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Tech, innovation must become 'popular culture' to thrive: Expert – The Peninsula

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Nayef Al Ibrahim, Founding Partner and CEO of Ibetechar

Doha: Technology and innovation need to become popular culture post-FIFA World Cup 2022 for Qatar to build a robust ecosystem, said Nayef Al Ibrahim, Founding Partner and CEO of Ibetechar. 
Qatar offers a huge opportunity for investment in the technology sector. The Qatar Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) Strategy 2030 aims to enhance the nation’s resilience and prosperity by leveraging its world-class facilities, assets and capabilities to usher in a new era and legacy through its RDI agenda.
Speaking on the sidelines of a media roundtable on “Delivering Innovation Through 2022 — World Cup,” organised by Ibtechar, Al Ibrahim said, “We strongly believe in the idea of having a robust innovation ecosystem. The people and stakeholders behind that system must be as strong as the ecosystem itself. I think it’s essential to have such discussions, bringing stories and networking. 
“These discussions will keep people up to the momentum, create exposure to such a topic, and make it ‘popular culture.’ Today in Qatar, everybody talks about sport and soccer because it has become popular culture, but it took 15 years to focus on that specific topic.”
According to Al Ibrahim, there would be a considerable emphasis on the overall infrastructure built for the tournament after the World Cup. 
“That sets the whole nation on a stage, and it’s about becoming much more innovative. So having this kind of dialogue will make it popular culture, and it will attract the right people with the right mindset with the right interest to contribute and shape that ecosystem,” he added.
According to a report by UK-based data analytics consultancy Global Data, ICT spending in Qatar will expand by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2 percent between 2019 and 2024 to reach $9bn. While other data estimates, the combined Middle East market size for technology and innovation is roughly $125 billion.
With the expanding growth plans across all sectors by emphasising economic diversification in line with Qatar National Vision 2030, Qatar aims to continue on this path with aspirations to become a regional and global sports hub and fintech hub and drive sustainable growth without total dominance on hydrocarbon. The Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH), Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC), Qatar SportsTech (QST) and enabling gaming and eSports opportunities are among many initiatives and platforms promoting this agenda.
“I think there is this general trend towards tech that goes between coding, computer engineering, computer science, cybersecurity and mechatronics. So there has been this introduction of these new different topics. As a byproduct, we believe people who will gain that kind of skills and tools might work anywhere beyond the oil and gas sector,” Al Ibrahim noted, adding there’ll be a gradual organic shift in people’s interest from hydrocarbon to technology.

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