In a recent interview with Qatar News Agency, the  Secretary-General of Qatar’s Research Development and Innovation Council (QRDI) Eng. Omar Ali Al Ansari affirmed that artificial intelligence (AI) science and the digital revolution related to “metaverse” and “blockchain” are among the most important technological transformations in the current era.

He believes that these technologies are important due to their contributions to the development of scientific research and innovation, through its ability to analyze huge amounts of data and process them faster and more effectively, which leads to the discovery of new patterns in the data and contributes to innovative scientific discoveries.

Al Ansari  added that  the digital revolution and Blockchain technology will provide new levels of security, transparency and security for information, which contributes to the development of methods of dealing with information and data, storing and exchanging them. It also enhances trust and cooperation and opens new horizons in this field.

As such the council aims to promote technological development by stimulating and nurturing talent, as well as expanding the knowledge of the research and development community in the areas of artificial intelligence, big data analysis, and others.

The Council endevours to  provide new opportunities for cooperation with relevant authorities from various countries of the world, with the aim of exchanging information and expertise and promoting scientific and technological progress.

According to Al-Ansari  the Council is about to launch a new program package to support innovation in the private sector, as part of the third national development strategy, where it provided new platforms and programs in order to explore innovation opportunities in a limited range of major national companies and some government agencies, which establishes the importance of adopting innovative solutions in order to build new competitive advantages to raise its production efficiency.

Al Ansari explained that QOI program has received, since its launch, more than 400 submissions from innovators across Qatar and the world,  all of which focused on the areas of health, energy, environment, transportation, education and smart cities, noting that the council announced during the past months that 9 companies won this grant.

In addition the Product Development Management Program, which is being implemented in cooperation with Qatar Development Bank, has attracted 25 participants from 11 small and medium local companies.  About 30 senior government employees (directors and heads of departments) from 10 ministries participated in the Government Innovation Leadership Program. (QNA) 

These statements come at a time where,  Qatar Genesis Technologies, the developers of the Maxya Blockchain platform, are holding meetings and workshops with banks in Qatar to learn from the experiences of fintech.

According to Mazen El-Masri Cofounder and CEO of Genesis Technologies in a LinkedIn statement, “ A banking-as-a-service approach can be adopted to expedite the move from the monolithic structures of legacy core banking systems into a lighter service-oriented banking solution stack. To achieve this transformation, it is now more important than ever for banks to partner with (or acquire) fintechs with solid innovations and at the same time exploit their existing assets to enable new sources of growth in their reconfigured banking value chain.”

He added, “ With the sponsorship of Qatar Central Bank, we enjoyed a great discussion with the banking sector in Qatar with over 50 attendees. We at Genesis Technologies LLC are enthusiastic about the coming banking/fintech partnership and we expect that it will bring to light the next generation of banks.”

Qatar has been strongly moving forward in its blockchain and digital asset strategy. It seems we will be seeing a lot in Qatar over the next few years.

Qatar’s National Blockchain Blueprint which was announced officially, is not much different from the National Blockchain Blueprint consultation paper that Qatar Communications Regulatory Authority published on its website back in August 2022. While the blueprint falls short of the aspirations of Qatar, on the ground things are moving forward. 

The Qatar National Blockchain Blueprint is not clear on many aspects and lacks  updated statistics and with a lot of out dated information that makes it look more like a research paper on blockchain rather than a national blueprint. Yet it does depict the interest and seriousness of Qatar towards Blockchain implementation.  

One of the most important points that stand out in the National Blockchain Blueprint is the discussion on the development of a solid regulatory and legal framework which the paper reveals are essential for enabling the investment environment an creating a strong industry.

The Blueprint also mentions the government entities that need to be involved in the regulation of blockchain activity which include Qatar Central Bank (QCB), for cryptocurrencies and financial transactions as well as what the blueprint calls ICO offerings. Also on the roster of government entities that will be involved is the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) with its Innovation Center for blockchain technology; Ministry of Justice, for formalizing  the legal framework, and the National Cybersecurity Agency, for data classification and cyber security.

Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) issued the National Blockchain Blueprint developed by CRA in collaboration with Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Qatar University (QU).

Ali al-Suwaidi, Technical Affairs Department director at CRA, stated,  “We are pleased to collaborate with HBKU and QU to issue the National Blockchain Blueprint for Qatar. Through the blueprint, we have set the most prominent opportunities that blockchain could bring to private and government sectors and outlined the necessities and incentives that must be provided by each sector for the technology adoption, which contributes to the development of emerging startups and pilot projects.”

He added: “I would like to invite all stakeholders to review the blueprint, so that we work together towards developing the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, supporting local and foreign investments and a knowledge-based economy to support achieving the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. I want to thank HBKU and QU for all their efforts and cooperation in developing the blueprint and we look forward to expanding our collaboration in the future.”

Dr. Ahmed Elmagarmid , executive director, Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), HBKU, added, “We were delighted to work with the Communications Regulatory Authority and Qatar University on developing the National Blockchain Blueprint for Qatar”.

Qatar University College of Engineering dean Dr. Khalid Kamal Naji said, “We are proud to have contributed to the development of the National Blockchain Blueprint for Qatar, which is a crucial step towards realizing the country’s vision for a knowledge-based economy. Our collaboration with the Communications Regulatory Authority and Hamad Bin Khalifa University has allowed us to leverage our expertise in blockchain technology and promote its adoption across the public and private sectors.”

Sources in Qatar working closely with Qatar’s governmental entities told LaraontheBlock, “We are seeing a lot of movement happening in Qatar on the Blockchain front. Different Ministries across the country are all interested in implementing a national blockchain.”

Earlier this month, two blockchain announcements came out of Qatar demonstrating that the Gulf country is starting to utilize and grow DLT (Distributed Ledger Technologies) and Blockchain.  The first is the piloting of digital signatures and certificates to be validated on Qatar’s national blockchain network and the second is the inclusion of DLT in Qatar’s Central Bank Fintech strategy.

At the beginning of 2023 during a Bloomberg TV interview at WEF Davos event, Mansoor Al Mahmoud, CEO, of Qatar Investment Authority, reaffirmed the fund’s interest in investing in Blockchain technology, more precisely any application using Blockchain.

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund will use the current economic turmoil as an opportunity to rebalance its $450 billion portfolio. The Qatar Investment Authority is looking for opportunities in Europe, Asia and the US in sectors such as venture capital, fintech and sports except for crypto.

So while the National Blockchain blueprint announced today, may not be the best reflection of Qatar’s openness, interest and understanding of blockchain, on the ground things are moving in the right direction.

Two blockchain announcements have come out of Qatar demonstrating that the Gulf country is starting to utilize and grow DLT (Distributed Ledger Technologies) and Blockchain.  The first is the piloting of digital signatures and certificates to be validated on Qatar’s national blockchain network and the second is the inclusion of DLT in Qatar’s Central Bank Fintech strategy.

This comes after Qatar announced its Blockchain blueprint in 2022 led by the Communications Regulatory Authority.

Qatar’s Genesis Technologies launched the imdaat pilot, a decentralized signature and certificate issuance platform during AlFikra national entrepreneurship competition an initiative of Qatar Development Bank and Qatar University.

As per the LinkedIn post by Genesis Co-Founder Mazen El Masri, “Over 130 certificates were issued, signed, and registered on Genesis blockchain network. Our team at Genesis Technologies LLC is happy and proud to support such national initiatives. The pilot was successful and a start of a long journey to have all digital signatures and certificates registered and validated on a national blockchain network.”

Genesis is the brain child of two professors at Qatar university who came together to build a blockchain network from scratch that would not only be utilized as a ledger but also as a super computer. They named it Maxya blockchain which is built on consensus mechanism “Proof of Useful Work”. The consensus mechanism creates added value by solving optimization problems for business.

The project started with a $2.6 million fund for an applied research program from Qatar National Research Fund, from which the launched MaxYa test net based on was launched and is being tested in Qatar.

But that was not the only Blockchain news from Qatar. The Central Bank of Qatar announced its Fintech strategy which includes the implementation of DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) as part of its corporate enablement tools.

As per the Fintech strategy, the Central Bank of Qatar will be the focal point for regulations that include emerging technologies such as cloud computing, AI, an DLT. They will also be launching an enhanced regulatory sandbox to test the innovative technologies. 

Qatar has finally started to truly embrace blockchain. The Communications Regulatory Authority has launched a national consultation paper about the “National Blockchain Blueprint for Qatar”.

The paper was collaboratively developed by CRA, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and Qatar University. Qatar university recently announced its foray into the metaverse.

The consultation paper will establish the blueprint for the blockchain framework in Qatar. It identifies key elements such as regulations, adoption, innovation and creativity. It also identifies the key blockchain requirements.

The National Blockchain Blueprint highlights how blockchain technology can contribute to building an innovative and growing IT sector in Qatar by increasing domestic and foreign investment as stated in the CRA Strategy 2021-2025, to support Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV) and Qatar National Development Strategy, as well as to enabling a seamless transition towards smart Qatar.

The blueprint examines the most prominent opportunities that blockchain could bring to various governmental and business sectors. It also outlines the necessities and incentives that must be provided by each sector for the technology adoption that contribute to emerging start-ups, pilot projects and new companies.

“The National Blockchain Blueprint highlights how blockchain technology can contribute to building an innovative and growing IT sector that contributes to increasing domestic and foreign investment, which supports Qatar National Vision 2030 and Qatar National Development Strategy,” said Ali Al Suwaidi, Technical Affairs Department Director, CRA.

He adds, “The regulation is important to protect users and provide the adequate legal framework that allows blockchain innovation and adoption. I would like to thank Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Qatar University for all their efforts and cooperation in developing this blueprint and we look forward to our further collaboration in the future.”

As per the consultation paper, In Qatar, the key governmental stakeholders that should be involved in regulating Blockchain are Qatar Central Bank (QCB) for cryptocurrencies and financial transactions, as well as ICO offerings, the Qatar Development Bank regulating investment related activities and providing incentives for blockchain.

In addition government entities also to be  involved are the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) with its Innovation Centre for blockchain technology; Ministry of Justice, to formulize the legal framework, and the National Cybersecurity Agency, for data classification and cyber security.

The consultation paper recommends establishing a national regulatory foundation guide in the form of a study of the common services’ regulatory requirements alongside benchmarking with relevant international examples.

They also recommend engaging different potential stakeholders and regulators in an open discussion about potential technology use cases and their associated regulatory requirements.

Finally they recommend establishing a country-wide initiative in the form of a government-led consortium with wide involvement from the private sector to kick-off the creation of country strategy as well as initiate and coordinate the regulatory activities.

Qatar also wants to establish a high-performance cloud-based blockchain platform to accelerate and facilitate prototyping and testing, with priority given to pilot projects and start-ups. 

Stakeholders and concerned parties can submit their related views and comments by emailing, by not later than Thursday, September 15, 2022.

Qatar has had an on and off relationship with both crypto and blockchain. In May of 2022, Don Tapcott, renowned blockchain expert was a speaker at the Blockchain revolution Summit.  In the meantime the CEO of Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund praised blockchain but shunned crypto. Yet the Central Bank governor stated that crypto assets are a technological innovation that will take the country into a new era of fast accessible payments and services. 

It seems that finally Qatar has embraced Blockchain and crypto and hopefully will quickly step up the pace. 

This week Qatar made headlines in the Blockchain, crypto, NFT and metaverse scene on several fronts. While the CEO of Qatar  Sovereign Wealth Fund praised Blockchain but shunned crypto, Qatar’s Central Bank Governor stated that crypto assets are a technology innovation that will take us to a new era of fast accessible payments and financial services. Topping all this was Qatar Airways increased foray into the realm of the metaverse, and NFTs.

It seems that while the government of Qatar has yet to make up its mind on whether it wants to enter the era of cryptocurrencies, or whether they agree that crypto will have to be dealt with at one point or another, they are taking steps towards integrating elements of blockchain and CBDC into their strategies.During the Qatar Economic Forum Qatar Central Bank Governor Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Saoud Al Thani admitted that Qatar is in the foundation stage of investigating a central bank Digital Currency (CBDC). As he noted, “Many central banks are now considering issuing CBDC, and we are not an exception to that. We are evaluating the pros and cons of issuing the CBDC and to find the proper and the right technology and the platform to issue.”He then noted, “Crypto assets are a technology innovation, and in my view it might take us to a new era of fast accessible payment and financial services.  “Those crypto assets which are not underlying by assets or monetary authority might be less credible.”

On the other hand Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund CEO Mansoor Al Mahmoud revealed that the wealth fund has no interest in investing in Bitcoin, but is still very much interested in exploring blockchain.

He was noted as saying, “Our team in the technology space is exploring opportunities in the blockchain,” Al Mahmoud said in an interview. He adds “This is the space that we’re interested in, not the currency itself.”

In the midst of these discussions Qatar Airways expressed its intention to include the purchase of tickets for physical flights through the QVerse metaverse, and the incorporation of NFTs. 

All this comes while the FIFA World Cup 2022 has partnered with the likes of and Algorand Blockchain, and crypto exchange CoinMENA announces it is servicing clients in Qatar through its license in Bahrain. 

Qatar at one point will have to come to grips with the fact that with blockchain the metaverse and digitization comes digital assets, whether they are called cryptocurrencies, crypto assets, virtual assets, tokens or NFTs.

For example if Qatar were to utilize blockchain in the energy sector, and work with companies such as PermianChain which is tokenizing natural resources such as flared gas, and if they wanted to utilize PermianChain’s energy token marketplace, they would at some point need to use the DEC Token to optimize their experience. Tokens and Blockchain go hand in hand despite attempts to de-couple them.

One cannot implement blockchain, invest in blockchain nor create a CBDC to be held in digital wallets, without addressing the elephant in the room which is crypto and or digital asset. So instead of being the black sheep of the GCC Crypto hype, wouldn’t it be better if Qatar was the winning stallion.