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SHARJAH SUCCESS STORY

Sharjah 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises & President of Crescent Petroleum, on the evolution of the Emirate's economy, expansion plans, and maintaining strong corporate governance.

 Badr Jafar
BIOGRAPHY
Badr Jafar is the Managing Director of Crescent Group, which has been operating from the UAE as a family business group for 44 years. The group today comprises of two main companies: Crescent Petroleum, the first independent and privately owned petroleum company in the Middle East, and Crescent Enterprises, the group’s conglomerate, which operates across six core sectors. Jafar is active in a variety of other industries including ports and logistics, serving as Chair of the Executive Board of Gulftainer (the world’s largest private container port operator), and private equity, serving as a member of the boards of The Abraaj Group (UAE) and GrowthGate Capital (Bahrain).

Which of the sectors that Crescent Enterprise is involved in show good potential?

Crescent Enterprises has seen significant growth across many of our core businesses. Gulftainer, our Sharjah-headquartered ports and logistics subsidiary, is a good example of this, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 18% from 2012 to 2015, compared to the global throughput growth level of 3% during the same period. As the only Middle Eastern port operator with a strategic presence in the Americas, Gulftainer is set to expand into new markets with plans to triple its volume over the next 10 years across five continents.

How do you see Crescent Enterprises and its subsidiary companies adapting to the evolution of the region's less oil-dependent future?

Our focus on long-term, strategic development and value creation, aligned with an entrepreneurial spirit, enables us to stay ahead of the curve and retain our competitive edge. Diversification, which is now more than ever a priority for the region, is in fact at the core of what we do at Crescent Enterprises. We already have interests in a diverse range of sectors, from ports and logistics to private equity investments, as well as business aviation, power, engineering, and healthcare. As the region's economies diversify even further, we see more opportunities in the trade, power, healthcare, and general infrastructure sectors that will enable us to broaden our activities and continue to grow sustainable, scalable, and profitable businesses across a range of synergistic sectors.

Where will the conglomerate expand next?

We see many opportunities for value creation, not only in our core business sectors, but also in industries that are well positioned for disruptive growth, such as FMCG, F&B, renewables, and technology. We are also bullish about markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and have already made a strategic investment to enter Africa's burgeoning e-commerce market. In addition, we are building new businesses through CE-Ventures, our business incubation division.

Crescent Enterprises champions the need for strong corporate governance in the region. What are your highlights in this regard?

We champion an inclusive mindset where businesses can “do well by doing good" and we have taken a leadership role to address, not only the critical challenges our communities face, but also in support of broader sustainable development. To maximize our impact we have formed strategic partnerships with organizations that share our values and principles. An example of this is working with the Pearl Initiative, established in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact, which promotes a corporate culture of accountability and transparency as a key driver of competitiveness across the GCC. In addition, we have partnered with many global institutions as part of our efforts to bring about effective change in the way we do business in across the Middle East. These include the World Economic Forum's 'Partnering Against Corruption' Initiative, the UN Global Compact, Ashoka, and the UN's Women Empowerment Initiative.

How would you assess doing business in the region and what are your expectations for Sharjah's economic growth over the next few years?

The UAE tops the MENA region in the World Bank's ranking of ease of doing business. Its diversified economy, openness to private sector engagement and collaboration, enabling infrastructure, and strong regulatory environment are reasons for its success as a business destination. In common with the other Emirates, Sharjah has benefited from the UAE leadership's focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and good governance as key drivers of economic growth. Specific initiatives led by the Sharjah Investment Authority (Shurooq), and the new entrepreneurship center at the American University of Sharjah (Sheraa), complement the efforts of the private sector to raise Sharjah's standing as a business hub. What is also highly commendable is Sharjah's commitment to supporting local culture, talent, and the environment. Crescent Enterprises is proud to be part of the Sharjah success story, and I am confident the Emirate's economy will continue to develop strongly in the coming years.


 

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