SEALING THE DEAL

Saudi Arabia 2017 | INDUSTRY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alaa A. Nassif, CEO of the Royal Commission at Yanbu, on completing the Kingdom's value chain, boosting domestic finished product exportation, and creating jobs for Saudis.

 Alaa A. Nassif
BIOGRAPHY
Alaa A. Nassif, CEO of the Royal Commission at Yanbu, is responsible for comprehensive management of the Yanbu Industrial City. He is also the CEO of the Royal Commission at Jizan Economic City (RCJEC). He holds a PhD from the University of Salford, an MS from the University of Miami, and a bachelor’s from King Abdul Aziz University. Before joining the Royal Commission at Yanbu, Nassif worked in various capacities at Saudi Aramco. He also served as deputy dean and as an assistant professor at the College of Environmental Design at King Abdul Aziz University. He also worked in the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs of the Jeddah Municipality.

What are some of the biggest changes and projects from the past few years?

When we started in Yanbu 40 years ago, this area was a desert. The city has grown rapidly and continues to expand, all the while providing excellent investment opportunities in numerous industrial sectors and becoming a globally recognized industrial and business center located on the coast of the scenic Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The Royal Commission at Yanbu has gone through major transformation phases over the last 40 years, moving from infrastructure developer to a comprehensive city management business model focusing on strategic partnerships with our partners and promoting industrial development and diversification. The mission of the Royal Commission at Yanbu is to plan, promote, develop, and manage our city. Over the past five years, we have been focusing on developing a specialized industrial city for strategic downstream industries or clusters that complete the Kingdom value chain, increase our finished product exports, and create more jobs for Saudis.

Where do your efforts stand to bolster your logistic capabilities?

One of Saudi Vision 2030's goals is to raise our global ranking in the Logistics Performance Index from 49 to 25 and ensure the Kingdom is a regional leader. This is because Saudi Arabia is right at the crossroads of important international trade routes between Asia, Europe, and Africa. To achieve this goal, one of the Royal Commission's initiatives in the National Transformation Program 2020 is the development of a multi-modal logistics hub in Yanbu Industrial City. Our Economic Plan 2030 defined this initiative in 2012. That project by itself is a huge project for the city with a total area of 75sqkm. The Royal Commission at Yanbu has completed the feasibility, conceptual, and detailed designs and started the construction work for this project in late 2016. The objective of the multi-modal logistics hub is to provide outstanding logistical services to our investors by rail, air, and sea. The hub will provide world-class customer service through safe, reliable, and efficient logistics services that link our city with regional and global ones. The project has many components, including a rail link, storage, shared tank farms, a minerals hub, and special economic zones. All these components will help in optimizing the supply chain for investors and promoting new investments in the Kingdom. To support this, Yanbu Industrial College is establishing a national logistics center of excellence to train employees to meet the challenges facing the movement, storage, and supply of goods. The center of excellence in logistics will position Yanbu as a hub for industry-driven transport, distribution, and logistics commercialization and help build a national reputation for Yanbu as a location for logistics service providers entering the Kingdom. It will also serve as a center to fast-track innovation in Saudi Arabia.

What are your ambitions for the year ahead?

We will have major projects worth over SAR10 billion in the coming years. This includes industry, education, and the development of community services such as hotels, housing complexes, and recreational facilities. Projects focused on industry and housing will be the bulk of our work next year. We will also launch our smart city initiative. It is a project that we started three years ago, and now we have the base for launching it. Soon we will have a major celebration as the first smart city in Saudi Arabia, and one of the world's first industrial cities to do so. Completing these projects, providing customer-focused service programs, and closing partnerships with stakeholders will help us achieve these goals.