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KUWAIT - Transport

Ravi Varrier

CEO, Al-Rashed International Shipping Company

Bio

Ravi Varrier has an illustrious 40-year career in Al-Rashed International Shipping Co. and is its CEO. The company has grown from leaps and bounds under his tenure. His vision is to grow the company and ensure all shareholders and stakeholders are kept happy at all times.

"Kuwait is a country strategically located on an intersection of three major continents."
In line with Kuwait’s advantageous location and its Vision 2035 to transform its economy, Al-Rashed International Shipping Company is working on improving its operations and strengthening its influence.
With the pandemic disrupting the logistics sector, how did Al-Rashed International Shipping overcome such challenges?

Kuwait was as affected by the pandemic as the rest of the world. Yet, Al-Rashed and my team of 185 staff managed to continue our business with the support of the Kuwaiti government. We received almost 70 curfew passes, which helped us continue our operations at the ports, handling ships, and logistical movements without much trouble. There were some delays with the authorities due to the limited staffing, but they had little impact on our performance. Quite frankly, our business was soon running as if nothing had happened. The company’s policy is “the sun rises, and the sun sets.” The pandemic did affect the revenue and the quality of business, but not the flow of it. Personally, I have always been interested in the shipping industry and have worked for many years in the sector. Al-Rashed has many long-lasting and reliable relationships with numerous companies. We handled projects for Hyundai, Tecnicas Reunidas (TRK), Siemens, Saipem, Flour, Halliburton, COSL and many others. Our diligent approach ensured that even during the pandemic we were successful.

What technologies and solutions have been implemented in Al-Rashed International Shipping to improve operations?

One major area where we digitized our processes was the in-office transactions. Most of the current activities are digital nowadays, including bank transfers, customs, port and other authorities. While some approvals and documentation with the authorities need a physical embodiment, things are moving digital in Kuwait, which is a sign of technical evolution in this part of the world. The majority of Kuwaiti organizations do not accept digital signatures unless they are officially signed by the authorities and companies. Thus, for now, digital documentation is still not accepted in Kuwait but the trend has started changing here too. At Al-Rashed, we are actively implementing several solutions to improve our service, although there is a limit when it comes to official agencies, which can only be changed through the organs of the state.

What is Kuwait’s strategic position in terms of logistics?

Kuwait is a country strategically located on an intersection of three major continents. It is a great location to take advantage of, but the changes are not happening quickly enough. Kuwait has great access to be a transit hub toward the West—be it to Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and so on—and has easy proximity to Saudi Arabia. While Kuwait is still traditional in terms of execution of projects, we are seeing paradigm shift in terms of Vision 2035. Kuwait’s 2035 vision aims to transform Kuwait into a financial and trade hub regionally and internationally and becoming more attractive to investors. There is a lot of potential in Kuwait, and we can take advantage of our location to set up ports and create greater logistical strength, but this has to be done as PPP or FDI. It would not only improve local economic output, but also create jobs for the community, and empower Kuwait on the international stage. We need to go the extra mile and develop ports and facilities to get Kuwait harness its strategic advantages.

What is Al-Rashed’s priority for the coming months?

We are focused on developing our services further and increasing the business rate. The pandemic was a challenge and now, coming out of it, we want to get back on track and strengthen our influence in the region. We are open for business with companies worldwide and operate extensively in the MENA and GCC region. We will work more with oil and gas sector companies and likely explore providing assistance to companies transporting goods into Kuwait, as the world’s economy comes back to life.

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