Interview: Abdulrahman Essa Al Mannai

Where are improvements most needed in the logistics sector, and how can these challenges be effectively addressed?

ABDULRAHMAN ESSA AL MANNAI: To successfully open up the market, it is necessary to go beyond investing in assets. There is also a need to maintain a balance of operations across the logistics sector, where a surplus of services exists in some areas. However, considering Qatar’s healthy economic growth, this is expected to be a short- to medium-term issue.

A large part of facilitating the logistics sector, for both the public and private sectors, is the hard infrastructure involved. For the private sector, it is a matter of continuing to provide adequate services, while for the public sector it comes down to focusing on roads, ports and airports.

This has largely been accomplished through the extension of the Doha Metro network, the expansion of Hamad International Airport and Hamad Port, as well as the ongoing development of a number of roads and warehousing facilities.

Soft infrastructure is also set to play a considerable role in the facilitation of economic growth, taking the form of regulations, free zone development, and the mass adoption of technology across major public and private platforms.

A key challenge is that a majority of the market is captive, and most retailers invest a significant amount of resources in having their own supply chain – advanced supply chain services were not available in Qatar until recently. Considering the infrastructure now widely available, the country will need to make the transition from a captive supply chain to third-party logistics.

Where have new services been launched, and how do they demonstrate Qatar’s ability to operate in international and competitive markets?

AL MANNAI: We have established many services and lines that feed directly into Hamad Port and a number of other destinations, including in India, Kuwait and Salalah. Furthermore, we have launched several feeder services that are not limited to the Qatari market, such as the Bangladesh to Sri Lanka service and the Black Sea service, which links Greece, Russia and many countries in between.

The launch of the Black Sea service is a big step for Milaha and Qatar, as it demonstrates our ability to operate in international and competitive markets, and reflects how far we have come.

In what ways will the use of Oracle cloud technology and automation lead to new revenue streams and drive operational efficiency?

AL MANNAI: Technology is a business enabler.

The options that are open to an organisation after successful adoption of technology are endless in comparison to what was available before.

Our digital transformation has a number of facets, and our partnership with Oracle is one of them. We are also laying the ground work for a number of future products and services. This plan encompasses several initiatives that are expected to allow us to increase operational efficiency.

In terms of automation, we have developed seven robots that are fully autonomous, primarily working in back-office functions. These robots helped boost efficiency and scalability almost immediately.

Next we will focus on several important transformations such as shifting to major cloud-based infrastructure through Oracle, and using cloud computing service Microsoft Azure.

Becoming a one-stop shop is just one of the necessary elements of a successful digital transformation. The other part is having a platform that will support organisational growth by offering a high level of visibility, which in turn leads to efficient and effective management of overall supply chain costs.