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Qatar's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem - 2021 Edition: Empowering the Transformation

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There is an emerging trend of discussing “entrepreneurial ecosystems” and the potential effects of entrepreneurship on the rapid growth of countries. This has been accompanied by a growing effort from governments to push innovation-driven entrepreneurial projects because of their relation to economic growth and job creation. Questions remain without an answer and much of the evidence is inconclusive or incomplete, but a growing number of academics are focusing on researching the different entrepreneurship-related questions. Understanding the process of entrepreneurship is key to creating the ideal conditions to foster business creation and development, ideally of high impact based on innovation because they have a bigger potential to provide jobs and income for the long term. Therefore, researching the entrepreneurship phenomena must be linked closely to the practical experiences of entrepreneurs and key stakeholders to be as accurate as possible. Following this trend, the entrepreneurial ecosystem appears in the entrepreneurship literature as the leading theory used by practitioners and researchers about entrepreneurship policy portfolios, regional clusters of entrepreneurs and specialized resources, as well as national systems of entrepreneurship. The concept usually underpins studies looking at the dynamics of competition and collaboration in co-specialized technology-intensive settings. Consequently, as explained in chapter 1, this report aims to examine the reality of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in a country that has made several efforts to transform into a knowledge-based economy, making the country a regional hub for knowledge and high-value industrial and economic activities. That country is Qatar.
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Cite document as:
Villegas-Mateos, Allan. (2021). Qatar's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem - 2021 Edition:
Empowering the Transformation (pp. 1–100). Doha, Qatar: HEC Paris.
http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4719075
Acknowledgements
Special thanks to all the entrepreneurs, support
organizations and companies that contributed with their time
and information to develop this research and in a very special
way thanks to the key actors that allowed us to interview them
such as: Hamad Al-Hajri (Snoonu / Ministry of Finance),
Aysha Al Romaihi (QBIC), Dr. Richard O’Kennedy (HBKU /
Qatar Foundation), Sylvain Touati (Almana Group / Embellie
Advisory), Charif Takieddine (Forma Fiberglass), Thomas Bieche
(Egis Group), Arnaud Depierrefeu (LPA-CGR avocats), Nayef
Al-Ibrahim (ibTECHar), Nouf Al-Marri (Appedia), Saad Al-Matwi
(Alazizya Chemicals Factory Group), Juha Perälampi (Qatar
University, Business Incubator), and Awdesh Chetal (Risin
Ventures). Additionally, thanks to Qatar Development Bank
for their great job as sponsors of the Global Entrepreneurship
Monitor in Qatar. Also, thanks to Noor Alyahya for being key
in the development of this book, assisting with every interview
and edition from the Dean’s oce at HEC Paris in Qatar, and to
the people at the university that somehow contributed to make it
happen. Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Pablo
Martin de Holan (Dean, HEC Paris in Qatar) for his reviews and
professional guidance.
8
9
Foreword
Entrepreneurship is one of the most important engines of
economic development, and a central driver of economic
diversication. Indeed, it’s entrepreneurs, their teams, and the rms
they create who search for opportunities in a market, and create
and capture economic value in the process, increasing the levels
of innovation of whole economies. When one sees an innovative
economy, it is impossible not to see at the molecular level the
work of hundreds of startups, and of entrepreneurial leadership in
established rms: it is through innovation that new value is created,
at the rm level, and also at the macro economic level.
Innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth, and
development are intrinsically linked, so much so that it is dicult
to think of a diversied, vibrant economy without the work of
entrepreneurs and their rms, and their constant eort to create
value with innovative products, services, or business models. The
constant, relentless exploration that fuels entrepreneurship is the
engine that allows new ideas to emerge, and new forms of value
creation to appear in a market.
The Qatar National Vision 2030 seeks to diversify Qatar´s
economy by incorporating new activities that, over time, will
become a signicant percentage of the GDP and eventually replace
oil and gas and extractive industries in general. In particular, high-
value-added professional services are needed to achieve that goal,
and ultimately to transform Qatar into a “knowledge economy”
that is strong, sustainable, respectful of the planet, and of course
capable of ensuring the material and spiritual well-being of its
current citizens and residents, and the future generations to come.
10
Yet, entrepreneurial activities happen in a context which
heavily inuences the quantity and the quality of the activities
that take place in it. The success of entrepreneurial rms, then,
depends not only on the quality of the entrepreneurs but also on the
quality of other persons and institutions that surround them. That
environment is usually dened as the “entrepreneurial ecosystem”
of a region or even a nation, and includes a variety of entities
with dierent missions and activities, all of them at least partially
interested in the creation and the growth of healthy and innovative
business rms led by entrepreneurial managers. It is generally
accepted that the quality of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the
constant eorts to improve it, are what dierentiates fast-growing,
innovative economies from less successful ones. Resources still
matter, of course, but ideas matter more in this century of climate
change and technological disruption.
Among the institutions that constitute an entrepreneurial
ecosystem, business schools such as HEC Paris in Qatar play a key
role. Not only do they provide education and training that increase
the quality of the entrepreneurial initiatives and reduce the risk of
failures, but also they foster a network of entrepreneurial leaders
who can support each other and exchange ideas and experiences.
Also-and this is a key role for any institution of higher learning-they
provide thought leadership and high-quality academic research.
The document you have in your hands is a research eort
led by HEC Paris in Qatar to map as accurately as possible the
entrepreneurial ecosystem of Qatar in 2020, by identifying and
analyzing the core players and their actions. This eort also
seeks to understand how these players interact with each other,
and to highlight evidence-based areas of improvement that could
increase the positive impact of the ecosystem. This study seeks
to complement the excellent eorts led by other institutions in
11
Doha, and provide insights and analysis that can help the decision-
makers of the public and private sectors to increase the quality of
the ecosystem by providing mechanisms that will encourage the
creation of new entrepreneurial rms. An example of that excellent
work is the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a world study led in
Doha by the Qatar Development Bank as part of its many initiatives
to support entrepreneurship and innovation in general, and high-
growth exporting rms in particular.
HEC´s objective with this study is to provide an updated
map of the ecosystem, and to feed the conversation about the
dierent initiatives that can be taken to increase entrepreneurship
and innovation in Qatar. As one of the world´s leading business
schools, and as a member of the Qatar Foundation family since
2010, HEC is proud to provide this study in the hope it will be a
modest contribution on the road to National Vision 2030.
HEC Paris in Qatar is grateful to Dr. Allan Villegas-
Mateos, who accepted our invitation to join our team during the
pandemic-created connement, and who worked remotely to
gather and analyze all the information that is presented in this
book. Because of travel restrictions, he did most of his research
work remotely, sometimes having to juggle with time zones and
other logistical complications that made his work a great deal
more dicult than it should have been. Yet, his prior work and
expertise in entrepreneurial ecosystems, part of which was at the
core of his Ph.D. thesis and the subsequent papers that came out of
it, facilitated his task in spite of all the diculties.
A map, very much like the city of Doha, is always a work-
in-progress: no sooner is it nished than new elements appear.
It is the sincere desire of HEC to work with its partners in Qatar
12
to keep this map updated as it changes, and provide useful ideas
to enhance both the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship in
Qatar and in the region, providing a forum for discussion about
public policies and private investments alike. Ultimately, it is
through impactful entrepreneurship that countries develop, but that
entrepreneurship cannot happen without a context that nurtures it
adequately: entrepreneurship needs business schools, incubators,
angel investors, venture capitalists, development banks, and
hackathons among many others to ourish. HEC Paris in Qatar
is proud to participate in that conversation, and to be part of the
entrepreneurial ecosystem of Qatar.
Doha, Qatar, February 1, 2021.
Pablo MARTIN DE HOLAN, Ph.D.
Dean - HEC Paris in Qatar
13
Executive Summary
There is an emerging trend of discussing “entrepreneurial
ecosystems” and the potential eects of entrepreneurship on
the rapid growth of countries. This has been accompanied by
a growing eort from governments to push innovation-driven
entrepreneurial projects because of their relation to the economic
growth and job creation. Questions remain without an answer and
much of the evidence is inconclusive or incomplete, but a growing
number of academics are focusing on researching the dierent
entrepreneurship-related questions. Understanding the process of
entrepreneurship is key to creating the ideal conditions to foster
business creation and development, ideally of high impact based
on innovation because they have a bigger potential to provide
jobs and income for the long term. Therefore, researching the
entrepreneurship phenomena must be linked closely to the practical
experiences of entrepreneurs and key stakeholders to be as accurate
as possible. Following this trend, the entrepreneurial ecosystem
appears in the entrepreneurship literature as the leading theory
used by practitioners and researchers about entrepreneurship
policy portfolios, regional clusters of entrepreneurs and specialized
resources, as well as national systems of entrepreneurship. The
concept usually underpins studies looking at the dynamics of
competition and collaboration in co-specialized technology-
intensive settings. Consequently, as explained in chapter 1, this
report aims to examine the reality of an entrepreneurial ecosystem
in a country that has made several eorts to transform into a
knowledge-based economy, making the country a regional hub for
knowledge and high-value industrial and economic activities. That
country is Qatar.
14
To study Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem this
research report departs from dening it as the systematic view
of entrepreneurship activities that occur in a local phenomenon
given the interdependence of key actors and factors. Therefore,
assessing the extent to which Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
is supportive for business creation and development is required
to identify the composition of it and its key stakeholders from an
institutional point of view. In chapter 2, the report focuses on ve
entrepreneurial framework conditions to analyze thoroughly who
participates in each: (1) Education, (2) Finance, (3) Government,
(4) Support organizations, and (5) Entrepreneurship competitions
and sponsors. It general, it follows a mixed method approach
based on primary data obtained from in-depth interviews with
key stakeholders and the analysis of secondary data. This report
also examines in chapter 3 the ecosystem dynamics including
population demographics like employment, entrepreneur’s
prole, motivations, salaries, investments landscape, foreign
trade and main productive sectors. At the same time, the report
examines in chapter 4 some barriers to entrepreneurship and it
concludes in chapter 5 with some implications and limitations
for key stakeholders in Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The
report concludes with recommendations to shed light on the best
practices that entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the ecosystem can
adopt to support each other and advance towards Qatar’s National
Vision 2030.
In this research report you can nd the
following:
• Qatar is advancing well in adapting the local conditions
and has potential to be come a leading entrepreneurial eco-
system considering that there is a synergistic relationship
15
between universities, government, industry, and abundant access
to capital.
• There are some specic support institutions such as Qatar
Foundation, Qatar Development Bank and Qatar Financial
Centre providing remarkable support for other organizations
involved in education, science, and technology; these are
directly linked to a broader view of how the country is building
the entrepreneurial framework conditions in terms of creating
or bringing the right talent, providing nancial sources, and
establishing ideal regulatory conditions for business and
entrepreneurs, among others.
Qatar is the home of world class education institutions that
are part of a national eort to support the transition towards a
knowledge-based economy, so the government and private
sectors recognize the importance of universities to provide
human capital infrastructure and eventually foster more
innovative projects within the country. This helps nationals and
expatriates since there is no need to travel abroad to get a world
class education, and helps future entrepreneurs trying to nd the
right talent.
• There are more than 18 universities with dierent areas of
specialties and this report has found that there is not a limitation
on participation by women. The evidence shows that women
are in fact taking advantage of the world class education but
are nding restrictions in occupying certain positions, earning
salaries, and more importantly, in the motivations to pursue
entrepreneurial careers because of their gender roles. Nevertheless,
the student enrollment in universities includes more women
than men, and the leaders recognize women as more capable
entrepreneurs.
16
• In terms of nancial sources, the ecosystem in Qatar reects
several options, but there is not an institutionalized fund-raising
structure aected by the abundant wealth among the Qatari
citizens that bootstrap their businesses. According to investors
interviewed, sometimes there are neither good ideas nor teams to
execute them and other times there are no viable nancial plans
on how much money the businesses need to grow, and this aects
valuations.
17
Part 1: Introduction
The local outlook
Qatar, one of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
countries, is a small country in the Persian Gulf covering an area
of approximately 11,437 km2, with a population of 2.7 million.
The exploitation of Qatar’s oilelds started in 1949. The oil boom
in the 1970s transformed the country’s physical, social, cultural,
and demographic status. Today, Qatar has the third largest gas
reserves in the world, after Iran and Russia. The problem is the
high volatility of oil prices that puts additional pressure on the
Qatari economy. Therefore, the leaders in Qatar agree that the
country needs a long-term strategy to reduce its dependence on
gas and oil. Hence, the Qatar National Vision 2030 is a plan that
aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy,
making the country a regional hub for knowledge and high-value
industrial and economic activities. This transformation is closely
related to support for innovation, technology development, and
entrepreneurship, among others.
Box 1 Qatar National Vision 2030
objectives
The Qatar National Vision 2030 seeks a diversied economy
that gradually reduces its dependence on hydrocarbon
industries, enhances the role of the private sector and
maintains its competitiveness. For the government, converting
the hydrocarbon resources into nancial wealth provides a
18
Why study Qatar’s entrepreneurial
ecosystem?
Entrepreneurship has been recognized worldwide as the
engine of economic growth and creation of jobs that can lead a
country towards superior development. For example, according
to the 2018/2019 United States (USA) Global Entrepreneurship
Monitor (GEM) Report, entrepreneurship represents a viable
career path for many even though the low USA unemployment
rate shows that there are enough job options for Americans. Nearly
16% of the United States adult population are entrepreneurs:
about 31 million entrepreneurs are motivated by opportunity. The
entrepreneurial ecosystem framework conditions in the USA are
generally positive, especially with respect to access to nance
and cultural and social norms, with some areas of opportunities
regarding government policy and programs, and R&D transfer
involving entrepreneurs. If we compare the USA and Qatar, both
are among high-income economies; the dierence is that in the USA
means to invest in world-class infrastructure, build ecient
delivery mechanisms for public services, create a highly
skilled and productive labor force, and of course, support the
development of entrepreneurship and innovation capabilities.
The private sector plays an essential role to achieve that vision.
Entrepreneurs are recognized as key to drive that transition.
The government is providing a platform for diversication
of Qatar’s economy and recognizes training and support for
entrepreneurs as a basic precondition to carry out its required
role beyond the nancial and non-nancial support mechanisms
that constitute the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
19
11.3%
4.8%
Israel
Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) Unemployment Rate
2017
2016 2016 2016
20172018 20182019 2019 2017 2018 2019Qatar USA
4.2% 4.0% 3.9%
7.9% 7.4%
8.5%
4.9%
12.6%
13.6%
15.6%
17.6%
4.4% 3.9% 3.7%
14.7%
0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
12.8% 12.7% 12.7%
Fig. 1 Comparisons of TEA and unemployment rates of Israel, Qatar and the
USA (2016-2019), Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor/Adults
Population Survey and global statistics.
people see entrepreneurial opportunities and perceive that they
have the capabilities to pursue them. In Qatar, the unemployment
rate is close to 0% and jobs are very well paid with generous
benets, especially for Qatari nationals, and expatriates see risks in
becoming entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, as shown in Fig. 1, the Total
Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate has been growing
year by year in Qatar and unemployment remains at similar rates.
This research report aims to identify what can lead people in Qatar
with the right skills to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities from
the point of view of entrepreneurial ecosystem conditions.
The entrepreneurial ecosystem metaphor is based on
the biological concept of “ecosystem” in which a community of
living organisms, in conjunction with the nonliving components
of their environment, interact as a system. In this case the living
organisms are the new and existing businesses that operate in a
limited geographic area given certain conditions. Therefore,
20
an entrepreneurial ecosystem should stimulate the creation and
development of business ventures, ideally of high impact. High
impact businesses are based on innovation and opportunity, and
they have a bigger potential to provide jobs and income for the
long term. In many cases, high impact businesses can be identied
as startups or scale-ups; this type of business develops products or
services of great innovation with a broader demand and its business
model is based on the integration of technology. An entrepreneurial
ecosystem that provides adequate support in terms of funding,
performance, talent, market, research, and development, should
stimulate the emergence of startups and by consequence should be
ideal for any other type of traditional business.
According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (2020),
Silicon Valley located in the San Francisco Bay area in California,
USA, is ranked worldwide as the #1 ecosystem for technology
startups to be located because of its unique conditions. Also, in the
Middle East region, Tel Aviv-Jerusalem in Israel appears ranked
as the #6 startup ecosystem sharing the rank with Los Angeles in
USA. Jerusalem is home to Israel’s leading universities such as
The Hebrew University and Bezalel Academy of Art & Design,
which play signicant roles in creation of science-based startups
and fueling the ecosystem with new talent, entrepreneurship is a
national priority development area, oering tax benets and non-
dilutive grants of up to $165,000 for tech and up to $1 million for
Life Sciences companies. In the case of Silicon Valley, some of
the most successful tech companies in the world are settled there,
including Google, Facebook, Uber and Apple. The collaboration
of stakeholders, professional networks, funding opportunities and
top universities surrounding the area have been key for the success
of these ecosystems. If we compare the conditions, Qatar has
everything to become a top ecosystem destination for high impact
21
entrepreneurs. For example, Qatar has nine satellite campuses of
top international universities located in Education City and since
the blockade started in 2017, nationalism has fostered a culture
of collaboration and support. Also, Qatar’s National Vision 2030
foresees development through four interconnected pillars that are
linked to creating a vibrant ecosystem: human, social, economic,
and environmental development. These pillars are driving the
good progress in developing a political and organizational climate
that supports the business sector; nevertheless, some aspects need
more development for Qatar to become more competitive and
attractive for investments.
The key to succeed in supporting entrepreneurial activities
is understanding how new innovative and competitive rms
emerge in dened geographic spaces and under which conditions
these entrepreneurship activities interact with other components of
the “ecosystem” (Stam, 2015). One key aspect is that most of the
denitions of entrepreneurial ecosystems agree that they need the
interdependence of actors and factors and are a local phenomenon.
That is why the rst thing we need to understand is that we don’t
need to copy or replicate a Silicon Valley; we need to shape the
local conditions in Qatar and engage stakeholders in issues that
include reforming legal, bureaucratic and regulatory frameworks
to create a vibrant ecosystem (Isenberg, 2010). In this process, it
is basic to identify all these key stakeholders from an institutional
point of view, but also to keep in mind the entrepreneurs that are
considered the central heart of any entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Studying entrepreneurial ecosystems also oers a
systematic view of entrepreneurship activity (Cavallo et al., 2018).
Nevertheless, most of the studies are conducted in Eastern or
Western countries (Kebaili et al., 2017) and OECD economies.
22
The studies about this eld in the Gulf Cooperation Council
(GCC) regions are scarce (Ben Hassen, 2020), and Qatar’s social,
economic, and political contexts are totally dierent than most of the
previous studies in other countries. It is relevant since hydrocarbon-
dependent economies such as Qatar are in the transition to
knowledge-based economies where human capital is the driver of
creativity, innovation, and generation of new ideas. Qatar has also
made major eorts to create a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem
with the creation of signicant institutions and organizations to
help entrepreneurs: such as incubators and funding structures,
including the Qatar Development Bank (QDB), Enterprise Qatar,
Silatech, Social Development Center, INJAZ Qatar, Center for
Entrepreneurship (Qatar University), Qatar Business Incubation
Center (QBIC), Digital Incubation Center (DIC), Qatar Science
and Technology Park (QSTP), and Qatar Foundation (QF) (Ben
Hassen, 2019). Consequently, in 2018, according to the Global
Entrepreneurship Index, Qatar was ranked rst among GCC
countries, second in the MENA region, and in 22nd position
globally (Acs et al., 2018). In accordance with the Qatar National
Report 2017 from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor sponsored
by the Qatar Development Bank, 15.7% of the adult population
expressed their intentions to start a business in this country and
65.9% see entrepreneurship as a good career choice, ranking Qatar
as 18th of 52 countries.
Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
framework conditions
In order to identify the key stakeholders of Qatar’s
entrepreneurial ecosystem, the following model (see Fig. 2)
proposes ve types of conditions that encompass the most important
institutional factors recognized by most of the entrepreneurial
23
QATAR’S
ENTREPRENEURIAL
ECOSYSTEM
Education
Government
Finance
.Entrep
Competitions
Support
organizations
Fig. 2 Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem framework conditions
ecosystem models in the literature (Reynolds et al., 2005; Isenberg,
2011; Feld, 2012; WEF, 2013; Mason and Brown, 2014; Stam,
2015; Cavallo et al., 2018):
1. Education
2. Finance
3. Government
4. Support organizations
5. Entrepreneurship competitions and sponsors
24
Part 2: The key stakeholders
mapping
This chapter provides an overview of key stakeholders
that need to be considered in an entrepreneurial ecosystem and that
could implement eective entrepreneurship policies. It discusses
what an entrepreneurial ecosystem is and presents a mapping of
institutions in Qatar that represents their current practices that
this chapter highlights as very important to evaluate and take into
consideration to keep advancing the support for entrepreneurship in
this country. Following a social network approach, the map of Qatar
institutions involved directly in entrepreneurship conditions (see
Fig. 3) shows a strong connection among three leading institutions
(Qatar Foundation, Qatar Development Bank, and Qatar Financial
Centre), and at the same time education institutions reect a strong
presence in the country linked by the Ministry of Education and/or
Qatar Foundation.
QNTC
QMIC
QFC
QBIC
Silatech
Bedaya Center
Qatar
Sports Tech
Startup bootcamp
QFC Regulatroy
Authority
Center of Entrepreneurship
Risin Ventures
Doha Tech Angels Qatar Financial Centre
Business Gateway
Ministry of Education
Qatar Netwrok
Qatar Foundation
Education City
QU
UCalgary
QSTP
VCUQatar
WCM-Q
Texas A&M
CMU
GU-Q
NU-Q
HEC-Q
HBKU
UCL Qatar
CCQ
CNA-Q
QFIS
UFC
QAC
Azm
QFBA
Stenden University
Ministry of
Commerce and Industry
Qatar Development Bank
Fig. 3 Qatar’s institutional framework of the ecosystem, Source: Made by the
author with information from in-depth interviews and available in websites.
25
Any entrepreneurial ecosystem is composed of
interconnected actors and factors that create a vibrant set of
conditions that try to foster the creation and development of
business in a specic geographic area. In this case, Qatar’s
entrepreneurial ecosystem consists of a complex network of
institutions and organizations that support entrepreneurs and help
to build a knowledge-based economy (Nasser Al-Khalifa, 2018).
It has been possible due to the Qatar National Vision 2030 plan
that stimulates a business climate capable of attracting foreign
funds and technologies and encouraging national investments.
Also, it is important to consider that the Qatari government
has a strong involvement and determination to create a vibrant
entrepreneurial ecosystem. In consequence, there are several
government institutions supporting private and public institutions
in Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, from education and research
to nance. Therefore, this report rst identies which institutions
have a key role in Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and then
studies the connections among them through in-depth interviews
with entrepreneurs that have started companies in this country, and
leaders of the institutions that are part of this ecosystem. Second,
it provides a general view of the ecosystem dynamics and barriers
to entrepreneurship. Finally, it ends with recommendations in
terms of public policies, private and public actions, and general
implications and limitations.
Education
Qatar’s National Vision 2030 plan contemplates several
objectives regarding the educational system. The government is
promoting education to intensify the national identity and promote
morals and social values among its population. It serves as a route
to diversify the economy away from the hydrocarbons and start
moving forward towards a knowledge-based economy. In general
26
terms, the educational system in Qatar is controlled by the Supreme
Education Council and the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of
Education is responsible for providing support to private schools
while the Supreme Education Council is responsible for government
schools. In Qatar education is free in government schools and
students are provided with textbooks and transportation to and
from schools. Nevertheless, entering your child in a government
school is highly competitive and the places are reserved rst for
Qatari nationals. Education in Qatar has benetted enormously
from hydrocarbon revenues. It is a 12-year system based on the
K-12 education system that is used in western countries like the
USA. Qatar has many private and international schools where most
expatriates send their children. Nevertheless, there is no evidence
of entrepreneurial education programs at primary and/or secondary
levels in Qatar.
In terms of higher education, the Qatar University was
the rst university established in Qatar and today it oers a broad
range of degrees in eight dierent schools including Education,
Business and Economics, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Sharia,
Pharmacy, Law, and Medicine. The Qatar University is public,
and government supported with a special focus on supporting
entrepreneurship and innovation. It is the largest in terms of
number of students and number of programs, and it has created a
university-based ecosystem as illustrated in Fig. 4 with more than
2,300 students across the dierent schools. Qatar University is a
research institution that holds 17 research centers within a multi-
million-dollar research complex, and partnerships among which
we can highlight the Center for Entrepreneurship established in
2013 as an example of Qatar University’s initiative to support
entrepreneurship at the university and in the community at large.
27
Qatar
University
Faculty
Business
and
Economics
School
Alumni
Community Center of
Entrepreneurship
(other 16 research
centers)
Other 7
schools
Fig. 4 Qatar University-based ecosystem
Currently Qatar has several private universities, some
of them American and others European. In Qatar there is a
development located in Al Rayyan that was supported by the
Qatar Foundation called Education City. It was opened ocially
in 2003. In Education City you can nd many educational
facilities and, more importantly, there are satellite campuses of
international universities including Virginia Commonwealth
University in Qatar, Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, Texas
A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar,
Georgetown University in Qatar, Northwestern University in
Qatar, HEC Paris in Qatar, and Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
Besides these universities in Education City, there are other
universities operating in Qatar including University of Calgary,
Community College of Qatar, Weill Cornell Medical College in
Qatar, College of the North Atlantic Qatar, Qatar Faculty of Islamic
Studies, University Foundation College, Qatar Aeronautical
28
College, Stenden University, University College London, and
Qatar Finance & Business Academy. All the universities are
interconnected through the Ministry of Education and some of them
through the Qatar Foundation, especially international universities.
In terms of support for entrepreneurship and innovation, the
international universities in Education City are very active and
collaborative with government initiatives. They have varying
impacts because most of their alumni communities are formed by
high level executives and current leaders of government institutions
in Qatar.
The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and
Community Development is a private chartered non-prot
organization, and is government supported and in some manner
government funded. Its mission is to support Qatar in its transition
from a hydrocarbon-dependent economy to a knowledge-based
economy by unlocking human potential. The Qatar Foundation
(QF) is responsible for establishing the satellite campuses of the
nine international universities previously mentioned in its eort to
oer better educational institutions. As part of its goal to develop
a youth population with the necessary expertise to maintain a
knowledge economy, the QF requested the following universities to
establish campuses in Qatar: Virginia Commonwealth University,
Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar,
Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, Georgetown University
School of Foreign Service in Qatar, Northwestern University
in Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, HEC Paris in Qatar,
and University College London Qatar. Among these, only three
oer programs directly related with business (Carnegie Mellon
University Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign
Service in Qatar, and HEC Paris in Qatar). The rest oer a
variety of programs, from arts to medicine and STEM programs.
29
“Most ladies in Doha are classic, depend on salary and their
husbands. Nevertheless, some divorced and single women are
starting business. For me, I was lucky my husband supported
me, but when I tried to access a formal incubation process, the
program was full and I got rejected, so I took some courses from
Al-Jazeera, and I am about to quit my government position.”
Women Qatari National
2 years, CEO of IT startup
Former QU student
For many women in Qatar, access to education is not an
issue; they are allowed and pushed to pursue higher degrees, and
the problem is their personal motivations caused by gender roles.
For example, in Qatar University, women make up approximately
70% of the student population. Experts’ perceptions are that
women have full support in Qatar at many levels but the gender gap
remains present in other issues such as occupying certain positions
and salary ranges. It is relevant in terms of education because some
of the institutions-whether they are public or private, national, or
international-are creating entrepreneurship support initiatives in
dierent forms as part of the university-based ecosystems in which
they are involved, depending on their own mission and oering
(see Table 1). Therefore, Qatar government ocials in direct
All satellite campuses in Education City are established based
on a limited time contract with QF, which is subject to renewal.
With these resources, the residents of Qatar don’t have to leave
the country to obtain a higher degree from a top university,
and in many cases, they can keep working in good positions.
Qatari nationals in government positions are a majority of the
students enrolled at these universities.
30
contact with entrepreneurs have identied that women are better
entrepreneurs because they are more committed and passionate
than men even when they can have more responsibilities beyond
college. In Qatar it is a reality that women are beneting more from
education and it helps that they are more involved in the society
and are working. As they improve their school grades, they also
get better positions in government. This is a problem because it
reects that women possess the required skills to become good
entrepreneurs, but something is lacking for them to identify
opportunities and/or to perceive they have the capabilities to follow
entrepreneurship as a career choice. In Qatar, the gender gap in
entrepreneurship is caused by personal motivations.
University Origin Description Entrepreneurship
support initiatives
Qatar University
(QU)
Qatar The university hosts
10 colleges: Arts and
Sciences, Business and
Economics, Education,
Engineering, Law, Sharia
and Islamic Studies,
Pharmacy, College of
Health Science, College
of Medicine, and the
latest College of
Dental Medicine.
Center of
Entrepreneurship,
Business Incubator,
and Innovation &
Entrepreneurship
Contest.
University of
Calgary
(UCalgary)
Canada Undergraduate and gradu-
ate programs in nursing.
*
Community
College of Qatar
(CCQ)
Qatar Associate and bachelor’s
degrees of business
administration, customs
management, health
information management,
arts, science, engineering
and information
technology, and public
administration.
*
31
College of the
North Atlantic
Qatar (CNA-Q)
Canada A national technical
college oering over 30
programs through three
schools:
business management and
information technology,
engineering technology
and industrial trades, and
health sciences.
Business
Gateway
Qatar Faculty of
Islamic Studies
(QFIS)
Qatar International center for
Islamic thinking and
dialogue,
committed to enhancing
research into Islamic
culture.
*
University
Foundation
College
UK Brings to Qatar “UK
bridging” programs in
Business, Humanities,
Engineering and Science
pathways developed
and accredited by the
Northern Consortium of
UK universities (NCUK).
Recent graduates have
attended University of
Bristol, University of
Salford, University of
Bradford, Liverpool John
Moores University, and
many more.
*
Qatar
Aeronautical
College (QAC)
Qatar Oers full-time, approved
courses for pilots, aircraft
maintenance engineers,
air trac controllers,
meteorologists and airport
operations management,
as well as short courses
in a wide variety of avia-
tion-related disciplines.
*
32
Stenden
University Qatar
Nether-
lands
Undergraduate programs
such as tourism man-
agement, international
hospitality management,
and international busi-
ness. Graduate degrees of
international hospitality
and tourism management.
*
Qatar Finance &
Business Academy
(QFBA)
Qatar QFBA excels in provid-
ing professional training
to individuals and
customized learning and
development programs
for executives.
Azm
Virginia
Commonwealth
University
(VCUQatar)
USA Undergraduate degrees
of Fine Arts in fashion
design, graphic design,
interior design, and
painting & printmaking,
a Bachelor of Arts degree
in art history, and a Mas-
ter of Fine Arts degree in
design.
Design Entrepre-
neurship Network
for Aspiring Design
Entrepreneurs.
Weill Cornell
Medicine-Qatar
USA Medical graduate
programs
*
Texas A&M
University at
Qatar
USA Undergraduate degrees
in chemical, electrical,
mechanical, and petro-
leum engineering, and
a Master’s in chemical
engineering.
Qatar Invents
STEM enrichment
program.
Carnegie Mellon
University Qatar
USA Undergraduate degrees
are oered in Computer
Science, Business Ad-
ministration, Information
Systems, Computational
Biology, and Biological
Sciences (a degree of-
fered in conjunction with
Weill Cornell Medical
College in Qatar).
Young Entrepre-
neurs, and Quick
Startup.
33
Georgetown
University School
of Foreign Service
in Qatar (GU-Q)
USA Bachelor of Science in
Foreign Service with four
majors.
Georgetown
SFS-Qatar Enter-
prise (magazine).
Northwestern
University in
Qatar (NU-Q)
USA Undergraduate degrees
awarded in communi-
cation, journalism, and
strategic communication.
Entrepreneurship
features heavily in
student preparation.
Hamad Bin
Khalifa University
(HBKU)
Qatar Graduate programs in
areas such as Information
and Computing tech-
nologies, life sciences,
sustainable development,
Islamic studies, Islamic
nance, Middle Eastern
studies, translation stud-
ies, and law.
HBKU’s
Innovation Center.
HEC Paris in
Qatar
France Graduate programs such
as master’s degree in
strategic business unit
management, and interna-
tional executive MBA.
Entrepreneurship
Day, and Entre-
preneurship and
Business Develop-
ment Certicate (or
master’s track).
University College
London (UCL
Qatar)
UK Graduate programs such
as master’s degrees in
museum studies, and
library and information
studies.
*
Source: Made by the author with public information from websites and
personal interviews with leaders. *There is no evidence of any
entrepreneurship initiative.
In the realm of research and science, the Qatar Foundation
was responsible for the development of Education City and also
supported the development of Qatar Science & Technology Park
located in the same area. The Qatar Science & Technology Park is
a facility comprising 45,000 square meters of oce and laboratory
space that provides incubation, funding, training, mentorship, and
connection to the regional and global tech innovation ecosystem.
Therefore, this facility is highly relevant to Qatar’s entrepreneurial
34
“Qatar Science & Technology Park programs were designed
primarily for current students in Education City, and now they
are taking students and professionals from outside, but the actual
challenge is to encourage people to submit their technological
ideas with commercial potential to the dierent programs.”
Senior Program Manager
5 years working in Education City
ecosystem as well as the network of universities that can be a source
of highly educated people that may want to become entrepreneurs
with adequate guidance and support. Compared with Silicon Valley
in the USA, Qatar is advancing well in adapting the local conditions
and has potential to become a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem,
considering that in Silicon Valley most of its success comes from a
synergistic relationship between universities, government, industry,
and abundant access to capital.
Finance
Financing of entrepreneurial projects in Qatar comes
mainly from bootstrapping (personal savings, personal computing
equipment, and garage space) investments fostered by the
legal requirement that a Qatari national must have a majority
of shares to establish certain types of businesses. Also, family
businesses are very popular and can get external funding if they
apply to programs like QBIC’s “Accelerate your company”
or International Finance Corporation solutions. Nevertheless,
in the process of creating a knowledge-based economy, the
entrepreneurs interviewed for this report expressed their interest
to seek external funding as it will also help to create a healthier
entrepreneurial ecosystem. In accordance with experts in
Qatar, the knowledge-based economy can only be created with
35
1 Exits in an entrepreneurial ecosystem act as a metric to measure the performance or maturity of a
local business scene, counting the number of companies that achieve an Initial Public Oering (IPO).
investment and better educational institutions; regarding the
latter, the improvement is clear, but regarding investments it is yet
unclear. In accordance with PitchBook (2020), there have been
118 investors with a total of 310 deals for 264 companies in Qatar
since 2011. These numbers are far fewer than in Silicon Valley,
with more than 279,000 deals. Yet, the largest deal in Qatar so far
was for 3.5 billion USD, and there are registered 99 exits1 in the
last 10 years.
The Venture Capital (VC) ecosystem in Qatar remains
underdeveloped according to the entrepreneurs and experts
interviewed for this report. The problem is that there isn’t a risk-
taking personality or culture, and although many people want to
be an entrepreneur, few of them have the necessary skills it takes
to be one. Entrepreneurs expressed that most of the venture capital
funds prefer to invest in other countries with less foreign trade
restrictions because of the blockade, more friendly immigration
laws, and more accessible Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
policies. Hopefully these conditions would change with the end
of the blockade at the beginning of 2021, the FIFA World Cup in
2022, and the QNV2030 in process of implementation. Although
Qatar seems to be a small local market, the purchasing power of
its residents is very high and the potential market is attractive, but
companies must set international goals if they want to get funded.
They require more extensive economic impact activities, and some
experts working for multinational companies coming to Qatar said
that most of the investors focus on the short-term generation of
prots rather than the potential long-term business. Also, some
Qatari nationals have accumulated cash from their well-paid
government positions, and they want to invest and own companies,
but they do not have operational business experience, so they don’t
understand very well the urgency of cash ow and the implications
on the business for further funding rounds.
36
“Institutional funding is a major problem in Qatar. First,
entrepreneurs don’t understand what kind of funding is required
for their business. Normally they have very low valuations
because startups don’t understand how much money they need to
build the business right, so the fund-raising structure is failing.
Even when venture capitals want to be there, the regulations and
understanding are not clear yet.”
Investor and Incubator Manager
10 years as member in QFC
Nevertheless, entrepreneurs that require nancing for
their projects can nd some alternatives in Qatar like seed capital,
debt, venture capital, or equity. Table 2 summarizes some of the
success stories by type of nancial source. The Qatar Foundation
has served as seed capital provider through dierent initiatives like
research grants and competitions across the dierent institutions it
supports. For example, the Qatar Science & Technology Park oers
incubation programs and funding for research-based technology
product development. The funds range from seed capital to Series
B rounds up to 3 Million QAR. Therefore, the Qatar Science &
Technology Park is committed to foster an open ecosystem for
innovation, research, and entrepreneurship.
In the other hand, the Qatar Development Bank (QDB)
is the leading institution in Qatar oering nancial services,
banking, and loans for the development of the industrial, tourism,
educational, health care, agricultural, animal resources, and
sheries sectors of the Qatari economy. It was founded in 1997
with the aim of developing and empowering Qatari entrepreneurs
and innovators to contribute to the diversication of the Qatari
economy, through successful small and medium enterprises that can
37
compete in global markets. The QDB is the primary government
entity responsible for promoting entrepreneurship and small and
medium enterprises in Qatar. It provides mainly seed capital and
loans to business initiatives, and it is the leading institution of the
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in Qatar. Several entrepreneurs
recognized QDB as a key institution to grow their rms because of
the dierent support mechanisms it provided to their companies.
In 2014, the QDB along with the Social Development
Center started operating the Qatar Business Incubation Center
(QBIC). The QBIC oers mentorship, nancial support, and
space for Qatari entrepreneurs and Qatari residents partnered with
a Qatari national. Through 2020 the Qatar Business Incubation
Center has incubated 180 companies and invested 4.7 Million
QAR, positioning itself as the most important business incubator in
the country. It has two sub-incubators, the QBIC Tourism incubator
and the Digital & Beyond incubator. The QBIC has partnerships
with the Qatar National Tourism Council and Qatar Mobility
Innovations Center. Unlike the Center for Entrepreneurship from
the Qatar University, the QBIC is open to the public rather than
only the university collaborators, and the QBIC acts as seed
investor in many cases or at least, in most cases, it helps connecting
entrepreneurs with capital.
“The main dierence on QSTP and QBIC outcomes is the quality
of the ideas they are supporting. The lack of technology talent
locally is pushing the programs to focus on MVP building, both
are good initiatives, but one has stricter lters for good ideas.”
Investor and Entrepreneur
10 years in Qatar
38
For entrepreneurs seeking investment opportunities like
seed capital or private capital to expand their business, the Middle
Eastern branch of the Angel Investment Network oers connections
within Qatar bringing together businesses looking for investment
and investors with the capital, contacts, and knowledge to help
them succeed. Their system works through an online platform and
they support entrepreneurs in Middle Eastern countries like Qatar,
Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi
Arabia. Their main investors are angel investors. Another platform
for angel investments that is recognized worldwide with operations
in Qatar is Angels Den. The Angels Den network has more than
4,500 angel investors and 92% of the companies funded through
their online investment platform are still active today. Angels
Den has a strong presence in the United Kingdom where it is
headquartered, but it has a growing portfolio of investments in the
Middle East between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Among
the key seed funding investors in Qatar is Doha Tech Angels, which
provides seed capital to Series A funding for early-stage disruptive
technology startups in Qatar, the Middle East, and internationally.
Silatech is another key stakeholder of Qatar’s
entrepreneurial ecosystem since it is an institution that works to
promote large-scale job creation, entrepreneurship, access to capital
and markets, and the participation and engagement of young people
in economic and social development since 2008. It does not provide
capital directly to entrepreneurs, but in partnership with QDB, they
created SILA, a new angel investment network designed to grow
the startup sector in Qatar by opening a new avenue of investment
for entrepreneurs in this country. SILA is trying to address the
equity gap between the seed and early business stages that drive
to growth of new or small businesses by providing support from
investment funds. SILA is emphasizing assistance to enterprises
39
from the desired knowledge-based economy that will help Qatar to
diversify its development.
As with any new business, in Qatar entrepreneurs can be
funded with personal savings, family and friends’ investments,
and seed, angel or venture capital, and then for growth of their
businesses, entrepreneurs can access other funding such as credits
and factoring. Most of the previously mentioned are seed or angel
investment sources available from key stakeholders in Qatar. There
are some venture capital rms, including the Draper Investment
Company, Dar Al Tawreeq, Wamda, and Doha Venture Capital,
that led the most active funds of venture capital in the country.
Draper Investment Company is a Doha-based venture capital
rm specialized in seed and early-stage nancing solutions. Dar
Al Tawreeq specializes in customized factoring and securitization
solutions for businesses in the Middle East and North Africa
(MENA) to meet industry and trade requirements. Wamda focuses
on accelerating entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout the
MENA region with a sector-agnostic investment vehicle, focused
on partnering with high growth technology or technology-enabled
startups. Finally, Doha Venture Capital is a partner of choice for
high-growth disruptive companies, providing capital and access to
Qatar’s domestic and global network while ensuring sustainable
nancial returns. Another venture capital rm with years of
tradition in Qatar is Jaida Capital, a choice for innovators and
entrepreneurs building high-growth companies. In addition, Risin
Ventures incorporated in 2020 in the Qatar Financial Centre as
a promising venture studio which provides startup incubation,
acceleration, funding, and training programs and services working
in partnership with government and corporate bodies.
40
Box 2 Investments and nancial
regulations
It is important to mention that in Qatar as in many other
countries there is legislation that regulates how to receive angel
or venture capital funding investments. The Qatar Financial
Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) oversees it and it has
its own legal system based on the common law with judges
from England and other common law jurisdictions, and the
Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) is the commercial arm of it. The
QFCRA jurisdiction is restricted to agreements between foreign
investors and Qatari nationals. In Qatar, to register a business the
foreign participation is limited up to 49% unless it is a business
in a specic industry listed in Qatar’s Foreign Investment Law
of 2010 that allows full foreign-owned companies with the
approval of the Qatar Ministry of Business and Trade. Many
of the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, and
Bahrain are starting to remove this principle of 51% ownership
from nationals. Qatar’s new Foreign Investment Law (2019)
aims to terminate this major restrictive principle, allowing a
foreign investor to invest now in all sectors of the economy up
to 100% of the share capital of a Qatar-registered company. This
should boost Qatar’s attractiveness as an investment destination;
however, in practice there is not yet a list of specic sectors that
are permitted to be wholly foreign-owned; the new law is not
being fully implemented and the Ministry is rejecting applications
based on the old law and its list of priority sectors. Therefore, an
entrepreneur in Qatar needs legal advice and representation to
negotiate investment opportunities that eventually will end up
with a shareholders’ agreement to set responsibilities and rights
41
for both sides. Despite the legal and bureaucratic constrains to
obtain an investment, Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is very
active in terms of nancial access. The government established
the Qatar Investment Authority as a sovereign wealth fund of the
State of Qatar which, in line with Qatar National Vision 2030
and the Qatar Financial Centre, is one of the world’s leading
and fastest growing onshore business and nancial centers that
oers 100% foreign ownership and repatriation of all prots,
plus a competitive 10% corporation tax.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) mission is to
support the development of a competitive Qatari economy,
facilitating economic diversication and developing local talent.
Its portfolio is focused on equity investments in the form of real
assets, real estate, credit and xed securities, foreign currencies,
and derivatives. QIA typically enters less than two deals annually
with an average startup valuation of more than 1 billion dollars,
usually invested in rounds together with other funds like Kleiner
Perkins, General Atlantic, Fuel Capital, and others. Along with the
QIA equity investments, there are two other institutions relevant
in the local ecosystem: TVM Capital Healthcare Partners and the
International Finance Corporation arm of the World Bank Group.
TVM Capital Healthcare Partners is a globally active specialist
investment company with emerging market strengths that invests in
companies that transform the way healthcare is delivered to make
healthcare better, more cost-eective, faster, and more accessible.
Therefore, it is a fund specialized in a sector that can be suitable for
business projects involving healthcare solutions. Other institutions
invest in a wider range of industries. The International Finance
Corporation (IFC) is an international nancial institution that oers
investment, advisory, and asset-management services to encourage
42
private-sector development in less developed countries. As the
private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, IFC aims to advance
economic development by investing in for-prot and commercial
projects for poverty reduction and promoting development. In
2012, IFC and Qatar Development Bank launched the SME Toolkit,
an online platform that will help smaller businesses improve
their performance while supporting the development of rms
outside of Qatar’s oil and gas sector. It is an example of the Qatari
government’s eort to support small and medium enterprises,
especially those outside of the hydrocarbon sector.
For established small and medium companies seeking
nancing some of the above may be an option, but traditionally
there are several banks oering enterprise nancing such as HSBC,
Masraf Al Rayan, Doha Bank, Barwa Bank, Al Khaliji Commercial
Bank, International Bank of Qatar, Qatar International Islamic
Bank, Qatar National Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank, and Commercial
Bank of Qatar. In total there are 18 banks in Qatar regulated by
the Qatar Central Bank that grants the licenses. The sector is
dominated by local banks and it has shown stability and eciency
during recent years. The biggest commercial bank in the country is
the Qatar National Bank with headquarters in the capital, Doha.
One emerging phenomenon is the crowdfunding platforms
that provide non-traditional venues of access to capital. In many
countries crowdfunding has demonstrated exponential growth
as more people can become investors with smaller amounts of
money while the entrepreneurs have found a source of support
to meet their capital requirements for growth. Crowdfunding
platforms take advantage of social media to help generate money
for startups, innovative products or services, and social causes,
among others. The blockade has fostered the need to promote and
consume local products and services which can be highlighted and
43
supported in larger scale due to crowdfunding platforms. However,
the alternative of crowdfunding platforms in Qatar remains
underdeveloped and unregulated. Some foreign crowdfunding
companies like Kickstarter have opened their platforms to projects
in Qatar, but there is not active support of this alternative way to
nance business venture projects. In fact, this type of nancial
source is not regulated yet in Qatar and it can be considered illegal,
even though crowdfunding has a proven record in many countries
of helping to scale entrepreneurial projects to the next level.
Table 2 Financial sources and success
stories of Qatar
Source Institutions Success stories (sector)
Seed funding Doha Tech Angels,
QSTP, QDB, and QBIC
Droobi (Healthcare), Meddy
(Healthcare), STA (ICT), Stellic
(Education), Vetosis (Veterinary),
S. Ishira (Perfumes), Event Develop-
ers (Advertising), Contactless (ICT),
Embrace Doha (Consultancy), Oryx
Lifestyle (Manufacture), Newline
for Media (Advertising), and Netx
(Real State), Classtap (Sports), Sponix
(ICT).
Angel funding Angels Den, and SILA *
Venture
Capital
Draper Investment
Company, Dar Al Taw-
reeq, Wamda, and Doha
Venture Capital
Phonedeck (ICT), C2call (ICT),
Kaatizone (Food and beverages), Plista
(Advertising), Inventus Power (Ener-
gy), Tradeshift (ICT).
Equity
Funding
TVM Capital Health-
care, and IFC (World
Bank Group)
Amecath (Healthcare), Bourn Hall
International (Healthcare), Cambridge
Medical & Rehabilitation Center
(Healthcare), Manzil Healthcare
Services (Healthcare), ProVita Interna-
tional Medical Center (Healthcare),
44
Source: Made by the author with information from public websites and
personal interviews. *Information not available due to privacy contracts.
Government
Entrepreneurship support from Qatar’s government
is highly pursued, but the rentier state system is creating a
contradiction between the economic reform and the structural logic
of the economy. It means that the State is providing security and high
standards for living for its people, but following an entrepreneurial
career represents risking some of those benets and status; in
addition, the expatriates that are the majority in Qatar depend on
the immigration law to stay and to bring the talent from abroad
in many cases. From the institutional point of view, it is evident
that there are many government institutions with the objective
to move the economy towards a knowledge-based economy as
planned in the Qatar National Vision 2030. The problem is that
Qatari nationals represent less than 15% of the population while
the rest are expatriates that come mostly in response to a job oer
and at the same time the law establishes certain rules to open a
business in which in most cases the foreigner can hold only up
to 49% of shares. In fact, the entrepreneurial intentions of the
adult population in Qatar declined 59% between 2016 to 2017
but are recovering in recent years in accordance with the Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor Qatar report (see Fig. 5). Nevertheless,
there are more than 20 government institutions focused in dierent
Banking HSBC, Masraf Al
Rayan, Doha Bank,
Barwa Bank, Al Khaliji
Commercial Bank,
International Bank of
Qatar, Qatar Internation-
al Islamic Bank, Qatar
National Bank, Qatar
Islamic Bank, and Com-
mercial Bank of Qatar
*
45
areas that contribute to building together more attractive conditions
for entrepreneurs in Qatar.
Box 3 Rentier State system
The concept of the rentier state has been one of the more frequent
and functional descriptions of the economic environment in the
GCC region (Ennis, 2013). There are three basic characteristics
of a rentier state that can aect the economic environment and
entrepreneurship within a country:
1. The economy relies on external revenue from the rent of
non-reproducible resources rather than its productive capacity
(Mahdavy, 1970)
2. The principal recipient of the external rent is the state’s
government, which in turn distributes the rent to its citizens (Ben
Hassen, 2020).
3. This leads to a rentier mentality among nationals: a psychological
condition with profound consequences for productivity where
contracts are given as an expression of gratitude rather than as a
reection of economic rationale (Beblawi, 1990).
% of 18-64 population
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
2013 2014 2015 2016
Year
2017 2018 2019 2020
Fig. 5 Entrepreneurial intentions of adult population in Qatar (2014-2019)
Source: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor / Adults Population Survey
46
From the research side, the Qatar National Research Fund
is a member of the Qatar Foundation as well and it fosters original,
competitively selected research in engineering and technology,
physical and life sciences, medicine, humanities, social sciences,
and the arts. It has some research and innovation hubs to help in
positioning Qatar as a global research and innovation nerve center
with an ecosystem focused on developing ideas with impact.
Even though the Qatar Foundation is a private not-for-prot
organization, it has substantial government funding and, as has
been clear on several occasions, it has an important role in many
institutions, from education to science and development, that are
interconnected through this foundation. One example is that the
Qatar National Research Fund supports research initiatives that can
come from the Qatar Science & Technology Park, both institutions
are members of the Qatar Foundation. Additionally, as a research
institute, the Ministry of Public Health has played a signicant role
in providing residents of Qatar with updated information related to
the pandemic of COVID-19.
The Qatar Planning and Statistics Authority is competent
in the development of the overall vision for the state, in
cooperation with the concerned authorities. It is responsible for: the
preparation of national development strategies; follow-up of their
implementation, in coordination with the concerned authorities;
preparation of studies and population policies related to such
strategies; supporting the planning process in government agencies;
working on linking development priorities to the state budget, and
monitoring the progress of implementation of plans. It is also
mandated to establish an integrated statistical system, to conduct,
organize and supervise formal statistical operations, to implement
various censuses and surveys, and to disseminate statistical data
and products. It is relevant since it can help track the advance of
the Qatar National Vision 2030. Also, the previously mentioned
Qatar Science & Technology Park is part of Qatar Foundation
47
Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI), a free zone
and Qatar’s hub for applied research, technology innovation,
incubation, and entrepreneurship. A “free zone” in Qatar is for the
establishment of wholly foreign owned companies that also have
20 years of corporate tax holidays, no individual income taxes, and
no custom duties on imports; this delivers solutions for businesses
while supporting Qatar’s continued growth and diversication. The
Qatar Financial Center is also a free zone, and in accordance with
the Qatar Free Zones Authority there is also Ras Bufontas near the
Hamad Airport and Umm Alhoul adjacent to Hamad Port. One
example of these free zones helping to attract FDIs is the recent
announcement of an agreement signed in September 2020 by the
Qatar Free Zones Authority to establish the rst assembly factory
for electric vehicles in Ras Bufontas, a 20 million euros joint
venture of “Gaussin Advance Mobility Company” and “Al Attiya
Motors and Trading Company.”
0 20
Starting a Business
Yemen, Rep.
Libya
Syrian Arab Republic
Iraq
Algeria
Lebanon
Iran, Islamic Rep.
West Bank and Gaza
Egypt, Arab Rep.
Djibouti
Malta
Kuwait
Tunisia
Qatar
Jordan
Oman
Saudi Arabia
Morocco
Bahrain
United Arab Emirates
Getting Electricity
Getting Credit
Paying Taxes
Enforcing Contracts
Dealing with Construction Permits
Registering Propety
Protecting Minority Investors
Trading across Borders
Resolving Insolvency
40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200
Fig. 6 Ease of doing business pillars (2019),
Source: Made by the author with data from The World Bank library.
48
A key point to mention is that Qatar has the world’s
second easiest tax regime, which can be attractive for multinational
companies and investors that come to this country. Nevertheless,
the World Bank (2020) indicator of Ease of Doing Business ranks
Qatar in 77th place among 190 nations this ranking means the
regulatory environment is more conducive to starting and operating
a local rm. Experts say that compared to other jurisdictions in
the region, it is not as easy for small businesses to set up in Qatar
as it is for big companies. Among the group of countries in the
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Qatar is placed
7th below United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco,
Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Jordan. The methodology of the Ease of
Doing Business ranking considers paying taxes as one of the 10
pillars in the regulatory environment (see Fig. 6) so, undeniably,
the free zones are helping, but other MENA countries also have
them. Recently, the UAE also permitted 100% foreign ownership
of companies. In consequence, the pillars that Qatari government
institutions need to emphasize are protecting minority investors,
enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, trading across borders,
and starting a business. For example, the low level of the trading
across borders pillar is explained by the blockade from neighboring
countries but protecting minority investors can be regulated by the
Qatar Financial Centre and contract enforcement can be handled by
the Ministry of Business and Trade.
“There are some sectors where it is easier to start a business in
terms of regulations, market opportunities, and investments. For
example, anything linked to oil and gas, hospitality, real estate,
or healthcare solutions is easier, yet bureaucratic, but with more
benets once approved by the local institutions.”
Government Ocial
Qatari National involved in FDI
49
Independently of which sector an entrepreneur chooses,
all of them require permission from the Ministry of Business and
Trade, also known as the Ministry of Commerce and Industry,
since this institution is responsible for the regulation of trade and
industrial activities in Qatar. Chemical and pharmaceutical sectors
are among the most regulated sectors with 14 to 20 dierent
approvals required to operate. A business with the right approval
from this institution can be 100% foreign owned, otherwise the
law mandates that a company established in Qatar requires that
the majority of shares must be the property of a Qatari national.
Someone opening a company in Qatar requires the support from
the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well, since it
promotes and protects the interests of companies in the agricultural,
industrial, and commercial sectors of the economy of the country
providing administrative services, advice, and arbitration. Another
relevant institution is the Ministry of Municipality and Environment
(MME), that oers a service directly related to the public, to meet
the many requirements of their daily life, and contributes through
its subsidiary departments, municipalities, and centers, to the
rapid development of the State of Qatar. This is in line with Qatar
National Vision 2030 that aims to place the country among the
developed countries, based on the pillars of human development,
and economic, social, and environmental development.
Despite the dierent sectors, in Qatar the unemployment
rate for 2019 was 0.09%, which in most of times is explained by
noting that the population has a majority of expatriates that move
with a prior job oer to this country. This means that nding
specialized human capital can be a dicult task in Qatar, even
though there are signicant eorts to increase the labor force with
good higher education regulated by the Ministry of Education
and Higher Education, which is a government institution as well.
50
That is why the Qatar Foundation has supported nine international
universities to establish a satellite campus in Qatar. Therefore,
many business ventures require bringing in human capital as
expatriates to join the work within their organization. The Ministry
of Interior is the right institution to support the companies trying to
bring people to work in Qatar.
“I only hire women because of respect to family traditions, but I
am in the information technologies eld, which is not very well
developed in Qatar, so I am experiencing diculties to nd the
right people and form a team. The problem is that beyond having
to expatriate some people and the gender fact, the blockade is
also constraining the process because for example I like how
Egyptian people work in digital marketing and media, but I
cannot bring them to Doha.”
Government Ocial and CEO of a startup
Female Qatari National
In some sectors, there are specialized institutions that
support economic activities like the Qatar Tourism Authority,
a government branch responsible for the formulation and
administration of the rules, regulations, and laws relating to the
development and promotion of tourism in Qatar. The Ministry
of Transport and Telecommunications plays a signicant role in
transport and information technologies to build a knowledge-
based economy that reects the Qatar National Vision 2030. This
Ministry organizes the land and maritime businesses, develops and
improves transport services, and fosters a competitive environment
that is conducive to investments, among other things. The work
of the Ministry of Energy and Industry is focused on two main
areas: utilizing Qatar’s energy resources and diversifying sources
of income by widening the country’s industrial base. The Qatar
Financial Center Authority is responsible for leading the expansion
of Qatar’s nancial services sector and for developing relationships
51
with the regional and global nancial community. In the nancial
sector there are other government institutions collaborating to
create a vibrant ecosystem including: Qatar Exchange Venture
Market, Qatar Stock Exchange, Qatar Financial Markets Authority,
and Qatar Central Bank.
In terms of foreign policy, the Supreme Council for
Economic Aairs & Investment specializes in all matters relating
to the economy, energy, investment of the state’s reserves, the
development of public policies in the elds of economy, nance,
and commerce. Companies that plan to import or export from Qatar
need to contact the General Authority of Customs since it is the
government authority responsible for monitoring importation and
exportation of goods in and out of the State in accordance with the
governing legislation in this regard.
Support organizations
Fig. 7 Support organizations operating in Qatar
Source: Made by the author with public data.
QU business incubator
QBIC
Digital Incubation Center
Qatar Sports Tech
QSTP
Center of Entrepreneurship
Qatar FinTech Hub
Bedaya Center for
Entrepreneurship and Career
Development
Enterprise Qatar
Oasis500
Flat6Labs
Risin Ventures
Entrepreneur’s
Organization Qatar
Global Entrepreneurship
Week Network
Qatari Businessmen
Association
Qatari Businesswomen
Association
Qatar Chamber of
Commerce & Industry
Deloitte
PwC
EY
KPMG
Other SME's (by areas of
specialization e.g. business
law, foreign trade, real
estate, etc.)
Incubators /
Accelerators Associations Consulting firms
52
The support organizations in Qatar include incubators
and/or accelerators, associations, and consulting rms (see Fig.7).
These types of institutions provide guidance and expertise to the
entrepreneurs on their journey to scale their business ventures.
In Qatar you can nd oces of the Big 4 consultancy rms:
Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. The Big 4 are the
most important consultancy and auditory rms worldwide. Of
course, there are local specialized consultancy rms like business
law consultancies to help foreign entrepreneurs set up their
business in Qatar. Regarding associations in Qatar there are at
least ve that can be relevant for entrepreneurs: Entrepreneur’s
Organization Qatar, Global Entrepreneurship Week Network,
Qatari Businessmen Association, Qatari Businesswomen
Association, and Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry. To
be a member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization you need to be
the owner, founder, or majority stakeholder of a business earning
a minimum of US$ 1 million in revenue during the most recent
scal year, so it is a very inuential community of entrepreneurs.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of tens of thousands
of activities, competitions, and events in more than 170
countries each November aimed at making it easier for anyone,
anywhere, to start and scale up a company. Qatar participates in
the Global Entrepreneurship Week thanks to the sponsor, the
Qatar Development Bank; GEW aims to inspire millions each
year to explore their potential while fostering connections and
increasing collaboration within their ecosystems to empower
entrepreneurs and strengthen communities. The Businessmen and
Businesswomen associations are two institutions that strengthen
business growth through leadership, prosperity, information,
communication, and governmental and community involvement
serving as a strong catalyst that oers a solid foundation for
the economic development of Qatar’s private sector. The Qatar
53
Chamber of Commerce & Industry is an association whose main
role is to organize business interests and represent the Qatari
private sector locally and globally, as well as support the country’s
economic actors and productivity.
Finally, some business incubators oer seed funding to
accepted projects. In addition to the previously mentioned Qatar
Business Incubation Center, the Center for Entrepreneurship,
and the Qatar Science & Technology Park, there are six other
institutions relevant in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. First,
the Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development
is a joint initiative between Silatech and Qatar Development
Bank that provides youth with access to a wide range of services
including career guidance, self-assessment, employability skills,
development in employability and entrepreneurship, mentoring
opportunities, volunteering, practical training, networking
activities, and lecturers’ programs. Second, the Digital Incubation
Center was created to boost ICT innovation in Qatar, particularly
among young people at the critical early stages of starting or
growing a technology-related business. It has incubated more
than 140 startups by entrepreneurs capable of harnessing
emerging technologies to create innovative products, solutions,
or services that will contribute to Qatar’s digital economy. Third,
Enterprise Qatar enables entrepreneurs and small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) to achieve greater success by developing
a positive ecosystem for startups and SMEs. It aims to create
a healthy business-entrepreneurial ecosystem in Qatar; build
bridges to Silicon Valley through mentorship, education, and
nancing, and accelerate the progress of thousands of local and
regional entrepreneurs, transforming Qatar into a regional hub for
technology entrepreneurial ventures.
54
Fourth, Oasis500, an accelerator that invests in tech and
creative industries, is one of the rst startup accelerators in the
MENA region. Fifth, Flat6Labs is a regional startup accelerator
program that fosters and invests in bright and passionate
entrepreneurs with cutting-edge ideas. It provides seed funding,
strategic mentorship, a creative workspace, a multitude of perks,
and entrepreneurship-focused business training, and directly
supports Qatar’s startups through an expansive network of partner
entities, mentors, and investors. Finally, the QDB is also founding
partner of the Qatar Sports Tech, an accelerator of the sports industry
whose companies have received 1.5 million USD in committed
seed funding; it is transforming Doha into one of the leading
sports hubs. In the second half of 2020, the QDB, in collaboration
with EY, launched its incubator and accelerator program focused
on nancial technology (FinTech) startups and called the Qatar
FinTech Hub (QFTH); it received more than 750 applications from
over 72 countries. During the QFTH rst presentation on a Demo
Day on early 2021, 23 startup FinTechs sought seed funding and
series A investments. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Risin Ventures
appeared as a QFC-authorized incubator and accelerator platform
for the startup community in Qatar, working towards making a
signicant impact in the Middle East’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
55
Box 4 Case study of Meddy
Company website: meddy.com
Foundation year: 2016
Founder: Haris Aghadi
Studies: Bachelor’s in Information Systems from
Carnegie Mellon University
Main support organization: Qatar Science & Technology Park
Description:
A one-stop online platform for users to search for doctors,
submit and view recommendations, and book appointments.
Currently more than 200,000 monthly users operating in Qatar
and the UAE. Meddy is also a 500 Startups portfolio company.
It was ranked 10th in the Forbes Middle East’s 2017 “50 Startups
to Watch in the Arab World.” Meddy was also named 2016
Tech Startup of the Year; Startup of the Year at the 2016 Qatar
Enterprise Agility Awards, and ICT Exporter of the Year at the
2018 Qatar IT Business Awards.
Box 5 Case study of Snoonu
Company website: snoonu.com
Foundation year: 2018
Founder: Hamad Mubark Al-Hajri
Studies: Executive MBA from HEC Paris in Qatar
Main support organization: Qatar Development Bank
Description:
Snoonu is the fastest growing tech company in Qatar with user-
friendly Mobile and Web apps, providing a variety of restaurants,
shops, and services with outstanding customer care and the fastest
delivery. The app currently combines more than 3,000 partners
and merchants, operating all over the country. With more than
100K monthly active users, Snoonu has become one of the major
sales and marketing vehicles for the SMEs in Qatar.
56
Box 6 Case study of Alazizya
Chemicals Factory (ACF Group)
Company website: acf.qa/
Foundation year: 2017
Founder: Saad Al-Matwi
Studies: Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Carnegie
Mellon University
Main support organization: Qatar Development Bank
Description:
ACF group has done immense research developing Construction
Chemicals for the Construction Industry to cater to all types
of construction needs of Qatar. ACF is an ISO 9001:2015;
ISO 14001:2015 & OHSAS 18001:2007 accredited rm
and is considered one of the leading business groups in the
State of Qatar. ACF’s contributions are recognized by major
developments and expanding business sectors of the country.
Entrepreneurship competitions
and sponsors
Participating in fairs, events, and competitions in which
social interaction is possible is one of the most relevant practices
aiming to acquire knowledge and, more importantly, to create a
network of partners that can translate that knowledge. For that
reason, some of the most relevant entrepreneurship competitions
are repeated each year with improvements, and from them have
emerged startups that are contributing to the economic development
and some even disrupting markets; most of the competitions are
sponsored by bigger companies or government in some cases. In
Qatar for example, the consultancy rm EY sponsors the Ernst &
Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a unique global program
57
that supports entrepreneurs as they unlock their ambitions by
recognizing entrepreneurial achievement among individuals and
companies that demonstrate vision, leadership, and success. Some
of the companies sponsoring entrepreneurship competitions are
Qatar Air, Qtel, Qatar Gas, Qatar Petroleum, RasGas, Virgin, Intel,
Visa, Google, Barwa, Jaidah, Katara, Vodafon, Exxon Mobile,
Cisco, Shell, and iHorizons. Of course, these companies have a
hidden interest in sponsoring competitions, which has to do with
nding new solutions for their industries.
The Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Qatar
Science & Technology Park oers the Arab Innovation Academy, a
program considered the world’s largest entrepreneurship program
that teaches in 10 days how to turn an idea into a startup; they have
helped to create 40 new startups. The QBIC has dierent programs
in addition to incubation, such as the QBIC’s Mix & Match
program to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with potential partners,
the QBIC’s Lean Manufacturing program to develop and build the
capacity of startups that are aiming to manufacture products and
goods in Qatar, and the QBIC’s Lean Fashion to create Qatar’s next
iconic fashion brand.
Some universities and education centers have themselves
created entrepreneurship support initiatives in the forms of
competitions, workshops, and training programs. Carnegie Mellon
University Qatar hosts a competition, called Quick Startup, that
is open to students from all universities in Qatar. Quick Startup
is a training program for budding entrepreneurs that will be
mentored by seasoned professionals. Students begin the program
with nothing more than a concept and end with a business plan and
investor pitch. The pitches are evaluated by a panel of judges who
award prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ideas. The College of
58
the North Atlantic Qatar has the Business Gateway Competition,
in which, to gain access to the pre-incubation hub, potential
participants need to complete a draft business plan and successfully
present their business case to a selection panel. The prospective
entrepreneurs also need to justify the market potential for their
proposed business idea and produce samples of the product or
service to be oered. The Qatar Finance and Business Academy
has the initiative Azm, which includes several remote training
programs and activities. The HBKU’s Innovation Center provides
multifaceted educational and training opportunities for QF students
and sta through seminars, workshops, boot camps, and more.
59
Part 3: Ecosystem dynamics
This chapter provides an overview of the entrepreneurial
ecosystem dynamics in terms of human capital, investments,
companies, and industries leading Qatar’s economic activities. It
presents data analytics and economic analysis of key indicators
related to monitoring of entrepreneurship support mechanisms
following the Ecosystem Lifecycle Model (see Box 7). The
evidence shows that Qatar has characteristics and challenges
typical of an ecosystem in the activation phase. The chapter also
highlights the importance of measuring impactful entrepreneurship
initiatives in both public and private sectors.
Specically, for Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,
entrepreneurs and key stakeholders are starting to catch up on how
to attract resources and learning the know-how to scale dierent
businesses models, such as the latest global opportunities. The
ecosystem performance in Qatar is limited by gaps in resources
such as startups, talent, capital, and investors from top ecosystems.
Although the evidence is not conclusive and supported with enough
data specic to measure the ecosystem performance, some other key
indicators and in-depth interviews with experts explain the success
factor gaps. Additionally, the Qatari government is allocating
time and eort to achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030, which
is essentially to foster investment in world-class infrastructure,
build ecient delivery mechanisms for public services, create a
highly skilled and productive labor force, and of course, support
the development of entrepreneurship and innovation capabilities.
Therefore, the QNV 2030, compared with the Ecosystem Lifecycle
Model, prioritizes the development of funding, talent, market
reach, startup experience, and policies that would improve Qatar’s
entrepreneurial ecosystem and move it forward to the next phases.
For more information, see Ecosystem Lifecycle Analysis at https://startupgenome.com/
article/ecosystem-lifecycles#:~:text=e%20Ecosystem%20Lifecycle%20Model%20
is,issues%20at%20the%20right%20time.
60
Box 7 Ecosystem Lifecycle Model
The Ecosystem Lifecycle Model is an objective model that helps
governments measure their ecosystem, prioritize its gaps, and dene
focused action plans that maximize impact rather than disperse
their limited resources. The model emphasizes the development of
ecosystems through four phases: activation, globalization, attraction,
and integration. Each phase has a dierent set of characteristics,
challenges, and objectives.
Activation Globalization Attraction Integration
• Limited startup
experience.
• Low startup
output (1,000 or
fewer startups).
• Output of 800
to 1,200 startups
(depending on
population).
• Series of exits
trigger nation
al (or regional)
resource attrac
tion (startups,
entrepreneurs,
talent, investors).
• Usually more
than 2,000
startups
(depending on
population).
• Usually, uni-
corns and exits
above $1billion.
• Billion-dollar
triggers produce
global resource
attraction
• Very few
success factor
gaps remain.
• More than 3,000
startups.
• Global resource
attraction produces
a high and self-
sustainable degree of
global connected-
ness
and ow of knowl
edge into the
ecosystem.
Activate entre-
preneurial-minded
people and grow a
more connected local
community that helps
each other. Pick
one or two startup
subsectors (e.g. Fin-
Tech, or AgriTech)
that build on local
economic strengths
and develop focused
programs to acceler-
ate ecosystem growth
and develop pockets
of success leading to
sizable exits.
Focus on
increasing global
connectedness
with founders of
top ecosystems,
the success factor
that denes an
ecosystem’s
scale-up potential
and supporting
startups to in-
crease their early
global market
reach, which
realizes an eco-
system’s scale-up
potential.
Use global
resource attrac-
tion to signi-
cantly expand
the size of the
ecosystem and
ll remaining
gaps, removing
barriers to
immigration,
and directing at-
traction through
well-designed
policies pro-
grams.
Integrate the
ecosystem within
the global, national,
and local ows
of resources and
knowledge inside
and outside of the
startup ecosystem,
optimizing laws and
policies to sustain
its competitiveness
and growth, and
spreading its benets
(e.g. culture, source
of competitiveness,
capital, innovation)
to other sectors of
the economy and
parts of the nation.
61
Employment and motivations
In cooperation between QDB and the Ministry of
Administrative Development, Labor and Social Aairs, the
Entrepreneurship Leave Program (ELP) program gives Qatari
entrepreneurs a career break, on condition of devoting their full
time to develop their businesses according to the agreed plan with
QDB. This is a unique program that gives Qatari residents an
advantage over non-Qatari since it reduces the perceived risk of
quitting a stable job with a xed income and benets. Therefore,
the proportion of Qatari population that are employers or business
owners should be higher than the same proportion among the non-
Qatari population.
During 2019, the Planning and Statistics Authority
registered 7,048 employers, of which 4,064 were Qatari people and
2,984 non-Qatari (see Fig. 8). The number of Qatari employers is
notably higher, but the total non-Qatari population is 10 times bigger
than the Qatari population, and thus the ratio of employers to total
population is 0.15% for non-Qatari and 3.8% for Qatari. It means
that the ecosystem conditions of Qatar are not as attractive for non-
Qatari residents as they are for Qataris to become entrepreneurs,
which can be explained by the legal framework (restrictive
immigration policies and ease of doing business) and/or by the
market reach (ability to access early customers in an ecosystem’s
local and culturally similar markets). In addition, foreigners can
come to reside in Qatar only if they have a job oer, so only 8% of the
non-Qatari population above 15 years old is economically inactive
(see Fig. 9). The Qatari economically inactive population is 48%,
and Qataris occupy government or management positions (11%) or
are professionals (31%), making it dicult to have talented people
becoming entrepreneurs. About 95% of the economically inactive
62
non-Qatari population are housewives (56%) or students (39%)
while the Qatari economically inactive population are mostly
students (46%) and housewives (30%) (see Fig. 10). More than
half of the economically active non-Qatari population (70%) are
either craft workers (35%), plant/machine operators and assemblers
(15%), in elementary occupations (20%). The expatriate workers in
Qatar constituted on average about 95.5% of the total workforce
during 2014 – 2019.
8,000
Non-Qatari
Qatari
2,984
7,048
4,064
Total Employers
7,000
6,000
5,000
4,000
3,000
2,000
1,000
0
Fig. 8 Economically active population by nationality and employment
status (2019), Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and
Statistics Authority
63
Active
184,209
2,064,846
Inactive
Fig. 9 Economically active/inactive non-Qatari population (2020)
Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics Authority
Non-Qatari
Housewife Student Disabled Retired Other
140,000
120,000
100,000
80,000
60,000
40,000
20,000
0
Qatari
Fig. 10 Economically inactive Qatari and non-Qatari population by reason
(2019), Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics
Authority
64
In terms of motivations, the Qatari residents prefer to
work in the public sector rather than in the private sector, mainly
because of perceived low wages, additional hours of work, and the
social status of the private sector (see Fig. 11). Somehow, there is a
success factor gap because the segment of the population (Qatari)
that has better opportunities and should be more entrepreneurial is
not doing it as much as it could, and the other segment (non-Qatari)
faces greater challenges to become entrepreneurs. In accordance to
individual data collected by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor,
Qatar leads among the participating MENA countries in the
percentage of 18-64 population who agree with the statement that
in their country, successful entrepreneurs receive high status, and
ranks second for where most people consider starting a business
as a desirable career choice; both indicators are also higher than in
the United States, where Silicon Valley is located and ranked rst
in startup ecosystems, and above Israel, the sixth startup ecosystem
(see Fig. 12).
Qatari unemployed with secondary education
(15 years & above)
Low wage
17%
50%
33%
Hours of work
Social Status
Fig. 11 Reasons for not being willing to work in private
sector of Qatari unemployed (2020),Source: Made by the author with data
from Planning and Statistics Authority
65
Qatar has the biggest percentage of 18-64 population who
see good opportunities to start a rm among the MENA countries
and USA, and is the second after Saudi Arabia in percentage of
population who believe they have the required skills and knowledge
to start a business (see Fig. 13). The constraint is on the percentage
of the 18-64 population who agree that they see good opportunities
but would not start a business because of fear of failure. Qatar has
a fear of failure rate that is below the average among the MENA
countries, above its closest neighbors (UAE, Saudi Arabia, and
Oman) and above the global average; the fear of failure increased
38.5% from 2018 to 2019. Regarding perceived opportunities, Qatar
has the highest rate among MENA countries and even compared to
USA, and its perceived capabilities are below only Saudi Arabia.
Qatari policies should aim to reduce this fear of failure rate and it
may increase entrepreneurial activities.
% of 1864- population
100
90 86 84 85 86 85 87
82 79
70
79 80
68
70
76
64
Egypt Israel Jordan Oman Qatar Saudi
Arabia
United Arab
Emirates
United
States
80
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
High Status to Successful Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurship as a Good Career Choice
Fig. 12 Entrepreneurial attitudes of individuals starting businesses by MENA
countries (2019), Source: Made by the author with data from Adult
Population Survey from GEM publicly available
66
Graduates prole
A deeper analysis of the ecosystem data and interviews
with experts in Qatar helps to clarify whether the country is
producing enough talent to match the business opportunities. One
way to measure talent output is the number of graduates from
universities. In Part 2, this study describes the key stakeholders
in terms of education, identifying two public universities (Qatar
University and Community College), and the most relevant private
universities, some of them brought to Qatar by the Qatar Foundation
following the QNV 2030. In the last ve years, the number
of private universities increased while the public universities
remained unchanged. However, the number of students enrolled
in public universities between 2013 and 2018 grew 42.3%, while
enrollment at private universities grew only 25% (see Fig. 14).
Fear of failure rate*
Perceived capabilities
Perceived opportunities
0 20 40 60 80 100
United States 2019
United Arab Emirates 2019
Saudi Arabia 2019
Qatar 2019
Oman 2019
Jordan 2019
Israel 2019
Egypt 2019
% of 1864- population
Fig. 13 Entrepreneurial behavior of individuals starting businesses by MENA
countries (2019), Source: Made by the author with data from Adult
Population Survey from GEM publicly available
67
In addition to the student enrollment in universities,
it is relevant to know which universities are fostering better
entrepreneurial intentions among their students and/or preparing
the technical talent needed for the emerging companies in
the country. To date, there is not available information about
entrepreneurial intentions among university communities, but
the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey
(GUESSS) promises to collect information in its next edition
sponsored by HEC Paris in Qatar, a member of Qatar Foundation.
On the other hand, the registers of the number of university
graduates show an increase during the last ve years of 60.2%
with almost three-quarters coming from public universities (70%).
Among these graduates from public universities, the majority are
from the Faculty of Science & Art (27%) and the minority from
the Faculty of Pharmacy (1%) (see Fig. 15). For the remaining
30% of graduates from private universities there is not available
disaggregated data, but we know that 50% of them were from
30000
25000
20000
15000
10000
5000
0
2012/13
Public Universities & ColleguesPrivate Universities & Collegues
2017/18
Fig. 14 Number of students enrolled in universities by sector
(2012/2013– 2017/2018), Source: Made by the author with data from
Planning and Statistics Authority
68
Faculty of Science & Art
Community College
Faculty of Engineering
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Sharia
Faculty of Pharmacy
Faculty of Admin &
Economics
13%
8%
5% 5%
27%
20%
1%
21%
Fig. 15 Percentage distribution of graduates from public universities by
college (2017/2018), Source: Made by the author with data from Planning
and Statistics Authority
universities and colleges of the Qatar Foundation, followed by the
College of the North Atlantic with 31% and the remaining 19% are
from the remaining universities and colleges (see Fig. 16).
1800
60.0%
50.0%
40.0%
30.0%
20.0%
10.0%
0.0%
Qatar
College of
Aeronautics
Calgary
University
in Qatar
Stenden
University
in Qatar
North
Atlantic
College
QF
Universities
& College
Total
2012/13 2017/18 Growth rate
1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0
70.0%
Fig. 16 Number of graduates from private universities by college
(2012/2013 - 2017/2018), Source: Made by the author with data from
Planning and Statistics Authority
69
Average salaries by industry
Education is relevant because it is linked with higher
salary opportunities, at least when the person is an employee. Some
key aspects such as education level, economic activity, and years
of experience aect those salaries. For entrepreneurs, salary levels
have eect in two ways: rst, directly on its motivations because
pursuing an entrepreneurial career requires sacrices in the short
and medium terms, sometimes quitting the opportunity to receive
a xed monthly salary or receiving less than the average is part
of the journey, and second, in the development of the business
plan to calculate an investment quotation and make the decision to
start the business or not. Each industry requires dierent technical
talent and human resources to develop its economic activities and
consequently an analysis of the average gross monthly salaries is
relevant to have an accurate calculation of the required working
capital to reach the breakeven point before running out of social
capital.
The average salaries in Qatar range from 2,044 QAR
(minimum wage is 1,000 QAR) to 17,935 QAR (highest average,
actual maximum salary is higher) including housing, transport,
and other benets. The salaries can vary drastically among
economic activities (see Table 3). The highest identied salary is
in legal and accounting services while the lowest is in security and
investigation services. In the factory and manufacturing sector the
average gross monthly salary is highest for director/management
levels like director of manufacturing or production manager. By
following these salary ranges you can identify that a manufacturing
business will require more social capital than a business service
for example. Also, in Qatar, men earn 5% more than women
on average across all career elds. Hence, it can aect the total
early-stage entrepreneurial activity rate for men and women. In
70
accordance with GEM data in 2019, the female 18-64 percentage
of the population who are either a nascent entrepreneur or owner
manager of a new business, divided by the equivalent percentage
of their male counterparts, has been increasing in the last ve years
and it is now twice what it was in 2014.
In addition, the education industry reports the highest
annual increase in salaries (8%) followed by travel (7%) and
information technology (6%), while energy reports the lowest
increase (1%) (see Fig. 17). It is interesting considering that the
ination rate was negative (-0.67%) in 2019 and it follows a
decreasing trend since 2016. It means that the internal consumption
is being stimulated, contributing to the market reach.
Table 3 Average gross monthly salaries
by economic activity (Value QAR.)
Economic activity Gross monthly
salary
Economic activity
Factory and Manufacturing
10,700
Production Engineer 14,100
Motion picture, video, and television programme production,
sound recording and music publishing
6,514
Computer programming, consultancy, and related activities 12,150
Financial service activities, except insurance and pension
funding
11,237
Activities auxiliary to nancial service and insurance activities 9,595
Real estate activities 11,239
Legal and accounting activities 17,935
Activities of head oces; management consultancy activities 16,845
Architectural and engineering activities; technical testing and
analysis
15,316
71
Advertising and market research 7,911
Other professional, scientic, and technical activities 4,298
Veterinary activities 5,426
Pharmaceutical activities 5,978
Rental and leasing activities 4,417
Employment activities 3,009
Travel agency, tour operator, reservation service and related
activities
5,823
Security and investigation activities 2,044
Services to buildings and landscape activities 2,644
Oce administrative, oce support and other business support
activities
4,540
Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics
Authority (2019)
Fig. 17 Annual salary increment rate by industry (2020)
Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics
Authority and Salary Explorer
Fig. 17 zzz1)
Banking
Education
Travel Healthcare
Construction Information Technology
Energy
8%
7%
6%
5%
4%
3%
2%
1%
0%
72
Main startups
Among the top 11 most relevant startups operating
in Qatar (see Table 4), the majority are based on digital and in-
formation technologies. QBIC has been identied as a com-
mon supporter of three of them (Q-Cab, eGrab, and Saman).
Nevertheless, QSTP and other key stakeholder institutions can be
related to many of them, but the information available is not su-
cient for the listed startups. The most accurate measure of startups’
development is the funding rounds they have had; nevertheless,
most of the investment tickets remain classied and we know that
the Venture Capital ecosystem is just starting to activate as well, as
stated in Chapter 2.
Table 4 Top 11 startups operating in Qatar
Startup Description Awards/Grants
Q-Cab Q-Cab is a mobile application
that allows its users to search for
and book karwas driving around
their area. The app works like
Uber.
100,000 QAR by QBIC
Urban Point Urban Point is a growing mobile
marketplace that connects
trendy consumers with quality
businesses in Doha by promoting
valuable oers.
Digital Startup of the Year
2019 by Qatar’s Ministry
of Transport and Commu-
nications. Qatari startup of
the year 2018 by Al Jazeera
Entrepreneur. Top MENA
startup 2017 by WEF.
eGrab eGrab is the right mobile app
for users who love to do grocery
shopping in the comfort of their
homes.
Funded by QBIC
MaktApp MaktApp is a Saas startup that
oers a Cloud Business Ad-
ministration Software for oce
management.
Cloud Service Provider of
the Year 2018 by Ministry
of Transport and Communi-
cations
73
Meddy Meddy is a startup platform that
helps users in Qatar to nd the
best doctors in Qatar.
Tech Startup of the Year
2016 and ICT Exporter of
the Year 2018 by Qatar IT
Business awards.
Doha Delivery Doha Delivery is a one-stop-
shop for locating restaurants and
delivery menus in Doha.
*Information not available.
Fi Technologies Fi Technologies is a unique
Wi-Fi advertising platform
that provides free Wi Hotspot
networks for coee shops, parks,
and clinics, etc.
SME Excellence List 2016
by QDB. Reyada Silver
Award 2017.
Snoonu Snoonu is the fastest delivery
application in Qatar oering on-
line shopping and food ordering
services.
Most resilient project in
Qatar 2020 by QDB.
Samam Samam is a smart safety (IoT)
and natural gas shut-o system
that detects and reacts immedi-
ately through an app.
Funded by QBIC and QSTP
Airlift Airlift provides automated
delivery services powered by its
own intelligent control software
and hardware to disrupt the on-
demand logistics market.
Smart Logistics Solution of
the Year 2018 by Qatar IT
Business Awards.
Airlift
Bonocle
Bonocle is the next-gen assistive
technology device for the
visually impaired, the aim is
to co-exist with the visually
impaired in classrooms and
workplaces while enjoying
similar, if not identical, access to
digital content.
World Summit Award 2020
“Inclusion & Empower-
ment”
Source: Made by the author with data gathered from the news.
74
“Tourism, real estate, agriculture and hydrocarbon-related
businesses are among the most attractive sectors in Qatar. Investors
see lower risk in these sectors which are more traditional.”
Entrepreneur and angel investor
Qatari resident, 48 years
The share of Qatar’s GDP has been shifting, construction
contributed 2.1% in 2016 and then in 2019 it contributed -0.2%,
while services has been growing from 0.7% to 1.2% in the last year.
Nevertheless, the most relevant sector in Qatar is the hydrocarbon
sector but its contribution has been declining every year (see Fig.
18). These contribution transformations are due to the transitions
that the State of Qatar went through to implement the QNV 2030,
in terms of a broad urban development movement in infrastructure,
with both public and private investments, which promoted and
stimulated the activities of the construction sector. Also, the FIFA
World Cup 2022 has played a major role in these results.
Main industries/sectors
3.5%
3.0%
Utilities
Manufacturing
Hydrocarbon
Construction
Services
2.5%
2.0%
1.5%
1.0%
0.5%
0.0%
0.5%
1.0%
1.5%
2.0%
0.0%
0.0%
2.1%
0.7% 0.7%
1.6% 0.6% 0.2%
1.2%
-0.2%
-0.9%
-0.5%
0.5%
0.7%
-0.2%
-0.1%
-0.5% -0.4%
-0.2% -0.3%
2.1%
1.6%
1.5%
-0.2%
Fig. 18 Contributions of the GDP’s sectors to its growth (2016-2019)
Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics Authority
75
When Qatar’s blockade started in late 2017, the country
was immersed in a crisis to satisfy the domestic demand of basic
goods, and soon it had to invest in local production of food,
utilities, and services, among others. The government is aware
that the oil and gas reserves will be exhausted in some years and
they need to take advantage now of the wealth created to transform
the economy to a knowledge-based economy. The conjunction of
both situations, blockade plus oil and gas dependency, reinforced
the nationalism and collaboration among residents. The country is
now self-sustainable thanks to the investments in priority sectors
and the emergence of local entrepreneurs that saw the opportunity
and took advantage of it. Now that the end of the blockade has
been announced, the State of Qatar is more competitive and
local entrepreneurs can benet from its internationalization.
Manufacturing and services will grow in the coming years, while
construction will decline after the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Number of companies by size and sector
Administrative and support service
activities
Professional, scientific and technical
activities
Real estate activities
Financial and insurance activities
Information and communication
0%
More than 10 employees 10 or fewer employees
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
Fig. 19 Distribution of establishments by size and main economic
activity (2019), Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and
Statistics Authority
76
In Qatar there are more than 15,000 registered rms
across dierent sectors, about 35% are in the business services
(5,113 establishments), and 40.9% are rms with more than 10
employees. Within the business services, the administrative and
support activities represent the majority (65.5%). The nancial
and insurance activities have the biggest share of rms with
more than 10 employees (74.3%) (see Fig. 19). Considering
that startups are created with an average of three founders,
the nancial and insurance activities show an opportunity for
entrepreneurs. The FinTech sector is an emerging market that some
countries in the region are exploiting with emerging startups. For
example, Bahrain has within a short period of time established
itself as an innovative Fintech hub, building on its track record as a
nancial centre, and adopting enabling regulations. Bahrain ranks
rst in the MENA region and second globally in terms of Islamic
nance regulation, according to the Global Islamic Report. QDB’s
Qatar FinTech Hub created in 2020 aims to develop the Fintech
industry in Qatar, in accordance with the Qatar National Fintech
Strategy created by Qatar Central Bank (QCB), and to contribute
and reiterate Qatar’s position as a leading international FinTech
hub in the region, as outlined in Qatar’s National Vision 2030.
Foreign direct investment
The outows of investors residing in Qatar to obtain
foreign investment assets abroad during the period 2017-2019
are higher than the inows from non-resident investors abroad to
acquire domestic assets in national companies in Qatar;, the net
foreign direct investment account has achieved a decit during the
same period as shown in Fig. 20. It is explained because of the
regulation of the investment of non-Qatari capital in the economic
y, i.e., the 13th law of 2000. This law establishes that foreign
77
• Consultancy
• Technical Services
• Information Technologies
• Cultural, Sports and
Leisure services
• Logistic Services
• Agriculture
• Manufacture
• Health
• Tourism
• Natural Resources Development
• Mining and Energy
Net FDI
Net Other
As % of GDP
As % of GDP
30 15
27
6
-9
-12
6
8.7
3.7
-15.0
10
5
-5
0
20
10
-10 -10
-10 -15
-20
-20
-30
2015
2018
2019
2016
Years 2018 2019
Q1
Q1
Q2
Q2
Q3
Q3
Q4
Q4
0
Net Portfolio
Financial Account (R-Axis)
Fig. 20 Performance of the nancial account (2015-2019)
Source: Made by Planning and Statistics Authority with QCB data
investors can only invest in certain cases and in most cases, they
must have a Qatari partner that holds at least 51% of the shares
of the rm. The ownership rule is changing for some priority
sectors with the creation of free zones supported by the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry and Qatar’s new Foreign Investment Law
(2019). The priority sectors represent opportunities, especially
for non-Qatari residents, because it is easier to invest and create
companies. Among the priority sectors are:
78
Exports and imports
The State of Qatar is ghting to end the dependency of
the economy on hydrocarbons, so it’s trying to move towards a
knowledge-based economy and the QNV 2030 is part of the
strategy to make it happen. Nevertheless, as shown in Fig. 21,
hydrocarbon goods represent the most important exports of Qatar
(up to 86%) followed by chemical substances at approximately 8%,
and manufactured goods, machinery, and others at about 6%.The
most important imported goods are machinery at 40%, followed by
chemical and hydrocarbon products at 16%, manufactured goods
at 14%, food commodities at 14%, and the remaining groups at
about 19%.
Qatar’s most important trading partner is the USA with
19% of the total, followed by China with 12%, then Germany, UK,
India, Turkey, and Oman with a total of 27%. The rest varies among
European countries (17%), Latin American countries (13%), and
Asian countries (12%). For Qatar’s export destinations, Japan and
South Korea were the biggest in 2019 with 35% of the total exports,
followed by India and China with 25%, and then Singapore with
8% and European countries with 10%, with the remaining 23%
being distributed among nearby trading partners including GCC
countries and the rest of the Arab countries. Nevertheless, now
that the blockade is coming an end, it is expected that Qatar’s
foreign trade will increase to a bigger positive balance because it
exports more than it imports goods. In 2020, the exports were more
than twice as big as the imports and represented one third of the
country’s outow beneting its economy.
79
Food
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10% 11%
86%
7% 8% 9% 14%
40%
19%
3% 2% 1%
0% 0%
Hydrocarbon Chemical Manufacture Machinery Others
Exports Imports
Fig. 21 Foreign trade by commodity group (2019)
Source: Made by the author with data from Planning and Statistics Authority
80
Part 4: Barriers to entrepreneurship
Experts’ perspectives
Every year the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
consortium gathers data through two questionnaires and local teams
of researchers by country. As mentioned in Chapter 2, in Qatar
the QDB is the leading sponsor and is responsible for it. One of
these surveys is the National Experts’ Survey (NES) that measures
the Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions (EFCs) through the
perspective of 36 stakeholders of the ecosystem every year. For
years, the EFCs have been quantitative measures associated with
the conditions or factors of the entrepreneurial ecosystems around
the world and since the survey follows a strict methodology, it
allows comparisons between countries and across time. Table 5
presents a comparison between the 12 EFCs of Qatar and the USA
in 2019, and Table 6 presents the evolution of the EFCs in Qatar
from 2016 to 2019. The values correspond to the average responses
of the 36 experts consulted each year for each dimension and is
based on 9-point Likert scales, 9 being the highest value.
Table 5 Entrepreneurial framework
conditions for Qatar and the USA in 2019
Entrepreneurial Framework Condition Qatar USA Dierences
Financing for entrepreneurs 3.2 3.5 -0.3
Governmental support and policies 3.5 2.8 0.7
Taxes and bureaucracy 3.5 3.0 0.4
Governmental programs 3.5 2.7 0.8
Basic school entrepreneurial education and training 3.1 2.5 0.6
Post school entrepreneurial education and training 3.6 3.2 0.4
R&D transfer 3.1 2.7 0.4
81
Source: Made by the author with data from the Global Entrepreneurship
Monitor: National Experts’ Survey
As observed in Table 5, the highest value for Qatar is on
physical and services infrastructure. The consulted experts agree
that it is easy to access physical resources such as roads and
transportations, communication systems (internet, phone, etc.),
and basic services (gas, electricity, water, etc.), mainly because
the costs don’t represent a constraint for businesses creation
and development. It can also be explained by the fact that the
construction sector has been growing in recent years because more
expatriates are coming to Qatar, and with the FIFA World Cup 2022
Qatar expects to receive 1.2 million visitors which is almost 50%
of the current population. Currently, construction sites are visible
all-around Doha. In contrast, the lowest value is on internal market
openness. This result is explained because of the diculties to
enter the Qatari market; further analysis is provided in the next
section. Qatar is a market of 2.5 million people (small compared to
other countries) of which about 15% are nationals and the rest are
expatriates, but non-Qataris face greater challenges in becoming
an entrepreneur. Other low values are basic school entrepreneurial
education and training, and R&D transfer, which can be limiting
to the entrepreneurial activities. Both results are surprising since
Qatar’s National Vision 2030 is putting a special eort on education
and science development, while the main target is the outcome of
human resources and innovation initiatives to support the transition
towards a knowledge-based economy.
Commercial and professional infrastructure 3.4 3.4 0.0
Internal market dynamics 3.4 2.9 0.5
Internal market openness 3.0 2.8 0.3
Physical and services infrastructure 4.1 4.1 0.0
Cultural and social norms 3.0 4.2 -0.6
82
Meanwhile, Table 5 also compares Qatar with the USA
since the latter hosts 11 of the top 30 startup ecosystems worldwide
in accordance with the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (2020)
(Silicon Valley, New York city, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle,
Washington DC, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Atlanta, and Denver-
Boulder). Qatar is a much smaller country than the USA, with
85.6% of the country’s population living in the capital city, Doha
(2.38 million). Amazingly, Qatar is below the USA only on two
EFCs: nancing for entrepreneurs, and cultural and social norms.
With respect to nance the country is already working on attracting
foreign investments with new regulations and building a Venture
Capital ecosystem. The cultural and social norms have been
improving since the blockade in 2017 because suddenly, from one
day to the next, they needed to start producing goods to satisfy
the local demand and consume locally. The blockade, according to
experts, fostered a culture of nationalism and collaboration. Most
of the institutions are committed to the QNV 2030 too, helping
to increase the perception of benecial cultural and social norms.
In addition, the biggest lead over the USA is in governmental
programs which is reasonable because the government has a strong
intervention as explained on Chapter 2. In summary, in accordance
with the perceptions of experts, Qatar has all the required
entrepreneurship conditions to become a leading ecosystem in the
short term if it continues going in the right direction in terms of
attracting investors and entrepreneurs, and improving local policies
aecting businesses.
83
Table 6 Comparison of entrepreneurial
framework conditions for Qatar in 2016,
2017, 2018, and 2019
Entrepreneurial Framework
Condition
2016 2017 2018 2019
Dierence
between 2019
and 2016
Financing for entrepreneurs 2.7 2.6 3.1 3.2 0.5
Governmental support and
policies
3.3 3.4 3.8 3.5 0.2
Taxes and bureaucracy 2.8 3.0 3.5 3.5 0.6
Governmental programs 3.2 3.2 3.6 3.5 0.2
Basic school entrepreneurial
education and training
2.7 2.6 3.7 3.1 0.4
Post school entrepreneurial
education and training
3.5 3.0 4.0 3.6 0.1
R&D transfer 2.6 2.6 3.5 3.1 0.5
Commercial and professional
infrastructure Internal market
dynamics
3.1 3.1 3.4 3.4 0.3
Internal market dynamics 2.7 3.1 3.8 3.4 0.8
Internal market openness 2.4 2.6 3.2 3.0 0.7
Physical and services infra-
structure
3.9 3.8 4.3 4.1 0.2
Cultural and social norms 3.2 2.9 3.7 3.6 0.4
Source: Made by the author with data from the Global Entrepreneurship,
Monitor: National Experts’ Survey
Moreover, a reection of Qatar’s progress towards the
QNV 2030 can also been seen in these EFCs if we analyze its evo-
lution over time. The QNV 2030 was ocially launched in 2008 as
a plan to achieve sustainable development, and it has been becom-
ing more relevant as time passes and more recently with the block-
ade. Table 6 shows that evolution aecting the entrepreneurial ac-
84
“Implement structural and legal reforms entrepreneurship by
reducing cost, business disruptions and legal gaps.”
Expert in economics
Male non-Qatari resident, 46 years
Additionally, it is important to mention that education has
been highlighted by 22% of the experts as the most relevant factor
helping to foster entrepreneurial activities in Qatar. In second place
with 15% are the government programs. In fact, all the eorts of the
Qatar Foundation are reected in these opinions, because it means
that stakeholders are noticing the importance of education, science,
tivities since 2016. A decline is visible in 2017 when the blockade
started, but the conditions started evolving rapidly. The biggest
improvement from 2016 to 2019 has been in internal market dy-
namics, followed by internal market openness. Although the latter
remains as the lowest perceived, in general all the conditions have
improved over time and they are expected to hold the same trend in
the following 10 years.
Using a qualitative approach in addition to the GEM
experts, 17 additional in-depth interviews were conducted and
categorized. In both samples, 50% of the experts agreed that
the government policies are the main factors constraining the
entrepreneurial activities in Qatar, followed by 11% of experts’
responses highlighting constraints with labor costs, access to talent
and regulation. The comments about the government policies refer
to restrictive migration laws for entrepreneurs who will enter and
bring talent to work at their companies. As well, they mentioned
bureaucracy and lack of policies to address the real needs of
businesses. Most of the comments conrm the ndings discussed
in Chapter 2. An example of it would be the following quote:
85
“Education centers training institutes, universities should be
introduced. Encourage students to start business from universities
studies in support and resources from institutes.”
Entrepreneurship researcher
Female non-Qatari resident, 38 years
Legal, bureaucratic, and regulatory
frameworks
The business creation and registration process in Qatar
remains very complex and bureaucratic, and it is recommended
to hire legal support services established in the country that are
familiar with the legislation. That is why it is ranked below the
UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabi, Oman, and Jordan among
the MENA countries and 77th worldwide in the Ease of Doing
Business WB indicator. In summary, to open a business in Qatar,
there are 9 steps that entrepreneurs need to follow:
Step 1: Decide the type of business society
There are eight types of societies: Single person company, Limited
Liability Company (LLC), Public shareholding company, Simple
partnership company, Joint venture company, Joint partnership
company, Limited shares partnership company, and Holding
company.
and technology, and how the country has managed to invest, for
example, to create Education City with nine satellite campuses of
international universities. One of the academic experts commented
the following:
86
Step 2: Start the registration process
The registration and legalization process starts in the Ministry of
Economy and Commerce by ling the New Company Registration
form.
Step 3: Approve the commercial name
Choose and get approval for the commercial name from the
Department of Registration and Commercial Licenses of the
Ministry of Economy and Commerce.
Step 4: Approve the commercial activity
The competent authority needed to approve the commercial activity
in most of the cases is the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Others could be the Ministry of Energy and Industry, Ministry of
Transport and Communications, Ministry of Public Health, and
Ministry of Education and Higher Education, among others. It
depends on the nature of the business activity.
Step 5: Opening a bank account
The entrepreneurs need to choose a bank account and submit a
letter as depositary of the social capital expressing the interest and
amount planned for deposit. Once the bank entity admits the letter,
an account will be opened in the name of the business society.
Step 6: Public documentation
Authenticate the public documentation of the legal constitution of
the business society in the Ministry of Justice.
87
Step 7: Register the business society
Register the business society with the Chamber of Commerce and
Industry of Qatar.
Step 8: Obtain the commercial registration
Obtain the commercial registration in the Ministry of Economy and
Commerce.
Step 9: Obtain the license
Obtain the municipality license in the Ministry of Municipality
and Urban Planning.
As in other countries, intellectual property protection
rights are important for entrepreneurs. Qatar, like many others,
respects the Agreement of Marrakech in which the World Trade
Organization was established. This agreement states the aspects
of intellectual property protection related with commerce. The
Qatari Trademark Law does not allow registration of a trademark
in the name of more than one applicant and prohibits registration
of goods such as alcoholic beverages or pork meat. It follows
the international classication of goods and services. To start a
registration process, the individuals and businesses may submit
a request to the Intellectual Property Protection Department at
the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In 2017, the Ministry of
Economy and Commerce launched an online trademark registration
service which has been gradually implemented. To complete a
registration takes an average of 12 months.
In Qatar, starting a business normally takes an average of
nine days to complete the registration with competent authorities
88
MENA
Latin America
USA
Yemen
UAE
Saudi Arabia
4
4
10
20
28
41
11
13
9
8
0 5 10 15
DAYS
20 25 30 35 40 45
4
Qatar
Oman
Israel
Egypt
Bahrain
Fig. 22 Time required to start a business (days), Source: Made by the author
with data from World Bank, Doing Business project (2019)
and institutions. The average within the MENA countries is 20
days, so it is less than half the time to start a business in Qatar but
as much as double in comparison with UAE, Oman, and the USA
(top ecosystem). As shown in Fig. 22, among the Qatar neighbor
countries, it is below the average of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel,
and Egypt, and above that of UAE, Oman, and Bahrain. These
legal, bureaucratic, and regulatory framework conditions are
relevant for the entrepreneurial ecosystem to move to the phase of
attraction in which the ecosystem expands, lling success factor
gaps by removing barriers to attracting well-designed policies.
With it, non-Qatari residents should be more interested in getting
involved in entrepreneurial activities despite the dierences in
perceived support for Qatari residents.
89
Part 5: Recommendations
Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is between the
activation and globalization phases. It can soon be in the attraction
phase and produce more innovative startups if the right actions are
taken in strategic areas. This study took into consideration experts’
interviews, and data collected by the GEM, PSA, and other public
sources. It cannot determine exactly whether Qatar is a successful
entrepreneurial ecosystem or not, but it accomplishes the objective
of identifying the key stakeholders, and the conditions that are
fostering the entrepreneurial activities and the ones that do not, to
recommend policies and strategies. The factor mentioned by many,
government policies, includes the role of regulatory framework,
scal policy, and taxation, and special considerations to match the
opportunities for economic competition between new and existing
businesses. For the case of Qatar, there is a strong government
intervention, and an example is the implementation of the Qatar
National Vision 2030 that each institution is trying to follow-
it is a game changer “activating” the ecosystem. It is natural in
emerging economies since government policies play a big role in
the entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe, because they can
control and inuence other factors that impact entrepreneurship,
such as helping to create and develop institutions and key players
(Villegas-Mateos, 2020; Kantis and Federico, 2012). One of
the interviewed experts suggests the following to activate the
ecosystem:
“Since today’s youth are the potential entrepreneurs of the future,
understanding their perception about contextual factors can be a
contribution to the development of the literature.”
Business Management expert
Male non-Qatari resident, 39 years
90
Nevertheless, the eorts to foster entrepreneurial
activities in Qatar should be refocused more in value-added
businesses. These can be identied as innovation- or technology-
based ventures such as opportunity-driven entrepreneurial
activities at early stages. Also, the regulations and legal framework
need attention; some quantitative indicators like the time to start a
business show Qatar at a good level, but the qualitative data highlight
issues with dicult immigration policies, investment restrictions,
long times for registration, and unnecessary expenses to operate in
certain sectors of the economy. In addition, the blockade that Qatar
went through with its neighbor countries was benecial for some
sectors, according to experts that participated in the study, because
it pushed the local market to satisfy consumer demands and some
businesses grew while other new businesses emerged. Qatar is a
market of 2.2 million people; it is small but the high income per
capita helps to incentivize consumption. The blockade ended at the
beginning of 2021 with the FIFA World Cup coming up in 2022.
Therefore, Qatar is a promising ecosystem that would attract more
entrepreneurs and investments if it continues improving the base
conditions for businesses as explained on chapter 4.
In summary, this report concludes with the following
ve recommendations to make of Qatar a leading entrepreneurial
ecosystem:
1. Start by addressing the local condition constraints for
entrepreneurial activities which are mainly related with
bureaucratic processes and restrictive immigration and business
laws. Its not just making new laws, its also implementing them
and opening equal conditions for everyone, men and women,
Qataris and non-Qataris.
91
2. While doing the previous, there must be a special eort from
government and investors to collaborate closer to understand
the needs of both sides. This is going to help startups, scaleups
and SMEs to grow faster with existing conditions, and to attract
more FDI. At the beginning it will require investment in the
foundations to build angel and mentors networks, host bigger
events, and develop talented people.
3. Qatar must consider an ecosystem branding strategy. The
FIFA World Cup 2022 can serve as a trampoline to boost the
visibility of the country worldwide and show potential investors
and entrepreneurs that settling in Qatar is a good choice. The
location, the taxes, the easy access to international markets and
success stories will help to do it well.
4. The Qatari government is very straight forward in its development
plan stated in the QNV 2030 established in 2008, but now, with
the current world economic situation, the dierent institutional
stakeholders need to strengthen their networks and collaborations
and aim to specialize in some specic sectors rather than trying
to cover them all at the same time. For example, the FinTech
sector in Qatar is an emerging sector and one example of how
together with a similar goal, the stakeholders can build greater
things. FinTech in Qatar is growing very fast and is attracting
international startups and investors, so in 2020 QDB in joint
with EY launched the Qatar FinTech Hub with its incubation
and acceleration programs.
5. Start measuring the development of the strategy. Several key
indicators and datasets are missing or are dicult to access, the
most relevant are seed funding and venture capital indicators
because the number and amount of investments at early stages
are comparable as ecosystem success rates.
92
“I recommend making banking institutions provide loans
to startup enterprises (expat as well as Qatari) without the
need for a personal guarantee.”
Economics & Business expert
Male non-Qatari resident, 26 years
This report aims to create consciousness of the role of
all key stakeholders in Qatar’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and to
congratulate all involved that directly or indirectly contributed
to the research. It also encourages readers to take a more active
role if they can contribute from their position to improve some of
the mentioned conditions and ask for help if needed. It certainly
highlights the role of government in certain needed actions, but
also the private sector needs to organize and deal with the current
status while conditions keep improving. Hopefully, the end of the
blockade will accelerate some processes. The education sector
and the actors in that sector need to increase their networks and
Implications
The ndings of this study suggest that entrepreneurial
nance is among the weakest condition, not because projects cannot
get funded but because investors sometimes don’t understand the
startup dynamics or there are other legal restrictions. As mentioned
before, this condition and the cultural and social norms are the
two weakest, but also the ones that are currently targeted for
improvements. It is up to the government to continue understanding
the entrepreneurial process and urgently create and implement a
national policy that helps funding startups, reduce requirements
to open a business with a fair treatment to non-Qataris including
facilitating wholly foreign businesses in all sectors, and reduce
costs and bureaucracy.
93
help to foster an entrepreneurial culture among their students,
independently of the institution. We invite you to participate in
the next edition of the Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit
Students’ Survey (GUESSS) that is led by HEC Paris in Qatar and
is open to all universities in the country.
94
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Appendix
Methodology note
To develop the report, we followed a mixed method
approach. First, n=17 in-depth semi structured interviews were
conducted with key stakeholders of Qatar’s entrepreneurial
ecosystem selected based on their reputation and years of
experience. Seven of the interviewees were Qatari residents and
the rest non-Qatari. In total four were women, and one of them
was non-Qatari. Some interviews were conducted online while
others face to face due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and all the
people in the sample currently reside in Doha. Among the selected
people there are government ocials, entrepreneurs, consultants,
entrepreneurs and academics, some of them with double or triple
occupations. Additionally, n=44 experts responded the National
Experts’ Survey of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in 2018,
and for this research we analyzed the open-ended responses
collected from them as qualitative data about their perceptions of
Qatar’s ecosystem. We tried to make the qualitative analysis as
objective as possible making few assumptions, so we used statistical
software to analyze the cause and eect relations. Finally, to study
the ecosystem dynamics of Qatar, GEM’s Adult Population Survey
was analyzed to complement the report and a bigger quantitative
database of the NES; furthermore, other secondary data sources
with key macroeconomic indicators were consulted such as the
Planning and Statistics Authority, Pitch Book, The World Bank,
and the Global Startup Ecosystem report.
98
99
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Book
Full-text available
This book is about understanding how to build sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems. This term is derived primarily from two research fields: entrepreneurial ecosystems and sustainable development. It will delve into how these two terms combine and introduce the concepts of sustainable innovation, social capital, and communities as drivers of the ecosystem’s development. The book is intended for entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, policymakers, investors, or a combination of these, to learn more about how an individual or institution, from any part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, can actively enhance sustainable economic growth through innovation. Anyone can become an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder from any position they hold in their community. This report explores the aspects that trigger innovation-driven entrepreneurial activities to differentiate from traditional business activities (e.g., coffee shops, beauty salons, flower shops, etc.). It addresses it from the macro- to the meso- and micro-levels to provide a broader context with institutional and individual factors within the ecosystems that act as enablers of entrepreneurs’ innovation activities. The book is structured into chapters with different levels of analysis of the ecosystem. In this regard, Chapter 1 provides an introduction to sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on exploring the composition and interactions of the ecosystem as drivers of sustainable innovation. Chapters 4 and 5 focus on studying entrepreneurship education and women’s inclusion. Chapter 6 examines the impact of regulations and policies to support minorities in the entrepreneurial community. Chapter 2 starts with an ecosystem mapping of the stakeholders and identifies newcomers and potential gaps that need to be addressed to build an entrepreneurial culture that will drive the ecosystem outputs. Chapter 3 analyzes the existing indicators measuring the impact of innovation activities and compares them across the strategic sectors for sustainable development. Chapter 4 studies the support mechanisms and models of informal entrepreneurship education offered by the business incubators and its effectiveness according to entrepreneurs. Chapter 5 reviews the literature on women’s entrepreneurship in Qatar and provides a conceptual model to build a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Chapter 6 concludes by identifying and analyzing Qatar’s current policies fostering and constraining entrepreneurial activities, with a unique distinction between expatriates and citizens. At the same time, the author provides policy recommendations based on research collected throughout the report’s chapters.
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyze the characteristics and dynamics of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the ICT sector in Qatar. Design/methodology/approach The methodology of this research is based on a literature review and information collected through semistructured interviews with the different stakeholders involved in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the ICT sector in Qatar. Findings The results show that two opposite forces shape the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the ICT sector in Qatar. On one hand, the strong determination and intervention of the Qatari government to diversify the economy by creating a vibrant ecosystem in the ICT sector. On the other hand, entrepreneurs in this sector are still facing some barriers and difficulties, and those issues are tightly related to Qatar's economic characteristics as a rentier state whose economy is driven by hydrocarbon resources. Originality/value These findings contribute to the clarification and critical analysis of the current dynamics of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the ICT sector in Qatar, which would have several policy implications.
Chapter
Full-text available
Oil and natural gas revenues still form the main part of national income and government revenues in Qatar. However, since, 1995, Qatar’s economy is undergoing a critical transformation, shifting from a high dependence on hydrocarbon towards a diversified economy, with the focus firmly on the knowledge-based economy. Qatar 2030 explicitly promotes transformation into knowledge-based economy and raises ICT, innovation and entrepreneurship, as solution help reach this goal. The objective of this chapter is to analyze the recent dynamics of economic diversification in Qatar with a focus on three aspects: ICT, innovation and entrepreneurship; and how this transformation will help the country to build a knowledgebased economy.
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Building on the literature on agglomeration economies, this study examines how urbanization, industry-diversification, district economics and incubating initiatives are associated to the creation of innovative start-ups in Italy. The empirical analysis is based on a sample of 6018 innovative start-ups distributed across 104 Italian NUTS 3 regions. Our findings show that incubating initiative and industrial districts play a major role for new venture creation and provide support to the positive role of urbanization economies and industry specialization over diversification. Finally, we discuss future research directions grounded on the empirical evidence provided by our study.
Article
Purpose This paper aims to deal with different experts’ perceptions of entrepreneurial ecosystems (EEs) from central to non-central regions to evaluate if there was any evolution (or involution), comparing the results with those of a previous similar study on Chile from 2013, and it follows to replicate and improve our knowledge of the entrepreneurial opportunities. Design/methodology/approach One of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor surveys, the National Experts’ Survey, was applied to a sample of N = 1,555 key informants in Chile at 11 regions. The author used non-parametric statistics to compare the differences between centrally and non-centrally located experts. Findings The results indicate an evolution of the Chilean entrepreneurial ecosystem in an effort to homologate the entrepreneurial opportunities at non-central regions since the last study published in 2013. The financial support and physical infrastructure conditions were perceived to be more favorable in central regions, whereas the general government policies and entrepreneurial education at primary and secondary levels were perceived to be more favorable in non-central regions. Originality/value This research aims to contribute to filling the gap from the regional EEs’ perspective in emerging economies by comparing the results of the study on Chile with data from the previous government (2007–2009) providing an updated study of it (2015–2018) using the entrepreneurial framework conditions. It is relevant because the government established the “StartUp Chile” program that positioned the country as an innovation hub in Latin America since 2010.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of psychological and institutional factors on the entrepreneurial intention among Qatari male students. Qatar has the world highest incomes per capita. Recently, the government launched many initiatives to stimulate Qatari’s to engage in entrepreneurship activities. Design/methodology/approach Data were collected by means of a questionnaire. The target population of this research were Qatari male students in the final year of Bachelor degree in Management. A total of 155 responses were used for the purpose of this study. Findings The findings indicate that Qatari male students hold a high entrepreneurial intention. In addition, two institutional barriers and three psychological barriers were found to be associated with the entrepreneurial intention. Research limitations/implications It would be interesting to investigate the barriers to entrepreneurial intention among Qatari female students by expanding the current theoretical framework to include some cultural factors pertaining to Qatari female students. Practical implications This study has implications for statutory bodies involved in promoting entrepreneurship activities. In addition, it offers some suggestions for educational institutions and vocational training centres. Originality/value The research confirms the need for more than one theory in explaining the entrepreneurship intention. Another contribution is the context of this study. Qatar’s social, economic and political contexts are totally dissimilar from Eastern or Western set-ups. The study provides some insights on the psychological and institutional barriers among Qatari male students.
  • Z Acs
  • L Szerb
  • E Lafuente
  • A Lloyd
Acs, Z., Szerb, L., Lafuente, E., & Lloyd, A. (2018), Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index 2018. Springer International Publishing, New York.