How does the evolution of your portfolio reflect the trends you see today in Abu Dhabi's economy?
Looking at the future of the Emirate, it is obvious we are trying to implement a more seamless business environment. There will be many technological changes, such as 3D construction, but it still to be seen how far it will go. The construction industry for example has gone through many trials and errors which is why, in terms of technology, we are expecting long term UAE plans, investments and strategies in the same. As a family business, we like to get our feet in the water before we jump in. In this sense, we are looking 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, but we might need to divest from the ones 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 on growing in the medical sector and we are continuing with other retail businesses, such as our jewelry, seeking to getting closer to the customer every day riding the wave of online shopping.
What is your assessment of the oil and gas industry in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi has played a significant role in finding different ways to approach this changing industry. No one knows what the future price of oil will be. That means 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, the latter of which is surely important for the country to maintain 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. Increasing the price marginally today by AED1 may not seem making a huge impact, but down the road it will result in a great deal of disposable income for individuals. What can be 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. The different ways of making money will continue to grow, create different industries, and have a multiplier effect on the economy.
What do you expect from the government in order to diversify while protecting local industries?
There needs to be a discussion about a lead partnership through a platform. We have to realize there is a challenge and start talking about combined efforts to find solutions. For example, fees that are charged by various entities are an issue: the government wants to cover its costs, but so do we. We have to find the solution where they can provide the best public service and support us while still making profits, and we can still make a profit as well. The market is changing, and margins are falling, especially for the industrial sector. The economy needs a base to spur a multiplying effect that doesn't start from the oil and gas sector, which still is the main revenue stream for Abu Dhabi. The reality of Abu Dhabi is that it is an industrial city. Though tourism is increasing, we need everyone to support the industrial sector.
What role does sustainability play in the industrial sector?
We cannot deny that sustainability is an important ingredient for long-term planning. Energy savings of 5-10% helps 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. It would create some savings, though it would not be something that would revolutionize matters.