Rashid Al Kaabi reveals success formula for Al Sraiya Holding Group

by  — 13 August 2015

Vice chairman of Al Sraiya Holding Group, Rashid N. Al Kaabi talks to The Edge’s Aparajita Mukherjee on reaching an important milestone in their corporate history: completion of 40 years of operation. Al Kaabi shares the lessons that these years have taught them and what he looks forward to in the coming years.

Rashid N. Al Kaabi, vice chairman of Al Sraiya Holding Group, says that the only way to keep up with change is to “always be one step ahead with resources, technology, and even strategies”.

Forty years in the life of a company and in a country as rapidly changing as Qatar does spell resilience and an unmistakable innovative spirit.

For Rashid N. Al Kaabi, vice chairman of Al Sraiya Holding Group, the only way to keep up with change is to “always be one step ahead with resources, technology, and even strategies”. Al Kaabi maintains that research is key to sustain the level of innovation that the Al Sraiya group has managed to accomplish.

Along with research, Al Kaabi mentions that the group as a whole is continuously on the lookout for new opportunities that could bring in new ideas that could allow them to break into new markets.

In his opinion, a diverse workforce can conquer these new horizons. Commenting on the role that the workforce plays in Al Sraiya group’s success, Al Kaabi says, “Employees with different skillsets and backgrounds can bring different ideas and perspectives to the table depending on their experience.”


Business divisions

The biggest milestone in the 40 years of Al Sraiya’s corporate history, according to Al Kaabi, is their expansion into five different and distinct fields: engineering, trading, industrial, hospitality and general services.

While coming up with these segments, the group has ensured that they cover almost the whole market, allowing them to secure a healthy number of projects to make each division self-sustaining.

According to Al Kaabi, opening many companies under each division is also an accomplishment on its own. The mandate before each of these companies, in the words of Al Kaabi, is “to take the lead in each field” and achieving that does count as another accomplishment.”

“An additional milestone,” furthers Al Kaabi, “that fuels the group’s strength is the ability for all companies to support, supply and function together.”

It is the entire dynamics of working under one umbrella that has made the group resilient, in the opinion of Al Kaabi. “The art of collaboration that each company has with the others, has allowed the brand name to establish itself in the Qatari market,” he adds.

How does the group come up with a vision or strategy that suits all of these business groups at the same time? Al Kaabi explains, “The general strategy of the group focuses on strength and growth, and this heavily parallels with the Qatar National Vision 2030.”

Al Kaabi also draws attention to the necessity of each business division having its own gameplan. He says, “Each group needs its own strategy that outlines how to use our different resources to fulfil its purpose; we cannot implement the exact same strategy for all the fields.”

Citing an example, Al Kaabi mentions that the engineering field is focused on developing Qatar’s infrastructure, while the hospitality field is focused on attracting visitors and increasing tourism. “Therefore, all fields are looking to benefit the vision and to introduce higher quality standards, but in their own way,” he says.


Highlights of the construction sector

Commenting on the key highlights and trends for the construction sector in the last 12 months, Al Kaabi tells The Edge, that the Qatar market is currently focused on everything that is big – mega projects, mega investments, mega accomplishments, adding, “Qatar’s economy has significantly grown in the last few years due to its preparation for the 2022 World Cup.”

Detailing out the fact that the country’s development agenda is over and above its 2022 World Cup plans, Al Kaabi explains, “Plans to achieve the goals laid out by Qatar National Vision 2030 has attracted the attention of all construction companies, who are continuously searching for new projects that could help fulfil these goals. All new and ongoing projects are dedicated to the growth of the country, which also encourages companies to network with international brands for resources and new technology. That being said, expansion is key in the coming period. It is now preferable for construction companies to employ the help of other fields such as engineering and industrial. All sectors need to overlap for concrete achievements.

The Al Sraiya website mentions “total construction solutions”. Commenting on the range of services they offer, Al Kaabi tells The Edge that Al Sraiya Holding group is able to handle projects from beginning to end, particularly in the construction field. Al Kaabi adds, “Our companies such as Al Sraiya Trading and Contracting, Badr Contracting, BinSraiya Readymix and Simsima Blocks & Interlocks supply each other with everything needed to accomplish a project (for example, products, materials, consultation, architecture, machinery, etcetera), which allows the group to provide all the needed solutions under one roof. This is what gives us the strength to be a leader in the field.”

Citing recent examples of recent Al Sraiya projects which illustrate the group’s total construction solutions, Al Kaabi mentions the QAR1.2 billion mega sewer project which was awarded to Al Sraiya Strabag Road & Infrastructure WLL and the QAR508 million project that Zublin, a group company under Al Sraiya, has signed on for the construction of one of Qatar Energy City’s projects.

In the former project that is aimed at converting the foul-sewer drainage in the Doha South Catchment from a pumped network to a gravity sewer network, Al Sraiya Strabag will be handling the design and building of the second and central segment of the Main Trunk Sewer. 

For the Qatar Energy City project, Zublin will complete it in 29 months in conjunction with the highest standards complying with the US Green Building Council LEED Certification requirements for energy efficiency.

Commenting on these mega projects, Al Kaabi says, “These projects are only an example of the type of projects we are dealing with and shows you who we are working with and for. These are some of Qatar’s largest projects that we are involved in and clients rely and entrust us with them because they are well aware of our capabilities.”

In view of the competitive nature of the construction sector, how does the Al Sraiya group arrive at key decisions such as pricing and quality control, yet arrive at projects that are competitive in the very commercial sense? Al Kaabi mentions that Qatar’s market has become competitive and, in his opinion, the safest method to maintain its position as a leader comes through one key variable: research. Qualifying this, Al Kaabi says, “Research enables us to assess and know all our competitive strengths and weaknesses, and helps to arrive at strategies to always be one step ahead, and pushes us to make smart decisions, particularly when it comes to pricing.

“Also, we have been in the market for 40 years and the experience we have collected throughout adds to our strength. We have specified teams who constantly monitor the market in terms of quality and technology and through regular meetings information is shared and discussed to see what else we can do for our clients and ourselves,” adds Al Kaabi.

As the Integrity Sponsor for Project Qatar, the initial goal for the Al Sraiya group was not to obtain exposure or to get new business, as the group is already involved in some of Qatar’s largest projects. Commenting further, Al Kaabi says, “The benefit we were hoping to receive has more to do with the positive feeling of giving back to the market, the community and to Qatar itself.”

In Al Kaabi’s opinion, with each of the companies contributing to the infrastructural development of the country and being a leader in the market, the Al Sraiya group feels that it is their duty to support an event such as Project Qatar, “because of the purpose it fulfils,” says Al Kaabi, adding, “As Qatar’s construction industry is continuously booming with new developmental plans, it is essential for both regional and international agents, dealers and buyers to be provided with a suitable, professional environment to network.”


Business model

According to Al Kaabi, the totality of the Al Sraiya businesses heavily support and supply to each other. “In fact, many of our business can overlap in terms of management and staff as cooperation amongst them is key to the group’s success,” he says.

“The five fields we have expanded into cover almost everything from hospitality to construction to consultation and it only makes sense that the companies support each other,” says Al Kaabi, who believes that the above mentioned qualities make the group strong enough to take a leading position in the market. “Being able to accomplish projects and new business plans completely in-house is what makes us unique and eliminates the burdens and complications of outsourcing,” he says.

Al Kaabi furthers, “This alone saves the extra effort needed to form networks with suppliers and contractors and allows us to invest that energy, money and effort into other affecting factors within the group. Because everything is done in-house, the holding group is able to sustain itself on its own without the assistance of other companies which, we believe, is what you need to accomplish if you want to remain the Qatar market leader.”

Talking of the performance of the other businesses under the Al Sraiya umbrella, Al Kaabi says, “Overall growth has so far been continuous, and we are looking forward to more achievements by the end of the year and in the near future.”

Al Kaabi mentions that their other businesses have all shown an increase during this year’s first quarter, particularly in the hospitality sector. He adds that Millennium Hotel Doha has already earned two awards at the International Hotel Awards 2015 – a five star award for the Hotel category for Qatar, and a highly commended award for the Hotel Website Category for Qatar.

Aleph Printing Press has also recently invested QAR5 million in its own machinery and equipment. The money, Al Kaabi explains, is to be used to purchase new large-size printing machines, new automatic finishing machines, a new line of book bindery tools with gold edging, as well as a new line die cut to enhance its printing press services.


Corporate plans

Commenting on the plans of the Al Sraiya group’s plans till the end of 2016 and whether continuity and consolidation (strength) is more of a priority over growth and expansion, Al Kaabi tells The Edge, “Continuity and consolidation will always be one of our priorities, as they are key to upholding our rank as one of the leaders in Qatar’s market. However, in business, priorities continuously shift depending on each phase. We have already accomplished what we wanted in terms of establishing roots in a range of fields and taking the lead in cementing Al Sraiya’s reputation in the market, and we have maintained this status for many years.”

Charting out the next phase of their business growth, Al Kaabi says that after stabilising and growing in each field, Al Sraiya’s main priority will always be growth and expansion “because taking the lead is not just about accomplishing what everyone else has, it is about being one step ahead. The way to do so is through growth and exploring new opportunities which in turn leads to expansion,” says Al Kaabi.  

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