Food security addresses a fundamental human need to know that the food and drink we are consuming will do us no harm. As part of the National Vision 2030’s efforts to ensure the Qatar’s human development through enacting health initiatives across the board, ensuring the safe handling and storage of food has become one of the nation’s priorities. Gulf Warehousing Company has done its part to provide the best cold storage solutions possible to the nation – here are some of the considerations that must be taken into account when providing refrigerated and chilled warehousing.
The Right Qualification
Ensuring that the location you have chosen to store your items has been properly inspected and certified is high on the priority list. The industry recognizes both the ISO 22000 and the Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) as the best industry practices, both addressing the various biological, chemical, and physical hazards that might endanger food safety and provide processes to address these risks. It is important to note that these are certifications that are given to sites, not organizations, which means that it is the site that is inspected and certified, such as our facilities in Street 15, Street 41, and the Logistics Village Qatar.
The Right Temperature
It is important to store every food item at the right temperature to ensure both its safety and its structural integrity. Ice Cream might crystalize if it’s not stored at a temperature of -25 C. Frozen meats and vegetables must be stored at -18 C, whereas general food items such as cheese or pickles do best at +3 C. Finally, confectionary items such as chocolate are stored at +18 C, again to ensure its safety but also to ensure the preservation of flavor. Facilities that offer more than one storage temperature are separated into chambers, with the temperature in each chamber closely monitored.
The Right Equipment
Gulf Warehousing Company has found that the Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) racking system, which stores more items in less space by narrowing the space between the racks, is perfect for food storage. In refrigerated and chilled environments, however, modifications have to be made to most VNA systems, in order to avoid the hydraulics and oils in the systems from freezing and seizing up. For our employees, we find that thermal wear imported directly from the UK ensures their safety in these extreme temperatures.
As part of the National Vision 2030’s efforts to ensure the Qatar’s human development through enacting health initiatives across the board, ensuring the safe handling and storage of food has become one of the nation’s priorities.
The Right Practices
Our employees are instructed in the best practices and systems to ensure that food safety is never compromised. Among the most important concepts in food storage is First Expiry, First Out (FEFO), which organizes the stored food items by expiry date, and ensures overall freshness of the food items by distributing the foods with the earliest expiry dates first for consumption. These expiry dates are managed and monitored with a specifically designed Warehouse Management System (WMS), which tracks the whereabouts and expiry dates of the stored items through a number of hand-held RF terminals which report back to a central server. Our clients can then refer to reports published in real-time to see where there items are at any time, providing complete transparency.
Battle for the Skies: American protectionism targets GCC carriers
Several US airline carriers, led by Delta, United, and American Airlines, have engaged in an orchestrated campaign, suggesting that GCC carriers, and in particular Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, have benefited unfairly from nearly USD 40 billion in subsidies from their respective governments over the past decade. The American carriers have established an organization called American for Fair Skies, lobbying the US government to curtail the GCC carriers’ direct flights into the United States, and alleging that the Gulf carriers are operating on an uneven playing field. “This unprecedented level of support allows the Gulf airlines to operate not as businesses, as US airlines do, but as arms of their well-heeled predatory governments,” the organization states on its website.
The GCC carriers, for their part, have retaliated, stating that consumers enjoy their award-winning premium service and benefit from their global connectivity all across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
The independent Skytrax airline ratings agency seems to agree: The Gulf Big Three made it to the top 10 list at the agency’s prestigious 2014 World Airline Awards, while the U.S. “Big Three” barely cracked the top 50: Delta came in at 49, United at 53, and American at 89.
The Gulf Big Three have achieved several milestones of late: in 2014, the Dubai International Airport surpassed London Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport, measured in terms of international passengers. They have also emerged as major global carriers, capable of going toe to toe with the industry’s giants. Blessed with fortunate commercial geography, placed within a four-hour flight’s distance from one-third of the world’s population, and an eight-hour flight’s distance to two-thirds, the Gulf carriers strategically developed their airports as hubs to make use of their comparative geographic advantage.
Their rise has also coincided with the emergence of a new global middle class and
an attendant surge in global air travel. Unsurprisingly, the fastest-growing market in air travel comes from emerging economies – places that the Gulf carriers serve well. According to the Airbus’s Global Market Forecast, emerging markets will account for nearly two-thirds of all air travel by 2033.
Relatively recently, the Gulf carriers have begun direct flights to the US, encouraging Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Australian travelers to use the GCC as the hub for all their North American travels. Over the past five years, the Gulf carriers have flooded the zone, with some 252 direct flights a week from their respective hubs to 10 U.S. cities, from Seattle to Chicago to New York.
This has unseated the large American carriers, and some European carriers, as the airlines of choice for all trans-Atlantic travel, some of the most lucrative in aviation. As an example, Lufthansa the German national carrier has had its market share slashed by nearly a third since 2005, as some 3 million Germans annually opt for the Gulf carriers to take them to Asia.
The Gulf carriers also cite an American refusal to invest in their own carriers as potential reasons for increased traffic through the GCC. Qatar Airways, for example, made headlines, when it ordered 50 Boeing aircraft at a list price of USD 37.7 billion, while it is estimated that the Big Three Gulf Carriers will increase their collective fleets by 534 aircraft by 2027. The US carriers, meanwhile, suffered record losses in 2008, and only recovered by raising their prices while refusing to expand capacity on domestic flights.
Ultimately, many cite the hypocrisy of the American carriers who, in times of plenty, were the ones to negotiate the original Open Skies agreements, having established 100 such agreements in 1992 alone. These agreements are widely credited with expanding the global footprint of the US carriers, and benefiting cities like Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Las Vegas, Memphis, Minneapolis, Portland, and Salt Lake City, which had virtually no international flights prior to 1992. It also was a boon to US tourism, air cargo, airports, and the aviation industry at large.
“There is no olive branch on this issue,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Mr. Akbar al-Baker at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual meeting in Miami. Under the agreements, “we can deploy as much capacity as we want in the US and the US carriers can deploy as much capacity as they want in my country.”
Still others feel the allegation of subsidies by the GCC governments by the American carriers only draws attention to the many safety nets already provided to the US carriers. After the 9/11 attacks, US carriers received some USD 15 billion in direct cash payments and loan guarantees from Washington. What’s more, the Fly America Act demands that US government employees use US carriers for domestic and international travel – a boon to the industry, with a whopping USD 9 billion spent on travel by the US government, according to the General Services Administration.
The GCC carriers, for their part, have retaliated, stating that consumers enjoy their award-winning premium service and benefit from their global connectivity all across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East
Many, including US-based global cargo carrier FedEx Corp and Emirates code-share partner JetBlue Airways Corp, feel that the move by the Americans for Fair Skies is nothing short of harmful protectionism which will set a bad precedent while adversely affecting the international aviation market. “Any rollback of liberal market access and Open Skies policies will reverberate across the whole world and will lead to retaliatory protectionism affecting all aspects of trade,” said Mr. Al-Baker.
Rail spearheads transportation plans in Qatar
Qatar is building a freight and passenger rail network that will span 525 kilometers when it is completed, as well as embarking on a major national road redevelopment program.
Transport by road is the only means of getting around Qatar and, with the road network seriously underdeveloped, congestion is rampant. During peak hours, trucks are banned from Doha, but principal arteries are still regularly clogged. This will only get worse as the population grows, visitor numbers increase and project activity builds, requiring manpower and supplies to be moved to and from sites around the country.
The freight railway will run from the industrial city of Ras Laffan in the northeast to the New Doha Port at Mesaieed in the southeast. The line will have a spur to the gas processing facilities in Dukhan in the west. When complete, it will have the capacity to carry 11 million tons a year of cargo.
The country’s metro project, meanwhile, is 18% complete, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Transport HE Mr. Jassem Saif Al-Sulaiti. The USD 21 billion Doha Metro will play an important role in moving people around the city during the FIFA 2022 World Cup, although its final stages will not be completed until 2026. The metro will have four lines, with 93 stations spread over 354 kilometers of track. It includes connections to town centers, stadiums and commercial and residential areas, running underground in central Doha and above ground or along elevated sections in the city’s outskirts.
Directly addressing the problems with the roadways, Ashghal has been tasked with upgrading and expanding the road network in the capital and across Qatar. It has divided this challenge into two parts: the USD 20 billion expressway program will provide transportation links across the peninsula, connecting key cities, towns and villages with modern national freeways and urban arterial routes; and the USD 14.6 billion Local Roads and Drainage Program (LRDP) will upgrade and expand existing roads and drainage networks across the country.
The expressway program comprises 30 highway schemes around the country, including new and upgraded freeways, expressways and arterial roads, as well as major upgrades to existing roads. The program should deliver about 900 kilometers of new roads, as well as underpasses, flyovers and multiple-level interchanges.
Two of the major road projects most recently announced have been the Rawdat Rashed project and the Lusail Expressway. Rawdat Rashed is expected to be converted into
an international expressway as a means to avoiding some of the major accidents occurring on the road. These accidents occurred as a result of the long, single-lane roadway having poor support in terms of infrastructure and lighting. The 5.8 kilometer Lusail Expressway will meanwhile be the first in the country to extend over infrastructure tunnels supporting drainage and electricity cables, in addition to the tunnels needed for the 1106 meter light rail transit (LRT) line. The project is nearly 40% complete, and is expected to be activated during the second quarter of 2017.
The country continues to see progress in its other points of access. The New Doha International Airport Steering Committee is expected to tender construction work next year for the expansion of the hub at the Hamad International Airport. The upgrade will add 24 contact gates and extend the terminal to 900,000 square meters, with capacity for 50 million passengers a year.
The USD 20 billion expressway program will provide transportation links across the peninsula, connecting key cities with modern national freeways and urban arterial routes; and the USD 14.6 billion Local Roads and Drainage Program (LRDP) will upgrade and expand existing roads and drainage networks across the country
The New Doha Port continues its Phase 1 development plan, which will have a capacity of 2 million TEUs a year and 2 million tons of general cargo when it opens in 2016. By 2025, further phases will add a new container terminal, taking capacity to more than 12 million TEUs.
The port will include facilities for general cargo, offshore supply vessels, a terminal for the import of vehicles, and a large dock terminal. A new base for the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces will also be built offshore for the country’s navy and visiting naval vessels from around the world. Meanwhile, plans are underway to convert the current Doha Port so it can be used by cruise liners once cargo operations move to New Doha Port in 2016. In 2011, the government suggested 6,000 rooms on cruise ships would be used to accommodate football fans visiting Qatar for the World Cup.