Mar. 25, 2015

HE Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani


HE Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani

Chairman and Managing Director, Milaha


Since his appointment in 2009, HE Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al-Thani has overseen the merger of three major Qatar-based maritime players—Qatar Navigation, Qatar Shipping and Halul Offshore—to form a multi-faceted shipping, maritime services and logistics company, Milaha. After receiving a Bachelors of Science degree from Portland State University in the US, he started his career at the Ministry of Finance in Qatar as a financial analyst in the Investment Bureau. In 1992, he was given the responsibility for managing direct investments on behalf of the Investment Bureau, which was later transmuted into the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Sheikh Ali also took on additional responsibilities in expediting the privatization program. He is a Director at Qatar Investment Authority and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, and a Board Member at United Arab Shipping Company.

Milaha is organized on the basis of five business pillars. How does this structure benefit the overall performance of the company?

Today, we operate in five divisions, which we call our “five strategic pillars," with the first three pillars being our core businesses. The pillars are, firstly, maritime and logistics, which includes ports services, logistics, container feeder shipping, and the shipyard. The second is offshore, which entails the charter and operations of offshore support vessels as well as associated construction, maintenance, diving, and other services. The third pillar involves the transport of gas and petroleum products. In addition to these core activities, we also have a capital pillar that oversees our strategic and financial investments, and our trading pillar that deals with the distribution of heavy equipment, trucks, bunker, and other industrial products. This reorganization was aimed at streamlining operations and focusing on serving customers within each sector, with strong linkages across pillars allowing enhanced levels of service for common customers with requirements across multiple areas.

Milaha is steadily growing its fleet of vessels across the different segments. Which aspects of the fleet are you currently expanding?

The company's fleet is currently quite diversified and includes small tugboats to large LNG carriers, and everything in between. Our fleet of approximately 90 vessels includes container ships, LNG carriers, LPG carriers, crude carriers, bulk vessels, and harbor craft, in addition to over 35 offshore support vessels. We are in the midst of a significant new building program. In addition to the offshore support vessels delivered in 2014, we are expecting another 10 offshore vessels to be delivered between now and the end of 2015. Milaha also recently took delivery of the 19 harbor operations vessels for the 20-year Mesaieed Port contract. Beyond what is committed, we are continuing to look for opportunities to expand our fleet in the offshore segment as well as the gas and tanker segment. Several initiatives are underway in these areas.

In recent years, the Milaha Capital pillar has become increasingly important to the overall performance of the company. What are the factors behind this development?

Milaha Capital's performance is closely linked with that of Qatar's equities market, given that we have a large portfolio of equity investments. The market has grown significantly in recent years, driven by overall economic growth, the strong investment program leading up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as the inclusion of Qatar on the MSCI Emerging Markets index. This has naturally led the Milaha Capital business to generate strong returns relative to the core maritime activities.

How will the new Doha Port, that is projected to be open in 2016, impact the company and eventually the Qatari economy?

Qatar has thoroughly re-evaluated its port infrastructure needs, with the result that a new port project is currently underway and due to open in 2016, when it will replace the existing Doha Port. Beyond 2015, and particularly after 2016, Qatar is expected to witness significant trade volume growth fueled by projects related to the FIFA World Cup 2022. The New Port Project will greatly increase capacity and cater for future consumption and infrastructure growth within Qatar. We are, of course, participating in the tender to operate the New Port, which would have a significant impact on our own business. Beyond the port, Milaha is well positioned to participate in and capture such trade growth, and will certainly look to grow to meet the increased requirements, through both our container shipping as well as logistics activities.