Wow…It’s already ten years in Doha

Saturday, 7th June 2008 feels like it was just yesterday! Landed here in New Doha International Airport (NDIA) on that day, from Kuwait where I was employed in a bank for past two years and seven months. While I was fairly new to the Middle East, I was also prepared, in the sense that I thought I knew what to expect! I was ushered into a nice hotel by name Grand Regency near the ‘Sports Round About’ in Al Sadd, a part of Doha. Next day, on Sunday the 8th June 2008, I joined the Risk Management Team at a new Investment Bank.

And now, New Doha International Airport is no longer operational and a new, sprawling, high tech, all glass and chrome ‘Hamaad International Airport’ (HIA) has taken its place. Sophisticated and efficient, this new airport leaves a lasting impression on any traveller’s mind, though NDIA was no less efficient and no less beautiful! The hotel Grand Regency is now Wyndham Grand Regency, Sports Roundabout is no longer in existence and in its place, we have a nice, smooth and multi-lane intersection. Then I have also moved on to Qatar Central Bank (QCB). As far as the ‘being prepared’ aspect, Doha continues to surprise me, continues to impress me and continues to grow in my esteem for its character!

Steve Jobs is one of the few persons whom I idolize! For Steve Jobs, success was all about getting it right in terms of designs, colors and functions. Had he seen the topiary plants, florescent flowers and manicured lawns of Doha, he would have instantly fallen in love with this city! Doha is as much functional as it is beautiful. Ambition played a big part in the life of Steve Jobs. His ambition to bring out great products made him reach amazing heights. On several occasions he set goals which were seen as impossible and then……… he achieved them! Similarly, Doha is a city with ambition. “Expect Amazing” was Qatar’s slogan for its successful bid for 2022 FIFA World Cup. This success was, earlier seen as impossible!

Passion for excellence was the cornerstone for the success of Steve Jobs. Doha too has such a passion for excellence. Whether it is hosting international sporting events and film events, building beautiful townships, museums, parks and libraries or supporting cultural and educational initiatives, this passion is very much in evidence. The biggest achievement of Steve Jobs was to make us feel that we are holding future in our hands! Doha too, often, makes us feel that we are living in a futuristic city. Look at things we have, such as district cooling, which is yet to catch up even in the developed world, state of the art ‘Katara Village’, and ‘The Pearl’, upcoming beautiful townships at Mshreib and Lusail, functional and friendly ‘Barwa Village’. Then we will soon have a futuristic Metro Rail Transport System. And we have some of the leading Universities, and a great Qatar Airways. Ambition, Passion, Vision and Future – Doha has it all!!!!

What makes Doha a great place is its people and governance. People here, have a kind of belongingness. Even when things were difficult due to geopolitical developments, governance saw to it that residents were not put to any inconvenience.

As the things around me have changed for better, I am also having fulfilling career in banking regulation and am contributing to establishment of a vibrant and stable economy. A challenging, yet immensely satisfying work life with good work life balance is what I cherish.

I have learnt quite a few life lessons.Inspired by Doha and Qatar, I have realized that nothing is impossible and one grows by facing challenges. Another important lesson is that our beliefs shape our reality.

I am sure that the time I spent in Doha is going to be the best in my life. I will cherish those beautiful parks with sprawling lawns, the Corniche (i.e., the waterfront promenade), crisp weather in the winter months with flowers all around and wonderful Qatari hospitality.

Banking Services from…….Amazon?

How do you like Amazon or Facebook or Google offering you banking services (if not all banking services, but some important ones)?
Amazon, Facebook and Google and their ilk, own two critically important items when it comes to being successful at consumer payments and loans: 1) the data and 2) the relationship with the customers.
In places like India and Mexico, Amazon.com Inc. is offering unique payments services and actively approaching finance-technology startups for investments and acquisitions!
In India, Amazon has a doorstep cash-pickup service that lets customers load money into a digital wallet.
It has also acquired or invested in several startups there, including Emvantage Payments and BankBazaar.
In Mexico, Amazon has a cash payment service meant to be an alternative to a credit or debit card.
In US, more than 33 million people use the Amazon’s payment system, and it has lent more than $3 billion to small businesses that sell on its platform since 2011. Early last year, the company introduced Amazon Cash, where users can load funds onto their Amazon account.