James Caan: Qatar should become Silicon Valley of the region

With the remarkable economic success it has witnessed, Qatar should be the region’s ‘entrepreneurial hub’, according to renowned entrepreneur James Caan.

Caan, considered one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, said he was inspired by Qatar’s explosive growth and what it has achieved, making it ‘an envy of Western economy.’ The famous panelist at BBC’s popular show Dragon’s Den and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw, a venture capital and investment company was delivering keynote speech at the Qatar Investor Window Conference yesterday at the Grand Hyatt Doha.

“I believe that Qatar should become the Silicon Valley of this region. While Dubai has positioned itself as the travel and tourism hub of the region and Abu Dhabi as the region’s cultural hub, Qatar should become the regions’ entrepreneurial hub,” he said.

It can be noted entrepreneurship is a key element in Qatar’s economic diversification as it seeks to reduce its reliance on the Oil and Gas sector.  In recent years Qatar’s SME sector has received key government support through the new entity; Enterprise Qatar.

He stressed the need to translate the country’s growth into entrepreneurship as “the region has to create 75 million jobs in the next 15 years to sustain its economy.

“For me this can be done not on dependency on the public sector but through creating new business areas for new economies to emerge,” he said, citing infrastructure, education, IT, logistics and media as some of the areas to tap.

He praised Qatar’s good leadership and innovative ideas as key to the country’s achievements turning it into a leading country in the region. Citing the UK as an example for creating an entrepreneurial culture, he said a total of 500,000 businesses are being created every year, providing 28m jobs in the private sector.

“It’s not just attracting talents from all over the region but enhancing what is already present in the existing businesses,” he said, adding businessmen should ignite their own people’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Creating an entrepreneurial culture has to begin in school, according to Caan, through identifying and nurturing young people’s talent and developing entrepreneur courses and programs in universities to teach them how to build businesses.

In addition, he suggested identifying successful people as mentors to encourage others to develop new businesses and utilizing media to inspire entrepreneurship by celebrating success of businesses.

Looking into the success of the reality TV show Dragon’s Den he said he sees no reason why Qatar could not replicate its success.

With millions of viewers in over 20 countries, Dragons’ Den is features entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas in order to secure investment finance from a panel of venture capitalists. Caan has invested in 14 companies since he joined the show in 2007.

He expressed optimism Qatar could position itself as the main platform for entrepreneurial success in the region by creating cultural hub of entrepreneurship

“Currently, there is no such thing in the region. How to do that? Free zone for entrepreneurship can be created to attract entrepreneurs in the region, facilitating entrepreneurship, mentoring and forging partnerships.”

“Entrepreneurship is not just about making money but showing people how it is done.”


Article by Links Group on Nov 22nd 2011