THE unjust blockade imposed on Qatar by the Saudi-led bloc has impacted the business climate in the country in a positive way, Mahmoud al Hadad, the Group CEO of Profit Holding, has said.
“The unfortunate and condemnable blockade has turned out to be a blessing for Qatar from the business perspective in that there have been lots of changes and adaptation which have positively impacted the growth of local businesses,” Hadad, whose group has about 10 companies operating in different sectors of the economy under its wings, told Qatar Tribune recently.
The group is also the operator of the leading and best performing taxi operator in the country - The Yellow Taxi, which has more than 1,000 vehicles in its fleet.
“For example, in the transportation sector, our taxi business, Yellow Taxi, has witnessed a surge in revenue in the last two months which is an indication that more people are coming into the country. Also, Pangulf, our rent-a-car business has also experienced an exponential growth during the period mentioned with people mainly from Europe and Asia visiting the country especially after the visa announcements by His Highness the Emir,” he said.
The corporate honcho, who has more than 21 years experience of financing background, including about five years as a group CEO, noted that the new visa policy by the government, which allows citizens from many countries to get their visa on arrival, has further boosted the tourism sector, which in turn has had tremendous impact on businesses in the country.
“We are now getting bookings on a daily basis and with some bookings made about two months ahead. Also in the facility management sector, some companies owned by some of the blockading countries have decided to leave the country on their own. This has given opportunities to local companies, including ours, to stand up and fill the gap,” he added.
Hadad said that Qatar presents a great opportunity for anybody with ideas to grow.
“I strongly believe that Qatar, under the leadership of the Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, has created conducive environment which has birthed a lot of opportunities in the country. I think the blockade has been a blessing in my opinion.”
The Profit Holding top official said the change in the business climate has also come with its own challenges because things will never be the same again.
“What the new situation means is that for any company to be competitive enough now, it has to be the best at what it’s doing. In other words, every company must raise its game and step up because if you are not good at what you are doing you won’t be able to survive the competition.”
“Qatari companies must now reposition themselves, restructure if need be, and position themselves to compete even against European and American countries. Companies must use the opportunities of the blockade to start developing the best strategies needed to turn into world-class outfits,” he said.
He added that the secret to any company’s success is to appoint the right management with the right talent and adequate package.
The well-travelled CEO, who has worked in several parts of the world including 17 years in London, 18 years in Kuwait, seven years in Dubai and six years in India praised the government for its quick response to the challenges of the blockade which has kept the country steady contrary to the expectations of the blockading nations.
“The government has helped businesses in a lot of ways. For example, with regards to bottlenecks or demurrage fines at the ports, the governments decided to give some waivers to ease the burden on selected companies and it also gave extra support to those who need them. These have been of great help to businesses in the country,” Hadad said.
“The government is playing its part very well in supporting the local companies, and therefore, businesses should also endeavor to play their parts very well and seize the moment.”
He said his group has been able to open new channels in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan for some of the needed spare parts. “Yes, we have suffered in the short run, but we have strengthened our pillars for years to come,” he said.
”Definitely we are not going to depend on the blockading countries anymore as the past is gone and will most likely remain there,” he added.
With regard to food security, Hadad, who has a background in farming, food processing and food production, said that Profit Holding is positioning itself to contribute its own quota in fulfilling the Vision 2030.
“Qatar has all it takes to become almost completely self sufficient in food production. The country has very strong financials, a strong leadership, good localization, the sea, the best airline, world class ports and airport etc; virtually all the needed pillars. I believe individuals and corporate organizations should seize the opportunities and invest more in agriculture, farming and food production,” he said.
Speaking about his group’s future plans, Hadad said, “We intend to go into manufacturing very soon. We’ve identified some products we believe we can start producing locally and we are putting everything in place to start the project anytime from now.”