How does the evolution of your portfolio reflect the trends you see today in Abu Dhabi's economy?
SHAMIS AL DHAHERI As a family business, we like to get our feet in the water before we jump in. In this sense, we look for trends in the fintech market that will add value to our existing business units and improve our future plans for the company as a whole. One of the challenges posed by the growing economy is the need to become more streamlined and focused as a company. As we move forward, we want to continue with some businesses, though we may need to divest from those that do not align with our strategy. Our core business is our motor business as well as our construction and oil field supply businesses. We plan to grow the medical sector and are continuing with other retail businesses, such as jewelry, seeking to get closer to customers every day, and riding the wave of online shopping.
FARAJ ALI BIN HAMOODAH Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, developed jointly by the government and the private sector, takes into consideration pillars that Bin Hamoodah Group remains extremely committed to: socioeconomic development and balance between infrastructure growth and environmental sustainability. However, in order to maintain a competitive edge, mitigate our business risk, and ensure long-term sustainable growth, we are focusing on the wide array of sectors we have familiarity with, from oil and gas to construction and real estate, agribusiness, and IT. If among the many businesses there is a losing one, we can bypass the bank and resort to our own capital injections.
What role does sustainability play in the industrial sector?
SAD Sustainability is an important ingredient for long-term planning. Energy savings of 5-10% help someone else acquire that energy and use it, as well as reduce capital expenditure. It is also important to find other ways of generating energy. There are many ideas; however, can these ideas be practically implemented to create immediate savings? How much would these savings change the books? It is limited and cannot happen overnight. It takes planning and implementing the proper laws and initiatives. Still, there are mass needs for mass industries. It is not practical for one factory to implement sustainable practices overnight.
What is the key to preserving the local manufacturing industry in the UAE?
FABH The government should implement legislative measures to temporarily protect nascent manufacturing industries with competitive land and energy prices until they reach out to the international market. Technical and engineering institutes become crucial for the future in providing qualified workers, while there is space to improve the terms of trade with certain partners and the regulations around the protection of Made in UAE products. That being said, investments in areas such as KIZAD, ICAD, and ZonesCorp in Abu Dhabi and JAFZA and RAK FTZ in the other Emirates are a positive indication of the government's desire to achieve an edge in innovation, technology, and overall industrial production.
What is your assessment on the transformative changes the energy sector is going through?
SAD Abu Dhabi has played a significant role in finding different ways to approach this changing industry. The industry needs to find alternative customers who will be there regardless of the oil and gas price. The change needs to happen from within the industry. We will still produce both oil and gas, and gas is important for the country to have a sustainable and reliable source of electricity. Investing in the downstream industry and other industries that need oil and gas supports the country and pushes the boundaries of the oil price. What can also be addressed is supporting other industries. We have many international customers, and if we can increase the number of customers we have locally, that will greatly help the UAE.
FABH The Energy Strategy 2050, launched in 2017, is the first country-wide strategy based on supply and demand. Although the oil industry has been Abu Dhabi's main engine since the 1960s, as globalization moves forward, the Emirate realized the need to provide different services for a modern society through a diversification plan that looks at trade and export of goods and services as a viable alternative to the oil sector activity. The model to follow is economies such as Singapore, Norway, Ireland, and New Zealand. The downturn in prices per barrel in this sense was a blessing, because it taught an important lesson on how volatile and dependent Gulf countries were on selling a single resource.