Archive for Help & Guide

Start ups and SMEs in Qatar here’s your first step

Dear Startups and SMEs. It’s time to take your first professional step! First of all I wanted to say congratulations to Enterprise Qatar on the appointment of their new CEO. His name is Abdulaziz Al Khalifa. Don’t know him? Ask around, you’ll hear nothing but great things about this guy. What’s more exciting for me, is the fact that he’s all about supporting Qataris and encouraging start-up partnerships in the country. I get excited when there are people who want to empower the youth that get put into these great positions.

I wanted to share something that EQ call the Jadwa program. I’ve gone through their documents and their website and thought it would be nice if I put together the main points (or al zibda in Arabic). Honestly, there are many people (myself included) that have been burnt and demotivated by ‘incubators’, investment schemes and grant programs. Honestly, I kind of felt like it was all for show. “Hey look at us, we’re helping startups”, and then they just sit there.

I’ve seen other organizations (not necessarily in Qatar) that have spent MILLIONS on publicity and luxurious events. Honestly, all I could think was “Wait… why don’t they just use those millions to actually invest in startups?”. Common all you other youthful entrepreneurs, you’re thinking it, I just said it.

Anyway, now EQ has caught my attention (about time!) and it’s with this Jadwa program.

What is it?
You know what I’m bad at? Numbers. I get a great idea and go with my gut instinct. You know what would have given me even MORE confidence in my ideas? Understanding the potential of the business I’m trying to run. Now if I was going to pay a company or consultant to help me put together a feasibility study, it could cost an arm and a leg.

What Jadwa does is they will cover the cost of up to 70% of conducting a feasibility study. Before that, they’ll help advice you as to how sound your businesses idea is before actually moving forward with the feasibility study (that’ll help save you cash).

What’s included in the feasibility study is Market analysis, potential for profit, legality, and more. The goal is to look at the opportunities and weigh them in with the risks. Put simply, they’ll help you assess the cost required and the value you’ll be getting.

More info here on what a feasibility study includes.

Why should you do this?
Well, I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. Different entrepreneurs have different styles. If I was asked to be a part of a program where the program organizers controlled my time and told me what to do, I’d ignore them. If someone made a service available to me that I could use when I wanted to, then I’m interested. So it depends how you want to get started with your business.

Who can apply?
If you’re a Qatari great. You’re one step closer. If you’re an expat, find your Qatari partner and you’re one step closer. (Don’t get sensitive please, this is a program focused on supporting Qataris in Qatar set up businesses in Qatar as a priority first :) )

Here is the online Application form for Entrepreneurs
Here is the online Application form for SMEs

Not what you’re looking for?
Don’t worry. I had a chat with the EQ team and they told me that they’re launching different products and services. There’ll be investment support, advisory services, office space, etc…

My advice

I’m about to impart some words of wisdom here. Take it from a guy that has business idea after business idea.
1- Focus. Pick something you’re seriously passionate about and believe in and go with it. Don’t get distracted. You’ll fail. If you don’t beleive in your own idea, why will others?
2- Be prepared to take some financial risks. Even if you DO get funding, it can be a while until you actually receive anything. Do you want to sit around and wait?
3- Partner! Find the right partners, whether it’s another business you can work with or someone that you want to work with in your own company.
4- Even if you are a small business that has already started for a while. Think like I do. Your business is just start-up with a head start. (It’s important to get into the right mindset).

Another note specifically for expats:
One common thing I hear is, it’s not fair that a Qatari gets 51%. Let’s set this straight. It doesn’t mean that a Qatari takes 51% of the profit. It’s 51% legal responsibility. That means that if the expat he is partnering with or sponsoring takes a loan for 1million riyals and runs away, the Qatari has legal responsibility and can go to jail. So just as an expat might worry about the Qatari sponsoring them, we Qataris also have to worry about the possibility of getting screwed over.
So to set things straight, you could have a legal partnership where the Qatari has 51% ownership but 10% equity or is 5% share plus a fixed salary. (These are just examples).
You want to know why there needs to be Qatari partnerships? We’re 8% of the population! It would take less than a couple of years for people of ANY nationality to just come to Qatar, set up shop, and take all the opportunities away from Qataris.
Then there’s the argument of “Well if they don’t want to do it, then why stop other people from doing business?”. Who says Qataris don’t
Some may say “it’s not OUR fault, not enough people have the entrepreneurial drive or skills to set up a business.” Qatar is a NEW country. Give my people a chance… :)

Any comments? Feedback? I’m pretty sure EQ will probably be checking this blog for your ideas and comments.

A Qatari’s Eid

 I thought that some people may find it interesting to know what goes on in Eid with my family.

The children wake up early in the morning. Excited. Playing. Waiting for the day to start. It’s Eid! The adults lay slumbering in their beds and wake up around 8-9 am (after waking up in the early morning for prayers and going to bed). After a hearty breakfast which consists of eggs, olives, honey, cream cheese, bread, and tea, it’s off for a quick shower and everyone puts on their brand new clothes that were specifically bought for Eid.

Eid is about celebration and about looking your best for your family as well.

It’s off to prayer before heading off to Baba Oad’s (Grand Father) house. All of the 50-60 cousins, 6 aunts and 6 uncles (as well as a huge amount of indirect relatives) arrive. The women go off to the sitting room, the men go off to their sitting room, and the children run around the house.

The general banter is usually along the lines of, “When are you getting married?”, “Why haven’t you been visiting more often?”, “Are you working hard?”, and “What have you been doing these days?”.

Children will come around and ask for Eidiya. This could be anything from 1 QR to 10 QR (more if you really like them ;) ) and then go out to ‘Ayid’ to the neighbours by singing songs and getting a few riyals in return. It’s our form of ‘caroling’.

When the children get back, they sit around and count their new found fortunes and plan what they’re going to buy.

Soon enough, it’s time for the feast. We all sit around the floor and dig into a selected slaughter. It sounds kind of cruel to some, but it’s an animal that is killed the Halal way (the most humane method possible where the animal feels no pain). Rice, drinks, lamb or sheep and chit chat.

After washing our hands, we then return the sitting rooms where we have a nice cup of tea (mint, red, or saffron), and relax.

The adults then slowly each return to their homes or go off to make their rounds to other close friends and relatives and wish them a prosperous future. Kil sina wa inta tayeb or kil am wa int ibkhair (every year and you are fine) is repeated from individual to individual.

What we did was head off to a coffee shop where myself and cousins chatted about memories and teased each other. What I was thinking about this year was that it was sad that the new young generation will not get to experience Eid the way that we did. Not many go out to different homes and mix with other town kids. It’s sad. The price of modernization.

 

Note: This is just a memory from my personal experience. Also read ‘We’re not the Borg!


Photo by Jeff Epp

You may also be interested in:

It’s Almost Eid! 

Eid’s almost here.

 

 

The 2013 list of Qatar’s best burgers

I’ve been wanting to put this together for a while now. Due to the nature of some followers though, let me just say this. I do NOT control your stomach. I’m posting this list of what I think are the best burgers in Qatar because I love burgers. I’m not telling people to eat burgers, this country is fat enough as it is. I’m just saying that if you WERE going to eat a burger, you might as well make the calories worth it.

Also, while this list is sort of in order of most favourite to least favourite, I’m not quite sure I can pick a #1 because these burgers aren’t directly comparable. What do I mean? Well, some burgers are just delicious meals to fill your stomach, some are more of an experience. Do you have your own favourite burger place? Comment in the comment section below!

 

Prime Rib Burger
Kempinski – Westbay

This burger, as I was told by the manager, takes a day to prepare since they grind it, marinate it, and then mix in some secret ingredients (I’m thinking a bit of flour and egg?).

Have you ever heard the expression, ‘the meat melts in your mouth’? It’s not an expression anymore. This burger WILL melt in your mouth. Stay away from their fries though. They aren’t that great and are super salty.

 

Garlic Burger
Butcher Shop and Grill – Villaggio

Alright, here’s what you do. You rock up into the Butcher Shop, grab one of the cushy chairs (trust me, you’ll need it), and order a Garlic Burger (I like mine well done) and ask for a slice of cheese. Then for the side, ask for their steak chips and if you’re a sauce lover, order ALL their sauces. If you don’t want to go crazy and sample all the sauces then order a Garlic Sauce, Peppercorn Sauce, and Cheddar Sauce. Now you’ve got some sauces for your burger and to dip your chips in. Mmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking of it.

 

Shack Burger
Shake Shack – Villaggio

This is probably the only burger that I crave for now and then. I literally feel, “I need a Shack burger!”. I’ll mention this up front, sometimes they have bad days and the burger comes out greasier than usual, but they’re more than happy to make you a new one! I love the fresh tomato, fresh lettuce, their special sauce, and how their meat is so juicy. My order? A double shack burger (extra cheese if I’m feeling the need to increase my dairy intake), well done, and some cheese fries. If you do order the cheese fries, ask for the cheese to be on the side so that you have something to dip into rather than ending up with soggy chips. Oh did I mention I love cheese? Watch out though, they try their best to push you to buy ice cream… Delicious burger goodness only please.

 

Wagyu Market Burger
The Market  (W Hotel) – Westbay

Now this is a tough one, because now and then The Market change their burger completely. So far, they haven’t let me down. Let me describe this burger to you. They’re generous with the meat (Australian Wagyu beef by the way), add some caramelised onions, a BBQ like sauce, and a slap of cheese. There’s other stuff on it too like tomato and rocket and stuff, but you’re here to read about the meat. Are you the type of person who likes his/her meat medium well? These guys understand where you’re coming from. Oh their fries are delicious too because they are infused with truffle!

Oh want a bargain? Go down to The Market for their lunch time special (think it was 99 QR). I order their Tomato Soup with Sour Dough bread, The Market Cheese Burger (which comes with russian dressing sauce and crispy onions), and mix it up for desert.

 

Rocket Single
Johnny Rockets – Multiple Locations

Their burger is just a good old fashioned burger. They’ve got their own special sauce, have a ring of onion in it (sometimes too much onion), a nice big slice of tomato, and lettuce. I love how they slightly toast the bun too. They’ve recently launched a Wagyu version of their typical burgers, but trust me, it’s not worth it. I don’t taste the difference. The only thing different is that you’re a few riyals lighter. Since you’re there though, try out their bowl of chili. In my opinion, it’s the best chili in Qatar. Watch out though, sometimes they don’t have the original chili and try and replace it with their ‘home made’ version, so always ask up front.

 

 

Hot Rocks
Fuddruckers – Khalifa Stadium

You’re now saying, “Khalifa…. are you serious? Fuddruckers?”, to which I reply, “Why yes Maam-sir I am!” They have very good burgers. Great value burgers in fact. There are two things to mention here. 1- Try their their Hot Rocks burger. The meat is moist, have delicious chipotle bbq sauce, crispy bits of bacon and pepper jack cheese, they’re generous with all the toppings and you can have as much salad as you like 2- If you’re adventurous, they’ve got a 1 POUNDER. Yes! The burger is as big as a baby’s head. It’s huge. Think you can handle it?

 

 

Salmon Burger
W Cafe (W hotel) – Westbay

Now I’m not really a salmon lover, but ermahgerd, sermern berger! You have to try it! It’s soft but doesn’t fall apart, it’s delicious but with no guilt attached. Order it with a side of Salad, and you’re good to go. Hey wait… I didn’t mean go now….

On a side note to any potential restaurant owners reading this. WELL DONE, does NOT mean burned. Well done means that the meat should be brown (no pink). You can still have a well done but juicy burger! Just saying.

I’ll be updating this list as and when I discover delicious burgers worthy of the title.

 

Other notable burgers (because the community sent these in) are:
- Elevation burger (It didn’t make my list because the fries are drenched in oil, went three times and twice my order was wrong, and the place just smells like grease. The burger is good, but too oily).
- K108 (This place has a nice burger (which I think is not on the menu) but I’ve been a few times. Once the burger was great, the other time it was over cooked and chewy)
- Burgerry (This is a new joint and I’ve only been once. In terms of value, I feel it’s over priced. A small bottle of coke is 10 QR! The burger I received was burned BLACK, I didn’t get an apology and the second burger seemed under cooked and soggy. Happy to give them another try.)
- Just Burger (Went twice, first time the burger tasted dry and was pink even though I asked for well done. Second time we had to sit outside because their ventilation was not working and the place was smokey. This time the burger was oily but still pink inside).
- Hardees Angus Burger (Honestly? I love it. It’s a good fast food burger, but not one that I crave for)

 

Want me to come and try your burger? Confident that you’ll be added to the list? Send me an invite to contact – at – iloveqatar.net (replace – at – with @) If you are offering a complimentary burger, then I’ll need a voucher because I’ll only go if you don’t know when I’m coming to make it fair :)

Ramadan Mubarak Everyone! Here’s a quick 101

Ramadan Mubarak Qatar! I hope that people will have a great experience during Ramadan this year.

If you’re interested in reading up a bit, then be sure to check out these threads and posts:

Ramadan in a nutshell

Ramadan isn’t just for Muslims

Luxurious Ramadan

Saying Ramadan Kareem

Garangao – A Child’s Dream (The 14th day of Ramadan)

ILQ (partnered with Vodafone, Katara, and QF Radio) will be launching the fantastic Ramadan site again this year. Once live I’ll be sure to make a post :) It’ll contain a great events guide, a ramadan 101 guide, prayer times, special apps, and e-cards!

That’s not all! We’ve also got a MOBILE version and to make sure you don’t miss QF Radio’s 8pm show, an ‘on air’ button will light up!

Do YOU know Qatar’s National Anthem?

I decided to ask a question on twitter (and then included Facebook too) to both Qataris and Expats. My question to my fellow Qataris was “Do you know the full Qatar National Anthem?”. You had to know it all, 100%. The results were that around 87% of Qataris knew the full national anthem.

I then asked the expat community on iLoveQatar “Do you know what the Qatar National Anthem sounds like?”. I decided that simply humming a few bars was good enough (to make it simpler).

Out of around 150 responses, 51% of people said they did know it and 49% said they either weren’t sure or had no clue. I thought it was funny that quite a few people thought that the news jingle that’s played on QBS was the National Anthem.

So, for those people who are in Qatar, here’s the National Anthem so you’re familiar with it :)

 


Rough translation:

Swearing by God who erected the sky
Swearing by God who spread the light
Qatar will always be free Sublimed by the souls of the sinceres
Procede on the manners of the ascendants
And advance on Prophet’s guidance In my heart,

Qatar is an epic of glory and dignity
Qatar is land of the early men
Who protect us at time of distress,
Doves they can be at times of peace,
Warriors they are at times of sacrifice

Garangao in Qatar – The Festival of Children (and the Garangao song)

Tomorrows the day to celebrate Garangao [Ga-ran-ga-oh] (or sometimes called Gir-ga-oon)

Garangao, celebrated on the 14th day of Ramadan, is special to the Gulf region , particularly Qatar, and is believed to have its roots in the pearl-diving tradition of the region. Over the years, the festival has gained more popularity with several expatriates joining the celebrations.

This evening, children, clad in their traditional clothes, will come out of their homes and knock on every door in their neighbourhood, which will be ready to receive them with sweets and nuts. They collect the goodies in the special cotton bags, hanging loosely from their necks. Kids will be seen wandering around the streets until late into the night singing the special Garangao song.

Now people are not just interested in buying the goodies, but they go for the specially designed packets and bags decorated with popular cartoon characters and other symbols dear to the children. So shops are vying to offer new and attractive designs. The prices of these packets range from QR5 to QR50, according to the size and varieties of the goodies.

Several Qatari clubs and organizations, which are instrumental in popularizing the festival, have come out with a variety of cultural events to mark the occasion, as in the previous years.

I remember when I was young, we’d all go around singing songs to the different homes and filling our bags with sweets! It was great! I encourage all nationalities to enjoy this festive occassion :)

Katara, iLoveQatar’s home, has something great set up too! Interested? Click here! http://iloveqatar.net/forum/read.php?27,36279

 

The Garangao song!

Here’s the song! Play it loud!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7kpZEKgvQU&feature=player_embedded

Lyrics:

Garangao Girga oh.
Atoona allah yateekum
Bayt Mecca ya wadeekum
Ya Mecca Yal mamoora
Yam il salasil wal thahab ya noora
Atoona min mal allah
Yislam lakum Abdulla.

Now this part of the song is special. You usually end it with the family name or the name of the father of the house (if you know it). So the ending of the song changes. For example:

Khalifa:
Atoona dahbat leefa
Salam Ala Khalifa

Translation:

Garangao Girga oh
Give us what God gave you
To Mecca he’ll take you
The greatly filled Mecca
Covered with tassles, gold and light
Give us what God  have given
Abdulla greets you with smiles

Khalifa:

Please give me us a bit of sweets

Please say hi to Khalifa.

 

So who’s going to be the first person to memorize and sing the song?

HAPPY GARANGAO EVERYONE!

 

Qatar – History and Future

This great video was but together by Abdulla Al Ansari. This comes at a great time (around National Day). These students put together this great look at how Qatar has changed (for better or worse).
Visit his site at http://www.qatarthefuture.com

A special Qatar National Day site for 2011 and new Qatari talent!

For the past three years (well this is the third year) we’ve put together a very special National Day event site. It started in the end of 2008 (when we officially started working on iLoveQatar) and then we got the support from Vodafone to turn the experience into something prettier. I didn’t want to simply give people an events listing page and figured that with all the traffic going to the site (last year we had around 20,000 unique visitors in around 10 days) we should be doing something helpful!

So we started promoting Qatari talent. In 2009 we promoted Rayana, an amazingly talented singer. A small girl with a big voice. In 2010 we promoted Moh’d Kamal, Qatar’s first Qatari stand up comedian. This year we’re promoting a bunch of Qatari cartoonists, each with their own style! So far we’ve got @fatoomworld @wse7en @iba7r and @mana_qtr . Many of them contribute to www.qartoon.org

So if you’re looking for some quick info on what National Day is all about, a great events guide, and want to check out some great Qatari talent, then check out www.qatarnationalday.qa (yep we’ll be using that domain from now on so bookmark it!). Oh and guess what? You’ve got a chance to also win 10,000 QR from Vodafone! Head on over to the National Day and click on the competition tab to find out more :)

See also:

A day to be proud of

Qatar National Day 2010 is coming!

It’s twitter time! Three ILQ channels.

Sometimes it gets difficult following all these different sites. So to make life simpler for you Twitter users, all you need to do is follow one of these three twitter accounts that have been specially set up!

Looking for straight up ILQ stuff and some of my own tweets? Follow @iloveqatar

Looking for Qatar related news? Follow @qatarnews

Looking for the latest events in Qatar? Follow @qatarevents

 

How to encourage Start Ups and SMEs

Qatar Today, one of Qatar’s most widely circulated magazines, asked Bassam and I to do an interview with them and to pick our brains about why we think it’s so difficult for Start Ups and SMEs. Of course we don’t have the exact answers to those questions, but we definitely shared our own experiences.

Click here to read the article on ISSUU

But what about you guys out there? What are the difficulties you’re facing? Things have definitely got to change if Qatar wants to be a business friendly hub.

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.