In our daily work, it is all too easy to forget that Avantgarde is an international company with offices scattered around the world. One of them is our branch in Doha/Qatar. We caught up with Markus Hofmeister, it’s managing director, to get a few insights into life next to a desert. If you don’t know particularly much about the small country on the Arabian Peninsula this is the perfect time to brush up your knowledge!
Hey Markus, can you please introduce yourself?
I am Markus, the MD of Avantgarde in Qatar. I have started our office back in 2011 with a one way ticket in my pocket, a couple of good ideas and blessings from Guido [Emmerich] and Martin [Schnaack]. I was born and raised in Munich and I followed Avantgarde closely during my professional career with different agencies. Now 4 years on I am still following – but this time our mission “creating fans.”
Can you describe the Avantgarde office for us?
We are a one of the smaller Avantgarde offices with eight permanent team members. We are located in the old center of Doha, around 20 minutes from the West Bay, surrounded by all kinds of small shops and markets. Our daily business is very similar to all our major offices, live communication for local and international clients with a German touch when it come to the execution of our ideas. The main difference for me are the dynamics of a fast growing country compared to Europe and its ambition to impress the world with its projects. To be part of such a time is an exiting experience for all of us.
Most people know Qatar from its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. What else should we know about the country?
The World Cup bid has become the stage for Qatar to the world with all positive and negative aspects. I am a supporter of the World Cup in Qatar because the international pressure is helping the country to develop in the right direction in a much faster way. Hospitality is deeply rooted in the Arabic culture. I thoroughly recommend getting in touch with the local community to experience the real Qatar. I always compare Doha to Munich. Of course there are other places – like Dubai, Singapore or Berlin – which are more open or entertaining but a slightly more conservative approach with smaller communities is also offering big advantages. Maybe that’s the reason I don’t miss Munich too much.
Qatar is growing rapidly – both economically and by population. What can we expect from the Gulf state in the future?
The wealth of the country is still very young and over the next 20 years Qatar will become more and more an international player just because of its global investments. We will see global brands made in Qatar in the future and I am sure that we can expect amazing things.
What makes Doha a special place for you?
It’s a bit like living on a huge constriction site. Every day during my drive to the office I see something new. Everybody is talking or dreaming of the golden handshake which is exciting and also sometimes a challenge but living here is much more intense. The fact that even our water temperature during summer is higher then the average outside temperature during a German summer is also quite special.
If I had a few days to spend in Qatar, what would you recommend doing? Where can I get the best food in town? What to do for entertainment?
Must-do things are camel race track and Arabic meza (starters), which you can get at many places from high end to easy and simple but always super tasty. For fans of culture the Museum of Islamic Art is a must, everyone else will enjoy a Quad trip to the inland sea.
Is it true that it’s ok to pronounce Qatar any way you like it?
Not really. It’s more a K then a Q when it comes to the sound but it has to come from your palate which is quite tricky for every non-Arab.