The Business Year

Close this search box.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem

UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Economy

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

Group Chairman & CEO, DP World


With career spanning three decades, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem brings a wealth of leadership experience to the boardroom. Previously as chairman of Dubai World, he established and led diverse businesses, including Nakheel and Istithmar World. He oversaw the rapid development of the Jebel Ali Free Zone into a business park of more than 7,000 companies. As Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, he has been at the forefront of the company’s international expansion. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Temple University. He is a board member of the Dubai Executive Council and Dubai Economic Council, as well as a non-executive director of Asteco LLC.

As a progressive end-to-end logistics solutions provider, DP World continues to invest in new technologies and disruptive innovation to make trade smarter and create a better future for all.

What are the key initiatives you would like to highlight as examples of DP World’s disruptive innovation strategy to stay ahead of the curve as we move into the era of smart trade?
As a progressive end-to-end logistics solutions provider, we continue to invest in new technologies and disruptive innovation, always seeking the edge that will help us lead the future of world trade through innovative trade solutions. We enable trade around the world, creating and embracing the latest technologies and innovations. For ports and logistics operators like us, the key is to further maximize efficiency, making sure innovations coming on stream can lower costs, increase productivity, and move goods arriving in vast quantities from enormous ocean carriers quicker and more cost-effectively than before. We believe that to stay ahead of the curve, we should constantly upgrade our systems, as the internet and technology have revolutionized the way we do business. Our vision at DP World is global; foreseeing change, thinking about future opportunities, enhancing efficiencies, and adopting innovative and creative trade solutions. In an age of unparalleled change, transforming the way goods are transported is being explored across the world. Moving containers in different ways both by sea and across land has exciting potential. One of our innovations is the world’s first high bay storage system, BOXBAY, which we have developed with industrial engineering specialist SMS Group. The first BOXBAY facility is being built at Jebel Ali Terminal 4 in time for the Dubai Expo 2020. The patented design and rack structure of the BOXBAY system creates unique advantages. Containers can be stored eleven stories high, dramatically increasing capacity, and its fully automated system can move every single container individually. This has the potential to revolutionize cargo handling operations because the current system of stacking containers on top of each other means containers must be moved to access containers at the bottom of the stack. We are excited by the prospects for BOXBAY as handling speed and efficiencies are key aspects of the ports and terminals business, and this system is a major development for the sector. We also have a multi-million-dollar investment in US-based Hyperloop One to provide funds for the continued R&D of Hyperloop technology. The Hyperloop system moves magnetically levitating pods through low air pressure tubes. It has the potential to move cargo at the speed of a plane but the cost of a truck. As part of the investment, Hyperloop One will benefit from DP World’s expertise in complex cargo handling operations and the experience DP World has accumulated across its global portfolio of more than 150 operations in over 50 countries across six continents. Disruptive innovation is a continuous process, and we continue to unveil new technologies and innovations that facilitate trade and make trading smarter.

What is the significance of DP World’s disruption-driven mission for the future of trade, and how will these innovations impact supply chains and trade?
These innovations are shaping the future of trade. Over the last few years, DP World has undertaken a diversification strategy that has transformed it into a global trade enabler by extending its core business of port operations to play a wider role in the supply chain. We have acquired differentiated assets, such as trains, warehousing, and inland logistics in India, and feeder shipping operations in Europe and Asia, as well as formed joint ventures with logistics software and distribution companies in Australia. Our goal is to transform the efficiency of supply chains to benefit cargo owners. Key to the DP World’s strategy is digital transformation as we look to provide and develop technology to remove inefficiencies.

DP World is an official premier partner of Expo 2020. With more than 25 million visitors expected to attend the world’s greatest expo, how will DP World’s Expo 2020 pavilion convey to the world the seemingly obscure links between the world of cargo and our daily life?
DP World being the premier global trade partner of Expo 2020 means everything related to the Expo flows into Dubai through our globe-spanning logistics network. This includes the utilization of all our ports and terminals, free zones, and maritime services. The Al Wasl dome, which will be the centerpiece of the Expo 2020 site, is a good example of the role we are playing in making Expo happen. Weighing 2,265 tons with an enclosed space of 724,000 cbm, the sections of the dome entered Dubai thanks to Jebel Ali Port’s outstanding cargo handling capabilities. The biggest piece—the dome’s steel crown—alone weighs 550 tons. Expo 2020 is a unique experience for us. We are often at major events, but the key difference here is one of scale. The Expo site will be the size of a small city, and the event will last for six months. The objective of DP World’s Expo 2020 pavilion is to open the eyes of visitors to the world of logistics and supply chains. Most people rarely consider what it takes to transport everything from far off places. How this process works is as complex as it is interesting. Through the use of cutting-edge technologies including augmented and virtual reality, visitors will be able to see the real-time movement of cargo across the world and learn how global trade happens and how it impacts every aspect of everyone’s daily life. Trade is an area that, despite its importance, is not understood very well by the general public, and we hope to change that.

What are your strategic priorities and vision for DP World as we look beyond 2020?
Our vision is to shape the future of global trade for the better. Our priority is to continue to enhance our capability to offer supply chain logistics to cargo owners, from the point of origin to the point of consumption. We believe there are many opportunities to increase the efficiency of supply chains. Key to our success is the services we offer, which are backed by our global-spanning network of ports and other assets. We will continue to work to create trade corridors around the world. In Africa, for example, we are connecting landlocked countries to the global trading network. In India we are further enhancing our inland logistics operations. In the next decade, DP World will continue to be at the forefront of technological development. The potential of innovations like BOXBAY and Hyperloop is huge. The digital solutions we are developing will transform supply chains, giving more visibility, transparency, and flexibility to cargo owners, enabling them to run their businesses more efficiently. Logistics needs to innovate to keep up with the demands and expectations of a world that has become used to the convenience of e-commerce. Global trade has lifted large parts of the world out of poverty; it has brought prosperity to many developing economies and given hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people access to jobs, better education, and healthcare. At DP World, we will continue to work to make trade smarter and create a better future for all.



You may also be interested in...


UAE - Green Economy

Khaled Al Huraimel


Group CEO and Vice Chairman, BEEAH


UAE - Economy

Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh


CEO, Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah)


UAE - Transport

Anatoli Unitsky


Founder, uSky

View All interviews



Become a sponsor