Feb. 7, 2020

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

UAE, Dubai

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem

Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DP World

“As a progressive end-to-end logistics solutions provider, we continue to invest in new technologies and disruptive innovation.”


Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem was appointed Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DP World with effect from 30 May 2007. He is also Chairman of the Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation (PCFC). He has been one of Dubai's leading businessmen for more than three decades, having started his career in the customs office at Jebel Ali Port after receiving a BSc degree in economics from Temple University in Philadelphia. His career spans a wide range of leadership roles in business and government. Serving as the first chairman of the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) when it was founded in 1985, Mr bin Sulayem oversaw its development into the region's leading hub for logistics, hosting more than 7,500 enterprises including nearly one-hundred Fortune 500 companies. Mr bin Sulayem also founded and led Nakheel, a leading real estate and tourism property development firm behind many of the most iconic projects in Dubai including Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest human-made islands. In 2002, he pioneered the development of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a leading trading centre for international commodities across a range of goods from gold, diamonds and precious metals to tea, food and industrial materials. In 2003, he established and led Istithmar World, a premier global investment company with a portfolio of investments in private and public equity, real estate and alternative asset classes across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

What are the key initiatives you would like to highlight as examples of DP World's disruptive innovation to stay ahead of the curve as we move into the era of smart trade?

As a progressive end-to-end logistics solutions provider, we continue to invest in new technologies and disruptive innovation, always seeking the edge that will help us lead the future of world trade through innovative trade solutions. We enable trade around the world, creating and embracing the latest technologies and innovations. And for ports and logistics operators like us, the key now is to further maximize efficiency, making sure innovations coming on stream can lower costs, increase productivity and move goods arriving in vast quantities from enormous ocean carriers quicker and more cost-effectively than before. We believe that to stay ahead of the curve, we should constantly upgrade our systems, as the Internet and technology have revolutionized the way we do business. Our vision at DP World is global; foreseeing change, thinking about future opportunities, enhancing efficiencies and adopting innovative and creative trade solutions. In an age of unparalleled change, transforming the way goods are transported is being explored across the world. Moving containers in different ways both by sea and across land has exciting potential. One of our innovations is the world's first high bay storage system, BOXBAY, which we have developed with industrial engineering specialist SMS Group. The first BOXBAY facility is being built at Jebel Ali Terminal 4 in time for the Dubai Expo 2020. The patented design and rack structure of the BOXBAY system creates unique advantages. Containers can be stored eleven stories high, dramatically increasing capacity, and the fully automated system can move every single container individually without having to touch any other. This has the potential to revolutionise cargo handling operations because the current system of stacking containers on top of each other means containers must be moved to access containers at the bottom of the stack. We are excited by the prospects for BOXBAY as handling speed and efficiencies are key aspects of the ports and terminals business, and the system is a major development for the sector around the world. We also have a multi-million-dollar investment in US-based Hyperloop One to provide funds for the continued research and development of Hyperloop technology. DP World is now a significant investor in Hyperloop One. The Hyperloop system moves magnetically levitating pods through low air pressure tubes. It has the potential to move cargo at the speed of a plane but the cost of a truck. As part of the investment, Hyperloop One will benefit from DP World's expertise in complex cargo handling operations and the experience DP World has accumulated across its global portfolio of more than 150 operations in over 50 countries across six continents. Disruptive innovation is a continuous process, and we continue to unveil new technologies and innovations that facilitate trade and make trading smarter.

What is the significance of DP World's disruption-drive mission for the future of trade, and how will these innovations impact supply chains and trade?

These innovations are shaping the future of trade. For example, the rapidly evolving e-commerce and the need to invest in new technologies are just some of the issues businesses face that will impact supply chains. Over the last few years, DP World has undertaken a diversification strategy that has transformed us into a Global Trade Enabler by extending our core business of port operations to play a wider role in the supply chain. We have acquired differentiated assets, such as trains, warehousing and inland logistics in India, feeder shipping operations in Europe and Asia, as well as joint ventures with logistics software and distribution companies in Australia. Our goal is to transform the efficiency of supply chains to benefit cargo owners and consolidators of demand. Key to the DP World's strategy is digital transformation as we look to provide and develop technology to remove inefficiencies.

DP World is the official premier partner global EXPO 2020. With more than 25 million visitors expected to attend the world's greatest show, how will DP World's EXPO 2020 pavilion convey to the world the seemingly obscure links between the world of cargo and our daily life?

DP World being the Premier Global Trade Partner of Expo 2020 means everything related to Expo is flowing into Dubai through our globe-spanning logistics network. This includes the utilisation of all our ports and terminals, free zones and maritime services. The Al Wasl dome, which will be the centrepiece of the Expo 2020 site, is a good example of the role we are playing in making Expo happen. Weighing 2,265 tonnes with an enclosed space of 724,000 cubic metres, the sections of the Dome entered Dubai thanks to Jebel Ali Port's outstanding cargo handling capabilities. The biggest piece—the dome's steel crown—alone weighs 550 tonnes. Expo 2020 is a unique experience for us. We are often at major events, but the key difference here is one of scale. The Expo site will be the size of a small city, and the event will last for six months. The objective of DP World's EXPO 2020 pavilion is to open the eyes of visitors to the world of logistics and supply chains. Most people rarely consider what it takes to bring to them from far off places everything which is around them in their daily lives. How this process works is as complex as it is interesting. Through the use of cutting-edge technologies including augmented and virtual reality, visitors to our pavilion will be able to see the real-time movement of cargo across the world and learn how global trade happens and its impact on every aspect of everyone's life every day. Trade is an area that, despite its importance, is not understood very well by the general public and we hope to change that.

What are your strategic priorities and vision for DP World as we look beyond 2020 and into the next decade?

Our vision is the shape the future of global trade, for the better. Our priority is to continue to enhance our capability to offer supply chain logistics to cargo owners, from the point of origin to the point of consumption. We believe there are many opportunities to increase the efficiency of supply chains. Key to our success is the services we offer are backed up by our global-spanning network of ports and other assets. We will continue to work to create trade corridors around the world. In Africa, for example, we are connecting landlocked countries to the global trading network. In India we are further enhancing our inland logistics operations. In the next decade DP World will continue to be at the forefront of technological development in our industry. The potential of innovations like BOXBAY and Hyperloop is huge. The digital solutions we are developing will transform supply chains, giving more visibility, transparency and flexibility to cargo owners such as manufacturers, enabling them to run their businesses more efficiently. Logistics needs to innovate to keep up with the demands and expectations of a world that has become used to the convenience of e-commerce. Global trade has lifted large parts of the world out of poverty; it has brought prosperity to many developing economies and given hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people access to jobs, better education and healthcare. Countless children who once would have been born into a life of poverty are now growing up in the knowledge that they have a future. At DP World in the next decade, we will continue to work to make trade smarter for a better future for all.