The Business Year

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani

QATAR - Economy

Strong Stimulus

Chairman & Founder, Aamal and Al Faisal Holding

Bio

Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani is one of Qatar’s leading entrepreneurs. He has played a significant role in the development of Qatar’s economy and its infrastructure. Over a career spanning more than 45 years, Sheikh Faisal has launched a succession of new ventures and attracted foreign investment to several sectors of the economy. He began his career in 1964, establishing a small company that traded in auto parts. The business gradually grew into a network of diverse commercial and industrial activities embracing more than 40 well-established and successful companies operating under Al Faisal Holding.

"The economic development of Qatar has been remarkable."

What is the history of Aamal in Qatar and the scope of its operations?

The Aamal Company was founded in Qatar in early 2001 as a private shareholding company with limited liability. In 2007, Aamal became a public shareholding company listed on the Qatar Exchange, with a paid-up capital of QAR3.45 billion, making it one of the largest public shareholding companies in Qatar. The company has since increased its paid-up capital to QAR6 billion. Aamal is widely diversified with operations across 21 business units, some of which have been operating in Qatar for more than 40 years, achieving strong, market-leading positions. We are a successful group, staffed with over 2,300 employees, and are considered to be a role model for many other companies in the region. Our 22 business units are grouped into four divisions. The first is industrial manufacturing, which includes branches and subsidiaries that are involved in the manufacturing of many products needed for the development of infrastructure, from ready-mix and cement blocks, to concrete pipes and electrical cables. This division includes our companies Aamal Readymix, Aamal Cement Industries, Advanced Pipes & Casts Company, Innovative Lighting, Senyar Industries Qatar Holding, Doha Cables, Elsewedy Cables Qatar, Doha Transformers, Ci-San Trading, and Gulf Rocks. The second division is trading and distribution, which is involved in the trading and distribution of pharmaceuticals, healthcare products, medical equipment, tires, lubricants, air conditioners, and home appliances. This division includes Aamal Trading & Distribution, Aamal Medical, Ebn Sina Medical, Good Life Chemist, and Foot Care Centre. The third division is property. Branches in this division are involved in retail, residential, and commercial property management and development. This division includes City Centre Doha, and Aamal Real Estate. The final division is managed services, which offers the highest quality services to the corporate sector. This division includes Aamal Travel and Tourism, Aamal Services, ECCO Gulf, Johnson Controls Qatar, and Vivantes Medical Centre.

What strategies have allowed you to become a market leader?

Aamal’s success is the result of a strategy designed to identify key growth opportunities, capitalize on them through the deployment of capital, and partner with industry leaders, who provide the required level of expertise when necessary. We aim to be the first mover in the market, and offering innovative products and services is a key element in our strategy. Aamal’s diversified approach is a source of strength; we are providing both a degree of stability and a platform to take full advantage of these opportunities. Aamal’s corporate strategy is to create long-term shareholder value through the continued profitable operation and expansion of its diversified business platform. The company seeks to take advantage of the growth opportunities created by the Qatar National Vision 2030, and to leverage its position as a leading participant across various key economic sectors to achieve sustained, profitable growth in three ways: an increased focus on industrial manufacturing and related high-growth sectors to capitalize on significant demand arising from the wider industrialization of the Qatari economy; continued growth, diversification, and innovation across other existing businesses to enhance market position and optimize performance; and the continued application of clear and disciplined operational and financial principles, underpinning our strategic growth initiatives.

“The economic development of Qatar has been remarkable.”

What is the story behind Al Faisal Holding’s diversification?

Before the Emir came to power, he had a vision, and we as businesspeople have to follow suit and contribute to this vision. When the economy was booming, there were small companies with limited resources. The companies that were able to expand their resources and capabilities as well as hire more people keep up with the growth of the economy. Al Faisal was one of the companies that was able to achieve this. Now we feel comfortable that we can keep up with demand. After restructuring within the company, we were able to diversify, focusing on hospitality, trading, real estate, construction, education, and other sectors. We felt we’d outgrown the country and that we could expand regionally and globally. We’re doing well with that, and we’ve succeeded.

What are the advantages of having a vertically integrated strategy?

Aamal is one of the largest, most diversified, and fastest-growing companies in Qatar, offering high-quality exposure to the Qatar growth story. We apply excellence to all of our activities by acting transparently, with integrity, and with the drive to exceed expectations. Our effective corporate decision-making and short lines of communication with operational management, along with the development of our shared services policy, allows divisional management to focus on core business. Each of Aamal’s subsidiaries is managed as a stand-alone entity, optimizing the management’s operational focus and transparency. Our talented and motivated managers have significant experience and strong customer relationships in their respective areas. Clear segregation between management and ownership reinforces best practice corporate guidelines. With these strategies, Aamal aims to be recognized as a leader and innovator in the industry sectors where we operate, excelling in service delivery and professionalism to meet and exceed the expectations of all stakeholders.

Which branches and companies of your group stand out as the most dynamic?

We try to maintain a balance and support all companies in the group so that no companies are left behind. All of the companies are on the same level, and their growth is based on the quality of their workforces and human resources. We focus heavily on manufacturing, hospitality, health, education, and charity work through the Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation. In health, we just signed an MoU with a large German company, Vivantes, in the medical sector.

How would you assess the current investment climate in Qatar?

Over the last few years, the economic development of Qatar has been remarkable. The country has become one of the world’s fastest-growing and most successful economies as markets continue to diversify and the country’s infrastructure continues to develop. The vision of HH the Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, to develop Qatar into one of the region’s leading economic powers, remains at the heart of our business. Aamal is as determined as ever to play a major role in the realization of this and the Qatar National Vision 2030, and to be a major beneficiary of the nation’s success.

What is your outlook for the industrial sector in Qatar?

Aamal is successfully positioned as a predominantly industrial company. Aamal is well placed to capture the opportunities that are being afforded by the rapidly developing Qatari economy. The economy’s growth is being driven by a significant infrastructure and industrial development program as part of the government’s Qatar National Vision 2030 that is seeking to diversify the country away from its substantial, long-term hydrocarbon reserves into alternative and sustainable avenues of growth. Qatar is expected to spend upward of $150 billion on infrastructure alone in the next five years. Furthermore, Qatar has attractive demographics with its rapidly expanding population stimulating further economic growth. Aamal successfully repositioned itself by placing a greater emphasis on industrial manufacturing by expanding its industrial manufacturing capacity to take full advantage of Qatar’s modernization and heavy capital investment in infrastructure. This strategy continues to make progress with net profits at our industrial manufacturing division rising 27.8% in 1Q2013 compared to the corresponding period in 2012, helping to underpin a rise in earnings per share in excess of 8%.

What are your medium-term plans for Aamal?

Although Aamal is now principally an industrial manufacturing company, we will continue to follow our policy of diversification across a number of non-manufacturing sectors. Our strength is in our diversity, and this is what makes Aamal so distinctive. It is important that we remain market leaders in the areas we operate in as they offer significant potential growth as the Qatari economy continues to evolve. We are uniquely positioned to be able to offer comprehensive and well-balanced exposure to the Qatar growth story, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

© The Business Year – May 2013

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