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Othman AlSaleh

President, X-Smart Group

Abdullah Al Barrak

President, Abdullah Al Barrak & Sons (ABIS)

Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is opening up to foreign investment and local companies are eyeing this opportunity to learn modern skills and nurture an innovation-centered domestic culture.

Can you give a brief overview of the company?

OTHMAN ALSALEH We work mainly with oil, gas, and chemical companies. Since August 2014, the number of companies that we represent has almost tripled. We now represent many different companies from all over the world. We select these companies based on experience and brand name. Our focus is mainly on industries: oil, gas, petrochemicals, chemicals, fertilizers, and steel. Some of our clients are Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), Marafeq, Maaden, and Aramco. Moreover, we represented Tata from India (TCE), GS from Korea, and as well as certain companies from the US and Europe.

ABDULLAH AL BARRAK ABIS was established in 1999 in Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia. We offer qualitative and efficient industrial services along with industry leading safety practices. We have been providing various services to the oil and gas, petrochemicals, fertilizer, and Steel industries. In Saudi Arabia, our services include shutdown, manpower, and equipment rental. The group consists of BISCAT for housing and catering, ABICON for civil construction, ABIAC for air conditioning and electromechanical works, ABIS Al Asmakh for real estate, CRE for chemical recycling, and ABPF for polycarbonate sheet manufacturing. We are amongst the leading service providers in the GCC market, and our major clients are Dow Chemical in Kuwait, Borouge in Abu Dhabi, Aramco, Maaden, and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

How has the opening up of Saudi Arabia to companies impacted the sector?

OA Saudi Arabia has a great deal to offer, though unfortunately this is not accurately reflected in the media. We are the largest exporter of oil in the world, and we have the largest oil production facility, the largest gas plant, the biggest power plant, and the biggest desalination plant. Apart from being strategically located between three continents, the Kingdom possesses minerals that can be a great source of income. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is set between two seas that can support its export/import business. The country has a young and educated population; what it needs is management; we need someone to steer, and this government will show that through Vision 2030.

AAB This policy to open the doors for new foreign direct investment can bring positive effects and add value to the Saudi economy. With our amount of experience of working with international companies, the addition of foreign companies will be an added advantage to the domestic industry. Companies like Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Shell have already been investing for more than 50-60 years, providing a bundle of assets including long-term finance, new technologies, skills and management, and market access. The group is considering entering into international joint ventures with oil and gas companies as it would be highly beneficial to us to understand new technologies and skills; in the long run, an increase in foreign investment would provide better opportunities for Saudization.

How have some of the ambitions under Vision 2030 impacted your business?

OA Technology has grown so fast, and several new government regulations have taken place across the board for improvements and benefits. It is even possible to get in touch with ministries online now. Localization is another welcome ambition, with initiatives like Aramco’s IKTVA having a real impact. Notably, the government’s focus on vocational training significantly helps to create a highly capable Saudi workforce for the future.

Can you tell us about the relevance of nuclear, solar, and wind energy to your work?

AAB We are excited by the announcement that SoftBank will build a 200-GW solar plant in Saudi Arabia. This is of particular interest to us because this project has been proposed to be developed in the region between Dammam and Al Hasa City. This project will change the landscape of Saudi Arabia, which is set to be amongst the leading nations in the area of renewable electricity with effective cost reductions. Our new polycarbonate extrusion sheets can play a vital role in the solar energy project because of its extreme durability and resistance to harsh conditions.



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