The Business Year

Rajiv Pal CEO, S’hail Shipping

QATAR - Transport

Rajiv Pal

CEO, S’hail Shipping

Bio

Rajiv Pal started his career as a graduate engineer trainee at Essar Shipping Limited in Mumbai. Since then, he has remained in the shipping and maritime industry. Before joining S’hail Shipping, he was operating over USD1 billion of shipping assets in Singapore, prior to which he was the manager of business development and planning at Qatar Shipping Company (Q-Ship). He recently received the Global Leader of the Year 2020-21 award from URS AsiaOne.

S’hail Shipping plays a major role in global trade, providing shipping solutions to local industry.

S’hail Shipping plays a major role in global trade, providing shipping solutions to local industry.

How does S’hail Shipping positively impact Qatar’s role in global trade in dry bulk commodities?

Over 90% of global trade is conducted via sea, of which more than 50% involves carriage of dry bulk commodities like iron ore, coal, grain, minerals, and so on. This is equivalent to global shipment of about 5 billion tons of dry bulk commodities per year. The trade and shipment of dry bulk commodities is a massive global operation of immense importance to the world for proper management of its resources to the benefit of the mankind. To this end, since its incorporation in Dec 2016, S’hail Shipping is perhaps the only Qatari company that has transported over 12 million metric tons of dry bulk cargo across six continents connecting iron ore for steel plants or coal for power plants or grains for food and so on.

S’hail Shipping collaborates with around 343 local shareholders. How would you define this partnership, and to what extent does it influence the growth of the sector?

Qatar ranks as number one in per capita income, and naturally, there is a need for this income to find investment avenues for securing and growing the wealth. S’hail shipping provides a unique opportunity to local shareholders to own dry-bulk ships, which is different from traditional investments in oil and gas or real estate related assets. S’hail Shipping through its website provides access to its shareholders with all information including monthly updates of the financials, minutes of board meetings on various matters of importance to the company, and so on. This is aimed at creating shareholder interest, involvement, and confidence in the management and operation of dry-bulk ships rather than simply gathering the dividends at the end of the year. The company expects to grow this relationship between the business activity and shareholders resulting into a steady and profitable expansion of S’hail Shipping’s market size.

How interested is S’hail Shipping in expanding operations to other international markets?

Currently, 100% of S’hail Shipping’s revenue is generated from international markets. This makes the company a net contributor to Qatar’s foreign exchange. It also helps boost the local economy; for example, our entire multi-million-dollar hull and machinery insurance is covered by Qatar Insurance Company (QIC). The company aims to keep expanding its share in the international market.

How did the three-year blockade affect your operations, and what was the main lesson that you learnt from it?

This company was incorporated in December 2016 to primarily transport gabbro from the UAE to Qatar for local clients engaged in trading and construction activity. Between January and May 2017, the company swiftly acquired four large dry bulk carriers until suddenly Qatar found itself in midst of an embargo in June 2017. For us, although not an ideal scenario, we were able to immediately switch our business from regional to international shipments. The know-how to convert a materialized risk into a business opportunity helped the company overcome the intended damages of the blockade. The success in trading the ships internationally not only received the support of Qatar Development Bank to fund our expansion but also our own shareholders to increase our capacity.

What are the company’s main aspirations for 2022 and into 2023?

With the blockage now lifted, the company is well poised to provide shipping solutions to the local industry engaged in import of gabbro. To this extent, the company is engaged in discussion with major players in the local market. Hopefully, the company can add a portfolio of local market to its existing international contracts. 

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