TBY talks to Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman of Drydocks World & Maritime World, on Dubai as a maritime hub, maintenance and conversion operations, and his outlook on the market.

What are the origins of Dubai's Drydocks World?

Many years ago, Drydocks World was established as a regional business. Later on, the government decided to expand the horizons of the company, increasing its capabilities and services. Without a doubt, Drydocks World is one of the largest dry docks in the world. We cater to very lucrative markets, specifically targeting regional and international businesses. Drydocks World acquired a number of dry docks in Singapore and Indonesia, expanding actively until the misfortune of the global financial crisis struck the region. Although we had to adjust our vision and strategy, the crisis did not bring an end to our growth approach. In 2010, we launched a new strategy designed to serve the energy sector. We have consolidated our business into the categories of repair, maintenance, conversion, and modular fabrication; we also have a very successful new build operation. Maritime City incorporates business operations clusters into the Drydocks World group, and I would classify ours as a growing business.

Where do Dubai's strengths lie?

Dubai will always be the number one hub in the region. The Emirate has always been part of a very effective trade route, with an “easy in, easy out," policy in terms of maritime activity, which is important to create value-added in the industry. In Dubai, the right moves have been made toward developing an industry that is heavily reliant on maritime trade. The growth in the oil and gas industry in the region will certainly enhance the sector, as more and more platforms and service vessels will be required for transportation. Moreover, in the trading segment, it is well known that almost 87% of global trade in the region is handled by UAE-based organizations.

What success have you experienced in maintenance and conversion operations?

At the beginning of 2012, we signed an agreement for a $255 million project. In the repair segment, we have a monthly turnover of approximately $30 million-$35 million, and we continue to grow. We are still in the negotiation phase for a number of mammoth potential projects in the pipeline. The projects we have are among the best in the world; we are building the largest offshore platform for renewable wind power energy in the North Sea with Norwegian company Aibel. Sustainable energy is one of our main focuses, as it has the potential for growth over the long term. We conducted a detailed study regarding the areas of Drydocks World that we would like to see growing, and designed a strategy based on that analysis. We are developing the world's largest turret for the global gas industry in partnership with Shell, Technip, and SBM Offshore. This turret is designed to be used for a deepwater gas project off the coast of Australia. Furthermore, we are developing two modular conversions for the Gulf of Mexico and the US, and these conversions represent a remarkable achievement for us.

Are you actively looking for joint ventures to enhance your current capacity?

We are heavily involved in Singapore and Indonesia, and in Dubai we actively engage in international partnerships. We have participated in a number of discussions with special partners in Turkey, Libya, Vietnam, and Japan, and in different Southeast Asian countries. After signing a recent major contract, global attention was focused on us. We were forced to compete in a very difficult market against shipyards that are fully subsidized by governments and have extensive knowledge bases in the oil sector, as well as docks that have no restrictions similar to the restructuring measures we were facing. Nevertheless, we came out on top, and the situation has opened doors for us. Currently, we are involved in discussions about managing other yards, exporting our knowledge base, and promoting our brand name. Many countries would like to see our strategies implemented in their own yards. We are a following an operational excellence program, which incorporates a very extensive business management strategy with built-in efficiency, on-time delivery, and cost-effective measures that ensure quality products of the highest standards in safety. The trend is that the market seeks lower costs at a higher level of quality, and Drydocks World can offer that.

What is your 2012 market outlook?

We are on the right track. For 2011 we posted a profit of $125 million, and we will settle for no less than in 2012—we expect at least a 10% growth rate. We are very well positioned to be the first choice for our clientele, and plan to expand our capacity to optimize our growth potential.