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KUWAIT - Health & Education

Khadija Oubala

CEO, The Sultan Centre

Bio

Khadija Oubala is the CEO of Sultan Center Group and serves on its board of directors. She joined The Sultan Group in 2016 and has a combined experience of more than 20 years in retail, real estate, investments, and strategy. Prior to joining The Sultan Center Group, Oubala served as VP of strategy and investments at NREC, principal at Arcapita Bank, and portfolio manager at Assiya Investments. She holds an MSc in real estate development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Stern School of Business, New York University. She is a Fulbright scholar, a recipient of MIT Memorial Fellowship, and a member of Young Presidents Organization.

"Sultan fully embraces the role it will play in becoming a sustainable business and was one of the early adopters of recyclable shopping bags as early as 2016."
Sultan Centre in 2018 introduced a plastic use reduction initiative. What has been the outcome of this initiative?

This is a hot topic and one on the agenda globally. Sultan fully embraces the role it will play in becoming a sustainable business and was one of the early adopters of recyclable shopping bags as early as 2016. The practices that we have built are the first key steps that will hopefully catapult us in the right direction. We have actively trained our staff because anything that deals with sustainability should be understood at the individual level. We digitalized and streamlined our processes and have moved towards becoming a paperless organization. When it comes to our regional initiatives and major projects, in Jordan we signed a solar project that covers about 40% of our energy consumption. In agriculture, we signed an off-take agreement with the company Pure Harvest to set up a smart farming facility in Kuwait. The reason for that is two-fold, one is food security. Second, we will be more sustainable by avoiding pollution caused by shipping of essential products. In these times of challenges in supply chains and worrying geopolitics, as a country that relies heavily on imports, Kuwait should have other options regarding food security.

Regarding digitization, what system and tools are you using to leverage your success?

We are a firm believer of data driving the business. Luckily for us, we have been in the market for over 40 years already, which gives us plenty of data to work with. We have one of the oldest loyalty programs in the region and with that we have accumulated a rich database of customers; what they like and how they shop. This allowed us to re-imagine and re-launch our loyalty program called Kanzee that speaks to our customers’ individual shopping behaviors by offering them customized offers and promotions. The other ways we have endeavored to leverage that data is to create a system powered by AI that allows us to control what we buy to replenish products at a specific store. Thus, we have a dynamic replenishment system instead of buying and storing. Finally, we utilize social media for promotions and marketing to attract customers to the store. E-commerce is also one of the business areas we have recently dedicated considerable focus to.

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