The Business Year

OM23_GE_Rakiza_Rehab Al Lawati

OMAN - Green Economy

Rehab Al-Lawati

Chief Operating Officer, Rakiza Fund

Bio

Rehab Al-Lawati is the Chief Operating Officer of OIM and the Chairman of the ESG Committee of Rakiza. She has over 17 years of experience in investment and operations, having started her career in Oman Investment Authority (OIA), climbing the ladder until leading the private equity funds section of OIA. She then worked on setting up Oman’s first infrastructure fund, Rakiza, and moved to the fund once established as the COO of Oman Infrastructure Investment Management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Sultan Qaboos University and an MSc in managerial finance from Nyenrode Business School in the Netherlands. In addition, she has completed multiple leadership and financial programs from Harvard Business School (HBS), the London School of Economics (LSE), the Yale School of Management, IMD, and HEC Paris.

"Prior to closing any transaction, we set up a detailed action plan to take ESG issues into consideration."

Rehab Al-Lawati, Chief Operating Officer at Rakiza Fund, talks to TBY about how the firm is seeking to make a true impact with its investments.

Could you provide us with an overview of the Rakiza Fund?

Rehab Al-Lawati: Rakiza was established in 2018 to reap the first-mover advantage of a region undergoing a privatization drive. It was established by OIA with a target of raising around USD1 billion of commitments. Rakiza is a joint venture between Oman Infrastructure Investment Management and a leading infrastructure fund manager out of the UK called Equitix. We have deep market knowledge and a unique local network in Oman and the region, mainly Saudi Arabia, while Equitix has a proven investment process track record of investing in privatization PPP projects in the UK. We, therefore, felt that both groups coming together would be a successful move to address the privatization and PPP activity in the region. Thus far, Rakiza has raised around USD700 million after over two years of successful fundraising with regional and international investors and will hopefully scale the USD1-billion mark. To date, we have closed two transactions in Oman. The first was investing a majority stake in Khazaen Fruit and Vegetable Central Market, and the second was acquiring a stake of over 31% in Oman International Container Terminal. We also continue to explore PPP projects. There are a number of projects in the pipeline of the team working in Oman and Saudi Arabia.

In which sectors are you seeing the most growth potential in Oman?

Rehab Al-Lawati: We are viewing a number of brownfield and greenfield investments and the infrastructure sector. There, we mainly focus on renewables, utilities, transportation and logistics, and digital and social infrastructure: that is the target of the fund. It has helped us tap into several PPP projects in Oman as well as a number of projects that the country would like to privatize, either through a PPP or through different models, mainly in utilities, transportation, and social infrastructure.

How does Rakiza understand ESG, and how does it help investment?

Rehab Al-Lawati: ESG currently plays a critical role in any investment we undertake. We implement ESG from the start of the investment process all the way through to the due diligence process, setting up an action plan and monitoring when we acquire the asset and the asset management stage. We have a fully set policy in place that we are implementing, whereby any investment goes through a screening process before we take any steps. We also have an ESG committee within Rakiza Fund. We have three members who sit on the committee, while I chair it. We regularly meet to discuss projects and opportunities, the evolving standards of ESG, and how we can actively play a role in such initiatives. In addition, international banks, strategic players, and investors all focus on strict ESG measures today. We have in place what we call a responsible investment policy within a robust ESG framework that allows us to access a wide range of capital resources, as well as a larger pool of long-lasting partnerships with financial and technical advisors and partners worldwide.

Rakiza’s slogan is “investment for impact.” Can you elaborate on what this means for you personally and for Rakiza?

Rehab Al-Lawati: Prior to closing any transaction, we set up a detailed action plan to take ESG issues into consideration, which includes KPI, and present it to the company’s management. This is monitored by the Rakiza team on a regular basis, apart from the board members of Rakiza who treat the topic at every board meeting. Rakiza is here for a certain period to make an impact on the business and then exit it. Our positive impact reaches beyond the environment and across the entire investment spectrum. We work to improve corporate governance and transparency. On the social side, we not only consider the wellbeing of the company’s workforce, but also that of the project’s region from where we hire the workforce. For now, Rakiza is meeting the UN’s SDGs, which ensures projects provide quality education, wellbeing, and healthcare. We tackle a number of the SDGs, such as responsible consumption and the development of sustainable communities.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

You may also be interested in...

Ali Masoud Al Sunaidy, Chairman of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ)

OMAN - Green Economy

Ali Masoud Al Sunaidy

Interview

Chairman, Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ)

Salah Al-Harthy, Director Business Development & Well Services Division of Abraj Energy Services, Oman

OMAN - Energy & Mining

Salah Al-Harthy

Interview

Director Business Development & Well Services Division, Abraj Energy Services, Oman

Dr Khalid Al Jahwari, Oman Country Manager of Petrofac,

OMAN - Energy & Mining

Dr Khalid Al Jahwari

Interview

Oman Country Manager, Petrofac

View All interviews