The Business Year

Jasim Husain Thabet

CEO, Tabreed

Xavier Joseph

CEO Middle East, Veolia Environment

What areas are you looking at in Abu Dhabi? JASIM HUSAIN THABET Tabreed provides cooling to many of Abu Dhabi’s iconic landmarks, in addition to being the exclusive cooling partner […]

What areas are you looking at in Abu Dhabi?

JASIM HUSAIN THABET Tabreed provides cooling to many of Abu Dhabi’s iconic landmarks, in addition to being the exclusive cooling partner for the major real estate developers such as Aldar and Sorouh. For example, Tabreed cools Ferrari World. In fact, almost the whole of Yas Island, the Yas Waterworld Park, Yas Marina Circuit, and all the hotels, are cooled by one plant, which is quite amazing. That is on the Aldar front. We also have cooling agreements with Sorouh on al-Reem Island. Some of the other large sites in Abu Dhabi that we provide cooling for are the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Etihad Towers, and Marina Mall, to name just a few. Basically, we are present everywhere in Abu Dhabi.

XAVIER JOSEPH There are two ways to grow in Abu Dhabi. The first is the traditional path, which includes desalination, wastewater treatment plants, and district cooling plants. There’s still an increase in demand for these traditional businesses, because Abu Dhabi is still growing, and there are two main water treatment plants in Abu Dhabi: ISTP-1 and ISTP-2. The sewage authority, ADSSC, is now considering ISTP-3. Then the second route to growth is to identify and anticipate clients’ needs and create new products centered around energy efficiency. For example, it’s time now for the Abu Dhabi authorities to think about LNG efficiency, it’s time to think about renewable energy, and it’s time to think about how to convert waste to energy: domestic waste, liquid waste, and sludge.

How does the company contribute to the training of Emiratis?

JHT Putting in place competent, high-caliber Emiratis is an obligation that we take upon ourselves. We are always looking to attract and develop high-caliber UAE nationals. On a personal level, one problem we face in Abu Dhabi is the preconception that cooling systems or utilities are of secondary importance. For some, it is preferable to work in finance, or a large oil company, but in reality, utilities are just as critical to the country. It is hard to go out there and find people who are going to be specialists in cooling. They need to be recruited. We continue to attract the engineering managers and operations managers of the future, and we continue to improve.

XJ That’s always a challenge, although in the Middle East, and especially in the UAE, you can find very well trained, competent people. You have to find the right balance between bringing in foreign experts and hiring local people and training them. We showcase ISTP-2, which we operate. We were contractually required to ensure that 15% of employees are Emiratis after five years, and 30% after 10 years. It’s not easy, but we’ve tried several approaches, which have been working well. We work with local universities and technological institutes. We seek to find those who are interested in our line of business, and we offer apprenticeships. Half the time is spent in the company working on projects, the other half in universities and technical institutes. But there is certainly interest in renewable energies, and greater interest in environmental sustainability in the UAE. Overall, it’s proving successful.

What other countries in the region are you interested in?

JHT In early 2013, Abu Dhabi announced an AED330 billion investment plan. The UAE and Abu Dhabi are growing. There will always be a need for schools. The population is growing, and we are not supplying a luxury product; cooling is quite simply essential. There is going to be an increasing number of schools, hospitals, and shopping malls, all of which will require cooling. When you compare us to conventional cooling, it is a no-brainer. We feel quite confident of experiencing a good five years. We are a regional company, and continue to execute our work with a focus on Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

XJ The UAE, and Abu Dhabi specifically, has the highest demand. And with the FIFA World Cup coming up, there should also be demand for Veolia in Qatar, although it isn’t an easy country. The process is slow there and business time consuming, from It takes a long time to register a company in Qatar, but not so long in the UAE. In that respect, Abu Dhabi and Dubai remain our core markets.

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