This time we travel to the member states which make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. How well has Sika developed in a region which for many signifies political unrest? Let's find out...
We begin our travels in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which were formed as a federation of 7 emirates in the Southeast of the Arabian Peninsula. The capital city is Abu Dhabi, whilst Dubai is the economic center. its establishment in 1971, the UAE has developed rapidly and is now noted for its modern infrastructure, moderate political approach, its international events and status as a trade and transport hub, and for its cosmopolitan nature.
Dubai was also successful in winning the bid to host the prestigious World Expo 2020, which has meant resurgence in investor confidence and construction projects following the economic crash of 2009.
Within the Arab world and the GCC, the UAE represents a new benchmark for a modern Arab country that interacts professionally with the rest of the world while upholding its deep-rooted and moderate Arabic and Islamic values. We met Ashraf Wahib, the General Manager for Sika Southern Gulf, to look behind the scenes.
What comes immediately to mind when you think of Sika UAE?
Sika UAE is a success story to share about the fast growing GCC area within the Sika world.
Back in 2008, Sika gained control of its own destiny, turning around from humble beginnings in the UAE construction market and then as a distributor, to go on to be one of the main players in the UAE market in 2014, and the best is still to come!
What are your personal secrets to leading a team?
Enhanced teamwork across around 27 nationalities, working together while sharing the Sika spirit and leading by example.
After Saudi Arabia, the economy of the United Arab Emirates is the second largest in the Arab world. Although the UAE is becoming less dependent on natural resources as a source of revenue, petroleum and natural gas exports still play an important role in the economy, especially in Abu Dhabi. What is your personal forecast for the region?
Although the UAE oil sector currently accounts for around 50% of GDP, I can see that the country’s leaders have a clear vision for diversifying and developing the economy into a wider range of industries, tourism and infrastructure projects with a progressing plan in action.
The UAE continues to offer economic stability and to attract foreign investment and partnerships.
The Arab spring and its consequences in the northern neighboring countries as well as the prosperity of the oil states confront the United Arab Emirates with ambivalent economic and political surroundings. Where do you see opportunities and challenges for the upcoming years?
Amid social unrest in the surrounding countries, the UAE has been perceived as a safe destination for investment and tourism. However, with the political instability in the Middle East, combined with a large affluent population that comprises 80% expatriates in the UAE, the country is impacted by those uncertainties which have a negative impact on the ambitious growth plans.
How about the construction market? Where does the UAE need Sika?
The construction market is set to recover from the financial crisis that hit the UAE back in 2009, with the government announcing it is reactivating a number of major development projects and stepping up spending on social infrastructures.
After the construction boom from 2000 to 2009, some of the key investors and opinion leaders in the construction industry have had to contend with low-quality products, resulting in numerous failures affecting their investments.
The industry has recognized the need for a professional company with a proven track record and quality products that can support such massive investments.
Sika, looking back on over 100 years of experience, a dependable Swiss company with a strong history of success, can offer great added value with our BUILDING TRUST slogan that matches those market needs.
Any there any extraordinary Sika projects you would like to tell us about?
Given the success that Sika has achieved with many mega projects across the 7 emirates and the continuous growth seen in recent years, the need for a state-of-the-art facility to support this demanding market in the UAE is met by the regional office, which is establishing Sika’s footprint and driving those ambitious growth plans.
Where is Sika UAE heading? What are the targets?
Sika has established a strong footprint in the waterproofing and industry markets across the UAE. Last year, we rolled out growth initiatives for the target markets of concrete and refurbishment growth, supported by a local supply chain as previously mentioned.
Sika must aim to rank second in the UAE market in the coming 2 years, and achieve the coveted number 1 position in 5 years.
Sika UAE has been producing liquid admixtures since 2009, and its new powder plant should be completed before the end of the year, enabling the company to respond to the growth in the regional construction industry.
What are the best things about living in Dubai? And what could you do without?
The cosmopolitan nature of Dubai with more than 200 different nationalities living and working together is a great experience for families living in the UAE, providing quite a unique experience for me personally as well as my entire team.
What do you personally wish your country for the future?
I wish for the UAE to continue enjoying growth and prosperity in this dynamic challenging world, while maintaining a fine balance between its roots as an Arabic and Islamic nation and sustaining its growth as an international business hub connecting the world.