Josoor Institute’s Executive Director Afraa Al-Noaimi participated in Towards 2022: a Look into the Qatari Sportstech Scene, a panel session of Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference (ROWAD) during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2020. On the panel with Afraa were Ahmed Abbassi, Executive Director of Competitions and Football Development for Qatar Stars League, Dr. Nebojsa Popovic, Senior Orthopedi Surgeon at Aspetar, and Heba Al Masri, Managing Director at Qatar SportsTech as the moderator.
ROWAD, a Qatar Development Bank brand and part of the GEW community, is an important platform for spreading the culture of entrepreneurship, which is significant in boosting Qatar’s economy. In that vein, the panel highlighted key opportunities and enablers for the future generation’s professional talent and skills and for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) willing to enter the market in the years ahead.
The role of technology and data driven approach was the recurring theme in the discussion. The current pandemic crisis has further accelerated the already ongoing digital transformation across all sectors, including football. Ahmed Abbassi mentioned the classic example of the introduction of VAR in matches; but also the increasing relying on advanced data analytics in coaching and match preparation; analysis of athletes’ performance; correction of technical errors; and more effective prevention of injuries. The pandemic, Dr Popovic added, also pushed traditionally conservative medical professionals in the direction of utilizing technology, for example in remote monitoring and treatment.
With that in mind, Afraa Al-Noaimi stressed the important role played by education providers in enhancing the capabilities of professionals and firms in understanding new technologies and the innovations those can bring to the market. In the education sector itself the pandemic heavily affected physical delivery, but on the bright side the shift it forced to online delivery brought positive innovation. Afraa also emphasized e-platforms are booming, which benefits the users; online programs allow to access world class speakers more easily; and data from Josoor’s programs suggests female participation and completion rate are higher, with the consequence that more talents are joining the sports and events industry.
The second part of the panel session focused on opportunities for SMEs in the context of Qatar and the upcoming tournament. In general, the panelists concurred, as Qatar is about to host the first MENA/Arab world cup it has the unique opportunity to pioneer technologies in preparation and delivery. That, Afraa added, also brings a strong legacy value because mastering the use of technology to scale up human capital for the delivery of future events is an important soft legacy for the industry. With that in mind, Josoor shall be helping executives from sports and events participating in its programs learn how to utilize advanced technologies such as table tops for scenario making process.
What advice for SMEs keen to enter the Qatari market? Afraa said first of all an SME has to understand the market needs: we are about to host a world cup, a large-scale event, we have different requirements to support delivery. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to look up what is required and compete with other service providers. Background information can be found in standard calls for proposals, as well as in studies, including recent ones by Josoor Institute on sports events in Qatar and the greater MENA region, that help understand the sports and events industry and areas for further development. To that, Ahmed Abbassi added the need for an SME to have the right purpose for its innovation and the ability to show its technology is not just interesting, but is concretely a winning one for the client in terms concrete creation of value. That means capacity not only to provide a service today, but also to imagine what the future may look like.