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Qatar 2020 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

After the World Cup, Coastal Qatar plans to shift from the construction sector to manufacturing products where it can maintain a competitive advantage.

Nishad Azeem
BIOGRAPHY

Nishad Azeem is the founder & CEO of Coastal Group. He has lived in the GCC most of his life and has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry in the region in both oil and gas and infrastructure projects. He has created several joint ventures with leading international companies to manufacture products locally in Qatar. He was employed at Occidental Petroleum and Parsons Engineers prior to his entrepreneurial venture. He holds an executive MBA from HEC Paris, an MSc engineering in project management, and a bachelor's in civil engineering. He is a certified project management professional and is currently pursuing management studies at Harvard Business School.

What has been the impact of FIFA for Qatar, and what is the plan after FIFA?
The impact of FIFA on the Qatar economy has been extremely positive; its projects form a major portion of infrastructure spending. We set up our seat manufacturing business because there was a need for seats in Qatar for the World Cup stadiums. We have set up manufacturing partnerships with companies that are leaders in their fields, which has enabled us to not only manufacture world-class products in Qatar but also bring them to market at a lower cost. That is the value creation we intend to provide to our customers. For all the products that we manufacture, there is a fundamental baseline quality that has to be top class. Our products are able to compete with the best in the world, and our state-of-the-art factories have been set up on par with the best in the industry.

How will you maintain momentum after the World Cup contracts are completed?
We are aware of the fact that the construction boom we are experiencing will not be sustainable post World Cup. We expect growth in the oil sector, for which we are gearing up. We also intend to shift from the construction sector to focus on manufacturing products where we can maintain a competitive advantage to be the market leader. Exports will be another major area for growth and will help us better spread the risk in multiple markets.

What new production lines are you working on at the moment?
We started manufacturing lamp posts and high masts in 3Q2019, and the machine for manufacturing crash barriers in collaboration with our German partner has been commissioned. We have a partnership with a British company for locally manufacturing explosion-proof doors for the defense and oil sectors. We also have a few other products related to the oil sector in the pipeline. In Qatar, We currently manufacture stadium seats, lamp posts, high masts, lockers and cubicles, slotted channels, road safety barriers, and explosion-proof hangar doors. Coastal's next focus area is on exporting its products worldwide. We have sufficient manufacturing capacity to meet the local demand and export. The government has been supporting us in establishing export channels and networks, especially QIDB, which organizes exhibitions around the world. We took part in a few exhibitions in Oman, Kuwait, Nigeria, Germany, South Africa, and Kenya, and there are a few more coming up. We have a special focus on Africa and Asia at the moment and plan to expand into Europe later.

How is Coastal involved in innovative beautification projects in Qatar?
Leading up to FIFA 2022, we have a fair number of beautification projects for public spaces around Qatar. We wanted the elements of the beautification project like benches, lamp posts, bollards, and others to imbibe the art and heritage of Qatar that visitors can experience. With this objective in mind, we collaborated with the Fire Station and Qatar Museum to launch a competition called Qatar Al Fann for local artists to design functional art for beautification projects that will subsequently be manufactured in Qatar. We held a few workshops for the artists to train them on design aspects. The competition is ongoing, and hopefully by end December the artworks will be delivered. We have a panel of judges to shortlist the designs that will be used for production. The competition theme is Qatari art and heritage, so it will have Qatari elements like sand dunes, the sea, and the art of Qatar. Our next step will be to export this to regional countries. There will be an exhibition in March at the Fire Station to showcase the talent of local artists. This would also hopefully encourage other private-sector companies to come forward with projects to support local artists.