Northern Emirates | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tarek Hameidani, Managing Partner of TAG Middle East, about the evolution of the industrial environment of RAK.

What is your assessment on the evolution of the industrial environment of Ras Al Khaimah and the synergies with the free zones and the transport infrastructure?

Ras al Khaimah is becoming the industrial capital of the UAE for several reasons. The service, whether for RAKEZ or the government in general, is one of the best in the region. In working with it for 10 years, we have never experienced any problem, and it is at the top of its game. At that same time, the cost of operating there is not as high as Jebel Ali or other well-known free zones. We are close to Jebel Ali, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, but at more affordable rates. The area is evolving and will continue to evolve. The focus is on manufacturing and tourism more than any other sectors.

Regarding TAG Middle East's international operations, where are you exporting, and how are you working to expand your client base abroad?

We are one of the largest suppliers to the UN. We export anywhere from South America to the Indian Subcontinent and East Asia, and everything in between, including most of the countries in Africa. We currently have five facilities around the world, and in this region we have the UAE and Oman. We are not looking to expand production to new locations but increasing the capacity of our current locations. We build more products in these locations and expand the facilities, though we are not adding new locations. The latest facility we built was in Oman in 2019, while the one in the UAE was set up in 2007.

How do you manage your clients' needs in terms of maintenance and training?

This is a new area that every client should look into. It is not just about delivering a product, but how to hand over the product, train people who will be using it, and maintain it. Our equipment often operates in difficult regions and high-risk areas. One new program we are working on is that once we sell the vehicle, we have a team that flies in and hands over the vehicle with one day of training for how to operate and learn. Many times, the person driving the vehicle is not the one who ordered it. Our job is to train and educate, and we have local agreements with workshops to service and maintain our equipment. Sometimes, we take on local partners if they meet our standards. We train the local partners, though if there are things they cannot do, that is when we get our team there. We have many manufacturing facilities in the US, Canada, Germany, the UAE, and Oman. Depending on where the requirement is, the nearest team flies there.

How has TAG Middle East diversified its product portfolio in recent years?

We are continuously expanding our product portfolio. Our focus today is on defense and military vehicles, and within the armored group, as a group, we are the only company that can deliver anything from a small cash-in-transit vehicle up to a large military vehicle used by the US army and everything in between. We cover the whole range of armored vehicle products from small urban and civilian vehicles up to those costing over USD1 million and used by governments by militaries in Europe and the US. Within that range, we are continuously developing and improving. We are launching a new product in 2021 under our military range and another new product under our personal protection range.

What are TAG Middle East's priorities in the near future?

Our objective is to be the largest armored vehicle supplier in the world, covering a full range of products. Currently, we manufacture in three continents, though we would like to manufacture on four continents in the next two years. Our focus is diverting more toward military vehicles than smaller personal protection armored cars. We are working on improving the product, industry, and know-how, though something that needs to be done locally is government standardization. As an example, in Europe, companies have to abide by certain standards when producing a cup, phone, or armored vehicle in order to enter the market, and that ensures a quality product. The same thing needs to be done here. Creating these standards is tricky, but country standardization needs to happen soon for our industry.