Qatar Economic Forum, powered by Bloomberg
Cow Level goes to Qatar Economic Forum.
Boris & Stefan were invited by Bloomberg to the Economic Forum in Qatar. There were exciting topics, first of all: the exploding inflation, supply chain, energy, security and keeping the peace in a VUCA world. In addition, on the third day there was a focus on: Culture, travel and change in tourism.
The first day was all about football and the World Cup.
We were visiting the AL-Thumama Stadium and were allowed to “walk” into the players’ cabins and out of the players’ walkway into the stadium. The stadiums are a highlight and it is almost unbelievable that even in the midday sun on the playing field the temperatures are optimal.
That was goosebumps and we are looking forward to the games of the World Cup in Qatar.
The second day started with an opening address by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the whole organizing team. We rarely had the opportunity to experience such well-organized events.
We continued with a very good conversation between John Micklethwait and Irakli Garibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia. The open way in which the topic of Russia/Ukraine was discussed was very enlightening.
Then the topic of “Energy for all” came into focus. Francine Lacqua discussed with her guests Darren Woods (Chairman & CEO Exxon Mobil Corporation), Shaikh Nawaf Saud Al-Sabah (Deputy Chairman & CEO Kuwait Petroleum Corporation), Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi (Minister of State for Energy Affairs | State of Qatar President & CEO of QatarEnergy) how energy security could look like in the future.
Elon Musk (Technoking, Tesla) and Session Two “Rethinking Globalization” followed — unfortunately we missed it. For us, it was off to our hotel room, as SICTIC’s first Deep Dive meeting with us was taking place. As former traders in the financial market, we would have particularly liked to follow the topic “The new reality for financial markets” closely. We were sure the exciting guests Ghanem Al Ghenaiman (Managing Director Kuwait Investment Authority), Jenny Johnson (President & CEO Franklin Templeton) and Tidjane Thiam (Executive Chairman Freedom Acquisition Corp. 1 and former CEO CreditSuisse) certainly had some exciting insights to share.
On the other hand, our Deep Dive Session was successful and it was exciting what questions have been asked.
Session Three was about the new Energy Paradigm and Questions: e.g., is Africa the new rising star in the energy sector and how can the Transition to green and a more sustainable Energy be done were raised.
Russell Hardy (Group CEO Vitol), Tewodros Ashenafi (Chairman & CEO Southwest Holdings), Jennifer Comalie (Chairperson National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia), Bill Winters (Group Chief Executive Standard Chartered) and Darius Adamczyk (CEO Honeywell) gave perspectives on a complex market that is politically driven and determined by global trade. Many different interests, as well as embargoes and sanctions, make the market so difficult, interesting and desirable.
Session Four topic “where to invest right now” and was not an investment recommendation a la youtube: buy this or that stock and you have a 10 bagger in 14 days.
It is about the shift change of products, jobs and markets towards greener, more sustainable and more stable economic and how this can be achieved.
The conversation with Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Maait, (Minister of Finance, Arab Republic of Egypt) and Ali bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, (Minister of Finance, State of Qatar) was moderated by Simone Foxman, (Bloomberg).
At the networking lunch, the topics of inflation and risks/opportunities of the new world were discussed. Of course, the topic of gaming and metaverse also came up in the conversations between Boris, Stefan and their interlocutors. Interesting the different views on how the metaverse could look like and how it will influence humanity, companies and markets.
After lunch the forum continued with two conversations, Kassym-Jomart K. Tokayev, (President of the Republic of Kazakhstan) talks with Manus Cranny (Bloomberg) and Francine Lacqua talks with Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, (CEO, Qatar Investment Authority) about Qatar’s economic diversification push, the QIA has vowed to direct more investments into Asia and the U.S. following years of substantial investment in Europe. Francine spoke with the CEO on his investment strategy and his plans to diversify and ensure the future prosperity of Qatar.
Nouriel Roubini, (Chairman & CEO, Roubini Macro Associates) discusses with Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al-Thani, (Governor, Qatar Central Bank) and Stephanie Flanders, (Bloomberg) what are the reasons for the high inflation. Gas prices have surged by the most in nearly two decades and the cost of food is keeping pace, foreshadowing political and humanitarian crises worldwide. We got the latest insides from both experts.
Session Five was about the future of Africa.
We were able to listen to two exciting talks with the presidents of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and the president of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé. It was terrible to hear what impact the lack of Ukrainian food, the drought and climate change, as well as the rising prices are already having on the two countries.
The second day was rounded off by a gala dinner of the finest and the insight and outlook of Steven T. Mnuchin, (US Secretary of the Treasury). The conversations at the tables had a wide range, as did the people sitting at them.
Day Three kicked off with a roundtable on “Sports and Tourism: A Win-Win for National Growth?”
A distinguished panel discussed Berthold Trenkel, (COO, Qatar Tourism), Gregor Irwin, (Global Group Director and Chief Economist, Global Counsel), Ibtihaj Muhammad, (Olympic Medalist, Entrepreneur and NY Times Best-Selling Author), Jeffrey Goh, (CEO, Star Alliance), Kojo Annan, (Principal, Vector Global), Nasser Fahad Al Khater, (Chief Executive Officer, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC), Sandrine Nzeukou, (Cofounder and Managing Partner, Tessa) and Simone Foxman, (Bloomberg) on mega sports events, infrastructure, branding and how to sustainably incorporate such events positively into national strategies. We were pleased that our topic esport/metaverse/gaming came up but would have liked to hear more in-depth thoughts and opinions from the participants.
Session Six brought the topic of “Food Security in Peril” to the agenda.
The panel consisting of Chris Cleverly, (President, Tingo), Erez Galonska, (Founder & CEO, Infarm), Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser, (Chairman, Islamic Development Bank Group) and Jennifer Zabasajja,(Bloomberg) spoke about the hunger and how the war in Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe, has only made the situation more drastic. The group spoke about the crisis in food security and raised the question: Can new technologies and increased funding help avert the potential catastrophe? and How can we identify what we’ll eat in a bigger, hotter and smarter world.
To deepen this topic, a conversation between Amina J. Mohammed, (Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations) and Zain Verjee, (Host, Qatar Economic Forum) followed. If there is one thing we could take away, it is that today we have a global food management that has become very fragile due to many influences and raises the question: How can we ensure the well-being of humanity. We liked that none of the questions were about further, higher, faster, but about how we can ensure basic needs and do so sustainably.
Session Seven was all about “Travel Re-imagined” post-Covid.
Anthony Capuano, (CEO, Marriott International) spoke with Scarlet Fu, (Bloomberg) about Marriott now offering extended housing options. Especially for technology nomads and for flexible work this would be important and strengthen customer loyalty. The needs from a hotel to a hotel + workplace + leisure time poses new challenges for the hotel industry.
Sébastien Bazin, (Chairman & CEO, Accor) added and showed how the situation had improved post-Covid and they were on a stable path back to a “new normal”, but this is now threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Higher energy prices and global instability are not helping the recovery.
Jane Sun, (CEO, Trip.com Group) shared her outlook for Chinese tourism and how this is affecting the global market as China millions of tourists still at home due to Covid.
Aviation executives Akbar Al-Baker, (Group CEO, Qatar Airways), David L. Calhoun, (President & CEO, The Boeing Company) and Luis Gallego, (CEO, International Airlines Group) explained how they are meeting the challenges of high passenger volatility, rising inflation and soaring energy prices. New solutions for fuel-optimized engines are not so easy to implement, as aircraft are longlasting durable goods and only needs to be replaced every 50–60 years.
The topic remains very exciting and challenging.
Next, in Session Eight, Herbert Diess, (CEO, Volkswagen AG) explained to us what his strategy for vehicles on the ground looks like. The trend is clearly moving from buying a car to leasing and from fossil fueld cars towards electric vehicles. Volkswagen is well positioned and brings with the revival of the VW Bulli an electric “Schmankerl”.
Jennifer Zabasajja, (Bloomberg) spoke with Hage Geingob, (President of the Republic of Namibia) about whether and how the energy transition can help Africa become an energy superpower. Furthermore, how the increasing inequality in resources and wealth threatens our society. It is interesting to us that the G7 is focusing on Africa this weekend. A cooperation on the topic of energy (hydrogen, renewable energies) and how this can be developed into a win-win situation and not at the expense of one or the other, but in partnership. If these words are followed by real actions, this would be a huge step forward in our opinion.
Session Nine was all about “The New Consumer” and we were surprised that Metaverse, Esports and Gaming didn’t play the decisive role ;-)
Kicking things off were Michael Ward, (Managing Director, Harrods) and Francine Lacqua, (Bloomberg) who wore a super-hot sophisticated shoes. Michael gave insights into the luxury world of Harrods, which were amazing, as Harrods does not advertise this type of services.
Next was Thomas Nørøxe, (CEO, Joe and the Juice) who told us the story behind their success — juice, wellbeing and music, a get-together place like Starbucks with healthy juice.
Hussain Sajwani, (Chairman, DAMAC Properties) told us where the smart money is going. Where he sees opportunities in real estate and how the structural shift in the way we live and work still attracts capital.
Session Ten`s focus was Africa and the World and kicked off with Monica Geingos, (First Lady, Republic of Namibia). She gave us an update where Africa stands now and where it might heading. Vimal Shah, Chairman, (BIDCO Africa), Mohammed Dewji, (CEO & President, MeTL Group), Mo Abudu, (CEO, EbonyLife Group) added to it that young minds and talents are ready to power Africa towards regaining its place as the birth of humanity. The question remained how can we unlock this potential? Energy, fashion, tourism, education and sports are some of the keys to do so.
At the Network Lunch we deep dived more into the financial possibilities at Qatar, talking to an investor about Cow Level AG and the future of gaming.
And baaaaaam then it came in Session Eleven Chatri Sityodtong, (Founder, Chairman & CEO, ONE Championship) told the success story of his company, how they will be the largest brand in martial arts and naturally that gaming is already part of the Asian culture and that he is seeing a big potential in combining One with gaming. A truly great character with a clear mission in mind: to unleash real-life superheroes, tell stories, celebrate values, ignite dreams, inspire nations, and change the world through martial arts and gaming.
As a passionate biker I was curious about the news Carmelo Ezpeleta, (CEO, Dorna Sports) about the MotoGP. Main topic was sustainability in racing, experiments with new fuel, materials and e-bikes.
Three highlights were lifted to the end, first Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, (Chairperson, Qatar Museums, Doha Film Institute, Reach Out to Asia, and Qatar Leadership Centre) started off with very interesting insides about Qatar culture, how young artists get supported and the idea behind the Qatar museums. She was able to visualize the idea so good that we went to the National Museum the coming day and were impressed by the architecture and by the content inside — a tip if you are going to see the World Cup, take one day more to visit the museum.
Second Hassan Al-Thawadi, (Secretary General at Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, State of Qatar) explained how the World Cup will be delivered, what is still missing and what to expect. We had the feeling 1) whatever happens you are in best hands and 2) the welcome mentality is fantastic and you will enjoy a great time.
And the last highlight was FIFA President Gianni Infantino with an outlook on the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. We are counting the days to see exciting games.
We say goodbye Qatar — and see you soon
We would like to thank:
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatar & Bloomberg Team for this great event
Thinzar from Bloomberg for helping us organizing our trip and make it happen
and the welcoming people of Qatar to make our visit so pleasant
Ritz Carlton Hotel for the location, hospitality, security and great food