Sheikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Thani, Vice Chairman, Aamal Company
23 Feb 01:24 AMSector : Industry & Mining Country : Qatar
What are the values of Qatar's corporate DNA?
Qatar is an open, free-market economy with an extremely attractive environment for business. There are no capital or exchange controls. Taxes are very low. The regulatory system aims to follow international best practice. The economy’s path is mapped out by the Qatar National Vision 2030 under the wise guidance of the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The Qatar National Vision sets out how the country can become a highly competitive, knowledge-based economy and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons.
This enlightened approach has produced dramatic results. Qatar is an astonishing economic success story. In the decade to 2012, the economy grew at an annual average rate of 13 percent – the fastest in the world. Despite a rapidly increasing population, average per capita income is now one of the highest in the world. And the economy it is expected to go on expanding by almost over 6 percent the next few years.
Qatar’s companies reflect these values of openness, competition and incorporating the ideas and technology which help to create a knowledge-based economy. Together, these are the makeup of Qatar’s corporate DNA.
In which way does Qatar contribute to your company?
As I mentioned, Qatar is an open free enterprise economy which has grown and matured very quickly. The country’s success has created huge opportunities for entrepreneurs. That is the main contribution the country has made to business.
More particularly, heavy public investment in infrastructure and social projects is very important for the private sector. Qatar expects to invest about $200 billion in public expenditure over the next eight years or so. Investment on this scale does three things. First, it generates business directly in the form of contracts for construction, say, or bank financing (Qatar’s banks are among the fastest growing in the world). Second, modern infrastructure – from roads to telecommunications – reduces the costs of doing business. Third, government investment feeds through into employment and consumer spending.
Aamal Company is one of Qatar’s most diversified groups, covering Industrial Manufacturing, Trading and Distribution, Property Management and Managed Services. We have 23 business units and some 2,300 employees. All these operations benefit greatly from government economic policy and the success of the economy. Indeed Aamal, is a close analogue to the Qatar growth story.
In which way do you contribute to the success of Qatar?
I think Aamal contributes to Qatar’s success in three main ways. First, as one of the country’s leading quoted companies, we are at the forefront of the development of the private sector. As I said earlier, Qatar aims to become a knowledge-based economy which is less dependent on hydrocarbons. Aamal’s wide range of activities helps to advance this objective.
Second, a diversified group like Aamal can meet the rapidly changing needs of the Qatari economy. We manufacture in Qatar construction materials such as cement, tiles, cables and pipes; we supply consumer goods such as pharmaceuticals, home appliances, vehicle lubricants, tires and batteries; we manage a property portfolio which includes City Center, one of the country’s biggest shopping malls; and we provided services such as control systems for buildings which reduce energy consumption and assist in promoting environmental sustainability.
Third, we bring in skills and raise the level of skills throughout the economy by transferring knowledge to Qataris. In the long term, this will be a major factor in maintaining and improving Qatar’s productivity.
What is Aamal’s success factor?
There is no single factor behind Aamal’s success. The diversity to which I have referred is important. So is our strategy of forming partnerships with leading international companies, to establish market leading positions in the chosen sectors in Qatar and our solid financial position. But in the end, the main factor has probably been the vision of my father, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani. He started the business more than 40 years ago with the long-term purpose of assisting in the development of Qatar. He has always been willing to take the long view and stick with an idea or project. That has been fundamental to Aamal success – a success which is admired throughout the region.
How do you see the future of Qatar?
Qatar has a bright future. Our nation has come a long way in a short time. Qatar has been the fastest growing economy in the region for many years and is likely to continue to be. It has also been a beacon of stability in the Middle East. As a result of these two factors, Qatar has modernized remarkably quickly and is widely regarded as a model of how development can bring much improved standards of living while maintaining a society’s culture and values. As the economy and population grow further, the future will see cultural enrichment and diversity as well as prosperity and peace.
In what way is Aamal an ambassador within the sector and within Qatar?
Within the sectors that our businesses represent, Aamal is respected for the professionalism and innovation it brings to its work. We have often been pioneers, for example in starting City Center when West Bay was in the early stages of its development or in helping to build up manufacturing in Qatar in key industries. Looking at Aamal’s role in the country as a whole, I believe that Aamal is an example of how entrepreneurship can flourish in Qatar – it is an inspiration to other Qatari businessmen and businesswomen.
How do you contribute to the Qatar National Vision 2030?
Developing a thriving private sector to help diversify the economy is an important part of the National Vision. We are a leading private sector enterprise, listed on Qatar Exchange, and in that respect certainly contribute to the economic development pillar of the National Vision. At the same time we are directly involved in other pillars through our activities.
Which pillar of the National Vision best represents the company?
As I said, Aamal is a broad-based, diversified group and therefore we are involved in many aspects of the National Vision. Indeed, Aamal sees helping the development of Qatar’s economy and society as part of its responsibility: Qatar has assisted us in growing and we assist Qatar in growing. But in the end, of course, we are a business. So I chose one pillar of the National Vision to represent the company it would be the economic pillar.