Saudi Arabia 2019-2020 | ENERGY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Moosa Al-Moosa, President and CEO of Dow Chemical - Saudi Arabia, on innovation in material sciences, human resources, and investing in downstream opportunities.

How does Dow Saudi position itself as an innovative player in the material science sector, and what role does Saudi Arabia play within its portfolio?

On April 1, 2019, Dow completed the spin off from Dow-DuPont, positioning itself as a leading material science company with the ambition to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive, and sustainable Materials Science company in the world. That being said, our focus on continued and sustained growth at a global level still transcends to the regional and local level as well. In Saudi Arabia, through Sadara Chemical Company, a USD20 billion joint venture with Saudi Aramco, we have introduced products that have been launched in the kingdom for the first time. Moreover, we have Dow Middle East Innovation Center (MEIC) which has Dow's Research & Development facilities and the Digital Marketplace Center capabilities for the region. Through MEIC, we provide application development and technical services focused on oil and gas technology solutions, sustainable coating and construction solutions, and industrial chemicals for a variety of applications relevant to Saudi Arabia and the broader region. However, the most invaluable investment in any country is in human capital, and Dow has successfully done that by giving many young Saudis the opportunity to develop their skill-set and careers, having trained them such that they can come back and contribute to Saudi Arabia's economy.

What was the driver behind choosing Saudi Arabia as the location for the second digital center within Dow's portfolio, and what are the center's main goals?

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of investing in its young human resources. Its population not only provides a huge pipeline, but talented students too. As such, we continue to recruit young Saudis who work in MEIC at Thuwal, Saudi Arabia on digital market solutions such as data visualization, social listening, finding solutions for customers, and addressing today's challenges. Indeed, today, the digitization of the entire commercial process has become particularly relevant. Business is not just defined by a buyer-seller relationship, but through close partnership and collaboration. Chemical companies realize the need to facilitate business for their customers and stakeholders in Saudi Arabia. This can happen through tracking developments, providing innovative solutions, reducing overall costs, and engaging closely with customers.

How does Dow Saudi Arabia's plans to invest in coatings reflect the major opportunities in the local petrochemical sector, and what are other attractive areas for international investors to engage in?

The Downstream industry, especially through value parks, achieves many of the goals set by Vision 2030. First, there is a multiplier effect in terms of job creation; second, the further downstream we go, the more we can substitute imports for local manufacturing; third, it serves as a diversification of the economy, and it should only really happen to serve a local market. The Saudi market is the largest market in the GCC. It has the largest consumer, infrastructure and construction base in the region. The coatings plant we are building clearly serve the construction industry with many government projects coming up, the construction sector will pick up and require more solutions, which represents an opportunity for players seeking to do business in Saudi Arabia. Construction chemicals is another area where we expect to see more demand, as well as oil field to meet Aramco's significant infrastructure investment in gas and its goal to increase gas capacity. Finally, insulation materials will be in high demand, since the pick-up of the construction industry will require well-built insulation solutions.