Day 5 – Qatar Science and Technology Park, Aspire Academy, iHorizons (People Dynamics), LafargeHolcim

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Our final day of company visits led us again to Qatar Foundation and the impressive Education City campus. At the first stop, Qatar Science & Technology Park, we were first welcomed with a rich buffet of snacks, juices and much-needed coffee at the Innovation Center. A short introduction explained us that QSTP is by their definition is a free zone, technology incubator / accelerator and facilitator of applied research. Members of this free zone include Siemens, Microsoft, Cisco, ExxonMobil, GE, Shell, Rolls-Royce and many more. The main objective of QSTP is again to help achieve the 2030 Qatar National Vision.

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After another short coffee break, we got the chance to get a closer look at ExxonMobil’s research facility at QSTP. The primary aim of the research center is to enhance the development of the local community and its environment. A tour introduced us to their three programs, namely Geology, Environmental Management Program and Safety. In the end, we received some generous company gifts. Among them were Bluetooth speakers that made for musical entertainment on the bus.

On our second stop in the morning we visited Aspire Academy – an independent government-funded agency that provides sports training and education to students with athletic potential. Currently, it hosts over 200 students in different disciplines such as football, athletics, swimming and many more. Our highlight was the visit of the largest indoor football pitch in the world. On its side is also one of the largest football stadiums in Qatar up to date. However, it is currently under reconstruction in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

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After a very short lunch break at the Villaggio Mall, our two bus drivers took us back to the hotel where we already had our next company presentation. The CEO of iHorizons Group, Mr. Mohamed Takriti, awaited us and briefly introduced the many fields they are active in. Afterwards, the CEO of one of the group partner’s called “People Dynamics” gave us interesting insights into their business. The company is, in comparison to all the firms we visited throughout the week, rather small but deals with a very crucial issue: managing people in the fast-changing Doha area. The firm provides HR Consulting, HR Managed Services and Recruitment. Two key points out of the presentation are the challenges of “Qatarization” and the value behind expatriation in Qatar, which is to develop and transfer knowledge to Qatari nationals for the future. The presentation ended with a very interesting and open discussion round where we were able to ask all of our questions concerning the local labor market.

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The day ended with a presentation of LafargeHolcim. General manager Urs Straub introduced us to the subsidiary Al Jabor Cement Industries Company, the recent merger of Lafarge and Holcim and the Middle East region. The key learning from the presentation was the fierce competition in the cement business in Qatar, where the government subsidizes the local cement industry. Hence, doing business as an international company is merely profitable in niche markets.

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In the evening, we went to the Museum of Islamic Arts where we got a deeper insight to the Islamic history and culture. Professor Khaldoun shared his knowledge of Islamic arts with us students which enabled us to get a better understanding how people used to live in the Middle East hundreds of years ago. To end the evening, professor Khaldoun introduced us to Syrian cuisine in the restaurant Damasca at Souq Waqif.

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