Category: Analysis

The Origins of Qatar’s National Sports Day

In an unusual move, the Emir of Qatar issued an Emiri decree in December of 2011 announcing the creation of a National Sports Day. Presently, Qatar’s National Sports Day acts as an important annual occasion (on the second Tuesday of every February) with the goal of engaging the local community in Qatar with sports activities and fostering the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

 

The impetus behind the declaration of a National Sports Day also coincides with the launch of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The National Vision serves as a framework for Qatar to achieve an advanced society providing a high standard of living for its residents by the year 2030. The vision has 4 main pillars, with Qatar National Sports Day, primarily aimed at the pillar of Human Development. The other three pillars of QNV 2030 are Economic Development, Environmental Development, and Social Development.

 

The Human Development pillar specifically states, “The prosperity of any country depends on the health of its people. Qatar aims to build a comprehensive world-class healthcare system that is effective, affordable and universally available to all citizens.” It is common knowledge that leading an active lifestyle with a diet rich in nutrients is vital to one’s health. Yet, urbanization and technical advancements in Gulf countries has resulted in increased obesity in major cities and towns.

 

 

 

Qatar’s National Sports Day also serves a dual purpose. Not only does it aim to supporting the pillar of Human Development, but it also serves to support the pillar of Economic Development. Qatar is increasingly serving as a hub for Sports tournaments in the Middle East. Most famously, the nation will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar has also successfully staged the 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, and the Qatar ExxonMobil Tennis Open, among several others. Qatar’s aim of serving as a regional hub for sports will not only bring the nation name recognition but will also serve as a basis of a domestic and international sports market, supporting both local entrepreneurs and attracting foreign investment.

 

 

(Image Source: Flickr – Jadi)

 

 

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Qatar Welcomes Scrutiny from Amnesty International

 

Qatar reiterated its commitment to institutionalizing effective labor reform following the latest report released by Amnesty International. The report, titled “Reality Check,” concludes that the 2022 World Cup host needs to do more to combat labor abuse.

 

The Government Communications Office (GCO) of Qatar responded in a statement saying that:

 

From the outset, we have said that we understood labor reform would be a journey and not an end in itself. We have publicly stated, and restate here, our commitment to labor reform so that Qatar would have a suitable labor system that is fair to employers and employees alike…Far from seeing time as running out, the government of the State of Qatar understands further change is needed and we remain committed to developing these changes as quickly as possible, while ensuring they are effective and appropriate for our labor market conditions.

 

The GCO stressed that the State of Qatar will continue to engage and work with foreign governments, both international and multilateral organizations, and NGOs, to ensure that its labor code meets international standards.The Qatari government response also mentioned the extent to which labor laws and regulations were being enforced. In just the first half of 2018, there were nearly 12,000 companies that were either penalized or banned from operating in Qatar due to labor law violations.

 

Qatar has taken considerable measures to improve both labor rights legislation and the implementation of the legislation. Qatar signed an agreement with the United Nations, International Labor Organization (ILO) to mutually cooperate to both enforce and strengthen Qatar’s legal framework to best protect migrant workers. The ILO has now established a field office in Doha, Qatar’s Capital to assist the nation in administering the reforms. Other recent developments consist of the removal of the exit permit requirement, formally establishing a minimum wage for migrant workers, and the implementation of a Wage Protection System (WPS).

 

Prior to this change in the labor code, workers were required to obtain an exit permit to leave the country. Law No. 13 of 2018, amended provisions of Law No. 21  (2015) and Law No. 1 (2017) that regulated the entry and exit of foreign nationals. Previously, all migrant workers were required to obtain an exit permit from their employer in order to leave Qatar. This move was termed a “huge step” by the International Organization for Labour (ILO). According to the head of the ILO Project Office in Qatar, Houtan Homayounpour, great progress has been made with regards to labour reforms in the country but the work is far from finished.

 

 

 

(Image Source: Argaam)

 

 

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How Qatar Claimed the Asian Cup

2022 World Cup host Qatar has won its first ever regional tournament, the Asian Cup. Qatar defeated the four-time previous winner of the Asia Cup, Japan, with a final score of 3 (Qatar) – 1 (Japan). Qatar controlled the dynamic of the match from the onset with a twelfth minute bicycle kick goal by Almoiz Ali – his ninth goal of the tournament. 15 minutes later, Abdulaziz Hatem, scored again for Qatar doubling their lead. In the 69th minute, Japanese forward Takumi Minamino, brought Japan back into the game with 21 minutes left of the game. Qatari player Akram Afif was able to cinch its lead with a penalty kick goal that was awarded following an accidental handball by the Japanese defense.

 

Qatari goalkeeper Saad el-Sheeb and striker Almoez Ali both received awards for their performances through the tournament. El-Sheeb was awarded the best goalkeeper award and Almoez Ali was awarded both the top goalscorer award and MVP award.

 

Yet, the question remains, “What did Qatar do to pull off this stunning victory?” Over the years, the small peninsular nation has drastically overhauled and improved its soccer establishment as it prepares to take the field in 3 years for the World Cup. The Qatar national team coach, Felix Sanchez Bas, deserves considerable credit for this accomplishment. Bas, a Spanish football manager, has been intrinsically involved in the formation of the Qatari national team and has previously worked with the under-19, under-20, and under-23 teams. Rather than import players, Bas has chosen to focus on Qatari-born and raised players by working closely with Qatar’s Aspire Academy.

 

The academy, a state-of-the-art training facility for young athletes, was established in 2004 and later incorporated into a larger umbrella organization, the Aspire Zone Foundation. The academy has been successful in both building and refining Qatari talent producing the likes of Akram Afif (first Qatari to play in Spain’s La Liga) and Abdulkarim Hassan (AFC 2018 player of the year).

 

 

Felix Sanchez Bas has chosen to focus on a ‘slow and steady’ strategy so that Qatari players can learn how to perform well under intense pressure gradually. At the start of the tournament, Bas committed to “isolate” the Qatari team from any politics at the Asian Cup. Qatar is currently under an illegal diplomatic and economic blockade by Asia Cup host country, the UAE. Since taking on the head coach position in 2017, Bas has focused on playing friendly international games with middle weight countries like Switzerland and Iceland. He stated in a New York Times article that these teams can teach “what it is to play at a high level, how quickly mistakes are punished.”

 

However, the credit for Qatar’s maiden victory at the Asia Cup does not lie solely on Felix Sanchez Bas but also on the players that performed wonderfully through the tournament. Sudanese born – Qatari raised Almoez Ali held the limelight by scoring the most goals for a single player. The teams chemistry and strategy has paid off as they now look forward to playing in Brazil for the Copa America tournament. Qatar has several years left to prepare for the 2022 World Cup and has so far brought its game face to the pitch.

 

 

 

(Image Source: Twitter – FIFA)

 

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Moody’s Issues Government of Qatar Credit Opinion

Introduction: Moody’s is one of three major international credit rating agencies (CRAs) – the other two being S&P and Fitch – that evaluate the Sate of Qatar’s (SoQ) sovereign creditworthiness. These ratings are important for any government’s debt management exercises as they affect the country’s ability to access financing – for fiscal deficits and other external funding needs – through debt capital markets (DCM).

Government-related entities (GREs), such as Ooredoo (telecommunications) and Qatar National Bank (QNB), also benefit from the strength of the SoQ’s credit rating as private creditors use the sovereign’s borrowing spreads as a pricing benchmark for GREs looking to sell bonds.

In other words, rating upgrades or downgrades can lead to materially higher or lower costs of funding. On large multi-billion-dollar transactions – such as the jumbo bond issued by the SoQ in April 2018 – even marginally higher spreads can translate into accrued interest payments in the millions of dollars.

Moody’s uses the following criteria to assess any sovereign issuer’s ability to service its debt:

 

– Economic Strength – Wealth, size, diversification, and long-term potential;
– Institutional Strength – Governance, quality of institutions, and policy predictability;
– Fiscal Strength – Ability to deploy resources to face current and expected liabilities;
– Susceptibility to Event Risk – Risk of sudden risk migration

 

 

 

On 13 July 2018, Moody’s changed the outlook on Qatar’s sovereign issuer rating to stable from negative, citing that “Qatar can withstand the economic, financial and diplomatic boycott by the three neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Egypt in its current form for an extended period of time without a material deterioration in its credit profile.”[1]

 

 

Key Highlights of Credit Opinion:

 

– Current SoQ rating: Aa3 (outlook: stable)

 

– Continued strength of fundamental credit metrics, underpinned by:

 

– Vast hydrocarbon reserves, fueling high export capacity and a dominant global LNG market share (28%);

 

– Exceptionally high per-capita incomes – with a nominal GDP per capita of $69,933 in 2018 (forecast) – allowing for significant shock-absorption capacity and reform flexibility for the government.[2]

 

– Continued progress in the government’s debt reduction (de-leveraging) program is credit-positive. Government debt to GDP (debt/GDP%) has declined from 49% in 2017 to 42% in 2018 and is expected to fall further to 36% in 2019.[3]

 

– The stable outlook is consistent with Moody’s expectation of a declining government debt burden under Moody’s baseline oil price assumption of $75/barrel in 2019 and $65/barrel in 2020.

 

– What could lead to a rating upgrade? Coupled with the government’s de-leveraging strategy, a sustained re-building of foreign exchange (FX) reserves – which were negatively impacted by the blockade – would prompt Moody’s to consider upgrading the rating. According to Qatar Central Bank (QCB) data, FX reserves have increased from $14.8 bn in December 2017 to $29.4 billion in November 2018, an increase of 99%.[4]

 

– During the course of 2019, it will be worth monitoring how Moody’s rating sensitivity will correlate with Qatari policymakers’ steps to build up QCB reserves, strengthen its external position and continue to successfully manage the status quo of the blockade.

 

– Institutional Strength: The Credit Opinion states that “The government’s responses to the GCC boycott imposed in June 2017 demonstrate policy effectiveness and coordination between public sector entities, as well as a strong institutional capacity to manage crises.”[5]

 

– Budget 2019 Highlights: The government is targeting a small budget surplus of QAR4.3 billion (0.6% of projected 2019 GDP), compared to a budgeted deficit of QAR28.1 billion (4% of estimated GDP) for 2018. This will be the first fiscal surplus in 3 years, reflecting higher oil prices. (Brent crude average in 2018 was $72/barrel, compared with $54/barrel in 2017).

 

– Major capital projects – public investments in infrastructure for the World Cup and the economy at large – will continue to account for the lion’s share (43%) of government expenditure.[6] This flows both from the need to complete requirements for hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and from the Qatar National Vision 2030, which prioritizes investments in the building blocks of a modern competitive economy.

 

Qatar’s OPEC Exit: Moody’s does not expect Qatar’s decision “to have any credit implications for the sovereign. Qatar’s reliance on LNG means that OPEC’s decisions on oil supply and their implications for oil prices will continue to have an indirect impact on Qatar’s government and export revenue. For Qatar to no longer be part of these decisions will not change the sensitivity of its credit metrics to oil price fluctuations and will not have material impact on the country’s hydrocarbon production and growth dynamics.”[7]

 

 

 

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[1] Moody’s, “Moody’s changes Qatar’s rating outlook to stable, affirms Aa3 rating,” 13 July, 2018

[2] Moody’s, Government of Qatar: Financials

[3] Moody’s Credit Opinion, “Regular Update: Government of Qatar”, pp.2

[4] QCB Monthly Monetary Bulletin – November 2018 – Table 11, “Total Official Reserves”

[5] Ibid., pp. 3

[6] Ministry of Finance – Qatar

[7] Moody’s Credit Opinion, “Regular Update: Government of Qatar”, pp.6

 

 

 

 

 

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Facilitating Foreign Investors’ Access to the Qatari market

 

Legislation to Ease Non-Qatari Capital Access

On 8 January 2018, Qatar issued a new law to facilitate foreign investors’ access to the Qatari market. Known as Law Number 1 of 2019, the new measure is the government’s latest step to open up the economy to foreign capital flows and promote private sector-led growth. The law aims to lower or remove barriers to entry that have previously hindered access to the Qatari market. Using the blockade as an impetus for greater self-reliance, the law expands the investment incentives rolled out by the government to advance a national agenda focused on localizing supply chains in-country.

 

Boosting Industrial Activity

Under the new law, non-Qatari investors can receive government assistance in securing land for setting up their investment and are exempted from customs duties on imports of machinery and equipment necessary for the operation of their companies. Imports of raw materials and semi manufactured goods that are required for production are also exempted from custom duties. Given that industrial machinery, vehicles and electrical machinery collectively accounted for 49% of total imports in 2017, this provision represents a high potential for cost savings.[1] As preparations for the World Cup enter peak construction phase, the law provides a timely incentive for international investors to set up their operations in Qatar and seize on regionally unrivalled opportunities to implement infrastructure projects.

 

Reform Drive and Free Zones

The law builds on existing plans – yet to be legislated – to allow 100% foreign ownership in all sectors of the economy. Currently, full foreign ownership is limited to designated zones. Last year, the government also established the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to set the strategic direction and policy of the free zones, as well as securing anchor investments. The free zones will be self-sustaining clusters of enterprise that seek to attract local and international investors through incentives and a “business ecosystem based on transparency and the rule of law.”[2] Two of the zones, Umm Al Houl and Ras Bu Fontas, will be open in the first quarter of 2019 and are strategically located near Hamad Port and Hamad International Airport, respectively. Given the proximity of the zones to a deep-water port and a major airport, spurring a domestic logistics industry is a clear objective of the QFZA. Future zones will also target chemicals, aviation, plastics and artificial intelligence, among other industries.

 

The QFZA will also offer its tenants “doing business” solutions to encourage them to anchor their investments in Qatar, including one-stop shop facilitation for investors, introduction and business network connections, and assistance with work permits and residency permits for their workforce.

 

In-Country Value

Emerging as a post-blockade priority, creating In-Country Value (ICV) is intended to reduce reliance on imported goods and services, build the capabilities of the local population, and attract investment to Qatar to achieve a competitive and resilient economy. Qatar Petroleum’s recently announced ‘Localization Program for Services and Industries in the Energy Sector,’ known as the Tawteen initiative, is a prime example of promoting ICV.[3]

Tawteen is designed to reward suppliers and contractors who execute their contracts and agreements by maximizing local content. The program aims to create around 100 new investment opportunities within the energy sector in order to retain economic value within Qatar, which in turn is expected to add QR 8bn of import substitutes annually and is also expected to create more than 5,000 new white-collar jobs.

Commenting on the program, Qatar’s Minister of State for Energy Affairs, stated that it “aims primarily at helping develop the private sector, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, which plays an important role in Qatar’s economic development in terms of production, employment generation, and contribution to manufacturing, exports, and GDP.”[4]

 

Self-Reliance Agenda

Although ICV has only recently been discussed as an explicit policy goal in Qatar, efforts to localize supply chains and promote homegrown industries have in fact pre-dated the blockade. Supply chains for the tourism, food security and defense industries, to name a few, have been both diversified and anchored domestically through greater public-private partnership. For instance, Barzan Holdings, an investment management company specialized in the defense niche was incorporated last year with seed funding from the Ministry of Defense. Barzan’s mandate is to provide the financing and business ecosystem for private sector-led innovation in defense and security technologies that will help “empower the military capabilities of the Qatari Armed Forces.”[5] Barzan will essentially serve as an incubator and venture capitalist for cutting-edge defense capabilities to emerge from Qatar and the international market.

Qatar’s new law governing non-Qatari capital is intended to enable the creation of new industrial niches that can both contribute to Qatar’s non-oil GDP and facilitate knowledge transfer to the country.

 

___________________________________________

 

[1] Qatar Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics

[2] Linkedin – “Qatar Free Zones Authority”

[3] Gulf Times – January 8, “QP to Enhance Localization of Energy Sector’s Supply Chain”

[4] Ibid.

[5] https://barzanholdings.com/en/

 

 

 

(Image Source: Providence Mag)

 

 

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Qatar Establishes General Tax Authority

On 6 January 2019, Qatar launched the General Tax Authority (GTA) as a separate legal entity under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The GTA supersedes the Tax Department of the Ministry of Finance as the central tax collection and compliance function of the government. Remaining under the MoF’s umbrella, the GTA will retain the institutional memory of its parent entity, but will expand and streamline many of the tax activities of the state.

The law establishing the GTA mandates the authority to implement all tax laws and setup all related bylaws, procedures and instructions, and be responsible for their implementation. In addition, the GTA will review and assess tax return forms and collect taxes from subject entities.

 

Economic Diversification

In line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, which sets the target of a “diversified economy that gradually reduces its dependence on hydrocarbon industries,” establishment of the GTA is intended to broaden the state’s revenue base and increase the efficiency of tax collection processes.[1] Qatar has invested heavily in diversifying its economy over the past decade, with the non-oil and gas sector contributing 64% to total nominal GDP in 2017, from 42% of total nominal GDP in 2012.[2]

 

Unlike in the U.S., where personal income tax is a sizable component of tax receipts at the local and federal levels of government, Qatari law (Income Tax Law number 24 of 2018) stipulates that the salaries and wages of citizens and residents shall not be subject to any tax. This provision is a mainstay of Qatar’s economic competitiveness as it serves to attract talented foreign workers seeking a tax-free environment.

 

Eschewing personal income tax, the lion’s share (80%) of the Qatari state’s tax revenue is accounted for by royalties and taxes on oil and gas activity. These receipts are a fundamental source of funding for the government, representing 58% of total budget revenues.[3] Consistent with the government’s priority to strengthen fiscal buffers, the GTA will provide the financial instruments to diversify tax revenue.

 

Excise Tax Law

 Among the first measures the GTA will implement towards raising greater non-hydrocarbon taxes is the recently introduced Excise Tax law (number 25 of 2018). Also known as a “sin tax,” it came into force on January 1 this year and imposes a tax on a range of “health-damaging” goods. It includes a list of the “targeted goods”, with a 100% tax on tobacco products, alcohol and energy drinks; 50% tax on carbonated drinks; and 100% tax on special purpose goods.[4]

 

According to preliminary projections, the sin tax will increase non-oil and gas tax revenue to the state by 6%.[5] While this increase seems modest, the desired impact of curtailing consumption of these goods will achieve savings in healthcare costs that will amplify the 6% figure. Qatar’s health authorities are already grappling with some of the world’s highest rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, prompting some to call it an “epidemic”.[6] From a fiscal standpoint, the prevalence of diabetes drives soaring health costs. According to researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, “while diabetes is already consuming about 20 percent of Qatar’s national health expenditure, it will consume nearly one-third of the national health expenditure by 2050.”[7]

 

Against the backdrop of these concerning health trends, the GTA’s enforcement of the sin tax – working closely with retailers to improve voluntary tax compliance – will have both direct and indirect economic benefits in the long run. The sin tax also syncs with Qatar’s objectives to build a healthier society through investments in world-class sports facilities and promoting sport as a bedrock of human capital development. The GTA will therefore also perform an important social good.

 

Tax Incentives

Supporting the government’s push to promote homegrown industries, the GTA will continue to implement an accommodating tax framework for participants in priority sectors.  Food security projects have consistently benefited from government support but have gained renewed focus in light of the blockade. Under Income Tax law (number 24 of 2018), the agriculture sector and fisheries are granted clear exemptions from tax. In addition to custom duty waivers, tax and other incentives in this sector represent new opportunities for American companies specialized in agribusiness and other sectors that the government is prioritizing post-blockade.

 

International Dimension

The GTA has been mandated to represent the State of Qatar in relevant international and regional organizations. It has also been authorized to sign tax agreements, including Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (DTA), with foreign partners to encourage economic cooperation and joint investments. As a large sovereign investor in a range of U.S. asset classes, with ever-increasing funds committed to the U.S. market, Qatar has long sought to enter into a DTA with the U.S. Going forward, the GTA will be responsible for negotiating such agreements and treaties with its international counterparts.

 

_________________________________________

[1] Qatar National Vision, pp.30

[2] IMF 2018 Article IV Consultation Staff Report, “Qatar: Selected Macroeconomic Indicators, 2013–23”, pp. 25

[3] Prospectus: State of Qatar Sovereign Bond Issuance: April 2018 “Public Finance,” pp. 8

[4] Gulf Times – January 2, 2019, “Cigarettes and Sugary Drinks become Dearer”

[5] Prospectus: State of Qatar Sovereign Bond Issuance: April 2018 “Public Finance: Custom Duties and,” pp.8. This projection uses 2018 budget figures for Custom Duties + Business/Corporate Income Tax as a reference.

[6] The Peninsula – April 3, 2019, “One in four adult Qataris will have diabetes by 2050: WCM-Q study”

[7] Ibid

 

 

 

 

(Image Source: Ministry of Finance – Qatar)

 

 

 

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Kristian Ulrichsen: Leaving OPEC Reinforces Qatar’s Autonomy

 

Kristian Ulrichsen, a Baker Institute fellow and author of “The Gulf States in International Political Economy,” published an op-ed in The New York Times this week on the logic behind Qatar’s decision to leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, commonly known as OPEC.

According to Ulrichsen, OPEC has become mired in geopolitical disputes like the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, to the detriment of its member states and its central mission to stabilize international petrochemical markets.

Qatar has persisted in its mission to serve as a secure natural gas exporter. Qatar provides more than half of India’s natural gas imports, as well as 14-15% of China’s, Japan’s, and the UK’s, according to the MIT Observatory of Economic Complexity. Following the illegal blockade, Qatar signed long-term natural gas agreements with China, Japan, and the UK. Qatar even still provides natural gas to the United Arab Emirates through the Dolphin Pipeline, despite the blockade.

Qatar remains committed to the central mission of mission of OPEC – maintaining a stable international market for petrochemical products. Its decision to increase natural gas exports was in response to a projected increase in international demand, according to then-CEO of Qatar Petroleum, Saad Sherida Al Kaabi. Qatar Petroleum is investing $20 billion in U.S. oil and gas fields, most notably the Golden Pass LNG terminal in Texas, even though the U.S.’s LNG exports will inevitably compete against Qatar’s primary source of revenue in the global market.

Qatar’s departure from OPEC is a business decision, allowing Qatar the autonomy to develop its natural gas resources – its foremost economic strength – independent of other members’ geopolitcal agendas.

 

 

(Image Source: Darren Hillman)

 

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Four Years Until the World Cup in Qatar

 

In four short years, the 2022 World Cup will open in Qatar! Qatar’s plans for its World Cup tournament to be family-friendly, groundbreaking, forward-thinking, and unique. Here are four quick facts about Qatar’s World Cup:

 

1. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is projected to generate $10 billion in investment in U.S. companies.

2. Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host a World Cup. Qatar is working hard to ensure every detail of the tournament is family friendly, such as easing the transportation methods between stadiums to allow fans to view multiple games a day, and organizing tournaments during a time of year when Qatar experiences cool temperatures.

3. Qatar has implemented labor reforms to responsibly develop World Cup infrastructure at breakneck speed, including three (1, 2, 3) worker protection laws since 2015, opening an International Labor Organization office in Qatar, and hiring an independent consultancy to issue public reports on the 2022 World Cup’s worker welfare compliance.

4. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy established the Challenge 22 program which gives awards to innovative designers for creative and cost-effective technologies that promote sustainable energy and water solutions. The Supreme Committee’s Engagement team has worked hard to ensure that facilities will not only enhance each World Cup fan’s visit but will also create a positive lasting impact on the community.

 

 

Here’s a short video showing the progress Qatar has already made in its stadiums:

 

 

 

(Image Source: Arch Daily)

 

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Five Cool Facts About Qatar ❄️

 

You probably already knew that Qatar is a hot country, located in the heart of the Middle East with summers often breaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but did you know Qatar is also a cool country? Here are five quick, cool facts about Qatar:

1. – QCOOL is an innovative new air conditioning technology developed by the Qatar-based Gulf Organization for Research & Development Institute. QCOOL dehumidifies and cools air in open or closed spaces, and reduces energy consumption by nearly 50% compared to conventional cooling and dehumidifying systems.

 

2. – Msheireb Downtown Doha and Lusail City, two urban development projects underway in Qatar, are leveraging a technique known as “district cooling,” which centrally cools multiple buildings from a single plant. By consolidating the cooling infrastructure, district cooling improves cooling energy efficiency by up to 40%!

 

3. – District cooling and solar energy are also being used at Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadiums to efficiently cool fans and players. Thanks to these technologies, Khalifa International Stadium (built in 1976, then renovated for the World Cup and reopened in 2017) is the coolest open-air sporting venue on earth!

 

4. – The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place in November and December, when Qatar’s average temperature is 67-82 degrees Fahrenheit. That is actually cooler than the average summer temperature in Los Angeles – 86 degrees Fahrenheit – which will likely be one of the host cities for the 2026 World Cup.

 

5. – Qatar is the largest exporter of liquid natural gas (LNG) in the world, accounting for nearly 30% of the global LNG market. LNG is natural gas that has been converted into a liquid by cooling it to -260 degrees Fahrenheit! LNG is 600 times smaller than gaseous natural gas, making it easier to transport on ships across longer distances. Qatar Petroleum is even investing $20 billion in an LNG plant in Texas, expected to make 45,000 American jobs.

 

 

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Qatar’s Commitment to Science & Education

 

Qatar continues to be committed to advancing science and technology research. Several decades ago, Qatar’s economy was heavily reliant on fishing and pearl diving. This has dramatically changed due to the discovery of one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves.  Yet, the leaders of Qatar have recognized the dangers of relying on a single commodity. As a result, the nation is working to build a knowledge-based economy.

One such example of the nation’s push to both diversify and strengthen its economy can be seen through the Qatar Foundation’s Science & Technology Park. The mission of the national agency is to “execut[e] applied research and deliver commercialized technologies in four areas: Energy, Environment, Health Sciences, and Information and Communication Technologies.” The agency can be thought of as a national incubator for the upcoming generation in the above-listed fields.

The Park most recently opened the Digital Core Laboratory at the Maersk Oil Research and Technology Centre. The Maersk Oil Digital Laboratory is the first of its kind in the Middle East and will support research efforts in oil recovery, employing computed tomography (CT) to measure structures of rock sample.

Qatar’s commitment to science and education can also be seen within the nation’s entertainment sector. Instead of prizing entertainment over educational content, the nation leverages the allure of talent competitions and pairs it with science. The show “Stars of Science” is a combination of a reality TV show, talent contest, and educational broadcast.

 

One of the judges of “Stars of Science,” Dr. Khalid Al-Ali, has stated:

“Now I am a proud father and a proud husband myself. I treasure my children, and I want to bring them up in such a way that they appreciate the power of innovation… I am equally passionate about inspiring young people around the region to be interested in the problem-solving potential of science and technology.”

 

Dr. Ali, a Silicon Valley executive and former NASA researcher, shares this perspective with many of the leading figures in Qatari society. Another judge on “Stars of Science”, Professor Fouad Mrad, has stated, “Without a culture of productive innovation, our communities will stumble in reaching the knowledge-based economies, even with the best policies, infrastructure, and support.”

Qatar continues to invest in education and has illustrated its commitment to the pursuit of knowledge. The nation has managed to attract six of the leading U.S. universities (Georgetown, Northwestern, Texas A&M, VCU, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell) to Doha.

 

 

(Image Source: Qatar Foundation)

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