Mannai Auto Group and Cadillac said they had a very successful Qatar Motor Show in 2014 with many high profile visitors and amplified consumer interest in the all-new 2014 Cadillac CTS which was unveiled at the show for the first time to Qatar audiences.
During the show, Cadillac hosted many dignitaries at it stand, including HE Susan L. Ziadeh, the US Ambassador to Qatar, who said: “The Qatar Motor Show showcases the latest models from top international auto makers, and this year there is strong representation from American brands. Visitors had the chance to see first-hand the latest cutting edge developments from America’s resurgent auto industry, which has always paved the way in automotive innovation.”
The all-new 2014 Cadillac CTS was one of the first cars by US automakers that was unveiled locally in 2014, when it made its debut at the Qatar Motor Show.
Mr Mohammed Helmy, Group General Manager, Mannai Auto, thanked Ambassador Ziadeh for her support in creating more awareness for brands such as Cadillac and GMC, which are the flagship consumer vehicle brands under the Mannai Auto Group umbrella.
Mr Helmy added that the Motor Show helped drive interest in Cadillac’s all new flagship sedan the 2014 CTS, as well as the award winning, ATS which was voted the North American Car of the Year 2013, the revolutionary XTS, and the SRX Crossover which were all present at the show.
Due to the growing profile of the Qatar Motor Show, Mannai Auto Group also welcomed a high-level delegation from General Motors Middle East to the show. The guests included Mr. Maurice Williams, President and Managing Director of General Motors Middle East, as well as Bader El Houssami, Regional Manager- Qatar, General Motors Middle East and other prominent names from the General Motors family.
Qatari sporting legend Nasser Al Attiyah won his sixth consecutive race in the Silver Michelin category to end the season third overall in his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East group after finishing eighth in Race 2 of Round 6 at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Starting tenth on the 20-car grid, Al Attiyah made a solid start on the intense 2.5643km track and fought past Team Bahrain’s Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa in what was an extremely tight contest. The race was eventually won by season four winner Clemens Schmid of Al Nabooda Racing who lost his title to Kuwait’s Zaid Ashkanani by just one point.
The result means Al Attiyah finishes a hugely impressive third overall in the Silver Michelin Category after only joining the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East series at the halfway stage.
Speaking after Race 2 of Round 6 on the Bahrain International Circuit, Al Attiyah said: “It was a fantastic result for the whole QMMF team today and we are absolutely delighted. It was another incredible race in what is a hugely competitive series. The standards are high and we have had to push to win our silverware. Coming in half way through the series as we did was always going to be an uphill battle but together we have managed to produce some strong results and gave ourselves every opportunity to be victorious. We will celebrate tonight and enjoy the company of the region’s top racing drivers but afterwards we will spend a good bit of time analysing our performances as that is how you improve, through hard work.”
Race 2 in Round 6 was interrupted after the initial start following an on-track incident and began with rolling start where Schmid held pole and Ashkanani fifth. Schmid made full use of his advantage to extend the gap between himself and the rest of field to win Race 2 by 4.393 seconds with Charlie Frijns also maintaining a substantial distance between himself and the next driver.
The real-battle was for third place and delivered the fight of the season between Ashkanani, Karim Al-Azhari and Abdulaziz AlFaisal. Al Nabooda Racing’s Al-Azhari initially took control of the spot despite being bumper-to-bumper with Ashkanani in the opening laps. Then Saudi Falcons AlFaisal pounced on a mistake by Al-Azhari to overtake the UAE-driver into third. But he never had full control of the position and was under constant pressure from Ashkanani.
At the mid-point of the race, Ashkanani, Al-Azhari and AlFaisal were neck-and-neck going into the first corner and the decisive moment of the race was to unfold. The Kuwaiti teenager was sandwiched between his adversaries but kept his composure to break free and take full control of third and the challenge title.
In the team category Clemens Schmid and Karim Al Azhari’s impressive form over the season means Al Nabooda Racing were victorious in the team title ahead of Saudi Falcons and Skydive Dubai Falcons. In the Silver Michelin category Antonia Giancola emerged as the overall winner.
Final Gold Category overall challenge standings - Top 6
Al Nabooda Racing
Karim Al Azhari
Hasher Al Maktoum
Skydive Dubai Falcons
Saeed Al Mehairi
Final overall team title standings - Top 3
Silver Michelin overall challenge standings – Top 3
Nasser Al Attiyah
For the full race schedule, driver profiles or latest news on GT Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East please visit the official website: www.gt3cupchallenge-me.com or follow series’ news at www.facebook.com/porscheGT3CCME or on Twitter @PorscheGT3CCME.
Project Qatar will be back from May 12th - May 15th 2014. Building on a history of 10 years in Qatar, this event has grown exponentially in the region, both in terms of exhibitors and visitors. The 11th International Construction Technology & Building Materials Exhibition, which will be taking place at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), a new venue with new state of the art features.
Organized by IFP Qatar (International Fairs & Promotions), Project Qatar is one of the Middle East’s most important exhibitions for construction, sustainability and building materials. Covering 27 pavilions spread across 41,500 SQM of indoor and outdoor exhibition space, the exhibition is getting ready to welcome more than 2,100 participating companies and guests from more than 50 countries.
As a natural gateway to the GCC countries, Project Qatar provides companies with a strong business-to-business matchmaking platform to connect industry leading partners.
Mr. V.S Narayanan, Oriental Trading Company Managing Director, said: “This is the 7th year we are participating in Project Qatar. As the Qatar construction industry continues to attract major investment opportunities, this renowned exhibition offers the best exposure in the region for discussing integral topics and solutions, meeting contacts and conducting business related to the sector. We are delighted to be taking part in Project Qatar’s 11th edition.”
Project Qatar attracts key industry leaders and understands the role that technology and innovation are increasingly playing in the global infrastructure and construction environment. As commercial, residential and industrial infrastructure developments in Qatar increase in line with the requirements of delivering the 2030 Qatar National Vision and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, this year’s event will be held concurrently with two specialized exhibitions: “Qatar Stone-Tech” and “Heavy Max”, as well as hosting two specialized conferences organized by Advanced Conferences & Meetings; “LightingTech Qatar” and “HVACTech Qatar”, the inaugural events of the PQ Conferences Series. These additional events have expanded Project Qatar’s exhibition to showcase new products, technical equipment and technologies, delivering added value to visitors and exhibitors alike.
Qatar Stone-Tech 2014 is the 3rd International Stone and Stone Technology show. Qatar’s need for new and innovative solutions makes it a perfect market to introduce unique products. The size and scope of hundreds of tertiary developments that will pop up to support the infrastructure boom, whether hotels, hospitals, schools, convention centers or otherwise, is a very enticing reason for the world’s best stone industry professionals to exhibit in Qatar. Qatar Stone-Tech is organized in collaboration with Veronafiere, the organizer of the renowned Marmomacc held annually in Verona – Italy, and Confindustria Marmomacchine (Associazione Italiana MARMOMACCHINE), the Italian Association of manufacturers and users of machinery and equipment for natural stone processing.
HeavyMax 2014, the 11th International Exhibition for Heavy Machinery, is the leading international exhibition for construction equipment, plant, machinery and vehicles. It is a natural complementary event bringing the latest in technological advances and innovative solutions to the construction sites. Exhibitors at HeavyMax praise the quality and expertise of visitors, true representatives of the sector, the number of local companies and the presence of major key players at the show.
LightingTech Qatar 2014 is a specialized lighting conference targeting construction professionals and government officials in Qatar. This timely event is brought to Qatar as it readies itself for the extensive 2022 infrastructure requirements, whilst working towards achieving ambitious nation-wide sustainability standards in line with the 2030 Qatar National Vision.
HVACTech Qatar 2014 is a forum dedicated to address the latest opportunities and challenges in the HVAC and cooling industries in Qatar. As commercial, residential and industrial infrastructure developments in Qatar are witnessing significant growth, requirements for energy and cost efficient cooling and ventilation systems are rapidly increasing. The positive impact of this is being witnessed by the HVAC industry.
Project Qatar 2013 surpassed all expectations, including the previous 2012 edition, thanks to an overwhelming response from both exhibitors and visitors. Project Qatar 2013 hosted 2,100 local and international exhibitors from 50 countries. The event featured over 3,000 brands and marked a 16% record increase in surface area, and 45% growth in international participation.
Organisers of The Qatar International Boat Show (QIBS) were delighted to lend their support at a special VIP presentation of a new super yacht project, the revolutionary Trimaran Power 210 by Sunreef Yachts in Doha’s Four Seasons Hotel, on March 2nd.
Sunreef Yachts – a world leader in the design and construction of luxury sailing and power catamarans – were presenting the latest model in their power range which, at 210 ft, is the biggest yacht of its type in the world.
With a length of 210 feet, living space equalling 950m2, a top deck which comprises a 125m2 dining area for 12 (which can be accessed via a lift connecting all floors on the yacht), and with accommodation for 12 guests and 12 crew members, the TP210 is a unique creation, more so as there are plans only for the one to be built.
Guest of Honour at the exclusive presentation was Mr. Lech Walesa – the legendary leader of the Polish Solidarity movement, the first democratically elected President of Poland and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His presence was particularly apposite since Sunreef Yachts is based in the shipyards of the Polish port city of Gdansk, where the Solidarity movement took form.
Faysal Mikati on behalf of QIBS said the Boat Show organisers were delighted to be supporting one of the first of its exhibitors who took a stand in the first edition of QIBS 2013, held last November. “QIBS has already evolved into much more than just a Boat Show in the country,” Mr. Mikati said. “QIBS is a platform for the entire maritime industry in Qatar and in the region as a whole; and we are particularly delighted that already Sunreef Yachts has confirmed its participation at the second edition of QIBS, which is being held at Lusail Marina from 11th to 15th November 2014.”
Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), Qatar’s leading educational not-for-profit organization has received a record number of online registration applications for the 6th EMPOWER Youth Conference 2014 taking place at Qatar Foundation Student Center, Doha from 27th till 29th of March.
To cope with more than 975 youth who have registered for this year’s conference, ROTA, has introduced for the first time, in collaboration with the Family Consulting Center in Doha, an interviewing process to screen every applicant.
To maintain the yearly success of the conference, ROTA recently hosted an interview workshop to train and equip the ROTA youth advisory board on interviewing skills. These youths will interview all applicants before being accepted and attend the yearly conference.
EMPOWER 2014 expects to attract up to 450 youth between the ages of 16 and 26 with a strong 3-day conference focusing on Leadership, Service Learning and Global Citizenship. In particular, organizers will be integrating Sports, Environment, Skills Development and the Arabic language as key themes of the EMPOWER 2014 program.
“EMPOWER 2014 is a unique platform for youth to discover their voice, realize their potential to make a positive contribution and develop their skills, understanding and attitudes to take an active leadership role within their communities,” explains ROTA Executive Director Essa Al Mannai. "ROTA is working harder this year to ensure talented youth are taking advantage from this participation. For this, ROTA launched, for the first time since 5 years, the interviewing process that helps conducting efficient interviews with the students registered for the conference. This process aimed at choosing the most distinguished students to participate in Empower 2014", he added.
“Through a combination of seminar, panel discussion, power speech, small group workshops, off-site visits, and a youth panel, our youth, coming from different backgrounds, will be able to share ideas, expertise, knowledge and common grounds while improving their talents and abilities”, Al Mannai noted.
EMPOWER 2014 aims to build on the success of five previous EMPOWER conferences by continuing to raise awareness and build knowledge and capacity to enable young people to take leadership roles to address local and international developmental issues that concern them.
Following the success of 2013, ROTA will continue to invite regional youth activist this year. This will be a good platform for youth from different regions to network with the youth in Qatar; nine organizations from the United States of America, India, the United Kingdom, Lebanon and Qatar will take part in the conference and share their capabilities with Empower’s youth.
Since the event’s inauguration in 2009, EMPOWER has gained a reputation for being the first youth led conference in Qatar to focus on equipping young people to take active roles in building their communities and having a voice on global issues.
Demonstrating the wisdom of ROTA’s decision to ensure EMPOWER remains a youth-led conference, EMPOWER 2014 has been organized in collaboration with a Planning Committee comprised of 30 youth volunteers.
The Planning Committee serves EMPOWER by assisting ROTA in planning, implementing and coordinating certain elements of the conference. Whilst the Planning Committee attend planning meetings as well as allocating time and effort to implement their tasks, ROTA commits to provide training, workshops and a learning experience.
Among EMPOWER’s many outstanding achievements has been the event’s ability to promote and showcase the aims and outcomes of the ROTA Youth Service Club program to a wider audience. This year the theme proposed for EMPOWER 2014 we will be Sports for Youth Empowerment.
For Reach Out To Asia, sport hugely matters. Not just because it is a great entertainment especially for youth, but being the vital part of raising up for every child in every country. Sport brings people together and teaches them important life lessons.
“EMPOWER 2014 will focus on Sports for Youth Empowerment. Through sport, people discover talents they never knew they had – how to strive to be the best you can be – the importance of teamwork – how to compete with dignity and generosity in victory or defeat”, said Al Mannai.
“ROTA is proud of the fact that EMPOWER has established its reputation as a forum for exchange of ideas, projects and reflections that address both local needs and global issues.”
For complete details of the 6th EMPOWER Annual Youth Conference 2014, visit http://reachouttoasia.org/en/event-details/empower-2014. For the latest EMPOWER 2014 news, visitwww.reachouttoasia.org<http://www.reachouttoasia.org/> or the ROTA Face book page at www.facebook.com/reachouttoasia<http://www.facebook.com/reachouttoasia>.
Children, teachers, friends and families united under a banner of health, fitness and education for the annual staging of The Challenge.
The Challenge is part of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar’s (WCMC-Q) flagship health campaign, Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First, and saw hundreds of middle school children from 20 schools across Qatar compete in a series of physical tasks in the main arena of the Aspire Zone. Each team of ten was vying to be crowned champions and secure the coveted Challenge Trophy.
Now in its second year, The Challenge promotes the importance of exercise and fitness and aims to encourage young people to take up sport or a physical activity. It also endeavors to engage with young people and their families to inspire them to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, which will help build a strong and healthy future generation. This is in line with the broader aim of the Sahtak Awalan campaign, which is to help create a healthy nation, able to contribute to the knowledge-based economy in line with the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Health Strategy 2011-2016.
The five-year initiative - that was launched in 2012 - has won high-profile support and is organized by WCMC-Q in conjunction with the Supreme Council of Health and in partnership with Qatar Foundation, the Supreme Education Council, Qatar Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum of Qatar, ExxonMobil Qatar Inc., Qatar Olympic Committee and Vodafone Qatar.
The Challenge was attended by a host of VIP guests who turned out to lend their support to the students. The competitors were also supported by hundreds of family and friends who cheered them on from the stands.
His Excellency Abdullah Bin Khalid Al-Qahtani, Minister of Public Health, today praised WCMC-Q’s Sahtak Awalan: Your Health First campaign for its critical role in raising public health awareness among both the Qatari and expatriate communities through its many initiatives that promote healthy lifestyles.
HE the Minister said that Your Health First initiatives had caught the attention of the nation's youth and attracted wide participation from Qatari schools. These initiatives include The Challenge 2014, which aims to demonstrate determination and persistence through sports and physical fitness.
HE also praised the Poster Competition, which encouraged students to conduct their own research into the region's most pressing health problems.
“It is extremely exciting to see our students prepare research posters for the Poster Competition on a wide range of health issues including obesity, the benefits of a healthy diet, and the health risks of smoking," HE said. "By doing so, they have a voice in building a healthy future for all in Qatar.
“To attain the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar’s National Health Strategy 2011-2016 we not only need to build new hospitals and launch medical institutions. It is just as important that we increase health awareness in the community and this requires the efforts of us all,” HE added.
HE reiterated the Supreme Council of Health's (SCH) commitment to supporting all initiatives that contribute to raising health awareness in Qatar and praised the cooperation between SCH, WCMC-Q and all partners involved in the Your Health First campaign.
His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Abdul Wahed Al-Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education and Secretary General of the Supreme Education Council (SEC), praised the wide participation of independent and private Qatari schools in the public health awareness campaign Your Health First (YHF), and hailed the partnership with WCMC-Q and the SCH.
HE said: “YHF aims to spread knowledge about current health issues and promote healthy lifestyles among school communities in Qatar. This will eventually contribute to building a healthy society.” “By instilling the ideas of healthy lifestyles and nutritious food choices into the minds of school children today we ensure healthier generations in the future,” added HE the Minister
HE Dr. Al-Hammadi also stressed the importance of education and health as two central pillars in human development - the main focus of Qatar National Vision 2030 - noting that education and health complement each other.
“There is no proper education without health and a well-rounded education should address the needs of both the body and mind. Needless to say that schools can be the starting point where healthy habits can be developed,” HE concluded.
HE Dr. Al-Hammadi thanked all of YHF’s stakeholders and reiterated the SEC’s willingness to support YHF in the coming years as it contributes to achieving its education and training goals, particularly in the fields of physical education and research.
His Excellency Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Secretary General and CEO of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) said: “From the very beginning, Qatar Olympic Committee has supported The Challenge fitness contest that is organized by Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar under its Your Health First initiative.
“The Challenge and Your Health First reflect the mutual goals of QOC and the other partners to increase awareness of the benefits of adopting an active and healthy lifestyle. The Challenge perfectly demonstrates the importance of education and exercise, which are two essential pillars in achieving that goal. At QOC, we are proud to be supporting such an inspiring initiative in line with our Sport Strategy, aimed at achieving the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”
In addition to the interschool contest, The Challenge also offered the audience the chance to have their health and fitness professionally assessed through the use of a body analyzing machine and the AGE (advanced glycation end products) reader. The latter measures the amount of sugar-containing proteins in the body and can provide an indication of the likelihood of cardiovascular disease in later life. The former provides participants with a full breakdown of the components of their body – the amount of muscle, fat and bone that they are carrying. It also gives an indication of a person’s metabolic age as opposed to their chronological age.
On top of this there were a host of games designed to challenge and promote physical fitness and competition. These included the distance kick, where participants were able to see how far they could kick a football; the bungee run, where contestants could race a friend before being catapulted backwards; and the sprint challenge to discover who was the fastest over 10 meters. For those who had worked up an appetite cheering on the students, fresh fruit was distributed and healthy snacks were available from several food stalls.
Engineer Saad Al Muhannadi, President of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development said: “Qatar Foundation is keen to engage in various activities, which have been designed to raise awareness among community members about the importance of health and fitness. These efforts are in keeping with our ongoing community development initiatives, which play a crucial role in helping us fulfil the mission and goals of the organisation as it works towards achieving Qatar National Vision 2030, as well as Qatar’s National Health Strategy.”
Engineer Al Muhannadi added, “The most significant aspect of this event is that it is targeted towards the younger generation, since they will be leading the country’s future development. Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow and it is vital that they are equipped with sufficient knowledge about the value of choosing a healthy lifestyle, in order to create a healthier and more productive community. Qatar Foundation is delighted to be a part of this challenge and we are confident that all participants will emerge as winners and achieve success, regardless of whether they come in first place.”
Dr. Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCMC-Q, said: “The Challenge is a wonderful way to bring students from all over Qatar together to enjoy the fun and excitement of taking part in a physical contest. It was so encouraging to see the level of energy that the students brought to the event - they all competed with great enthusiasm and in a spirit of friendly competition that was a pleasure to watch.
“After the success of last year’s competition, it is very pleasing to see The Challenge return for another successful installment, made possible by the generous support of the Supreme Council of Health and the rest of our partners. This will help us ensure that the event continues as annual celebration of health and fitness that the entire community of Qatar to enjoy. The Challenge is a great way to inspire young people and their families to take up regular physical activity and to learn about the positive lifestyle habits they need to adopt to keep themselves in good health.”
The day culminated with the award of The Challenge Trophy by Dr. Saleh Al Marri, Assistant Secretary for Medical Affairs at the SCH, to the winning teams in both the boys’ and girls’ categories. In the boys’ competition, first place was clinched by German School, while the girls’ contest was won by the team from International School of Choueifat. All of the members of the two winning teams were presented with iPads as prizes.
The event, which is now in its second year after a successful launch in 2013, also saw the announcement of the winners of the educational Poster Competition, judged by a panel of experts from WCMC-Q and the Supreme Council of Health. Students were challenged to research the most serious health issues facing Qatar and make posters to present the information. The posters were displayed in public at The Challenge and the creators of the ten best posters were awarded iPads as prizes.
In total, The Challenge and the Poster Competition brought together more than 300 students, and 27 teams took part in the physical competition.
Mr. Abdulrahman Abdulla Al-Obaidly, Manager for Public Relations and Communications of Qatar Petroleum, said: “Making students realize at an early age the value of regular exercise and proper nutrition is key in helping ensure that they stick to healthy lifestyle choices as they grow older. Qatar Petroleum is proud to support the second edition of The Challenge as part of the Your Health First campaign, and we are confident that all the participants will apply in their day-to-day lives the lessons they have learned during the event.”
Stephen A. Kelly, President and General Manager of Oxy Qatar, said: “Advancing healthy lifestyles is a priority that we are particularly proud to support through the Sahtak Awalan campaign. The Challenge exemplified our commitment by providing a unique opportunity for students to learn about healthy lifestyle practices and actively participate in promoting positive nutrition and fitness choices. Education-enhancing engagement and direct participation among the younger generation are critical to maintaining a healthy future for Qatar. Oxy is very pleased to be a partner in this important initiative, and we look forward to The Challenge becoming an annual success in Qatar.”
Bart Cahir, President and General Manager of ExxonMobil Qatar Inc., said: “ExxonMobil Qatar is proud to join its partners the Supreme Council of Health and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar to support Your Health First and The Challenge for the second year in a row. We believe that it is our responsibility as an active member of Qatar’s local community to better inform young people on the benefits of healthy behaviors and habits, and The Challenge presents the ideal platform to do so. The various educational and physical activities help encourage participating students to make decisions that will positively affect them as capable, healthy and active participants in their communities.”
Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Qatar, said: “It was great to see the inspiring energy of all these young people coming together to celebrate and promote a healthy lifestyle and be true role models for their peers under the flag of Your Health First campaign. At Vodafone Qatar, we are determined to be admired for our approach and our performance on health and safety and therefore we are proud and happy to join hands with the Supreme Education Council and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar to support the growth and development of a healthy young generation.”
The schools that took part in both The Challenge and the Poster Competition were Al Hekma International School, Hammad School International, English Modern School, International School of Choueifat, Cambridge School, AbuBakr Assedeeq Boys Preparatory, Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib School, Abu Obaida School, Canadian School, German School, Iranian School for Boys and Girls, English Modern School (Al Khor), Ali Bin Abi Taleb for Boys, Osama Bin Zaid, Al Ahnaf Bin Qais Independent for Boys, Dukhan School for Boys and Amna Bint Wahab.
Luca Dohlus, aged 15, was a member of the winning boys’ team from German School. He said: “We were really surprised and happy that we won. It was hard work and the other teams were very good but I think we managed to win because everyone on my team worked together very well and gave their best performance. It was great fun to take part and so good to win.”
Lina Al Haj, aged 12, was on the winning girls’ team from International School of Choueifat, which also fielded the winning girls’ team last year.
Lina said: “I enjoyed it a lot. Although we lost a few of the games we eventually won and the races were so much fun; I liked that they were games rather than sport. It was all really good fun and very challenging as all the other schools were really good.”
The schools that took part in the Poster Competition only were Fatma Bint Waleed, Al Ghwayriya, and Um Saiid.
Winners of The Challenge 2014
1st: German School
2nd: English Modern School
3rd: Canadian School
1st: International School of Choueifat
2nd: Hammad School International
3rd: German School
The winners of the poster competition came from Al Ahnaf bin Qais Independent School for Boys, Amna bint Wahab Independent School for Girls, Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib School, Al Hammad International School, English Modern School Al Khor, Canadian School and German School.
Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), Qatar’s Leading Islamic Bank, has been recognised as the ‘Safest Islamic Bank in Qatar’ in Global Finance’s first-ever list of the Safest Islamic Banks in the GCC after conducting a rigorous evaluation process to assess the stability of the region's banks.
Global Finance is an industry-leading magazine that provides a reliable source of financial data to 192 countries. Each year the magazine releases its 'Safest Banks' ratings covering the global and emerging markets.
This year, for the first time, Global Finance assessed banks which only offered Islamic products and which had been rated by at least two reputable international agencies. A total of 25 Islamic banks currently operate in the Gulf, representing about a third of all active commercial banks in the region. QIB scored high for its 2013 credit standing, which was rated (A) by Fitch and (A-) by Standard & Poor’s. Overall QIB 2013 financial results was very positive, The Bank has increased business volumes across all market segments, which has positive impact on QIB’s end of year financial results, solidifying its position as a leading bank in Qatar.
The ranking reflects QIB implementation of a successful risk management policy, strengthening all prudential ratios and building a strong foundation for future business expansion. QIB’s innovation and excellence in risk management meets all the rigorous safety standards and this, together with the Bank’s commitment to providing excellence in banking services to all the clients, is what differentiates QIB.
QIB’s customer deposits saw a steep rise of 16.7% to reach QR 50.4 billion by the end of fiscal year 2013 compared to QR 43.1 billion in 2012, thus enabling QIB to effectively support the constant growth of assets. The strong operating performance in 2013 has enabled the Bank to pursue a conservative impairment policy by allocating QR 360 million towards improving the provision coverage on financial investments and financing activities compared to QR 491 million in 2012. The Bank managed to raise the quality of its investment portfolio this year, where non-performing financing assets dropped to 0.9% with provision coverage of 94% in 2013 compared to 1.6% with provision coverage of 63% in 2012.
Mr. Bassel Gamal, QIB’s Group Chief Executive Officer said: “It’s great to see that all out efforts and achievements in 2013 are being recognized by a trusted financial magazine like Global Finance. This is a result of our on-going commitment to provide a seamless banking experience to our individual and corporate customers while at the same time ensure that are applying a successful risk management strategy.“
Grayling, the largest PR and digital communications firm in Qatar, in partnership with DohaTweetups hosted today its first digital meet-up in Qatar welcoming a number of social media opinion formers from the private and government sector.
Pete Pederson, CEO Grayling, and Julio Romo, Head of Digital Grayling Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META), explored the digital landscape of Qatar as well as the wider region. The presentations were followed by a lively debate and networking among local digital enthusiasts.
Pete Pederson, Grayling CEO, said: ”It has been an honour for Grayling to host Doha Tweetups tonight here at the iconic Torch. We had an amazing turnout with an audience passionate about the digital sphere. Digital conversations are increasingly driving communications in Qatar. According to the latest statistics the average person in Qatar spends more than 3 hours on social networks each day. I’m personally fascinated by the level of online engagement by different Qatari organizations”
Grayling and DohaTweetups welcomed a special guest who best represents Qatari tradition and the speed of modern communications technologies – a proud falcon. Guests participated in a quiz, winning some valuable falconry related prizes, giving the evening a distinctly local atmosphere.
The conversations from the last night’s Doha Tweetups can be found on Twitter under #GraylingEffect.
In the Eurozone and the US, inflation remains dangerously low and well below the 2% central bank targets. Inflation is not expected to pick up in the short term as weak global demand holds back global energy and food prices. With weak growth expected in Europe and recent disappointing economic data in the US, the risk of deflation remains high. As such, European and US central banks are likely to keep monetary policy loose for an extended period. Therefore, QNB Group expects short-term interest rates in the Eurozone and the US to stay low for longer than prevailing market expectations.
In the Eurozone, annual inflation has stabilized at 0.8% in recent months. Core inflation (excluding energy and food) is low at 1.0%, energy price inflation is negative and food inflation is flat. The European Central Bank (ECB) expects inflation to be 1.3% over the next year. This alone gives the ECB reason to take policy action, but there are a number of additional factors that add further incentive. The ECB expects real GDP growth to be only 1.1% in the Eurozone over the next year. Unemployment is high, stuck at around 12%, on average, with youth unemployment above 50% in some periphery countries. The Euro has strengthened 6.7% over the last year against a weighted basket of currencies. Overall, all these indicators suggest a strong risk of deflation, which are likely to prompt the ECB to loosen monetary policy, possibly by a small cut in interest rates, quantitative easing or other measures to increase liquidity.
In the US, annual inflation picked up from 1.0% in October 2013 to 1.6% in January 2014. However, US inflation is expected to slow sharply to 1.2% in February as the impact of a sharp rise in gasoline prices falls out of the annual number and as core inflation continues to slow. The low inflation outlook and some indications that the US economic recovery may be weakening, raises the potential for another round of loosening of monetary policy by delaying the tapering of Quantitative Easing (QE).
The Federal Reserve (Fed) has shown firm commitment to QE tapering during early 2014, despite a soft patch in economic data, which has widely been put down to bad weather. However, this resolve may be easing as recent comments from the Fed Chair, Janet Yellen, have indicated that QE tapering could be adjusted if the US economy weakens. Upcoming economic data releases in March and April should give a clearer picture on how much of the recent weak economic data can be put down to bad weather. We do not expect the picture to be clear enough for the Fed to postpone QE tapering at its next meeting on March 19, but by the time the Fed meets on April 30, there is some risk that the economic outlook could have deteriorated enough to warrant a slowdown in the pace of QE tapering (the first reading of GDP growth in Q1 2014 is also released on April 30) to offset the risk of deflation.
The potential for falling inflation in the Eurozone and US will make central banks wary of falling into a deflationary trap. According to economic theory, deflation fuels expectations that prices will continue to fall, encouraging delays to purchases, thus holding back growth (Japan’s experience in the last two decades is a good example). It also increases the real value of outstanding domestic debt, thus making it more difficult for borrowers to make repayments. Deflation also tends to lead to a stronger exchange rate, undermining competitiveness and growth. On the other hand, a moderately inflationary environment reinforces expectations that prices will continue to rise and encourages spending, borrowing, growth and a more competitive exchange rate. For these reasons, central banks tend to use monetary policy to target moderate annual inflation of around 2%, thus avoiding the perils of a deflationary trap.
Looking ahead, the risk of deflation and weak economies in the US and Eurozone, present a strong case for the Fed and ECB to loosen or refrain from tightening monetary policy. This implies that any increase in short-term interest rates in the Eurozone or in the US is still some way off. Qatar’s policy rates tend to track rates in the US owing to the pegged exchange rate. Therefore, interest rates are also likely to remain low in Qatar. A pause in tightening monetary policy in the US would have the added benefit of bringing greater stability to global financial markets. The implementation of QE tapering has led to capital outflows from a number of emerging markets, weakening their currencies and driving down asset prices. Delayed QE tapering could help bring greater stability.
RasGas Company Limited (RasGas) Chief Executive Officer, Hamad Rashid Al-Mohannadi (centre), with 22 International Gas Union’s (IGU) delegates from all across the globe who recently attended a two-day Marketing and Communication Meeting. This is the first time that the Programme Committee (PGCE) Marketing & Communication IGU Meeting was hosted in Qatar.
RasGas is an Associate Member of the IGU. IGU has played a pivotal role in natural gas advocacy worldwide.
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