QSTP, Part Of QF, Supported Start-up To Offer Personalized Itineraries For Visitors To Qatar
ViaVii, recipient of seed investment from QSTP's Tech Venture Fund, will provide more meaningful cultural experiences hosted and curated by Qatar's residents
DOHA, Qatar, July 13, 2021 /CNW/ -- Visitors travelling to Qatar for tourism and attending mega sporting events will now be able to personalize their travel itineraries through ViaVii, a Jordanian technology venture providing web-based services, which has received support and financial investment from Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), a part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI). This digital technology venture promises travellers a more meaningful cultural experience, hosted and curated by citizens and residents of the Gulf State.
ViaVii, an online platform accessible through viavii.com, is a hyper-personalized platform where sightseers can explore and book genuine in-destination travel experiences that are adjustable on-the-move and can connect users with residents of Qatar at any time. A mobile application will also soon be available for download through Apple and Google app stores.
Among its many features, ViaVii will provide opportunities for visitors to experience cooking traditional Qatari food, enjoy the local arts scene, hear captivating stories of tradition and heritage, spend the night in the desert and partake in heritage walking tours.
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 durng 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.
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SOURCE Qatar Science & Technology Park