OK, so this one is stretching the definition of technology a bit, but for today an online business counts as technology I want to see in Qatar. Why? Because LivingSocial is awesome and we are long overdue for having it here.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Living Social by now, but if you’re not, here’s the quick pitch. LivingSocial in a site that offers a daily deal to its members who subscribe simply by registering with their emails. If you like an offer, you simply purchase it and are then sent an electronic voucher. You can then promote the deal, and if you get three friends to buy it as well, you get your deal for free! LivingSocial deals are location-specific and are based upon the mass buying concept. For companies it’s a great way to reach a large audience and market their goods or services, and for users it’s a great way to discover new things and be sociable while saving some cash.
The deals offered on LivingSocial are varied, including discounts on hotels, spas, adventure tours, restaurants and stores. All of my friends in the U.S. seem to be using LivingSocial and I am always jealous when a cool deal they share comes through my email, such as a recent discount on baseball tickets. LivingSocial is in Dubai, after the company fairly recently acquired GoNabbit. The founder of GoNabbit, Dan Stuart, who now runs the Dubai and Middle East operations for LivingSocial, said that they would be interested in expanding to Doha, but that the market is still a bit small for a full-time office, and that restrictions on registering an online only business make it difficult to see a clear business model at this time – boo!
It’s definitely time for Qatar to think about changing its business registration laws, such as the requirement to have a physical office to have a registered business. Most of the major tech companies would never have been created if that were the rule everywhere. A change in laws and policies to make Qatar more e-business friendly would open the door to more cool companies like LivingSocial. I hope it happens and that soon all of us here in Doha will be able to take advantage of some Daily Deals!
More cool technology I want to see in Qatar: