How did Eversendai display its resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 took everyone by surprise; no one was truly prepared. We saw different results because we operate in many different countries. In the UAE, , so we were slightly less impacted in terms of continuing operations. For a short time, we were requested to stay at home, though our projects were still ongoing, and we were able to run our fabrication facilities, even with restrictions across with limited people and social distancing in the early days. In terms of resilience, we were able to sustain our operations at a respectable level, which kept us going. The entire operation did not stop in the UAE, however, we faced disruptions due to the restrictions of mobilizing workforce and supply chain delays.
How important is it that Eversendai's products are made in the UAE instead of being imported?
Our largest fabrication facilities are in the UAE despite our home base being in Malaysia, and we have an engineering base in India. In 2015, we made the conscious decision to expand our business by setting up a waterfront fabrication yard in Ras Al-Khaimah to cater the oil and gas projects. In 2019, we picked up our first renewable energy project for the Netherlands for offshore wind jackets that were built in our facility in Ras Al-Khaima, UAE and delivered to the Netherlands. In 2020, before COVID-19 struck, we picked up a second renewable energy project for Scotland, UK, the Seagreen Offshore Wind Substation Project. Those projects allowed us to further spread our wings into a completely different industry: renewable energy. It also helped us weather the storm since it was not oil and gas and, therefore, was not affected by COVID-19. The offshore wind energy sector has been growing through despite the pandemic, which helped us remain resilient. At the same time, we are executing manufacturing products that can be exported from the UAE for sectors in Europe.
How would you assess the potential for wind energy in the UAE?
The place where the renewable energy projects are being executed by Eversendai is in Ras Al Khaimah, while the Sharjah facility is more focused on construction projects. We have delivered and exported two projects that were built completely in Ras Al Khaimah for offshore wind to the Netherlands, and the third one is the one for the UK, which will be finished by the end of 2021. We are building offshore wind projects for Europe here and exporting them there. Especially in the area of offshore wind renewable energy projects, we are putting Ras Al Khaimah on the map in terms of gaining visibility to clients around the world.
How close is your relationship with government partners?
We have done projects for ADNOC in 2016-2017 and delivered a project for one of their subsidiary companies. We also work with Saudi Aramco. We are actively supporting projects for these types of government partners, but not directly, since we are not the main EPC contractor that would be doing those jobs. We always act as a subcontractor to the main EPC contractors. We have a major pipeline of projects we are working on bidding for ADNOC through the EPC contractors that are qualified with the knowhow. We are an ADNOC and Saudi Aramco-approved fabrication facility.
What are your goals, expectations, and strategies for the rest of 2021 to succeed?
We have a target to further expand in the offshore wind renewable energy business. We are focused on growing that sector, looking at markets such as the US, Europe, and Asia. We are also keen to expand our presence in the Middle East as well. To further strengthen our presence, we are emphasizing the UAE as our base and hub for the region. All our major investments have been here, and the largest fabrication facilities are in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. This will remain as we further engage our presence on the iconic building projects we have been a part of in the UAE. The pandemic is still there, but we can keep things going, focus on our strengths, and look at where we want to expand. Hopefully, 2022 will be even better than 2021.