Under the patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, the opening day of the ‘Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum’ organised by Qatar University and Qatar Development Bank (QDB), was highlighted by thought-provoking exchanges of knowledge and insights from some of the foremost experts on the subject.

HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce formally opened the third edition of the Forum, which is being held until 8 March 2016 and which welcomed a record number of participants at the Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel in Qatar. In his Speech HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani said:

The organization of this forum for the 3rd consecutive year is an evidence of its success and it comes at a time where the world is facing a fall in oil prices. That is why and now more than ever the Gulf countries need to diversify their economic platform and boost the private sector’s role to become the main engine for economic development.’

His Excellency added:

It is very important to educate entrepreneurship to the new generations and to support and encourage entrepreneurs as well as the emerging companies. The forum and since its inception in 2014 played an important role in shedding the light on all those priorities including educating entrepreneurship and creating a competitive environment for it to succeed as well as the relation between entrepreneurship and knowledge-based economy specially through social media.’

Dr Hassan Rashid Al Derham, President of Qatar University; Mr Abdul Aziz Al Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank (QDB); Mr Michiel Kool, Managing Director & Chairman of Qatar Shell Companies; and Mr Hamad Al Kuwari, Managing Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) also honoured the opening of the Forum with their presence.

In his speech, Dr Hassan thanked HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, for his patronage and he said:

The increase of economic competition at all levels has made entrepreneurship and all associated developments one of the most important fundamentals of success and progress. And in order to achieve the economic diversification, it is essential to give special importance to entrepreneurship in the community, and to support and embrace related initiatives to achieve success and to promote its development. It is also essential to encourage a whole generation of entrepreneurs to skip the stage of oil based economy. And this task lies on the educational system starting from schools to universities through technical institutes and institutions of training and education.’

From his side Mr Abdul Aziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development bank explained:

Qatar Development Bank continuously seeks to support the SME sector to help achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030 and to achieve the goal of economic diversification, especially since the success of SMEs is a cornerstone in building a strong, prosperous and competitive private sector. In this context Qatar Development Bank is committed to put efforts in providing adequate support and assistance to all Qatari SMEs and entrepreneurs. We launched a number of strategic initiatives and did many researches and training sessions.’

He also pointed that these various initiatives and training courses were designed to overcome the obstacles faced by entrepreneurs of SMEs and to help their companies become international. He also noted that Qatar Development Bank provided advisory services for entrepreneurs in collaboration with Qatar University in addition to providing advice and guidance so they can transform their ideas into successful projects, stressing the importance of the role of entrepreneurship in supporting economic growth and social stability, especially while entrepreneurship is becoming the engine for growth in the near future.

Michiel Kool, Managing Director and Chairman of Qatar Shell companies, said:

We are honored to contribute to the ‘Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum’ again this year. This event is in line with our mission to support the development of a robust private sector that will help diversify Qatar’s economy.’

He added:

We are achieving this through our Corporate Social Responsibility programmes; on the one hand, we support existing Qatari SMEs and encourage them to join our in-country supply chain through our strategic partnership with QDB; on the other hand we seek to inspire the spirit of Entrepreneurship in young people through our partnership with Bedaya.’

Mr Hamad Mohammed Al Kuwari, Managing Director QSTP praised the importance of the Forum which is happening during a time where the importance of the private sector and entrepreneurship in the Gulf and Arab economies is increasing; therefore, QSTP focused on preparing the next generations of entrepreneurs who are capable of innovating in order to develop more productive and profitable projects. He added that QSTP created ‘Accelerator’ program that helps refine the administrative and innovative skills of entrepreneurs and offers them the necessary infrastructure to manage their businesses effectively.

Deliberations on the Forum’s first day was characterised by a highly informative panel discussion on ‘Government Intervention with SMEs and Entrepreneurs’. Tackling several sub-topics such as the challenges toward government intervention, setting the proper regulatory framework, government’s role in supporting the private sector and key lessons from the GCC experience were HE Kabalan Abisaab, Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador in Qatar; HE Mrs Ewa Polano – Ambassador; Embassy of Sweden – Qatar; Mr Kaleem Mohammed Al-Yaqoobi, Founder & CEO of GEE-Oman; and Dr R Seetharaman, Group CEO of Doha Bank. Acting as moderator for the first panel discussion of the Forum was Dr. Khalid Shams Al Abdulqader from the College of Business & Economics of Qatar University.

The Forum’s second session was then underscored by an important deliberation on the relationship between entrepreneurship and education. Through a panel discussion on ‘Entrepreneurship Within and Through Education: Educating the New Generation of Entrepreneurs – How Can Education Channel Students into an Entrepreneurial path?’ some of the region’s leading academicians such as Dr Sherif Abdel Wahab, a Lecturer & Social Entrepreneur from KSA; Dr Marios I Katsioloudes, a Professor of Management at Qatar University; Dr Martin Hvidt, a Professor at Zayed University-UAE; and Dr Mohammed Evren Tok, an Assistant Professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University convincingly presented their views on creating the spirit and skills of innovation and entrepreneurship through the right education and technical training programs; the correlation between sports, youth motivation and development of the spirit of entrepreneurship; and incubation to support and direct entrepreneurial ventures in the Gulf: Learning by example and from experience.

Day 1 of the two-day Forum ended with the Qatar Science & Technology Park’s (QSTP) TECHtalk series on Qatar Innovation Community – Collective impact through open innovation.

Among the key sponsors and partners of this year’s event include Qatar Shell as Diamond Sponsor; Commercial Bank as Platinum Sponsor; Manateq as Economic Zones Partner, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) as Innovation Partner; Ahli Bank and Doha Bank as Gold Sponsors; Arab Bank as Silver Sponsor; Mannai Corporation, Mashreq Bank and Barwa Bank as Bronze Sponsors.

Other partners include Bedaya, Silatech, Injaz and Social Development Center SDC as Supporting Partners and Creative Design as Social Media Partner and Qatar Living as Community Partner; BQ Magazine as B2B Bilingual Magazine; QIM the Official Local Newspaper; Zoom as Production Partner; and Qmin and Marhaba as Media Partners.

Visit interactiveb.com for more information.