Looking for the silver linings
After sighing deeply one last time, I stare at the man sitting across from me. He immediately understands me. He has been working as an entrepreneur in Qatar for 15 years already. It wouldn’t be a weird assumption to call us the die-hards of Qatar. European entrepreneurs who decided to take the leap in search of a new adventure. The fertile desert ground is perfect for new business opportunities. All that needs to be done is to plant the seeds so that others can quite easily harvest them later. Qatar is developing itself rapidly, one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the host of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Thankfully we know better. We have experienced enough to know that the Sahara Desert doesn’t care about our roadmaps enough and will sweep them off the table with a simple desert storm.
Not just a Piece of Cake
While we’re nearing the World Cup 2022, we get surprised with new developments on a weekly basis. Not all of it is positive however, so we need to learn how to act on these challenges by facing them head on in a smart way. It demands more analysis on what the consequences are and more time to think in preparation for doing business in Qatar. While I’m guiding new entrepreneurs through Qatar it’s my responsibility to think along with their products to change to local requirements to have a higher chance of succeeding. An interesting challenge, but if you don’t like those you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur anyway.
Redirection off your expansion; Left left left is also Right, right ?
The man across from me agrees: the continuous shifting of gears improves your creativity. A key component of running a good business. I cite a quote about thinking outside the box: Normally we’re used to go right because it’s the shortest way. But to turn left 3 times is to turn right too. Sure, you’ll be traveling for a bit longer and you need to be patient, but while doing so you’ll have more time to think whether or not you’re walking the right path or if you need to change course. You also have more time to think about which doors need to be opened, by whom they need to be opened and at what time. The most important lesson for a lucrative business adventure in Arabic countries is to take your time, be patient and to think long term.
Entrepreneurship in Qatar: you are who you know
Recently a new rule was established. Entrepreneurs with Qatari partners, who have done business in Qatar for more than 8 years will receive a higher priority ranking for assignments and projects regarding the World Cup 2022 development projects. You need to be aware of these starting points to set up short term business towards 2022. Still a lot needs to be done still, a lot of business opportunities are still ready to be taken. After taking a few left turns we concluded that the key to success is to have the right agent or business partner, now more than ever. To work together with the right people, to share ideas and to switch gears within seconds are the ingredients for doing good business in Qatar. On the other hand you, as an entrepreneur, need to be even more critical about what types of businesses are actually needed and therefore have a chance. This obviously isn’t good advice just for the World Cup in Qatar.
Climate change in the desert
The economic increase of Qatar won’t stop after the World Cup has finished, so think in the long term. Because of the trade blockade Qatar will continue become more selfsufficient. The aims of the Qatar National Vision 2030 will increase this even more. Besides all of this, climate change rears its nasty head as well. I’m not kidding when I say that some parts of the desert were completely covered in water just a few weeks ago. As a child of the flatlands, living under sea-level, my hands started tingling since water management has been in our genes since the dawn of mankind. I’m not talking about the business for yellow rainboots and red raincoats from the Hema, a well-known Dutch Homewares. Although I’d love to hear from their CEO, Mr Boekhoorn, since he’s always up for new areas to expand to.*
Qatar 2022: the perfect match
Just imagine: Some rickshaw sponsored by Hema at every single football stadium in Qatar selling easy to use travel tools. Let’s throw in those yellow boots and red raincoat, but let’s change the colors to represent the Qatari flag. Everything a World Cup supporter needs. But don’t forget your sunglasses, climate change or not, the sun always shines in Qatar. I’m positive Mr Boekhoorn’s secretary will call me within a few minutes, she does have my number. I’ve always wanted to exchange my recipe for a halal sausage, it’s sure to turn out to be a serious contender for best sausage during the World Cup. It’s all about the scan of chances, to screen what your client needs and to match them with possible market ideas.
‘Happy Trees for a Healthy City
While on a business safari with the company Treebuilders, who are experts on Green-Blue- Grey solutions, we witnessed the effects of climate change. It had been raining for days and their CEO noticed how daily life comes to a full stop when this happens. He was amazed on how far I’d go for my clients when we switched gears and the selling point during their presentation changed to incorporating a new way to plant trees, especially talking about their ‘flood water solutions’. During a local ‘YourOnion’ podcast Werner explains what the chances in Qatar mean to him. I can now see whether or not a tree is standing in the ground solidly and I’ve become more conscious about the importance of having a green jungle within cities instead of a concrete one.
Long term expansion
You cannot score without having a goal.
It’s great to exchange thoughts with somebody. While going back home, I can’t help but think that the Dutch entrepreneurs can knock on my door whenever they want, after I’ve checked the route and stared at the horizon looking for my next goal. The road might be a bit bumpy by the sand dunes, but the land is ripe for harvest and any entrepreneur that is considering opportunities in and around the Gulf region and specifically Qatar, can take the leap.
Although the Arabic business culture is very specific, I enjoy my part of being a guide and matchmaker for new entrepreneurs in the region. There’s nothing better than to sit next to another businessperson and to listen to their expansion plans. To go on a business safari shortly after to get to know Qatar and highlight the reasons business in Qatar is the way it is: An amazing challenge with a bright horizon. The man in front start to laugh, he reads my mind: Yalla! See you soon in Qatar, the Turkish coffee is ready.
Ma’s Salama! Jacqueline Kruithof, Founder-CEO askMrsQ
* At the moment of publishing this piece, Hema has expanded into Qatar already and the first location has been opened in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Do you want a sip of the Turkish coffee and have a meeting? Are you interested whether or not your product or service is fit for a Qatari expansion? You can check my schedule and sign up for a meeting to talk in person about it.