JUST THE CLICK

Oman 2015 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Sheila H. Jamal, CEO of Al Madina Group, on the potential for ICT companies in Oman, and the complexity of the security market.

Sheila H. Jamal
BIOGRAPHY
Sheila H. Jamal’s career has had many interesting aspects over time starting with the Gulf War in 1990. Sheila took over Al Madina in 2004 with the goal of creating the most innovative IT and security documents organization in Oman. As a result of her educational background in Industrial Engineering, she has emerged as one of the most successful businesswomen in the Sultanate of Oman. She is globally recognized in the field of documents security in addition to recognition from the Al Mara Women in Excellence Awards.

How has the company evolved since starting operations in 1984?

We come from a mixed background, and have traveled the world to ascertain what direction other countries are heading in in terms of new technologies. That is how it all started, trying to bring to Oman what other countries had and we lacked. Back in the 1980s, the country needed almost everything, and we focused on providing whatever we could. Over time, we prioritized and channeled our business into certain segments within the IT and security sectors. We were one of the first companies to start operating in this industry in Oman, and we have been part of its expansion and evolution, which is still ongoing.

What are the core businesses of the company?

Passports and other security documents printing is one of our main business activities nowadays, including reading machines and issuance systems. We have developed a wide range of products dealing with document security, and over the years we have ventured into several segments of the IT sector too, such as e-payments and e-solutions. We have a strong focus on public authorities, and most of the ministries are our clients. We also have many banks among our clients, and we provide and maintain software and hardware for credit/debit card personalization, as well as e-payment methods.

What segments do you think will drive the growth of the company in the near future?

We have a strong focus, right now, on diversifying our business activity. We are trying to open new market niches in which we can bring something fresh and innovative. Also, we have started to export our security products and services to other governments. I think this particular business activity will play an essential role in our future development. We are extremely happy with our regional and international expansion so far and have noticed increased interest from other governments in our services as a result. We have also finalized several international partnerships in other countries. For example, we have several cooperation agreements with European and Asian companies as well.

What are the main challenges facing the company?

I think in the internet era people find it easy to Google information, and then they consider that they know everything. The reality is not quite like this, and we are trying to fight stereotypes that people might have about the region.

How would you assess the sector's human resources?

There are some challenges in finding qualified workers. However, since we have many ongoing projects and international partnerships in place, we are able to provide international training to our staff. I think this is something our employee's value greatly, and consequently we do not face the same difficulties other companies in the sector face. The training opportunities we provide to our staff are also part of our overall contribution to know-how transfer in the country.

What are your expectations for 2015?

Based on our long experience in developing most of our products and solutions in our company, such as content management solutions, correspondence solutions, and archiving solutions that have been successfully implemented in Oman and have won prestigious awards, we are planning to promote Omani products outside of Oman. Moreover, we will continue to introduce new technologies in the security information technology field as part of our strategy and commitment toward our country.

What is your outlook for the company's activities in five years' time?

We see a bright future for the company, with a strong focus on international expansion and reaching new heights in terms of reputation and specialization. Expanding our international profile will mean increasing exports of our solutions and products to other countries, as we have recently done. International expansion for us will entail increased cooperation with other leading companies in other countries to develop joint projects and solutions. This is something that will enable us to open in other markets indirectly, markets that perhaps are not currently on our radar.