Browsing 'entrepreneurship' News

US Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new company is taking aim at food waste in Qatar by collecting excess meals from grocery stores and restaurants and redirecting them to people in need.

Wa’hab soft-launched during the recently concluded Qatar International Food Festival, its founder Wardha Mamukoya told Doha News.

During the 11 day-event, the startup recovered some 1,000 “perfectly good, high-quality meals” that would have otherwise gone to waste, she added.


Food collected from the QIFF

The food was given to Eid Charity, which distributed it across Qatar to those who could benefit from it.

According to Mamukoya:

“Although we know for a fact that there are no cases of starvation in Qatar, we believe the less privileged can benefit from the perfectly good food being thrown away by food industries, including high-end five star hotels.”

To tackle what it calls a “mismanagement” in food distribution, Wa’hab is working to create a network that connects surplus food to those in need, she added.

The team

The company, whose Arabic name means give (in service), consists of a core team of five members, and an arsenal of young volunteers.

It is operated by CEO Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim Al-Thani; Chief Technology Officer Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan, an expert on food handling and safety; Chief Information Officer Kim Wyatt, aka “Mama Baba Ghanoush;” and co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Shahid Abdusalam.

He is married to Mamukoya, who is also the COO of the company.

In addition to rescuing food, the Wa’hab aims to raise awareness about waste “so as to tackle the problem at its root,” Mamukoya said.

Growing problem

Qatar has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage.

MPCA Photos/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Local researchers have called this practice “shocking” and “unsustainable,” given that Qatar is a desert nation that imports 90 percent of what it eats.

“Food prepared and thrown away leads to loss of capital spent on resource requirements. In addition to saving costs, Wa’hab can also reduce the need to import more food to meet the demands of the growing population,” Mamukoya said.

She added that in the long term, the startup aims to help with food wastage during the 2022 World Cup. It also hopes to expand into other Gulf countries.

“By feeding people and not landfills, Wa’hab can ensure that everyone has enough to eat and portrays Qatar in a positive light. This also can be a motivation for other GCC countries to follow suit,” she concluded.


Sally Crane

Richard Serra “East-West/West-East” near Dukhan

There’s more to do in Qatar than check out Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Corniche, according to the designers of a new app.

Noora Al Thani and her colleagues assert that there are at least 40 places of interest in Qatar, and that number is growing.

She and her team have listed those venues in a new app called “Jawlah” (which means journey in Arabic).

Mohammed Ismail

Al Zubarah fort

The free app aims to guide you through your options in Qatar, from forts and beaches to mosques, parks and museums.

“We want to help sustain tourism in Qatar,” Al Thani told Doha News in an interview this week. She added:

“We want people to know about more places – including Qataris. Lots of people we asked thought Qatar only had 20 or 25 tourist attractions.”

Charity project

Al Thani and her six colleagues – Ala Saif, Wasan Al Sumaiti, Sara Al Emadi, Ayah Al Ansari, Hanan Al Kurbi and Al Maha Shams – are all young women hoping to make a difference.

They met through the ROTA (Reach Out To Asia charity) youth social club, and then teamed up to create the app for the ROTA Youth Challenge.

The program urges young people to invoke change in their communities.


Five of the members of the Jawlah team at a ROTA youth conference

The group, who range in age from 17 to 21 years old, were asked to create an app that would support Qatar’s 2030 vision, of which a new tourism strategy is a key part.

The resulting app, which they designed themselves with technical support from a programmer, has now been launched for Apple devices.

And an Android version will be rolled out soon.

Traditional and modern

A key feature of the app, which is available in both English and Arabic, is its opening question: “Where do you want your next Jawlah to be? Modern or traditional?”

The team decided to ask this to encourage people to find out more about traditional Qatari culture.


The team’s pitch for Jawlah

“Modern things exist almost everywhere in the world. However, culture is what makes a country different,” Al Thani said.

If a user selects the “Traditional” section, they are offered a range of options including Zekreet, the souqs and Al Zubara fort.

If they choose “Modern,” they are recommended museums, parks, mosques and shopping malls.

Feedback welcome

The app also includes listings of tour operators and limo companies, and gives visitors the option of leaving a comment on an attraction for other users.


A screenshot of the Jawlah app

Additionally, Jawlah suggests a week-long tourist schedule, with venues for meals, and activities mapped out in different locations on each day.

There are already several tourism apps for Qatar available in the Apple Store – some free, some for a fee.

But Al Thani said she is confident that Jawlah is “more up to date, and more specific” than its competition.

“We have been gathering information from all over the place, and it doesn’t already exist in one place,” she said.


Carolin Zeitler

Lesley Walker / Doha News

Carolin Zeitler

Career coach Carolin Zeitler has seen attitudes toward women in the workplace change dramatically in Qatar, for the better.

From being a rarity, particularly outside of traditional fields like teaching, women now hold key leadership positions in several sectors, said Zeitler, the founder of the How Women Work community.

“Now, it’s amazing. They are everywhere. A lot of local women are in high-positions – they are directors and managers and doing a fabulous job. They’re showing the boys how it is done. And they’re being taken seriously.”

That change has been inspiring – especially because these women are not just in “token positions,” the 40-year-old British-German said.

But there is still a lot of work to be done to get more females in the workforce and not “waste” their talents, she added.

Zeitler spoke to Doha News during a recent interview in which she reflected on her nine years in Qatar as she prepares to leave the country.


The 40-year-old said she is moving to Malta this summer and hopes to write a book about some of her experiences here.

“It’s time for a change. I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out and I’ve had the feeling I need to get a different energy in my life,” she said.

Despite having never been to the island before, even for a holiday, Zeitler said that after a bit of research, she felt it would be the right place.

“I found it has everything I want and the bonus is that it has a bit of Arabic influence too. After all these years (in Qatar) I have learned to appreciate the Arabic culture. It is good to still have a bit of that,” she said.

How Women Work organizes biannual conferences, workshops, networking events and retreats all aimed at helping national and expat women here find the right job.

Zeitler said she decided to reassess her current circumstances given Qatar’s recent belt-tightening and her daughter leaving to begin university in the US.

She is now raising money for her e-book, which has the title, Courage, Confidence & Connection, through crowd-funding site Indiegogo, with the aim of trying to raise €11,000 over the next few weeks to make the project viable.

“After years of living and working in the service of the greater good, I am left with a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience and an empty bank account,” Zeitler said on her fundraising appeal page.

The fundraising aims to allow her to take time out from work to write the book quickly.

With the prologue and structure already done, Zeitler said she hopes to be able to finish it by this September.

“So many people along the way have asked me to write a book of my experiences. I was thinking how to summarize all the experiences I’ve had. These three words (in the book title) were the three aspects I came up with – they are what enabled me and also other the other women here to make the journey to have gone through major life changes,” she told Doha News.

Zeitler has already written one book, How Women Succeed, inspired by some of the women she met in Qatar.

“I have about five different books in my head, trying to get out,” she said.


Reflecting on the increasing participation of women in Qatar’s workforce, Zeitler said one of the biggest challenges remains juggling the job with family commitments.

She said her group has lobbied companies here to create more part-time or flexible roles, but many are reluctant.

 How Women Find Work conference

Lesley Walker

How Women Find Work conference

“At How Women Work, we have been fighting for part-time and job-share working – this would make it so much easier for women to work,” she said.

“Despite all our efforts, we have had very little response from organizations, although some private sector companies have said they would start offering these roles to attract more women.”

Given the sheer number of women in Qatar who are highly qualified with advanced degrees and experience, this is “a waste of talent,” she said.

“There are so many women women are willing to work, but are having difficulty finding the right work.”

Finding work

Having coached people for so many years on finding the right job, Zeitler has a lot of advice for those seeking employment.

She said one tip is to look at your skills and see what else you might be able to do using these skills and experience. Also, forget about emailing application forms – in-person networking is crucial.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“We are trying to help people understand how things work in Doha. You can’t sit at home and find a job. Most jobs are found through face-to-face meetings or by word-of-mouth. You have to network,” Zeitler said.

Other advice includes:

  • Stand out by doing something different to raise yourself above the noise of other job hunters;
  • Accept the different culture of job hunting – some things are acceptable here that may not be in other countries, such as turning up unannounced at an office; and
  • Reinvent yourself. Adapt to your circumstances. If you are going to be traveling a lot, consider a portable career that can be done from anywhere.

As she moves on, a new leadership team has been put in place to keep How Women Work going.

“Handing over is kind of hard – so much of my heart and soul went into the venture,” Zeitler said. “But it’s also time. It feels good to let it go, to give it a new opportunity to have some really fresh input. After seven years, you lost the ability to step back.”

She added:

“For sure, I’ll miss aspects of it – mostly the community, and especially the events. I’ll miss the buzz of people who are strangers connecting on a deep level and talking about things that really matter to them. We have so much more in common than that which separates us.”