LAUNCHPAD FOR SUCCESS

Oman 2020 | TRANSPORT & AVIATION | INTERVIEW

Looking forward, MARAFI will focus on building up its sound reputation, expanding commercially, and energizing the communities around the ports.

Ahmed Mohammed Al Abri
BIOGRAPHY

Ahmed Mohammed Al Abri started his career as a junior naval architect with Vosper Thorneycroft Shipbuilding yard in Southampton and later spent years with the Omani Navy. He gained first-hand knowledge of shipbuilding and maritime experience from participating in major new projects in the UK, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Romania. He then became the Deputy CEO of Oman Drydock Company in Duqm for approximately three years before becoming the CEO of Oman's new ports operations and management company MARAFI. He sits on the board of Salalah free zone company and is the current chairman of the new Khazaen Dry Port.

What were the major highlights across the ports in your portfolio?
In 2019, MARAFI made huge strides in its strategy of establishing small and medium ports for traders in the country. At Port Suwaiq, we handled around 500,000 tons of cargo, which comes mostly from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, India, including building materials, metals, marble, and industrial chemicals. We target more imports of fruits and vegetables by having a direct link between the origin countries and Oman. Port Suwiaq will become a main satellite port in the north of Oman in the near future. At Port Sultan Qaboos, the number of cruises and passengers increased by 26%, and we seek to adjust to the growth in demand by building a new dedicated terminal for cruise ships. Moreover, we took over the operations of Port Shinas and Port of Khasab, controlling their proceedings, carrying out necessary initial infrastructure modifications and will also start developing dedicated terminals in 2020. The Port of Khasab has also undergone segmentation of the land that will be ready to offer to the market soon while the new cruise terminal will commence construction by mid-year 2020. At the end of 2019, we signed an agreement for the Khazaen Dry Port with two other local companies, which we hope will be ready to start soft operations by the end of 2020. As such, for 2020, our strategic priorities are to keep building our sound reputation, continue to expand commercially, and energize the communities around the ports, socially and economically. As we are achieving our rapid operational growth and stability, technology is becoming an added main tool for efficiencies improvements in the future.

How should the public and private sector engage with regard to asset integration and value maximization opportunities in the logistics industry in Oman?
Oman has great potential that could be exploited with proper organization and money management. MARAFI acts as a platform that the whole ecosystem could benefit from. This means even though we could build and operate the necessary infrastructure on our own, we engage with Omani companies to be with us, so we can develop it together for the long term. This is true for ports, dry ports, or port expansions, which will all be offered as PPPs to the private sector, allowing them to make meaningful contributions to national projects.