Finally we travel to Qatar to meet Gaby El Chaar, GM for the Northern Gulf, consisting of Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. His office is located in level 32nd. This is one thing we are not so used to in Switzerland, but we quite enjoy this special atmosphere. Gaby El Chaar introduces us to his region:
Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait and Sika… what associations come to mind?
- Qatar will be hosting the 2022 FIFA Cup
- An economy driven by natural gas with 13% of the world’s reserves
- Construction focus on infrastructure & nonresidential
- Medium-term (2016) construction CAGR of 5.6 %, and long-term expected to pick up by 6.5% to 2021
- Has the 5th largest oil reserves
- Construction focus on infrastructure (roads, causeways, airport …)
- Medium-term (2016) construction CAGR of 5.8%, with longer-term growth projected to decrease to 3.7% CAGR from 2016 to 2021.
- Residential construction will enjoy the strongest growth rate
- Continuously facing civil unrest, discouraging foreign investment
- Government plans to build 15,000 housing units by 2015
We were told Bahrain has the first post-oil economy in the Persian Gulf because the Bahraini economy does not rely on oil. Since the late 20th century, Bahrain has invested heavily in the banking and tourism sectors. What about construction?
The economy largely depends on oil, which accounts for 70% of its revenue; however, government strategy is aimed toward more infrastructure developments in parallel with the housing construction program for the three new cities of East Hidd, East Sitra and Northern Town, with 23,000 units before 2017.
Kuwait is frequently ranked as having the freest press in the Arab world. Is it also the most liberal country in the region?
While Kuwait enjoys a high degree of press freedom and is a relatively liberal country from a GCC perspective, it is always difficult to say which country is the most liberal.
There are 278,000 Qatari citizens and 1.5 million expatriates in Qatar. The country is even the world's richest country per capita and has the highest human development in the Arab world. Do you feel that everyone gets a piece of the cake?
Unemployment in Qatar is less than 1%. The government is supporting the education of its younger generations locally and abroad and encouraging people to engage in the country’s development program by playing active roles through employment opportunities, which in my view is a way of sharing the wealth and involving Qataris in various business opportunities.
Are there any extraordinary Sika projects you would like to tell us about?
Lusail City extends across an area of 38 km2. The Lusail Development Company is the client for the CP4 Project, which consists of highways and highway underpass structures, and a multi-span twin box bridging and culvert structure. Sika Qatar successfully secured the challenging waterproofing works using the Sika PVC Membrane waterproofing system with injection backup after gaining the confidence of the client, consultant and main contractor.
More than 200,000 residents will live in Lusail’s scenic surroundings, with some 170,000 people expected to work in the city’s different districts, and 80,000 projected to visit its entertainment and recreation facilities.
Where is Sika Northern Gulf heading? What are the targets?
Sika Northern Gulf has acquired momentum over the last two years and 2014 is forecast to achieve more than 40% growth, driven by business development across the seven target markets with the primary focus on concrete, waterproofing, flooring & refurbishment. Northern Gulf is heading toward securing a number one position in each of its three marketplaces (Qatar, Kuwait & Bahrain) and all efforts are geared to sustainable business development to achieve this target.
What are your favorite places in the region to visit?
Kuwait remains my favorite. I lived there previously for seven years, and it was in Kuwait that I acquired my first GCC experience. From a business perspective, Kuwait offers Sika Northern Gulf excellent market potential and a new geographic dimension for growth. But I have to concede that Dubai is a beautiful place to visit too.