GO BIG OR GO HOME

Kuwait 2019 | INDUSTRY & FOOD | INTERVIEW

Comparatively a small-scale steel producer, being a national company and the only steel producer in Kuwait gives Kuwait Steel a price preference advantage and the edge to plan for regional expansion.

BIOGRAPHY
Faisal Awwad Al Khaldi is the Deputy CEO and board member of Kuwait Steel. Having a sound knowledge of the steel industry and a vast experience in Kuwait Steel with managing diverse functions like business development, procurement and commercial operations, he plays a vital and integral role in the overall operations of Kuwait Steel. Al Khaldi is very committed to the wellbeing of the environment, ensuring that the latest machinery is used in the company’s plants. His aim and vision is to take Kuwait Steel to greater lucrative heights by expanding, integrating, amalgamating, and growing with new objectives, and at the same time maintaining world-class quality standards.

What gives Kuwait Steel its competitive edge in the Kuwaiti market?

Being the sole steel producer in Kuwait gives us an edge. Furthermore, national products have a pricing advantage because it is mandatory to use national products in public projects. Being a national company we get a price preference advantage of 5% over Gulf States and a 10% over non-Gulf states. This law is applied across all GCC states to protect national industries from strategic steel-importing countries. Nonetheless, our pricing strategies, market intelligence, analysis, and forecasts are our priorities as they give us a competitive edge. Our main competition comes from neighboring countries where governments do not spend as much, forcing steel manufacturers to look into alternative and lucrative markets such as Kuwait, where governmental expenditure continues even when the economy experiences a slowdown. Kuwait's industrial sector is in its early stages, as the country still relies heavily on oil and gas or hydro carbon. Steel manufacturing is the second-biggest industry; however, compared to regional steel companies, we are still small scale, though we strive to grow and transform Kuwait into an industrial country. Notably, the government subsidizes energy, and our company greatly benefits from that, aiding to our competitive edge.

What is your strategy to ensure a bigger market share locally and regionally?

Our main priority is securing higher market share domestically and regionally, for which we need to continue focusing on efficiency, sustainability, growth, and expansion. We have a five-year expansion plan that will kick off in 2020, aimed at expanding and integrating our steel production facilities to start producing our own raw materials and become self-sufficient. To that end, Kuwait Steel is looking into building a pelletization plant and a DR module where we will be able to produce Direct Reduced Iron and Hot Briquetted Iron, which are key raw material commodities used in manufacturing steel. Moreover, we will eventually look into acquiring an iron ore mine for our own supply. We are strategically looking into integrating through our clients and are constantly liaising and lobbying with the government to educate Kuwaitis and invite them to join our workforce. The law requires us to have 4% Kuwaiti nationals among our staff, but we are currently at 7% and target 25% in five years. As one of the highest-paying companies in Kuwait, we want to share the wealth, growth, and success with our fellow citizens; however, we still face some reluctance and challenges from Kuwaitis who expect white-collar jobs after graduating from universities. New generations have to change, because at present, the government is obliged to employ Kuwaitis in the public sector, even though sometimes hiring more people isn't necessary.

How is Kuwait Steel working to reduce emissions during the production processes?

Kuwait Steel's environmental policy is fully committed to minimizing the effects of its manufacturing operations. Our priority is to enhance our environmental protection performance through the implementation of latest environmental management systems. For example, our melt shop has a back-house dust system that transforms all the gases into solid waste that we sell as a byproduct from which companies can extract materials such as zinc.

How is Kuwait Steel guaranteeing the best quality management?

All of our products pass through a quality assurance process in all stages. Furthermore, our quality assurance facilities are established on each of the manufacturing plants to provide regular feedback to our production teams, which are equipped with the latest testing and analytical tools and equipment. We are the only company in Kuwait that links its gases to the Ministry of Environment. We use radioactivity detection systems to monitor the radioactivity levels of raw materials and work with independent surveyors who survey the scrap we procure globally. We comply with the different norms and international standards in addition to being ISO and UK Cares certified. Since our establishment, independent parties have been conducting quality surveys, further cementing Kuwait Steel's credibility and reliability.