In addition, a digital dashboard has also been developed for hosts, allowing them to freely add experiences and communicate with travellers. It is the first to use the Arabic language in its user interface, which is crucial for the region's tourism indicators. Although, currently only available in English and Arabic, the team plans on adding more languages for users, including Russian, Chinese and Spanish within the next year. All of these factors, when combined, makes ViaVii's value-added and personalised offerings completely unique when compared to other services and apps across this highly competitive sector.
ViaVii will launch another key feature for their online platform this summer – a digital itinerary planner – for visitors to major events held in Qatar to ensure that the focus of travel-related entities in the country will be to offer personalized and authentic visitor experiences. ViaVii's team believes this technology will address what travellers are looking for during their visit to Qatar and the region.
Rola Fayyad, ViaVii's Founder and Chief Executive Officer, says the need to create this platform comes from the fact that most people traveling to the Middle East do not or are not able to fully experience everything the region has to offer: "What caught my attention the most was that travellers to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region struggled to find and discover new experiences, or things to do, that allowed them to explore new cultures and meet new people. People these days have become more aware of the real value of travel that goes beyond just sightseeing and attractions; they are looking to be exposed to different cultures, languages and cuisines, all while meeting new and interesting people.
"Our main goal is to connect people in the most meaningful of ways. For that reason, all the experiences available on our platform are designed and hosted by amazing residents of a community who are eager to share their culture and talents with travellers. It's a win/win situation for both the curious travellers and the welcoming hosts. To date, ViaVii offers more than 3,500 ready-to-buy immersive digitally delivered experiences, of which only 20 percent were active due to COVID-related lockdowns during the last year."
Having been in the travel industry for more than a decade, Fayyad had a solid understanding of travellers' needs which helped her identify some major gaps in the industry and prompted her to start ViaVii in 2019.
The start-up received seed investment from the Tech Venture Fund (TVF) that is managed by Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), and is aimed at specifically supporting innovative local start-ups and attracting international start-ups to the region.
The support QSTP has afforded this unique venture highlights the Park's pioneering role within QF RDI and across the wider innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar. Crucially, QSTP's efforts directly contribute to the realisation of the goals set out in the Qatar National Vision 2030.
With the FIFA World Cup 2022™ scheduled to take place in Qatar in less than 18 months' time, the deployment of TVF capital into a company that could help millions of visitors to Qatar next year – likely a large percentage of whom are visiting the country for the first time. A practical addition to the local ecosystem, the app has the potential to enhance the experience of those attending this global sporting event, while also contributing to the diversification of the Qatari economy.
ViaVii – currently in the process of setting up an office at QSTP Free Zone, home to research and technology development centres of some of the world's largest tech corporations and industry leaders – received TVF backing after winning Challenge 22, which is focused on spotlighting the region's innovative nature and entrepreneurial spirit.
Challenge 22 is the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy's flagship innovation program; the organisation responsible for delivering the required infrastructure for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
"We're so proud to have an opportunity to potentially serve hundreds of thousands of visitors to Qatar over the next couple of years, that are either here for business, on holiday or to attend events such as mega sporting tournaments, " Fayyad said. "So many travellers today are looking for an empathetic platform, with personalized user-experience and authentic content designed and hosted by amazing locals, ultimately making travel more purposeful. ViaVii provides just that."
Looking at the bigger picture and the significance of QSTP in their company's progress, Fayyad said that finding the right investor is not an easy process. She commented: "During our journey we always sought partners and not just a cheque. During my years fundraising, QSTP was the only investor, out of several, that focused on the team rather than just a product, which is the reason start-ups succeed – due to the team behind them.
"This made us more confident and happier knowing that they really believe in who we are and our vision – and this mindset is not common in our region. I would say we are excited for what the future holds for all of us."
The successful development of ViaVii yet again exemplifies QF RDI's strategic efforts through QSTP, to power technology development, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the fast-evolving tech development ecosystem across Qatar and the region.
Qatar Science & Technology Park
Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI), is a Free Zone, accelerator and incubator for tech-product development in Qatar. The Park fosters an innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar that works to accelerate commercialization of market-ready technologies to realize Qatar's national diversification drive.
QSTP's focus ranges across four overarching themes, comprising Energy, Environment, Health Sciences and Information & Communication Technologies (ICT), in line with the Qatar National Research Strategy announced in 2012.
Located in Qatar Foundation's Education City, QSTP has access to the vital resources of a cluster of leading research universities. Members of QSTP's Free Zone include Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), international corporations and research institutions. They are collectively committed to investing in new technology development programs, creating intellectual property, enhancing technology management skills and developing innovative new products.
QSTP supports QF RDI's economic and human development objectives for Qatar and is increasingly recognized as an international hub for applied research, innovation, incubation, and entrepreneurship.
For more information, please visit the QSTP website at www.qstp.org.qa
Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI)
The Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) division's role is to play an integral part in identifying and addressing challenges and opportunities across ICT, energy, environment and healthcare, in alignment with Qatar's national RDI strategy and priorities. QF RDI is at the forefront of Qatar's innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, accelerating economic development through supporting the commercialization of market-ready technologies and facilitating the creation of new high-tech products and services.
QF RDI is responsible for translating Qatar's national RDI strategy into specific initiatives and actions for Qatar Foundation's (QF) RDI entities. It also directs their efforts in relation to economic value creation, knowledge transfer and the establishment of mutually beneficial national and international RDI partnerships. To ensure these efforts deliver maximum impact, the QF Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation plans, coordinates and oversees all RDI-related activities across QF.
Qatar Foundation – Unlocking Human Potential
Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) is a non-profit organization that supports Qatar on its journey to becoming a diversified and sustainable economy. QF strives to serve the people of Qatar and beyond by providing specialized programs across its innovation-focused ecosystem of education, research and development and community development.
QF was founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, who shared the vision to provide Qatar with quality education. Today, QF's world-class education system offers lifelong learning opportunities to community members as young as six months through to doctoral level, enabling graduates to thrive in a global environment and contribute to the nation's development.
QF is also creating a multidisciplinary innovation hub in Qatar, where homegrown researchers are working to address local and global challenges. By promoting a culture of lifelong learning and fostering social engagement through programs that embody Qatari culture, QF is committed to empowering the local community and contributing to a better world for all.
For a complete list of QF's initiatives and projects, please visit: www.qf.org.qa
© Press Release 2021