The Business Year

Khalid A. Abunayyan


Powering The Future

President & CEO, Abunayyan Holding


Khalid A. Abunayyan began in 1985 as a Manager at MIS, specializing in water, wastewater, and agricultural products. In 1993, he became General Manager of United Food Company. In 1990, he was assigned the responsibility for a takeover of Abunayyan Electric Corporation (AEC) and remained General Manager for 11 years. The same year AEC was founded, Abdullah Abunayyan Establishment converted to a limited liability company and Abdullah Abunayyan Trading Corporation (ATC) was created. Abunayyan took over the general management of ATC in 2001, transforming it into one of the region’s leading companies specializing in water, wastewater, power, instrumentation and control, and logistics solutions. He became President and CEO of Abunayyan Holding in 2007. Abunayyan earned a BA in Business Administration and Computer Science from Western Washington University.

Abunayyan has been successful in Saudi Arabia and has participated in some of the nation’s most important infrastructure projects. What strategies have helped Abunayyan to achieve this impressive record? Our […]

Abunayyan has been successful in Saudi Arabia and has participated in some of the nation’s most important infrastructure projects. What strategies have helped Abunayyan to achieve this impressive record?

Our company has grown to become the leading solutions provider for water and power in the Middle East and North Africa. Today, we comprise 14 companies, which we refer to as Strategic Business Units (SBUs). Our companies basically design and innovate solutions in the water and power segments, which are extremely important for any society, but more so for Saudi Arabia. Focusing on the whole value chain is one of the reasons that our strategy has been a success, and this is why we are today the leading solutions provider in the water and power segment. We have grown by building this core business value proposition.

How are you positioning yourself to take advantage of the development of a knowledge-based economy?

We are unique in our local integration capabilities, providing total turnkey solutions that we design, produce, and implement. As a result, our customers feel secure that they don’t have to work with three or four different companies trying to find out what works and what doesn’t. We have contributed many milestone projects in the country. For example, in October 2013 we commissioned the largest reverse osmosis desalination plant in Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, providing 240,000 cubic meters of desalinated seawater a day. We have contributed highly advanced technologies in wastewater treatment and recycling, and have just started the final commissioning of the Najran plant. This facility employs membrane bioreactor technology (MBR), a highly advanced form of wastewater treatment technology. We built the largest barges in the world used for seawater desalination, comprising two barges capable of desalinating 50,000 cubic meters of seawater a day.

How do you see your role in the development of Saudi Arabia as an economy?

The world is facing a major shortage of potable water resources, and these are under continuous stress around the globe. Scarce supply, pollution, and changing climatic conditions lead to the uneven distribution of water, and each of these are major long-term problems for the globe, not just for Saudi Arabia. These will become more challenging, particularly in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia gets little rainfall, and our underground water is limited and exhaustible as a result. Saudi Arabia will be one of the countries that faces some of the biggest challenges in terms of providing its citizens with potable water.

As the Saudi economy grows and diversifies, which of your lines of business do you anticipate will see the strongest growth?

We believe our power and water business will continue to grow, simply because of the demand/supply gap that we see, and also considering the plans that have been officially launched by the Saudi Electric Company (SEC) in power generation capacity as well as the National Water Company’s initiatives and projects aimed at further developing the water infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, through strategic storage tanks, treated sewage effluents, and wastewater facilities and networks. We also believe that our oil and gas business, which is small today and still in incubation, will expand, and will make further investments into this sector by focusing on the local transfer of technology and integration. We are now investing in two plants in Dammam, one for the manufacturing of electric switchgears, and the other for the maintenance of turbines and other power generation equipment.

Do you plan on going into renewable energy?

This is one of our growth areas, and we plan to focus more on renewable green energy. ACWA Power International is currently building the largest solar power plant in the world in Morocco. It is 160 MW, and uses concentrated solar power technology. In Saudi Arabia, we have a company called Sun & Life that’s focused on solar power. Recently we partnered with Teqnia, which has acquired 50% of Sun & Life, and the company is now called Teqnia Solar. The aim of the company is to build engineering, construction, and project management capabilities, including the transfer of solar power technology to Saudi Arabia.



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