The Business Year

Hisham Ali Al-Bahkali

SAUDI ARABIA - Economy

Saudi Drive

President & CEO, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for General Electric (GE)

Bio

Hisham Ali Al-Bahkali is the President & CEO Saudi Arabia & Bahrain. He started his career with GE in 1997 as a Customer Service Manager. In January 2008, he was appointed as Global Account Executive for Saudi Electricity Company before being promoted to Country Executive in 2009. Before joining GE, he started his career in 1990 with leading telecommunications companies working with the Saudi Ministry of PTT in Operations and Data Lines Customer Services divisions. He holds a Master’s degree in Electronic Technology (1994) and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (1990) from King Saud University, Riyadh.

TBY talks to Hisham Ali Al-Bahkali, President & CEO of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for General Electric (GE), on integrating with local manufacturers, using Saudi Arabia as a base for international services, and developments in manufacturing.

How are you incorporating more Saudi SMEs in the supply chain?

An ideal example of how we build the local SME sector is the operations of our GE Manufacturing Technology Center in Dammam. More than 150 gas turbine parts are being serviced in Saudi Arabia by qualified and trained Saudi suppliers for the center. We are supporting SME growth and ensuring that they are enabled to become not only local suppliers but global suppliers for GE and the industry. There are many ways you can support the economy. One way is to support Saudi SMEs. We have worked with Aramco and others to run an annual Saudi Suppliers Conference in Dammam, where we meet with SMEs and discuss areas of development, opportunities for growth, and how we can support them and enable them to grow. The outcome from that kind of relationship has established more than 290 Saudi suppliers and 140 SMEs for GE in the Kingdom. Several Saudi suppliers are also involved in manufacturing parts for GE’s global gas turbine network as well as producing mechanical, fluid, and electrical systems for power plants. Globally, GE can get parts and services from Saudi SME companies in Saudi Arabia. This also supports the economy.

Can you talk about the future role of GE’s Manufacturing Technology Center (GEMTEC)?

GEMTEC is a key strategic center. The center is a significant investment in the Kingdom and in the manufacturing industry. We have marked the fourth year of operations of the GE Manufacturing Technology Center, which is today a regional service and manufacturing hub and center of excellence for advanced gas turbines. We have expanded the center significantly since its launch in 2011, and are now gearing up to manufacture the first high-efficiency, heavy duty gas turbine in the Kingdom by 2016. The best technology that can fit Saudi Arabia’s needs can be manufactured at the center. This center is also key because it hires and educates many Saudi engineers. Right now, the center has achieved about 70% nationalization, with many additional job opportunities being created for Saudis. Since its launch, the center has created more than 700 jobs. At the same time, we have utilized this shop to support more than 70 customers in around 30 countries worldwide. It is not in Saudi Arabia for Saudi Arabia; it is in Saudi Arabia for the whole world. In fact, nearly 80% of all parts assembled at the center are for external markets including Europe and the US as well as GE’s manufacturing facilities globally. We are hiring the right people, and we are very proud to have female Saudi engineers working in the shop as well. The center will further expand its capabilities to include a first-of-its-kind repair research and development center to support the gas turbines. Our customers, such as Aramco, are monitoring this closely, visiting us and giving us the right encouragement and support. We are currently servicing more than 500 gas turbines here, so you can imagine how important this is. This further supports Saudi Arabia’s focus on strengthening exports and manufacturing to boost economic growth and competitiveness.

What are your short-term goals and priorities in Saudi Arabia?

We will continue to partner in the transformational growth of the economy and to support the Kingdom’s goals in promoting the manufacturing sector and economic diversification. This is evidenced by our goal to manufacture the first gas turbine here in the Kingdom at GEMTEC in Dammam in 2016. We will also continue to advance the $1 billion investment commitment to the Kingdom. We are investing in people, knowledge transfer, and many aspects of the economy.

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