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Al Tasnim

OMAN - Real Estate & Construction

Mohit Khimji

CEO, Al Tasnim Group

Bio

Mohit graduated from the University of Loughborough in 2013 with a bachelor of science in accounting and finance. Thereafter, he joined Al Tasnim Group and at present, he is Chief Executive Officer of the group and is heading all group divisions.

"Al Tasnim Group has been involved in what is called horizontal construction in the oil and gas sector for several years now, positioning us as a leader in the Oman construction sector."
TBY talks to Mohit Khimji, CEO of Al Tasnim Enterprises, Al Tasnim Group, about winning a major PDO, project design processes, and incorporating emerging technologies.
Al Tasnim Group was awarded a major PDO project recently. Can you briefly describe the project and its impact on the company?

Al Tasnim Group has been involved in what is called horizontal construction in the oil and gas sector for several years now, positioning us as a leader in the Oman construction sector. We are honored to have been awarded the Off-Plot Delivery Contract in collaboration with PDO, a significant project in the southern Oman oil and gas sector. The seven-year contract involves constructing well pads, connecting them with a network of flowlines, laying pipelines connecting to the gathering station and manifolds, , building access roads, and managing electrical & instrumentation infrastructure. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we remain committed to fulfilling the contract, contributing to PDO’s vital role in delivering the oil supply for the entire country. Our extensive experience with PDO positions us well for this project, and we eagerly anticipate its successful execution, emphasizing our dedication to safety and quality in the post-COVID-19 era.

What is your assessment of Oman’s construction sector, and what segments of the sector do you believe will drive growth?

The construction sector in Oman has always been a major contributor to Oman’s development, and we anticipate a post-COVID-19 boom in 2024. This surge is expected across various domains, including civil construction, oil and gas, and road construction. Recent projects awarded in these sectors, coupled with discussions on new models involving government and private sector investment, indicate a noteworthy shift. Tourism projects, such as hotels, and new city plans, such as the Sultan Haitham City, are also emerging, giving a simultaneous boost to healthcare, education and the retail sector in Oman. The current momentum spans diverse sectors, making it challenging to pinpoint a singular focus for construction. Al Tasnim Group operates across all aspects of construction, acting as a main contractor for large projects as well as a supplier for concrete, glass, aluminum, marble and other building materials. We also have our own product dealership division. Our track record includes diverse projects such as commercial buildings, hospitals, villas, factories, roads, and mosques, covering the entire gamut. Given the scale and depth of our operations, we look forward to contributing to the upcoming boom in the construction industry.

Does Al Tasnim Enterprises handle project design internally or does it engage architectural firms for this purpose?

We have a comprehensive in-house design team that covers various segments in the design lifecycle. For areas where we lack expertise, we bring in external support. Our backward integration includes expertise in marble, carpentry, aluminum, and MEP, allowing us to provide end-to-end services as a one-stop shop. Unlike other contractors that may subcontract certain activities, we handle everything in-house. Additionally, we are open to being subcontractors for successful contractors, supplying concrete, blocks, and marble works. This versatility adds another dimension to our construction capabilities.

Does this imply that even if you do not secure a contract, you can still participate in the project?

Yes, and we have. Our backward integration enhances our capabilities, ensuring synergy and efficiency. Our primary focus remains on projects of national importance, collaborating with reputable clients and construction partners. We seek projects that excite us, and our strong integration with Oman adds significant value to the work we undertake. Presently, our workforce exceeds 20,000 employees, with a significant portion being Omani. In terms of localization of the supply chain, close to 30% of our turnover comes from local SMEs in Oman. Al Tasnim Enterprises is among the largest employers in the private sector, if not the largest. We encompass a people element, a procurement facet, and an investor role, contributing significant investments to Oman. With 99% of our business focused in Oman, we continually invest in the country, manufacturing locally for both domestic and international projects.

Regarding procurement of materials, such as cement, how easy or challenging is it to source them locally?

It was challenging when Oman was emerging, though no longer. Now, cement is entirely manufactured in Oman. The supply chain for significant projects can be 100% local, with procurement consisting of 70% local products. Only the major MEP items that are not manufactured here may come from outside, but it is only a matter of time before such capabilities are also developed in Oman.

Regarding technology adoption, how do you evaluate the incorporation of emerging technologies like AI and drones in construction?

Our company heavily invests in technology. For example, we have implemented a system called iLMS (Integrated Logistics Management System), a comprehensive vehicle management system developed in-house for management of our entire fleet. iLMS helps our plant & equipment management teams with real-time vehicle monitoring and performance-tracking, right down to the individual driver-level. Our control center, operated by Omanis, oversees fuel usage, tire condition, and more. Additionally, we are exploring drone technology for surveying and evaluating the integration of AI into our processes. The aim is to leverage AI to enhance performance tracking through iLMS to a zero-error, zero-violation standard. At Al Tasnim, we constantly evaluate and embrace new technologies to boost productivity and address challenges in the construction industry. iLMS is only one of many initiatives we have undertaken to improve our safety records and overall productivity, crucial in overcoming construction industry challenges.

How is sustainability integrated into your operational philosophy and into the construction industry in Oman?

There is a global and industry-wide shift to sustainability, particularly in construction which starts predominantly at the design stage. We actively engage in designing and deploying sustainable practices on our sites, even having achieved LEED Gold certification for certain buildings. Collaborating with clients and LEED consultants, we aim to elevate projects to Platinum status. Sustainability also extends to our own factories, emphasizing efficient waste and water management, as well as energy conservation. Even iLMS, while primarily a driver performance and vehicle management tool, contributes to environmental sustainability through route optimization and fuel efficiencies. The integration of technology in our operations enhances efficiency at every level, fostering an inherent culture of sustainability.

Is the balance between financial sustainability and environmental sustainability a challenge or an opportunity for the construction sector?

Compliance with laws is simpler when costs are favorable, but there are numerous sustainability initiatives that can be cost-effective for companies. Improving productivity, saving fuel, and enhancing LEED certifications, for example, need not pose significant commercial challenges. The key is to assess the cost-benefit balance. Overall, every decision involves a balancing act—an opportunity or challenge, sometimes both. Companies should focus on what they can feasibly achieve.

What challenges does Al Tasnim Enterprises anticipate facing?

The primary challenge in construction is managing productivity, particularly with the evolving distractions like social media and mobile phones. Addressing this involves a multi-faceted approach, encompassing technology, motivation, and the human aspect. In our industry, where blue-collar workers play a crucial role, integrating technology and managing distractions like AI on phones becomes essential. Balancing these elements is more challenging than it was 15 years ago.

What is your outlook for the company and the country in 2024?

I am optimistic about the increased movement and improvement in the economy, anticipating a surge in projects and development. Our construction and allied services are already flourishing, and I foresee a significant boom in 2024. Additionally, I am excited to witness the enthusiasm among the younger Omani nationals working with us—I believe their energy will make a positive difference.

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