PRIVATE COMPETITION PUBLIC GAIN

Saudi Arabia 2018-19 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

The most innovative firms are honing their skills in lean times to emerge stronger on the other end of economically uncertain ones.

Dr. Fadil Fouad Basyyoni
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Fadil Fouad Basyyoni was educated in the US, where he obtained a PhD in engineering management. He is a senior management executive offering more than 20 years of progression and achievements contributing to strategic goals in multinational/international business environments. He is deeply familiar with international standards of QA/QC, business practices protocols, and their application to the domestic business environment in the Middle East and abroad. He has worked in providing integrated environmental solutions, planning, engineering consultancy, equipment supply, monitoring solutions, and other services.

How have your operations changed over the last year?

Last year was one of survival for Saudi Arabia, a period we have yet to fully emerge from. This means the economic conditions have forced us to focus on our existing services and improve their quality to secure our market share. It was not advisable in 2017 to open new lines, an endeavor which always entails large investments. However, we are optimistic and believe better times are around the corner. This is why we have decided to open a completely new line: oil recycling. One example of how this will be operationalized is by taking the carbon ash from burning oil and reuse it in cement production as fuel derivatives. This reduces the cost of the cement and gives it more strength. At the same time, it is beneficial to the environment, as carbon ash is usually difficult and costly to get rid of; you cannot just put it in a landfill because if it mixes with sand or other materials it becomes a fire hazard. We just secured the partnership for this line and already did a promising study for a local cement factory. The technology has been approved and is already being used on a pilot scale. But we will even go further beyond recycling. We will be generating actual energy from oil sludge, the first time this technology is used in the Kingdom.

How would you assess the regulatory framework regarding environmental issues?

The brand-new Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture (MEWA) is trying to create regulations and enforce them. The fact that it is a fully fledged ministry and not merely an authority means that it has real power to make an impact. The age of merely doing environmental studies is over; we are now seeing many positive initiatives coming out of the ministry to create regulations and enforce them. That is a welcomed improvement, and although it does not always go as fast as I would like it to, it is certainly moving in the right direction. Part of this is also driven from the bottom up, in terms of raising environmental awareness in the country. This is symbolized by the rise in environmentally focused non-profit organizations, of which we are a member of several. They are working hard in developing public awareness in alignment with the government.

How is the growing number of PPPs within the framework of Vision 2030 impacting the environmental sector?

The success of these showcases how the vision is making a broad and positive impact. The most obvious dimension of this can be seen in the creation of new cities and islands through this model. That is to say, private involvement comes with efficiency gains, as companies compete with each other to come up with the 'smartest' proposals, those that minimize the impact on the environment in a cost-efficient manner. Equally important is the way in which privatization efforts are making an impact. Since they need a stable and sustainable environment, there is now zero tolerance toward corruption, and those who have abused their power for financial gain are now being held to account.

What potential do you see of further expansion outside of Saudi Arabia?

We already have an Environmental Consultancy Firm in Qatar and have recently been approached by one of our partners to expand into the UAE. Environmental services in the Gulf are young; there is much room for growth. We are lucky to be one of the early adaptors in the region, and this is a large part of our competitive advantage, as does our experience with the public and private sector. Our shared culture with the rest of the Gulf also translates into similar business practices, making it easy to expand. The global need for environmental services will only grow. The demand is everywhere, and we will supply it.