While visitors and exhibitors alike visited the landmark exhibition to pursue new contacts and forging new partnerships which directly deal with their business activities, Dr. Fouad Mrad – Executive Director of the ESCWA Technology Centre, which falls under the mandate of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) – attended Project Qatar to understand the larger impact these partnerships are having on the socio-economic development of the MENA region.
The ESCWA Technology Centre is charged with the task of linking the needs of the region with regional capacity to solve those needs. The Centre acts as the catalyst to match one country’s strengths to another’s need- a mechanism which leads to greater socio-economic development for not just the concerned countries, but the whole region in general.
As an example of such technology transfer – of which knowledge transfer is a critical element – is ACICO, a Qatar-based manufacturer of a concrete-replacement product. Dr. Mrad of the ESCWA Technology Centre points out this company’s work as a prime example of the type of technology transfer that is reshaping the way countries look upon their development plans. He notes that, “This is a great example of a foreign technology that has been reshaped and reworked to match the needs of the local market. A product that has been successful abroad has been brought here, and is now being produced locally using local materials and providing a fantastic solution for the local market due to its economic, environmental, and energy sustainability, not to mention that the product is immeasurably better than concrete.”
“Seeing this type of technology transfer is well worth visiting the exhibition. If done properly, such transfers grow the economy in terms of both finance and employment, while also solving pressing regional and local issues in health, water, education, environment and food,” says Dr. Mrad.
As the Executive Director of the ESCWA Technology Centre, Dr. Mrad is charged with facilitating this type of technology transfer in the hopes that it will lead to socio-economic betterment of all parties involved. During his tour of Project Qatar, Dr. Mrad was especially delighted to meet two sets of participants. The first, he says, are the international commercial and economic delegations that are representing foreign governments at Project Qatar, with whom his conversations have led to initial discussions about launching full-blown programs to assist in technology transfer activities.
The second set of participants that have interested Dr. Mrad and the ECWA Technology Centre are, “The cluster of regional and local green technology companies that are exhibiting at Project Qatar; they represent the cutting-edge set of exhibitors who are taking new technologies and not just representing them in Qatar, but also localizing them to the needs of the region. Their work is both innovative and crucial to the socio-economic development of the region,” finds Dr. Mrad.
While ESCWA visited Project Qatar to evaluate the technology and innovation exchange being showcased at the exhibition, other government bodies have also been present to evaluate the impact of the exhibition on other aspects of national development. The delegation from the Federation of GCC Chambers at Project Qatar was led by Mr. Abdulrahim Hasan Naqi, Secretary General of the Pan-GCC commercial trade body. Speaking about Project Qatar, Mr. Naqi noted that, “Events like Project Qatar are crucial for day-to-day business development of course, but they also serve a higher purpose. They are part of the region-wide drive towards restructuring our economies on a system that feeds off innovation and scientific prowess. If we are to fundamentally address the issues facing our region, we have to foster such platforms to ensure that we find solutions that fit our region’s needs and solve them head-on.”
Mr. Naqi notes that Project Qatar 2012 exceeded all expectations; “I have been amazed at the size and diversity of the exhibition. The volume of exhibits is matched only by the size of the projects in Qatar. The attendance was spectacular too – ministers of foreign countries, ambassadors, trade delegations, foreign chambers of trade and commerce, along with thousands of businesspeople- all meeting at one platform designed to spur on business. This is a success story.”
As Qatar and the region gear up to launch the second large phase of their development plans, the GCC countries stand at the cusp of transforming the way people live their lives in the region. Rather than being just another consumer show, Project Qatar has positioned itself as a specialized destination which fosters the exchange of technology and skill sets.
While speaking about the various types of businesses that caught his attention, Dr. Naqi notes that, “The presence of hundreds of foreign and local SMEs at Project Qatar is extremely pleasing. If the GCC is to diversify its economies successfully, it needs to foster its SME sector, which is how any middle class anywhere grows. Once you start growing the SME sector, you make the economy diverse, innovative, and stronger. Seeing regional SMEs showcasing their skills here has been a delight. Seeing SMEs from outside the region making contacts here is an even greater joy, because it shows that both small companies and large corporations see an opportunity for themselves in the GCC.”
Project Qatar has become today a platform that delivers to every type of participant- large and small local businesses, well-established and nascent foreign companies, foreign governments and commercial bodies, development centers and research institutes, as well as construction consultants and service providers. It is a unique destination that is serving not just connecting businesses, but also countries with needs to countries with capacity to solve those needs. Project Qatar is seen as a bona fide industry-wide platform – one that is well known, well attended, and always innovative in both its exhibits and services to participants.
Sunday, May 6- 2012 @ 12:27 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.