Qatar is growing fast despite the low energy prices …What is expected for 2016?

Doha, Qatar – QGN: Qatar is expected to growth despite the low energy prices. GDP is epxected to rise to 5.3% this year… MENA region only 3.8% or less.

While our last issue reflected the pall of gloom and frustration that had descended on us over the course of a bloody, disappointing and restless 365 days, we want to kick-start the new year on a diametrically opposite note – of cautious optimism and hope – while also reaffirming our  promise to continue working towards bringing our readers impactful and in-depth stories from Qatar, and the people who drive them. Which is why, for this issue’s cover story, Qatar Today brings you the voices of business, community and academic leaders on their hopes for the year ahead, telling us how they envision the next 366 days from their unique perspectives; an interesting mix of macroeconomic predictions, a desire for social change and calls for traffic regulation.

2His Highness the Emir has set a very clear vision and direction for our country and citizens in his recent speech. My wish for 2016 is that my fellow Qatari nationals will embrace the sentiment and explore opportunities within the private sector. Even with the focus on cost rationalization going into 2016, there will be a variety of diverse and interesting opportunities available to ambitious, self-motivated nationals to advance their careers within the private sector. Until now the preference for nationals has been focused on government or semi-government opportunities; however, in my opinion, the private sector provides more options to expedite your career and experience, if you are prepared to deliver the required results to the expected standards. The private sector can move faster to adopt innovative ideas and is quicker to react to market influences. Nationals will find that they can directly influence and make significant impact on the business within the private sector. I hope in 2016 we see more nationals actively seeking private sector roles which will support the Emir’s vision and the National Vision 2030.

For myself personally, I look forward to mentoring national females in the workplace through my association with the 30% Club, a global organization that looks to facilitate and support the advancement of females in leadership roles. In addition I intend to publish my second book, which I have just completed writing, in 2016.

Sharoq Al Malki
EGM, Chief Human Capital Officer, Commercial Bank

3I hope In 2016 we take proactive and effective steps towards being a fully solar-powered society not only through the implementation of solar solutions but also through policy mandates that hold everyone in Qatar accountable to take action.

Dana Haiden
Head of CSR & Sustainability, Vodafone Qatar

4For 2016 I hope we will find the resolve to overcome our differences and feel our joint responsibility for humanity. In the world today we seem to fear each other more than ever. Our fears are based on religion, tribe, race or geographical location. We fear the effects of conflict, refugees, climate change or just a stranger on our streets. Fear feeds on insecurity and is one of the most destructive forces for mankind. But fear can be overcome by courage. I would like to quote the great leader Nelson Mandela: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not

he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” I wish for 2016 that we all open our hearts, welcome each other and build a future where our kids can live together in a peaceful, just and prosperous world.

HE Yvette van Eechoud
Ambassador to Qatar
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

5We’re pleased to have established ourselves at QBIC as a leading centre for entrepreneurship in Qatar in such a short timespan. Being one of the largest mixed-use business incubators in Qatar and the region, we recognise the significance of enhancing the entrepreneurship culture and scene in Qatar.

We are very grateful that we have great co-founders, Qatar Development Bank and Social Development Center, who support us to become successful. We hope to continue to foster a spirit of innovation and competition amongst Qatar’s youth in particular, in order to be forerunners in developing a local private sector. By establishing a strong private sector, Qatar’s market can act as a nurturing environment for SMEs to grow sufficiently. We hope to see in the upcoming year an increase in the number of budding entrepreneurs who choose this field out of passion and view it as a valid career option. As of now, QBIC has graduated over 120 entrepreneurs and has incubated 45 startups. Next year, after our bi-yearly LeanStartup Programs come to a close, we hope to have 72 startups incubated at QBIC, bring us a step closer to Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

Aysha Al Mudahka
Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Business Incubation Center

6We would like to extend our congratulations to HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, whose pioneering initiatives have established the country as one of the leading business and economic hubs in the region. For over 60 years, Alfardan Group has remained steadfast in its commitment to support the vision of the wise leadership by creating strategies that complement the dynamic goals set for the country.

As we usher in a new year, we look forward to contributing to the many economic milestones that the country is set to achieve, especially in line with the National Vision 2030 which focuses on a strong balance of modernisation and the preservation of traditions. We believe that the steady support of the government will continue to cultivate a business-friendly environment that will lead to many opportunities for many innovators. We wish our beloved country more success in the years as it reinforces its position as one of the most advanced countries in the world.

Hussain Ibrahim Alfardan
Chairman, Alfardan Group

As far as the construction industry goes, I see 2016 without major setbacks in large-scale projects, even with the drop in oil 7prices. The private sector is very confident and we see this through a number of larger projects in the corporate and hospitality sector. The development of Lusail, encouraged by the government, continues to grow at a very fast pace. However, in 2016 we are hoping to see the delivery process simplified, unlike in 2014 and 2015 where PMC’s role was exaggerated which resulted in some serious delays. As a firm, our plan is to maintain our local and regional presence with continuous growth of our technical capabilities. With our ISO-certified construction supervision team we are geared up to take on a load of the large-scale complex projects that are in the pipeline to meet QNV 2030’s goals.

My wish for 2016 is regional stabilization. We should concentrate on reconstruction rather than further destruction.

Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah
GCEO & Chief Architect, Arab Engineering Bureau

8Deflation risks arising from oil will take centre stage in 2016. With the US Fed’s rate hike last month, the monetary tightening which has commenced now after the global financial crisis will continue in 2016. However, the pace of this monetary tightening by the US Fed will again depend on US data. The US economic recovery had grown by 2.1% in the third quarter of this year and the US unemployment rate was at 5% in November 2015. US consumer price inflation rose by 0.2% in 12 months up October 2015. However, we are also seeing the oil prices falling after the recent OPEC meeting due to concerns of a global supply glut and strong US dollar. Oil prices have fallen below $40 per barrel and are at levels seen during the global financial crisis. A steep fall in oil prices and persistency at such low levels could impact the inflation of the US economy and lead to rate hike action by the Fed. Deflation fears due to a fall in oil prices could impact the decision of Bank of England’s monetary tightening in 2016. The ECB and Japan will pursue their monetary easing to revive their growth, with the risk of deflation arising on account of falling oil prices. The advanced economies’ growth trajectory is still not free from hassles. A fall in oil prices will impact stocks of oil companies globally and thereby cause a drop in capital markets. Again, a fall in oil prices raises concerns of a global recession and thereby panic in the global markets. The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that the oil glut will hang on late into next year because of the OPEC decision to maintain production levels. The deflation risks on account of a significant fall in oil prices will take centre stage in 2016 and thereby challenge global economic growth. The markets need to brace for more volatile moments in 2016.

China’s industrial output has picked up in November 2015, with growth of 6.2% YOY which gives an indication that the stimulus is working. However, it needs to seen whether growth can be sustained in 2016 as pressure still remains on commodity prices. The Indian economy had grown by 7.4% in the third quarter of this year. More reforms from government are awaited, such as the GST which can further revive growth. Russia may struggle to recover in 2016 if oil and gas prices remain low. Brazil’s economy had contracted by 4.5% in the third quarter of 2015 and has chances of going into depression from recession. There is a risk that a slowdown in the emerging economies could defeat the weak advanced economic recovery. GCC economies are expected to witness a slowdown on account of low oil prices. GCC GDP at current prices can exceed $1.4 trillion in 2016. The capital markets will continue to fall as oil prices struggle to recover. The GCC economies’ fiscal policies are expected to budget for lower oil prices in line with current market trends. However, spending will be directed at non-hydrocarbon diversification which can contribute to growth. Fiscal discipline will be an area of thrust by GCC governments and more initiatives will be explored to plug the fiscal deficit. The GCC will issue bonds to finance its fiscal deficit. could issue further bonds in 2016.

Dr Seetharaman
Group Chief Executive Officer, Doha Bank

9Qatar’s economy has been robust this past year, despite the challenges faced by the drop in oil prices. This shows that the State’s economic diversification efforts have been successful and moving in the right direction.

At the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), we understand the crucial role we must play in supporting these diversification efforts. This is why we continue to look at new ways to attract foreign and domestic investment – an area where we expect to see growth with the upcoming changes to the QFC.

I am confident that in the coming year, the QFC will continue to hold productive discussions with stakeholders for the benefit of the local economy.

Sheikh Salman Al Thani
Chief Strategic and Business
Development Officer
Qatar Financial Centre

Author photoWe should extend our appreciation to HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, whose pioneering initiatives of establishing the country as one of the leading business and economic hubs in the region. Qatar’s economy is expected to grow by close to 5.3% in 2016. We approach 2016 with cautious optimism. We expect markets to remain volatile and investor sentiments to gradually improve. GCC governments will be looking at measures to diversify and enhance their revenue base to mitigate the impact of lower oil prices.

Banks are expected to remain cautious on funding new projects as liquidity continues to be a concern across key sectors.Given the current evolving macroeconomic scenario, we expect to see enhanced activities across M&A and capital markets with more conglomerates looking towards fundraising, consolidation and bringing back focus on their core line of businesses. We see opportunities in sectors such as Energy and Industrial, Real Estate and Hospitality which are expected to perform well. QCIP expects to have sustainable growth during the nest decade. 2016 seems a very promising year for us.

Dr. Theodore Theodoropoulos,
Chairman of QCIP, Founder of AHLEN Royal Hospitality

11 There are three things I want for the next year.
I hope it’ll be easier for people to set up businesses and actually run them. Clear and quick processes and more commercial space so that events can be cheaper. Better traffic management. The police shouldn’t just tell us about the laws but actually enforce them. Fine people left and right till they learn. Also, maybe special construction lanes or VIP lanes to ease up traffic. I’d like more events to happen in the country that can attract tourism and promote Qatar in a fun and friendly way. We need more variety.

Sanjay Bhatia
Managing Director Qatar
Alpen Capital Investment Bank

The private and public sectors should communicate better, as both individually play important 12roles in the development of the economy. This approach is pivotal in reaching our collective aim to transform Qatar into an advanced country, and will also help us better understand the needs of one another in reaching this aspiration.

Ashraf Abu Issa
Chairman, Abu Issa Holding

13Community outreach is an important endeavour at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), and in the New Year, I wish for our outreach efforts to touch even more people. We will be hosting several workshops in the coming months for high school students, offering them the opportunity to learn about careers in business, biological science, computer science and information systems. We will also offer a slate of executive education courses to our partners, sharing our expertise to strengthen business and government in Qatar.

The Dean’s Lecture Series is an essential component of our community outreach. These speeches by government and industry leaders are open to the public, and an opportunity to hear from the people who are shaping Qatar. This, as with all of our outreach programmes, is a way to extend our hand and help Qatar achieve the National Vision 2030.

Ilker Baybars
Dean, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar

14Qatar is and always will be a progressive state that is growing and developing year after year and we have seen how Qatar has gained momentum as a world-class destination. This success has been achieved because of Qatar’s determination to work through challenges and take the opportunity to reevaluate, prioritize and ensure that we remain totally focused to achieve the country’s 2030 Vision. What I would wish to be different in this coming year is a steady improvement in energy prices, bringing the world’s market closer to stabilization so as to reinvigorate consumer and business optimism within our economy.I believe that we will certainly continue to observe Qatar evolve dynamically. Booming business
opportunities, collaborations and the subsequent influx of foreign investment will be primary factors, balancing the impact that has been felt in many sectors by the decline in oil prices. As a result of this perpetual economic growth, expect more expatriates to move to Doha and make it their home.

Ibrahim Al Othman
President & Chief Executive Officer, United Development Company

15New Year to me is not just about another promising year but it’s also about learning new things and pushing yourself to achieve a new dream or overcome a challenge. I have always believed in stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things to reenergize my drive and passion.
Some things remain integral to my New Year wishes including prayers for the continued success, safety and security of Qatar and its people; and for peace and harmony in the Arab world so we can work together towards prosperity with the desire to create and build in support of positive change. On a personal front, I would like to make strategic contributions to further enhance the rapidly
evolving film and creative industries in Qatar and the region, and support new talent and initiatives that strengthen our voices on the world stage. I would also like to continue maintaining a healthy work-life balance between my personal and professional life, and do justice to what is expected of me in both environments.

Fatma Al Remaihi
Chief Executive Officer, Doha Film Institute

Customers are focusing more so now on quality and functionality than they were about 10 years ago. The home appliances segment t will grow steadily in the coming years while consumer electronics such as TVs and cameras are losing their importance thanks to the affordability of smart phones.

16Next year, we all hope for organised construction to start keeping in mind the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Our MEP wing will be stronger. Firefighting, security and air conditioning systems will see higher growth in 2016 based on the projects that open up. With sole distributorship of major brands spreading to other Gulf countries, the growth in the business sector seems to be very optimistic.

CV Rappai
Director and Chief Executive Officer
Jumbo Electronics

Sources: QNB, QGN, QGT, Qatar Today, Reuters, Al Jazeera News