Home Entrepreneurs Qatar buzzes with entrepreneurial ideas as it prepares to welcome the World Cup

Qatar buzzes with entrepreneurial ideas as it prepares to welcome the World Cup

by Ozva Admin

Qatar has one of the fastest growing economies in the Gulf and many of its most innovative companies are based in the business district.

And with an estimated 1.5 million football fans arriving in Qatar in November for the World Cup, there are plenty of smart companies keen to show foreign visitors what the country has to offer.

A gastronomic experience for the whole family.

How many times have we all found ourselves in a mall food court, trying to choose a place to eat? Well now there is an app for that.

West Bay’s Tornado Tower is home to a Virtual Food Hall where you can browse multiple restaurant menus and pay in one transaction.

Is named And experience And it’s not a common place to have lunch, it’s more like ten restaurants in one.

Ali Nasser Al-Saadi is its creator.

“Basically, a virtual hybrid food hall is where we operate different brands under one roof, where a customer can walk in and order from different kitchens under the same transaction,” he explains.

Think of a food court. Mom wants pizza, dad wants salad, and the kids want pasta. The difference is that all trademarks here at AND Experience are owned by Ali Nasser Al-Saadi.

The adventure began in 2015 with mini pancakes in The Pearl area, a family residential district built on artificial islands, north of Doha.

Al-Saadi said it took about a month for word to spread, but when it did, it wasn’t long before he was making 2,000 mini pancakes every 10 minutes.

“It was something very new in Doha,” he recalls. “Having a Qatari concept, especially running the business and being there on the ground. So, I was flipping pancakes and being the cashier and everything. And it evolved.”

That success led him to open AND café. Then the pandemic came. Locked into a five-year building lease, Al-Saadi needed a plan. It was then that he had the idea to turn his cafeteria into a central kitchen. AND Café literally became a new dining experience, or “AND Experience”.

“So we have your breakfast,” Al-Saadi says as he gives us a tour. “We have their coffee, their pasta, their burgers, their wings and we also empower other people — business people where we have West African cuisine. So we take brands that people want to open and help them build those brands by offering them a location, kitchen, chef and the right tools to expand your business”.

In most kitchens, a chef has to master a menu. But here, there are ten different menus for the team to prepare, from salads and burgers to Italian and Senegalese cuisine.

Food bloggers put the AND experience to the test

Dionne Lobo and Ian Marks started her food blog Five years ago. The husband and wife duo regularly visit new restaurants in Doha and put them to the test.

“When we got to Doha, social media wasn’t that big of a deal,” says Dionne. “Over a period of time, and all over the world, people are reacting more to food bloggers because they’re more likeable and you can relate to, rather than a critic.”

So we invited Dionne and Ian to try the AND experience. Your verdict:

“You can’t go wrong with butter chicken,” says Ian. “The butter chicken was amazing.”

“The fries were delicious,” says Dionne. “Very different, not your usual fries.”

“They were very sweet,” adds Ian. “It was perfect. Did you see my mouth drooling?”

Al-Saadi believes his success is part of a larger trend.

“I think people started to deviate from international franchises and chains to have the power to learn from other people and create similar things in a better way,” he says.

Al-Saadi hopes to go cash-free by the beginning of the new year and is also developing an app where you can place your order, get a table number and have your food delivered as soon as it arrives.

Not bad for a business that started out as a mini pancake kiosk just a few years ago.

A vegan business empire

How do you build a vegan business empire? Well, there’s a man in Qatar who knows better than most… Ghanim al-Sulaiti. The young founder of Enbat Holdings he has created seven successful vegan businesses, from restaurants to skin care products.

“I don’t come from a business background,” he says. “I had to learn everything from the beginning. I had to immerse myself in the process. So the beginning was very exciting. We were trying to create a space that could inspire people, that could revolutionize the way people eat in Qatar, because We felt like people in Qatar weren’t aware of our eating habits and how food actually affects our health. Six years later, it’s not a small business anymore. I mean, we’re talking about 13 food and beverage locations. We’re talking about two spas that are fully operational. We are talking about 250 employees and members of our team. I always tell people that Doha is becoming the most vegan city in the world. I am comparing New York, Los Angeles, London and Paris because it has 13 vegan restaurant locations across the city.”

Ghanim believes that veganism is more than just a diet.

“Veganism is kind of a lifestyle and that’s why I call it a movement because it doesn’t just stop at food,” he says. “It goes beyond that. It goes to the farms. It goes to the way we treat animals, to the way we dress every day. So I think being vegan is about being the best version of yourself.” at the present time with the current world situation”.

One of Ghanim’s locations is evergreen organics at the Gate Mall. Combine an integrated store in a restaurant.

“So the idea here was to create an escape for people walking through the mall, surrounded by, you know, plants and greenery,” he says. “Evergreen is an all-day kind of dining experience. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have about, I would say, 70 items on the menu. But at the same time, we have a beautiful supermarket. The idea is to encourage people to buy local because we have a lot of local products and we collaborate with local businesses and local farms to provide really good food.

Also in the Gate Mall is Mylk, a vegan ice cream and chocolate shop.

“We tried to design it in a way that reflects the beauty of Scandinavian design,” says Ghanim. “But at the same time, making sure it reflects simplicity and allows people to enjoy a different kind of space as far as veganism goes, and doesn’t feel like a vegan place. But for us, this is the goal behind the concept”.

There’s a full service offering: Green & Go, to get what you need quickly, Evergreen, where people can take a little more of their time, and Mylk, for sweets that are still healthy.

“It’s an ecosystem of businesses, so each business complements the other business,” says Ghanim. “Green & Go is for people on the go. On the subway, Evergreen is more like relaxing on a weekend. Mylk is more when you feel like you have a sweet tooth and want to satisfy some kind of craving. So each concept feeds into the right place for the right audience.

Preparing for the World Cup legacy

With an estimated 1.5 million football fans arriving in Qatar in November for the World Cup, there are plenty of opportunities for smart companies to capitalize on foreign visitors eager to experience what the country has to offer.

In 2015, the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy – the organization responsible for planning Qatar 2022 – launched an open call for companies to develop projects that could eventually play their part in the FIFA World Cup. That initiative was called Challenge 22.


“We wanted to inspire the people who use the FIFA World Cup and make their products and services part of the overall journey and the tournament itself,” says Ahsan Mansoor, Director of Fan Engagement and Ambassadors at the Supreme Committee. “We hope beyond that, that people will also continue to look to mega-events as inspiration for innovation.”

solar pavers

Twelve regional companies were finally announced as winners, including SunPave. Co-founded by engineer Mohammad Al Gammal, the idea is quite unusual: solar panels you can walk on.

“What’s special about our products is that they allow the freedom to install solar panels without hindering or altering space utilization,” he says. “So you don’t have to install frames and put the normal panels on top of them and disrupt the landscape and architecture of the locations. Instead, you just use them as pavers and your space is still usable.”

As part of the Challenge 22 legacy, Al Thumama Stadium will have SunPave solar panels installed ahead of the FIFA World Cup in a dedicated area outside the stadium.

“For the World Cup period, the stadium management decided that some of this energy will go into powering an electronic charging area where people can sit down to relax a bit and maybe recharge their devices,” says Mohammad.

An experiential market

Another Challenge 22 project that plans to cater to visitors in a different way is the ViaVii tourist application. Originally created in Lebanon, it offers visitors a one stop shop to access different local highlights.

“It’s an experiential marketplace platform where curators can list their experiences online,” says Faiha Sahirah, ViaVii’s operations leader.

“We connect those who want to seek new things, find unique and adventurous things to do that they really can’t find anywhere else, and meet someone who will be able to provide these services for them.”

local artist rhyme abuharb was contacted to partner with ViaVii last year.

“For visitors from FIFA,” says Rima. “I will do more workshops for them to create their own designs from their mind. Because I feel like my goal and everything I do is that I want people to explore their imagination.”

The company works with curators that are not simply found through Google, such as Mohamed Al-Sulaiti whose boat tours operate entirely by word of mouth, or a local farm that offers family days out.

With just weeks to go until the world’s biggest sporting event kicks off, and millions of eyes on Qatar, all Challenge 22 winners hope their businesses fill a need in the market that extends long after the tournament is over.

And for an incredible view of the business district, there’s no better place than the heliport of the JW Mariott hotel.

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