By Aaron Greenwood
In this month's issue of Sound & Stage Middle East we showcase the multitude of AV systems integration projects that are putting Qatar on the map not only in the region, but internationally.
In this month's issue of
Sound & Stage Middle Eastwe showcase the multitude of AV systems integration projects that are putting Qatar on the map not only in the region, but internationally.
With a rapidly growing population of just over 1.2 million, the second-highest GDP in the world and the third-largest natural gas reserves, Qatar is one of the wealthiest and fastest developing countries in the Guf region.
The billions of dollars being invested in major infrastructure projects in the tiny Gulf state is transforming the country into a technologically advanced economy to rival, and in some ways, exceed those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Arguably, unlike these and other rivals, Qatar is taking a more considered approach to its long-term development, having committed to establishing cultural, scientific and academic organisations, only some of which are being developed in partnership with international players.
Developments as diverse as Doha Education City, Aspire Sports Academy, and the Pearl, are showcase projects for cutting-edge AV technologies, whether it be MediaMatrix network-driven entertainment solutions or the latest telepresence systems
Easily the most impressive installation in respect to the latter can be found in Georgetown University. The academic institution is the first organisation in the region to implement Polycom's RPX virtual telepresence platform, which is a truly remarkable piece of technology in action.
Valued at more than US$500,000, the telepresence installation represents a mere drop in the ocean in terms of the overall value of the country's commercial AV business.
Importantly, Qatar has not been as adversely affected by the global economic recession as many of its rivals, with very few major infrastructure projects being put on hold.
This has ensured a steady flow of business for the country's major AV systems integrators, which dominate the commercial installation business and are fiercely protective of the lucrative niche they've carved in the marketplace.
Not surprisingly, they're also highly critical of regional systems integration rivals attempting to muscle into their market.
Still, who could blame them?
With major infrastructure projects worth more than $20 billion scheduled for completion in the next three years and many more planned for well into the next decade, Qatar will continue to loom large as one of the top markets for AV technology specialists for many years to come.
Aaron Greenwood is the senior group editor of ITP Business' media & broadcast tiles.