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Saudi Arabia 2016 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Faysal El Hajjami, Country Manager of DHL Saudi Arabia, on Saudization, the impact of growing rail infrastructure, and long-term plans.

Faysal El Hajjami
BIOGRAPHY
Faysal El Hajjami was appointed Country Manager of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in April 2016. He was earlier DHL Managing Director covering Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, and Tunisia, where he set up the first dedicated DHL Express Hub in North Africa. El Hajjami previously held other positions at DHL, including head of products and trade lane for EEMEA, head of the oil and gas industry for EMEA, as well as for Latin America, and country commercial director for Saudi Arabia. He has a master’s degree from UCLAN and remains a visiting lecturer, covering areas of international business and logistics.

What will be your policy in terms of human resource management, taking into account Saudization requirements?

At DHL, our people are our greatest asset and we strive to be the employer of choice; we thus develop our human resources equally, while investing heavily in localization for both male and female Saudi employees. We currently stand at over 40% Saudization and have development programs to retain and grow that YoY; we also invest in every employee and give them world-class training to ensure each one of them is a certified international specialist who will serve every customer to world-renowned standards. Our HR policy is very clear: to be the best employer. Through our carefully structured education and motivational programs, we will maintain the best of our employees and train and develop new recruits that will help us shape the future of the company and lead the standards in the express industry.

How do you expect the privatization of the aviation sector to impact DHL's operations?

Aviation privatization will help bring Saudi Arabia's aviation industry in line with international norms. By separating the aviation regulator and the airport operator, the government aims to increase productivity and efficiency, improve services within the industry, and, more broadly, diversify its income streams while reducing state expenditure. This would also reduce the burden on the government budget and improve expenditure on infrastructure, which would reflect positively on the economy, local and international investments, and DHL operations in return. Encouraging a competitive market will eventually lead to better services for the end consumer.

The GCC will invest $200 billion in rail infrastructure across the GCC. What impact will this have on the sector's development in the region and for logistics?

Rail infrastructure will become a critical enabler and driver of sustainable growth for the region. GCC economic growth was primarily enabled by infrastructure investments in ports, as the majority of growth was driven by the export of oil and petrochemicals. As local populations and economies continue to grow, the need for advanced national and regional infrastructure becomes increasingly important to support economic growth. Furthermore, introducing a new transportation mode will create competition that will depend on shippers' needs, amongst other factors. Usually, rail competes with road and marine transportation, and it can become the transportation mode of choice due to its flexibility in terms of types of goods and packaging type. The railway project will definitely open up many opportunities and doors for hybrid modes of transportations to meet the last mile transportation needs of customers, consolidation/deconsolidation services for less than container loads, and logistics in general. It will also have a balancing effect and relieve the pressure on road networks and traffic congestion, particularly at borders and gateways, and all of that will create a better atmosphere for express opportunities. We work with rail operators across the world. Saudi Arabia will not be any different, and we will exploit the rail network in areas where we can add value for our customers.

What is DHL's long-term strategy in a key market such as Saudi Arabia?

DHL MENA is continuously making great strides to expand its regional aviation network and footprint with greater capabilities through continued investment to enhance service quality and introducing new flights in the region. With a growing demand for consumer goods, cars, raw materials, electronics, machinery, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas, DHL is set to soar further in MENA, and Saudi Arabia in particular, in the long run. To date, we have invested over 20 million euros in three new state-of-the-art gateways at King Khalid International Airport, King Fahad International Airport, and King Abdulaziz International Airport, allowing us to bring in more flights from around the world. That is testament to the importance of Saudi Arabia's market for the global logistics and trade industry. In the coming years, this position will only become stronger. Our investment will continue in line with our customers' current and future needs.