GRID IRON GAME

Abu Dhabi 2016 | INDUSTRY & AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eng. Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting CEO of Senaat, on anticipating market cycles, promoting synergy, and optimizing the use of natural resources.

Eng. Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri
BIOGRAPHY
Eng. Jamal Salem Al Dhaheri is the Acting CEO of Senaat, one of the UAE’s largest industrial investment holding companies. He has over 20 years of experience serving in key management positions. His role at Senaat started with Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (ADBIC), where he moved from Vice President of Aluminium to CEO of the company. Al Dhaheri is Chairman of Arkan and Talex, Vice-Chairman of Ducab, and serves on the boards of Emirates Steel, Tawazun TPI, and the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company. Al Dhaheri holds a BSc in science engineering management from the University of the Pacific and an executive MBA from Zayed University.

How is the company trying to anticipate market cycles in the steel and construction materials sectors?

Senaat is a long-term investor, able to withstand cyclical downturns. We attempt to mitigate cyclical risk using a number of different tactics. For example, we minimize our focus on commodities, although we do have exposure to a select number of commodities due to operational and production requirements. We also pay special attention to niche products that differentiate our offering and allow us to charge a premium. Senaat also maintains extensive connections and networks across the public and private sectors to ensure that we are consistently involved in key projects and in a good position to anticipate market downturns and take the necessary precautions. In addition, Senaat's active advocacy for local content protection policies will allow local companies in the metals and minerals sectors to flourish. These companies have invested in the UAE and play an important role in achieving a larger economic vision. Accordingly, our policies must reflect this and help create a positive economic environment for aspiring industrial ventures.

How do you assess the importance to Senaat of building up synergy between companies and being closer to markets and feedstocks?

Senaat is committed to developing a portfolio of leading industrial companies that will contribute to the diversification of the Abu Dhabi economy. In recent years, we have added two companies to our expanding portfolio and we continue to seek dynamic companies, which need strategic and funding support locally, regionally, and overseas. Abu Dhabi's economic growth and development is built on leveraging unique collaboration opportunities between significant government entities and the growing private sector. Stretching over an extraordinary 417sqkm, Kizad's vertically integrated clusters provide Senaat and relevant portfolio companies with the physical space to grow. As one the world's foremost industrial zones, Kizad also offers Senaat strength of scale, advisory service, and strong levels of efficiency, profitability, and ease of doing business. TALEX and DAC were created to build on the strategic investments in the aluminum industry at Kizad. Both entities benefit from the modern infrastructure, proximity to EMAL, and access to seaport facilities. These features allow both companies to adequately address global market demand for innovative high-value products. Al Gharbia, on the other hand, will be strategically placed within a market that consumes Al Gharbia's products, greatly simplifying the logistics process. As a leading industrial company in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, it is important for Senaat to maintain a strong presence in the local market. Proximity to feedstocks and consumers and the seamless integration offered by Kizad will support us in achieving these objectives.

How important is it to Senaat to ramp up operations in the agricultural sector of your business to full capacity?

To reiterate, Senaat's business strategy centers around the creation of companies that can add unique value to the country's industrial development efforts and economic expansion. Subsequently, we take great pride in our holistic approach to agricultural and F&B investments. Most importantly, we understand that while commercial aspects are of tremendous significance, the importance of food security in the UAE is never overlooked when making decisions that relate to agricultural investments. Therefore, when making any investment, Senaat carefully assesses available investment criteria, and expands into industries that can support our existing portfolio with strategic advice, commercial acumen, and financing. Our F&B investments comprise two companies, Agthia and Al Foah. The latter is a global leader in the date palm tree sector with a capacity of more than 113,000 tons of dates processed and packed annually and exported to 48 countries. Al Foah is well structured and operates with a diverse product range. Agthia produces a wide range of products including bottled drinking water, tomato paste, dairy, as well as animal products. In both companies, we are always trying to introduce new and different products, and we monitor the results.