MATTER OF EXPERTISE

Saudi Arabia 2020 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

A major player in the water and wastewater segment in the Kingdom, Miahona targets upcoming PPP megaprojects.

Awaadh A. Al Otaibi
BIOGRAPHY
Awaadh A. Al Otaibi was appointed CEO in 2018, following almost 20 years of executive experience in the government and private sectors. He was VP for Commercial Affairs and Privatization at the National Water Company for Commercial Affairs and Privatization and acted as Director General for Commercial Affairs in the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture. Al Otaibi participated in the development of the National Water Strategy for 2030 and previously led business development at several utilities and water companies. Prior to that, he served as Technical Consultant at Saudi Industrial Development Fund for several years, while holding several board positions. Al Otaibi holds a master’s degree in engineering and projects management from Cranfield University in the UK and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from KFUPM.

Would you tell us about Miahona's positioning in the market and its primary expertise?

Miahona is the water and wastewater vertical of Vision Invest focused on developing and operating in municipal, commercial, and industrial segments. We cover the entire water value chain, from water extraction to production and distribution, including metering, billing, customer sales, collection and treatment of wastewater, selling recycled water for non-potable uses, and sludge disposal. Miahona's focus business model is PPP structured projects that bring value to the client and shareholders. As a developer, we seek bankable, guaranteed off-take structure as our main driver, though we do have ongoing businesses where we take a market risk, especially when a project is driven by a strategic partnership or long-term objectives. Presently, Miahona's key targets are municipal wastewater BOTs, municipal and industrial distribution concessions, and strategic giga projects. We have ongoing water and wastewater concessions in Jeddah, Dammam, and Al Ahsa industrial cities through our subsidiary, Industrial Cities Development and Operating Company (ICDOC). This is a real success story for Miahona because we have been serving the industrial cities for close to 20 years and have proven our reliability and strong commitment to our customers.

How are you expanding your operations into the municipal and commercial sectors?

We currently target the recently announced wastewater independent sewage treatment plant projects being tendered by Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC). It is a core business focus, and we are here to support the government's vision and privatization program. In the water distribution business, Miahona is keen to participate in NWC's distribution privatization program that will commence with the upcoming management, operation, and maintenance contracts for the six regional clusters of the Kingdom. We have formalized our partnership with strong international players, namely Saur and Manila Water. Our three-party consortium brings extensive and varied experience in water management in developed countries as well as emerging countries in addition to Miahona's know-how of the water sector in the Kingdom.

What is your approach to technological innovation to stay competitive?

It is all about providing the right service and the right quality at a competitive price. We particularly have to consider the reliability of the technology we adopt, so it is not easy to introduce any un-commercialized or unproven technology. One of the main drivers of successful project delivery is proper risk allocation, which is demonstrated by proven technology, references, and by convincing the lenders that there is a well-structured bid that makes the developer competitive. We are not an EPC contractor or a technology provider that is keen to commercialize a specific technology. We combine technology innovation with high-quality service delivery and adherence to the client's requirements and the contractual obligations, thus adding value to our stakeholders.

What are your expectations of the announced megaprojects in the water treatment sector?

We have a strong focus on the announced giga projects within our group. In the municipal water sphere, we have operated the city of Jeddah for nearly 10 years as a management contractor in a JV with an international partner, managing complete distribution system and wastewater treatment serving more than 5 million inhabitants. Our subsidiary company, Jazzirah Environmental Company (JECO), is the biggest private-sector operator for the standalone sewage treatment plants with a combined capacity of more than 500,000cbm per day. The management contracts and distribution initiatives today are not new activities for Miahona, as it has been engaged in this segment for the last 10 years. Looking at the giga projects, these are similar in structure to the industrial city projects we have done. It is all about who the regulator is for a particular project. We are already delivering at a higher quality with more constraints under our existing contracts. We are also treating more complex industrial waste compared to municipal waste. With a proven track record and years of experience, Miahona is well positioned to deliver the water and wastewater infrastructure in these projects.