TBY talks to Eng. Abdullah Aldubaikhi, CEO of Bahri, on representing Saudi Arabia's main ocean carrier, reducing fuel consumption, and data-driven solutions.

The Kingdom strives to be a key logistics hub on the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. As the country's main ocean carrier, what role do you envision for Bahri here?

As the flag-bearer of Saudi Arabia's fast-growing maritime commerce sector, Bahri has been playing a leading role in materializing the Kingdom's logistics and transportation ambitions through continuously enhancing its services, strengthening its market presence, and opening new trade routes for greater access to global destinations. We have aligned our long-term strategy with the Saudi Vision 2030, which envisages transforming the country into a pre-eminent maritime hub in the world. Accordingly, we have been exploring new avenues of opportunities to take this vision forward. Looking ahead, furthering the depth and breadth of its product offerings will continue to be a key area of focus for Bahri for the remainder of the year and beyond. Our immediate priority will be to enhance our logistics services portfolio to enable Bahri to weather cyclicality challenges in the shipping business and capitalize on new opportunities in the market. We have plans to enter the third-party logistics (3PL) and fourth-party logistics (4PL) business. Our aim is to provide door-to-door services and a complete solution for our customers. Effective and mutually benefiting partnerships have been a key driver of sustained success, and therefore, we place significant emphasis on finding the right partner before venturing into these new products and services. Our collaboration with Bolloré Logistics, one of the top 10 logistics companies in the world, to establish our joint venture, BahriBolloré Logistics, is a perfect example of such strategic partnerships. With this JV, Bahri has been able to provide end-to-end logistics and supply chain management solutions to local and international firms operating in the Kingdom via air, land, and sea transportation.

For Bahri, oil and chemicals are still the primary cargo. How do you envision developing your portfolio?

In addition to the strategy to increase the scope of our logistics services, we have laid out plans to further enhance our transportation solutions by strengthening our credentials in oil transportation. We are also keen on diversifying our business with a view to increasing shareholder value and boosting our contribution to the Kingdom's endeavors aimed at maximizing local content. With the objective of developing an indigenous shipbuilding industry in the country, Bahri has established International Marine Industries (IMI) in partnership with Saudi Aramco, Lamprell, and Hyundai Heavy Industries. The joint venture maritime yard project is currently underway in Ras Al-Khair and is tipped to be the largest full-service maritime facility in the Middle East and North Africa with a capacity to manufacture annually four offshore rigs, over 40 vessels including three VLCCs, and service over 260 maritime products. It is aimed at promoting the logistics and transportation sector, creating thousands of new and sustainable job opportunities. Major production operations are expected to commence in 2019, with the facility reaching its full production capacity by 2022. Similarly, gas transportation is a key component of our product portfolio. We have a 30% share of Petredec Limited, a company specializing in the trade, transportation, storage, and distribution of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

How are you advancing on integrating more technology and innovation operations?

Technology and innovation are at the heart of Bahri's DNA. We have adopted technology-enabled systems and processes in every aspect of our operations. Marine ERP software PAL and Oracle have been instrumental in driving efficiency across the company. We also place importance on data analysis, which is extremely important in the transportation industry. For instance, if we reduce the speed of one of our vessels by 5%, we will reduce fuel consumption by 10%. If we arrive three days ahead of schedule, we will waste three days waiting for our slot to load or unload. This is why we have integrated Big Data into our business processes. We are increasingly leveraging insights hidden inside the massive data to enable smarter and faster decision-making in order to improve operational performance and efficiency. Data intelligence also comes handy in managing our large, state-of-the-art fleet, boosting the safety of our vessels and crew, improving the quality of our offerings, in addition to increasing customer satisfaction. Similarly, one of the main operational costs associated with the transportation industry is fuel, and we do a great deal of data analysis when it comes to planning, optimization, scheduling, and routing. Due to the significance of the extra value that data brings the maritime business, shipping companies are increasingly partnering with IT companies to develop data-driven solutions.

What are your strategic priorities for 2019?

At Bahri, our aim is to become a total solutions company that caters to the varying needs of our customers. In line with this goal, we are currently working on a number of partnerships and projects, which we will announce soon. In fact, we have already been chartering airplanes and using trucks for shipments. Also, we are pushing ahead with our strategy with great emphasis on the sustained expansion of our market footprint and the diversification of our business.