on the respective Qatari government entities to make their tender processes more efficient. However, participating bidders would do well to remember that these projects form part of Qatar’s broader economic diversification strategy Qatar National Vision
2030. Sustainability and viability of these projects in the aftermath of the 2022 World Cup should underscore every tender submission. Development of local resource and talent is a primary objective in turning Qatar into a knowledge-based economy, so think carefully about how a contract fits into this wider masterplan. Also important to the Qatar government, is the commitment a foreign company shows to the country. If you are pursuing these major contracts, you’ll be expected to establish a legal presence, such as a limited liability company. This process can take months, so it’s best to start investigating your options now. Joint venture vehicles do offer an alternative route to market and are worth considering when the partnership enhances expertise, resources and price efficiencies. There is no doubt Qatar offers one of the most buoyant construction markets in the world and is one of the few economies with the capital means to fully fund it. However, the sheer scale and urgency of what lies ahead for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup requires investment in international expertise and manpower. In the next three years, we expect most of the major tenders will be awarded. It’s game on for consultants, contractors and suppliers. Be strategic in how you line up your project positions, shoot and then score.
About Wayne Merrick is the Country Manager, Qatar, Links Group. He advises clients wanting to set up a commercial presence in Qatar. For more information, please visit www.the-links-group.com.
Be careful what
you might just get it! Most businesses set up a number of metrics to drive performance, to see how well they are doing and to measure and motivate their staff. Elias Mazzawi, Managing Director, EMS MENA, explains to us why is the over-used management phrase “what gets measured gets managed” still pretty accurate and what impacts the misuse of metrics can have on your business.
he thing is, that both the opportunity and the problem are within this phrase, “what gets measured gets managed.” Using metrics to drive the performance of the business is only as good as the metrics that are chosen and the way they are used in. Metrics need to be set up properly. They need to measure the right things, which mean that the processes they measure need to be set up right. The letter and spirit of the metric needs to be understood. The reason why this is vitally important is that the things that get measured are usually the key things that have an impact on the businesswhat the customer perceives, profit, and so on. And, in an SME, the impact is very tangible, real and very rapid. To make a point A customer has a problem with a piece of technology and contacts the supplier by phone to get it fixed. It’s important to the customer that it is fixed quickly. It’s highly visible and will affect the customer’s perception of the supplier and, thus, it’s reasonable to assume it will have an effect on future business. It’s something that can be fixed by phone. The customer contacts the help desk. The help desk rapidly finds that the problem is beyond the scope of first line support and passes it to technical support.
First impact is customer disappointment since the problem is not fixed at the first interaction. Technical suppoer now has 24 hours to respond to the referral. Even though It will take 45 minutes to resolve the customer’s problem, but the technical team just doesn’t have that time right now. They have a backlog of work. The team has a choice of either responding to the problem of missing the deadline. If they need more information, they just need tow minutes to ask and will meet their metric. In fact, it will be good performance against the metric, because the response can go out within two minutes rather than 24 hours. And one piece of work is deferred rather than making the performance statistics look worse. However, the problem is not yet resolved and customer’s disappointment increases towards frustration. The help desk now has four hours to go back to the customer for that information. They start to make calls immediately, but it takes a couple of calls to reach the customer. The customer has to go and find the information asked for. He or she can’t get the information immediately because the information is at home and the customer is at the office. The customer calls back with the information that evening. The impact – the customer’s issue is not yet resolved after three interactions while the help desk and the
customer are doing work they don’t need to. This results in more costs, more efforts and less positive impact, but is measured as good performance against metrics. The help desk passes the information to technical team whose workload is now less pressured and they now have the capacity to address the problem. They find the solution within the 24 hours that they have, according to the metrics (the time-to-respond metric doesn’t change, even though this is a second referral). The technical team passes the solution to the help desk to give it to the customer. Nobody checks whether the additional information was actually needed. Performance has been well within the metrics and just one referral back to the help desk for more information looks okay to the people that review the performance. How many times information that bounces back and forth between the two teams is measured? In any case, this one round is considered okay and won’t be investigated further. The help desk now has four hours to contact the customer with the solution. They call immediately, but the customer doesn’t answer, the phone is switched off. They try again a couple of hours later, but the customer is in a meeting and can’t discuss right now. They try again the following morning, but the customer doesn’t get to the phone in time.
What gets measured gets managed, but gamed as well. With a strong emphasis on metrics and process, some people will do some things that the letter of the metric allows (even encourages), but which are not consistent with the spirit.
The process states that the case should be closed after three outbound calls from the help desk to the customer. This rule has evolved because a number of cases seemed to stay open forever distorting the performance statistics. Presumably, in those cases, the customer had found the way to resolve, but had not told the help desk. So, this case is closed. The customer calls in a few hours later and is told the case is closed and the process needs to start again. Last impact – frustration and additional work are all round, but performance against the metrics that measure the process is okay. A piece of advice The fragmented process with hand-offs between teams doesn’t help. Metrics that work rely on processes that work from an end to an end, not just piece by piece. What gets measured gets managed, but gamed as well. With a strong emphasis on metrics and process, some people will do some things that the letter of the metric allows (even encourages), but which are not consistent with the spirit. This results in making the workload higher and is not helping customer satisfaction. It’s not a reasonable aspiration to get precisely the right metrics to drive precisely the right actions all the time. Businesses are not machines and it’s more complicated than that. But, it is a reasonable aspiration to instil the right culture in the organisation to do the right thing, sometimes even in spite of the metrics. The technical team could have raised issues about peaks and troughs in workload. They
could have raised a discussion about how these should be staffed, rather than burying the issue by sending back a spurious request for more information. In line with that, we can draw the following conclusions: • Organisations need mechanisms to encourage this kind of discussion in a balanced way • Organisations need mechanisms to identify these kinds of issues • Organisations need ways to encourage people to raise them Finding the right balance By their very nature, process metrics will measure disaggregated elements of the overall process, doing that bottom-up and piece-bypiece. And, as presented in the case study, these disaggregated metrics will not always deliver the top-down goal. Therefore, a balance needs to be introduced over some over-arching metrics, like how long does it take for a customer’s issue to be resolved, what does it cost, how is this varying over time and why? The balance can be achieved by looking into randomly selected cases that can provide a lot of information and uncover situations in which metrics are not driving the right activity. Working through cases publicly and involving the right case teams is crucial to evolve metrics by: • Encouraging and publicly recognising exceptional activity • Encouraging issue and resolution • Encouraging opportunity and recognition Evolving metrics is a key. A way to achieve this is to: • Constantly sample checking specific cases to
see what activity the metrics are driving • Constantly check with focus groups, composed of people doing the activity being measured, in order to constantly take the temperature of what’s happening and what can be done to tweak and improve. • Constantly check the end-to-end performance against key metrics like cost, customer satisfaction performance. Remember, each of the metrics in the example above looked right, when evaluated in its own piecemeal context, but, in some situations, it was driving to longer resolution time, increased workload and was not helping customer satisfaction.
About Elias Mazzawi is Managing Director of EMS-MENA. EMS (itself an SME) works exclusively with mid-size enterprises in the Middle East, driving higher performance in operations, sales and strategy. The EMS approach is distinctively tailored to the needs of midsize enterprises.There is a focus on quick wins delivered through short, intense and highly focused project bursts of just a couple of weeks. For more information, please visit www.ems-mena.com
it go away. Even if you agree with the trainer, the fact remains that you feel uncomfortable in the situation and if you force yourself to do it anyway that might well result in a rather weak, somewhat incoherent pitch. So, how to approach this “limiting belief?” One possibility would be to reformulate the belief itself. Rather than saying, “I’m not a good sales person” you could try something like, “I don’t do sales the conventional way.” If you look at the challenge in that way, it opens the door to more creative solutions.
Who do you believe in? why our business can only grow as much as we can.
Say you have a friendly nature and strangers usually react positively to you. Great, seek out potential clients at the next networking event and get chatting to them. You are a good storyteller and can keep people’s attention for a long time? Great, spin a yarn around your product or service that engages the listener. Or if you are persuasive, determined, a good negotiator and great with figures? How can you leverage any one of these strengths and make it work for you?
As you keep on working on your attitude and your approach, you might find that your belief changes into something even more empowering like “I have my own unique way of selling.”
It is common knowledge that businesses need a lot of input and different forms of investment to grow. Carolin Zeitler, Director, Arcata, explains to us
veryone knows they need to put in time, money and energy to grow their business. Plenty of courses and tools are available to startups and young entrepreneurs since a number of skills need to be acquired to run a business.
One fact that is largely overlooked, though, is that there is another vital component to growing your business. It is -YOU, your mindset, your interpersonal skills and your awareness, especially if it’s a sole proprietorship or an SME. As your business grows, you will constantly come up against limitations. If you then have the guts to take a good long look in the mirror and be perfectly honest with yourself, you will find that many of these limitations are personal – grounded in your beliefs. If you have suddenly found yourself confused, overwhelmed, irritable or “slamming on the
You could then analyse your strengths and create a sales procedure that is more in line with what you are good at.
breaks”, then you have probably just come up against what we call a “limiting belief”. This is where coaching comes in to help you get past these barriers. Reformulate your beliefs Here is an example of a “limiting belief” that clients come up against and how it can be turned into an opportunity for growth. A common “limiting belief”, especially amongst entrepreneurs, is, “I’m not a good sales person.” This often results in the entrepreneur not actively seeking or even seizing sales opportunities. You might find yourself in an environment that would be conducive to pitching your product or service to potential new clients but you feel it would be awkward or even rude to do so. If you have this strong belief, a sales trainer telling you that you “need to seize every opportunity to sell” will not make
And you keep on exploring and developing your approach by asking yourself: What does that mean for the way you approach your clients? What comes more naturally to you - a hard sell, a soft sell or simply building a relationship? As you learn more and more about what you are comfortable with, what you are good at and what you are aiming for, you can develop a unique approach that works for you. You might be so uncomfortable with the word sales that you initially call it something else, maybe outreach or developing new opportunities. Just make sure that you are clear on the goal. At the end of the day, you need to make money and if you’re not comfortable with that thought, that’s a whole coaching process of its own.
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In order to navigate anywhere, you need to first identify where you are, then where you want to go and finally what the terrain you are moving through looks like. Once you are aware of all those factors, you can set your course. It is easy to see how dealing with your limiting beliefs is a necessity, especially when you are running your own business. Your business can literally only grow as much as you can. If you can’t perceive the growth, can’t even imagine it, then how would you find ways to work towards it? If experiencing a setback makes you think, “I will never succeed”, then you probably don’t have the energy and the drive to keep on trying. First you need to work on your beliefs about yourself and your ability to manage, lead and succeed. Improve your style Then comes the next level that influences your professional growth and, thus, the growth of your business, which is your interaction and communication with those around you. This, again, is heavily influenced by your beliefs and attitude. You can learn communication skills and become better at finding the right words. But, if you have no respect for the person you are speaking to, that will still be reflected in your communication with them. We need to understand that communication is a multi-level, simultaneous process. Many things happen at the same time and influence our communication, facial expression, posture, body language, proximity, tone of voice and pitch of voice, to name just a few of the many factors that all play into how we perceive the message. The words we hear only constitute a small percentage of the message we take away from a conversation. To paraphrase what Maya Angelou famously said, “They won’t remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.” Your communication and, thus, your leadership style depend heavily on your attitude towards your employees, volunteers or subcontractors. They will remember how you made them feel. If you made
them feel encouraged and inspired, they will thank you by being committed and engaged. If you made them feel worthless and unappreciated, they will ultimately give up trying and resign themselves to underperforming. The key to all this is your attitude. If it is one of gratitude, opportunity and enthusiasm, then that is conveyed in your communication and it influences those around you. Understand your context The final piece, which is the most overlooked out of the three, is about understanding the bigger picture – the helicopter view. It’s about activating the neutral observer and looking at the situation in a detached way. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are: • Where are we, as an organisation, at the moment? • How could we better respond to what the market needs and wants? • How are we doing internally? • Are we making optimal use of our internal resources? • How could we use everyone’s strengths more fully? • Where am I, as an individual, in the context of my company and of my industry? • Is our internal identity congruent with the external image? I encourage you to be brave enough to ask these questions. It’s better to discover your shortcomings yourself and remedy them, than to be made aware of them the hard way by failure or customer dissatisfaction. These questions will lead you to a better understanding of who you are as an organisation, even if there’s only three or four of you making up the whole company. They will also help you understand your organisation’s standing in the community and industry, and what pathways are open to you.
In order to navigate anywhere, you need to first identify where you are, then where you want to go and finally what the terrain you are moving through looks like. Once you are aware of all those factors, you can set your course. It’s common sense, right? Yes it is and still it is widely overlooked as entrepreneurs get busy working “in their company rather than on their company.” In summary, to grow your business and yourself there are three important aspects to consider: • Your attitude and beliefs • Your interaction and communication with others • Your context – the bigger picture Most entrepreneurs have a penchant for one or two of those three aspects and are already working on that. Make sure to look closely at the one(s) you’ve been neglecting so far. That’s probably where you’ll find the biggest potential for growth.
About Carolin Zeitler inspires, encourages and empowers people especially women - to make a difference. She has combined her experience from being an ITA therapist, a trainer for coaches and therapists, a managing director and a coach to create her unique coaching brand, Arcata, the How Women Work community with its annual conferences and the many spin-offs like the “How Women Succeed” CSR Book project, an inspirational self-coaching book of which the proceeds are being used to provide free coaching for women of lower income. She is also a popular motivational speaker and the author of several self-coaching publications. Carolin can be contacted at: email@example.com.
Excellence. At Carnegie Mellon.
For more than a century, Carnegie Mellon University has been inspiring innovations that change the world. Consistently top ranked, Carnegie Mellon has more than 11,000 students, 90,000 alumni and 5,000 faculty and staff globally. In 2004, Qatar Foundation invited Carnegie Mellon to join Education City, a groundbreaking center for scholarship and research. Students from 39 different countries enroll at our world-class facilities in Education City. Carnegie Mellon Qatar offers undergraduate programs in biological sciences, business administration, computational biology, computer science and information systems. Carnegie Mellon is firmly committed to Qatarâ€™s National Vision 2030 by developing people, society, the economy and the environment. Learn more at www.qatar.cmu.edu
Keeping an eye on your information
Nick O’Connell, Senior Associate, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Al Tamimi & Co. gives SME Advisor Middle East, our sister publication, an overview of the key aspects of laws in the information age, from his presentation at the Telecommunications Law and Regulation in the Middle East Conference.
he information age brings with it many benefits (including greater efficiency and convenience with regard to gathering, storing and using data). On the other hand, expectations with regard to protection from arbitrary interference with privacy are generally considered a wellestablished social and legal norm, including in this region. Privacy Generally speaking, the position in most of the GCC countries is that the privacy of an individual
is protected under general provisions of laws not specifically focused on the issue of privacy. It also makes it an offence for anyone who is, by reason of profession, craft, circumstance or art, entrusted with a secret, to disclose the secret, or use it for his or her own benefit, or that of another, unless such disclosure or use is permitted by law or by the consent of the person to whom the secret pertains. The key point that I wish to illustrate by these examples is that these privacy related provisions have not been drafted with the information age in mind. To provide
some context, we have recently relied on provisions, such as this, to advise on a corporate client’s proposed transfer of employee data to an off-shore data storage facility and another client’s proposed use of customer data for purposes other than those for which it was originally gathered. Would a company’s use of personal information (such as employee information or customer information) for fairly mundane business purposes (such as off-shore data storage or targeted marketing campaigns) fall within prohibited uses of secret information under these penal provisions?
By way of example, Qatar’s Telecommunications Law (No. 34 of 2006) requires telecommunications service providers to operate their telecommunications networks and related systems with due regard for the privacy rights of their customers.
Other laws restrict the use of personal data in certain circumstances. By way of example, the UAE Medical Liability Law (Federal Law No. 10 of 2008) prohibits a doctor from disclosing the secrets of the patient that the doctor becomes aware of in the course of practice, either if the patient trusted him with the secret or if the doctor became aware of the secret in the course of practice. We recently conducted a review of the situation in other GCC countries and essentially confirmed that privacy is protected in these other countries in much the same way in most countries. Laws designed primarily to protect privacy do not typically exist as laws in their own right. Provisions relating to protection of privacy may be found in the context of other laws, including respective penal codes and laws relating to specific matters, such as regulation of conduct of medical practitioners, credit disclosure and unfair business practices. Data protection The Qatar Financial Centre has its own data protection specific laws or regulations. These legal provisions are generally consistent with data protection laws from other developed jurisdictions (specifically, the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and the UK Data Protection Act 1998). They apply to specific types of personal information that can relate to identifiable individuals, and set out obligations requiring
that personal data be processed fairly, lawfully, securely and for a specified and legitimate purpose. They also contain restrictions on data transfer from within the respective financial centres to places outside those financial centres. The most significant point to note about the respective data protection provisions of these financial centres is that they are applicable only to activities within those financial centres – or transfers from those financial centres to places outside the financial centres. Oman and Qatar both have laws relating to e-Commerce, which contain provisions relevant to data protection. Oman’s Electronic Transactions Law (Royal Decree 69/2008) and Qatar’s Electronic Commerce and Transactions Law (Law No. 16 of 2010) are both based largely on the UN Model Laws relating to e-commerce and electronic signatures – but the laws as enacted in both countries go beyond these to include specific provisions relating to data protection.
customer information unless with the customer’s consent or as permitted by law. Additionally, service providers must ensure that all the information submitted is accurate, complete and valid for use (and correct or remove data upon the customer’s request). Similar provisions (although with varying degree of detail) apply to telecommunications service providers licensed by the telecommunications regulatory authorities in other GCC countries. Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has issued Resolution No. 113/2009 issuing Regulations on Protection of the Confidentiality and Privacy of Beneficiary Data. Thus, telecommunications service providers should be aware that special data protection regimes may apply to their activities, even if there may be no data protection laws of general application. Consumer protection and spam The next topic ties in with the issue of privacy and data protection in the sense that personal contact details, such as mobile numbers and email addresses, may be disclosed by customers in the context of procuring goods and services, and then used subsequently for electronic
Specific data protection regimes appear to be common in respect of telecommunications service providers. By way of example, Qatar’s Telecommunications Law (No. 34 of 2006) requires telecommunications service providers to operate their telecommunications networks and related systems with due regard for the privacy rights of their customers. It also requires telecommunications service providers to be responsible to protect any customer data in their custody and to refrain from collecting, using, retaining or publishing any
By way of example, the consumer protection provisions of Qatar’s Electronic Commerce Law restricts the ability of e-commerce service providers (not necessarily telecommunications providers) to be involved in providing unsolicited marketing communications, and requires consumers to be able to opt-out from the receipt of such communications.
marketing purposes. Many people find this type of marketing to be invasive of their privacy, and prefer to receive it only if they have opted-in. In some countries in the region there are general prohibitions on this type of activity. By way of example, the consumer protection provisions of Qatar’s Electronic Commerce Law restricts the ability of e-commerce service providers (not necessarily telecommunications providers) to be involved in providing unsolicited marketing communications, and requires consumers to be able to opt-out from the receipt of such communications. In July 2010, the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory issued a specific policy on unsolicited marketing communications. Under this policy, licensed telecommunications providers in the UAE are required to minimise spam and take all reasonable steps to ensure that spam is not being sent over their networks. If a licensee (for example a telecommunications provider) fails to take all practical steps to prevent spam with a UAE link (which includes spam originating both inside and outside the UAE) from being sent over the licensee’s network, then the regulator can take action against the licensee.
Cloud computing The term “cloud computing” describes a broad range of remote access computing services, generally involving situations in which users have access to applications and data storage services on demand and delivered over an external network. This basically involves the use of software and/or data storage space provided by someone else – allowing for savings on things such as licensing software or buying data storage hardware. Some of the key privacy and data protection considerations in a cloud computing environment are: Data security The cloud user will have its own data security and access management policies. The cloud provider’s policies should, at a minimum, be compliant with the cloud user’s policies. Data location It is necessary to consider the impact of the various laws governing privacy and data protection on the collection and transfer of data to the cloud provider, and the movement of that data across different jurisdictions as part of the provision of the cloud service. Data retention obligations Different jurisdictions have different commercial record retention obligations. If data storage obligations are outsourced to
a cloud provider in a different country, it will be necessary to ensure that, at a minimum, the cloud provider complies with document retention policies applicable to the user of cloud services. Corporate users of cloud services may place responsibility for direct control of critical data and applications in the hands of third parties. If there is an outage or a security breach, the user could be exposed to claims from its own customers (and potential reputation damage) even though the fault was on the part of the cloud provider. Similarly, failure on the part of the cloud provider (for example with regard to compliance in respect of data privacy) could lead to regulatory non-compliance on the part of the cloud user. Cloud users should conduct thorough due diligence of the provider they are considering and in particular focus on the privacy and security levels of the services to be offered.
About Nick O’Connell has worked for Al Tamimi & Company for almost five years, initially in intellectual property, and more recently in technology, media and telecommunications. Nick’s work focuses largely on software and IT services agreements, data privacy and data transfer, e-commerce, m-banking, m-commerce, as well as intellectual property and technology aspects of corporate and commercial matters. Nick’s clients have included companies operating in a range of industries, including financial services, automobile manufacturing, business machinery, digital content, e-commerce, engineering, exhibitions and events, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, software, and real estate. Al Tamimi & Co, originally established in 1989, is today one of the leading law firms in the Arabian Gulf region. It is one of the largest local, non-affiliated law firm in the United Arab Emirates, with offices in the Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, Riyadh (KSA) and associate offices in Doha, Baghdad and Riyadh. For more information, visit www.tamimi.com.
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employees to be riveted to their seats when they are being “talked at”? Learning is learning. And, let’s be honest, boring is boring. If you want to make the most of your business meetings, visualisation methods are your golden ticket. Currently, visualisation, defined as making key conceptual links between ideas or text and images, is an often-overlooked and underutilised tool in business meetings. When considering visualisation as a workplace tool the approach to creating those visuals is a key.
When was the last time you scribbled on a napkin to get your point across? Most of us have benefited from napkin sketches to help us understand a concept that couldn’t quite be conveyed adequately with words. Jenn Wicks, Instructor, School of Language Studies, College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, presents six reasons for using graphic recording in meetings.
opular statistics suggest that approximately 60 - 65% of people are primarily visual learners. Around the world, visualisation strategies are employed everywhere, from offices to classrooms, to help people learn more efficiently, to collaborate more effectively and to simply remember more. In the current economic climate, where companies are revolutionising the conventional workplace to increase employee engagement and gain an edge over competitors, thinking outsidethe-traditional-box is the key. Utilising visualisation as a tool to improve business meetings is one tangible way to tap into the creative energy of your employees and to harness the talent already available to you. What’s wrong with conventional workplace meetings and brainstorming sessions? Google the search terms “bored of powerpoint,” and over
2.5 million results appear. Many of these emphasise the misuse of this tool for workplace meetings and other potentially meaningful creative sessions. Yet, while flip charts and powerpoint presentations abound in the business world, it is generally agreed that these tools are outdated and often ineffective.
Power of visualisation Graphic recording is one way companies can harness the power of visualisation in facilitated group sessions. Examples where this works best include: • brainstorming new projects, • documenting staff development retreats, • facilitating engagement in meetings and employee development seminars, • analysing problems and devising creative solutions, • assisting with strategic planning, and, • synthesising contributions for future reference or display. Graphic recording involves a visual artist, who records ideas as they are expressed during a group session. This process can turn a typical meeting on its head. Using a large area of poster paper, the recorder is strategically located in a place where participants can view the poster throughout the session. As participants
Visualisation, defined as making key conceptual links between ideas or text and images, is an often overlooked and underutilised tool in business meetings. As an adult educator, I know what to expect from students when I subject them to a series of slides on a screen. No matter how much time I have spent animating those slides, making them flashy and reducing the text to tiny sentence fragments, this unidirectional style of teaching has proven ineffective for decades. Yet, for some reason we tend to have different expectations from employees than from students. If we know that the one-to-many model is not working in schools, why should we expect
contribute ideas and questions, the poster begins to take shape. The graphic recorder makes series of quick decisions to cluster and highlight key information using icons and graphics to help participants connect with, and expand upon, the information already contributed. This process can create opportunities for innovation as visual representations of ideas are linked and organised by the recorder, and participants are energised as their ideas become part of a bigger picture.
Graphic recording can inspire employees in a way that brings forth innovation and investment in a collaborative process. The six keys In the business world, hiring a Graphic Recording Professional (GRP) works best for meetings where the goal is to foster innovation and share ideas. In my experience as a graphic recorder, I have identified six key ways that graphic recording can enhance workplace meetings, presentations, planning sessions, team-building days, or professional development seminars: • Graphic recording is more fun than powerpoint: Having an artist track ideas keeps participants or the audience on their toes. Seeing information as an organic process is far more engaging than being the passive recipient of a product. Learning should not be like waiting for a pizza to be delivered. It should be more like making your own pizza from scratch with all the ingredients you could ever want. • Graphic recording validates contributions from individuals and teams: Most people want to contribute. We feel a sense of community membership when our words are valued and represented beyond our own expression. When participants see their words written by the graphic recorder, they feel validated that what they have said is worth keeping. This can inspire confidence and pride in participants, which in turn can foster other positive contributions and idea sharing. • Graphic recording stimulates creativity: Watching ideas grow and connect in logical ways is energising for participants. Seeing connections and ideas in visual forms helps reinforce contributions and also stimulates a web of related ideas in the minds of participants. A picture can inspire memories, interpretations and imaginative thinking in ways that text cannot – “a picture is worth a thousand words.” • Graphic recording provides a record: The document resulting from a graphic recording session can be used as a record of both the process and product of a meeting. It is too often the case that group meetings and development sessions are forgotten about even before the catering company has packed up for the day. In order to make the most of meetings, presentations and staff development, it is critical
to follow up with meaningful documentation that reminds participants of what was learned or gained from those meetings. The poster from a graphic recording session can be broken up into bite-sized sections for easy referencing, utilised for training purposes, used as an illustration for marketing purposes or to reflect a particular company vision in a visuallyappealing manner. • Graphic recording helps alleviate language barriers: For companies where employees differ in language ability, visualisation can be vital to ensuring everyone is on the same page. When language fails, most of us rely on visual cues and images to express or understand one another. Graphic recording can help get messages across when other methods may fail or take too much time. • Graphic recording is cost-effective: For all of the reasons listed above, the return on investment (ROI) is high with graphic recording. Hiring a graphic recorder to enhance your group meeting will serve a variety of purposes and benefits can be sustained when the end product is utilised for staff training and reference. The process involved in generating and collecting employees’ ideas will also reinforce how the company values its employees. Graphic recording provides an opportunity for the company to demonstrate recognition for in-house knowledge. Let the innovation begin! So, rather than scratching key words onto a flip chart at your next meeting, consider the value a GRP can bring. Discuss your company’s vision of the session with the recorder in advance so, that you can clarify how you expect the process to serve your business and staff during and after the meeting. Provide the graphic recorder with contextual details to help orient them to your company (such as current mission statement, company vision, organisation profile, and so on). The session will flow more smoothly if the recorder understands the overall vision of the business. It is also important to inform the recorder about the logistics of the session. What has been
communicated to potential participants? How many attendees are expected? Are there any special considerations (for example, varying abilities in the target language)? What is your company’s experience with past training or development sessions? All of this information can help the recording professional to tailor the session to the needs of the company. Additionally, if there is content-specific jargon, that you can help your recording professional prepare for, provide documents in advance to allow the recorder time to gain familiarity with terminology that might help them better capture the contributions of participants. Finally, it is critical to prepare participants for the session by explaining the process of graphic recording, your intentions for employing this service and your expectations for participation. And that’s it – time for the recorder to step in and work their magic! Trying something new can inspire employees in a way that brings forth innovation and investment in a collaborative process, and continues to do so long after the meeting has been adjourned. Find a GRP in your area, and let the innovation begin!
About Jenn Wicks is an Instructor in the School of Language Studies at College of the North Atlantic - Qatar. In addition to her teaching and graphic recording work, she is a musician and researcher. She has published her research in scholarly publications in the area of Sociolinguistics and is particularly interested in the reproduction of culture through discourse. For more information about Jenn’s graphic recording work, contact her through firstname.lastname@example.org. or check out her blog at www.jennwicks.wordpress.com.
Never give up!
ICT revolution is one of the biggest developments to have taken place in this era of globalisation. Aparna Shivpuri Arya got talking to Christos Mastoras, Director of Business Development, MENA Yahoo! Maktoob, about what is his take on it and what Yahoo! has been doing to promote ICT in Qatar. What is your take on the ICT market in the region? I really think this part of the world has a lot of opportunities and gaps that startups and entrepreneurs can fill through innovation. For example, 5% of the online population speaks Arabic. However, less than 2% of the content online is Arabic. Yahoo! definitely thinks that digital media and content is a very big area of opportunities. There are two things we need in the Middle East to make entrepreneurs successful – the first is to develop an ecosystem, and the second is a cultural shift. The ecosystem has to develop on its own, but in the meanwhile they can partner with companies, such as Yahoo!, to help them monetise and gain the reach and scale which they are unable to do themselves. For instance, Yahoo has an audience of about 56 million, so if they can partner with someone like us, then they can drive traffic towards themselves and also through our advertisement tool. This will also generate revenue and content for their companies. From there on, at an individual basis, it’s about culture shift. In the past, entrepreneurs were risk averse and failure wasn’t really accepted. So, I think, it is the fundamental shift in culture and outlook which entrepreneurs and startups need to achieve in this region – not to be afraid to take risks and to accept that failure is not a bad thing. They
would then eventually succeed. Therefore, failure is just a part of the experience. Like I have mentioned many times, entrepreneurship is like the Olympics – it’s not about winning, but about participating. To summarise, what we need in the region is an ecosystem and a cultural shift. If a startup wants to approach you, what do they need to do? What are you looking for? We work very closely with startups and entrepreneurs to integrate them into our projects and to get their ideas. Therefore, we have partnered with both individuals and companies with an aim to deliver key projects. So, the first thing startups can do is to identity a major market need. We think digital content is a big one. We work very closely with startups and entrepreneurs to weave them into our projects actively. Also, we work with leading organisations, such as ictQATAR, which help us build that ecosystem. Yahoo! is always looking to invest or, potentially, acquire very promising startups. So, we can pose as a viable exit strategy for such a company, which is always important for an entrepreneur. There are no specific criteria when we look for companies to partner or acquire, but there are areas from which we would want companies to be. That would be the companies in the forefront
of innovation and which would fill the gaps and interest to us. We can look at very different areas, such as gaming and application, e-commerce, mobile and tablet applications and so forth, in addition to their very unique content propositions. But, at the same time, it’s also on a case by case basis. So, those approaching us would be startups from these areas or peripheral areas. On top of that, we also look at the quality of their technology and how strong is their team regardless of geography. In any case, we operate at MENA-wide level. The startup has to be up and running. We cannot collaborate solely on an idea basis. So, we look for a startup with a functional product. Within some of our partnerships in Qatar, we have entertained some entrepreneurs and that’s part of our mentoring and coaching programmes. But, when it comes to investment and acquiring, it has to be an operational startup which means that they must have a team and a functional product. What has been your experience in the Middle East? What would you advice a business which enters the region? There are a few considerations. First of all, when you look at the region, you can see a very aggressive growth which makes it a very promising region. Secondly, the IT sector is not as developed as in the other parts of the world, and that is why Yahoo! is not just competing in the market, it is actually helping to develop the market.
Don’t be afraid to take the risk, don’t be afraid to fail – it’s almost like a badge of honour. I have learnt much more from startups that have failed than those that have succeeded.
With ictQATAR, we are looking to develop the digital content and media ecosystem through the incubation centre and digital cluster. When it comes specifically to Qatar, we see that the country has a lot of ambitious plans – Qatar National Vision 2030, World Cup 2022 and many others. That creates a very good dynamic and an opportunity for companies like us through which we can partner with the right people. That’s why we have such a huge presence in the Middle East. We are looking for other partners, across the region, which have the same plans and approach to this aggressive growth. Tell us more about your partnership with ictQATAR In February 2012, we signed a strategic partnership with ictQATAR to be their preferred partner for digital and media content. The basic parts of that agreement - the digital content cluster and incubation centre to develop the ecosystem, are based on the work with entrepreneurs through mentoring and coaching. Basically, it as an overarching agreement and we are looking forward to a number of projects. We are always looking to expand our core business, which is, advertising in Qatar. This partnership will help us gain visibility. This is the beginning and ictQATAR is a very important partner. What is your perception of the ICT sector in Qatar? There are a lot of opportunities for SMEs and startups in Qatar. IctQATAR is playing a key role in facilitating them. There are various projects, such as World Cup 2022, to promote entrepreneurs and the government is focused on that. Are there any exclusive services to the region? Yahoo! Website portal is in English and Arabic and is customised to the region. Plus, our home page has key verticals, such as a women’s
portal, games, news and so on. Therefore, we have a dedicated offering for the Middle East in both languages. We also have a lot of products for the region in the pipeline. We also have a regional product engineering and editorial team and, by having that presence, we are able to cater to the regional needs. Are there any services that would benefit businesses? Our advertisement solutions are quite helpful. If businesses start using that, they will have access to our 56 million users which will give them visibility. We have approximately 70 million people online, out of which, 56 million per month visit Yahoo! which provides a good visibility skill. This is conditional upon the fact that the awareness and traffic helps them monetise their presence in the region. We have to help the market develop and to make the pie bigger. In line with that, we have a market development team which goes out and educates companies about the benefits of digital advertising. This is what we call share shift. That’s the key difference – there is potential, but we need to develop the market. What are the dos and don’ts of doing business? For companies that are looking for opportunities to scale across the region, especially if it’s an internet-based company, this region has a lot of opportunities, in particular because of the common language and common needs. So, the trick is to go regional. It’s a case of calculated risk. They have to identify opportunities and to go about something they are passionate about. It cannot be just about the money. For example, if they are based here, they can partner with key entrepreneurial centres in the country, work with incubation centres or get into business plan competitions. Reach out to the community, connect with the right people. I have been part of three startups and it’s good to talk
about stuff you have lived through. I think, as an entrepreneur, that people are a bit hesitant about sharing their idea while it should be the opposite. They should be out there, sharing their ideas and getting the word out there. Don’t be afraid to take the risk, don’t be afraid to fail – it’s almost like a badge of honour. I have learnt much more from startups that have failed than those that have succeeded.
About Christos Mastoras is the Director of Business Development at Yahoo! Maktoob, where he leads strategic partnerships, M&A and corporate ventures for the company, across the MENA region. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Christos was an Engagement Manager in the Communications, Media & Technology practice of Booz and Company in Dubai. There he lead Corporate and New Business Development projects with telecom operators, media companies, broadband providers, ICT authorities, investment firms and governments, advising Board and C-level clients across MENA. Christos holds an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and a B.S. in International Relations from the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University.
You are not alone! In the first of a two part series, Reji Cherian, Director, Investment Strategy for State Holding Group, highlights the important role of SMEs in Qatar’s economic expansion and gives an overview of the various initiatives.
mall and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) play a pivotal role in growing, diversifying and strengthening a country’s economic base. They create employment, enhance competitiveness, ensure effective utilisation of resources, contribute positively to socio-economic sectors and provide sustainability and innovation in the economy as a whole. • The size and structure of SMEs allows them to be flexible and able to adapt to changing economic conditions. • Being largely labour-intensive, SMEs have lower capital costs associated with the creation of jobs. • SMEs improve the efficiency of domestic markets and make productive use of capital and resources, facilitating long-term economic growth. • SMEs are the starting point of
development in the economies towards industrialisation. Most of the current larger enterprises have their origin as small and medium enterprises.
value chain being that both upstream and downstream industries. Excessive dependence on hydrocarbon revenues makes these economies vulnerable to significant
Globally, SMEs represent a large share of registered businesses and contribute from 35% to 45% to the global GDP. The GCC countries, including Qatar, are yet to tap the full potential of SMEs.
Why SMEs matter? Over the years, hydrocarbon sector has been the single largest contributor to GDP and revenues in most Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Hence, GCC economies were concentrating on the development of hydrocarbon sector by creating huge oil and gas production facilities and also developing industries around the hydrocarbon
price swings in petroleum products. Moreover, considering the finite nature of hydrocarbon resources, these revenues could decline and come to a standstill at some stage. For that reason, most regional governments have recognised this pressing need and have initiated efforts to strengthen the non-hydrocarbon sector with special focus on SMEs.
Globally, SMEs represent a large share of registered businesses and contribute from 35% to 45% to the global GDP. The GCC countries, including Qatar, are yet to tap the full potential of SMEs. Despite unprecedented economic growth over the past two decades, the Arab world still faces high levels of youth unemployment, underemployment and a shortage of opportunities for young people. While the situation varies significantly by country, over the past fifty years, the Arab region as a whole has experienced the world’s highest rate of population growth. Today, one-third of the region’s population is estimated to be below the age of fifteen and two-thirds under the age of thirty. Roughly 100 million new workers are expected to enter the labour market in the Arab region over the coming two decades. SME employment generation 80
30 20 10 0
Singapore Malaysia Arab Countries
The table clearly indicates that the role of SMEs in employment generation in the Arab countries has not been as pronounced as in more developed economies. This imbalance presents measurable opportunities for SMEs in the GCC region to play a key role in diversifying employment sources and overall economic expansion. What is Qatar doing? Economic diversification and support for private sector development are the two central pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar has recognised the need to develop the non-hydrocarbon sector and has initiated various efforts to strengthen the SMEs sector in the country to: • Maintain the economic growth • Mitigate the risk of oil and gas price fluctuation and diversify from hydrocarbon sector
Today, one-third of the region’s population is estimated to be below the age of fifteen and two-thirds under the age of thirty. Roughly 100 million new workers are expected to enter the labour market in the Arab region over the coming two decades. • Create more jobs for its rapidly growing young population, as oil and gas sector provides fewer new jobs • Prepare the economy for the post-oil age when the technological advancement may significantly lessen demand for oil products
or by consuming and transforming the various petrochemical and metal products manufactured locally in order to convert them into finished industrial products, adding value and benefiting from the available synergies and favourable business environment.
The socio-economic atmosphere in Qatar, at present, is very conducive for the establishment and growth of SMEs. A committed government, with its liberalised policies and massive support for SMEs, provides for a huge potential in Qatar for the growth of the SMEs sector. Some key industry friendly factors in Qatar include: • Electricity and natural gas priced at subsidised rate • Industrial land at a nominal rent • Customs duty exemption on imports of machinery, equipment and spare parts • No value added tax and export duties • No income tax on salaries of expatriates • Industrial loans at concessional rates of interest • Stable currency - the Qatari riyal is freely convertible at a parity of USD 1 = QR 3.64 • Low taxes on corporate profits for foreign partners • Up to 100% ownership for foreign investors in selected sectors • No restrictions on repatriation of profits and capital • Excellent telecommunication and transport infrastructure
Support for aspiring entrepreneurs The following institutions provide support for aspiring entrepreneurs in Qatar: • Qatar Development Bank (QDB) is a fully owned government financial entity set up to develop local industries and SMEs. QDB’s strategy is aligned to that of Qatar National Vision 2030 to promote and facilitate the development and growth of SMEs in the core economic sectors that will result in long-term socio-economic benefits to the people of Qatar. QDB offers industrial loans at attractive rates to new industrial projects and has also established the Al Dhameen Indirect Lending Programme (Al Dhameen programme) to offer a range of financing solutions to viable SMEs.
The Qatari government is seeking to diversify the country’s economy into the non oil and gas sector, with particular attention being paid to encouraging domestic and foreign enterprises to set up in the country. The initiatives of the Government of Qatar also focus on strengthening enterprises related to the basic industries in Qatar by producing some of the inputs needed by these industries,
Several private sector banks have partnered with QDB in the programme. The Al Dhameen programme is expected to result in an increase in the number of new SMEs by making access to finance easier for entrepreneurs at affordable rates. Additionally, it will also help existing SMEs grow into larger and more significant businesses by providing them with greater access to financing for investments and working capital. QDB recently launched an added service to provide export financing and business development and promotion support to Qatar based SME exporters. The bank also provides advisory support and guidance to SMEs on how to start up, grow and expand their activities, with the aim of developing a sustainable economy.
• Enterprise Qatar (EQ) is an authority established exclusively to develop and promote the SMEs in Qatar. EQ’s aim is to chart a sustainable development path for SMEs in Qatar and empower the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship to create jobs and diversify the country’s economy by creating and expanding SMEs. EQ is expected to lead a new phase of development for this dynamic sector of the economy. EQ has initiated “SME Evolution Programme” which is a free Webbased training programme for SMEs aimed at supporting them in Qatar to improve their capabilities in areas, such as management, business development, human resources and online marketing. The Web-based training programme will help SME’s network with their colleagues throughout the Middle East and gain support from each other as well as from other mentors. • Qatar Exchange Venture Market (QE Venture Market) has been formed by the Qatar Exchange as a new market for the country’s SMEs. QE Venture Market is designed with smaller companies in mind and represents more flexible disclosure and corporate governance regime. QE Venture Market provides a dedicated route for SMEs to the stock market, an entry route to public markets, and creates a universe of peer group companies which can
The Qatari government is seeking to diversify the country’s economy into the non oil and gas sector, with particular attention being paid to encouraging domestic and foreign enterprises to set up in the country.
be beneficial to investor following research coverage and ultimately maximisation of valuation. Being publicly listed also brings benefits in terms of ability to raise capital and liquidity. With the recent finalisation of the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) rules for the basis of market’s operation is now in place and Qatar Exchange looks forward to welcoming companies to this market. • Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), a Qatar Foundation initiative, is home for technology-based companies from around the world and an incubator for startup enterprises. QSTP’s support programmes help organisations develop and commercialise their technologies. • Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) was established with the objective of creating a sustainable food security road map for Qatar. QNFSP aims to devise a holistic solution to food security by expanding the renewable energy, desalination and water management, agricultural production and food processing. The QNFSP plans to build an agro-industrial park as a designated area for Qatar’s food processing industry. • Silatech was established to address the critical and growing need to create jobs and economic opportunities for young people in the Arab world. The initiative promotes large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship and access to capital and markets for young people. Its commitment is to mobilise interest, investment, knowledge, resources and action to drive large-scale comprehensive employment and enterprise development programmes. The strategic goals of Silatech are the following: »» Improve society’s recognition and support for young people’s contribution to economic and social capital
»» Promote adoption of policies to stimulate increased employment and economic opportunities for young people and social inclusion »» Improve young people’s access to demand driven and market-oriented skills training and job placement services »» Improve micro, small and medium-sized enterprises’ access to capital, business development services and markets • Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (Bedaya Center) is a joint initiative of Silatech and QDB which provides a “one-stop shop” for young people in Qatar to find career guidance, mentoring programmes and a variety of workshops focusing on entrepreneurshipand employment-related skills development. Bedaya Center provides access to range of youth services, training programmes and activities in order to help development of skills and acceleration of entrepreneurial spirit. To conclude with these initiatives, SMEs in Qatar have an amazing support system in place, which they can use to establish and flourish. In the next issue, we will look at the challenges the SMEs are facing, despite all this help.
About Reji Cherian is the Director-Investment Strategy for State Holding Group in Doha and is in charge of developing the SME investments of the Group. A private equity professional with more than 18 years of experience, he has held senior positions with the Industrial Bank of Kuwait and with the corporate finance division of Big 4 consulting firms in Singapore and Kuwait previously. He has been active in supporting SME projects in India and Kuwait and has served the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction in India in restructuring sick companies. He has a Bachelor in Commerce from Mahatma Gandhi University, India and is a Chartered Accountant. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Enforcing your right
Limited laws protecting intellectual property rights are part of Qatar’s history as the country progresses towards enacting legislation and implementing practices to enable rights holders to protect their intellectual property. As Qatar seeks to move away from its reliance on oil and gas and diversify, in line with its National Vision 2030, Emma Higham, Senior Associate, Clyde &Co, explains to us which further reforms in intellectual property protection will move Qatar towards its goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy.
ince 2002, Qatar has enacted new laws protecting intellectual property (“IP”) rights, with respect to trademarks, copyright, registered designs and patents, and has acceded to various international treaties regarding IP law.
In addition, Qatar is a signatory to several conventions and treaties that govern IP rights, including the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”). WTO is an umbrella to which most of the other conventions and treaties fall under, such as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.
How to file a patent application in Qatar? Law No (30) of 2006 (“Patent Law”) envisions set up of a patent office within the Ministry of Economy pursuant to implementing regulations. However, to date no implementing regulations have been issued and the patent office is not yet functional. Currently, it is not possible to file a patent application in Qatar, although there are reportedly changes occurring which will allow for applications in the near future. Historically, patent applicants have obtained protection in Qatar by filing for patents with the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) Patent Office in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia. The GCC Patent Law operates on the premise that the patents granted by the GCC Patent Office apply to all GCC states with the responsibility of enforcement being with the individual states. Qatar ratified the GCC Patent Law and Regulations in 1996 giving to the system operated by the GCC Patent Office a force of law in Qatar. The legislation does not deal with the enforcement of GCC patents, therefore, there is no clear regime for enforcing patents granted by the GCC Patent Office within Qatar. Qatar recently acceded to the Patent Convention Treaty (“PCT”), with effect from 3rd August 2011. Rights owners with an interest in Qatar may look forward to making use of the international system offered by the PCT in order to obtain protection in Qatar, although it has not given rise to any immediate change. Currently, the only option for those seeking to secure patent protection in Qatar remains the process through the GCC Patents Office.
Is it a patent? In the Patent Law, a patent is defined as “the certificate granted by the [Patent] Office to the patent owner in order for his/her invention to enjoy legal protection in line with the provisions of this law and its executive bylaws”. The government will protect the
patent for 20 years, giving the owner the exclusive rights. This will mean that no thirdparty can exploit the invention without the authorisation of the owner. A patent is given to a product or a process, but first, it must meet several conditions: • Novelty
• Inventive step • Industrial application Firstly, it is the novelty of the product or process. The Patent Law is silent on whether it implements the absolute or relative novelty requirement. Absolute novelty means that the product or process should not be part of “known knowledge”. This means that it should have not been disclosed to the public in any form, whether through written or oral disclosure or use or by any other means, prior to the date of filing of the patent application, whether in Qatar or abroad. Nevertheless, in some countries an application could still be validly filed and will be considered novel despite the publication, provided that the filing is made during the grace period following the publication. This is known as relative novelty. A grace period is not expressly mentioned in the Patent Law, but is found in the GCC Patent Law which gives a grace period of six months to the owner of the invention who has publically disclosed his or her invention prior to the filing date of the patent application.
Secondly, an inventive step means that the product or process must have a significant addition to the state of the art. The standard used is that the inventive step would not be obvious to a person with the ordinary skill in the art.
Qatar recently acceded to the Patent Convention Treaty (“PCT”), with effect from 3rd August 2011. Rights owners with an interest in Qatar may look forward to making use of the international system offered by the PCT in order to obtain protection in Qatar, although it has not given rise to any immediate change.
Thirdly, an industrial application a means a patent can only be granted for an invention which is susceptible to industrial application. In other words, it should not be theoretical, but should be able to be carried out in practice. Consequently, the Patent Law will not grant patents to scientific theories or mathematical methods.
only apply under three conditions: • the owner of the patent has not been
Under the Patent Law, there are various materials that do not receive a patent due to their subject-matter. As previously mentioned, patents will not be granted to scientific theories or mathematical methods, while other examples include surgical or therapeutic methods. A list of non-patentable subject-matter is listed in Article 4.2 of the Patent Law. Software programs are not protected under Patent Law, but are protected under Copyright Law.
seriously or effectively exploiting the patent in the space of three years since the granting of the patent • the owner has completely stopped exploiting the patent for two consecutive years without informing the Patent Office with legitimate reasons • the owner refuses to grant contractual licensing to third parties, thus, impairing the development of Qatar economically as well as commercially
What to consider before filing for a patent application? There are conditions that need to be taken into consideration when filing for a patent application. Foremost, it should not contradict Sharia Law or public policy. The Patent Law also states that the subject-matter must not contradict public morality, public order or national security. The Patent Law does not define what is meant by public order, but Article 4 of the GCC Patent Law includes “the protection of human or animal or plantation life and health, or to avoid serious damage to the environment” as part of the public order. Examples would include a machine that is invented for forging money or a new process used to brew beer.
Compulsory licensing principle The Patent Law recognises the compulsory licensing principle allowing the government to give a third party the right to exploit inventions or processes that are protected by patents, without the consent of the inventor. However, there are several conditions that must be met. First of all, an interested third party may only apply for compulsory licensing after three years of the patent granting date. The third party may
Only in the event of one of the above listed conditions mentioned, can an interested third party apply for a compulsory licensing. In all cases, if the owner of the patent provides legitimate reasons (importing a product is not considered a legitimate reason), then the application by the third party will be denied. The compulsory licensing is only granted by the responsible minister. Under Article 7 of the Patent Law the owner of the patent has the right to appeal against the decision of granting the compulsory license to the Committee. Furthermore, the third party must be capable of carrying out the necessary requirements that have led to the initial request for the compulsory licensing.
If the original reasons that qualified the granting of the compulsory licensing ceased to exist then the compulsory licensing will be terminated. To sum up, Qatar has made significant progress in enhancing its regime of intellectual property protection in the last decade. Although the only way to apply for a patent right in Qatar, at the moment, is through the GGC Patent Office, it is hoped that Qatar’s accession to the PCT will result in a clear regime for securing and enforcing patent rights until the Patent Office in Qatar is fully functional.
About Emma is a corporate and commercial lawyer with over nine year’s experience. Having been based in Qatar for nearly seven years, Emma incorporates her extensive knowledge of the local law when advising both local and international clients. Emma advises on a wide range of corporate and commercial matters, including local establishment by way of joint venture, banking and finance, and providing regulatory advice in relation to the establishment of businesses in the Qatar Financial Centre, advising on IPOs, pre IPO funding corporate restructuring and employment and immigration matters. While working in Qatar, Emma has spent six months on secondment to Qatar Telecom (Qtel) QSC, assisting in the start up of a Gulf Corporate Council telecommunications company. Emma joined Clyde & Co in October 2007, having previously worked for another international law firm for six years, both in London and Qatar. Prior to that Emma worked for Price Waterhouse for eight years in both audit and corporate recovery. Emma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Qatari Laws (save for those issued by the Qatar Financial Centre to regulate internal business) are issued in Arabic and there are no official translations, therefore for the purposes of drafting this article we have used our own translations and interpreted the same in the context of Qatari regulation and current market practice.
Why talk about the legal stuff when business is all about deals and relationships? Mark Hill and Fiona Robertson, media lawyers, therightslawyers, have some thoughts on that matter that they wanted to share with us.
s lawyers, we do come across a lot of contracts. We hear plenty of views from people about contracts, mostly when the deal is young and everyone is happy, which sound like: • We don’t really use contracts and just really operate on a handshake. • We trust each other and know each other well. • If we sign a contract, we just stick it in the bottom drawer and hope it never needs to come out again! Don’t leave it to a handshake Put simply, contracts always should be involved wherever you are agreeing to do something in a business context with another party and whenever they do something for you or you do something for them. They can take the form of standard terms and conditions, as the kind of things you often see on the back of invoices, through to very specific contracts tailored to a particular situation. What does a contract do? The basics of what a contract is there to do are really pretty simple. It is there to say who is going to do what, when, how much money is involved and what is going to happen to the things that are created or used, including copyright and trade marks in particular. A contract should be a simple, understandable, user-friendly document which sets out how the parties are going to work together as they do whatever it is that they are going to do.
Contracts might also discuss commission, including commission base, allowable expenses and how long particular stages are going to take. It may also include details on inputs from each of the parties (what I supply, what you supply) and might include approval mechanisms and the way that deliverables can be altered.
the fastest way of creating problems. One of the parties may have different expectations about what the other is supposed to be doing during the course of working together. Thus, it’s sensible to set out the course of action that will be taken if things turn for the worse.
Let’s be specific The contract should set out, in a way that both parties understand, what is going to happen, from day to day, during the time that the parties are working together. This should not be something that you stick in the bottom drawer, but should be something that reflects actually what is
These issues are all about risk assessment. We’ll try to capture certain points that might be required in your contract: »» What is the contract actually for? Is it to govern the overall working relationship between the parties, for example on the basis of a general retainer?
If you don’t write it down, it’s easy to forget what everybody is supposed to be doing. That is the fastest way of creating problems.
going to happen. Then it can be followed. For that reason, it has the added benefit of telling the parties exactly how things will be dealt with, just in case if things don’t work out smoothly. So, why don’t we leave it to a handshake or a good working relationship? Why should we bother going to the trouble of actually writing down what everybody is going to do? The answer to that is simple. If you don’t write it down, it’s easy to forget what everybody is supposed to be doing. That is
If so, you probably still need to tie in somehow what each job is going to be about. Therefore, you can have an overall agreement that can cover the relationship, but then you will have specific projects from time to time. Each of these projects can sit within the overall retainer agreement on separate deal sheets, with clearly defined deliverables that relate to that project. »» Money obviously is the key. How is the supplier going to be paid? When? Is it related to stages or simply done on dates?
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that? Is it the supplier? Probably only if you tell them it is! »» What about the intellectual property rights? Every time any creative work is done by a party or by third parties on their behalf, intellectual property rights, mostly copyrights and trademarks, are being created. So, who owns these? Is it the client? Often not, unless the contract says so. What can each of the clients do with the materials once they are created? Mark Hill
Too many people realise too late that stage payments would have been better, or that the stages did not reflect the work load that went into the delivery of the stages themselves.
»» What about confidentiality? We see clients argue over non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), but forget about confidentiality in their actual deal contracts. This is a kind of two way issue in that specific provisions should be made to address the supply of information from both parties,
Making sure that you are aware of risk is one thing, but managing risk properly is also essential and a key part of business success. To achieve it, learn to understand and manage your contracting processes. »» W ho decides if a particular goal has been achieved? Is there a clearly defined goal for the services or materials that are to be delivered? If it goes wrong, as regularly happens with creative processes, what can happen then? Who pays for what, in the process of fixing the mistake? Is there an approval process that should be followed? If so, set it out in detail and make sure that approvals are to be provided in writing. Too many parties end up fighting over materials that were apparently approved over the phone. »» W ho is going to check if there are laws relating to the materials or services that are supplied and more importantly, ensure that they are followed? We have a whole range of legal and regulatory controls over what actually can and can’t be done across the Middle East in many areas of commerce. Who has responsibility for checking
ensuring it is kept confidential and returned upon request. That way, parties can be more comfortable about disclosing sensitive commercial information to each other. Otherwise, how can you be sure that it is safe to tell them real specifics about what you are trying to do? Remember that a supplier might also work for your competition. »» And what if things go wrong? Who will be legally liable if things go wrong? This is partly a matter of making sure you clear the legality of whatever you are doing before you do it. But, there are also questions about whether there should be indemnities from each party to the other. This will often depend on the type of services that are being provided. In addition, a contract is a way for you to pass on a risk that you might have taken on in another contract. Perhaps you are doing an event and your client requires you to take risk in relation to the safety of the guests,
you should then pass some or all of that risk onto your venue. If the client requires you to indemnify them for the music that you put in a commercial, then you should pass that onto your producer. Again, this will only work if you put it in a contract.
Make friends with your contract A contract is not something to ignore or stick in a bottom drawer. It is there to make what you are doing easier, clearer and safer. Most people don’t like risk, so finding a way of properly being able to assess any risks that might exist in the dealings between you and all your commercial partners would prove useful. Making sure that you are aware of risk is one thing, but managing risk properly is also essential and a key part of business success. To achieve it, learn to understand and manage your contracting processes. And get a contract that says who is going to do what, when, and for how much! Remember, the contract is really your friend!
About therightslawyers is the first and only boutique TMT (Technology Media and Telecommunications) firm set up in the Middle East to cater exclusively for the creative industries, businesses that are driven by or reliant on intellectual property rights (including brand and other IP rights owners, companies facing counterfeiting and IP infringement issues, franchise operations, pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and technology, IT and telecommunications Industries. For more information, please visit www.therightslawyers.com
FTAs: Promoting regional trade TASDEER, along with ITC, organised a panel discussion on Arab regional trade, as part of the UNCTAD
XIII. We bring you a snapshot of the discussions. The panel discussion was attended by 150 plus participants and included Qatari exporters, QDB officials and various dignitaries representing other countries attending the UNCTAD XIII. The discussion was moderated by HE Hisham Badr, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the UN. The panelists for the discussion were: • Mr. Hassan Khalifa Al Mansoori, Executive Director of TASDEER • Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO • Mr. Jean-Marie Paugam, Deputy Executive Director, ITC • Ms. Elham Aranki, General Manager, Bloom, Jordan • Mr. Mohamed Saad Berrada, CEO, Michoc, Morocco • Mr. Joseph Nkole, National Coordinator,
Cotton Association of Zambia • Ms. Patricia Francis, Executive Director, ITC Representatives from key exportoriented companies and related services, such as cables, iron steel and pipes, fibreglass products and so forth, were present for the discussion. The discussion focused on trade impediments, including non tariff barriers, within the Arab region which has prevented the FTA to provide the required stimulus to promote the regional trade till now. The proliferation of trade agreements around the world has changed the pattern of world trade flows and has brought mixed results in terms of trade integration, with meaningful integration in only some areas of the world, in particular in Asia
and Latin America. Empirical evidence shows that regional integration can have substantial direct and indirect employment creation effects on the economy In the case of the Arab countries trade integration has not gone very far, despite deep cuts in tariffs. This is largely due to trade impediments including non-tariff barriers that represent major obstacles for exploiting the opportunities offered by the trade agreements existing in the Arab region. It is essential that urgent measures are taken to remove trade impediments affecting regional trade. This will help unleash the entrepreneurship potential of the youth and create jobs for an increasing number of highly skilled young people The event addressed the following issues: • Do FTAs implicitly result in increased regional
trade integration? • What are the main reasons for weak regional trade integration in the Arab region – seen from a business perspective – and what lessons can one draw from this? • What could be the economic impact of an improvement of the regional business environment particularly on welfare and jobs in particular for women and youth? • How can ITC’s work in the Arab region provide some examples of creating jobs for women and youth through regional integration? The removal of intra-regional trade obstacles could increase trade by 10% and create two million new jobs in member countries of the League of Arab States (LAS), according to new research by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The region has one of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade in the world despite preferential market access and significant cultural homogeneity. Trade potential exists but is as yet untapped. In recent years the LAS has made efforts to largely remove bilateral tariffs. Compared to other regions, however, trade among the LAS members has remained low. For example, while more than 60% of the European Union’s (EU’s) total trade is with one of its member states, only 11% of LAS members’ trade takes place inside its region.
Intra regional trade shares around the world EU
The removal of intra-regional trade obstacles could increase trade by 10% and create two million new jobs in member countries of the League of Arab States (LAS), according to new research by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
Overall, it has been found that despite the tariff privileges that LAS countries enjoy in each other’s markets, regional integration has been declining since the mid-1990s. Other (non-tariff) obstacles are in place, which prevent LAS members from taking full advantage of the preferential tariffs. ITC has found that reducing non-tariff obstacles to trade will result in lower prices of imported goods from LAS countries in other LAS countries. This will increase the purchasing power of consumers, resulting in a rise of welfare of at least 2% in 2025. Key findings and recommendations LAS countries enjoy preferential access to the LAS market. Based on the LAS’ import structure during 2006-2010, a weighted average of 0.4% tariff duty was applied among LAS members. By contrast, non-LAS members faced tariffs in LAS markets in the range of 5% to 6%. In spite of ongoing efforts to cut tariffs and to sign and implement preferential agreements, regional trade integration among the member states of the Arab League is moderate compared to other common markets, such as the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The share of total trade which takes place inside the LAS represents only a fraction of the trade conducted with the member states of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or with other developing countries. The modest evidence of regional integration among LAS trading partners hints at factors other than conventional tariffs that seem to hinder the free exchange of goods across LAS markets. Trade agreements providing preferential market access do not insulate against problems related to non-tariff measures. A future reduction of these barriers could increase total trade by
10% and create over two million additional jobs, including 80,000 skilled jobs. Barriers to trade in goods and services are heterogeneous; they are quite high in the food sector, rather low in textiles and clothing, and almost zero for oil. A further integration of LAS trade focusing on NTMs would mostly create new opportunities in sectors such as food or metals and machinery. Given that currently most intra-regional LAS trade is in unskilled manufacturing, in order to maximise benefits to member states, targeted national development programmes favouring skill-intensive valueadded sectors, and sectors where women and youth have a high participation like clothing and services, are recommended. Simulations show that a reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade within LAS members would favour the sectors with already significant trade. As a consequence, these sectors would become more profitable and attract more investment. The event was widely covered by the press and TASDEER has been greatly appreciated for promoting this discussion on a very relevant regional issue.
About TASDEER TASDEER is aimed at providing financial supportive solutions to back Qatari exporting firms, SMEs and startups for overtaking their financial obligations, to cater for their export- finance demand, and to guarantee their receivables against foreign buyers’ insolvency and/or political risks might occur in the importing countries. Providing trade information and market intelligence is an important part of any export development agency. As such, TASDEER provides trade information tools such as Trade Map and Market Access Map in coordination with the International Trade Centre and UNCTAD. For more information, please contact TASDEER@qdb.qa.
Relationship rules Public relations professionals must face the facts. They need the
media to get their message out to their clients and target customers. To do this effectively, it’s essential to build mutual respect as the basis of a productive relationship with journalists, says Sawsan Ghanem, Managing Director, Active Public Relations.
edia provides a community service. It informs and updates us and does this with a passion for its profession. Some people either don’t get this or decide to ignore this simple set of facts and seem to approach media in a manner and style that immediately irritates, or puts a journalist on the defensive.
In hearing some of the quite incredulous stories in my 12 plus years in PR, a few of us have come up with a classification system that is simple but accurate: it’s called the two camp league. The first camp which we shall call PR’aucrats, follow the lazy approach of just forwarding or mass distributing any news, invites, interview pitches and more on behalf of their company to all media. This camp is usually completely ignorant about journalists’ areas of interest and its relevance to their clients and target audiences. The second camp which we shall refer to as arrogant delusionists, follow a similar approach to the PR’aucrats camp but are guilty of thinking that any communications related to their company or their client’s company must be of interest to all media and in turn will be published by these minions who stand between them and a titanicsized coverage report. Unfortunately, both camps have failed in the most basic forms of human interaction in the professional world ie understanding who they are communicating
with and respecting the media profession, their interests and their time or lack of it. Think about it, if you worked in the IT industry and were approached by someone looking to sell you fashion design courses, what would you think of them? If you are really serious about gaining the journalist’s and reporter’s respect, then you need to work hard at understanding them, their publications, topics and issues they love writing about. Provide the journalists with information for that story in a timely fashion. Every company’s media outreach approach needs to be defined, targeted and mindful of each reporter’s preferences and interests. You need to keep in mind that the media is your main target audience, who needs to engage with your brand and fully understand it. Why? Simple, it is your voice to your customers or key stakeholders. Some rules of thumb: • Do your homework, research and understand who your target media is. By doing so your approach will be more targeted and knowledgeable, yielding respect from the reporters and editors you approach from the outset. • Build relations with the reporter or editor who writes about your particular industry by monitoring their
articles in real-time to understand their specific style, angles pursued. This way, when you pitch them for content, you will have a better success rate. Also, reading an article for a particular reporter and then calling them with constructive feedback shows you are really interested and read the news all the time. • Build a rapport on a personal level – don’t just call media when you need them for something. Contact them on a regular basis for an informal chat and get to know what their interests, political leanings, hobbies are. This way you build a solid relationship rather than one based on needs. • Be responsive – It’s a two way relationship, if a reporter contacts you for commentary, direction, feedback, you need to respond immediately. This goes a long way in positioning your company top of mind with that reporter. In turn, when you approach the reporter for a pitch or announcement or commentary they will be more willing to listen as you’ve supported them in the past. • Give exclusives – Every now and then if you have a big story to tell and want to make a big impact in a specific Tier 1 publication, pitch it to them as an exclusive. Cultivating a relationship means you must be willing to compromise, to understand the other person. This means listening to them as much as talking to them. That may sound simple but in this industry it’s not always common practice. In a market with the largest concentration of PR Agencies and PR people, no wonder some journalists work so hard to keep us at an arm’s length.
About Sawsan Ghanem is the Joint Managing Director of Active PR. She has lived in the Middle East region for the greater part of her life. Sawsan lived and studied in the UK for a few years where she gained her BSc in Chemistry & Management from Kings College, London University and MA in International Business, from Webster Graduate School (London Campus). Sawsan began her career in PR over 14 years ago, when she caught the PR & Communication bug. She founded Active PR in the summer of 2003 along with Louay Al Samarrai. Sawsan has in-depth experience in strategic PR campaigns, media relations, creative thinking, crisis management and more. She is the SMB Advisor Middle East winner [before the magazine was rebranded SME Advisor] in the category of Admirable Woman Entrepreneur (2008) and she won Arab Entrepreneur of the Year at the SME Advisor Stars of Business Awards 2011. * This article was first published in SME Advisor Middle East, our sister publication.
Partnership opportunities Private Sector (Al Kitaa Al Khass) is an Arabic and English magazine, presented and supported by Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and published by CPI. It is aimed at business owners and senior executives in the private sector in Qatar. Armed with practical advice, it highlights key issues for the business community. The driving force for regional economies is the private sector – a catalyst for growth, development and job creation. With the world’s spotlight on Qatar’s development activities and the buzz being created around 2022, this sector is going to grow by leaps and bounds. That’s great news if you’re targeting the private sector, which spans across almost all industry verticals, but the problem you face is identifying the most dynamic and competitive companies amongst a sea of competitors. A key answer for the past half decade has been CPI’s UAE-based magazine SME Advisor Middle East, which has delivered valuable business information to leading SMEs across the region, helping them develop their businesses, putting them in touch with valued partners and fuelling growth even in a stalled global economy.
Now, with the support of QDB as our presenting partner, we have launched the same business values, tailor-made for Qatar in the form of the brand Private Sector. This will encompass magazine, events, online and several other initiatives to drive Qatari entrepreneurship and the private sector. This is your chance! This is a market you cannot afford to miss. This is a market that you can reach in an intelligent, focused way, working with the expert team that brought you SME Advisor Middle East and has now launched Private Sector magazine in Qatar.
For more information about advertising and other partnership opportunities, please visit www.privatesectorqatar.com/en For marketing ideas and opportunities, please contact email@example.com
opportu ity The ninth Project Qatar was held in Doha from 30th April to 3rd May and attracted 2,000 plus exhibitors. Private Sector was present there and brings you the highlights.
his year was by far the biggest yet for Qatar’s biggest construction exhibition. Now, in its ninth edition, Project Qatar has come to represent the remarkable construction sector growth being witnessed in Qatar as local and foreign companies vie to win a slice of the USD 250 billion worth of projects being undertaken. In the lead up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar is undertaking a variety of infrastructure projects which will reshape the country and prepare it to host the world, including: a deepwater seaport (USD 5.5 billion), national railway project (USD 42.9 billion), the New Doha International Airport (USD 7 billion), the Qatar North Gas Field Development (USD 20 billion) as well as ongoing projects that are currently under construction, such as USD 14 billion Pearl Qatar real estate development. With almost USD 126 billion in projects (out of USD 250 billion) still in the concept phase of development, opportunities for companies to win new business are immense. As these projects get set to enter the crucial tendering phase, Project Qatar provides interested companies with the platform they require to showcase their products
and services. All in all, the exhibition featured 2,083 exhibitors from 48 countries spread across 62,000 sqm of exhibition space. A number of European firms were present at the exhibition projects in the fastest-growing construction market in the Middle East region at present. Under the auspices of His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, the exhibition has grown in both stature and size. This year, Project Qatar was 25% larger than last year which is a massive increase for an exhibition that was already the biggest exhibition in Qatar. Visitor numbers also increased by over 10,000 when compared to last year while the first day’s figures indicated that the turnout would be record-breaking once again. The exhibition was inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Minister for Municipality and Urban Planning in Qatar. Dubai Exports also participated
in the event in order to promote UAE-Qatar ties. About 140 companies from the UAE took part in Project Qatar. Separate events were held on the sidelines of the exhibition to promote trade and business and help companies understand the legalities and formalities of setting up a business in Qatar. The exhibition was a very good meeting ground for customers and businesses and highlighted the booming construction sector of Qatar – one of the fastest growing economies of the region.
With almost USD 126 billion in projects (out of USD 250 billion) still in the concept phase of development, opportunities for companies to win new business are immense.
QDB helpeD me take steps to grow my Business through al Dhameen.
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