The Business Year

Chakib Nayfe

QATAR - Real Estate & Construction

Peace at Home Prosperity in the World

General Manager, Medgulf Construction Company

Bio

Chakib Nayfe has been the General Manager of Medgulf Construction Company since 2013. Prior to that, he worked on five continents. During his 16 years with the Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), he worked on major projects around the world including oil refineries, cross-country pipelines, and the biggest LNG project in Qatar. He then joined McConnell Dowell in 2007 as a Pipeline Operations Manager. In 2012, he was promoted to Deputy General Manager. Nayfe graduated from a French high school in Lebanon, before relocating to the US to complete his bachelor and master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Tulsa.

TBY talks to Chakib Nayfe, General Manager of Medgulf Construction Company, on surviving the lean years, an unexpectedly upbeat take on 2017, and harnessing its domestic reputation to move abroad.

Medgulf Construction operates in Qatar’s two biggest sectors. What is your competitive position in both the oil and gas and civil construction sector?

The Qatari market is tough, and competition is fierce. However, while we expected 2017 to be a difficult year, it has been positive so far. We surprisingly landed a number of projects in the first two weeks of 2017, which will secure work for the rest of the year. Looking back, the drop in oil prices cancelled many projects, the largest of which is Al Karaana petrochemicals project, but our work in the market before 2014 helped us navigate through these difficult times. Medgulf has an experienced workforce in the oil and gas industry; therefore, we will persist in this sector while maintaining the same level of attention to civil infrastructure.

What is Medgulf’s approach to cross-country pipelines?

Medgulf was established as a pipeline contractor, therefore every time there is a pipeline project we bid for it aggressively. We started developing cross-country pipelines in 1975, being one of the first pipeline contractors in Qatar. So far we have built more than 80% of the pipelines in Qatar and were recently awarded a large pipeline job by Qatar Petroleum. Approximately two-and-a-half years ago, we were awarded the Dukhan Pipeline project, which will be completed this year. We are an EPC contractor and have completed a good number of projects for major clients such as Qatar Petroleum, Qatargas, RasGas, Gasal, and ORYX, among others. Furthermore, we were the main constructor of the world’s largest helium plant in the Ras Laffan Industrial Complex.

What is your strategy for strengthening your position among contractors in the region?

Although Medgulf only operates in Qatar, our plan is to expand abroad when the market situation improves. In these 40 years, we have been operating in Qatar and have maintained a great reputation in the sectors in which we operate; we have established trusted relationships with our clients and are financially strong. We are well established on the ground, although the competition is stiff. On the other side, in the oil and gas industry we are well connected with international partners, which could help us to develop major projects, although I do not forecast any big developments in Qatar anytime soon. However, when it comes to civil infrastructure we are looking into some opportunities, whether it is stadium work, the Doha Metro, or a highway. The diversification of the Qatari economy will require contractors to also diversify their portfolios. As an example, Medgulf is currently moving into oil and gas offshore works, although we have always worked onshore.

What is your outlook for the year ahead?

We review our business plan annually to identify trends and chase new opportunities. For 2017, we have identified good prospects and modified our bidding strategy to match the current market requirements. We have brought in new resources with experience in civil infrastructure and restructured our company to maintain the same level of revenues we had forecasted. I expect to see new roads being built as well as drainage and sewage projects—we can definitely contribute to these. We are an A-grade contractor in roads, buildings, and infrastructure. It is hard to find a local contractor with such expertise in all three sectors. Overall, the year has started strong, as we have secured jobs that may account for 50% of our annual expectations. Therefore, if we do not meet our targets this year, we will come very close.

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