How did you implement digital strategies during COVID-19?
QPMC is overhauling everything to digital and online processes. We process suitability applications online now for people who bring in materials from overseas. This process used to take a long time and effort when it was done manually. Our new digital system gives clients more transparency about the entire backend process. This system also links into KPIs for QPMC's staff. In these times of difficulty, digitalization is not negotiable since we all have to take any opportunity to become more efficient. We have reduced application processes from 10 days to a maximum of three days.
How is QPMC working with free zones and ports in Oman and Qatar to ensure smooth supply chain activities?
We signed an NDA with Duqm Port in Oman. QPMC has a joint venture with a company in Oman, Marafi, and together we have established a new company that is developing a port hub in Oman. At present, we are in the design stage. The whole process will be systemized, and the entire logistics chain will be connected; hence, we will not have to use trucks. This will ensure better cost and time management. On top of this, the free zones in Doha are an excellent opportunity for developing companies looking to expand internationally. Free zones provide many opportunities, incentives, and facilities, and we are looking into this. We do not have anything established yet, though this is one of our major focuses. QPMC wants to diversify not only organically, but also inorganically. For that inorganic growth, we are in discussions with various international organizations to explore new opportunities. We will go for new business areas where we can add value. In all our ventures, our aim is to contribute both financially as well as in terms of knowledge.
What is the future for the materials sector once the present wave of infrastructure development is over?
Everyone talks about what comes after 2022. We need to bear in mind that the country has prioritized some projects, and all the projects being executed are required by the country; they are not just being done for 2022. 2022 is a catalyst to get some of these projects done, but this is not all that Qatar needs. Currently, the country is focusing on delivering projects related to 2022 on time. Post-2022, Qatar has many projects that were put on hold to be reenergized after the World Cup. This is in line with Vision 2030, which is the real goal. There will be an expansion in oil and gas, the financial sector, and other sectors such as aviation and tourism. Based on our studies, we expect projects to stabilize at the end of 2022, but shortly after that we can see a pickup of projects toward 2030.
How does Qatar's new PPP Law affect QPMC's business?
The new PPP Law allows the private sector to do business more efficiently; this is where we expect PPPs to play a significant role. Government entities want to execute jobs as a private business in terms of efficiency, speed, and cost reduction. QPMC has formed partnerships in areas, such as recycling where we have management responsibilities for the logistics. Private companies represent diversification, and they have human and financial capital. They can work with different government entities so both share the benefit. The PPP Law will make this process smoother.
What is your balance between the import of raw materials and R&D activities?
We import gabbro, which is an aggregate. We do not have gabbro aggregate in Qatar, though we have quarries with aggregate specifications and strengths that meet our requirements in some applications. However, these quarries require some development in terms of their extraction methods. Recycling will replace some of the materials we import from abroad. The aim is to produce more in Qatar and find alternative solutions for the materials we currently import.