Lana Khalaf, Country Manager, Microsoft Qatar
As we celebrate Qatar’s National Day, we can look back with pride on the past four decades of outstanding accomplishments. From being a global player in the oil and gas sector, to hosting the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East, to driving resiliency during COVID-19 pandemic, to the most competitive economy in the region of today, Qatar has navigated its course with focus and ambition, and now shines brightly on the world stage.
And that was just the beginning. Qatar’s forward-looking approach and the ambitions expressed through the Qatar National Vision 2030 speak to the ideology of transformation by design and not by chance.
Many of the steps taken on this journey have been made possible by technology. Qatar’s relationship to progress is evident in its reputation as an early adopter – quick to evaluate, field-test and implement the latest developments, and build its own unique digital capabilities. Empowered by the cloud, Qatar-based enterprises have the opportunity at hand to reimagine the future: in 2020 and 2021, it enabled them to promptly respond and recover during the pandemic; now in 2022, it can help them thrive; and looking ahead to the future, the cloud can enable them to become part of a lead digital economy driven by innovation at a global scale.
This strategy reflects the concept of “tech intensity,” a phrase coined by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella in 2018, which basically refers to the potential for companies and countries to jump-start their growth by being fast-adopters of best-in-class technology, and equally important, building their own unique digital capabilities. This starts with nurturing workers who are deeply knowledgeable about the latest technology, all while ensuring a strong foundation and culture of trust.
The benefits of tech intensity are many, but perhaps the best illustration is how Qatar leveraged the power of the intelligent cloud to further its transformation and build a knowledge-based society that is advanced and sustainable. Public and private enterprises across the country have used the scalability, high-availability, and resilience of cloud services to accelerate their own journeys – to engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and reinvent business models while reducing costs and innovating for the future.
We take some small measure of pride in the fact that our data centres, cloud platforms, offerings and wide range of products and services– backed by our Microsoft team and partners in Qatar and around the world – have contributed to success stories and created job opportunities for citizens and residents as well as attracted global companies and partners to follow in our footsteps.
We have been in Qatar for more than 15 years now. We were one of the first global companies to invest in establishing a presence in Qatar, and we were among the first global corporations to make Qatar Science and Technology Park our home in 2007, QFZA in year 2019 and Lusail in 2020. From here, we have strived to align our strategy with the nation’s economic vision, and we have attracted many of our unmatched partners’ ecosystem to expand and establish operations here in Qatar.
We owe our sense of hope and gratitude to an audacious and focused government supported by the innovation and enthusiasm of the private sector. And as Qatar looks to the next decades, digital technology and particularly cloud services will have essential – perhaps existential – meaning for the competitive nature of business.
Recognising this need early, in 2019, we have partnered with the Government and the State of Qatar to bring the trusted, versatile, intelligent Microsoft Cloud to contribute to the Qatar national vision 2030, to enable public and private enterprises accelerate their digital transformation and innovation, and transforming the country into a digital economy attracting foreign investments and making Qatar a digital hub for the region and world.
According to a study from IDC, Microsoft’s cloud investment in Qatar will generate US$3.4-billion-dollar in revenues by 2024. Cloud adoption, alone, is expected to generate 24,000 jobs in the country by 2024, making a significant impact on the GDP and supporting the leadership’s efforts to develop and attract top talent.
This is transforming Qatar into a digital, diversified economy – enabling every industry to thrive in the new normal. The aspirations of Qatar coupled with major transformation projects like FIFA World Cup 2022 that delivers on the vision to make a Qatar global sports hub, TASMU, a unique advanced smart city program that will transform key industry sectors, Tawteen, a program that will digitally transform and create local investment opportunities for the energy sector.
However, this is where we see the Qatar intelligent cloud as a catalyst to accelerate this transformation and innovation providing data residency, advanced cloud services not possible on premise like Artificial Intelligence. Simply put, the Microsoft cloud just contributes to what Qatar really is – a resilient nation that has demonstrated its robust capabilities to navigate its way into a new digital economy.
Attracting and developing talent – the second crucial concept behind tech intensity – is another one of Qatar’s national success stories, and one that Microsoft has been supporting Qatar’s leadership with for more than 15 years. We are true to our mission to empower every person in Qatar to achieve more. From students to job seekers, to developers, to IT Professionals, to startups, and partners with no one left behind – expanding access to digital skills, needed to drive a vibrant and diverse knowledge economy. Hand in hand with the Qatari Government, we have created and brought to market flagship initiatives, such as Qatar Digital Government Training Program (QDGTP), Erada Internship Program, skilling initiatives of Ministry of Education and Higher Education, as well as Ministry of Information and Communication Technology among others, with the aim to bring Qatari talents into the technology sector and ensure the readiness of the current and future workforce to fully harness the power of the cloud.
Microsoft believes that Qatar stands as one of the most digitally progressive countries in the world today. Our cloud services may deliver a complete, intelligent, and trusted cloud environment, but it is our customers who do the innovation part. Qatari businesses are agile by nature, and we see a bright future for everyone as enterprises here go beyond their skillful navigation of the pandemic to build bigger and better digital capabilities through the bold adoption of secure technologies and the skilling, upskilling and reskilling of their workforces.
When we look at how far Qatar has come, it is exciting to think of where it will be in 2030, 2050 and beyond. Given its impressive record, I believe we can take comfort in knowing it will reach greater heights that exceed our imagination.
Happy National Day Qatar!