PARTNER OF CHOICE

Qatar 2019 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

Milaha is the largest supply chain enabler in Qatar, helping to boost exports at a crucial time.

Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai
BIOGRAPHY
Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai has been President and CEO of Milaha Group since September 2015. He leads all the business areas of Milaha. Prior to joining Milaha, Al-Mannai held various leadership positions at Qatargas, the world's largest liquefied natural gas company, where he oversaw the largest LNG supply chain, Europe’s largest regasification terminal, and South Hook LNG Terminal, amongst other roles. With a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, throughout his career he has developed extensive experience in multiple fields, including shipping, energy markets, and commercial activities.

What does the recent integration of robotic process automation (RPA) solutions into your operations imply for your client base?

Over the last year, we have been undergoing a significant digital transformation across the organization, and RPA is one of the technologies we have deployed. We are extremely proud of RPA as we are one of the few companies in the region to successfully deploy this technology. It essentially simplifies our back-office operations, reduces and eliminates human error, and automates routine clerical tasks. What distinguishes it is that it is not an idle system—it monitors, learns, and executes, which means that its potential is virtually endless. This gives us significant advantages directly related to our customers through faster, more streamlined, and accurate processes. At present, digital international start-ups in our sector are seeking our experience in deploying robotics, and that is a sign of the progress we have made. We have taken a leapfrog strategy to jump significantly in technology implementation, as we needed to stay ahead of the curve. Our vision is to be the partner of choice for our customers, and in order to do that, we need to be truly advanced in the way we serve our customers.

What are your plans for expansion to increase or start direct shipment capacity?

Since the blockade, we have deployed many new routes, ramped up our operations, and opened direct shipping lines to Oman, India, Pakistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. What the blockade did was fast tracking some of the plans we already had in place as it created a higher demand. We are proud of the speed and efficiency we demonstrated in deploying our network. At the moment, we are seeing additional pickup in transshipment, which is a great sign for the logistics industry. With the availability of Milaha Logistics City, free zones, and economic zones, more facilities are now available for the re-export market. The physical infrastructure is there and proven, and the next step is to look at the soft infrastructure, which include regulations, rules, laws, and investment incentives that will facilitate trade.

What are Milaha's prospects for the export activity of Qatar, especially in non-oil sectors?

Milaha is the largest supply chain enabler in Qatar, and we are proud partners of the largest players in the non-oil and gas sector as we offer a unique approach whereby we are directly or indirectly involved in every part of the supply chain. In terms of the maritime and logistics pillar of Milaha, we are involved directly in the container shipping, logistics, and port sides through our investment in QTerminals, which is currently managing and operating Phase I of Hamad Port. Additionally, we have our shipping agency side, export and import clearances, and a huge network of reliable agents at a global level. Having strong logistics is a way of supporting our clients so that we are able to make sure they have a matching import and export process. Being connected across the chain is one of the unique things that we can provide and leverage.

How is Milaha Logistics City going to change the landscape of logistics in Qatar?

The logistics sector of Qatar is already the second biggest among Arab countries, according to the World Bank Logistics Performance Index. It is also within the top 30 worldwide, which demonstrates the vision of Qatar's leaders. We have launched the first phase of the 400,000-sqm Milaha Logistics City (MLC), which has already made its mark on Qatar's logistics scene. As we continue to develop the facility, MLC will enable economic diversification beyond the oil and gas industry. It will also create value for end consumers and attract more regional and international customers. Additionally, Qatar will be able attract more cargo volume to its ports, which will help turn Hamad Port and airport into the transshipment hubs of choice. In the long run, the replication of MLC in different locations within the country will enable Qatar to take the lead as the Gulf's logistics center.