ABU DHABI AS A PLATFORM

Abu Dhabi 2017 | ECONOMY | B2B

Abu Dhabi has, since it struck oil, been an attractive destination for foreign investment. But today, that attention comes from a diverse range of areas.

Dietmar Siersdorfer
DIETMAR SIERSDORFER
CEO
Siemens Middle East
Bernard Roux
BERNARD ROUX
Country Director-UAE
Thales

What is the scope of your company in Abu Dhabi and the UAE?

Dietmar Siersdorfer We are headquartered here in Abu Dhabi for our Middle East operations, with local setups in the GCC countries, and we have focused on intensifying our relations with governments and local companies throughout the region. For example, in Abu Dhabi we have signed a significant contract for a compressor station in Taweelah that will pump gas from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. We are also working on our collaboration for Expo 2020 in Dubai, following the signing of our premium partnership to be technology partner for intelligent infrastructure and operations.

Bernard Roux Thales has been present in the country for more than 40 years and has supported the country in development, bringing innovation here for the service and benefit of customers. Although present in more than 50 countries and with 65,000 employees worldwide, the UAE holds a special place for Thales due to the in-house know-how base we have developed here. We have solutions in defense, security, ground transportation, aerospace, and our entire portfolio is present in the country.

What infrastructure projects are you working on?

DS We are working with the government in Abu Dhabi and in the Northern Emirates with Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA), where we signed an exclusive partnership to develop the FEWA power plant project. We have also signed a corporate agreement with ADNOC, through which we intend to focus on using digitalization to improve energy efficiency and operations across all ADNOC subsidiaries. At the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Abu Dhabi this year we also featured our work in additive manufacturing and 3D printing. With our local partners we produced a 3D-printed frame for an airplane television screen, which is the first certified 3D printed part for aircraft interiors to be produced in the Middle East. The frame will be used in older airplanes, for which parts can take up to 120 days to deliver, and the idea is to drastically shorten that lead time. The weight and structural integrity of the 3D printed part is also much better than the original part, which equates to lower fuel costs. We teamed up with Etihad and Strata on this co-creation partnership, and we are now working on new ideas to develop the product further.

What are some of the knowledge transfer and training programs Thales can bring to Abu Dhabi in light of the development of local aerospace manufacturing?

BR Thales is aligned with the expectation and the strategy of the UAE authorities. This includes the development of the local industry, of our partnerships, and our technology transfer schemes. It is a normal behavior as a long partner of the UAE. Our capabilities are close to their needs and we aim at increasing the customer feedback to enhance the efficiency of the service we deliver to them. Together with the satisfaction of the customer and end-user, one of the key points of our strategy is to enhance the local footprint.

What is your vision for digitalization, and how does that tie into Abu Dhabi's development as a global smart city?

DS We believe digitalization will play a significant role in the development of Abu Dhabi's economic development. A research report we launched with Strategy& revealed that while 85% of companies in the GCC believe that digitalization could play a significant role in their company, just 3% consider they are advanced with their digital strategy. So most companies are at the beginning stages of their implementation, although we also found that across the Middle East, governments are generally further advanced with digitalization than the private sector.

How are you building a platform in the UAE to grow in the region? What are some of the projects that you have in these other nations?

BR We currently have over 300 people in the UAE, in all domains including operations and engineering. We intend to grow, for the benefit of the UAE but also the region. We want to foster a hub for innovation and competences across the GCC with its base in the UAE. Regarding expansion, we can always do better. We can always find one solution that has not yet been delivered to one country or another. Instead of focusing on what we want to sell, we like to focus on the customer expectation and satisfaction. It is by that that we will enhance our footprint. The plan for the future is to have a positive impact in the country's development, in the projects we deliver, and to translate that into growth for the region. In that respect, Thales' objective is to be an active participant of the national agendas to support national strategic plans such as UAE Vision 2021.