GR’s man on the inside is in Qatar – read his updates from the MultaQa conference here


Right at home
The organisers of MultaqQa Qatar used the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous as their inspiration, which is one of the reasons I knew I’d feel at home here. It’s not exactly the same, of course, but they’ve definitely captured some of the feel. The cocktail reception and dinner last night, which was held outside amid palm trees and live music, took me back to standing on the terrace of the Hotel Hermitage chatting to the great and the good. I think I’m going to miss this place.

The Riberio enigma
As many of you probably know, Lloyd’s international markets director Jose Ribeiro is on the move, but the big question is: where will he turn up? I hear that the role is a chief executive position at a well-known international insurance company, but apparently it’s all hush-hush at the moment as to which one. I love a good mystery, but the suspense is killing me.

One pun too many
Reinsurance technology firm Qatarlyst’s brand name is a nice play on words, but I hope they don’t take the pun thing too far. Chief executive James Sutherland jokingly suggested yesterday that the company have a tagline that reads ‘electronic trading for the Middle E-ast’. One pun is enough, surely, James.

Powerful rhetoric
If there was anyone asleep in the auditorium when the Insurance Information Institute’s Bob Hartwig took to the stage this morning, he soon sorted that out. Bob’s speech may have been laden with statistics, but it was delivered with such gusto and volume that even the most weary, jet-lagged delegate would have struggled to sleep through it.


The big smoke
How I’m loving the annual MultaQa Qatar conference. Between the hot days and cool nights, I’m managing to squeeze my meetings and sessions in between hot coffee and bites of baklava. That said, last night I got a special treat for the first time and I fear anything less will now be unacceptable. As anyone can see, I am a man who enjoys fine cigars, so how welcome it was to be personally invited by none other than the top bod of Abu Dhabi International Insurance Company, Walid Sidani, to the private cigar room at the Ritz-Carlton to sample some of Cuba’s finest. Ahh, Arabian nights, like Arabian days. 

High praise
While it’s my first time here in Qatar, there are plenty of people who, having caught the MultaQa bug, keep coming back for more. Jet-setting International Insurance Society chief executive Michael Morrissey, who came for the first time last year, tells me the event is now a firm fixture in his diary. No small praise from a man who spends little time in one place. Based on my first impressions, I think it will become a regular event for me as well.

At the captain’s table
The conference may have just started, but there have already been plenty of opportunities to network and find out a bit about what’s going on. The highlight of last night was the opening reception, where the turnout threatened to exceed the capacity of the venue: the rather grandly titled upper deck of the Admiral’s Club. The big names were there, including Aon Benfield’s Geoff Bromley and Richard Posgate. And me of course.

Music to my ears
Another little snippet I heard today. Lloyd’s is a global business, but it always amazes me how far its traditions travel. In loose reference to the Lutine Bell at Lloyd’s, Gulf Re chief executive Michael Gertsch has installed a large Swiss cow bell in the office. Unlike the Lutine Bell, however, which is rung to signal large losses, I understand Michael’s bell peals in response to big deals.


It all begins here
What do you get if you cross an exotic location, Middle Eastern hospitality and a chance to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry? Me. This year’s MultaQa Qatar conference in Doha was too good to miss, so I’ll be along to keep an eye on proceedings and find out what’s what. While the speaker line-up looks great, MultaQa Qatar is about much more than just the auditorium sessions. So keep an eye out for my updates on who’s saying what off-stage.

Click here for GR’s coverage of MultaQa Qatar 2012.