On promoting local manufacturing industries
In what ways can the ease of doing business be improved, particularly for manufacturing companies?
NISHAD AZEEM: For most manufacturing industries volume is key, and automation and warehousing space are essential to achieve volumes. Therefore, access to adequately sized land with access to electricity, gas, water and road connections is one of the most important requirements for cost efficiency. Since the local market is relatively small, we need access to international markets – especially emerging markets – to maintain critical mass for manufacturing.
In addition, it is necessary to establish an efficient and cost-effective supply chain for raw materials. Strengthening related industries that support a healthy ecosystem of manufacturing companies is also important. With regard to financial support systems, I believe that we currently have good support from financial institutions such as Qatar Development Bank for import and export credit facilities.
What has been done to promote efficiency in the local manufacturing sector, and what does this mean in terms of the sector’s regional competitiveness?
AZEEM: Since 2018 the manufacturing sector in Qatar has seen significant growth and change. There is a greater emphasis on automation and improving processes to increase efficiency and productivity. While the sector is not as mature as some of its regional competitors and the manufacturing ecosystem is still being established, I believe we are on the right trajectory to take advantage of emerging trends and technology, in order to grow and become a market leader.
Where can the application of smart technologies in the construction industry deliver the most tangible results, both in terms of boosting efficiency and improving worker safety?
AZEEM: Smart technology lends itself well in the development and implementation of smart cities and smart factories. With the help of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analysis, smart technology can play a pivotal role in increasing efficiency by reducing energy usage. The 2022 FIFA World Cup provides one opportunity for Qatar to establish smart cities and smart stadiums, in which multiple sensors can be connected to monitor security, traffic and services. In addition to alerting agencies in the event of an emergency, smart technology can be used to implement preventive measures such as blocking certain routes and redirecting traffic.
In smart factories, data and technology can be used to track and analyse worker behaviour patterns as well as monitoring the working environment, in order to make processes and systems safer and more efficient. Devices such as smart lighting, remote power management and monitoring can optimise the use of energy and, in turn, reduce costs.
Looking beyond the 2022 FIFA World Cup, what opportunities exist for local manufacturing firms to expand in Qatar?
AZEEM: Opportunities for local manufacturing firms will continue to grow as there is a shift towards products with more sustainable and stable demand. As new enterprises are created and synergies between manufacturing units are formed there is likely to be a gradual decline in reliance on imported products, which will increase efficiency and reduce the cost of locally manufactured products.
Government initiatives to promote export-orientated industries have opened the door for local products to permeate the global market. Local manufacturing companies can leverage these opportunities to address demand for products – especially those where Qatar has a strategic advantage, such as petrochemicals-based products and industries with high energy demand. It is all about promoting the “Made in Qatar” brand, meeting international quality standards and competitive pricing.