october 2013 www.privatesectorqatar.com/en
Lead Strategic partner
Taking the entrepreneurial
challenge Gearing up for the Global Entrepreneurship Week
PUBLICATION LICENSED BY IMPZ
CONTENTS October 2013
Entrepreneur 18 A MIDDLE POINT: While talking to Tamara Pupic, Maryah Al Dafa, Project Director at the Office of the President, Qatar Foundation (QF), and the Director, Maryah Trading, advised entrepreneurs in Qatar to seek balance within their business plans.
22 MENTORING THE MENTORS: Qatar Shell and Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development encouraged members of the local business community to get involved in the Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2013.
MENTORING THE MENTORS Qatar Shell and Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development encouraged members of the local business community to get involved in the Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2013.
24 MOVING WALLS: In a conversation with Jenny Kassis, Khalid Al Khudair, Founder and CEO, Glowork, talked about their work on empowering women in KSA.
News 10 updates
A quick look at news and events in this region.
26 the preeminence of smes Michael U. Bierhoff, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy, talked with Tamara Pupic about the bilateral trade relations between Qatar and Germany.
About town 14 YOUR CHANCE!: Private Sector Qatar brings to you the main highlights from the launch of the region’s first comprehensive digital idea incubator – AFKAR.me
28 A PROSPEROUS OUTLOOK: The German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK Qatar) pointed out why Germany has a competitive advantage to become a strong partner to Qatar.
Business advice 16 THE COST-EFFECTIVE COMPANY:
30 DELIVERING with SPEED:
John Kersten, Managing Director, IKEA – UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman, explained to Tamara Pupic how they managed to satisfy the needs of their Qatari customers.
In a conversation with Aparna Shivpuri Arya, Nael Attiyat, Country Manager, DHL Express Qatar, explained that the company is capable of keeping track with Qatar’s quite ambitious goals.
32 BUILDING THE FUTURE:
42 WHAT’S YOUR VALUE ADDITION?:
46 THE ANSWER IS, “YES!”:
The entrepreneurship programme of Palestine Education for Employment (PEFE), with its 120 trainees, provided us with an insight into the growing economic areas in Palestine.
Aparna Shivpuri Arya met with Meera Kaul, Managing Director, Optimus Technology and Telecommunication, to get a little bit more tech-savvy.
Sufian Dweik, Regional Director, MENA, Brocade Communications, analysed how to protect your software-defined networking (SDN) investments.
36 ANALYTICS LIKE NEVER BEFORE: Marc Haberland, Managing Director, Clariba, shared his thoughts on the usage of business intelligence solutions in the Gulf region.
48 EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY: Reggie Fernandes, Regional Director, Sage Middle East, pointed out why investing in technology is especially important for SMEs.
SMEs 38 WE OFFER YOU THE BEST: Qatar Steel Industries Factory has built a strong reputation throughout the years by providing premium quality products to the Qatari market. Jenny Kassis got talking to their management to know about their accomplishments so far.
40 WATCH THE ENVIRONMENT: Jenny Kassis caught up with Ali Al-Marri, Chairman, Al Arab Group, which is the mother company of Al Haya Enviro, who informed her about their efforts to maintain environmental protection.
Legal 50 BOUND TO COOPERATE: Michiel Visser, Executive Partner, and Charbel Abou Charaf, Associate, White & Case LLP Doha, provided us with an overview of the new QCB Law.
Column: 54 reach your full potential: In a bi-monthly column, Tamara Pupic shares her thoughts with you.
EDITORIAL Publisher Dominic De Sousa
Group COO Nadeem Hood Managing Director Richard Judd firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9126
After the lull of the post- Eid period, there is now a flurry of activity in Qatar, with events lined up almost every few weeks. The one we are looking forward to is the Global Entrepreneurship Week, which will be held from the 17th to the 21st of November. We are actively involved with the organisation of this event and will also be putting together some interesting sessions dealing with Islamic finance, business opportunities for SMEs in particular sectors, business advice to entrepreneurs and much more. So do watch this space for the details.
EDITORIAL Senior Editor Aparna Shivpuri Arya email@example.com +971 440 9133 Assistant Editor - English Tamara Pupic firstname.lastname@example.org +971 440 9130 Assistant Editor - Arabic Jenny Kassis email@example.com +971 440 9116 ADVERTISING Commercial Director Chris Stevenson firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9138 CIRCULATION Database and Circulation Manager Rajeesh M email@example.com +971 4 440 9147 OPERATIONS AND DESIGN Production Manager James P Tharian firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9146 Head of Design Fahed Sabbagh email@example.com +971 4 440 9132
I think the GEW encompasses the holistic approach to entrepreneurship and provides a platform to engage, network and learn from the best. To read about one such initiative, which is being organised by Qatar Shell and the Bedaya Centre, please turn to page 22. Continuing with our endeavour to highlight the work being done by entrepreneurs in Qatar, this month, we bring to you the story of Maryah Al-Dafa, Project Director at the Office of the President, Qatar Foundation (QF), and Director, Maryah Trading, who spoke to Tamara about her journey so far. And she did have some interesting things to share! In this issue, we have also looked at Germany and the bilateral relations it shares with Qatar. It is evident that Germany has the expertise that Qatar will need in the coming years, as it prepares for the FIFA World Cup 2022. We have also focused on technology in this issue and got some interesting articles on what options are available to SMEs when it comes to being tech-savvy! We’ll be in and out of Doha in the coming months, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We always look forward to hearing from you, our readers.
Photographer Jay Colina firstname.lastname@example.org +971 4 440 9137 DIGITAL SERVICES www.privatesectorqatar.com Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy Maagma Web Developers Abey Mascreen Erik Briones Jefferson de Joya Louie Alma email@example.com +971 4 440 9100 Published by
Aparna Shivpuri Arya, Senior Editor, Private Sector Qatar Talk to us: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @PrivateSectorQA Facebook: www.facebook.com/PrivateSectorQatar LinkedIn group: Private Sector Qatar
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Dar Al Sharq Distribution © Copyright 2013 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.
Executive Director, Social Development Center.
Dean, School of Business, College of North Atlantic-Qatar.
Professor Nitham M. Hindi
George M. White, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Business and Economics, Qatar University.
Associate Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship, Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar.
Abdulaziz N. Al-Khalifa
Ali Al Khulaifi
Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Development Bank.
Executive Director, Business Support Services, Enterprise Qatar.
Hamad Mohammed Al-Kuwari
Managing Director and Chairman, Qatar Shell.
Managing Director, Qatar Science & Technology Park.
Rashid Nasser Sraiya Al Kaabi
Chief Operating Officer, Silatech.
Chairman of the Board, Energy City Qatar Holding.
For more information, please visit www.privatesectorqatar.com/en
QDB appoints new CEO On 8th September 2013, the Board of Directors of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) announced the appointment of Abdul Aziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Al Khalifa previously worked as Executive Director of QDB’s Business Development and Strategy Division, where he spearheaded the development and execution of a number of key projects. Al Khalifa holds an MBA from Qatar University and a BS in Engineering from California State University, as well as special degrees from Harvard University and Insead.
Abdul Aziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa
One more population wave Qatar’s population is currently experiencing a new wave of expansion, as stated by QNB Group. According to population data published by the Qatar Statistical Authority (QSA), population growth began picking up in mid-2012 and rose to double-digits in June 2013 (11.3%). This puts Qatar once again at the top of the rankings for the world’s highest population growth.
Qatar’s total population (2004-2014) (millions and % growth)
The large public sector infrastructure projects envisaged to the lead up to the FIFA 2022 World Cup will require a significant expansion in Qatar’s labour force. This is leading to a new population wave, which is expected to push the overall population to over 2.2 million by 2014.According to QNB Group, this robust growth will produce higher economic growth, moderate inflation, and a significantly higher traffic congestion in the years ahead.
Es’hail 1 launch is a giant leap for Qatar Officials of global space technology and satellites companies have hailed Qatar’s launch of its first satellite Es’hail 1 and the country’s desire to benefit from space technology. The satellite was successfully launched into orbit by an Ariane-5 rocket from the European Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.
Qatar’s Islamic banking sector set for fast growth
Es’hail 1 aims to respond to the needs of local customers in Qatar and throughout the Middle East and North Africa and Central Asia by broadcasting high definition television (HDTV) and standard definition television (SDTV) channels. It will provide advanced satellite services and television, voice, Internet, corporate and government services across the region and beyond.
The Qatari government’s strategy to make the country a centre for Islamic banking is succeeding, according to the “Qatar’s Islamic Banks Are on a Fast Track to Growth” report, which was published by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services. It highlighted that a surge in the demand for local credit to finance government infrastructure and investment projects has made Qatar’s Islamic banking system the fastest-growing in the world. “The total balance sheet of Qatar’s Islamic banks was USD 54 billion as of year-end 2012,” said Timucin Engi, Credit Analyst, Standard & Poor’s, and added, “Assuming that the Islamic banks will grow by an average of 15% over the next five years, which is significantly lower than the previous five-year average of 35%, we can see their asset base exceeding USD 100 billion by 2017. This would make Qatar’s Islamic banking market the third-largest in the Gulf region, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” added Engin. Like other countries in the Gulf region, Qatar’s debt capital markets are at a nascent stage, and the bulk of its credit generation derives from bank lending. It is, therefore, the Qatari government’s large infrastructure and investment projects that enabled the country’s domestic credit to grow at a compound average rate of 30.9% between 2006 and 2012.
Apply for EQ’s JADWA Enterprise Qatar (EQ) has launched its latest initiative – JADWA, which offers 70% subsidised consultancy services to the SME community and entrepreneurs in Qatar.
The JADWA services target two main categories – entrepreneurs in the idea stage and SMEs, who are looking to expand or diversify their products and services, in order to help them develop sustainable businesses.
Through JADWA, consultancy services, specifically feasibility studies and support services, will be provided in cooperation with qualified professional service providers. EQ will subsidise 70% of the consultancy services costs whereas the applicants will express their commitment by covering 30%.
Commenting on the JADWA launch, Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, CEO, EQ, said, “At EQ, we are keen to provide Qatari entrepreneurs with direct guidance and consultancy, through professional experts and under our supervision, with an aim to guarantee viable studies and active contribution from the entrepreneurs.” Al Khalifa also
Together weare study the feasibility indicated that SMEs, who Applying to the JADWA services looking to expand or diversify few simple steps through an of achieving yourrequires business ideas their products, can benefit from online application process on EQ’s is JADWA? Who is eligible? thisWhat initiative to reduce the risk Website (www.eq.gov.qa) or email: associated expansion. email@example.com JADWA iswith a 70%the subsidised consultancy JADWA is offered to:
Save the date!
service offered by Enterprise Qatar to Qatari entrepreneurs and SMEs. The service entails the provision of different types of feasibility studies through specialised business consultancy firms.
1) Qatari entrepreneurs who want to test the feasibility of their business ideas
2) Qatari SMEs who wish to2013 diversify or October - November expand their offerings
The objective is to assist Qataris in obtaining subsidised, professional consultancy services to enhance their businesses’ competitiveness and Doha achieve sustainability.
29 September – 1 October
Doha Transportation and Rails Road Exhibition
30 September – 2 October
The 9th Annual HSE Forum in Energy
7 - 8 October
Qatar Contractors Forum
7 - 10 October
Doha Exhibition Centre The 8th Doha International Oil and Gas ExhibitionE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Fax: 40125001
15 - 17 October
Negotiation Skills for the Oil and Gas Industry
21 - 24 October
Ground Support MENA Congress 2013
La Cigale Hotel
21 - 23 October
Stenden Qatar Conference on the Future of Event Legacies
Stenden University Qatar
28 - 30 October
Doha Exhibition Centre
29 - 31 October
World Innovation Summit for Education 2013 (WISE)
Qatar National Convention Centre
30 – 31 October
3 - 4 November
The 3rd Annual Qatar Defence Logistics & Support Forum
The City Hotel Doha
3 - 5 November
Inventions and Nanotech Middle East
6 - 8 November
International Exhibition for Pool and Spa
10 - 15 November
World Social Security Forum 2013
11 - 12 November
Qatar International Women Business Forum (QIWBF)
St. Regis Doha Hotel
11 – 13 November
Airport Exchange 2013
Qatar National Convention Centre
11 – 13 November
Doha Carbon and Energy Forum
Qatar National Convention Centre
11 – 13 November
The 4 Civil Defence Exhibition and Conference Qatar 2013
Qatar National Convention Centre
11 – 13 November
The 6th Annual Bridges Middle East Co-located with Tunnels Middle East
13 – 14 November
Real Estate Fair Qatar
15 - 19 November
Aspire 4 Sport
17 - 20 November
MENA Investment Management Forum
Ritz Carlton Doha
17 - 21 November
Global Entrepreneurship Week Qatar (GEW)
18 - 19 November
Solar Qatar Summit
Grand Hyatt Doha - Qatar
18 - 19 November
Qatar Customer Service Forum
Grand Hyatt Hotel To apply, please contact EnterpriseCrown Qatar Plaza Hotel Doha Tel: 40125000 | Website: www.eq.gov.qa Address: The Gate, Bay Tower 4 – Floor: 16
To know about the events happening in Qatar in the next six months, please visit our Website.
The GCC capital expenditure expected to rise in 2013 The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governments have been investing heavily in infrastructure – an estimated USD 112 billion on capital projects was spent in 2012, according to their budget out-turns. Not only is this high in absolute terms, it also represents 7.1% of the GCC region’s GDP, which is up from just 4.2% in 2004. In 2013, QNB Group forecasts that the GCC capital expenditure will rise further to 8.2% as more projects get underway. L o o k i n g a h e a d , Q N B G ro u p expects that government capital expenditure, both direct and through public-private partnerships, will remain high throughout the GCC over at least the next decade. Common themes across the region include rail networks to relieve congestion in major cities and connect the Gulf ’s major coastal hubs. Also, further expansions are planned
in power and water desalination capacity plus social spending on schools, hospitals and housing. Many GCC countries have medium term spending plans running into hundreds of billions of dollars. For example,
MENA reinsurance sector remains vibrant The Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority published its first annual MENA Reinsurance Barometer . 53% of respondents expect that MENA reinsurance premiums will grow faster than the region’s GDP, despite challenges arising from intense competition and pressure on pricing. Between 2007 and 2012 the region’s real GDP grew at 4.8% per annum, well above the global average of 3.3%. For 2013 and 2014 the International Monetary Fund expects GDP growth in the MENA to slow to 3.4% per annum, largely because of an expected slowdown in hydrocarbon exports. In 2012, the MENA non-life reinsurance sector was worth an estimated USD 12 billion in annual premiums, almost a third of the primary non-life insurance market volume of more than USD 37 billion. Reinsurers operating in the region continue to benefit from the non-life insurance markets’ rapid
expansion at an average annual growth rate of 7.6% from 2007 to 2012. I n l i g h t o f t h e s e s t ro n g e c o n o m i c fundamentals, it comes as no surprise that survey participants consider economic growth as the main strength of the MENA region. In terms of weaknesses, the barometer confirms that the MENA reinsurance markets are characterised by fierce competition and an abundance of reinsurance capacity, resulting in often unsustainable rates. As far as key regional reinsurance market opportunities going forward are concerned, most interviewees point to the low penetration of the MENA insurance markets. The pipeline of planned infrastructure and construction projects is the second most frequently mentioned opportunity, representing a volume of assets of more than USD one trillion over the next ten years.
Saudi Arabia committed in 2011 to invest USD 67 billion on housing alone, to build half a million new homes. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi has committed to USD 90 billion in capital expenditure between 2013 and 2017.
Telecom providers to diversify service offerings The regional operators are all witnessing a growing demand for data, cloud and managed services whereas their traditional voice and SMS revenue streams are steadily shrinking. This reflects a global trend, which is captured in a recent report by Infonetics Research that predicts that telecom voice will account for only 50% of mobile service revenue by 2017. Sarwan Singh, Director Sales and Operation, Prologix LLC, highlighted that this shift is actually a blessing in disguise for operators. Over the last two years, regional telecom providers have all seen increase in data consumption, especially in mature telcom markets such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In fact, leading KSA operator, Saudi Telecom, in Q1 2013 reported a 74% increase in data revenue over the same period in 2012. The popularity of data packages and value added services present a huge opportunity for service providers.
SME mentoring initiative - FORSA The Mowgli Foundation, a UK headquartered mentoring organisation, which seeks to support the sustainable development of societies through the mentoring and evolution of entrepreneurs and leaders, has been awarded a contract together with its consortium partners Adam Smith International and Upper Quartile, under the UK’s Presidency of the G8 Deauville Partnership. The project will seek to deliver mentoring support to over 250 entrepreneurs across the six transition countries – Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Yemen. “The SME mentoring initiative, which is called FORSA (“opportunity” in Arabic), will help the G8 and regional partners to share expertise and nurture entrepreneurial skills in the Arab countries undergoing transition. Focusing on
young and female entrepreneurs, FORSA will establish mentoring relationships between at least 250 entrepreneurs and business people from
The regional automotive market remains upbeat “Almost every car maker has reported sales growth in double digits, ranging between 20% and 40% in the region. Majority of the brands expect above 25% growth in 2013. The automotive aftermarket in the GCC countries in 2012 was equally vibrant and estimated to have grown between 15% and 20%. By 2016, the aftermarket sector is predicted to hit USD 14.4 billion,” said Ibrahim Mohamed Al Janahi, Deputy CEO, Jafza, and CCO, Economic Zones World (EZW).
According to the Frost and Sullivan’s report, the total consumption within the automotive aftermarket in the GCC countries in 2012 posted more than 15% growth to reach USD 7.5 billion. With consumption worth USD two billion, the UAE was the second largest automotive market in the GCC after Saudi Arabia. The report predicted a growth between 15% and 20% across parts and accessories, tyres and tubes, batteries and lubricants over the next five years.
across the Deauville Partnership,” said Alistair Burt, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa.
The most competitive economy Qatar was ranked 13th on the global list of the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14, which is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). According to the report issued by the World Economic Forum, Qatar reaffirms once again its position as the most competitive economy in the region. The country’s strong performance in terms of competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework (4th), a stable macroeconomic environment (6th), and an efficient goods market (3rd), the report said. Low levels of corruption and undue influence on government decisions, high efficiency of government institutions, and strong security are the cornerstones of the solid institutional framework, which provides a good basis for heightening efficiency, the report added. The UAE stood at 19th, Saudi Arabia (20th) fell two places, but remained among the top 20. Egypt (118th) dropped a further 11 places on the index in 2012. Bahrain (43rd), Jordan (68th) and Morocco (77th) also declined. Elsewhere in the region, Algeria moved up to 100th place, and Tunisia reentered the index at 83rd.
In order to source, incubate and develop innovative business ideas from startups and entrepreneurs, Intigral decided to shake up the region’s digital sector by launching the first comprehensive digital idea incubator – AFKAR.me. Private Sector Qatar brings to you the main highlights.
n 4th September 2013, Intigral, MENA’s digital hub, launched AFKAR.me, the region’s first full-spectrum digital sector startup and entrepreneur incubator.
Since AFKAR.me sits at the core of Intigral’s commitment to grow the region’s digital ecosystem, the event witnessed interested tech students, entrepreneurs, media, and, most importantly, representatives from all Intigral’s partners – MBC Ventures, Wamda, Arabnet, Dubai SME, STC Ventures, Altran, The Online Project, Astrolabs, and Middle East Venture Partners. All of them will play a key role in the selection and mentorship processes. The MENA region is experiencing monumental digital growth and is forecast to increase by three times and evolve to an estimated USD 18 billion opportunity by 2018. With that growth has come a boom in entrepreneurship. However, while there are startup incubators and accelerators in the region, none of them offer the full spectrum of services that entrepreneurs require. Continuing on this, Dr. Ismaeel Makdisi, Acting CEO, Intigral, told us, “At Intigral we are committed to contribute to and support the growing digital sector in the MENA region. While there are a number of existing initiatives that help entrepreneurs and startups at various stages of their development, AFKAR.me is the first full-spectrum programme developed in the region. Through AFKAR.me we are giving anyone with a great digital idea not only support at every stage of their development, but also direct access to the MENA market via our existing clients and investors.” He further added, “I’ve just come back from Sillicon Valey, San Francisco, where I saw hundreds of entrepreneurs, who have received a chance that we are now bringing to the region for the first time. We have all the relevant stakeholders on our side. For now, we have a fund of USD 250,000 to support these entrepreneurs.”
Juan Jose de la Torre Ch. and Dr. Ismaeel Makdisi
How can you apply? Interested applicants can apply online at www.AFKAR.me. It is open to applications both from the region and around the world until the 10th of November 2013.
AFKAR.me offers support that covers the following six areas: ■■ A seed fund of USD 20,000 per team ■■ Dedicated management support as well as external mentor support to guide the team through every step of the process ■■ Free office space at Intigral’s Dubai and Riyadh offices ■■ Advice and support from experts in the field, both within Intigral and with partners, including product development, design, marketing and PR, business development, and legal support ■■ Access to the MENA market with a special focus on KSA ■■ A fun and creative experience surrounded by talented people A team of expert judges from the UAE and KSA will assess all applications. The top ten teams will be invited to participate in a weekend boot camp. Over the weekend, the teams will work with mentors to improve their final pitches, and three out of the ten will be selected to develop their businesses with AFKAR.me. Importantly, if a project does not get selected, it can be developed on the feedback given during the boot camp weekend, and reapply for the next intake. The programme will be an annual initiative with four applications a year, targeting two intakes each from the UAE and KSA respectively. Since we were interested to ask about tech entrepreneurs from Qatar, Juan Jose de la Torre Ch., Vice President Strategy and Corporate Development, Intigral, explained, ”We are already operating in Qatar through our partner there and we have extensive conversations with their operators. We have already deployed few products in that market. I would encourage all tech entrepreneurs from Qatar to apply. In the future, we might also see AFKAR. me setting up its incubation facility in Doha.” Therefore, don’t miss a chance to be featured as a success story in our magazine sometime next year!
The Fourth Qatar International Businesswomen Forum November 11-12, 2013 - St. Regis Doha Hotel, Qatar
Under the Patronage of H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al-Thani, Minister of Economy and Trade - Qatar ﻗطر- وزﻴر اﻻﻗﺘﺼﺎد و اﻟﺘﺠﺎرة،ﺘﺤت رﻋﺎﻴﺔ ﺴﻌﺎدة اﻟﺸﻴﺦ أﺤﻤد ﺒن ﺠﺎﺴم ﺒن ﻤﺤﻤد آﻝ ﺜﺎﻨﻲ
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St. Regis Doha Hotel Qatar
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For more informarion please contact us on: • Tel. +974 44877442 - 44881525 • Fax: +974 44873196 • Email us on: email@example.com • www.interactiveb.com
the cost-effective company In every corner of the earth IKEA’s products symbolise affordable and trendy living, and their store in Doha Festival City doesn’t offer anything different. John Kersten, Managing Director, IKEA UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman, explained to Tamara Pupic how they managed to satisfy the needs of their Qatari customers. IKEA creates consistency across the company culture in all of its businesses around the world. Please explain to us the basic principles? IKEA is a global home furnishing brand with stores in 44 countries, and our brand principle is simple and common across all countries. IKEA’s cost-structure, pricing policy and its iconic store platform are the three key ingredients of our global business model that benefits millions of customers worldwide.
John Kersten is the Managing Director for IKEA UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman. John has been part of the IKEA brand for 19 years, working in various positions at IKEA in The Netherlands, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey. For more information, please visit www.ikea.com/qa/en/store/qatar.
Our model is based on the brand’s interactive relationship with its customers. This partnership is designed to keep costs down to the minimum. IKEA does its part by producing good quality and flat packed home furnishings, which can be shipped in bulk. Our customers do their own part by self-assembling the furniture. So, together we save money. This is how the IKEA product range manages to focus on good design and function at a low price. Why did you decide to set up your store in Doha? As part of Al Futtaim Group’s expansion plans in the MENA region, Doha seemed as the obvious choice due to its extremely robust and promising market. Since Qatar is a dynamic economy with a significant growth potential and unlimited ambition, IKEA is pleased to be here. How did you prepare for entering the Qatari market? It is never easy to break into a new market. However, IKEA conducted home visits within the Qatari market to understand local customers. A reflection of that study is strongly visible in the layout of our store in Doha. For example, we created a majlis setup using IKEA products to comply with the existing cultural designs and standards. Similarly, our store displays the findings of our study to include more bathroom storage solutions. Therefore, we have been very successful in adapting our brand and our offerings to our customers here. What are the main features of your strategy here? Our store in Doha offers retail space of 32,000 sqm with over 7,500 different products, 59 room settings, and three homes. There are 40 local adaptations specially designed for the people in Qatar including 19 room settings, one home, and a male and female majlis-style setup.
The IKEA experience goes beyond shopping to create a day out for the whole family. In order to bring our “All Under One Roof” concept to life, we offer 1,300 parking spaces as well as a 550-seat restaurant with Swedish and local specialties. Parents can now shop in peace knowing that their children are safe and occupied at our special play area “Småland”. Furthermore, we have launched the new “IKEA Catalogue” in Qatar, which has been distributed to over 190,000 homes since August 2013. Our annual theme for this year is “Living with Children”. We have specifically looked at inspiring home furnishing ideas for families with children since we know it is particularly relevant to the Qatari market. Which business results have you achieved since the establishment in Doha? We have been very pleased with the response received in Qatar. In March, IKEA’s website was launched in Qatar, and we had over 280,000 visitors in the first 90 days, who viewed over 3,500,000 products. In just six months, our store in Doha Festival City experienced a footfall of over 800,000 visitors. What would be your advice to other international chains that aim to set up their business in Qatar? I believe that a strong understanding of your target market is the most important factor while entering any country. Another important factor to consider is the overall quality of the industry. In Qatar, our only aim has been to satisfy the needs of our customers. So, instead of getting caught up in competitive behaviour, businesses should focus on improving the overall quality of the industry. Do you plan to expand IKEA’s business to any other regional country? Yes, we have very ambitious plans over the next couple of years. In the near future, we will be launching our store in Egypt, which will be IKEA’s first store in the African continent. We also have plans for Oman in the next few years. Our goals for Qatar remain the same – to maintain a high level of satisfaction of our customers.
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point Our series on EO Qatar has provided numerous examples of how entrepreneurs support one another in what can sometimes be an isolating career path. To complement this approach to success, Maryah Al-Dafa, Project Director at the Office of the President, Qatar Foundation (QF), and Director, Maryah Trading, while talking to Tamara Pupic, added another fundamental – seeking balance.
nitially aiming to follow in her father’s footsteps into a diplomatic career, which had allowed her to grow up in Spain, Egypt, France, Russia, and the USA, Maryah Dafa, Project Director at the Office of the President, Qatar Foundation (QF), and the Director of Maryah Trading, chose to adapt to new means of achieving her goals, about which she honestly said, “I’m a big planner, but my thinking has changed. Before I wanted to represent my country abroad and make a significant difference in that manner. However, I’ve been working with QF for few years and we’ve done what only a few thought was possible. So, I’m not afraid to take risks.” I had every reason to believe her since we met at QF’s impressive headquarters in Doha, which is the place where it all started. “In addition to
being engaged within the executive and strategic management of QF’s overall activities, I also work on developing new initiatives. For example, all universities and research institutes that you see here started only as projects in the President’s office,” added Maryah. Proving that all her activities need to integrate some sort of community development, she continued, “QF gives me a feeling of national pride, and that I’m adding to the development of my country. It’s self-satisfying because Qatar is small and you can make a difference as an individual or an institution. A lot of people think that if you want to have a successful business, you need to do it full time. But, I don’t feel satisfied with just having a business. I don’t think I can do one or the other.”
we are in the process of transforming that store into a multi brand store. We have realised that we cannot rely on just one brand in terms of revenue.” Continuing about her business strategy, Maryah identified crucial issues with an ease which actually stemmed from the fact that she doesn’t take responsibility lightly, “Every three to four years a shift takes place and we have to adapt to that change. That’s completely fine. That’s what owning a business is all about. However, it has been a really hard decision to make. But, I feel good about it now. It’s a huge challenge to represent twenty different brands instead of one, but hopefully it will work out for the best.”
Therefore, being focused only on profits is not entrepreneurship for her as she redefined success by measuring results in terms of advancing the collective good as well as profits, “I think that growth is in building institutions. So, even as an entrepreneur if I can change at least a part of how the system works, that will be my growth strategy. For me, it’s more self-satisfying to know that I made an impact than that I earned revenues.” Take a risk As we began to piece together fragments of her entrepreneurial path as the Director of Maryah Trading, Maryah explained that while working within her family business she realised a gap in the retail market in Qatar, “There were only the world’s top brands and those which could be considered as middle to low. In 2006, we decided to fill in the existing gap in the market with regard to the range of middle to high brands.”
As you could have expected from two women talking about fashion, we couldn’t resist from delving into the details, “I’ll share with you the name even though we are still in the process of registration. It will be called EQLIPSE. The concept of the store is divided into two main parts. One half will be mostly focused on everyday work attire while the other half will fulfil the needs of a girl’s alter ego by offering different retail brands that are fun, young and unique. We have realised that something like that is missing because a lot of people travel abroad to find something similar.” Elaborating further on the clues that made her modify her business plans, she said, ”I think that currently in Doha people are more exposed to the brands of the world. Due to the Internet, online shopping and social media, young Qatari girls are becoming more familiar with various brands and a lot more demanding. It’s not only about big brands anymore and we are trying to adapt to that. We want to bring here the experience of shopping like in London, Paris, NYC or LA. So, instead of travelling few times a year to do their shopping, people will be able to come to EQLIPSE. That’s how we have found our niche market in Doha and as long as we are aligned with that, we will be fine.”
With the support of her family, she opened her first multi brand store “Arabella” in Al Saad Royal Plaza. The concept proved successful, and also paved the way for the business expansion of a mono-boutique – Vera Wang at The Pearl-Qatar. “After five years it became obvious that both Qataris and expats here like the brand a lot. In time, everyone wanted her wedding dresses and we started offering that. Every time something new would come up in terms of demand, we would adapt,” she remarked. Since both sides were interested to take their cooperation to the next level, in 2009 she opened the brand’s first-ever international ready-to-wear store. “We took that risk,” Maryah calmly stated.
Your path – your choice Since adapting to the market changes is easier said than done, Maryah opined that the learning curve for entrepreneurs is extremely steep, “Every day is a new lesson and I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers. It’s all about what you are trying to achieve. For an entrepreneur, a part of it is financial gain, but another part is a feeling that you have added something unique. That’s what makes you entrepreneurial. Otherwise, you are just a business person or a manager. I don’t think that they can call themselves entrepreneurs.”
After four and a half years, her business acumen urged her to adapt to the market changes again, “Now
She continued by exemplifying which features make somebody an entrepreneur, “EO Qatar has people
who are truly entrepreneurial and have done things in Doha that have never been done before. Also, there are people, like me, who have given an entrepreneurial twist to some ideas. That is the difference from a traditional Qatari family business. We obviously did it with the support of our families, but we are the ones who went through the challenges and did all the work. So, it’s all about the path that you take.” Proving that entrepreneurs may or may not be idealistic, but that they are seldom unrealistic, Maryah stated, “I’m not a leader in business or entrepreneurship. It’s not about being modest, but about being realistic since everyone has different experiences. The challenge in Doha is the pressure to succeed while entrepreneurs around the world accept failure as an usual part of their journey.” In connection to this, she presented her pragmatic viewpoint on the support given to entrepreneurs in Qatar, ”The issue of support here is that it’s either at a high level, for example for big factories, or at a low level, for example for people who work from home. My point is that support for the mid level businesses is missing, which is where you will find most of the young entrepreneurs. Also, I wish that people would go back to basics – it really is a challenge in Qatar to register a company or to obtain approval to open a store. For example, if I want to organise an event outside my store in order to be really entrepreneurial and innovative, I need a license from the Qatar Tourism Authority. That process might last six months. So, the rules that are created to protect us, actually are our obstacles. Even though the focus has been put on various organisations to develop entrepreneurs, all of them will inevitably be faced with this burdensome red tape. That’s neither sustainable nor productive for entrepreneurs if we aim to build the entrepreneurial culture.” Adapting is not failing When asked whether opportunities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Qatar are gender-neutral, she remarked, “Some are, but I’m sure that every Qatari girl will agree that our challenges are different since we simply have a lot more to prove. Our manners in meetings, how we approach certain things or something that is considered as good publicity globally can be perceived here in a very negative way if you are a Qatari girl. So, it becomes a challenge. A lot of criticism can be involved every time when we want to do something outside of our cultural context. We are still a conservative society, but that is not a bad thing. Culture is not static and it’s a lot easier now when compared to when I started.” Maryah advised Qatari girls on taking a balanced approach when it comes to pushing boundaries, “As long as you have a good grasp on what are your
Every day is a new lesson and I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers. It’s all about what you are trying to achieve. For an entrepreneur, a part of it is financial gain, but another part is a feeling that you have added something unique. That’s what makes you entrepreneurial. cultural and principal beliefs and the support of your family, you will be fine. I’ve learnt to impose on myself a 24 hour limit to get over things and then I’m back on top. I don’t agree that we need to push the limits all the time – culture does change, but it’s a very evolutionary process. So, if you want to be part of the game, you have to be in it as it is, and try to make a change within the rules.” In her opinion, the private sector in Qatar is still small and, thus, leaves a lot of room for new ideas. She urged young Qatari entrepreneurs to seize these opportunities, “Even if you fail, at least you have tried. The challenge in Qatar is a motivational problem among young Qataris – one obstacle can put them off. If you’re not committed, you should adapt. You should never force yourself to continue doing something even though stopping might seem that you are giving up. However, it’s not giving up, it’s adapting. I had to learn that hard way and that’s my best advice.” For her, patience and perseverance are the key for dealing with various challenges an entrepreneur might face. “I have a lot of support from my family and my friends. EO Qatar has also become my support network. Every day is a challenge, but I take it step by step. I do think that it’s all about dedication and commitment. Hundreds of obstacles come your way, but there is always a way out. You just have to adapt. For example, I make lists of pros and cons of what could happen. For some people, it’s an instinct while I am a little bit more practical. There is always a middle point between our heart and our mind. This is important not only for entrepreneurs, since big companies around the world have failed because they haven’t managed to adapt,” she asserted. Maryah concluded by encouraging people in Qatar to think about their growth plans in spite of the challenges of a small market, “There is again a middle point – be realistic with regards to what you want to achieve!”
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MENTORING THE MENTORS As the Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2013 gains momentum, its organisers Qatar Shell and Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development encourage members of the local business community to get involved.
ore than 40 members of the business community in Qatar, including professors, entrepreneurs, and leaders of incubators, are getting ready to meet a challenge. They are being prepared to become mentors of a new generation of entrepreneurs and to address questions such as: ■■ What are the mechanics of setting up a business? ■■ Has technology made it easier or more difficult to be an ethical businessman or businesswoman? ■■ In the race against time, competition, and cash flow, what should an entrepreneur’s priorities be?
The Enterprise Challenge Qatar 2013 is a business simulation competition that promotes the spirit of entrepreneurship and business knowledge among young people. Over the coming few weeks, the mentors will be working with students from Qatar’s universities and high schools from Al Khor and Al Shamal to prepare them for the challenge.
17th-21st NOVEMBER 22
“The Enterprise Challenge was designed for students to build on their business knowledge and develop their strategic thinking,” said Khalid Al Thani, CSR Advisor, Qatar Shell, to the mentors at the opening session last month. Qatar Shell partnered with Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (Bedaya Centre) to bring the challenge to Qatar for the second year, after the successful running of the competition in 2012. The Enterprise Challenge is developed by Mosaic, an initiative of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for Muslim youth around the world. Qatar Shell is the founding sponsor of Mosaic in Qatar. “Qatar Shell believes that developing the entrepreneurial mindset begins at a young age. The Enterprise Challenge Qatar has, therefore, expanded in 2013 to reach a larger group of universities
GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK 2013 DOHA
A group effort The mentors also include professors of business and enterprise from Education City, the College of the North Atlantic and Qatar University. Marios Katsioloudes, Professor of Management, Qatar University, had been searching for ways to cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship among his students and found the perfect opportunity in the Enterprise Challenge Qatar. “There must be a group effort between entities to cultivate the culture of entrepreneurism and the Enterprise Challenge Qatar is a large step forward in this direction. This also enables professors like me to understand the local environment, so that we can customise what we teach about entrepreneurship to suit the local context,” he explained.
Khalid Al Thani
as well as schools in Al Khor and Al Shamal (Qatar’s Northern Community), a primary area of focus for our CSR efforts,” continued Al Thani. Prepare for the finals The mentors, trained by Qatar Shell, Bedaya Centre, and Mosaic, will deliver six sessions to the students on ethical business. In addition, they will train them on how to navigate the business computer simulation on which they will compete. The competing teams will continue to work with their mentors until the semifinals in October. The finals will run during the Global Entrepreneurship Week, which will be held from 17th till 21st November 2013.
The Enterprise Challenge Qatar is fast becoming an anticipated tradition among students and mentors alike, with a growing number of institutions, businesses and schools getting involved. Organisers from Qatar Shell and Bedaya Centre expect that this will become a national challenge within a short amount of time. Regarding the ultimate aim of the challenge, Al-Khulaifi said, “We will have the Enterprise Challenge Qatar alumni, who will start their own businesses and one day come back as mentors to tell new students that they became entrepreneurs thanks to the challenge.”
According to Saleh Al Khulaifi, CEO, Bedaya Centre, the mentorship programme is designed to involve members of the local business community in the challenge, so that they can inject their own real life experiences into the training sessions. “We’ve been very grateful to have more than 40 mentors from various sectors, whether entrepreneurial film makers or owners of manufacturing companies, join us to add industry-specific insight to their technical experience while mentoring our students,” he said. From their side, mentors said they are finding the benefit of enriching their own experience as leaders of the SME community. “Most of my work is in supporting already established SMEs,” said Mohamed Al-Mansour, Relationship Manager, Qatar Development Bank, and added, “I’m hoping that I can impart my knowledge to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, but also learn more about the practicalities of setting up a business.”
Saleh Al Khulaifi
w w w . g e w - q a t a r . c om October 2013
Moving walls Glowork, a Saudi-based women empowerment initiative, has created thousands of jobs for women across the region. In a conversation with Jenny Kassis, Khalid Al Khudair, Founder and CEO, Glowork, talked about their work on empowering women in KSA through their recruitment site. Please give us a brief overview of Glowork. Glowork is the first website and programme dedicated to female recruitment in the GCC region. It is the most innovative enabler when it comes to creating equal opportunities for women. It started in February 2011, but was officially launched in June 2011.
Khalid Al Khudair is the Founder and CEO of Glowork. Khalid is currently the Chief Operating Officer - Markets at KPMG in Saudi, Kuwait and Jordan. He is also a Young Global Shaper (representing KSA) at the World Economic Forum as well as the Riyadh Hub Curator. Khalid can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our activities focus on the following: ■■ Online job portal for women ■■ Advocacy for the change of legislation regulating women employment ■■ Full recruitment service for females ■■ Private-public partnership with the Ministry of Labour KSA ■■ Workshops and soft skills trainings, which are tailored to females ■■ Annual female targeted career fairs What made you bring this idea to life? As a man, when I graduated, I faced a lot of difficulties in finding a job. So, I am sure that for women, it must have been much more difficult. Since I have a background in marketing and corporate social responsibility, I wanted to start something that would tackle the most difficult aspects of our society – various issues related to women. In addition, the
concept of social entrepreneurship has been a grey area in this part of the world, witnessing a lack of success stories. However, Glowork has turned into the most successful startup in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Another reason is the fact that if you ask anyone in KSA about women employment, they will tell you that their female relatives had an issue breaking into the labour market. So, something had to be done. I didn’t set up Glowork to make profit. It was and still is a social enterprise. This is why we have succeeded in such a short period of time. Having a clear vision, mission and objective was the key to get us rolling. How did you gather support for this initiative? Unfortunately, it is sad to say that we didn’t get much support at the beginning. It was a “raise your sleeves and get dirty” startup. I was balancing between Glowork and my job at KPMG. People at KPMG were supportive with me since they saw the value of what I was doing and supported me not only financially, but also by allowing me more work flexibility. The rest was done hands on, and I am pleased to say now that our biggest supporter, aside from women, is the private sector.
Glowork created over 11,000 vacancies in the past year, and it has played an immense part in new laws and other pieces of legislation that have opened up opportunities for women in the retail industry.
Could you please tell us more about Glowork’s achievements so far? Glowork created over 11,000 vacancies in the past year, and it has played an immense part in new laws and other pieces of legislation that have opened up opportunities for women in the retail industry.
Since “women working in Saudi” is considered as a taboo, what are the main challenges you have been facing? The most challenging aspect has been about changing people’s mindsets. The way we apply our marketing strategy is to reach men more than women, so they could understand the benefits of allowing women to work At the same time, the style of our content reflects that we are not changing our religion in any manner. We are actually working on changing old traditions that have been practised wrongly. People are now starting to understand that it makes economic sense for women to work! We know that you started this business at a very young age. What would be your advice for young entrepreneurs willing to establish their own businesses in the Middle East?
Glowork was recently awarded as “The Most Innovative Solution for Job Creation” by the UN, ILO and World Bank. Furthermore, it picked up several accolades that include “Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award” at the Global Thinkers’ Forum.
My advice for them would be to always look at a three year financial plan, as opposed to being focused only on the day when they will start making money.
However, what is most rewarding is the placement of thousands of females in the labour market.
They will face all sorts of obstacles on their road to success, but what will make them different from others is how and when they turn those obstacles into opportunities. What are your future plans? Are you willing to extend the concept into other countries in the GCC? I want the perception of the West about how Saudi Arabia is treating women to change. Unfortunately, media usually picks up minor stories that do happen, but fails to adequately present the great reforms and changes that we are also witnessing every day. The labour laws in Saudi Arabia regarding women will soon become a benchmark for other markets. Our initiative has proven as a success in the Kingdom, and it indeed is a concept that has the potential to be launched in the neighbouring countries. If it works in KSA, it will work anywhere. Honestly, we have been approached by several government officials from different countries, who have asked us to start implementing our initiative in their countries. But, we first want to ensure success here before we start expanding. Briefly, what is the message you would like to share with women in the Middle East? This is your time to shine, and nothing can stop you!
In a brief conversation with Tamara Pupic, Michael U. Bierhoff, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy Doha, talked about the importance of the SME sector for both the Qatari and German economy.
Michael U. Bierhoff is the Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy Doha. Previously, his diplomatic career included positions in the German embassies in Lebanon and Egypt. For more information, please visit www.doha.diplo.de.
Please provide us with a brief overview of the productive relations between the two countries over the years. Germany and Qatar look back on a long history of friendly and productive relations. A considerable number of German companies are already actively cooperating with Qatari companies and organisations. For example, Deutsche Bahn International has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Rail and Qatar University to deliver an engineer exchange and training programme. Other companies have been following these examples since the exchange of knowledge and expertise is of growing interest for both countries. In the field of academic research, a number of German universities have set up close relations with local universities and aim to extend them further. The establishment of the German International School of Doha and the German Language Centre Doha was a milestone for enriching cultural links between our two countries. They are now at the center of steadily growing activities for the German community in Doha as well as for Qatari people interested in German language and culture. Is the interest of German companies to do business in Qatar increasing and why? Qatar will heavily invest in infrastructure projects in the coming years, which are, of course, mainly driven by the need to prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2022. German companies have a lot of expertise and a very long and efficient record in the related areas, such as construction, railway, stadium building, but also interior design. These are all the fields that Qatar will be in very high demand of in the upcoming years. Therefore, German companies specialised in these areas hope to expand their presence in Qatar and be awarded some of the upcoming tenders. Looking specifically at exports and imports, which are the priority sectors for both economies? Automobiles, construction and renewable energy are very prominent sectors. In my opinion, our commercial relations can still be expanded in the machinery, health, logistics, transport, hotels and hospitality, agricultural and
food sector. It is important to stress that mainly the private sector initiatives have been driving bilateral trade within the boundaries of the established government facilitation. Of course, this is in addition to what the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, trade fairs, and exhibitions contribute independently. Germany has a strong manufacturing sector, which Qatar is currently aiming to develop. Can you tell us more about it? The German economy has experienced a phase of very solid growth recently due to the consciously chosen strategy of developing a strong manufacturing sector. This sector has been the backbone of our economy. At the same time, it has kept the preeminence of SMEs within our economy. Many of our SMEs are still family-owned and, thus, managed with a large dose of flexibility. In that manner, each of these businesses can adapt to new economic realities and ways of doing business. I would say that there is a strong similarity in the family-led company structures between Germany and Qatar. What is your main advice for German investors looking to invest in Qatar? German investors should get a profound knowledge of the region they are heading to as well as of the cultural differences in business attire. To create mutual understanding, the German government regularly invites Qatari decision makers and stakeholders to visit various events within the framework of the Federal VisitorÂ´s Programme. On the other hand, German experts and trainees are frequently sent to Qatar in order to create more mutual understanding among our experts in all fields. However, I would point out that the bilateral exchange at the level of company owners and CEOs should be strengthened. How could Qatari companies get more information about the German market and investment opportunities? Investment opportunities in Germany are so manifold that it is difficult to give a general answer in short. Qatari companies seeking to invest in Germany can turn to several excellent German organisations with competent and profound knowledge of our market. Firstly, companies can seek the advice of the German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK Qatar). They have been providing various services to local companies. Secondly, the German Trade and Invest Agency promotes foreign trade as well as investment and market opportunities in Germany to all potential investors. The agency advises and supports foreign companies wishing to extend their business activities to Germany. Therefore, I would say that it is the first point of contact for all potential investors.
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With a growing market, the initiation of the FIFA World Cup 2022 preparations, and focus on economic diversification, Qatar has become a major attraction for the world, especially Germany. The German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK Qatar) explained to us that due to the vast experience in various fields, high technological knowledge, and innovation techniques, Germany has a competitive advantage to become a strong partner to Qatar.
n the aim of strengthening the development of the Qatari economy, AHK Qatar encourages and promotes direct contacts between Qatari and German companies. It is focusing on the SME sector, which is considered to be the backbone of the German economy. As Germany now has the worldâ€™s third most productive economy, the country is also an ideal base for companies with international business activities. By comparing USD 195.6 billion of Qatari GDP and USD 339.6 billion of German GDP in 2012, the future of both economies seems very positive and highly promising. The current GDP growth forecast for 2013 for Qatar is 6.2%, and for 2014 is 8.1%. On the other hand, the predicted growth figures in Germany are 0.8% for 2013 and almost 2% for 2014. Therefore, we are convinced that both countries can enhance their economic collaboration and trade relations. Qatar, as a fast growing and successful country, offers a lot of possibilities for German companies to
enter new sectors as well as to prove the excellence of German handcraft. In 2012, German exports to Qatar were worth USD 1.5 billion including mainly motor vehicles, plant and machinery, while German imports from Qatar reached USD 897 million. Currently, German companies are especially involved in the plant engineering and construction sectors, but also tend to increase their participation in the services sector. With the Qatar National Vision 2030, the country looks forward to diversify its economy while considering the environment, which is portrayed in the fact that the FIFA World Cup 2022 is supposed to be the first carbon-neutral event ever. This significant focus on economic and environment development will allow Qatar to become the local leader for sustainability even though petroleum and other chemicals will still remain the most important import products for Germany.
As Europe’s largest market, Germany offers an ideal environment for several fields of business activities. The energy efficiency sector is one of the possible investments. Investments into offshore wind, photovoltaic, geothermal and bioenergy projects will be necessary. In addition to that, the setup of a new, smart energy infrastructure that can balance the fluctuating supply of renewable energies is also open for investments. Furthermore energy, water and resource efficiency technologies will play an even more important role.
Anna Kristin Kro¨nert Deputy Representative & Head of Corporate Communications
Norma Noun Sandawi Deputy Representative & Head of Business Development
Focus on long-term ties Both countries, Qatar and Germany, look forward to long-term ties and economic relationships instead of short-term profits. For that reason, German companies must not worry about falling demands and appreciation of their work. According to the Qatar National Vision 2030, and as demonstrated within the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar aims to modernise and diversify its industry and the services sector. It is setting up new standards, especially in the field of infrastructure, which can be delivered by German companies since they are experienced and updated in diverse fields of business. Machinery and engineering services, which are “Made in Germany”, are regarded as a trademark. Excellent quality, stability and reliability are common attributes associated with German products and services. Therefore, knowledge transfer is an important aspect of the work of German companies in Qatar. German experts in the fields of infrastructure and construction are highly wanted especially since the infrastructure has to be expanded and enlarged for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Moreover, the sector of petrochemicals is an interesting field for German companies as well. German know-how and technology are appreciated within the locally growing chemical and manufacturing industries. The same stands for the fields of sustainable building and renewable energies, where the maturity of the German market matches with the Qatari strive for sustainability. The three main pillars of the Qatar-German business ties are the: ■■ Highly renowned education of German staff ■■ Quality of German products and services ■■ Structured work behaviour of German workforce From our experience, “Made in Germany” is very much appreciated in Qatar as well as in most other countries worldwide. Investment opportunities Germany is one of the most attractive business locations in the world. The excellent infrastructure and highly qualified workforce are factors that contribute to its sustainable business success.
AHK Qatar also supports Qataris with their business activities in Germany as the leading location for investors in Europe. Both economic stability and the size of the market are key factors that ensure business success there. The AHK Department of Business Development regularly informs about investment opportunities and the general investment conditions in Germany.
Role of AHK Qatar The German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK) is the official institution authorised by the German Federal Government and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) to represent the interests of German companies and associations in Qatar. Together with our Head Office in Abu Dhabi, and other representative offices in Dubai and Muscat, the AHK network provides a wide range of services for the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar to support their market entry into one of the most dynamic economic regions worldwide. The German Industry and Commerce Office (www. ahkqatar.com) supports the market entry of German companies into the region by offering the following services: ■■ Development and encouragement of bilateral relationships ■■ Market information and studies ■■ Organisation of visits of various delegations from and to Germany ■■ Arrangement of meetings with matching local partners ■■ Trade fair representation in the GCC and Germany Taking into account the interests and endeavours of the business communities in both of our countries, AHK Qatar works on establishing economic links and relationships, in addition to further promoting trade, industrial, business and technical cooperation between the Qatari and German companies and associates. The German Industry and Commerce Office Qatar (AHK) can be contacted by info@ ahkqatar.com.
Speed DHL Express Qatar has entrenched itself as a logistics partner of choice for businesses aiming to expand their network within Qatar. In a conversation with Aparna Shivpuri Arya, Nael Attiyat, Country Manager, DHL Express Qatar, explained that the company is capable of keeping track with the country’s quite ambitious goals. Nael Attiyat is the Country Manager of DHL Express Qatar. Nael is a logistics industry veteran having more than 16 years of experience, especially in the express logistics domain. He has also served as a country commercial manager at DHL Jordan. For more information, please visit www.dhl.com.qa
Please give us a brief overview of DHL’s operations in Qatar. DHL was the first express logistics company to open in Qatar in 1979 and connect the country to the rest of the world. Our presence here has been growing strategically and, within these 34 years, we have managed to become and remain market leaders. We are one of the leading logistic companies in Qatar where we offer a wide array of express services by using our worldwide air and road network to provide unmatched logistics solutions to our customers. We commit to offer to our customers a fast, efficient and secure delivery for their shipment with the ability to track it from the point of sale until the target point with the highest level of proficiency and reliability. Are there any particular sectors or industries that DHL focuses on in Qatar? Our customer base in Qatar is very diverse, and we try to keep it that way by working with most of the industries here. However, the oil and gas sector is of increasing importance. In the recent years and due
to the boom of Qatar’s economy, local demand for logistics has increased also in many other sectors. I would point out the increase within the life sciences and healthcare, engineering and manufacturing, technology, energy and automotive sectors. As a global and regional leader in logistics, what is your opinion on the logistics industry in Qatar? There is no doubt that today Qatar is the fastest growing market in the Middle East. The National Vision 2030 has fuelled progress and paved the way for every industry to strive for excellence and grow rapidly. An increased demand for connectivity has come with this growth, and that is where DHL’s role comes into the picture. We equally strive for excellence in order to meet the growing demand of Qatar and its people. Thus, we support the development here by connecting local projects, industries and companies with the rest of the world. Qatar’s diversified business portfolio reflects
However, new investments in these facilities and infrastructure promise to clear out these bottlenecks. The USD 7.4 billion worth new port project, spanning over the 26.5 sq km area with a total cargo capacity of six million twenty-foot equivalent units, will be operational by 2016. The new port is a part of a wider strategy that includes economic industrial zones and dedicated rail links to the Hamad International Airport. This USD 11 billion worth airport will also improve linkages with a capacity to transport two million tons of cargo through the country. If you were to give some advice to businesses on managing their logistics, what would that be? Most companies around the world spend large amounts on logistics in order to grow and maintain their position in the global market. It is important that a business meets the growth demands of its own market, which means that the nature of what we provide as a service is directly linked to the success of our customers.
There is no doubt that today Qatar is the fastest growing market in the Middle East. The National Vision 2030 has fuelled progress and paved the way for every industry to strive for excellence and grow rapidly. our own and hence as the country grows and business flourishes, so does the demand for excellent and efficient logistics solutions. What, according to you, are the supply chain bottlenecks when it comes to Qatar? In the light of massive infrastructure and real estate projects across Qatar, the construction boom has exposed several supply chain bottlenecks. DHL Express Qatar faces delays in imports coming through the ports because of the limited logistics facilities in the Doha International Airport and Doha Seaport.
It is important that a business meets the growth demands of its own market, which means that the nature of what we provide as a service is directly linked to the success of our customers.
The first advice we would give to businesses is to make the right decision when it comes to choosing their logistics partner. The most important thing for them is to understand the importance of staying ahead of their market demand and, thus, choose a partner that guarantees that and can meet their business requirements. A well-matched partnership is the first step towards that success. With the FIFA World Cup 2022 less than a decade away how do you see the logistics and warehousing sectorâ€™s development? With existing companies expanding their businesses and new companies starting up, there will be an increase in demand for cost-effective logistics solutions. The infrastructure development plan leading to the FIFA World Cup 2022 includes mega projects largely in the transportation, tourism, health, education and housing sectors. The construction of the Hamad International Airport, New Seaport, along with metro and rail network will definitely boost the development of the logistics and warehousing sector. What are the future growth plans of DHL Qatar in the coming years? Our strategic plans are well underway. With the introduction of a dedicated air network into Qatar, opening of a few new service points, and our investments in technology and innovative solutions, we are well on track to follow the plan put together for this market. Our main focus, however, will always be on our customers and on how to help them grow and succeed. We will keep up with the expectations of this fast-growing market by delivering with speed, which is the only way we know how to do it.
Building the future The entrepreneurship programme of Palestine Education for Employment (PEFE), with its 120 trainees, provided a glimpse into the growing economic areas in Palestine. PEFE’s team presented to us their method of training of highly qualified personnel, who are required within these economic sectors to help them reach their growth potential.
ducation for Employment (EFE) is an organisation that aims to create job opportunities for unemployed youth in the MENA region. That is done by providing them with world-class professional and technical trainings, which will lead them directly to career-building jobs. Following a unique and innovative model, EFE empowers disadvantaged youth and provides them with skills needed for overcoming social or gender exclusion. The model is evaluated on the basis of reaching favourable job outcomes rather than using training metrics alone, as the programmes are demand driven and tailored to meet the needs of the
market. What adds value to EFE’s model is that the organisation’s board consists of local businessmen. It is also staffed by local social entrepreneurs, who constantly work on improving this model to meet the needs of different cultural contexts. The PEFE network Palestine Education for Employment (PEFE) was established in 2009 as an affiliate of Education for Employment - EFE Global US, EFE Europe, and five other non-governmental organisations from Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia and Morocco. The PEFE network shares a common vision of empowering unemployed university and technical
college graduates with the skills and opportunities they need to build their careers. In this manner, they are expected to ensure a brighter future for themselves and satisfy the employment requirements of the organisations they will work in. PEFE offers many programmes that include demand-driven trainings, which are based on various market needs, in addition to job placement services, entrepreneurship trainings as well as internships. The training programmes consist of three components: ■■ Soft skills trainings ■■ Business English language courses ■■ Technical trainings that are based on a particular area of specialisation, which can include marketing, accounting, IT, engineering management, hotel management, market place simulation, and customer relationship management These programmes have recorded great success among graduates and created hundreds of employment opportunities. However, the focus of these programmes should be to create job opportunities not only for graduates, but also for people who are engaged within them. “As we start serving different sectors, we face the challenge of developing new curriculum in technical education in order to enhance technical competence of our participants. This part of the support is given by the network affiliates,” said Darin Zeidan, Programme Manager, PEFE. A great opportunity PEFE’s youth entrepreneurship programme was launched in 2011 under the name “Bader and Build Your Nation”. The programme consists of in-class and hands-on trainings in professional business development, which use the Intel Learn Curriculum for Entrepreneurship and Technology and lead to completion of an investment plan for a proposed business. After the first four rounds of the programme, the business plans that passed a due diligence evaluation were subject to receive up to USD 15,000 in equity funding from Rawabi Foundation. The programme also ensured that the owners get direct access to technical assistance and micro-loan programmes to build their capacity further and ensure long-term viability of their enterprises. To many students, this programme offered a great opportunity to be creative and innovative. They came with ideas that they deeply believed in and hoped
to turn them into reality. PEFE managed to identify several sectors of great growth potential since 120 graduates of the programme concentrated on them. The participants’ ideas were based on fulfilling a certain need in their areas of residency or a general need in Palestine. Almost 35% of the presented business plans related to the agricultural sector, followed by ICT projects, which represented around 30% of the ideas. Therefore, the youth have come to understand that ICT projects have a huge growth potential in Palestine, and also require lower startup costs than in many other sectors. Most of their ideas focused on the development of mobile applications, Internet services and social networks. Other projects focused on different economic sectors including education, manufacturing, and recycling. As new sectors boom around the world, and a strong linkage takes place due to the influence of social media, these sectors in Palestine seem to be following the international trends, specifically ICT, agriculture and tourism. Focus on ICT Within all trainings and programmes, the choice of sectors was based on what has been considered as a high priority sector. A high priority sector is understood as one which has a good job creation potential in the occupied Palestinian Territory. Furthermore, it is a sector in which the potential employers have the ability to open new positions while the potential employees can attend training courses. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the West Bank and Gaza economies have experienced marked deindustrialisation, with the share of the manufacturing and construction sectors in total employment falling from 37% in 1998 to 24% in 2009. During this period, the services sector, other than commerce, expanded its share of employment from 28% to 41%. There is evidence that the deindustrialisation has continued even as the economy started to recover from the worst post-intifada years. Furthermore, PCBS’s national accounts data showed that value added by the manufacturing sector fell by around 20% between 2004 and 2007. Therefore, the ideas presented within the youth entrepreneurship programme are similar to the general statistics in Palestine. “Jerusalem is at the heart of the tourism triangle in Palestine, together with Bethlehem and Jericho, because of its historical religious sites. There are many untapped opportunities in the tourism, housing, IT, private education, and other services sectors,” said Mazin Sinokrot, Chair, Al Quds Holding Inverstment Company, and Chair, PEFE.
The services sector in Palestine contributes the highest share of 38.2% to national GDP, followed by agriculture and industry, according to a report published by Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute MAS in 2009. Services include different economic activities such as trade and communication. By inclusion of the ICT sector within services, PEFE could, through their programme, study a sample and understand why projects are focused on certain sectors as well as challenges and opportunities these sectors face. According to a report published by the Palestine Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA), the growth rate of the ICT sector is from 8% to 10% while it contributes 8% to the national GDP. “In a population that consists of almost 30% youth, but is also characterised with high restrictions on trade and minimal access to natural resources due to the occupation, there’s no doubt that the ICT sector has a high potential to flourish,” said Dr. Sabri Saidam, Advisor to the Palestinian President on Telecom and IT, and Board Member, PEFE. As an advantage for the youth, Palestine benefits from international aid and the existence of many international funds and companies whose corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes support the ICT growth. All of that enhances the involvement of youth in this field. However, this sector still faces many challenges that include restrictions by the Israeli authorities, especially regarding the access to 3G, which stands in the face of growth in this field. In addition, the weakness of intellectual property rights in Palestine and a lack of people specialised in this field should be taken into consideration in order to ensure a better future for the ICT sector in the country. There are not enough university graduates who are qualified to carry the ICT growth further. Soft skills as a challenge Soft skills are a definite challenge for new IT graduates, according to both local and international standards, and include knowledge about the following: ■■ How to internally interact with co-workers and management in a professional environment? ■■ How to interact with customers internationally? ■■ How to separate personal and professional opinions? ■■ How to hold oneself to work standards during delivery of tasks or projects? ■■ How to take pride in work? ■■ How to respect deadlines?
“At PEFE, we try to overcome this challenge by offering a soft skills training as our core course. We offer training in communication skills, team work and time management. The aim of these specialised technical trainings is to help graduates not only to work in Palestine, but also to engage in outsourcing in order to reach international markets,” said Saro Nakashian, General Director, PEFE. An additional obstacle to the growth of the ICT and other economic sectors in Palestine, as well as at international level, is a lack of capital resources and high interest rates on loans required to start the implementation of various projects. For that reason, the new movement of “Democratising Entrepreneurship”, which has spread all over the world, will definitely have a huge impact on the growth of entrepreneurship around the world. Youth opportunities in agriculture The agricultural sector has always been a pillar of the Palestinian economy. It contributes between 11% to 20% to the national GDP. Both plant production and livestock production, mainly owned by households, represent 25% of Palestinian exports. Not only do they have major economic importance, but they also represent the Palestinian culture and history. Most of the Palestinian youth have inherited agricultural skills from their parents. Therefore, when it comes to choosing a business idea, most trainees would consider an agricultural project. With the growth potential being limited by high restrictions on production and trade, high taxes and high control of access to water by the Israeli authorities, both the growth of this sector and the high qualifications of people will face even bigger obstacles. Therefore, direction towards the services sector and development of IT projects seem like the best alternative to reach growth potential. “Agriculture is a source of growth for Palestinian economy, especially in Jordan Valley, with investments in off-season fresh production, such as herbs, dates, and vegetables. This sector has a high potential for job creation and, thus, the alleviation of poverty,” stated Mazin Sinokrot, Chair, Al Quds Holding Investment Company, and Chair, PEFE. EFE’s network with its demand-driven programmes, which are based on prioritising economic sectors such as ICT, tourism and agriculture, have encouraged PEFE to work on making the maximum possible impact on the economy, especially with regards to the skills and competencies needed across all sectors.
Analytics like never before
The business intelligence (BI) trend is making waves across the globe, and the Gulf region is certainly a part of it. Marc Haberland, Managing Director, Clariba, shared his insights on the trends of business intelligence solutions in the Gulf region.
f you haven’t heard the buzz about business intelligence (BI), you certainly will in the near future. The most basic way to define business intelligence is as a computer-based technique used in spotting, digging-out, and analysing business data such as sales, marketing, customer satisfaction, finance, production, and similar. The ultimate aim is to transform these business data into actionable and meaningful information for business purposes. Marc Haberland is the Managing Director of Clariba. He looks back on 14 years of BI and EPM experience across many industries throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America. He currently leads his team of BI experts in Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Spain to deliver projects across the Gulf, KSA, in Europe and North America. He received his Masters in Technical Marketing and his Bachelor in Electronics Engineering from Polytechnical University in Munich, Germany. Marc can be contacted at email@example.com
The solution provides employees with self-service access to the data insight that they need, and it can help companies increase their overall productivity. Likewise, by providing managers and C-level executives with “dashboards”, as an overview of their departments, they can better manage their teams, and decide faster on the basis of facts rather than guesswork. Companies can measure and improve their key performance indicators (KPIs) to control the most important business areas for their organisations. The world wide trends BI has been a top priority for CIOs and IT managers across the globe for some years now, and it was quoted as one of the top IT trends for 2013 by Gartner, as published by David W. Cearley and Carl Claunch in “The Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2013”, February, 2013. No longer is BI a set of tools available only to the privileged few in IT or business analysts since it is becoming ubiquitous in many organisations, and it is rapidly reaching into many areas of our lives as consumers. So, one may ask, has BI reached full maturity globally? Have we reached a saturation point with only limited evolutionary, incremental value in the years to come? Quite the opposite! Gartner saw a slowdown of growth for BI software from 17% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012 to total USD 13.1 billion
worldwide, according to “Market Share Analysis: Business Intelligence, Analytics and Performance Management”, by Dan Sommer, Bhavish Sood, May 2013. However, we have been seeing a tremendous shift in the industry, especially in Qatar, with a series of innovations that are game-changing and will deliver growth when organisations effectively adopt and transform. Gartner’s view is that the market for BI and analytics platforms will remain one of the fastest growing software markets. The compound annual growth rate for the BI and analytics space is expected to be 7% through 2016, as stated in “Forecast: Enterprise Software Markets, Worldwide, 2011-2016, 4Q12 Update” Innovation in BI and enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions is happening globally, but it is definitely taking off in the Gulf region. BI/EPM solutions, which help organisations manage a variety of issues such as dealing with big data, a mobile workforce with “bring your own device” (BYOD), desktop visualisation tools, and other solutions that offer a platform covering all cases of the required use across the enterprise, will continue to lead the wave. Furthermore, by tapping into the in-memory computing (IMC) realm, organisations have the opportunity to delve into information faster and more effectively than ever before. With IMC, organisations can explore and analyse vast quantities of data from virtually any data source at the speed of thought alloing them to be on top of changing business realities as events unfold. Gartner’s Report on Top Technology Trends, 2013: In-Memory Computing Aims at Mainstream Adoption, January 2013, stated that the in-memory data grid (IMDG) market may still be small, but the decline in costs of flash memory prices, and the maturation of specific software platforms will make
IMC more accessible to companies, promoting fast growth reaching USD one billion by 2016. Massimo Pezzini, Vice-President, Gartner, said that companies do not consider the use of IMC as a risk of being out-innovated by competition, “During the next two to three years, IMC will become a key element in the strategy of organisations, which are focused on improving effectiveness and business growth.” Qatar’s footsteps in BI Clariba has experienced firsthand how these innovations can help transform entire business processes while simplifying the IT landscape. Although slightly behind in the global wave of BI adoption, the Gulf region is now booming, especially the Qatari market. Several companies have already committed to BI solutions and have taken control of their most important metrics, and, thus, started reaping immediate benefits.While before the majority of companies were relying solely on spreadsheets to manage and control their business data, nowadays we have seen these companies realising that they need an automated, reliable process to guide them in their decision-making processes. Since Clariba began its first project in Qatar at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in 2008, we have been fortunate to work with many more companies in order to deliver successful BI/EPM solutions in leading organisations such as, Doha Bank, Qatar Aluminum, Qapco, Ooredoo, Qatar Steel, Qafac and QDB. The common pain points that led these organisations to look for a BI solution were: ■■ The information needed for decision making was not readily available ■■ Lack of visibility on company performance ■■ Difficulty to control important metrics ■■ Slow reporting process with time-consuming information consolidation ■■ High dependence on IT to answer business queries ■■ Static and unappealing information delivery After implementing their BI platforms, companies can expect to see immediate benefits: ■■ Reduction of manual effort to extract data to display management KPIs ■■ Self-service capability for ad hoc reporting ■■ Improvement in data transparency, accuracy and accessibility ■■ Faster data gathering and presentation ■■ Increase in information visibility ■■ Improvement in performance metric tracking ■■ More accountability as managers can easily control KPIs by line of business ■■ C-level executives can quickly grasp the information they need at-a-glance
As the Qatari BI market matures, we also see local companies gradually becoming interested in innovative solutions such as in-memory computing (IMC). We have just recently deployed an in-memory computing project at Spinneys, a well-known supermarket chain, in Dubai. This technology, coupled with an enterprise-wide BI solution, will help Spinneys have real-time visibility of their metrics for sales and inventory optimisation. We are confident that Qatar is soon to follow the trend towards in-memory computing. How to tackle a BI/EPM project? Unfortunately, not all BI/EPM projects in the Gulf region have met expectations or have completed successfully. Here are some tips to consider when looking for a BI/ EPM solution and implementation partner: ■■ If your company is considering a BI/ EPM solution, our advice would be to carefully research vendors, and analyse the solution that best fits your needs. ■■ When you are looking for a partner to advise and implement a BI/EPM solution, make sure they have experience, and a successful track record of implementations for the particular solution you are looking for. Do they know your industry? Do they apply best practices in their project implementations? ■■ Another important factor is the qualification of their technical team. It can be expected that the sales person will leave you after the contract is signed and you will then need to rely on the capabilities of the technical staff. So, don’t go for the cheapest rate. You will be happier in the longterm if you look for quality and track record. Ask for consultant qualifications – Are they certified in that particular solution? Have they worked in similar projects? If not, you may be setting up yourself for disaster and endless hours of rework. ■■ Another important point to check is the partner’s ability to carry out the project end-to-end. Can they provide training after the product is implemented? The success of your BI/EPM investment depends ultimately on the staff using the solutions. In order for that to happen, they need to be properly enabled. What to expect? This revolutionary wave that is currently happening in the BI and analytics market will not stop here. The winners shall be those organisations that seize the opportunity to re-imagine their business to drive competitiveness and profitability. We see a tremendous growth opportunity in business intelligence and enterprise performance management solutions in the next years, as customers in the Gulf region adopt these new capabilities and transform their organisations effectively. “Analytics like never before” is a theme used by a BI expert, Timo Elliott. I couldn’t agree more.
We offer you the best Qatar Steel Industries Factory has built a strong reputation throughout the years by providing premium quality products to the Qatari market. Jenny Kassis got talking to their management to know about their accomplishments so far. Please tell us about the role of Qatar Steel Industries Factory since its inception until today. What products and services do you offer? Qatar Steel Industries Factory (QSIF) was established in 1997. It started its operations with less than 20 employees. However, today we offer a good employment environment for a team consisting of 250 experienced and skilled workmen including technicians, engineers, and similar. We are the pioneers in manufacturing steel roofing sheets, steel tubes, pipes and accessories in Qatar. We manufacture PU foam insulated roofing sheets, wall panels (sandwich panels), pre-painted GI corrugated roofing sheets, MS/GI square and
rectangular hollow sections, tubes and round pipes and similar. The company started with a single production line of pre-painted GI roofing sheets, which had a production capacity of 500,000 meters length per year. In 1999, we launched Steel Coil Service Center, which is the first of its kind in Qatar. We were able to accomplish this by installing shearing cut to length machine, steel sheet bending and cutting service units. QSIF provides a wide range of services to clients in the field of coil service. Those include slitting and cutting steel coils into the specific sizes required by our customers as well as fabricating steel sheets as per customersâ€™ specifications.
Almost all of our projects are financed by QDB. The support of this bank has played an important role in our growth and our expansion projects highly depend on them.
In line with the increased demand for these products in the market, we added new production lines consecutively in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Our diverse array of products includes tile roof sheet, span roof sheet and decking sheets for concrete structures. What are the main products that helped you grow the company? In 2000, we started to produce polyurethane insulated roofing sheet. With an intense knowledge of the industry and this market, we have been able to gain a good reputation for this product, which has become very popular since its launch in Qatar. The range of the product was upgraded with the installation of a new plant, which specialised in producing PU foam insulated wall panels, in 2005. Now, we can proudly say that we are the pioneer manufacturer of this product. In 2010, we doubled the production capacity for PU foam panels and roof sheets through the installation of a sophisticated, high speed, and continuous machine line. But, even before that, in 2002, we installed the first tube mill and started producing medium size square and rectangular tubes and round pipes. Due to the increased demand for this product, the second line with higher speed and a production capacity for medium and larger sizes products was installed and started production in 2007. The third tube mill, which was added to the production line in 2011, is recognised as a high speed line. This has allowed us to double our production capacity. Furthermore, in 2005 we installed the chain link fencing net weaving unit, which is also first of its kind in Qatar. Subsequently, we started producing both galvanised and PVC coated fencing nets. We currently enjoy a good reputation in the market due to an increased number of satisfied customers. What did you rely on to gain a big share in the market? Our excellence in engineering, along with a genuine
team spirit, clear objectives, ethical business practices and well defined goals, have infused an accelerated growth in the market expansion of our company throughout the years. However, in order to ensure high standards of quality and achieve customer satisfaction, all our manufacturing units have adopted an internal quality control programme and use the latest techniques and machinery to comply with the industry specific standards. How has Qatar Development Bank helped you in developing your business? The support of QDB is extremely important to us. Almost all of our projects are financed by QDB. The support of this bank has played an important role in our growth, and our expansion projects highly depend on them. We know that you have widened your activities and you are now also present outside Qatar. What strategy did you adopt to expand into foreign markets? In order to expand QSIFâ€™s presence outside Qatar, and open up to new markets, we established two branches in the UAE â€“ Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah, and Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai. We have a good storage facility in Hamriyah Free Zone, which meets the requirements of that market. In addition to that, we have a good number of customers from other GCC countries, which are all steel factories. Thus, we started exporting steel tubes, pipes and plates to these countries in 2011. Could you please tell us about some other achievements of QSIF? In 2010, we got ISO 14001:2004 and ISO9001:2008 certification. It is a testament of our commitment to the quality of our products, our relationship with customers, and consequently our reputation in the market. With the current and expected projects in Qatar, how do you manage to meet the needs of the Qatari market? We have well established relationship with producers of raw materials from different countries around the world.That ensures a continuous supply of needed materials and, thus, results in our uninterrupted production schedule. Moreover, our strong and qualified marketing section has enormous experience and ability to meet the proposals coming from the market at any time.
watch the environment
Environmental pollution is spreading around the world today more than ever, which is due to the innovations and technologies used to ease people’s lives. It is all indirectly destroying ecological sustainability. Jenny Kassis caught up with Ali Al-Marri, Chairman, Al Arab Group, which is the parent company of Al Haya Enviro, who informed her about their efforts to maintain environmental protection. Please tell us about the beginnings of Al Haya Enviro. Al Haya Enviro is under the umbrella of Al Arab Group, which was founded in 1995. The group includes several companies from different sectors. We established Al Haya Enviro in 2003 with a commitment to make this planet greener and healthier. We’ve been focusing on raising awareness of the importance of environment protection not just locally, but also globally. From this standpoint, the company has become a global trend.
Ali Al-Marri is the Chairman of Al Arab Group, which is the parent company of Al Haya Enviro. He holds a BSc in Aero Science from King Faisal Air Academy, KSA, and a Master of Public Administration from Auburn University, Alabama, U.S.A. Ali can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We recognise the importance of environmental protection in maintaining a certain level of reconstruction of the earth. Furthermore, we understand its role in raising the profile of any country and its population to a higher level. For that reason, we established this company and decided to manage all kind of waste. Consequently, we cooperated with several entities in Qatar such as Friends of the Environment, the Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Energy. Also, we got the support of Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Development Bank. What services do you offer? How do they contribute to maintaining environmental sustainability in Qatar? Al Haya offers a wide range of services related to environmental monitoring, reporting and auditing, in addition to engineering services and UPS installation and maintenance. We also have several factories, which include: ■■ Al Haya Plastic Factory that adds a special nondecomposed substance to the plastic in order to ensure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the environment. It was established with funding from Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB). ■■ Al Haya Waste Treatment Factory that uses high technologies to treat waste wax, contaminated grease and contaminated soil. It was established with funding from QIB through Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and its outstanding Al Dhammeen programme.
Environmental waste arising from factories, shops and similar, should be disposed in order to not to become a burden on any human being’s life. Within our factories, we provide treatments for plastic and oil waste, which completely decompose it without producing any cons while also ensuring the environmental safety. Could you please explain more about the e-waste service and what distinguishes it from other services? We are the only approved e-waste collection service provider in Qatar. This means that we manage all electronic wastes, which are harmful to the environment and grow in number every day, such as mobile phones, computers, batteries, and various electronic gadgets. The treatment of such waste is regulated by the Basel Convention which adjusts the management of electronic materials and its circulation between countries on the basis of their gravity. We have approached the International Energy Agency to help us establish our e-waste factory. Now we are trying to develop that concept. It will be the only factory specialised in e-waste within the Gulf region. We prepared an exhaustive study, but we did not find sufficient support from the local authorities since they decided to work with foreign unauthorised companies. So, for the moment, we have stopped this activity due to the lack of support from some local governmental entities and quasi-governmental organisations. However, Al Haya Enviro is still trying to limit the amount of electronic waste as much as possible knowing that the Ministry of Environment is also involved in this matter. We are committing ourselves to what can be done to confine e-waste in order to justify the establishment of our factory one day. We are currently dealing with local companies by taking their electronic waste and sending it to a third-party company to manage it.
Who are the parties that you deal with in order to carry out your business? We deal with a number of parties as well as organisations of the United Nations such as the International Energy Agency. Locally, we cooperate with the Ministry of Energy and Environment. However, we do not receive any support from any entity. Who are your customers and how does the scope of your services differ from one client to another? The list of our customers includes major companies and organisations like Qatar Petroleum and most of its subsidiaries, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Financial Centre, and Aspire Logistics, in addition to a number of SMEs. The basics in dealings with these companies vary since large companies have a tremendous amount of electronic waste unlike SMEs. Thus, there is a difference in contracts. On one side, contracts with large companies can be signed even for up to five years in some cases. On the other side, contracts with smaller companies can be signed for only few months or on the basis of a project or a particular situation. In your opinion, is there sufficient awareness in Qatar with regards to environmental standards? Which actions need to be taken in this regard? Environmental awareness exists in Qatar, but not sufficiently. The law that protects the environment is also in place Thus, with respect to that, Qatar today is different from the past, which is due to various efforts invested in raising awareness. In Al Haya Waste, we do some sort of commercial awareness. While dealing with companies, we enlighten them about our services and their importance for preserving the environment. In my opinion, the environmental systems in Qatar are one of the best across the GCC and the Middle East. This is what I have noticed while visiting and working in these countries. However, I think that the environmental awareness should be raised even higher through more media campaigns and the implementation of various protective systems. Lastly, the Ministry of Environment is in charge of the environmental promotion activities and it is doing its job in this regard. However, there is always a need for further efforts. What are the main challenges that you face in Qatar? In Qatar, we face a lot of challenges due to the lack of confidence in local companies. A lot of importance has been given to foreign companies that have concluded environmental contracts with Qatari companies. There is a lack of support to deal with local companies and choose them among others due to an open market. This means that any foreign company, which may be more powerful than us, can enter the market and take over our business. Thus, local firms do not find adequate support. Furthermore, the higher level foreign staff of industrial companies here is preferring to deal with the Western companies. In my opinion, the trust of their owners is very weak towards local companies, so they always resort to the foreign ones.
One more challenge is that modifications made to various systems can affect the initial assessment of our projects and increase costs. For example, if we prepare a study of the project that is aimed at implementing systems for civil defense, electricity or water, we might face a change during the implementation phase. That could require compliance with higher standards and, thus, increase our costs. Therefore, the initial assessment and the final costs, which the implementation of the project requires, might vary. This means that we need to repeat our work. Knowing that all businesses face competition, whether local or international, what kind of competition do you experience? We face competition from foreign companies that get a lot of projects straightaway. In some cases, bidding requirements can be fulfilled only by them. As for local companies, there is also a kind of competition, but it does not affect us directly. What are the steps that led you to win Qatar Development Bank’s award for “The Best 5 Projects in Qatar”? When we applied for a loan from QDB, we prepared a comprehensive study and took the time to review and analyse our results. In addition, we relied on the authenticity of the market and its need for a similar project. This is what made us qualify and helped us become one of the best five projects in Qatar. We continuously cooperate with QDB and appreciate their efforts and the support they provide to all local companies. Since the Qatari market is small, we request QDB to support local companies to spread their activities outside Qatar. They are already doing that through TASDEER. Local companies need this kind of support for their cautious proliferation abroad. If these companies keep operating only in Qatar, they will not be able to progress and expand their business. Do you think there are opportunities for entrepreneurs and emerging companies wishing to work within this sector in Qatar, and what would you advise them? The environmental sector is very wide and there are many opportunities available. But, people need to fully understand and study the projects that they plan to implement. Thus, every person, who seeks to enter this field, has to educate himself and learn how to deal with other companies in the market. This should be done even before preparing their studies and referring to more experienced people. How do you plan to grow you company and continue to protect the environment in the coming years? We seek to establish more factories in Qatar with the help of QDB. In addition to that, we are still in the stage of analysing various statistics regarding the establishment of our e-waste factory. On the external level, we plan to establish our presence in different foreign markets. We will expand our business scope first within the Gulf, and then across the whole Middle East region. The projects abroad exist, but we can’t work there alone. We need partners, so we are now focusing on that.
value addition? Optimus was incorporated in 2008 to fill the gap in the regional channel with respect to value added services and products. Aparna Shivpuri Arya caught up with Meera Kaul, Managing Director, Optimus Technology and Telecommunication, to get a little bit more tech-savvy.
Please give us some background about Optimus and its inception. Optimus is one of the few companies in the region that has innovated its channel approach, services portfolio, and value added service offerings by continuously being ahead of the curve. Optimus has proven that a pure play “value“ model is indeed successful, even in a market where success is determined by volume parameters. In understanding the true meaning of being a value player, our go-to-market approach is designed to take value-centric product vendors to the value supply chain by creating, executing and supporting the value added infrastructure required for partners and end customers to appreciate and sustain a pure value model. Vendors of value-centric products require distribution partners like Optimus to execute their
strategy in the emerging markets by providing access to the semantics of business across the various economies of the region. To explain to our readers in simple terms – what is value added distribution? VALUE means a multi-pronged approach to connect the dots that define the needs of the channel ecosystem to make the entire channel more profitable for all its players. Our value involves: a. Encouraging customers to adopt new technologies, new services attached to those technologies, and financial models that these innovations bring to the fore b. Using the channel capabilities to provide to the end customers with a deeper portfolio of vendor products and its product alliances
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
c. Focusing on developing vendor business in our markets through a huge network of resellers and system integrators who understand the semantics of a value business d. Training and helping to certify resources on ground to sell and implement multivendor technology by creating customer centric solution portfolios e. Marketing vendor solutions, products and services into these diverse high growth economies to cater to huge opportunities of business f. Ensuring the end customer satisfaction across vendor solution implementations and maintaining vendor goodwill to support customer retention
What support services do you provide to your vendors? Optimus offers its channel partners value-added services such as mapping business process to technology, technical and product training, presales and post-sales support, lead generation through its inside sales desk, marketing services and technical support services, which are all designed to improve their competitive advantage and increase their profitability. We also offer our existing channel partners facilities through our Business Partner Portal to enable self-serve mode of service in a more efficient manner.
The success of any business is its capability to understand the gap in the technology space in the market and create a niche in fulfilling that gap. Any company that follows this basic mantra will succeed.
How and when did you start your operations in Qatar? Optimus operations in Qatar started in 2008, though the founding owners of the company have been involved in technology system integration in Qatar since the late 1990s. You did a technology roadshow in Qatar in 2012 - how was your experience? According to you, what are the trends in the IT and communications sector in Qatar? Qatar’s foray into technology is a function of the technology infrastructure that the country is building during the last few years. We see infrastructure, mobility, and cloud to be the high growth verticals. For an SME looking to enter or grow in this sector/ vertical, what would be your advice to them? The success of any business is its capability to understand the gap in the technology space in the market and create a niche in fulfilling that gap. Any company that follows this basic mantra will succeed. Every business journey has its own set of challenges. What challenges have you faced while running your business in this region? Any dos and don’ts to avoid them? Every phase of the growth of a company has its own specific challenges. For Middle Eastern businesses, the challenges for growth are the rate of technology adoption, availability of skill sets, transience of skilled resources and, of course, political and regulatory parameters.
Meera Kaul is the Managing Director of Optimus Technology & Telecommunications. She is recognised for her thought leadership, vision and execution of technology ventures across the IT and channel community. For more information, please visit www.optimusdistribution.com
What are the future plans for this region? We will continue to expand our portfolio and regional coverage. Our focus is to bring into the region a lot of new and innovative technologies, so that the end customer benefits from the latest innovations being made all over the world. We purport to enable and train our partners and support their businesses in an attempt to increase the technology quotient of our markets.
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The answer is, “Yes!” Software-defined networking (SDN) is the “next big thing” being put through the mill by the analyst community and vendors alike. If you already have it, you must have been wondering how to protect your SDN investments? Sufian Dweik, Regional Director, MEMA, Brocade Communications, assured us that the underlying network infrastructure is the key to success.
arly adopters of SDN in the region are currently investigating a wide range of applications.These include network virtualisation, large-scale data centre infrastructure management, traffic engineering, and WAN flow management. International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that globally SDN currently accounts for around USD 360 million in annual business within a USD 30 billion worth networking industry. This is expected to grow significantly in the future.
Sufian Dweik is the Regional Director, MENA, at Brocade Communications. Before heading the MENA team at Brocade, he spent six years at Cisco leading the vendor’s Abu Dhabi public sector team. He has over 19 years of IT industry experience, out of which 13 are in the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.brocade.com
SDN is actually a fairly simple philosophy, but the preparation to be able to deploy SDN needs to start now. Let’s start with one of the big questions that few seem brave enough to ask, “Will SDN really herald an era when we can say goodbye to the network complexity, so we can access new applications on-demand rather than on-deployment of some new networking kit?” The good news is that the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” SDN is a way of approaching the management and utilisation of the network differently, which enables customers to fully utilise the power of virtualisation of hardware and software effectively across the infrastructure. However, it is not, despite the hype, a replacement of the physical infrastructure. Unfortunately, if your physical infrastructure is still a three-tier, legacy affair with redundancy and resilience
issues, any investment in SDN will reap you little real reward. This is where fact and fiction on SDN must divide if we are to deliver SDN in a way the solution is designed to be deployed. Today’s networks are inefficient, difficult to scale, cost-intensive in time and resources, and incapable of supporting flexible operations. In most cases, all networking intelligence is distributed across physical switches and routers using standardised protocols. Configuration of networking equipment is primarily performed on each switch independently. The result is an excessively complex network architecture. To enforce a change, network operators will have to go down to the individual switch or router and reconfigure the routing protocol, which is a time consuming task especially in large networks and data centers. To use an analogy, it is akin to writing a book by using a chisel on stone slabs. If you make a mistake, you must pick up your chisel and rewrite the content on another slab, making it a very tedious task. SDN effectively separates network data traffic processing from the logic and rules controlling the flow of that data. It gives service providers and enterprises control over how to manage their data to the level that they are able to enforce different rules and routing capabilities. It also includes deciding what type of data goes local and what type of data goes remote.
In essence, SDN can enable an organisation to gain visibility and control access to the network and resources to the granular level, enabling IT managers to solve specific issues that affect the network. To extend the earlier metaphor, imagine you are writing the same story as before, but this time you are using a computer. If you make an error, it is automatically highlighted or corrected. You can rearrange the story with a click of a button and everything is stored and viewable in one avenue rather than on multiple stone slabs. Suddenly, your work has become faster, more flexible, and easier to manage through a single portal. By enabling enterprises to have a central overview of the entire network architecture, customers are able to tune the network accordingly to meet business needs. More importantly, it gives network operators and vendors an avenue to experiment with network optimisation ideas and strategies in a real network setting without affecting the current flow of data. Operators can now customise their networks to better suit their business needs. This holds the promise of starting a new network innovation cycle with companies fighting to create network-based applications and services. Less is more Data centers have grown to comprise of a huge number of physical devices to create a network. When organisations need to support faster connections, more connections, bigger data sets, or more applications, the traditional approach has been to add more devices. Over time, this turned out to be a very ineffective methodology once those networks reached a certain size. It caused low utilisation per device, high-redundancy, complex workarounds to navigate the north-south nature of traditional network designs, and growing complexity that required more resources. More has just added up to less – less efficient, less cost-effective, and less reliable. Virtualisation has emerged as a way of managing devices better, and this is a technology that has progressed beyond the hype into the actual deployment phase. According to Biswajeet Mahapatra, Research Director, Gartner, “Most companies today are virtualising 20% to 30% of their hardware.” By dividing physical devices into multiple virtual units that can be assigned to certain tasks across the infrastructure, and not just those related to the tasks assigned to the physical unit, enterprises can use their full capacity and compute power. But now, the issue is how to manage and track a huge number of virtual devices and, unlike the physical units, those virtual devices really could be just about anywhere on the network. At the same time, the virtual devices still need to be moved around, which makes the management of something that is supposed to ease complexity rather complex. In fact, it is a clear example of how a fantastic solution to infrastructure inefficacy still relies on the right network environment to work. The network still matters SDN takes virtualisation to the next level. By separating the control plane, which is the part that holds the instruction manual, and the data plane, which is where the data sits, within a device, SDN enables the control element to move with a virtual device around the network. This means that a virtual device automatically
knows how to deal with an application or service request regardless of where it is within the infrastructure. It doesn’t need reprogramming every time it gets moved since the compute power and the intelligence reside and move around the network together. It makes virtual machines much more powerful, trackable, easy to move, and easy to manage. SDN provides the framework to deliver this process, so management of the network becomes more about software commands and application enablement, and less about where certain physical devices sit or what they are plugged into. This is where some have taken a leap of imagination and jumped from network to software, inferring that hardware will become redundant as software takes over. That is a nice idea were it not for two questions that anyone looking at SDN should really ask, “What exactly is that software going to run on and be accessed by?” and “What exactly do they think that the ‘defined’ in SDN stands for?” The reality is that the not quite as trendy network piece is still going to be vital. Just as virtualisation did not bring an end to investment in storage or IP infrastructure, SDN is about better utilisation and increasing the agility of the underlying infrastructure, and not about replacing it. If that infrastructure is not able to deliver a flat, fully resilient, auto-healing, and auto-forming network that supports east-west traffic, SDN will suffer the same challenges at deployment that virtualisation has. To put in another way, if SDN is a top of the range sports car it will still perform badly if you use it on a road that is full of portholes, dead-ends, broken bridges, and unnecessary loops, to be beaten by the average family saloon travelling on a new straight, flat road that goes directly to its destination. So, to go back to the question, “Can SDN really herald an era when we can say goodbye to network complexity and access new applications on-demand?” The answer is still emphatically, “Yes.” However, there remain three things that need to be addressed to realise the potential of SDN. Firstly, SDN must be recognised as an approach, and not a product, with all vendors developing and optimising their product portfolios to support SDN right across the data center. It’s already been widely acknowledged that multi-vendor environments provide for the best overall solution to customers, and ensuring that this continues brings us to the second point. SDN requires open standards to prevent the very bottlenecks it is designed to address while being cost-effective at deployment. Last, but definitely not least, SDN can only be effective when deployed on fabric networks. Fabrics resolve all the issues of the legacy three-tier architecture, to provide for your super-charged SDN solution to operate at optimal levels. Without this, SDN will still work, but it will take longer, cost more, create additional levels of complexity, and won’t deliver the business benefits you hoped for. Understanding these three points is critical to making the right SDN investments for your business. Defining SDN is simple, it’s all in the name. To deploy and benefit from it, just bear in mind what the “N” stands for, and why it remains the critical foundation to your technology plans and business performance.
Embrace technology While there is a shift towards using technology to improve efficiency, there are still many factors businesses should consider in order to improve their operations. Reggie Fernandes, Regional Director, Sage Middle East, pointed out why investing in technology is especially important for SMEs.
he world has changed drastically over the last few decades and has transitioned from an industrial society to a digital one. This new period has come to be known by many names - the information age, the computer age, and, most recently, the new media age.
Reggie Fernandes is the Regional Director at Sage Middle East, which is the regional office of the multinational enterprise software company â€“ Sage Group PLC. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, he has established himself as a mentor and business coach dealing with various stakeholders at international levels. For more information, please visit www.me.sage.com
The digital revolution has affected our lives in more ways than we can imagine. As a result, it has had a tremendous impact on the way we conduct business. We live in an economy based on information, computerisation and constant technological innovation, but businesses have not as yet harnessed the full potential of these resources. Reducing costs of your business by creating processes, which will increase efficiency over time, is a smart way to plan ahead. In many cases, itâ€™s about making smarter choices when deciding where to invest your small business funds and how to optimise processes that use the latest technology. Change your mindset There seems to be a fixed mindset that integrating technology into your business processes is an expensive affair and is not required for an SME. There needs to be a change in thinking to harness the power of technology, otherwise businesses will be at a risk of failing before
they even begin the evolution process. SMEs tend to be transaction oriented and can often lack a long term vision and goal.They are often only interested in how much money they will get without foresight and a look at the bigger picture. Processes and systems are required not only for large corporations, but for all businesses. SMEs often feel that technology is too expensive and will not benefit them much. However, they are wrong in assuming this idea. Even if they insist on holding on to this myth, considering that every business is looking at dynamic growth, it is inevitable that as their company grows so will the number of their employees and processes as well. It would be a wise option to invest in an inexpensive business management software early on, rather than revamping the entire system once the organisation has grown to a large enterprise. Speed Technology has been a key enabler in the enhancement of speed when it comes to business activities. Businesses are able to respond to queries immediately and initiate significant work with a click. This has increased efficiency in processes, spurred business growth, and made it far simpler for businesses to function smoothly. This new digital
Whether SMEs are looking to create new business models, adapt old ones, improve employee productivity or get closer to their customers and partners, technological support is imperative.
era has created more millionaires in a shorter time than any other era in our entire history, being greatly aided by the speed factor. Internal connectivity Connectivity within an organisation is of great importance. Often, SMEs tend to have a very controlling management who likes to be involved in every aspect of their business. This is, of course, impossible to do without investing a great amount of time in being a part of each process. This is where business management software can help and provide a network of information sharing that saves time for all the employees and allows for maximum control of the business. External connectivity and marketing Technology has played a significant role in the evolution of social media within which people interact by creating, sharing, and exchanging information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Furthermore, social media depends on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. It has introduced substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organisations, communities, and individuals. The result is that most businesses try to build an online community of fans using Facebook and Twitter among other mediums.
Getting the right technology infrastructure in place today will help ease the progression from being a small sized company to becoming a mid-sized one.
If a brand is still not on these networks, they are missing out on an opportunity to market themselves at virtually no cost. Cloud computing The emergence of cloud computing offers businesses a new set of tools and services through which they can streamline and improve the way in which they function. Even though there are several tangible benefits, many businesses still show skepticism towards the idea of storing and retrieving critical business data and documentation in the cloud. Cloud computing offers SMEs a wide range of benefits which include: ■■ Greater business agility - Technology means that business can now be done anywhere with a broadband connection allowing for much great accessibility. Cloud computing allows businesses to take full advantage of this opportunity by enabling staff to access their files and applications via their web browser ■■ Cost savings – The application developer bears the cost of maintaining high cost hardware, software and license fees, which makes it an economical proposition. There is also no need for the IT staff to deal with any problem as the service is managed by the cloud provider. ■■ Subscription-based pricing – For SMEs, cashflow is of vital importance and as many cloud computing services offer the option to pay monthly, businesses can access incredibly sophisticated software with no upfront fees and no lock-in periods. ■■ Security of data – A reputable cloud provider will ensure that your data is encrypted and backed up, which reduces the costs and worry associated with data backup. In addition, it improves security as the hardware is no longer in the office space. ■■ Disaster recovery – One of the major concerns about cloud computing is what happens to my data if the service crashes? While this may be a legitimate concern, evidence highlights that cloud users actually have shorter disaster recovery times. Technology impacts every aspect of a business. Whether SMEs are looking to create new business models, adapt old ones, improve employee productivity or get closer to their customers and partners, technological support is imperative. The decisions that business owners make today will influence what can be done in the future. So, it is important to think about what the business will look like in a few years time. Getting the right technology infrastructure in place today will help ease the progression from being a small sized company to becoming a mid-sized one.
Bound to cooperate In an attempt to keep pace with the rapid evolution of its financial sector, Qatar enacted a new law to regulate the Qatar Central Bank, Law No. 13 of 2012. Michiel Visser, Executive Partner, and Charbel Abou Charaf, Associate, White & Case LLP Doha, provided us with an overview of this long-awaited piece of legislation.
t the beginning of 2013, Qatar enacted a new law to regulate the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), Law No. 13 of 2012 (the new QCB Law). It is expected to have a long-standing effect on the banking and financial industry in Qatar.
The QCB is the financial regulator in Qatar, supervising and monitoring activities and operations of banks and financial institutions in the country. A law of 2006, Decree-Law No. 33 of 2006, had already set the framework within which the QCB should operate. However, Qatar has changed tremendously over the last seven years. Most notably, the Qatar Financial Centre (the QFC), which is intended to be one of the financial hubs for the region, have seen a large number of international and regional banks, financial institutions and insurance companies open under the umbrella of the QFC Regulatory Authority (the QFCRA), with a separate set of rules and regulations applying to QFC firms. Under the new QCB Law, the QCB retains its traditional role as the guarantor of monetary stability and the regulator of retail and corporate banking, investment banking, and exchange house business. In addition, the new QCB Law extends the activities, which are within the QCB supervisory scope, to include supervision over the activities of the QFC, the entire insurance sector, and Islamic banking. The new QCB Law also covers in detail the mergers of financial institutions, and addresses other important issues such as credit rating agencies, the insolvency and liquidation of financial institutions, and the creation of a special dispute resolution committee. A new relationship Since its inception in 2005, the QFC has been the preferred choice for international banks, financial institutions, and insurance and reinsurance companies intending to operate in Qatar. The QFC allows its entities to have 100% foreign ownership, and its regulatory framework is modeled closely on that of the UK and other international financial centers. This provides an important incentive for foreign institutions wanting to tap into the Qatari market or use Qatar as their regional headquarters.
Although the initial intention was to keep the QFCRA and the QCB completely separate, with different legal and regulatory regimes applying to QFC companies and to local Qatari financial institutions, this view seems to have changed over the years. Indeed, the New QCB Law expressly grants the QCB the power to set the policies governing the activities of the QFC, and places in the hands of the Governor of the QCB the supervisory powers over the QFC that were initially granted to the Minister of Economy and Finance under Law No. 7 of 2005, which originally constituted the QFC. The dynamics of the newly established relationship between the QCB and the QFCRA are as yet unclear, and the extent of coordination between the two regulators remains to be seen. It is, however, worth noting that the QFC legal framework is significantly different from the local â€œonshoreâ€? legal regime in Qatar. Furthermore, language may constitute an additional barrier since most of the QCB employees deal mostly in Arabic while the QFC platform is purely in English. Regardless of these challenges, the QCB and the QFCRA are bound to coordinate, especially with regards to the insurance sector. A new regulator for the insurance business Before the enactment of the new QCB Law, the insurance sector in Qatar was mainly governed by a law from1966 (Decree-Law No. 1 of 1966), which placed the insurance industry under the supervision of the Ministry of Business and Trade. In contrast, QFC firms that were engaged in insurance activities were regulated by the QFCRA. The new QCB Law abrogated the old law and unified the regulatory framework, submitting insurance and reinsurance companies operating in Qatar as well as insurance brokerage firms to the oversight of the QCB. The new QCB Law provides that insurance of assets and property located in Qatar, and liabilities arising in connection with such assets or property, must be subscribed through licensed insurance companies and licensed brokers. The new QCB Law defines licensed companies as either authorised
Michiel Visser is the Executive Partner of White & Case LLP in Doha. Dual-qualified in England and New York, Michiel represents corporations, sovereign wealth funds, private equity funds, and commercial banks in public and private mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and investments in a broad range of industries. Michiel can be contacted at email@example.com.
Charbel Abou Charaf is an Associate with White & Case LLP in Doha. Dual-qualified in Beirut and New York, and previously based in the New York office of White & Case, Charbel focuses on domestic and cross-border mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and equity investments in a broad range of industries, including the banking and financial sector. Charbel can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
joint stock companies incorporated in Qatar or authorised branches or representative offices of foreign insurers.
In both cases, the prior approval of the QCB for the merger is required.
In addition, the new QBC Law touches on the assignment of insurance policies, the priority granted to certain policyholders in case of bankruptcy of an insurance company, and the required approval of the QCB on all forms of policies and any amendments to such policies.
A preliminary agreement, or plan of merger, called in the new QCB Law an “initial agreement”, must be signed between the parties. Prior to signing such agreement, a fully-fledged due diligence review must be undertaken. An application for merger, containing certain documents and information, must be submitted to the QCB. Following that, the Governor has 60 days to issue a decision approving or rejecting the merger, which is appealable.
The new QCB Law remains silent on whether QFC insurance companies will fall under the regulatory scope of the QCB. In any event, in practice the QCB will most probably coordinate with the QFCRA on insurance matters given the regulatory experience that the QFCRA has gained in that sector. However, the level of interaction between local insurance companies, QFC insurance companies, the QCB, and the QFCRA remains to be seen. Regulating Islamic banking The new QCB Law addresses Islamic financial institutions by defining the scope of activities of such institutions, and setting guidelines for the relationship these institutions have with their clients and with the QCB. According to this law, Islamic financial institutions aim at generating profit through non-interest based banking activities, developing Sharia’a compliant savings and investment products, providing financial services that benefit society at large, and developing the understanding of Islamic finance in general. In this context, Islamic financial institutions may accept all types of deposits, undertake all types of financing and investment, and own all moveable and immoveable assets that are necessary to achieve their objectives. To reach these objectives, each Islamic financial Institution is required to have a Sharia’a supervisory board comprising at least three members appointed by the general assembly of that financial institution. The main purpose of that board is to ensure that the activities of the Islamic financial institution are Sharia’a-compliant. The new QCB Law did not delve into the details of operations of Islamic financial institutions, since it left the QCB with the task of determining operational details including, notably, capital ratio, liquidity, but also liquidation. Specific M&A provisions The new QCB Law sets out in detail the mechanisms governing mergers between financial institutions. These mechanisms are still subject to the thresholds and procedures set out in the Commercial Companies Law No.5 of 2002. However, the new QBC Law clarifies certain important matters. Firstly, two or more financial institutions can merge only in either one of two ways: ■■ Companies can merge into a new company, or ■■ The target can merge into the acquirer
In addition, the new QCB Law imposes the creation of committees at the level of the companies intending to merge, with the QCB represented in each such committee. Also, the exchange of information between the merging companies has become strictly regulated since any such exchange now requires the prior approval of the governor. The new QCB Law also provides for limitations regarding the content of such information and the identity of its recipients. Additional provisions regarding termination and tax have also been introduced. For example, termination of employment contracts has become strictly regulated and now requires the prior approval of the governor, and a special indemnity must be paid to the terminated employees. On another note, a preferential tax treatment may be granted by the QCB to the merging company or the new company resulting from the merger. A merger can also be imposed by the QCB to any financial institution that has problems, which have a “fundamental effect” on its financial condition. The new QCB Law does not shed light on the legal framework governing acquisitions of financial institutions. It only addresses the issue in a single provision, requiring the approval of the QCB on any acquisition, pursuant to the terms and conditions set by the QCB, and applying the benefits and privileges granted under the merger provisions to any such acquisition. In addition to the matters described in this article, the new QCB Law briefly mentions credit rating agencies, which cannot operate without a license from the QCB. It also covers the liquidation and insolvency of financial institutions. Most notably, it has created a new “dispute resolution committee” composed of judges and experts, with the main task of acting as an appeal body regarding the decisions of the QCB. The implications of the new QCB Law, which addresses several issues that were awaiting regulations, will only clearly appear through practice. The application of the new law, and the interaction between the QCB, the QFCRA and the various parties involved, will have a direct impact on the financial sector in Qatar, and will ultimately play a major role in determining whether Qatar will be able to place itself as a financial hub for the region.
REACH YOUR FULL POTENTIAL This blog was supposed to be written after my last visit to Doha a few days ago, but I wanted to take the time to reflect and formulate my thoughts. Furthermore, putting something on the web and not on paper seemed like underestimating the value of an idea. Was I right? Of course, not. It’s no secret that the number of blogs has been rapidly increasing in recent years – at the end of 2011 there were 181 million blogs, compared to only 36 million in 2006. Do you think that it has become harder to get noticed as the noise level increases? Well, it seems like that the ability to create a quality narrative still prevails. A study done by Yahoo Research in 2012 showed that only 20,000 Twitter users, which was hardly 0.05% of the user base at the time, generated 50% of all tweets consumed. Even in an information-hungry world, if you are able to set the conversational tenor, you can build up a massive following and reputation. However, even though you can build a global brand on the strength of your ideas, the channel matters a lot in today’s world. For that reason, I might need to upload this as a blog. Let’s see first how many of you will read it in our October issue. The other day in Doha, Maryah Al-Dafa, Project Director at the Office of the President, Qatar Foundation (QF), and Director, Maryah Trading, explained to me that a lot of challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Qatar are not gender-neutral. Furthermore, if you turn a few pages back, you can read how Glowork, the first Website and programme dedicated to female recruitment in the GCC region, managed to create over 11,000 vacancies for Saudi women in the past year. But, I’m now wondering whether gender inequality, when it comes to business opportunities and salary, is faced only by women in the GCC region. Bad news for everyone The International Monetary Fund’s latest study by its staff, “Women, Work, and the Economy,” shows that, despite some improvements, progress toward leveling the playing field for women has stalled. This translates into lower economic growth amounting to as much as 27% of per capita GDP in some countries.
The study further explained the potential gains from a larger female workforce. In Egypt, for example, if the number of female workers was raised to the same level as that of men, the country’s GDP could grow by 34%. In the United Arab Emirates, GDP would expand by 12%, in Japan by 9%, and in the United States by 5%. So, what can we do about it? Let’s now put all formal statistics aside and check to what extent women could and should push the boundaries in order to seize all these thwarted opportunities. I agree with business psychologists that the process of coming to see oneself, and to be seen by others, as a leader is fragile and rarely easy for both men and women. However, in addition to learning how to overcome various unfair practices, like constant and often false negative feedback from superiors, which can diminish self-confidence and hold both men and women back from reaching their full potential, women around the world are often taught to downplay femininity in order to compete successfully in the business world of men. In her book “Lean In”,Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and work harder. Although there indeed are some valuable and interesting points presented in the book, my first thought after reading it was, “Seriously!” By now, it has been widely accepted that Sandberg failed to represent all women around the world. First of all, she obviously has no idea of the problems an average woman faces as she struggles to make ends meet in a rough economy while taking care of kids and everything else. Secondly, what does “sit at the table and work harder” mean? Be aggressive? Constantly push your health to a limit by ignoring signals of your tired body to prove that you are as strong as men? And do all of that with perfect make up, blow dried hair and all other external and internal aspects of our femininity? While waiting for my flight to Dubai that day, being quite exhausted after a 15 hour work day, I decided not to lean in. I decided not to publish this blog the morning after. From that moment, I’ve decided to follow Maryam’s advice on taking a balanced approach when it comes to pushing boundaries, which should be accepted not only by women in Qatar, but also by all of us around the world. Thank you Maryam. Regardless of whether you have read this in our magazine or as my blog, let me know your opinion at email@example.com.