Title:      Business Opportunities in Qatar in the Major Event Sector

This event was hosted in association with Pinsent Masons LLP.  MEI would like to extend their sincere thanks to Pinsent Masons LLP and all those who were involved in ensuring the success of the event.

Just under 70 attendees gathered together in the offices of Pinsent Masons LLP to listen to a variety of experienced speakers who have all gained valuable experience of working in Qatar.  We were honoured and most appreciative of John Hawkins’ presence to open the proceedings with some very insightful and pragmatic words of advice.  John, the previous HM Ambassador to Qatar, spoke of the political relationship building and the ministerial engagement that has been going on from both sides for a number of years between UK and Qatar.  He emphasized that Qatar has great depth in financial resources and that generally speaking Qataris ‘like’ doing business with the UK.  However the products and services must be good; Qatar wants and can afford the best companies, the best products and they want to deal with the best people.  He highlighted the greatest risks being geography, payment and competition.  He strongly advised getting representatives on the ground. and the importance (once again) of building relationships.  Following these opening remarks, James Earl, a partner from Pinsent Masons LLP, gave a very polished introduction to Pinsent Masons followed by a concise look into the opportunities around sport in Qatar.  James emphasized the over-arching need for patience, the Qatari appetite for and the determination to succeed in sport along with the reverberations following the recent succession to the throne.  The new Emir, a fervent supporter of Manchester City, will accelerate the interest in sport with Qatar but that will not change the old adage that applies to building business in the Gulf Region; ‘slowly, slowly, catch your monkey’.  Tony Bartho, a man with a wealth of experience in the Gulf, followed James, with a presentation stacked full of information, advice and news.  Tony is the UKTI Infrastructure Specialist, based in the HM Embassy in Doha.  He stressed the massive infrastructure requirement in Qatar, particularly in logistics and talked through a number of current projects within the Qatar Rail Development Programme alone (Msheireb Light Rail, Khalifa Light Rail and the Hamad International Airport monorail).  However, 80% of all projects surveyed are delayed and 64% are over-budget, so once again we were warned of the time it takes to complete projects.  At this point, we were fortunate to hear from Ben Fletcher, from the OSTC in the Home Office who gave a brief update on the ongoing activities between the HM Government and Qatar.  Following the break John Hawkins chaired a panel made up of John Goulding a Director of UIDC, Mel Fairbourn-Varley from DWA, William Martin, CEO of WMP and Jon Coxeter-Smith, a Director of Sagacity.  Each panellist gave a brief introduction to their business and their experiences in Qatar before the discussion was opened up the floor. The last of the presentations was given by Piers Lawson, Client Relationship Director of MEI, who explained the part that MEI played in the major event sector, providing the audience with a clear explanation of what services they offer and how they are able to support businesses looking to penetrate new markets.

We would like to thank the organisations that supported us at this event and without whom it would not have been the success that it was.  Our gratitude to Pinsent Masons LLP deserves repetition and we are equally pleased to be working alongside UIDC for the second time this year.  Also, supporting us for the second time this summer were AFEX, an international and foreign exchange house.  We would also like to thank our media partners Crescent Publishing and Panacea Publishing along with Oxford Business Group who we will hopefully be able to develop a long lasting relationship.

Copies of all presentations can be downloaded from the MEI website at Presentations.

Our next briefing will take place in London on Wednesday 4th September and will be focusing on Brazil.  Our next Qatar focus event is due to take place on Tuesday 22nd October in Glasgow.  Please save these dates in your diary.

Additional information