Interview: Ramez Al Khayyat

Where can the application of smart technologies in the industrial sector deliver the most tangible results, specifically in terms of boosting efficiency?

RAMEZ AL KHAYYAT: The most important thing for a large industrial company to have is the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Along with adopting smart technology in services, companies must also ensure that they are working to improve their management and operation through technology. Technology is ultimately an enabler for further development; it naturally leads to greater efficiency. Even the largest and most profitable companies are continuously striving to become more efficient through the adoption of newer and more tailored technology.

There is a very high drive for technology in Qatar as a whole, and companies are always demanding the highest levels of technology in their work. The most recent technology applications are being utilised in a wide variety of different areas, from new roads to buildings, and there are always plans to revamp older infrastructure using modern technologies.

Qatar is currently ranked first in the Arab world and 22nd globally in the Global Food Security Index: how can its standing be further improved?

AL KHAYYAT: Food security refers to the availability of food, as well as the affordability and quality of that food. The economic blockade led to a state of emergency for Qatar’s food security, which pushed us to improve the food environment drastically. This, in turn, saw Qatar climb up the global ranking. Now, new initiatives continue to be announced, invitations to invest in the country’s agriculture sector are being extended and a number of infrastructure projects are in the process of being tendered by the government.

There is already 100% self-sufficiency in the dairy segment and exports from this industry have begun. Next in line is sheep, goat and camel. Power International Holding is participating in the camel project to produce meat and milk. Growing crops is also essential, especially to support existing agricultural industries.

Auxiliary industries are benefitting from these developments as well. For example, the operations of dairy company Baladna are resulting in more packaging and branding needs. Many firms have identified gaps in emerging sectors, and large companies are increasingly shifting from acquiring raw materials and resources from foreign countries to securing them locally. All of this will steadily improve Qatar’s global food security ranking and bolster the economy.

What are the main challenges facing the expansion of industrial activity in Qatar, and which segments have the most potential for growth?

AL KHAYYAT: There are no significant issues impeding the level of industrial activity in the country; there is government support for securing land, banks are offering loans and many other services are available. Electricity and diesel are very cheap and the land provided is suitable for investment, especially in regards to industry. In addition, the authorities work closely with investors to ensure that they succeed. Thus, only regular business-related challenges exist.

The government is managing land tenders for investments related to tourism and industry. The former will lead to several opportunities for investors in Qatar’s shoreline, which has the capacity to support many tourism projects. Undertakings of this nature are what will lead to sustainable economic development after 2022, as tourism projects are expected to maintain growth after Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup that year.

Qatar is also an ideal location for establishing heavy industries with the aim of catering to both the local and international market. In this vein, a trend has emerged where Qatari businessmen are making investments outside the country, compared to the past where only the government focused on this. Indeed, this is an important aim outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030.