Vodafone is having to adapt to life after COVID-19 and that means changes need to be in place to ensure that they can react to customer demands in an ever changing business and social environment.

Diego Camberos, Chief Operating Officer at Vodafone Qatar, explains how the impact of COVID-19 will change the digital space in the near future.

The world was becoming more digital before COVID-19, but the pace of change is even faster now. With businesses massively disrupted and people staying homme; operating models have had to change very quickly, and COVID-19 has accelerated this digitisation.

Many sectors and industries may never look the same again. Business and leisure travel will remain sluggish and we will be interacting over digital mediums more often. More organizations will adopt remote working as “business as usual”. The adoption of technology in education will accelerate. Consumers will look for entertainment options at home while retailers will accelerate the shift to digital as they shutter stores.

The key point to note is that once this crisis is over; things will not just return to the way they were. Many of these new behaviours and customer preferences for digital channels and staying home will continue to persist beyond the pandemic. This will become the new “normal”.

Is 5G technology still relevant? The answer lies in understanding what 5G is and the benefits it brings over other technologies.

Vodafone Qatar joined thought leaders from the region at 5G MENA 2020, held virtually this year, and we shared our vision for how 5G technology will make a difference amidst this new “normal”.

In short, 5G’s faster speeds open opportunities in enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA), supporting work and play from the cloud, ultra-high-definition videos, augmented and virtual reality etc. Lower latency and reliability support use cases like smart cities, smart agriculture and others, while its scalability supports a massive number of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Vodafone Qatar commercially launched 5G around a year ago, and it’s been very interesting times. We’ve now shifted to considering the most promising use cases for monetizing our investments and creating value for our customers, and for our market three immediate opportunities leap out.

The first is leveraging 5G for fixed wireless substitution. Since COVID-19, the customer need for home broadband for faster, more reliable and economical connectivity has been amplified. But the challenge is a lack of fibre footprint in some areas and a setup time requiring a technician’s visit.

On the other hand, a 5G FWA/MiFi can be easily installed by the customer themselves, and where 5G is more economical to connect; the benefit can be passed on to customers. In Qatar, we are noticing ood adoption of 5G home broadband.

The second is gaming and entertainment needs, which have accelerated since COVID-19. During the first week of global lockdown in mid-March, the popular game Fortnite was downloaded 2.8 million times – a 2,000% increase over normal volumes.

From a technology perspective, the shift to cloud-based gaming is gaining traction. Everything is streamed from remote servers to the user’s interface, which could be anything from a mobile phone to a television. Google Stadia (another cloud gaming service) has likewise seen a spike in usage.

Going forward, we will continue seeing a shift from large venues, movie theatres and outdoor entertainment options to indoor and individual entertainment. 5G offers the high bandwidths and low latency required for cloud gaming and service providers can monetize this opportunity by offering unlimited gaming packages with an assured low latency, for use both inside and outside the home.

Thirdly, social distancing norms have accelerated the need for connected machines and devices. In the manufacturing and logistics industry, maintaining a safe social distance is difficult with a lot of movement in closed spaces. Cost optimization and automation become even more important for managing the impact of “future outbreaks”. The key benefit of 5G is low latency and being able to connect a massive number of devices for smooth functioning.

Looking ahead toward a slightly longer horizon, the 5G use cases that Vodafone Qatar predicted would gain traction in 2022 and beyond now seem to have accelerated, with earlier widespread adoption. Use cases such as remote medical assistance, smart stadiums and smart cities have been piloted with reasonable technical success in Qatar and across the world. The majority of future 5G use cases will be enterprise-focused rather than consumer-focused.

Vodafone Qatar is preparing for this new “normal”. As a telecommunication service provider, we see it as important to maintain the budget for long-term strategic investments; narrow the focus on 5G use cases that customers are seeking in the near term and build relevant products and services around these needs.

We may not know what the new “normal” will look like, but organisations that are prepared to accelerate innovation once the crisis is over are the ones that will outperform.

Preparing and Planning Your Marketing Strategy and Getting Ready to ‘Open for Business’

Getting Prepared

Bans are slowly being lifted, but with caveats as to what social interaction we can have, use this time wisely to ensure that your business is prepared to start trading again. So, what are the steps that small and mid-sized businesses can take now to best prepare for business after the coronavirus crisis?

As we enter a number of phases that will see us eventually returning to normal life, travellers and consumers are going to be more specific in choosing the brands they look to work with. Safety and social distancing measures will be high on the agenda and will play an important part in decision making.

Being able to communicate that message within your marketing strategy will reassure your audience that you are ‘Open for Business’

Review Your Assets

It is a good time to make an inventory of your marketing assets and find answers to questions such as, what video content and photography do you have, and what campaigns have you run before?

Assess what has worked for you previously across different platforms and analyse your message- you believe your business is the best in the world but is your message inspiring and appealing?

Does it connect with your audience? You may find that you need to invest in better creative, or create your vision differently, so it can be viewed from a customer perspective.

When the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Perth opened their doors in November 2019, they came to us to help them capture the rich and cultural design of the new flagship hotel. With a new property and no inventory, they wanted to use more than traditional media to present their hotel to the world.

Being Clever with Your Marketing Budget

Many experts around the world will tell you not to stop spending on your marketing. This is easier said than done with reduced or very little budget. So, make that budget go further. Think carefully about what will give you the best option for the budget you have available – what do you spend it on? The key is to know who your customers are at this moment in time. The masses will come back gradually but crucial is to know how to target the few that are ready to do business now. 

It cannot be stressed enough that it is important to keep your brand in the spotlight. If you have stopped all marketing, it is going to be very difficult to re-connect with your customers again and your competitors may have already done so. 

Using the Downtime to Sell Your Business

Video content is a powerful tool in showcasing your brand. It allows access to your property, your business, and your products that will enable interaction with a targeted audience. If your business is getting ready to re-open use this time to produce your video whilst there is no disruption to your customers or staff.

Video allows potential customers into your business that are unable to visit personally. In the current climate, audiences are keen to explore new opportunities for when business resumes and inviting them in via exciting and engaging content can make a big difference.

See how the Mulia and Shangri-La hotels were able to showcase their property by highlighting the areas and facilities that cannot be seen in just images alone.

Consider using influencers to promote your business. Having authoritative figures talk about your business lends credibility to your products and your brand and do not underestimate the influence you can play.

If you are a proud owner of a business, then do not be afraid to show it. Make yourself available to be interviewed and build empathy with your audience through your passion and belief. That one to one experience will help you connect and engage in areas such as customer service, benefits, and building loyalty. It will show you are being personal and approachable. 

The Great Room and Common Ground realised the credibility a one to one interview brings by introducing their owners to their audience and through good rapport with the presenter you can really get that message across.

Maximising Your Video Content

This is an important area to consider and addresses how your video will get seen and what channels should be used for distribution. Again, this comes down to your ideal target audience. If you run a travel-related business, for instance, it is most likely that business travellers will be the first to start travelling again in any great numbers. The leisure traveller will travel as and when attractions and events will open to the masses and once social recreation is part of normal life again. 

Business Travellers too, who for the last two months have been in lockdown and restricted to travelling are now preparing to update their schedules, their business trips, building their contacts up ready to do business again. They are researching places to stay, offices to work from, business meetings to host or attend, and events to start planning.

Senior Executives at Invest KL and Vodafone were keen to use video content to help them maximise the investment and business opportunities available to CEO’s domestically and internationally.

Your influencer marketing video can be used to reach that audience right now as well as serving as an internal marketing tool to reach out to your existing customer base. CEO’s and Senior Executives are constantly looking for new opportunities, so use your video content to reach them locally and regionally and as an introduction to your brand and services. 

Remember though, that not everyone will be travelling again at the same time, so being audience-specific will cut down on wastage and help stay within your marketing budget. An influencer marketing video can be effective tool to both a domestic and international market without having to alter the message.

Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center and Mason’s Adventures were able to reach a global audience through Business Traveller Connect – www.businesstraveller.com/connect where they could showcase their amazing properties through influencer marketing video content

Opening for business again will not be like running the 100 Metres

Something to bear in mind is that there is not going to be a sprint to get business and society functioning properly again- it will be more like a marathon. It will take strategy, patience, clever marketing, impactful content and hard work. Video content can help you maximise all those areas as you start to reach out to your customers again.

Be smart, be proactive, be brave, take risks and most of all be prepared. 

For more information on how our Influencer Marketing Videos can help you prepare for the lifting of the lockdown then contact us at [email protected] and check out our general information video below.

HSBC, number one in Qatar again

In a recent Eurotrade finance survey HSBC has been voted the leading trade finance bank in Qatar by customers.

This is on top of being voted the number one trade finance bank in the Middle East region for a fourth year running by customers in this competitive sector.

Dean Lochrie, Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance in Doha, was quoted as saying “This is a fantastic result for our Global Trade and Receivables Finance business and as the world’s leading trade finance bank, HSBC is ideally placed to connect Qatari businesses to trading partners around the globe. We continue to invest in the digitalisation of our products and services to make banking simpler, better and faster for our customers,”

“HSBC has pioneered the use of blockchain technology to accelerate the velocity of trade flowing through the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region — trade which is worth around $2tn each year. Our use of AI, machine learning, mobile based trade tracker applications and intuitive online trade platforms have drastically improved the efficiency of the business, made trade safer for our customers and society, and have had a positive impact on client experience.

Being voted the region’s best trade finance bank is a direct reflection of these investments. So, watch this space as we continue to disrupt the way trade finance is done,” added Sunil Veetil, head (Global Trade and Receivables Finance) for HSBC in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

Alwadi Hotel Doha MGallery Offers Authentic Qatari Hospitality within Historic Setting

If one of the first trips you are planning in the next few months is a business trip to Doha, then check out the warm Arabic welcome that awaits at the Alwadi Hotel Doha MGallery Hotel Collection.

The distinctive 5-star boutique hotel in Msheireb Downtown Doha, offers international business travellers and tourists and unrivalled experience of Qatari hospitality right in the heart of the country’s history and heritage.

Located in a vibrant new retail, commercial and residential development that is one of the world’s smartest and most sustainable city districts and just 15 minutes from Hamad International Airport, and 10 minutes from West Bay, Alwadi Hotel Doha MGallery Hotel Collection has been designed with the needs of international travellers uppermost in mind.

Each boutique hotel in the MGallery collection tells a unique story and perfectly blends modern design with local history and heritage, and Alwadi Hotel Doha pays tribute to the importance of its local environment.

Hani Akkari, General Manager said: “Alwadi Hotel is the result of a growing demand from travellers for hospitality concepts which offer unrivalled experiences, catering to both business and leisure needs.

“We have responded to this demand by presenting a fine blend of luxury wrapped in vintage overtones. While designing the hotel, each and every local nuance was embraced to offer our guests the utmost comfort and convenience within a distinctive Qatari setting. With state-of-the-art amenities and services, Alwadi Hotel is set to leave a lasting impression on Qatar’s hospitality while emerging as a preferred getaway to this vibrant business and tourist state,” he added.

The hotel comprises 213 rooms and suites, each with thoughtful amenities, inspiring patterns and a vibrant colour scheme to bring a touch of heritage to its contemporary design. Both Souq Suites and the Imperial Suite have balconies with views overlooking the fascinating Souq Waqif – one of Doha’s most popular and atmospheric visitor attractions – while the Superior, Deluxe and Executive rooms offer spectacular views of the West Bay skyline, which comes alive at night.

All rooms feature the hotel’s unique cocoon MyBed™ concept, as well as special products and amenities for female travellers chosen as part of the brands ‘Inspired By Her’ concept, which include medium- and small-sized bathrobes, smaller slippers, emergency kits, luxury special treatments in M|Spa, a sleep menu, and ‘Inspired By Her’ beverages. This is all part of the brand’s commitment to providing more thoughtful and attentive services and experiences for female travellers. Ten guest rooms have been specially designed to accommodate guests with special needs, including braille communication tools.

The hotel’s most exquisite 4-bedroom 240-sqm Apartment Suite is complete with 4 spacious bedrooms with MGallery’s propriety king-size cocoon MyBed™, 4 bathrooms, a fully equipped, modern dining room, a separate, chic living room and a balcony terrace from which guests can take in magnificent Arabian Gulf and Souq Waqif views.

Alwadi Hotel Doha MGallery is where heritage and history blend into the here and now, offering an unmatched experience in the heart of a visionary city.

Guests at Alwadi Hotel Doha can enjoy exclusive benefits and unique experiences as members of the Accor Live Limitless, the brand’s established loyalty program. For out more https://all.accor.com/middle-east/index.en.shtml

The hotel is ideally situated for the central business district making it easier for you to plan your schedule throughout the day ensuring you maximise your time and focus on the business meetings and opportunities that you have planned during our stay.

After a busy day, take the opportunity to relax in the hotels leisure facilities or explore the local area and well-known attractions and experience local Arabic culture and customs along with a warm Qatari welcome that Msheireb Downtown offers.

About Msheireb Downtown Doha

Msheireb Downtown Doha is the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project; it revives the old commercial heart of the city through a new architectural language. Msheireb Downtown Doha blends traditional Qatari heritage and aesthetics with modern technology, a focus on sustainability, and harmony with the environment.

The mixed-use development comprises more than 100 buildings, with a combination of commercial and residential properties, retail, cultural offerings and entertainment areas.

Qatari entrepreneur to launch online app for home delivery for medicines and a wide range of other products

Qatari entrepreneur 1

A budding Qatari woman entrepreneur is set to launch an online shopping platform and home delivery services for a wide-range of products, including medicine and other pharmacy related items.

The mobile application ShahBandar is ready to be launched within weeks, and the online ordering platform will help users to cover all customer needs. The users will have access to thousands of products such as medicine, groceries, and food items among other products which can be ordered direct through the app without having to wait at counters and save time. 

“ShahBandar aims to be the first all-inclusive e-commerce platform in Qatar. It will cover all customer needs, including medicine and other products of daily needs. We value customer’s time that they spend in shopping. We also aim to eliminate distance and ensure quality services at customer’s convenience,” Dhabia Youssef Alali, Founder of ShahBandar, told The Peninsula in an online interview, yesterday.

Alali, who is also a trained banking and finance industry professional, added: “Our app features an easy shopping process in various categories and delivers products at their doorstep. We will be using a safe credit card payment platform with most trustworthy payment gateways to ensure the best possible safety.”

Dhabia Youssef Alali, Founder of ShahBandar

Dhabia Youssef Alali, Founder of ShahBandar

Commenting about the business idea and the name of the app, she said that most of the people in Qatar are working professionals and businessmen who prefer to save time for more important and productive things. Qatar, with the highest level of smartphone and Internet penetration, e-commerce is the need of the hour. In addition, the outbreak of COVID-19 has made online trading the most pressing need for people today than any time in the past as most of the people are working from home to stay safe and contain the spread of the virus.  

On the name, she explained that Shahbandar was a highly esteemed title which was carried by the Sheikh of merchants during the Ottoman era. “The Shahbandar was always present when needed, as a mediator attesting to trade transactions and managing trading activities in the market with great care and wisdom at that time. We grew up listening to and watching about the stories of Shahbandar. He is a very popular figure in the region,” noted Alali. 

About the benefits ShahBandar will bring to its partners, she said that it enjoys a very close and collaborative working relationship with several pharmacies, retailers, shops and restaurants, and also working to rope-in several others to formally launch the app soon.

“We intend to help our partners to create new customers for them who will not only order goods via ShahBandar but also visit them. The online platform will also drive demand, especially during the week days when retailers are less busy, which will boost their business and increase revenue. This is a win-win situation,” added Alali.

“We can handle the payment process between our partners and customers. ShahBandar will take care of the delivery process and our partners can focus on what they do the best. We will also market their business both offline and online, via digital marketing like social media, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube and others.”

Source: https://thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/09/04/2020/Qatari-entrepreneur-to-launch-online-app-for-shopping-medicine,-other-products

Qatar to Pay Private Sector Salaries as Virus Cripples Business

Qatar to Pay Private Sector Salaries 1

Qatar will temporarily pay some private sector salaries as policies meant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus keep most businesses shuttered.

Privately owned companies incorporated in Qatar can apply for three months of salary support for their workers. If accepted, employees will receive money directly in their Qatari bank accounts under a program administered by Qatar Development Bank, the lender said in a statement. Both Qatari citizens as well as foreign workers — who make up almost 95% of the work force — will be eligible for the payments.

The new program, expected to cost 3 billion riyals ($820 million), is part of a 75 billion-riyal stimulus program meant to ease the economic stress caused by shutdowns of the nation’s businesses. Qatari companies whose landlords haven’t waived rental payments will also be able to tap the QDB program to pay rent. They’ll have three years to pay back the state funds, but the government will guarantee the loans to mitigate any impact on banks’ credit ratings.

Foreign Workers in Limbo as Crisis Tests Gulf Immigration Rules

Gulf governments are trying to find ways to support their fragile private-sector economies, staffed mainly by migrant workers and sustained by expatriate consumers. They’ve pledged billions in stimulus dollars for businesses and banks and implored them to cut salaries or put employees on unpaid leave rather than fire them, but economists expect some portion of the foreign labor force to depart in the coming months.

While Saudi Arabia has pledged to pay 60% of salaries for citizens, the Qatari program appears to go a step further in guaranteeing payment for foreign workers as well.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-12/qatar-to-pay-private-sector-salaries-as-virus-cripples-business


A team of Australian researchers say they’ve found a cure for the novel coronavirus and hope to have patients enrolled in a nationwide trial by the end of the month.

University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research director Professor David Paterson told news.com.au today they have seen two drugs used to treat other conditions can wipe out the virus in test tubes.

He said one of the medications, given to some of the first people to test positive for COVID-19 in Australia, had already resulted in “disappearance of the virus” and complete recovery from the infection.

Prof Paterson, who is also an infectious disease physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, said it wasn’t a stretch to label the drugs “a treatment or a cure”.

“It’s a potentially effective treatment,” he said.

“Patients would end up with no viable coronavirus in their system at all after the end of therapy.”

The drugs are both already registered and available in Australia.

“What we want to do at the moment is a large clinical trial across Australia, looking at 50 hospitals, and what we’re going to compare is one drug, versus another drug, versus the combination of the two drugs,” Prof Paterson said.

Given their history, researchers have a “long experience of them being very well tolerated” and there are no unexpected side effects.

“We’re not on a flat foot, we can sort of move ahead very rapidly with enrolling Australians in this trial,” Prof Paterson said.

“It’s the question we all have – we know it’s coming now, what is the best way to treat it?”

Prof Paterson said positive experiences in the fight against coronavirus have already been recorded overseas, citing China and Singapore. His research team are confident they can start getting the drugs to patients in a very safe way on home soil.

“We want to give Australians the absolute best treatment rather than just someone’s guesses or someone’s anecdotal experiences from a few people,” Prof Paterson told news.com.au.

He said they hope to be enrolling patients by the end of March.

“And that way, if we can test it in this first wave of patients, we do fully expect that there are going to be ongoing infections for months and months ahead, and therefore we’ll have the best possible information to treat subsequent patients,” Prof Paterson said.

“That’s really our aim, to get real world experience in Australia.”

He said the trouble with the data coming from China was that it wasn’t really gathered “in a very controlled way”, given they were the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak at the time.

“Things were just chaotic,” Prof Paterson said.

“There were these emergency hospitals being built and the system really being very, very stretched.”

One of the two medications is a HIV drug, which has been superseded by “newer generation” HIV drugs, and the other is an anti-malaria drug called chloroquine which is rarely used and “kept on the shelf now” due to resistance to malaria.

He said the researchers want to study them in a “very meaningful way” against the coronavirus to “try and alleviate that anxiety of Australians”.

“There have already been patients treated with these in Australia and there’s been successful outcomes but it hasn’t been done in a controlled or a comparative way,” Prof Paterson said.
The drugs would be given orally, as tablets.

Prof Paterson said patients would be asked to participate “as soon as they’re admitted” to hospital with the aim of beginning treatment “very early on in their illness”.

He said the research was sparked by Chinese patients, who were first given the drug in Australia, showing their doctors information on the internet about the treatment used overseas.

“Our doctors were very, very surprised that a HIV drug could actually work against the novel coronavirus and there was a bit of scepticism,” he said.

“That first wave of Chinese patients we had (in Australia), they all did very, very well when they were treated with the HIV drug.

“That’s reassuring … that we’re onto something really good here.”

The RBWH Foundation has established a Coronavirus Action Fund. By Monday afternoon it had raised $30,000 of the desired $750,000 for the clinical drug trials and other related medical research.

“The trials will start as soon as funding is secured,” the fund states.

When asked why they had to put a call out money, Prof Paterson said they “want to give as many people in Australia access to this” and can’t take doctors away from their normal work.

“The reality is that doctors are going to need to be concentrating on their patients and we need to get a very strong research team across Australia that can make sure that all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed and make sure that it is a really high-quality study so that we can be really confident in the results,” he said.

“We did this with bushfires, this is an example where we’re reaching out to the public to put the financial support behind the study so it can get underway.

“Fifty hospitals have expressed interest in participating and we expect there may even be more to come.”

Source: https://www.thechronicle.com.au/news/cure-found-for-coronavirus-in-australia/3973564/

Thinking of relocating to Qatar? Now would be a good time to look at property in Doha

Something’s brewing in the world’s richest country. The housing market in Qatar is starting to show signs of improvement, offering some excellent investment opportunities in property.

There’s growth in job opportunities too, attracting many expats, not least because earnings are all tax-free.

And so with growth in the expat population, expectations are that the housing market will strengthen further in the long term. The QSA (Qatar Statistics Authority) states that to date, over 75% of Qatar’s population are foreigners and incentives are set to attract more.

2013 saw the start of a boom in property development, and over the following two years, in particular, it continued at a rapid rate. It grew in reaction to population growth and also in preparation for the FIFA World Cup in 2022 but by 2016 things had started to change. Real estate sales fell around 50% and prices began to drop in value.

In 2019 supply of housing stock of apartments and villas continued to rise. And with increased supply, it began to make sense to many to consider investing in this lucrative market, especially in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

Doha, the heart of Qatar, is as you would expect, a vibrant modern city where east meets west. Skyscrapers sit comfortably with mosques and the world of commerce and technology intermingle with ancient customs and traditions.

Safe to walk the streets at any time of the day or night, living in Doha has a lot to offer. It’s an Aladdin’s cave for foodies and art lovers alike. Professional golf tournaments and other world sports events, along with international music concerts are just some of the things happening in Doha. An ever-changing multicultural vibe that has a landscape that keeps on changing with it as new developments are built and the city continues to grow.

82% of Qatar’s foreign population lives in either Doha or Al Rayyan and perhaps because of this, Doha is a welcoming city where expats are keen to make friends and share experiences.

So how easy is it to buy or rent in Doha? There’s no doubt that it’s a tenant-friendly rental market in Doha at the moment. Commercial offices, retail and residential rentals are all experiencing downward price corrections after previous upward trends. Residential rents are continuing to fall for apartments as well as villas. As an incentive to entice people to rent new residential properties, some landlords have offered up to 2-month rent-free periods on a minimum one-year contract and some are even covering utility bills.

Many rentals come fully furnished so you won’t even have to have the hassle or expense of furnishing your accommodation. So it’s a good time to rent in Doha.

But it’s also a good time to buy too. The transition from renting to buying has increased as the market opens up to expats. Buying initiatives have been introduced such as 100% foreign ownership with no capital flow restrictions, no capital gains taxes, estate taxes, wealth taxes or gift taxes.

Reputable local agencies can help with the process of buying but it is a relatively painless one with little bureaucracy involved compared with many other countries. Once contracts are signed then the property is registered. Costs amount to 2- 3% brokerage fees and 1.25% transfer fee of the property purchase price. After that there are no taxes paid to the local government, making this a very affordable process.

There are however restrictions where expats can buy but these restrictions are loosening too. Currently, there are 16 leasehold areas in Qatar where foreigners are able to buy property on a 99-year lease. If the value of that property exceeds US$200,000 owners are entitled to permanent residency for as long as they own their property.

In 2019 new legislation made it easier for foreign investment with the introduction of a new foreign property ownership law that has significantly increased the number of freehold zones in Qatar from 3 to 10. This change embraces Qatar’s cultural diversity and encourages foreign investment which is seen as nothing but a good thing for Qatar’s already vibrant economy.

Expats and their immediate family who buy into the Freehold areas are also automatically granted permanent residency for as long as they own the property. Other entitlements include access to healthcare and the education system.

So what are the best areas to live in Doha as an expat? Msheireb, Downtown Doha, is an affordable family area. With a mix of locals and expats, it has a friendly neighbourhood feel. It is one of Doha’s oldest commercial areas. Small shops and narrow roads make it a great location to leave the car behind and set out on foot. Close to the business district and the main market area, it’s a great place to experience life in Qatar’s capital.

Al Waab, (also known as Al Sadd) has excellent schools, restaurants, and shops and the popular Villagio Mall makes this one of the favourite areas in Doha for expats. It is home to the Aspire Park sports dome and is a particularly pretty part of town and also practical due to a good road network to other areas.

And then there is the stunning Pearl-Qatar. It offers exclusive accommodation on a Riviera-style development built on a giant man-made island off the coast of Doha. It’s added another 40km of coastline to the area and is conveniently linked to mainland Doha by a palm-tree lined 4-lane highway. This was where the first freehold properties to foreigners were sold. To date, there are 16,000 villas and 2, 000 apartments occupying this beautiful stretch. Some of these Riviera-style apartments are going for a breeze compared to the property boom era of 2013 to 2015.

Surrounded by lagoons, as the name suggests is West Bay Lagoon. A private beachfront compound on the northern peninsula of the West Bay district in Doha. Covering 2 million m² it’s another impressive area for expats to call home.

In the large district of Al Gharafa, there’s a huge mix of accommodation. Within easy access are shopping centres, schools and major road links. It’s a popular area for expats who work for government agencies and Qatar University.

There’s so much on offer in Doha and now, when the boom in property development is resonating throughout the region, there’s even more incentive to consider purchasing real estate in Qatar.

Qatar financial sector needs to boost competitive edge to ensure sustainable growth: QFC

Doha’s financial sector, whose productivity is already comparatively high and increasing, calls for further strengthening the competitive advantage to ensure sustainable growth, according to a top official of Qatar Financial Center (QFC)

Qatar’s economy has witnessed “stable” growth and the financial sector has been a “significant” contributor to this development, QFC Authority chief executive Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida told “Economist Roundtable: Prospects for Qatar’s Financial Sector”.

The roundtable comprised presentations from the Ministry of Finance, Brookings Doha and the QFC, centering on Qatar’s financial sector including its unique characteristics and relative standing against regional and global competitors, which honed in on available opportunities to strengthen the sector’s competitiveness.

Based on data from United Nations’ statistics division presented during the event, productivity of Qatar’s financial sector is comparatively high and increasing, which raises the prospect for investing strategically in a range of products, services and systems to ensure competitive international positioning.

“As the economy expands and diversifies, so would the demand for innovative products and services. Meeting these demands is imperative in strengthening the sector’s productivity and competitive advantage,” said al-Jaida.

Highlighting its commitment to support and diversify Qatar’s economy, he said the roundtable has proven to be an excellent platform in identifying different avenues to further develop Qatar’s capital markets and financial sector and ensure its sustainable growth.

Although Qatar faced considerable challenges in recent years in the wake of economic blockade, it exhibited its resiliency with the Qatar Stock Exchange emerging the best performer among the Middle East and North African peers during 2018.

Qatar’s capital market has been expecting a slew of initial public offerings, including from the dairy farm major Baladna, and a few exchange traded funds. Expectations are also high on the prospective listing of some family owned enterprises, for which the QSE is believed to have initiated talks with the stakeholders concerned.

With the relaxed foreign ownership limits of up to 49% of the free float and the recent regulatory and legislative reforms in the capital market, international financial powerhouses are increasingly eyeing Qatar, which has already announced expanding its liquefied natural gas production to 110mn tonnes per annum, having lifted the decade-old moratorium on the North Field.

A higher up to 100% foreign direct investment and the planned annual 110mn tonnes of LNG are slated to “tremendously” enhance the foreign flows into Qatar’s banking system, which in turn benefits the economy, a top official of an asset management had said. Qatar’s moves (both higher foreign ownership and LNG production) have encouraged foreign investors in the Qatari market and this can be seen in the latest sovereign bond issue demand, he had pointed out.

Source: https://m.gulf-times.com/

Qatar is a telecoms leader in the Middle East

Qatar is considered one of the regional leaders in terms of its telecoms maturity; having one of the highest fixed and mobile penetrations in the Middle East region. Qatar has also become one of the more progressive countries globally in terms of its progress towards 5G.

The mobile sector is led by Ooredoo Qatar and Vodafone Qatar. In 2018 Ooredoo Qatar claimed it had deployed the first commercial 5G network in the world and in May 2018 it switched on its live 3.5GHz 5G (Non-Standalone) New Radio (NR) network. During 2019 Ooredoo Qatar further announced it had deployed over 90 5G base stations. Vodafone Qatar is also demonstrating significant progress towards 5G and has also deployed 5G networks based on New Radio (NR) in the 3.5GHz frequency.

Qatari citizens are some of the largest users of the Internet in the Middle East and have embraced Over-The-Top (OTT) services. The operators continue to improve and upgrade their fibre-based broadband networks. In 2019 for example, Vodafone Qatar was upgrading its fibre based networks to support Gigabit speeds.

This valuable report provides analyses, information, industry statistics and insights into Qatar’s progressive telecoms sector.

Key developments:

  • Recently consumers have embraced bundled packages, with both the uptake of double and triple-play increasing considerably, assisting the operators in their attempts to diversify operations.
  • The CRA increased its powers in 2018, allowing it greater scrutiny of the operators.
  • Increasing international capacity will assist in Qatar’s long-term development goals as stated in its National Development Strategy document Qatar National Vision 2030.

Source: https://www.budde.com.au/Research/Qatar-Telecoms-Mobile-and-Broadband-Statistics-and-Analyses