QATAR - Economy
Chairman, Clairra Group
Saad Sultan Al Hajiri holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and social science from Portland University in the US. In 2014, he co-founded Clairra Group, bringing with him over 20 years’ invaluable experience. He spent the prior 20 years holding several domestic and international executive positions in government and semi-government sectors in Qatar.
What were the main highlights for Clairra Group in 2020?
SAAD SULTAN AL HAJIRI In 2020, our foodstuff division was at its peak, such as introducing and bringing in a variety of new products, ranging from frozen, fresh, chilled, and dry products from Europe, the US, Turkey, and other countries. This was in line with our vision of becoming the prime distributors and suppliers of food products and dominating the food industry (from catering, QSR, and HORECA) and also be in a position to meet the needs of a more demanding consumer. We also partnered with companies from the EU under an exclusivity agreement to be the sole distributor of their products in the local Qatari market. In our real estate division, we provide worker accommodations and have increased our properties such as acquiring more staff accommodation and government-approved land.
What is your assessment of the current situation of the food security program, and how are you contributing?
SSAH Qatar has experienced a tremendous evolution in food security and food system sustainability as a result of challenges such as the blockade and COVID-19, which has truly shaped food-related trends. To ensure long-term food security for its population, Qatar has implemented various policies and strategies envisioned in Qatar National Vision 2030, in which private sectors such as Clairra plays a prominent role in diversifying the market with quality products and services to foster the transition toward sustainable food distribution, consumption, and production in Qatar.
Why is Qatar so resilient when it comes to shocks such as the blockade and the current pandemic?
SSAH The blockade was a blessing in disguise for Qatar, spurring a shift to self-reliance that gave rise to local manufacturers of variety of food products that were not there previously. In less than three years, our government has supported through swift response in addressing the emerging challenges while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Qatar population.
SULAIMAN PALAPATTA By 2019, Qatari’s economy had effectively dealt with the shocks from the blockade and oil price drop, and when COVID-19 struck, Qatar was already resilient and highly self-sustainable, thanks to the Qatari government that had successfully bridged the shortfall in domestic agricultural production, by supporting local production, which ensured the availability of food that was affordable, safe, and of the best quality to sustain its growing and more affluent population.
How do you see the real estate market evolving in light of the 2022 FIFA World Cup?
SSAH Real estate is a new priority for us, and there is no doubt that the 2022 FIFA World Cup, estimated to draw more than 1.5 million fans, has created the perfect momentum in the country. This major influx of tourists will likely result in Qatar investing more in real estate. We have laid the foundation for our real estate business in the last few years and are now acquiring properties and accommodations for workers, who play a vital role in the development of the World Cup project. We have plans for the entire project cycle, from inception to delivery and legacy. We seek to do our best to provide all that we can in terms of accommodation in the high-end residential areas for the tourists.
SP The road to 2022 will witness tremendous growth, with an increase in construction activities, GDP growth, and the introduction of various policies by the government boosting the real estate sector in the country and driving the growth of commercial real estate. Clairra will grab the opportunity with both hands and benefit from this great opportunity.
What segments of the real estate business will have an edge in the future?
SP We are also focusing heavily on villas and the higher tier segments of accommodation. We are increasing our portfolio and will continue to do so. We also rely on the corporate sector and have some contracts here.
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