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For Qatari residents: Do you prefer a summer or winter World Cup 2022?

Our Changing World

Written by  Author |   Fri, 10 May 2013 08:08

As the wave of growth and development strides across the desert sands of the Gulf at exponential speeds, it can be tricky for even the most attentive of observers to keep up. We speak with Remy Rowhani whose top priority is to lead Qatar to become an economic powerhouse of the 21st century

By: Jack Thomas Taylor

Despite its diminutive size Qatar has huge aspirations. The small peninsula in the Arab Gulf is investing heavily in the future and, to fulfil the demands of its people, Qatar is forging its way onto the global stage as a country ambitious about constructing the foundations for a society which will embrace modernisation whilst preserving traditions.

Cue the Qatar Chamber (QC) whose primary goal is to support the burgeoning business trade in Qatar and to provide key support services, networking opportunities and leadership, in order to oversee a dynamic and fast-growing economy. Established in 1963 and spearheaded since 2006 by H.E. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Jassem Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of the Qatar Chamber, the chamber is consigned with ensuring sustainable development and management of Qatar's commerce and trade links locally, regionally and internationally, with the ultimate responsibility of preserving its current reputation and improving it to such a degree that it will become a leader and the benchmark for worldwide chambers. In turn, this will improve the quality of Qatari businesses and anyone who decides to do business here.

Qatari national Remy Rowhani, Director General of Qatar Chamber and CEO of the International Chamber Commerce-Qatar, (ICC) says, ‘we aim to shine a new light on the emerging state of Qatar and, as new cultural institutions blossom amid a proliferation of government initiatives, we witness the construction of a creative landscape, which is forward thinking, productive and daring.'

A leader in promoting free trade and mediation of conflicts that impede commerce by detracting resources from economic and social development, QC understands that it needs to build global trade, create knowledge economies, and further peace and financial stability.

‘Qatar's vibrant economy, the fastest growing in the world and the top-ranked in the Middle East, is built on natural resources but includes long-term investment in our people, industries, and infrastructure. Business-friendly policies provide unparalleled entrepreneurial and relationship opportunities for our fellow chambers.'

Spread over 10,000 m2 and hosted at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), one of the most environment friendly buildings in the Middle East designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, the 8th World Chambers Congress will breathe life into the business and trade links during a three day event this April.

The Venue
The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is part of the country's drive to become a global hub for ideas and innovation and enables Qatar to host many international events such as the World Petroleum Congress (its inaugural event) and 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known locally as COP18. Taking inspiration of Qatar's beloved icon, the building is designed with the indigenous Sidra Tree in mind. The front façade details the deep roots of the Sidra Tree culturally known to flourish in harsh desert climates, and to provide a shelter for poets and scholars to discuss and impart knowledge.

The 8th World Chambers Congress will be held from 22 to 25 April in Qatar. How was it decided to hold this important international event in Doha?
World Chambers Congresses are held every two years in different regions of the world and is the only international forum devoted to the global community of over 12,000 chambers of commerce. It offers practical, hands-on solutions to support the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises and provides chambers of commerce with an opportunity to learn best how to deal with the myriad challenges facing modern business.

Application Process
Since the debut of the World Chambers Congress more than a decade ago in Marseilles, France, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and World Chambers Federation (WCF) has seen chambers lining up to host the event. Doha registered interest to host the Africa and Middle East region Congress several years ago and faced the Dubai chamber in a bidding process. Doha was selected as the 2013 host by the Congress Selection Committee comprising the WCF Chairmanship, past and upcoming Congress hosts, transnational chamber partners, and a cross section of chamber members from around the world.

This is the first time the World Chambers Congress will be held in the Middle East and North Africa. How does it feel to be part of such a high profile and integral event?
The 8th edition of the World Chambers Congress brings the flagship gathering of some of world's most elite businesses and leaders to the region for the very first time under the theme of ‘Opportunities for All'. This theme means more to us than just a conference slogan.it is a theme consistent with the very ethos of the World Chambers Federation and absolutely central to everything we do.

Who are the organisers of the Congress? And what is their role during the time of the Congress?
Congresses are organised by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its World Chambers Federation (WCF). In close consultation with the host chamber they are responsible for event management – overseeing the program and speakers.

What participants does the Congress attract and who are the major participants?
Delegates from more than 130 countries are expected to attend the 2013 Congress, coming as far from Afghanistan, Algeria, Australia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Fiji, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Uganda. We will see an influx of high-calibre business and chamber of commerce executives into Qatar and will be valued as an opportunity to network with fellow leaders from around the world.

Can you explain the program of the congress and what are the main topics to be discussed?
The 2013 Congress promises to be the biggest chamber and business gathering of the year, featuring dynamic plenary and workshop sessions on issues most pertinent to chambers and their business communities worldwide. We will provide a stimulating discussion of current international business and chamber issues featuring leading political and business figures, plus a series of workshop sessions offering practical solutions, case studies, new products and services to help enable chambers of commerce to improve their performance.' The topics of the four plenary sessions are: education and business, small business – the heart of the global economy, women mean business and a world in crisis

Who are the speakers of the Congress?
In this edition of the Congress we have high-profile speakers such as Marc Bolland, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer, Anat Baron, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of StashWall, Joost Hiltermann, Chief Operating Officer of the International Crisis Group, and Mohamed Naciri, Deputy Regional Director at the UN Women, to name but a few.

Notable Keynote Speakers
Heads of state, chamber of commerce leaders as well as influential figures from the business and public sector such as former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and South African President Thabo Mbeki have all given keynote speeches in the past.

How will the one-to-one meetings work?
The one-to-one meetings bring the unique opportunity to delegates of the Congress to maximise business networking in the shortest available time. We have implemented a business matchmaking platform that will allow local and international buyers around the world to explore targeted business opportunities. Interested parties can develop real partnerships from preselected meeting proposals, designed according to their profile and needs, contact the participants while maintaining confidentiality of their information and maximise their business trip.

What is the purpose of the World Chambers competition?
The competition is open to all chambers and aims to showcase chamber originality and ingenuity, sharing best practices that help strengthen SMEs, and improve chamber services to members with categories including: the best corporate social responsibility project; international project; small business project; unconventional project and youth entrepreneurship project

What are your expectations of this Congress in terms of recommendations and future action plans?
The 2013 Congress will be distinguishable on a number of salient features. Firstly, it will be the largest assembly in the history of World Chambers Congress; a valuable legacy for the World Chambers Federation (WCF) too - expanded membership, a raised profile in the Middle East and Africa, and increased adoption of important WCF programs. To achieve this objective we enhanced the Congress' schedule by developing a rich Business Program and implementing a large exhibition as a platform for B2B interaction. We also organised an exciting Cultural Program to offer a comprehensive insight into the regional heritage and traditions.

Moving ahead with their bold business programs, exclusive events, new business networking relationships, and speeches that will enforce knowledge of cutting-edge best practices, and in-depth understandings of the Middle East business culture, ‘Qatar Chamber is committed to making this Congress not only a congress for global businesses but one that will be also relevant to the wider business community in Qatar, and the MENA region – an area which now presents unprecedented new business opportunities,' says Rowhani

‘We are immensely proud to host such a high profile event, especially because as the power centre shifts to Asia, Qatar is uniquely positioned to be in the middle of economic powerhouses of the 21st century.‘

The world's largest gathering of business and chamber representatives in Doha this April will be a powerful catalyst for continued investment and development in Qatar and throughout the Middle East. An ICC WCF Congress can create legacies that profoundly impact companies, chambers and societies far into the future. QC will hopefully continue in the years beyond the 2013 Congress to execute on its theme of opportunities for all - for Qataris, for the GCC and the Middle East and Africa, for the Least Developed Countries, and for its fellow chambers throughout the world.

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