TBY talks to Mohammed Abdallah Al Kharusi, Group General Manager of Business Development at Mohsin Haider Darwish (MHD), on training the Omani workforce, developments in the industrial gas segment, and the group's many activities.

Mohammed Abdallah Al Kharusi
Mohammed Abdallah Al Kharusi took up his current position in 2012. He has an MBA from the University of Maryland, having earlier graduated from Maryville University, St. Louis with a degree in Management Information Systems/Business Management. Having received training from Bankgesellschaft Berlin AG & Berliner Bank and Commerzbank AG-Frankfurt in 1997, he moved into banking and leasing in Oman, working with the National Bank of Oman between 1997 and 1999 and with Citibank N.A. from 1999 to 2002. He was also acting CEO at Taageer Finance Company (SAOG) from 2002 to 2012.

TBY How does Mohsin Haider Darwish (MHD) display its commitment to developing Oman's youth through training and education?

MHD will be one among the founding promoters of the National Automotive Higher Institute (NAHI) in Oman, and we are going to be a major stakeholder in this new private university. We have an MHD training institute for young Omanis that has been running successfully for several years, and is subsidized by the Ministry of Manpower. We train people as technicians and mechanics, and later take the graduates on as employees or release them into the workforce, depending on our requirements. This is something that is beneficial for all parties; Omanis are trained, the workforce is developed, and we bring through future leaders for MHD. Omanization is not a numbers game; it is a question of building a quality national workforce.

What plans do you have to develop your gas division?

Our MHG Gases division is one of the largest pioneering industries in Oman. The development of Oman, which has been growing in recent years, is further increasing the demand for industrial gases. This presents a challenge, but we have decided to press ahead with major investment in our facilities and capacity to meet the increasing level of consumption. We have launched a joint venture with ORPIC, Air Liquide, and OMZEST Group to produce nitrogen at the Sohar Petrochemical Complex. This venture has been very successful, so we are considering further expansion plans. MHD Gases markets a wide range of industrial, medical, and fuel gases, and is one of the largest producers of CO2 for the beverage industry. Currently, we are setting up a world-class facility for special and calibration gases at the Sohar Industrial Estate to cater to the growing demands of petrochemical customers. Accredited to ISO 9001 for quality control in operation and ISO 22000 for food safety procedures, MHD Gases complies with the highest level of QHSE requirements in its operations. Having installed and commissioned prestigious projects for a multi-gas network for Oman Dry Dock and the Ministry of Defense, we have gone ahead with the further expansion of our gas distribution outlet at Duqm in order to support SEZAD's new initiative to develop the petrochemical industries in that region.

How has government investment in infrastructure supported MHD's workload?

Our projects division is showing extremely healthy growth on the back of the huge government investment in infrastructure. With new roads, ports, and two new airports, we supply bulldozers, rollers, forklifts, and other heavy machinery. The government's decision to enforce subcontracting as a part of tender obligations will drive growth for us as SMEs look to us for products and support. As an organization, we are looking into outsourcing certain functions so as to support local SMEs.

What is your outlook for Oman's economy in the medium term?

I am very optimistic for Oman's economy. We are starting to leverage the unique geographical advantages that we have through the construction of the new port at Duqm, the railway, two expanded international airports, and the revitalized roads network. Oman will undoubtedly become a hub for transshipment and for airlines. The free zones will help this growth, and Duqm, for me, is the key to the future of Oman. Tourism also represents a huge opportunity for the country, as we remain something of a hidden gem. Oman has an excellent vision to develop its niche markets, which are the future. We are a growing nation and we keep reinventing ourselves. The future is rosy; however, job creation is a serious issue that must be addressed. The government is taking this very seriously, which is encouraging, and the focus should be job creation and sustainability through SMEs.

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