UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Economy
Group Managing Director, Ali & Sons Holding
A graduate of University College London with a master’s in civil engineering, Shamis Al Dhaheri is a dynamic entrepreneur aiming to establish a world-class sustainable business group. He has international exposure spanning across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He is a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), the UK. Previously, he managed the Ruwais Housing Complex, a project worth AED2 billion. He is certified by the renowned Project Management Institute (PMI) in project management.
What sectors are the most appealing to Ali & Sons?
In general, Abu Dhabi is reliant on the oil and gas sector, which has always been a major contributor to its society and the primary driver of its economy. Within this space, there are more projects launching and a corresponding rise in the number of opportunities, which will have a positive effect on businesses over the next six to 12 months. The ongoing consolidation in the oil and gas industry is going to drive our focus in this space further by creating more relationships and partnerships. The entry of new investors also demonstrates that there is more trust in the market. Their investment brings more entities and businesses along with it, and that is all going to help the economy. Furthermore, the government has realized the value of economic support; hence, it launched the ‘Ghaddan 2021’ initiative, which includes a wide-ranging support package.
How do you create synergies within Ali & Sons subsidiaries?
The biggest challenge that most companies have is communication—whether it be digital, face-to-face, or even with the past via lessons learned. This is why Ali & Sons focuses on making people talk and communicate with each other. We want to continuously invent ways to streamline conversations and make them more accessible. For example, we focus on our ERP and quality systems, as well as on holding regular meetings with stakeholders and partner companies. At least quarterly, we have offsite discussions to exchange ideas and to just sit and take stock or have a structured brainstorming session. Intranet is also an important tool for us and a medium for developing and introducing new initiatives. We create award structures for employees with the best new ideas. We want to reach a point where our ERP reaches 80%, which we expect to achieve in 2020.
What are your thoughts on expanding outside of the UAE?
I would rather go international with a partner who has already done it. So, if ADNOC said it was entering other countries, I would go with them as they are my client, and I am comfortable working with them. They are, in fact, looking to move into overseas markets with some of their business units, and that is where our opportunity to go abroad lies. But there are a number of things we can do in the UAE. If you talk about the oil and gas sector, unconventional methods are coming up, and we in the UAE are still behind what is happening in North America. There is an increasing number of technologies, materials, and equipment that we can bring to the UAE. This means there are several opportunities left to uncover here at home.
What would you say to international investors about entering the Abu Dhabi market?
For our investment decisions in the UAE market, we consider the same variables that a foreign company would. They look at the long-term strategic investment potential, GDP growth, and the new plans coming in the region. Typically, the GCC has been a region that constantly bucks global market trends, meaning that even when there is a global downturn, the GCC still sees investment. At the same time, events in other parts of the world do affect domestic sentiment. In general, the GCC’s business community relies heavily on belief and gut feelings, and its investors tend to develop emotional attachments to the businesses they are building. This means that as long as they are able to, they usually continue sustaining their investments for the long term, which creates a climate of stability. With all this in mind, if you are looking for a region that is stable, has a clean legal structure, is always looking for advancements, challenges, and technology, and is a base from which you can enter other neighboring geographies, there is no better place than the UAE.