May. 26, 2021


Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish

Oman

Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish

Chairperson, Mohsin Haider Darwish (MHD)

“We are looking at joint ventures with organizations that can add value and contribute to the growth of Oman.”

BIO

Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish is the Chairperson of Automotive, Construction equipment and Renewable Energy (ACERE) cluster of Mohsin Haider Darwish LLC (MHD LLC); a renowned and leading business house in the Middle East, which was listed in the Forbes Top 100 Arab Family Businesses in Middle East 2020. The origin of MHD LLC dates back to 1974. The foundation of the renowned firm was laid by the late Mohsin Haider Darwish, who steered it to meet the challenges of a nation on its path to rapid development and also to measure up to the aspirations of its people. MHD LLC has diverse business presence and varied interests in trading, contracting, projects, It has brought some of the most reputed brands to Oman like Land Rover, Jaguar, McLaren, Volvo, MG. Ford, Ashok Leyland, Huawei, Hitachi, YALE, Konica Minolta, KDK, Honeywell, DAIKIN to name a few. Having graduated from Sultan Qaboos University with a Bachelor in Computer Science, she started her career with Petroleum Development Oman as a Programmer. She joined the family business in 1994 and under the guidance, support and motivation of her father, she gradually moved up the ladder. Having started at the grass root level and being involved in every division, she grew to understand the business processes minutely. This also prepared her to tackle the challenges of a business house and empowered her to take business decisions early on. Continuing their legacy and leading the ACERE cluster, Areej Darwish is an outstanding example of successful Women's empowerment and an inspiration to all industry peers. Her leadership, professional management, ability to spot opportunities has steered the organization to the heights of success.


What have been the company's main activities in the past year?

The Future is unpredictable and none of us could have predicted the new normal that we would be living through. 2020 was an unprecedented year and it was challenging on various aspects due to COVID-19. Keeping our goals and objectives in mind, we worked on overcoming the challenges by revisiting our strategy, identifying the potential issues and developed an action plan. We adjusted our business processes to reduce the risk of staff exposure and mitigate possible effects. Our focus was to continue the success of our existing brands and increase our market share. As technology and digitalization was at the fore and customer remained the focus we introduced the E-commerce as a point of sale vs the traditional method. We also introduced new brands and entered into new partnerships which would not only diversify our revenue but align with the nation's objectives of Vision 2040.

Which products and brands did you decide to bring to Oman?

Staying ahead of the competition and being able to differentiate ourselves in a challenging market is the key to success as we see changes in the consumer landscape. The Group is working on major expansion plans which are drawn by studying the business environment. Our business model has evolved to the rapidly changing business environment and in line with Oman's Vision 2040. Whilst deciding on the products and brands, the first and foremost we look at is the quality and value that we provide to the customer as we are looking at establishing long-term relationships with our customers. We need to think beyond and venture into sectors that will continue to lead in the future. Considering this, in the automotive sector, there will soon be a shift to electric cars. We leveraged this opportunity and have started with stations for electric cars. Likewise, sustainable energy is the future of tomorrow as we look to conserve and protect our environment and it's one of the key objectives of Vision 2040. We aim to be the pioneers in providing the green and sustainable solutions and are working on solar panels project to expand our portfolio. We also see immense potential in Healthcare and Technology sector and are working on diversifying in these sectors.

Where do you see your portfolio diversifying?

Oman's vision for the future is Diversification into sectors which show a lot of potential and growth. The consumer market in Oman is growing and so is the infrastructure and logistics network. The sectors which show promise are Logistics, Technology, Infrastructure and Renewable Energy. We have already diversified into the logistics sector and continuing work on our digital transformation strategy to bring innovative products in the technology sector. Green investments are the future. With increased focus on conservation of natural resources and preservation of the environment, the focus is trending towards this and we are actively pursuing the solar panel project.

What steps need to be taken to prepare students in Oman for these evolving demands of the job market?

Youth are the future of any nation. They are the ones who shape it. We have to prepare our students for the changing global workforce. Omani youth do have a lot of potential and we have seen so many young Omanis scaling the heights of success. What's imperative for the youth and their development is education, training and mentorship. Training will boost their interpersonal, technical and critical thinking skills. They also need to be empowered with the right knowledge and vocational skills to tackle the growth of automation. We need to provide more innovative learning opportunities for all students. The youth can achieve their goals with determination and perseverance. They have to break the boundaries and work with enthusiasm and passion. They have to embrace new challenges, dig deep in order to emerge victorious. Students need to be able to think critically, solve problems creatively, and innovate in order to take on the problems and jobs of tomorrow. What is also interesting is due to COVID-19 and recent IT advances, the students have new and widely accessible ways to access education around the world and train themselves on different courses which can enhance their knowledge and skills.

What can be done in order to see more women in executive roles?

Today's women play an active role in society, culture, and business. Omani women have carved a niche for themselves across all sectors. Women in Oman have been given the platform to grow and fulfill their career aspirations as they are considered a pillar of development. It's commendable that we have Omani women at the helm of key positions and they are contributing to the growth and development of the nation. However, to further promote their growth, it's important to provide them with a suitable environment in order to participate in various aspects of economic and social development. They need to come out of their comfort zone, challenge themselves and be willing to take risks in order to grow continuously. Promoting women's education, training, mentorship and professional development will also pave the way for more women to be in executive roles. I believe that sky is the limit for women and there are no barriers to their success if they pursue their path with determination and believe in themselves.

How are you incorporating the priorities of Oman's 10th five-year development plan in your long-term strategy?

The Oman Budget for 2021, together with the 10th Five Year Development Plan, represents a focused approach to tackle the challenges faced by the economy. Our long-term strategy and focus is to diversify our revenue beyond niche sectors and leverage the opportunities that will arise in the process of further development of Oman. Diversifying will take the business into new territories and help build a bigger reach, but the focus will always remain on delivering value to our customers by providing them with quality products and services from world-renowned brands. Our long-term strategy not only includes diversification of business locally and internationally, but we are committed to the development of Omani youth too which is a national priority. Omanization is a key focus area for the company. We aim to inspire the young Omani generation to surge ahead in their careers and extend opportunities to them to enhance their skills.

What are your main objectives for the coming year, and what challenges do you expect?

Our main objective is to grow our business, strengthen relations with our business partners, explore new business opportunities and expand our presence across Oman. We are looking at joint ventures with organizations that can add value and contribute to the growth of Oman. Sustainable growth, increased productivity of people and resources, staying ahead of the competition, innovation are objectives which we are constantly working at. Challenges are not uncommon to any organization. We face range of challenges on a day to day basis and we embrace them and find solutions and also see them as opportunities. A major challenge which is really daunting around the world is COVID-19 as the situation around the pandemic takes a different turn every day. The need of the hour is innovation, agility and resilience. We remain focused on the bigger picture and our aim is to keep striding ahead. With dedication, focus, and perseverance, I am confident we can accomplish all our business goals.

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