Ingredients of Qatar’s Success Under the Blockade


– Your Excellency and honored guests, friends, students, fellow professors, people from around the
Doha community, welcome, (speaking foreign language). Of course, our friends at
(speaking foreign language) Qatar are also welcome, as always. We work with them whenever we can. And I want to say
welcome, a hearty welcome. My name is Gerd Nonneman, some of you might have seen me before when I was a dean of this wonderful place. That time has come to an end, but as I was telling our guests earlier, it is such a wonderful place,
I couldn’t tear myself away. So I’ve stayed on as a professor here, focusing on the study of the Gulf. And it’s a particular
pleasure to be able to welcome His Excellency Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani again to Georgetown. Last time he was here,
it’s four years ago, and again, it was a wonderful event. At that time he was not yet
with Qatar Investment Authority but I’m sure he will tell
you about that himself. And I’m delighted to be
able to bring him back at this point, now that a
whole generation of students have passed on, it is a whole
new generation of students. But I’m happy to say
I see various students who were here then, still in the audience. That’s another typical thing
for Georgetown in Qatar here, the alumni stay very
much part of the family and they keep coming back. In fact, I know there are people here even from the very first
class that graduated in 2009, and all the way through. So it’s a wonderful
pleasure to welcome you all. But I said something that
I shouldn’t have said, I said it’s a pleasure to
bring His Excellency back here. The credit is not really mine. The institution, Georgetown, and myself are perfectly happy to go along with it, but really, this was the initiative of the (speaking foreign
language) student society, led by Hya Al-Thani and Mohammed
(speaking foreign language). It’s their work really that
made this event happen. And that’s another thing
that’s, I think, typical of our students, and typical
of Georgetown University. So thank you, Hya and
Mohammed and the whole team at (speaking foreign
language) student society. So, let me briefly introduce
His Excellency to you, although he’s one of those
people where one has to say, “He needs no introduction.” But even so, that’s part
of my role, so I’ll do it. His Excellency Sheikh
Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani is of course
the chief executive officer of Qatar Investment Authority, or QIA. He’s also a member of the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and
Investment, and he’s chairman of the board of Ooredoo,
the Ooredoo Group. Beyond that, he’s got a
number of other functions. He’s board member of QNB, of
Harrods, I discovered, as well, and of the International Forum
of Sovereign Wealth Funds. But he was trained originally
as a military officer, both in Egypt and at
the US Army War College, and in fact he graduated as a pilot in the Qatari Emiri Air Force. His Excellency also
serves as a commissioner to the United Nations’ ITU Broadband Commission for Digital
Development, and not least, he’s a member of the World
Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development. Previously he served, just
to pick out a few things of the many functions he’s fulfilled and roles he’s served in, he served as President
Commissioner of Indosat when he was based in Indonesia. Before joining Ooredoo or
as it was then called– I forget what it’s then called. – (mumbles) Qtel?
– Indeed, Qtel. You see, history’s been made, and– He was chief of the
royal court for the Emeri (speaking foreign language),
and he was a member of the planning council in
Qatar from 2000 to 2005. In fact, in between all
that, he also served, I recently discovered, as military attache to the United Kingdom from 1990 to 2000. I will leave it there,
just to leave as much time as possible for His
Excellency’s presentation. After the presentation, we will have a question and answer session. I’ve got a few questions in mind already, but think of questions yourselves, and as His Excellency presents to you, I’m sure more questions will pop up. So without further ado,
over to Your Excellency. (applause) – You talked a lot about
the positions I took, and I do not want them to overestimate that I will give a lot of information. I will try to give as much as I could, but if there is anything I did not cover and you wish to know, please just, after the lecture or
whatever you would call it, just ask the question. But bear in mind, sometimes
I answer questions, sometimes I do a flip-around.
(laughing) So (laughs) I’ll do my best. Well, thank you, Professor Nonneman, for your kind introduction. I should say, good evening everybody, and also (speaking foreign language). I heard that His Excellency
(speaking foreign language) was here a week ago, and he spoke at length about the blockade. Well, no one can be better than him to talk about it, and
also, he’s a senior citizen so he can say whatever he want. I have to be very careful
what to say. (laughs) So really, I was actually in travel so I had to mobilize and
adjust my brief very quickly because I do not want to
cover everything he covered, so really, maybe I went
away or diverted a bit from the lecture, but again, as I said, if you needed
to ask any questions regarding the title of
the lecture, please do. I also added some flavor to the lecture, so that I gave an example of
true experience of success that I will highlight shortly. I will also focus on what happened into the banking system
under the blockade, and how we are overcoming it. Actually, when you look in
the blockade in general, you won’t feel a lot, but I
think in the banking system is really a bit where
the work had to be done. I also noticed that this
is a series of lectures leading up to the national
day, and this is the final, and I thank Hya and
(speaking foreign language), where is (speaking foreign language), I’ve heard his name but I don’t see him. So I thank them for making
me to come the last, and in the spirit of the national day I have a small talk in
here, so after the lecture it will be available
to everyone (mumbles). I was here before, as chairman
of Qtel, Qatar’s telecom. Well, as you all know, Qtel
does not exist anymore. This clip will show you what happened. (upbeat music) – The moment of truth.
(laughing) Our new brand (mumbles)
is our customer promise or for human profit. A new brand which reflects and conveys our approach to customers. A single brand that will
unify the whole Qtel group with a single look and feel. It’s playful and engaging. It reflects confidence,
energy, and empathy. We are adding color and personality and we are introducing a new
name to unite the entire group. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our new identity, Ooredoo. (bright electronic music) (applause) Now, from this moment on, we are Ooredoo. (upbeat music) – Thank you. Well, just before I go further, I have here with me Dr Nasser. He was a group CEO, and now he’s a board member of the group. He was my friend through
all the success of Ooredoo. So, today I am here as
chairman of Ooredoo, the new face of Qatar Telecom, and the CEO of Qatar Investment Authority. As you said, it was four years ago. Well, it’s good to be
back after four years, I don’t know if this is
a good sign. (laughs) Actually it’s a good start,
you can give the same speech. You don’t need to change it. (laughs) Today I want to talk about what it takes to grow and be successful,
in your life and your career. Well, let’s start from here,
from Georgetown University, where we are all assembled. Why did you end up here? Why Georgetown is here? Cornell, Carnegie,
Northwestern, and many more? Why the education city is here? The answer is, because
Qatar’s leadership recognized that for a country to be a success, it must have a knowledgeable population. Knowledge is a required
ingredient for the success of any society and any organization. A knowledge-based society
is an integral element of Qatar’s 2030 vision. By the way, there are four
elements of Qatar’s 2030 vision. Please, you have to know them, because as soon as you head to work you will hear them a lot, you
will work around them a lot. They are the economical
development, social development, human development, and environmental. So what is knowledge? Where does this come from, and how is a knowledge-based
society superior? A society that is built on human knowledge and contributes its
experience to the knowledge is a society that succeeds. Keep these three words in mind, experience, knowledge, success. How is knowledge communicated and shared? A knowledge is passed from
one generation to another, within society, organization, and also within institutions like Georgetown. It is shared through communication. Without sharing, knowledge is simply lost. In order to share knowledge, you have to communicate it to others. For most of human civilization, knowledge was shared verbally. It was only 5,000 years ago
that humans invented writing, a new way of sharing knowledge. Writing is a better way
to preserve knowledge. And more recently, in the past 100 years it became possible to transmit knowledge electrically and electronically, via cables, airwaves,
audio, video, and text. In Qatar, this is the
role that Ooredoo plays. It gives people access to knowledge and easier sharing of knowledge
within Qatar and beyond. Ooredoo plays a key role
in Qatar’s 2030 vision. It enables a knowledge-based society in Qatar, that’s seeking. So what is experience? How do we acquire it? Ooredoo began as a small telecom company, small operator here in Qatar. In 2005, after many heated debates, the board of Qtel agreed
to expand beyond Qatar. Many times in life, for every decision, you will be faced with so many options. For us to expand or not,
it was a 50/50 chance. Then you start thinking, which countries of the 200 around the globe? Is it a single name, or
a group of companies? Now chances are no more 50/50. Rate of success becomes very small, chances of failure becomes very big. It wasn’t an easy decision. Look back now after 10 years. Qtel transformed itself into
a global telecom provider operating in more than 10 countries. I am very proud to say that we are now one of the fastest-growing brands, ranking #10 in the Middle East, with equity valued more
than three billion dollars. And this is in five
years, that’s a big jump. By doing so, we expanded our knowledge. Ooredoo acquired companies
with existing knowledge that we were able to use. We learned from them, but also we added our own experience to it. I have a simple question. If we had stayed here in Qatar, have we learned the same experience, operating in one country,
with two million customers? Keeping quiet? Well, I think I heard “No” from you all. By operating in multiple countries and serving 153 million customers, we built our own experience
multiple times faster. Talking about success, just
before I jump into success, let’s say experience yields success. Now let’s talk about success. I’m gonna talk about
three of the 15 countries. We acquire them, and everyone is unique, but I’ve chosen three, and the reason is the complexity of those three. Let me start talking about Iraq. When we acquired the group of
(speaking foreign language), it was supposed to be Iraq
among those countries. And my friend Dr Nasser here remembers that when we went into
discussion, we discover that the relationship between the company and the group was dysfunctional. It wasn’t working, no
one talked to each other, There is no upgrade, there is no even synergy between the two companies. So either that can break
the deal or make the deal. So after again, a few
discussions, we decided let’s go ahead, do it, and
then think of Iraq later on. So we did so, and then we
had to sit with the Iraqis. I remember one of them said
to us, “Why you are here? “What’s different between
you and your colleague?” So we started capitalizing
on our investment in Amman, show them our vision, our strategy, what value we added to those companies. And then we started getting them onboard. Then we showed them what
the synergy could be, what value they will take out from that. And then, I remember I was on my vacation and I was in the end of
the world, down under, and the call at 3:00 in the morning came that the deal has been
done, and the signing has to be done as soon as possible, so I have to break my leave and come back. So Iraq now, one of the
most profitable companies, although they go under
problems between time and time because of the political risk in Iraq. But it’s doing remarkably well, the shareholders extremely
happy with a group like Ooredoo. Then came Indosat, another acquisition, it is our biggest acquisition. Now let me tell you,
sometimes that passes quickly. But before we acquire
Indosat, we hardly can talk to Facebook, Google, or Apple. They never used to answer even calls. They don’t want even
to meet a small company like Ooredoo at that time,
or Qtel, why they talk to? So what we did, after acquiring Indosat, it is the skill people look after, so we started getting the
call from them back to us, and then a relationship started to come at an equal level with those companies. And Indosat was a miracle. I remember we just went
in, because we thought that there is a problem, we can fix it, got in with our friends,
Singaporeans, and from there the Singaporeans started
to have even more issues. So we had to intervene, and we thought, by being from the Middle
East, we could fix it. We could not create the relationship or the synergy between both. So in the end, the company had to give up doing any more work or logistics, so we had to intervene
and acquire Indosat. So Indosat, being in Ooredoo Group, was the real flip and the
real leap for Ooredoo Group. Then Myanmar came as a company. Myanmar is unique. It happened just months
after we changed our brand. So really, to go and
compete for a license, “Who are you? We never heard of you.” Because Qtel is no more
there, it was Ooredoo. So I remember when we
went to buy the booklet, they said, “Who are you?” So we said, “We’re just taking
the document and going.” So we took the document,
and we found out that 92 companies competing for Myanmar, 92. Some of my friends, in the
plane coming back from Myanmar, they decided, “We should
not waste time, forget it.” Between a discussion
between me and the board and of course Dr Nasser as a group CEO, we said, “No, we will go in. “We will not give up from first moment.” So we went in, and the
first time, we had a call that 50 dropped from the selection. So the call between us internally is, “Are we among the
50, or we are still in?” They said, “No, you are still in.” “Fine, thank you so much.” So you know, less of a competition now. After again, a few
months, the call came in, another 20 dropped. “Guys, are we among the
20, or we are still in?” “No, guys, you are still in,” until it came to the last three. When it came to the last
three, I told my friends, “Look, if we do not win it,
I think we should be proud “by getting selected
up to the number three “for two license only,”
two license for three now. So we were competing with the Norwegians, correct me if I am wrong,
and the French, and us. I remember the day that the
decision has to be made. I was in Doha airport, the new airport. Just prior to the opening, we were going and inspecting the airport,
and I was with the team and the call came in, and they said, “Guys, you might not get it.” “Why?” They said, “I’m sorry to say it, “but it’s coming from the Middle East “and we don’t want to
have any bother here, “ethnic or whatever,
so we don’t want to–” So I remember, I give a call to the American ambassador here, she’s a friend of mine still,
and I told her the situation, if she can help, and she said,
“Well, it’s too late now.” But again, we just said, we leave it. I remember, next morning at 7:00 I was in my office, the
call came from Myanmar that we won the 2nd license. So the first one went to the Norwegian, 2nd one went to Ooredoo, and I was extremely, extremely happy. And I remember, when we got
it, it is under one condition, that “Number three is
trailing and waiting for you. “If you miss one item,
you will be taken away. “Whatever money you spend or
you invest, it’s gonna go.” So really, it was upon us
to work around the clock, not only to achieve the
minimum they ask for, but we really beat all the (mumbles) and the numbers they gave us. And we were even launching the service even before the date were given to us, and I was very proud of that. Now, someone might say,
“Fine, you talk about “acquisition, and you talk about getting “hard in the competition,
what is the result? “Show us the result.” I will show it to you
in those three slides. Look at the year 2000. In the year 2000, our
customers were what, 400? By 2006, we went to two million, 400%. By the year 2017, we are
150 plus million now, which brings it to 7,400%. By the way, every time
we go to our meetings and they talk about expansion,
or they talk about growth, they tell us from the beginning, “Please, do not show your slides, “because we hate it.”
(laughing) “We don’t want to see that slide. “We talk about three
and five, six percent, “you guys are talking in the hundreds, “so please don’t show it.” If we talk about revenue,
look at the year 2000, 1.3. 2006, 238, let’s say 240%, 4.4 billion. By the year 2016, 32 billion,
600 plus percent increase. You have something else more? Well, in the profit, again,
you can talk about revenue, you talk about customers,
but what is the profit? Are you getting me a profit or not? You can see from the figures
around you, 127 and 67%. So someone talks about
success, let him see those. So, experience is also what allowed Qatar successfully deal with the blockade. Qatar is under a blockade, but you notice a limited impact of the
blockade on our daily lives. Supermarkets’ shelves are
full, business as usual, Qatar Airways is flying. But the blockade is being felt in traveling through those
neighboring countries. We have been blocked from
entering their airspace, territory or water, and they limited our access to the banking system. It is very serious. They stopped our access to their banking. No credit lines, it’s all canceled. As you have heard from the
media, Qatar Central Bank and QIA had to intervene to
support Qatar’s banking system. It was a truly serious matter. So what is banking system? In a simple nutshell, QIA
invest in so many banks. We have large stakes in a number of them. We have Barclays, Credit
Suisse, Santander, and many more, in Qatar and outside Qatar. The role of the bank is to
keep deposits from customers who want their money to be safe, earn some returns, be
available at any time, and could be withdrawn
at any moment’s notice. On the other side of the equation, banks make loan to
customers who want to pay as little as possible, keep
the money as long as possible, and pay it back according
to a preset schedule, not when the bank wants it. So you could see, there is
an imbalance in the society that the banks is trying to bridge. And that’s their business opportunity. This is exactly why it
doesn’t take you much to put pressure on a bank. Imagine what will happen
if just 5% of the customers one day suddenly decide they
want to take their money out. That’s what we call a run on the bank, and it happens when news or rumors spread about the bank, that this
bank is under trouble. They worry that their money
is no longer safe there. But the customers taking that money not take it to their
home, under the pillow, they take it to other bank, they keep it in the banking system. So the other banks now have excess cash that they must lend to earn interest on. This is where the banking system works. It protects against the bank run. Credit lines are established among banks and the central bank. These credit lines are
like short term loans. When banks experience a high
demand for cash withdrawal, it borrows from the other banks
and from the central bank. When foreign depositors
started taking their money out of the Qatari banks, and access to the Gulf
banking system was stopped and wasn’t available, QIA
intervened with the central bank by moving funds from overseas into our banking system in Qatar. QIA provided cash to offset
the withdrawal of the deposit and the cancellation of the credit lines. Qatar has been able to
successfully deal with the blockade with minimal impact on our daily life. So what is success? Let’s look at the
ingredients of the success. You have to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve
and where you want to reach, an honest assessment of ability,
strength, and weaknesses, a deep understanding
of opportunities, risk, and how the environment is
likely to evolve with that. A strategy that matches your strength and compensates for your weaknesses and deals with the risk. Now let me tell you why all that happened, why you did not feel the blockade. I serve in one of the boards
which I’m not gonna mention. And this board, since 2005, we’ve been talking about “what if?” What if the blockade of 2015 go bigger? What if the banking system,
for some reason whatever, what if the airways is blocked? Everything taken into account. We went over and over and
over it again and again. We checked and rechecked,
all the ministers, all the organizations,
they were all involved. We were working very
close with each other, we were supporting each
other for this moment. That’s why you guys, you did
not feel the 2017 blockade. It just went smoothly, without any notice. So if QIA and the central banks
played a big role in this, so you are asking me a
question now, “Who is the QIA?” We are the Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund. Our mandate is to invest and manage the funds of the state reserve. There are many reasons for this reserve. For future generation,
after the oil and gas, for the national development,
all the companies that we have, nationally. The liquidity management in the country, and for an emergency need. What does that all mean? It means that QIA’s responsibility is to protect the value of
the reserve from inflation, by investing them wisely. Now you see some of QIA’s investment capture the headlines and the media. But this is only the visible part. Much of what we does does not
really appear in the news. When Qatar needed QIA to
intervene after the blockade, it wasn’t our beautiful skyscraper like the London Shard building or the New York Empire
State Building that helped, nor the VW position or Credit
Suisse, our large holding, or our jewel building,
Harrods, the department store, which I enjoy being the chairman of that. By the way, in the
States, whenever they know that I’m a chairman of Harrods, they don’t care about the rest of all boards I am in.
(laughing) They are just interested
in Harrods. (laughs) It wasn’t, as I said,
Harrods or the Empire State or any of the assets that we have. It was a boring, highly liquid,
low-volatility investment in the global treasury and indexes. Okay, what comes after success? You succeed, then what? You enjoy the fruit of your success. There are financial benefits, yes, but it’s what happen
inside you that matters. You feel good about yourself,
that you have accomplished something that not
everyone can accomplish. It is the feeling of satisfaction
and self-fulfillment. This is when you too should start thinking about sharing the fruit of your success. At Ooredoo, giving back
is our core belief. We have committed
ourselves to the advancing nine of the 17 United Nations global sustainable development goals. And I think it is here, can you go back, can you go back, can you go back? This is the 17 initiatives, slide forward, and we have nine of them. Now, out from those nine,
we run in all our companies so many of them, so many initiatives, either here in Qatar or in any country, even in Kuwait, in Algeria,
Tunisia, you name it, in the Maldives, whatever, you name them. But I will take only three, which I feel really need to be touched. In Qatar, in the health sector, let’s take the health
sector now for awhile. In Qatar, Ooredoo organized a sport and health initiative across the country We’ve done this with Aspire, with almost every organization
here, with programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles for all. Initiatives including Ooredoo Marathon, by the way, which is
every year in January, I hope I see some of you there, because I do run the marathon. Community activities
for Qatar National Day, the FINA/airweave swimming pool world cup, the (speaking foreign
language) Center here in Qatar, and in Indonesia, the the mobile clinic with Leo Messi Foundation,
and in the Maldives also with the mobile clinic
between the islands. In gender, I’ll tell a story here, and it’s true, and Dr Nasser
can share this with me. During the war, or after the war in Iraq, what happened in Iraq, we noticed that there is no women
approaching the company and purchasing mobile services, and that’s why I was selected to be in the gender board
of the United Nations. And now Dr Nasser is taking that from me after being in QIA and very busy. So the question came
from one of the staff, why there is no women purchasing service. And after a survey, we
discovered that there is problems in the country, unrest in the country, especially the guy will say to his family, “Do not leave the house, don’t go.” So there is a
miscommunication, even between the family and the father, if he’s out. What if something happened
to him, no communication. So again, we found that the women really do not go the places where
it is full of people. So we had to come with an initiative, and we created a line called Almas. We knew the women like the
diamonds, so we called it Almas. So we called it Almas,
and we said to the women, “We will bring the service to your home. “We will create a service
customized only for you, “only for what you need,
so you do not get harassed, “you do not get called from
outside the family group. “We can customize a service just for you “and for your family.” And then the father, or the
families started to realize that this is a good service, why not? And then in less than a year, we got three million
women into our network. Now, this service is gonna be nominated for the (speaking foreign
language) global award, which I am truly, truly proud
to see this has happened. Now, when it comes to innovation, this is another area where we
are really doing good work. In Indonesia, to develop
education and innovation, Indosat Ooredoo has been
encouraging to educate the young people through
the Indosat Ooredoo Wireless Innovation Center,
the IWIC, since 2006. The program aims to create
a pool of digital talent in the country, and
nurture a future (mumbles). In 2016, IWIC opened the contest for international competitors, attracting more than 3,500 young
talents, 750 female entrants. Now, let me tell you, the
best return on investment comes from the investment
you make when you give back. Here again, I would like
to give a true story. I remember we were traveling to Indonesia for a board meeting,
and then the earthquake happened in Merapi. We were told not to come, it is not safe. So we had to travel, we did our board and we said we would like
to travel to the area. They said, “No, you can’t.” So I said, “We need to help.” They said, “You can only
help, but you can’t go.” So we started by asking the CEO, Alex, he is the guy you need to be beside you whenever there’s a problem. So he stepped in, and he said, “We will do “whatever it takes to help those people.” So we started sending generators, fresh water, and we
started working with them around the clock, until the dust settled. Then we said, “Okay, what is next? “We just can’t let them go.” We discovered that there
is one entire village just wiped out, so we decided to go and build that village again, and build it in a real
hygienic environment. So what we did, we really
worked around the clock, created the village, gave the village to the poor people there. I remember our late
ambassador, may God bless him, he was with me, and we
built the whole village with a clinic, with a
school, and I can tell you, this is the moment that
you feel proud of yourself, not only about the graphs
you’ve seen before. So in conclusion, how is
all this related to you? I hope you picked up on the lesson. Experience yields knowledge,
knowledge yields success. Your success depends
on the more you learn, the more you’ll experience,
the bigger your success. Our predecessors have contributed
their lives’ hard work to today’s body of human knowledge. As we are approaching
one of our most important national days in years, we should be grateful to our predecessors and the leadership of His Highness (speaking foreign language),
His Highness the father Sheikh Hamad, and his
deputy, Sheikh Abdullah who by the way, the chairman of QIA, and he’s also a graduate from this school. So show your gratitude by giving back. If you remember just this one thing from what you heard from me
today, and you act on it, you will be remembered as a great person. Thank you.
(applause) (applause drowns out speaker) questions. – Well, thank you very much, Excellency. And in some ways, it
reflects some of the themes that also emerged from His
Excellency Sheikh Abdullah (speaking foreign language) last week, experience, risk, and so on. But a tremendous story, and
I’m very particularly happy about your very personal
stories that came through. A few questions to start
us off with, perhaps, and then, as I said earlier, please get your brain cells working if they’re not already in high gear, and come up with questions yourselves. The first one, perhaps, on Ooredoo itself, one of the striking things
that also became clear from your presentation, Ooredoo
is one of those companies from Qatar, and in the Gulf, that’s shown it’s possible
for companies from here to become globally competitive. But it still remains in a
minority, arguably, of companies from Qatar and the Gulf
who operate at that level. Do you think it is possible, it is likely, that we’re going to see
a growth in those truly globally competitive companies
from Qatar and the region? – Thank you for this question. Actually, let me say that
if there are two companies that really worked well and
became a flagship of Qatar, was Ooredoo and QNB, Qatar National Bank. And I’m proud to say– (speaking foreign language) And I’m proud to say that this was not, initiative just came, just like that. It went, as I said,
through very hard debates at Ooredoo board. I remember when we
started talking about it, even some people in the
government at that time, they said, “You guys, you
are hardly running a company “here in Doha, everybody’s complaining “about your service, about your prices, “and you think you are gonna
go be a global company?” And so we went to the
board, and we started discussing this in the board, once, twice, 10 times, and we killed it, thoroughly studying the
pros and cons in this. And then the decision came,
“Yeah, why not, let’s go. “If there is a company in
our neighboring countries “doing so, why not?” We had the capability,
we have at that time, still, we have the money
to do that, and it worked. I remember the first time
we went, I think, to Amman? The first one was to Amman. And I remember when we
went there, we went, just only five people, meeting
in the lobby in the hotel, we didn’t know how to do it. We didn’t know how to acquire a company. And I remember, we used
to gather information and then someone will
say, “Okay, excuse me, “I’ll call a friend in Switzerland, “I’ll call a friend in
Norway, or a friend in London, “and I’ll get some
information,” how we do it. And this is how, actually,
we’ve done it, and it worked. So it’s the first time we
decided to go out, and we got it. So we became greedy, we said,
“Fine, why not, let’s go.” And the second time,
we were going to Egypt, which did not work, because it went outside the parameters we put. But again, as I said,
through a different plan, we went into Indonesia. We went through a company, we knew that it’s not gonna work, and
we can fix it, and we did. So this is how it’s evolved, similar to with QNB, Qatar National Bank. It was only the board and the team that started thinking about
expansion and going outside, and became global and (mumbles). But again, if you want to run the company that goes internationally, and succeeds, you have to have a proper governance. You have to have a strategy,
as I said in the beginning. Now, for most of the kids here, they will walk out one
day from this school, they have to have a strategy, what are they gonna do in life? What do they want? Let’s say they joined
QIA or joined Ooredoo or joined ministry in the government, they have to have a strategy. Without a strategy, without knowing what’s your strategy, it will not work. As I said, 2015, it was a big lesson. (mumbles) before, it’s just past 2015, pull the ambassadors, things became fine, shake hands, and that’s it. But for us it wasn’t,
for us it was a signal. We have to work on that,
and be more vigilant, and should not depend and be naive, maybe, I could use this word, naive, by being dependent on a few speculations. So this is how we build. Now, in QIA, what we are trying to do. Since I joined, 2015,
we started to collect all the national companies,
bring them onboard with a new strategy. We dedicated a team for that. We have a head of the local champions, and what’s our strategy is
really to bring them in, help them become a global company. We have Katara, Katara
is one of the finest and successful brand for Qatar. For me, I was in Milan a few months ago and I was extremely delighted
to enter a room called Katara. I knew the quality of work they are doing, in London, in the States, in Paris. So Katara would be the new
champion that we are working on, and it’s gonna be (mumbles)
sometimes in the future. Qatar Airways, one of
the successful companies that we should be proud of it. Qatar Airways played a huge
role during the blockade. Maybe people do not realize this. Guys, we’ve moved mountains
during the blockade. Qatar Airways played a big role. Qatar Airways, in the last few months, bought the Italian company, they bought, a couple of weeks ago, a big stake in Cathay Pacific, one of
the prestigious companies. So this is another, champions we are looking to see in the future Also, (speaking foreign
language), is another company that we will work with very closely to create another flagship for Qatar. So this is how QIA will
play a role from now and on for the national companies in Qatar. I hope I answered this question. – [Gerd] Absolutely. If you will allow me,
and if we switch to QIA, could you say something
about the extent to which QIA’s international investment strategy has evolved, has changed
over the past few years, and perhaps also what role it’s played in the current blockade? – Well, QIA, it’s a young entity. It was only, I think, 10, 11 years ago since the creation of QIA, it was 2005. So really, if you think about
it, it’s still a young entity. But it played a huge role
during the 2008, and 9, and 10, during the financial crisis. Again, here comes the
leadership and the strategy. I think the leadership,
well, not I think, I’m sure, the leadership played a huge role by really understanding
what is the issue here. And what they did, they just went and got as much as they could,
grabbing the best companies, blue-chip, in the world,
and bringing it onboard. And they created the base of QIA. Then, 2015, things became different, and the strategy has
to evolve differently. So His Highness Sheikh Abdullah, when he became the chairman of QIA, he started thinking, “Fine, “we went through the accumulation bit, “we did what we could do, but now “let’s do it institutionally.” So what we did, we went
through a proper strategy that the board approved, to
divest from huge positions to reallocate, so that you
manage the portfolio pretty well, diversification in
geography and asset class, all this were part and
parcel of the new strategy, which is working fine. One of them, as I said,
is allocating asset class that it could help, either when the crisis happens, like now, or when there are opportunities
that you would like to grab, and you move your liquidity into places, from one area to another. And I’m sure there will be a question about divestment, which I will answer, and I don’t want to include it in this– – [Gerd] Perhaps you’ve read my mind, because many people will know about QIA because of its international presence, its international
investments, and all these, the big buildings, but
also companies and so on. But you also have very
significant national assets, here. What is the strategy, what
is the thinking about that, are you thinking about
putting it on the market and listing it, or what is the thinking? – Of course, as I said we are now forming, we
did form the strategy for the national assets,
like Katara, Qatar Airways, and QNB, and many more,
QSI, the sport company. So many of them are coming onboard, and we are trying now to
form a strategy for them internally, so that they match
with the strategy of QIA, and how can they implement
our strategy on them. With that, we will be
supporting them financially, we will support them in the organization, human capitals, whatever they want. We’ve been taking at least 10
grand from Qatar Foundation of here, either from here or Carnegie, and we adapt them into our company and with those people,
they should now drive those national assets for the future. We will set the seat for
them, and let them go for it. – [Gerd] And is there
any thought of listing? – Of course, of course. Katara is gonna be one, I’m sure Katara is coming in the pipeline. After that could be the Qatar Airways. We are trying to hold them a bit until they create a good portfolio before they just go into the IPO, because we think that
they will be valued more if they finish their strategy. So those are the two
companies, we see them in the radar, from now until the– – Thank you.
– Medium term, let’s say. – [Gerd] So one final question from me, and then I’m sure you’re all aching to start asking your own questions. In the Sovereign Wealth Fund world, for many years there’s been
this ebb and flow of discussion about transparency, and
all kind of sets of rules, and so I just wondered,
particularly since you’re also on the board of this Sovereign
Wealth Fund institution, what the thinking in Qatar, in QIA is, what the position is that
Qatar is adopting there? – Well, I can’t hide this away from you, yes, we are trying, like
any sovereign wealth fund, they are trying to keep the information as close as possible, because some of them are in the growing mode, some of them are trying to be sustainable and they want just to keep it for awhile until they know what is the future impact. The other thing is, we are adopting the Sovereign Wealth Fund
rules and regulations. Of course, since we came in, I joined them, voluntarily, I said, “I would like to join “so that we can learn from you, “and how can we start
implementing your ideas?” And now we are gradually bringing in more transparency into the system. Also we are, in the COP21, if I am not mistaken,
is happening in Paris, we are gonna come up with a
paper that we are gonna sign with any sovereign wealth
fund that would like to join, so that we can be also supportive, not only in a transparent mode, but also environmentally. Do we really invest in things
that harm the environment, or harms the people, or is it arms, what– So we need to be, to put it into a frame, Sovereign Wealth Fund
should really work on, have the ethics on investment. – [Gerd] Thank you. So, His Excellency has said he’d very much like to organize, moderate the rest of the Q&A himself, so over to you. – [Audience Member] Thank
you, Your Excellency. Very nice slides as well,
you can obviously tell it’s been prepared by the
Ooredoo team, not the QIA team. (laughing) Thank you for your time, very informative. I have two questions, one, I’ll set it up and then I’ll ask, the second
question is straightforward. So the first question is, we say you’re probably one of
the people in the room who knows the most about the contribution of the oil and gas sector
to Qatar’s economy. You know how big the contribution is to the government’s revenue, it’s massive. And we talk a lot about a
knowledge-based economy, we’re trying to move into
a knowledge-based economy, which is great, but what’s the next step that we need to take, is to say, “Right, but what do we mean by that, “what sector exactly are we talking about “when we say knowledge-based economy?” That’s not enough, for me at least, I need to know, in the
next 40, 50, 60, 100 years when oil gets depleted, oil and gas, because it’s a depletable resource, what sector will come in to offset that? What is that sector exactly? And what is, I want to know your opinion, there might not be a
right answer right now, what do you think Qatar has in terms of, do we have a natural
advantage in a certain sector or is there something
that no one else can do that Qatar can capitalize on? So what could be that sector, for example if it’s a technology hub that we want to be in the world, do we need to address it now, and we need to start revamping the system. Even the education
system, the social system, that will yield more programmers, more engineers, IT engineers? So that’s the first question, clear? – Okay.
– Okay. The second question is, I
wanted to know your views on the Bitcoin craze
(Sheikh Abdullah laughs) that everybody’s been on, your kind of serious views, because it’s getting too hot, and I know personally a lot of friends who are getting into this blindly. Yesterday it reached 10,000, we know, and I just checked, it’s 11,000 right now. So you might want to say a few things, and if QIA is actually looking
into cryptocurrency or not. So thank you very much.
– We are looking to stay away from it. (laughs) Please, have a seat. (laughing)
– That’s good to know. – Now look, let me answer
the second question first. Bitcoin, look, what’s happening here, I’m pretty sure it’s speculation. Stay away from it. It’s becoming, now, frightening. The whole world is talking
about what’s going on. You can’t have something, 3,000 and a month later 10,000,
that’s ridiculous. So that smells fishy. If it smells like a duck,
it walks like a duck, it is a duck, so stay
away from it, please. (laughs) That’s number one. Number two, let me tell
you about the Qatar vision on a knowledge-based society. Actually, as I said, it’s four pillars and they all have to work together. And being, as the professor
just mentioned and said, that I am a board member
of the Supreme Council, this is an item on our
agenda every meeting. We talk about social, what we are doing in the social element of it, we are talking about environmental, we talk about the
economy, and every person responsible for that sector
has to put his input, if it is one person or two,
or two entities, or whatever. So everybody has to put their input in it. And then a decision comes, and
the plans come along with it. That’s number one. Number two, when you tell me, “What are we gonna benefit out?” You will benefit a lot. Let me just tell you,
in the technology side, just the technology part of it, if we adopt the technology
side, bit of it, we will save a lot, billions, of money. And each sector you talk
about, let’s talk about, for instance, construction. Instead of having 4,000
or 5,000 in each company that do low labor, with the technology you don’t need all that amount. I’ll tell you a true story, I was in Paris a few months ago, and a
friend of mine called me, he said, “Come and see my apartment.” And I went to see his apartment,
it was still, lots of mess. And I said, “Who’s doing the work?” He said, “Those two people.” And I said, “How come two
people, does all this work?” He said, “Yeah.” And when I looked through the window, which I had to be very
careful not to fall, I saw a small machine, that
it does everything for them, it brings everything up by remote control. And the two is just doing the job. So with technology you
can add a lot into this. Also, when you say, “What is the reserve, “where are the reserves? “We are depleting the
resources, like the oil and gas, “so what are we planning for?” This is actually why QIA’s here. QIA is being made, really,
to be the future generation, as I said in my speech,
it’s one of the elements or it’s the main pillar for our, it is to be for the future generation. His Highness always said
it, and even His Highness the chairman always said, “Look, guys, “by the year 2030, we want
QIA to be self-sustained, “do not take money from the government, “and if is required, the
government requires money “from them, we need the QIA to be stable.” So really, all the resources
that the government puts into QIA has to be invested. Now you tell me, “Do
you invest it wisely?” Well, we have the best,
talented people in the world in QIA, working for us, and we work with institutions
around the world. We are in the move all time, I hardly find my friends in the same
floor with me, to see them. So we are always traveling. We are always meeting companies, partners, funds managers,
and we work with them. We’ve done massive, since 2015 until now, the number that we invested in the last three, four months is huge. And the payback, we see
it, even every year, through dividends, through the divestment
into some of the funds, that is how the investment works. We work in short term,
we work for a long term, and some of the companies
that we own, position on, it’s (mumbles), whatever
happens, that you would like to keep them forever if you can So this is the essence of QIA and the role of QIA, is
really to be the future oil and gas of Qatar, if
I can put it this way. Yes? – [Audience Member] Thank
you, Your Excellency, for your time today, it’s always a
pleasure hearing you speak. I just want to ask a question, I think you’ve successfully
shown Ooredoo Group’s expansion and how the profitability and
revenue was able to increase. But do you believe within the Qatar market is enough scope for two
fully-fledged carriers, and profitability within that, speaking about Vodafone, obviously. And a second question,
just along the lines of the theme of today’s lecture, with the lack of a unified GCC, where do Qatari firms, which markets, since you’re the most
experienced businessperson in this room, which markets
should they be looking for, as in, yesterday there
was the commerce agreement between Iran, Turkey, and Qatar as well, but your personal
recommendation, which markets should Qatari firms be looking for outside of the GCC? – If you ask me a question,
will two companies work in Qatar, yes. Let me just tell you part
of some of the good work we have done because of the competition. We were maybe a bit lazy in the past, but with the competition, we started to work around all those challenges. So I am a believer of
competition, this is for sure. We have a constant dialogue with our peers in Vodafone, and whenever
we have an issue, we take their support, if they have issues like what they had a couple of months ago, we were there to support. So really, when we talk about Qatar here, we are not only talking
about two companies. Yes, challenges are there, we compete, yes, but in the end this is how a market– For Qatar and the absence of GCC, I need to be very careful
here not to cross the line. But I’ll talk about my thinking. I think what we had is
a sort of a wakeup call. I think we were thinking that yes, if we needed something, we can
get it from here and there, if the factories here (mumbles) replicate now let them invest in somewhere else and get the benefit, I think this is a sort of a wakeup call. For us, I think it’s a good, the plan we’ve done since 2015 worked, worked perfectly well, and I
say that with full confidence. And I believe that now the markets, it’s not anymore only the GCC. It has to be, now we have
to look into a bigger scale. We have to look into Asia,
we have to look into Europe. By the way, we were trading with 280 companies, countries
around the world, or 230 around the world, so if
three or four dropped– You understand? Their weight in our balance sheet is what, 15, 16%, so what? This is the message I’m trying to get, I will not go deeper than this. But what I’m saying, we are fine. We are fine, things are
working perfectly well. And there will be more plans to come, and I’m proud to say that, extremely happy of what we’ve done, since
the blockade until today. Especially in the banking system, in the banking system it was simple. You take my money from
here, I bring my money from your banks, and I will put it here. So what, you know, there is always an answer to the question. If they think that they can
inflict damage to Qatar, I think they are mistaken. If we lose one dollar,
they will lose one, simple. I’ll stop here.
– Okay. (laughing) – [Audience Member] Thank
you, Sheikh Abdullah, for your talk. I’m (speaking foreign language), I’m from Carnegie Mellon University. You mentioned how QIA
injected billions of dollars into Qatari banking
sector after the blockade to mitigate liquidity issues. But if we go back a year
and a half or two years ago, after the oil crisis,
the Ministry of Finance decided against calling on QIA, and actually borrowed
money to fill the deficit. Two questions. First, what was the
difference this time around? And second, how does this impact QIA’s longterm investment
strategy, moving forward? – I think you’re
referring back to the bond that Qatar raised during that period. That’s nothing to do with the QIA. QIA, in the meantime, while you’re saying that they went and borrowed, it’s just part of the
equation, in the economy, that they have to, with
the oil prices dropped to around, what, from
120 to about 40 or so, they needed to raise
capital, fine with them. But for us as QIA, we kept investing, 2015, 2016, 2017, today. Today, this morning at 11:00, we signed a big check for a deal. Two weeks ago, we signed
one of the biggest checks we’ve done in the last two years. As I said, you may not hear about it. Our work continues, nothing to do with the Minister of Finance. Minister of Finance, whenever
he has excess of money he say, “Okay, you take
it, you invest it.” Whenever he thinks that
he needed the money, he will keep it for himself,
but I will keep going. I have my own resources. I am always investing, and divesting, and changing my strategy, and as a fund manager, this is my role. My role is to capture the opportunities. Maybe sometimes you hear that QIA divested from, let’s say, Tiffany, this is the one that came on the news
a month and a half ago. Would it come into your mind that I have 13%, if I go 3%,
that’s because of blockade? Nonsense, this is part of my
management of the portfolio. If I was in need of cash, it was at its highest in
the last six years, Tiffany. I could have sold it all,
if I was in need of money. But it wasn’t, I needed just to divest and bring the portfolio to its limit. I should not overshoot my limit, or the limits has been set by the board. So this is part of the investment. We sell, we buy. And people, sometimes they think that, “Well, with the blockade, don’t sell, “because we don’t want to go in the media “because they say, ‘They are selling “because they are in need of cash.'” I am against that. This is part of the business that we do, under the blockade or without it. So no, we are not in need
of cash from the government. If they want to stop for some reason, for projects of the 2022 or whatever, we still can go, we have
enough to continue our work. As I said, this morning only,
we’ve done remarkably well in one of the investments we decided on. – [Audience Member] I know
there’s still plenty of– – We’ve been trying for almost a month on that and it worked. I think, in the back? – [Gerd] We should probably
make this the final question, ’cause I know you’ve been
standing on your feet for a long time now, and it’s– (crosstalk drowns out speakers) over time. – I am all yours today.
– But perhaps– There was one, yes,
(speaking foreign language) Maybe if you could both ask
your questions very briefly, and then His Excellency– – (speaking foreign language) Please. – [Audience Member] So my
question is, how did QIA help the (mumbles) blockade move as smoothly as possible
and as silently as possible? – As I said, most of
our business is silent. We are in a silent mode,
we do not– (laughs) We played a big role, we as
QIA and Qatar Central Bank. I must say that he did remarkably well. – [Audience Member] (speaking off mic) – Let me say that nobody
needed our intervention except the banking system. And as I said in the beginning, as a blockade itself, you
did not notice anything, so you know, tried to
eliminate all those issues earlier on, from 2015. We worked around all scenarios. So you did not really feel the blockade as a feel of the blockade. But us, as QIA, we really
helped our companies, our national companies here in Qatar, I want to live them down, so we did, and the central bank did the
(speaking foreign language). I must say to him, “Thank
you,” for what he did. And we are both in support of the market. But we did a pretty good job. – [Audience Member]
(speaking foreign language) Thank you, (speaking foreign language), for this excellent presentation. I have one question. This has been touched on
previously, regarding transparency. Don’t you think having
more disclosure from QIA and more public scrutiny
on the management of assets will help QIA have a better
performance in the future? Also, you mentioned compliance
to the Santiago principles, just a few minutes
earlier, so don’t you think more compliance to the Santiago principles will also help us in
better managing our fund? – Absolutely. By the way, the board
is not keeping quiet. They are really putting us under pressure, so don’t think that we
are the decision-maker, no one is really, how they say, a check on us, what we
do and what we don’t do. We have one of the big
four that really comes in and check our performance,
check our documents and if it is according to the
international standard or not. So we are, the moment they
tell us, “Be more open,” we are ready, from day one. Our documentation is there,
we are in the program. As I said, we are a young
entity, ten years ago, so the first five, six, seven years was the buildup of the institution. So people are not really thinking of, “What is Santiago
Principle,” or “What is the “rules and regulation on
investment,” “What is partnership?” It was more or less just,
acquire as much as you could, pile as much as you could,
take the opportunity of the market crisis, and the financial. So after that, as I
said, from 2015 and 14, the idea came up, “Okay, now, “we have a big portfolio,
how do we carry on? “Are we just gonna pile more and more, “or it’s gonna be through
a proper way of thinking,” in the investment side,
the scrutiny of investment and at what bases you go, and invest in what sectors, what are the sectors that has the growth, what sector does not, all this. It is part of the daily work we do. I must tell you, I see some of QIA, some of them are head of the portfolios if I am not mistaken. So they do a lot of work to
keep balancing their portfolio, divesting, investing, and
they have a benchmark. At the end of the year, like now, I think, in the next one month or two, they will come and say,
“What’s our performance, “what did we do?” So they know what’s their benchmark, they know what (mumbles)
they have to reach. It’s very simple, it’s one plus one. No female question? Okay, you. (speaking foreign language) – [Audience Member] First
of all, Your Excellency, I would like to thank you
for a great presentation. My question was a follow-up, actually, to the first question regarding how we see QIA as our country’s
tool to be independent from the oil and gas sector, if you wish. And so my question is, specifically, when do we see that happening and how close are we to
achieving this kind of vision? Because just like the
gentleman said earlier, it is a source that
will perish eventually. So when do we see this
kind of thing happening and how does QIA currently
see itself in this progress, what kind of progress have we made? – Thank you so much. First of all, I must apologize
for diverting you a bit from QIA into Ooredoo in the lecture. And the reason was, as I
said, I was in London when I got the call that (speaking
foreign language) was here. I knew that he just took the floor from me and he gave all the
information you needed, and why I should come here
and talk about the same thing? So I had, seriously, I used
the flight back from London to just scrip around the lecture, and my team kept calling me,
“When you are gonna stop?” This morning, this actual morning at 7:00, I was changing some parts of it. I wanted to look more for you guys who was gonna graduate next
year, what does success mean, what should you plan for your future and your career, and for your life. And I just wanted to
touch base on true stories that I lived, in all my career, as a lesson, really, for some of you. For answering your question, as I said, we have a mandate from His Highness, from the first day he told
me, “You take charge,” and the new board came in
and I sat with the board and we met with His Highness, and he said, “Look, 2030 is your deadline. “Now, what I want you to do is to put 2030 “and work your way down, and tell me, “will you be able to do it or not? “If you are able to do it,
fine, go ahead and do it. “If you are not able to do it, tell me why “and what is the resources that you need, “so that we can make 2030 a reality.” So we went, I think, took
us three, four months, it wasn’t a simple job, and we used all the resources internally, we did not bring anyone from outside because he wanted the people who live the exercise, the work, every day. They should put the strategy, they should honor it, and own it, and manage it. So we said, “Okay, guys, it’s 2030.” So this is 2030, we want
it to be, the oil and gas. So what is the revenue from oil and gas? So we just matched it, and we said, “Okay, let’s go downward. “Can we make it from today, 2015?” Then after a strategy,
we came up with the ideas and we said, “We need to
fill gaps here and there, “we need quality of
people, of that caliber “to come and fit here and there,” and that’s what we did, from day one. We went to the market,
brought the finest people and I can tell you, I can bet on it also, we brought the finest
people in the company and they are working
with us perfectly well, the numbers and the
results speak for itself. And I am proud to be a member of QIA, as much as proud to be
a chairman of Ooredoo. – Your Excellency, thank
you very, very much. I know there will be more questions, but– Oh, no, do you– You did ask for a female question. (laughing)
– I did. I shouldn’t have said something– (laughter drowns out speaker) – [Audience Member] I
apologize, I just didn’t want the opportunity to go. Thank you so much, Your Excellency, for a very inspirational,
very motivational talk. With that being said,
I understand you played a very pivotal role with the World Bank, and I was hoping you could
expand on your experience with women and children in the
development field in general. – Do you have time until the morning? (laughing) I can talk from here until the morning. Look, there are so many
things we are proud we’ve done, especially in Ooredoo. Working around the 17 United Nations sustainable development
goals, that was an initiative. Really we worked very hard on it, as a board and as a management. And I don’t want, really,
to take the credit myself. Dr Nasser, he’s a board member and he was the group CEO,
he did most of the work. Please do not think that it’s my job, it’s not a one-man show. It is the team that worked around all the success of
Ooredoo, through the years. We’ve done so much. I spoke about the gender divide in Iraq, but let me tell you a few stories here. I remember some of the
villages in Indonesia, they don’t have Internet access. Some of them, they can’t even charge their own mobile, to keep communicating. Some of the villages do
not have even a pharmacy because of the medicine, there’s no refrigerators for medicine. So for us, as Ooredoo,
those are one of the areas we played a big role, by
enhancing our mobile stations, by having sockets for people
to come and charge it, a refrigerator, for
someone to be in charge of those medicine for the village. Also in the banking sector, we told them, “Look, we will give you scratchcard. “And those scratchcard, you
sell it between yourselves.” It’s good for me, because
they provide money for me, but in the same time, keeps them working and they generate better money. A story of one lady in one
of the villages in Indonesia, she actually started
working on a scratchcard, then she said, “Look, guys, “could you introduce me to Internet?” So the team introduced
her to Internet, iPad, and then she started asking,
“Can I work with the families, “because they have
relatives in the Middle East “or somewhere, and they
would like to transfer money. “Could we do through the, mobile money?” And by a year or so, she became a bank. She started to be the
bank of that village, working for her family. That’s one. I remember in Indonesia
also, for the farmers, what happens that traders come in and they buy their products,
they pay them peanuts. So people do not know, outside world, how these commodities is being sold. So for us was to go and develop an application for those farmers. Those applications tell them
what is the product’s value in the market, how much they sell it, what is the market in
neighboring countries, in other markets. So they started to work
around this device, and this device created
a new life for them. For them, it’s a better revenue and also the revenue that they deserve, not when they used to be
ripped for their work. The other thing is, the last one. I’m not gonna, because I can go on and on, I have a list of them, I had
to delete them from the– One of the areas that we have done is with the Cherie Blair Foundation. She is the wife of the previous
Prime Minister of England. What we started to do is really, there are so many ladies in Indonesia that they do a lot of
work and craft, dress, and they are in the villages, they do not know how to sell it. So what we tried to do is to again, create an application for them, and tried to show them where
they can sell their products. And not only that, but also,
we created an area for them where they can come in if
they are willing to come, they can leave their villages and come and work, and sell their
products from that area. And I remember, we went
and opened that facility and I can tell you, there
are almost 200 shops I saw myself. And every time we do something
like that and we walk out, really, we just feel the
satisfaction that you feel, it’s not how much customers you have or how much money you got
in the end of the year. It’s how effective you
were in the community, and is the community
appreciating it or not. And I can tell you, Indosat in Indonesia or Ooredoo in Myanmar, or
if you think about Algeria and Ooredoo Algeria, Tunisia,
wherever you go, Maldives, they just think that this is a company that they would love to
attach themselves with it. I remember in Maldives, I was in the boat going from the resort,
going to do the listing, where you go and knock the bell and you are listed in the market. And he doesn’t know, who am I. And we were talking with
him, and he started ringing, I said, “What network you are using?” He said, “Ooredoo.” I said, “Why do you use Ooredoo?” He said, “Very helpful
to us, in the community, “in our village, either in the
health, or education, or–” So this makes you feel
proud, that this guy is not buying the service
just because it’s a service but he feels attached to this company. And this is when you really
feel proud of yourself. Last question, young fellow
here, you would like to– He’s a future Georgetown student. (laughs) – [Audience Member] Thank
you, Your Excellency. I want to ask you one question. Did you face problems
when you wanted to change the name of Qtel to Ooredoo? (laughing) – Okay, thank you. (laughs) Actually it is, changing
the name of Qatar Telecom or Qtel, sort of a very cross to any person’s heart,
especially the Qataris. And they believe, “Why
do you change the name “into a name that might
not be relevant to us, “and how dare you take
a Qatar name from Qtel. “It’s a brand by itself.” It’s fine, if you are
working here in Qatar, let’s say you are working
in neighboring countries here, where we know each
other and we are a family. But when you think globally,
you just can’t say, “I am Qatar Telecom,” and you
are, let’s say, in Tunisia or in Myanmar, or in Kuwait. And also, unifying a brand gives you more strength, more
muscles, really, to compete. Changing the name, or the
brand, it was a huge exercise. I remember we went through list of names, and I don’t know if I
should say it or not, but I remember, when we
shortlisted the three names I went to His Highness
the father Sheikh Hamad and I always feel grateful to this man. I went to see him, and I said to him, “Your Highness, I’m thinking
of changing the brand.” “It was three years ago
you changed the brand.” I said, “No, no, I changed the logo. “I am now changing the whole brand, “it’s a completely different story.” Because you know, he
opened, actually, the night. He came in and helped us in really, get that brand out. But then he said, “What are the names?” I told him, and I started from scratch, showing him what we were thinking, and I didn’t see him comfortable. I showed him so many names, so many ideas, so many logos, and then he looked at me just halfway through, and he said, “Why do you think of a logo and a brand, “why don’t you think
of just one thing that, “like if a kid see the M, it is McDonald. “If you see only the M,
anywhere, you know it’s McDonald. “So you need a brand that is just, “talk about it, talk about self, “you don’t need a brand and a logo.” So I said to him, “You are
stealing the thing away from me, “but let me just go ahead
and continue,” you know. So as we came into the last
page, it was three names, and I can say them now, it was Oola, which is double-O-L-A, if I am not mistaken, Dr Nasser, and Ooredoo, and I can’t
remember the third one, and His Highness just pointed
his finger on Ooredoo. I looked at him, I said to him, “Your Highness, this is a big move. “I’m favoring Oola.” He said, “No, no, no, no, it is Ooredoo.” I said, “Okay,” so he said,
“When are you gonna launch?” I said, “It’s gonna be after six months, “in Barcelona, at the GSMA,” because I’m mean, I don’t
want to pay a lot of money, I said, “I will use,” (laughs) “I will use the venue as
a promotion for the name “and we will capture all the world there.” He said, “Fine, go ahead.” So I went back to my friends here, we were only four people who
knew the name, no one knew. So I went and sat with Dr Nasser, he said to me, “No, no, no,
we can’t go for Ooredoo, “come on, it’s big, it’s a bold move.” (laughing)
I said to him, “Well, this is the
decision of His Highness.” So I just took, I swear, I swear to God, I just took the whole thing in a big bag and I just put it in my office, and I kept it for a year and a half. Halfway, after six months,
His Highness told me, he said, “When is Barcelona?” I said, “It’s next year.” He said, “No, no, you told
me, after three months “or four months, and you will launch.” I said, “Your Highness,
I didn’t have the guts “to go ahead and do it,
let’s think about it.” He said, “You go and do Ooredoo.” (laughing)
So I called Dr Nasser and I said, “Okay, it is
Ooredoo, it is next year “at Barcelona, so let’s plan for it.” So we had the plan, and
we went and launched it and since then, everyone
kept criticizing me for the first year or so, everyone is complaining, even my family. They said, “This is the
worst name you’ve chosen.” But now, everyone likes it and even my family now, they said, “You had a vision before, more than us.” So thank you so much, guys. (applause) – Your Excellency, thank you again. I know you don’t need anything
to remember Georgetown by, but we just had produced a
new thing to remember us by and insisted on giving it to you. – Thank you so much.
– Thank you very much. – Thank you.
(applause)

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