Lack of clear-cut regulations, weak town planning are among hurdles faced by small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs). These are important issues that need to be addressed on a priority basis to make Qatar a more vibrant and diversified economy, says a young Qatari entrepreneur.
“If someone wants to open up a shop, restaurant or any business in a certain area, there is always a kind of uncertainty and fear that remains in the minds of people. Maybe it's going to be torn down tomorrow for a new project and we'll have to restart again from scratch,” Khalifa Saleh Haroon, founder of ‘iloveqatar.net’ told The Peninsula yesterday.
He stressed on the need to be a little more focused to give businesses comfort knowing that when they invest in a retail or commercial space, the whole area will end-up becoming a commercial or retail business spot.
Highlighting the lack of proper planning he said: “Today, you can see a shop right next to a villa then a couple of shops then a compound. There is no pattern. We need to decide what our districts are going to look like”.
Haroon, a law graduate from UK, said that there is an issue with regard to transparency of processes in the country, and cited an example: “Right now if someone wants to set up a business in Qatar, it is not entirely clear what the steps that he/she needs to take to get started. There's a lot of running around involved.”
He also stressed on the need to have adequate road infrastructure and said: “We need more high streets. When I say high street I don’t mean a one long strip. We need cluster of high streets and commercial blocks like that are there in Tokyo and London and other parts of the world.” However, he admitted that the ongoing Msheireb project, once completed will solve a lot of problems.
While discussing Qatar’s growth story, he added: “In the past, people used to say that it is an ‘American Dream’, now the adage has changed a bit. Now it’s the ‘Qatari Dream’, because this is a country where we have so much opportunity. We have a government that is really supporting the people to do something great. You have people from all over the world sharing knowledge with each other and partnering up together, and I think if you look today at the current generation of Qataris, they are really thinking at the global level. Qatar is under a spot light and on the world’s stage right now”.
“A lot of initiatives have been taken to support the SMEs sector such as setting up the Enterprise Qatar, Qatar Development Bank, and institutions like Injaz, Silatech and Bidaai which are helping people to train and educate so that they can become more successful when they enter into business ventures; But in my opinion there is a gap when it comes to accelerators. An accelerator helps you to develop your project and turn it into something real. They'll help kick-start a project."
Another young American entrepreneur, Ben Casnocha, who was here to attend the ‘EO Majlis’ organized by the Qatar Chapter of ‘Entrepreneur’s Organisation’ advised the young Qatari entrepreneurs to build investors network is the most important thing to become a successful entrepreneur. “Think about how you are going to adopt with the changes that are taking place around you, as you cannot afford to remain static”, Casnocha added.
Asked to comment on the Qatar’s goal to become a knowledge-based society he said: “To turn Qatar into a knowledge based-society every individual, professional needs to posses the most cutting-edge knowledge. The knowledge, that is reliable, and the one that helps an individual to point out the latest intelligence from the people’s network.”
(corrected by ILQ)
Khalifa's comment. Just to be clear, the intention was highlight the lack of clarity and structure when setting up a business for young start ups. Honestly, there's a lot of running around.
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