QATAR - Industry
CEO, Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company (QIMC)
Abdul Rahman Abdulla Al-Ansari, a Qatari national, born in 1960, is a well-known figure in local business circles. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Qatar University, he is currently the CEO of Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company (QIMC). Having joined the company in 1991 as Director (Administration & Finance), he was elevated to the position of CEO in 2008. In this capacity, Mr. Ansari also sits on the Board of many of its subsidiary and associate companies. He is also a Board Member of Qatar-Oman Investment Co., a public shareholding company, listed on the Qatar Exchange. In addition, he serves as a Member of the Qatar-Oman Joint Committee. Previously, he had worked as the Deputy Secretary General of the Environmental Protection Committee of the Qatari Government.
In the late part of the 20th Century, Qatar’s leadership recognized the need for national transformation from being a trading economy to an industrial one. There was a need particularly for small- and medium-scale industries in the country; however, businesses and individuals were still hesitant to invest in industry, which is why the state of Qatar launched a strategy to change the perception of the private sector and businessmen, as well as to encourage them to invest in the industrial sector. The visionary government led the way by investing in fully serviced industrial zones and establishing the Qatar Development Bank. They invited SMEs to invest in industry and established the Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company. Thanks to the country’s able leadership and the hard work of all our employees, we have been very successful and stood the test of time. We now have investments in more than 16 small- to-medium-scale industrial projects, and so far, they are all doing very well. At the same time, we are pursuing our expansion and diversification strategy in earnest.
This is the return on our diverse industrial projects that are already operational. These were undertaken with a view to sustaining growth and profitability. At the same time, we are fairly consistent in providing returns to our shareholders, in terms of dividend distribution, so that they enjoy both short- and long-term benefits. The steady market price that QIMC’s shares command in the Qatari Financial Market is testament to the faith our shareholders have in us. We also have many new projects in the pipeline, and are always exploring new opportunities, as well as conducting feasibility studies for new technologies and projects. We work closely with our partners and the management team of all our subsidiaries and associates in shaping their strategies, which differentiates us from other companies that merely play the role of investors.
KLJ has plants that produce chlorinated paraffin in India and Thailand. We reviewed all of its products, marketing, and technology worldwide, and found them to be the best technology partner for us. However, negotiations, legal formalities, and due diligence have taken longer than expected. We are participating in this joint venture with a partnership stake of up to 60%. Now that the project is moving on a fast track, we believe the plant will be commissioned at the start of 2015.
Qatar is a small market, which is a disadvantage and a challenge. There are limited opportunities in the industrial sector and even within that, there is competition from all over. For example, formaldehyde, chlorinated paraffin, and sulfuric acid are supplied to the country from around the region, and even though we have our own group of companies producing these, we still have to compete with international entities. Qatar is currently reliant upon its oil and gas wealth, but this will not last forever. Therefore, we need to diversify and pursue sustainable industrial development. And to do this, we need to understand what our resources are and formulate a strategy around our competitive advantage, which we can successfully execute. Of course, we must be conscious of the need for social change and active participation of the Qatari community in various areas, which is essential for the success of such a strategy. We are working hard, but I still think more needs to be done, particularly with regard to industrial zone infrastructure and the industrial sector as a whole, so as to encourage the private sector to focus more on value-added manufacturing using locally available resources. We currently export oil and gas; however, we have to look at value addition and sustainability, which are very important, and a priority for the State of Qatar. There are many positive developments, as in the case of the construction of the Ras Laffan industrial zone and new infrastructure such as the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) and the new port to support the country’s resources. We have to utilize this opportunity. Qatar is focusing its efforts on making the necessary improvements, but I still think there is much more to do.
We have many projects in the pipeline both in Qatar and the region. In April 2013, I visited Saudi Arabia where we have two projects planned. We hope to be able to announce these projects during 2013. We also perceive opportunities within Qatar in the years ahead and hopefully this will rub off on our entire portfolio. Keeping this in mind, we have already embarked on expansion and capacity building in many of our group companies so that we will be ready for the much-awaited boom. At the same time, we must accept that the country faces huge challenges across all sectors to implement all projects planned for the coming years, such as railways, stadiums, and other infrastructure projects, while successfully managing the economy and not allowing inflation to rise to the point where it harms industry and the people. We need to look at how this will affect the country, the economy, manpower, and inflation, and how the government will manage the resources available to ensure success. This is a major challenge, and not an easy task. The projects need sound due diligence that requires transparency and the availability of relevant reports in the public domain. This will boost the confidence of investors and the public at large. I fervently hope we don’t see a repeat of what happened in 2006, with rents in the industrial zone skyrocketing and even small workshop spaces costing QAR3,000 per month. Also, a steep increase in residential rental prices would result in higher delivery cost. It is very also important to ensure that there is a structured implementation strategy and a timetable for completion of all the projects, while keeping all macro economic parameters under control. I have full faith and confidence in the ability of the country’s leadership in spearheading and guiding this challenging, yet exciting phase of development. They have already indicated that local companies, especially SMEs, will enjoy preference in the execution of these projects. And so we will ensure that the subsidiaries and associates of QIMC are ready to seize the opportunities and deliver to their fullest potential.
© The Business Year – September 2013