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Naif Sultan Al Athel

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Excelling at Express

CEO, SMSA Express


Naif Sultan Al Athel is a Saudi Entrepreneur and CEO of SMSA Express. Al Athel has a proven executive management track record with over 10 years of regional and international experience. Currently, he plays an instrumental role in the growth and expansion of SMSA Express global operations and manages the largest revenue generating markets for the company. Also, he launched the Strategic Four Point Plan, which integrates SMSA Express with the market’s needs. Al Athel graduated in 2008 from Cambridge with a degree in business administration and completed several strategic management and executive education programs.

TBY talks to Naif Sultan Al Athel, CEO of SMSA Express, on the company's specialties, contributions to becoming a logistics hub, and innovative technologies.

What is SMSA Express’s history in Saudi Arabia, and what key services do you provide?

SMSA Express is the leading express transportation and logistics service provider of Saudi Arabia and has been operating since 1994. SMSA Express provides air-ground freight transportation services and logistics solutions, adapted to its clients’ needs within Saudi Arabia and around the world. SMSA has several services ranging from express, mail management solutions, freight forwarding, and a range of healthcare/cold-chain logistics services. Despite advancements in technology, the necessity of maintaining physical documents is a reality, which is why express has been our core business. SMSA also provides warehousing and distribution solutions to healthcare and e-commerce customers in both the public and private sectors. SMSA also excels in providing customized solutions to the banking industry throughout a dedicated special delivery channel for a fast and reliable delivery service.

One of Saudi Arabia’s key goals for the National Transformation Program and Vision 2030 is to become a logistics hub. How does SMSA Express contribute to this goal?

In order to achieve the key goals of becoming a logistics hub, Saudi Arabia needs to take many initiatives including setting up a state-of-the-art logistics infrastructure and its related services. SMSA has an extensive Kingdom-wide network of retail outlets and distribution channels, offering unparalleled access to all corners of the Kingdom. SMSA’s network strength, coupled with future infrastructure initiatives from the government, may transform the Kingdom into a regional logistics hub. For its part, SMSA has developed a bonded facility in King Fahd International Airport, Dammam and recently signed an agreement with General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to build a similar facility in King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh.

How does technology implementation drive efficiency?

Technology is always evolving and integrating new innovative tools and processes. Technology has not only simplified logistics networks but has also enriched its automation and connectivity, and has taken it to new heights. SMSA has become the leading express transportation and logistics service provider of Saudi Arabia through integrating technology with over 20 years of experience. Through the use of innovative technology, we have been able to analyze the packages being delivered within the network, allowing us to adapt to constant changes taking place within the Kingdom. We have been able to improve the customers’ experience by notifying them via SMS and email on the shipment details. With the help of technology, we have been able to develop a bundle of services made ready to suit businesses and e-commerce customers’ needs. These services can be as comprehensive as managing the supply chain, starting from the supplier till the end user. They have provided us with advances in address validation and ID verification with a drastic reduction in error, as a result making our services not only reliable but cost effective as well.

From what areas of your business are you seeing the most growth today?

We provide last-mile services to major e-commerce players, which have seen tremendous growth recently. Aside from this, SMSA operates a store-2-door service, which allows consumers in Saudi Arabia to purchase products from US retailers. We have also recently introduced a new service, called, which can be used by e-retailers of handcrafted products, social media traders, and web-based vendors to sell their products directly to end consumers.

What are your plans and expectations for the year ahead?

We foresee regional expansion in the short term with the aim of becoming a global player in the next five years.



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