30 October 2018 Tagged: qatartravel

OK, I’ve been here 25 days now and I have an opinion about where things stand.

The Necessary Minimum

I don’t know much about business but it seems to me that at least 2 things must be present.

  1. A viable business structure that can be maintained

  2. Customers who will pay for your product or service

If you don’t have both, I don’t think it can work. Below is how I grade Qatar as a place for starting a foreign computer business.

Business Structure

A 51% Qatari owner is required for any business here. Both loopholes in that rule effectively place your company under the regulation of a government agency. No matter how you slice it, some local can shut you down if they feel like it. You have no recourse.

In practice they don’t think things through before getting involved and then pull out when the business faces some difficulty.

As majority owner they typically use their power create and fill senior management positions when a company is successful. These managers are not chosen for their competence.

My opinion is that there is no basis to expect a good partner and therefore a good business structure without having first run numerous companies here and taken the years to develop your own local wot. After that, perhaps you can rely on good partner availability. Before then, I don’t think you could get a good partner other than through sheer luck.

Customers

I’ll consider computer services and products separately.

Computer Services

Services looks like a losing game here. Tech work a commodity. Partially because they hate to pay extra for something that doesn’t show immediate value. So they don’t want something better ahead of time, but would rather have what is cheapest and then clean up the mess later.

They are also a commodity because of the racial views they hold. Tech work is for Indians and Egyptians and none other. And not only that but it’s a low class job suitable for low paid workers only. If you are a westerner in tech work you are expected to be a manager over Indians. If you don’t have a way to get Indians cheaper or a way to work them harder then you are kind of useless. If you do tech work yourself, you might as well be a shoe shine boy for all the credibility it will earn you. Your Qatari business sponsor will not have a high opinion of your chances of success.

As a commodity, the market here isn’t interested in differentiation. They don’t want the organic flour ground in small batches. They want all the flour to be the same so they can pick the cheapest. It’s a race to the bottom. That’s not a race I want to join.

Computer Products

In theory products could work here. There’s certainly a better chance for them than for services. They like to buy things they can physically touch. One problem is that they don’t want to pay extra for something that is not obviously better. It can’t be abstractly better. A more fuel efficient car or power efficient computer is not better. TRNG is not better than whitening. Longer battery life is not better. Safety from side channel attacks is not better.

They are not sophisticated customers here. They don’t get nuance. Things that would appeal to a mass market would probably have just as much chance to catch on here as anywhere. If there is something that could be made here and exported to a foreign market. I think that would be appealing them. "Made in Qatar" appears on very few things. But it’s hard to imagine them hanging in there while a market is found or developed. You’d probably need to demonstrate a market ready to buy.

Conclusion

I could keep turning over rocks here. Maybe I find a surprise or get lucky or maybe I’ve missed some important details.

But I’m of the opinion that they are not ready to contribute to or be consumers of any serious computer work.


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