The Business Year

Omar Hariri

SAUDI ARABIA - Transport

Omar Hariri

President, MAWANI

Bio

Mr. Hariri was appointed as President of Saudi Ports Authority in July 2021, where he leverages his deep knowledge of the region’s transport and logistics sector to oversee the development and implementation of the Authority’s strategy for the growth of the Saudi maritime and ports ecosystem. Prior to joining Mawani, Mr. Hariri served as CEO of Saudia Cargo and Saudi Logistics Services (SAL). He successfully steered both companies through an ambitious program of modernization, leading the development of infrastructure and overhaul of systems in line with the highest international standards. He also played a key role in both organizations’ efforts to attract and retain national cadres, with localization rates increasing to 95% during his tenure.

TBY talks to Omar Hariri, President of MAWANI, about the pandemic, human capital, and goals for the coming year.

What are some of the newer digital developments as part of the pandemic acceleration process?

Even though Mawani has initiated the move towards digital transformation prior to the pandemic, it certainly emphasized the necessity to speed up the transformation process in order to keep up with the current changes,  since in Mawani we strongly believe in digital transformation as one of our top priorities, which is how the Smart Ports Initiative came to light, by adopting the technologies of  the Fourth Industrial Revolution and their advanced applications, besides relying on AI, IoT, and 5G technology, and part of that is operating the berths using Super Post-Panamax container gantry cranes as it will create more high-caliber jobs for nationals, so instead of working directly above the cranes, which is certainly inconvenient, they can now operate the cranes remotely in a safer, more accessible environment for both male and female workers, and using electric cranes rather than fuel-powered cranes, which are all things we hope to introduce and implement in our systems, in order to achieve clean energy, as well as preserving the environment. All while we continued to enhance the ports systems established prior to the new approach,  such as the truck management system, which is a fully automated system for tracking and managing trucks entering ports, resulting in paperless transactions, reduced container dwell time, issuing digital permits, and more accessibility to schedule appointments, all of which have increased efficiency and productivity. Although we succeeded in setting these millstones, our ambitions are much higher, by focusing on digital transformation, we aim to upgrade our systems to be best-in-class, and improve the importers and exporters’ experience, additionally, we launched a new system in a joint venture with Tabadul, and we look forward to future partnerships that will further advance our systems and services as we continue our journey of digital development in Saudi ports.

How will Jeddah Islamic Port’s fully integrated logistics parks bolster the Kingdom’s competitive edge?

In light of the current transformation of all sectors in Saudi Arabia, there is a strong focus from our leadership and stakeholders to establish a sustainable maritime transport and logistics sector, which will tremendously support other industries as well as the economic growth, as a result, the National Transport and Logistics Strategy was launched by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, which opened the door for new opportunities to form partnerships and develop promising projects, such as the collaboration between Mawani and Maersk to build the first and the biggest logistics hub within the region, the agreement with Bahri to build an integrated logistics park, the agreement with CMA CGM to construct their first integrated logistics platform in the Middle East, and last but not least, the agreement with LogiPoint to build new warehouses villages, all of which will not only support national industries, but it will enormously enhance Jeddah Islamic Port’s operating capacity, and add value to existing services in order to make it one of the top ten ports in the world by 2030.

How does Mawani enable the private sector and private enterprises in logistics and port sectors to attract investment into its ports?

Mawani was one of the first government entities to excel at forging partnerships with the private sector, recently, we’ve established more than SAR 16 billion worth of investments in 2020 and 2021 during the course of the contracts, to develop and extend container terminals, allowing additional growth of capacity at Jeddah Islamic Port reaching 70% to 13 million TEUs, while increasing by 120% to 7.5 million TEUs at King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam. Last year, we’ve started the tendering process for eight multi-purpose terminal concessions in eight Saudi ports that cover all types of cargo, and this year, we’ve started the tendering process for new marine services concessions in 8 Saudi ports that cover several services including anchorage, pilotage, towage, berthing and unberthing and mooring, as well as additional services such as pollution control, firefighting, etc. Knowing that the community believes in our strategy and supports our vision, which aligns with the National Transport and Logistics Strategy as well as Saudi Vision 2030, raises the bar even higher for us to keep developing and attracting potential markets. i.e., East Africa today is not being served properly by our ports at the Red Sea, and that is a market we want to develop, expand and serve in the near future. While ports on the east coast, including King Abdulaziz Port and King Fahad Industrial Port in Jubail, play a major role in connecting Riyadh with multi-national companies to form more partnerships with the private sector.

Where is the emphasis in terms of retention and up-skilling Mawani’s human capital?

We are focusing on development. Today Saudis represent more than 98% of Mawani, as we have solid partnerships with local universities and excellent programs that deliver a high number of potential talents every year to join us. Additionally, we are focusing on empowering women in the ports, although we’ve yet to accomplish that as much as we hoped to, however, with the new automation initiatives, we aim to improve the percentage of women working in Saudi ports.

Considering your position in Mawani, what is your vision and what is driving you?

To achieve Mawani’s vision, considering the Kingdom’s strategic location, which push us forward to reach the ambitions we were set out to accomplish, such as increasing Saudi ports capacity to more than 40 million TEUs, raising the Kingdoms’ transshipment market share to 45%, and to reach more than 70% of ports occupancy rate, along with other goals that Mawani’s team is relentlessly working to fulfill, which makes me passionate to manage an entity of such significance to the national economy, and proud to be part of a team that has been on a transformation journey towards a prosperous future.

What are the goals and the ambitions for the next six to 12 months?

We are enthusiastic about unraveling the next chapter of our journey, considering that 2022 will be the year of execution. Currently, the main focus is to initiate the corporatization project, and splitting the roles of regulator from operation and management of the ports, by creating the Ports Company, as well as working on the goals we have set, and keep developing services, entities and partnerships, by attracting shipping lines, partnering with logistics companies, investing in Saudi ports, continuing the digital transformation and ensuring all the projects related are approved and fully implemented, along with maintaining the development of Mawani’s human capital, and most importantly, to keep gaining transshipment market share, even though the results of last year were great, as we’ve increased by 6% which makes the total of our market share today reach 26%, yet, we still aim to surpass that percentage, in order to be the preferred choice for shipping lines of network connectivity and transshipment, providing them with the necessary services and opportunities, all of which will greatly impact the development of Saudi ports.

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