Monday, 16 April 2012

Another Trip to Qatar

Just before I headed off on my Easter break I had a few days in Qatar. I continue to be fascinated by this place.

I was out there talking to a client about a retail opportunity.

Before I get on about Qatar....the previous weekend I had been to the Westfield shopping centre at Stratford on the Olympic Park on a scouting mission before going to Doha. If you haven’t been it is really worth a visit when in London. It makes the Metro Centre or Trafford Centre look so 1980s. It is more than just a shopping centre and is more of a destination, with lots of leisure activities as part of the centre. We were there late in the evening and it was buzzing.

With the Olympics only weeks away all of the international retailers were making a real effort with their stores.

Anyway back to Qatar. At the moment there is lots of talk and huge plans. Without doubt there are billions to be spent. I think however the country is a big social experiment. At present it must be the biggest export market for UK skills. We have filled the country with construction and oil professionals who are all working tax free for their futures. None of these people see a long term future in the country.

All of the work is being carried out by Indian labour...they will not stay beyond the construction work.

Most of the Qataris work in government pushing paper around. They really would rather be in the malls spending their cash.

The ruling families are building a fantastic infrastructure for the country but they need to also build knowledge. As they invest in their country they must work hard on the knowledge transfer. They must encourage the indigenous population to work with the Europeans and Americans to learn new skills before they all leave.

The country has to develop its own entrepreneurs and thinkers, as well as building roads and railways. To put things in perspective, our country has been developing for hundreds of years. In reality, Qatar only started its journey 40 years ago.

I admire what they are trying to do and I look forward to following their progress over the years ahead!

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