ALMANA GROUP OF COMPANIES ACTIVE ACROSS QATARI ECONOMY

Qatar 2017 | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Abdulaziz M. H. Al Mana, CEO of Mohammed Hamad Almana Group of Companies, on family-owned businesses in Qatar, industrial production as an alternative to the extractive industry, and real estate interests.

Having a wide range of activities across multiple sectors, how do you assess the role of family-owned businesses like yours in the diversification of the Qatari economy?

Qatar has enjoyed rapid success, and the role of the family in Qatari business is paramount to this success. We have weathered the storm of globalization and commercialization of business by returning to our roots in developing a business through our family. The company was created and handed down to my brothers, and I am sure we will continue the tradition by handing over the business to our sons. The ability to have this fresh generation of minds has only helped to benefit the business while ensuring the success of our family and strengthening our family bond. The diversification of the Qatari economy has been rapid and heavily influenced by external involvement, so to be able to oversee a cyclical business evolution from a family perspective is something that we cherish and is also a good way to support young people.

In a context of low oil prices, how have you shifted your focus to industrial areas other than gas?

Low oil prices have had devastating effects throughout the global industry, but everyone must adjust, not just in Qatar. We have spent a greater deal of time observing rather than reacting immediately. Knowledge is the key to dealing with such changes and in order to change we need to first understand what is going on, what has been successful, and what has failed to challenge the new economy. We have had to change how we integrate new business, invest, and handle our internal processes to cope with the low gas prices, but we also have not stopped advancing our business into other areas, which are experiencing continued growth. The oil and gas industry is still lucrative even with current oil prices; we just have to accept low prices as the reality and adapt to what we have.

Qatar seeks to become a tourism destination within the region. How are you contributing to the expansion of F&B and hospitality offer within the country?

We are continuously looking for new and fresh concepts to bring to Qatar. When tourists come to Qatar they are not only looking for some of the incredible hospitality offerings we have, but it is also enjoyable to see some familiar brands. The ability to integrate new concepts into Qatar while driving Qatari culture has been shown in some of the menus and concepts that provide Arabic fusion dishes. This has been incredibly popular, and we work diligently with global brands to create fresh dishes that have geographical tastes.

What are your ambitions in the real estate division to continue growing your portfolio within Qatar and what markets are you targeting internationally?

Internationally, London is a major interest to our organization. The British market continues to grow and offer opportunities that we want to continue to capitalize on. Qataris find London very appealing not only for business but also for social activities. Therefore, bringing businesses to this location will provide us with an immediate clientele. We are an organization that prides itself on ambitions of providing the highest quality of service to our clients. As the market changes with low gas prices, the economy has shifted from high supply and low demand. In order to be competitive and surpass our competition we have focused on the smallest details, such as our general services, preventative and corrective maintenance, and our amenities such as a world-class pool, gym, tennis court, basketball court, 24-hour security, and children's play area.

Looking at the changing demands of the Qatari population, what new trends has the Group observed and how are you going to capitalize on future opportunities?

Qatar is continuing to grow and develop toward the FIFA 2022 World Cup and reaching Qatar National Vision 2030. We are constantly trying to align with the Vision, while observing new and innovative ways to contribute to it.

What are your expectations and plans for the year ahead, and where would you like to see this family business in the future?

Multiple-year planning is essential to our business, so we are not just planning for the year ahead. The diversification of our business will continue to be a key movement in the organization as we look at alternative and non-traditional verticals such as education and community mall offerings. We want to continue to build our brand in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and position ourselves as a prominent provider of high-quality services in Qatar and beyond.