Experts discuss future of Qatar’s technology sector

Qatar’s technology sector, which is set to expand further, offers immense opportunity for companies, said experts during a webinar. Tasmu Digital Valley and Berlin Partner organised a webinar entitled ‘Back to Global – Berlin Startups Explore Opportunities in Qatar’ in which panelists shared insights on the future of Qatar’s technology sector and opportunities. Experts also shared views on how to grow Qatar’s digital ecosystem. 
Addressing the event about the support QFC offers to startups interested to come to Qatar and non-Qatari entrepreneurs, Jahongirbek Burhonov, Vice-President of Business Development at QFC said, “We have our own regulatory environment where we base ourselves in English common law jurisdiction and we have our own commercial jurisdiction, and international dispute resolution court. So, all this ecosystem enables to setup in Qatar and access those opportunities.”  
Burhonov elaborated about QFC’s role in the fintech sector and also the trends and opportunities. “We as QFC work with Qatar Fintech Hub very closely and the cohorts come to us to setup and benefit from the opportunities in Qatar. From the financial sector we can also see that e-commerce is very much growing in Qatar and the usage of payment is growing as we have a lot of payment gateways available which creates an opportunity to attract companies. The technology such as Blockchain is also growing.
Danny Ramadan, Investment Director, QSTP said, “In past 12 to 13 years we have tried to own all aspects of innovation value chain. We launched our own accelerator which helps aspiring founder teams. Our incubator has about 30 high tech startups.” 
Speaking about the venture fund he noted, “We started a venture fund called technology venture fund and we have the ability to lead on early stage seed investments which are cultivated through not just the Qatar Foundation ecosystem but also the wider ecosystem. We were able to recognise that this market may be small in number but the opportunities are significant. Qatar has taken some very attractive initiatives onboard whether it be the future of urban living through entities like Lusail or Msherieb and the technology deployed in support of the World Cup coming forward, in healthcare understanding the future of precision medicine by starting national programs and sequencing genomes and building biobanks. These initiatives create their own gravity and allow international startups to access these opportunities.”  
Responding to a query about the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 he emphasised that the development will continue after the World Cup and as the World Cup comes to an end it does not mean the progress that is happening across the local ecosystem and the wider economy is going to come to an end.

There are some global trends that Qatar is well positioned to capitalise on. So, these trends speak to where the entire economy has invested and made sizable commitment towards precision healthcare. 
“Qatar has taken a leadership role in running the Qatar Genome Program which allows us tremendous amount of access to data from those genomes. Qatar stands to benefit as it has made a sizable commitment and is now capitilising on it. There are number of sectors where both the foundation and wider economy have made commitments in areas where the market is going to grow in next five to ten years. So, I do not feel that the World Cup is the end, but it is the beginning of a more knowledge and innovation driven stage of the economy,” he added. 
Vlad Vlaicu, Senior Manager ICT and Business Development, Ooredoo discussed about the ICT and telecommunications and the whole network support in terms of the infrastructure. 
Responding to a query about how Ooreodo is building Qatar’s startup system and supporting startups to expand in Qatar Vlaicu noted, “Ooredoo is the leading teleco and ICT provider. We are trying to transform Qatar into a smart and digital nation. With MCIT we are delivering the Tasmu platform – the digital nation. We as Ooredoo have full range of products and services from connectivity, we are building and hosting the Microsoft, Google platforms.” 
“We are the anchor when it comes to connectivity, cloud and IoT services and we are leaders in terms of new services and technologies and are always open together with our partners to bring new solutions and companies into Qatar. The way that we do this as Ooredoo we have our own startup accelerator programs and different initiatives. We are always open to new ideas. Qatar is a very dynamic market, it is small but very dynamic,” he added.
About the FIFA World Cup Qatar, he noted, Qatar has plenty of other events or plans and the National Vision 2030 has five different pillars that Qatar is focusing on such as education, transportation and construction, sports. Qatar will host the 2030 Asian Games and many other events will be organised, so this is just the starting. There is plenty of potential of new business ideas that Qatar is looking into.