On the pulse of Qatar’s development

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Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies

Being one of the leading integrated construction, trading and project services companies in Qatar, Coastal Qatar has been on the forefront of the country’s vibrant development and implementation of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies, told Inside Investor about his strategy and future plans.

Q: What are your current flagship projects in Qatar?

A: One of the most important flagship projects we’re working on at the moment is the Doha International Airport. There were a couple of contract packages awarded to different contractors, most of them to multinational companies. We are now involved in the construction of the main terminal, it is a joint venture between us and companies from Japan and Turkey. Coastal was also associated with the new Emiri Terminal for the exterior finishing works and car park structure. Normally, we prefer two options: Smaller projects which we can take on in their entirety, or we go for big projects and take only a part of them as with the Doha airport. We are not big enough to take on mega-projects by ourselves, but we have capabilities, technology, expertise in project management and skill sets to execute these projects together with multinationals and other bigger partners. Apart from the Doha airport, we also have a couple of important projects in the Aspire zone, where sport venues are being constructed, with Ras Gas and with Qatar Foundation, for example for their library and the main office.

Q: What contracts are you mainly looking at?

A: Primarily we are looking at niche projects in a high-level market, because our skill sets are aligned to that, such as working with special materials or executing demanding projects. This is our market segment and we are positioned to meet the expectations of this segment. Most of such projects in Qatar are happening in the government sector. We also have hospitality projects, for example with the new Intercontinental Hotel and Rotana, we work with the Public Works Authority, Ashghal, with Hamad  hospitals, Katara and on a number of other public projects.

Q: In how far do you think the company will benefit from large infrastructure projects the Qatar government is pursuing at the moment?

A: We are very aware of Qatar’s future strategy and we observe very closely where the country is going with its 2030 vision and the FIFA world cup. In this business, it is very important to be on the pulse of these developments and align and change the company to make use of these opportunities. For example, we look at areas to support the 2030 vision to be a knowledge-based society including education, research and patent development. We look at what is lacking in the country with respect to where the vision is heading. We are also looking into the healthcare sector, especially expanding into hospitals from our current polyclinics. There is a high demand among the population for healthcare. The same applies to schools. In my opinion the government may not continue to spend heavily on these sectors all on its own, as it is not economically viable in the long term, and this is where the private sector must step in.

Q: What are your concrete plans in these sectors?

A: We are currently planning to set up a hospital and are in talks with a private developer from Doha, and we have certain other major partners at hand. Our aim is to have the hospital setup and operational by 2014.

Q: Does your company have any business relations with Southeast Asia?

A: Yes, our sports division where we do special floorings with companies from Asia, for example with a rubber flooring supplier from Malaysia which has international certification and delivers high quality. However, one of the limitations we find when working with Asian companies lies in product quality. We work with companies that comply to international standards as our market, as I said, is a high-end niche market with high specifications for products. Therefore, we would only work with companies and suppliers who are able to meet these specifications.

Q: What are your expansion plans within the GCC?

A: At this point, we are planning to focus on Qatar and only expand with partners rather than to set up our own facilities abroad. The rest of the region is not developing as fast as Qatar, which means that the best options are still here. We have partners in joint ventures who we support and to whom we supply products and services. This is our expansion model. Our primary focus is on Qatar as we don’t want to dilute our power in Qatar.

Q: Who are your main competitors here in Qatar?

A: That is hard to say, as potential competitors do not have the same model as we do. We have multiple businesses that support each other, being vertically integrated but acting horizontally. I would rather say that each of our divisions have their own competition, for example in construction, trading, steel fabrication and health care. We are focused on our core competence like quality, safety and customer satisfaction, which is also very important to differentiate us from the competition.

Q: In which of your sectors could Asian companies get involved in Qatar?

A: If they are very specialised and quality oriented, they could succeed in areas such as healthcare, IT and service sector. But they need to establish links with local companies to tailor their services to suit the local market.

Q: Where would you like to see Coastal Qatar in 5 years?

A: We regularly develop plans looking 5 years ahead, and this year we looked at our development plans until 2015. We were growing at 80 per cent per year on average which is easy as long as we are a smaller company, but later on such rates become harder to achieve. For us, there are two ways of growth: One is organic growth, and the other is growth by diversification. We want to have a combination of both. And our objective is to be the best company in our sector in Qatar – maybe not the biggest, but the best in quality, customer service, safety and efficiency. We don’t want to go into the mass market and achieve the highest turnover and staff numbers, we are always looking at the bottom line which is the profit margin – how efficient are we in converting the money spent to generate profit without compromising on our core values. We want to have a strong brand name related to our business philosophy: to be a company with whom clients like to do business and respect us as their reliable partner in the industry.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies

Being one of the leading integrated construction, trading and project services companies in Qatar, Coastal Qatar has been on the forefront of the country’s vibrant development and implementation of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies, told Inside Investor about his strategy and future plans.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies

Being one of the leading integrated construction, trading and project services companies in Qatar, Coastal Qatar has been on the forefront of the country’s vibrant development and implementation of the Qatar National Vision 2030. Nishad Azeem, founder and CEO of Coastal Group of Companies, told Inside Investor about his strategy and future plans.

Q: What are your current flagship projects in Qatar?

A: One of the most important flagship projects we’re working on at the moment is the Doha International Airport. There were a couple of contract packages awarded to different contractors, most of them to multinational companies. We are now involved in the construction of the main terminal, it is a joint venture between us and companies from Japan and Turkey. Coastal was also associated with the new Emiri Terminal for the exterior finishing works and car park structure. Normally, we prefer two options: Smaller projects which we can take on in their entirety, or we go for big projects and take only a part of them as with the Doha airport. We are not big enough to take on mega-projects by ourselves, but we have capabilities, technology, expertise in project management and skill sets to execute these projects together with multinationals and other bigger partners. Apart from the Doha airport, we also have a couple of important projects in the Aspire zone, where sport venues are being constructed, with Ras Gas and with Qatar Foundation, for example for their library and the main office.

Q: What contracts are you mainly looking at?

A: Primarily we are looking at niche projects in a high-level market, because our skill sets are aligned to that, such as working with special materials or executing demanding projects. This is our market segment and we are positioned to meet the expectations of this segment. Most of such projects in Qatar are happening in the government sector. We also have hospitality projects, for example with the new Intercontinental Hotel and Rotana, we work with the Public Works Authority, Ashghal, with Hamad  hospitals, Katara and on a number of other public projects.

Q: In how far do you think the company will benefit from large infrastructure projects the Qatar government is pursuing at the moment?

A: We are very aware of Qatar’s future strategy and we observe very closely where the country is going with its 2030 vision and the FIFA world cup. In this business, it is very important to be on the pulse of these developments and align and change the company to make use of these opportunities. For example, we look at areas to support the 2030 vision to be a knowledge-based society including education, research and patent development. We look at what is lacking in the country with respect to where the vision is heading. We are also looking into the healthcare sector, especially expanding into hospitals from our current polyclinics. There is a high demand among the population for healthcare. The same applies to schools. In my opinion the government may not continue to spend heavily on these sectors all on its own, as it is not economically viable in the long term, and this is where the private sector must step in.

Q: What are your concrete plans in these sectors?

A: We are currently planning to set up a hospital and are in talks with a private developer from Doha, and we have certain other major partners at hand. Our aim is to have the hospital setup and operational by 2014.

Q: Does your company have any business relations with Southeast Asia?

A: Yes, our sports division where we do special floorings with companies from Asia, for example with a rubber flooring supplier from Malaysia which has international certification and delivers high quality. However, one of the limitations we find when working with Asian companies lies in product quality. We work with companies that comply to international standards as our market, as I said, is a high-end niche market with high specifications for products. Therefore, we would only work with companies and suppliers who are able to meet these specifications.

Q: What are your expansion plans within the GCC?

A: At this point, we are planning to focus on Qatar and only expand with partners rather than to set up our own facilities abroad. The rest of the region is not developing as fast as Qatar, which means that the best options are still here. We have partners in joint ventures who we support and to whom we supply products and services. This is our expansion model. Our primary focus is on Qatar as we don’t want to dilute our power in Qatar.

Q: Who are your main competitors here in Qatar?

A: That is hard to say, as potential competitors do not have the same model as we do. We have multiple businesses that support each other, being vertically integrated but acting horizontally. I would rather say that each of our divisions have their own competition, for example in construction, trading, steel fabrication and health care. We are focused on our core competence like quality, safety and customer satisfaction, which is also very important to differentiate us from the competition.

Q: In which of your sectors could Asian companies get involved in Qatar?

A: If they are very specialised and quality oriented, they could succeed in areas such as healthcare, IT and service sector. But they need to establish links with local companies to tailor their services to suit the local market.

Q: Where would you like to see Coastal Qatar in 5 years?

A: We regularly develop plans looking 5 years ahead, and this year we looked at our development plans until 2015. We were growing at 80 per cent per year on average which is easy as long as we are a smaller company, but later on such rates become harder to achieve. For us, there are two ways of growth: One is organic growth, and the other is growth by diversification. We want to have a combination of both. And our objective is to be the best company in our sector in Qatar – maybe not the biggest, but the best in quality, customer service, safety and efficiency. We don’t want to go into the mass market and achieve the highest turnover and staff numbers, we are always looking at the bottom line which is the profit margin – how efficient are we in converting the money spent to generate profit without compromising on our core values. We want to have a strong brand name related to our business philosophy: to be a company with whom clients like to do business and respect us as their reliable partner in the industry.

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