Shan MATHEWS, General Manager of DEUGRO QATAR

Qatar’s accessibility makes providing logistics services easy.

Shan MATHEWS General Manager DEUGRO QATAR

Qatar’s ease of logistics

November 26, 2018

Shan Mathews, general manager of deugro Qatar, talks to TOGY about the ease of providing logistics solutions in Qatar and how the government is improving this, as well as the impact for logistics providers of the USD 90 billion of new investment. deugro is a logistics company specialised in oil and gas and industrial logistics, as well as heavy lift projects.

• On the Hamad Port: “The country took the right step by deciding to have a new port with international standards. The new Hamad Port is a great facility. It has opened up vast opportunities for Qatar.”

• On new activity: “With the new project announcements –the new LNG trains, expansion plans in the oil and gas industry in general, new infrastructure projects – there will be a huge volume of goods coming into Qatar once these projects transition into the next stage of development. My early assumption is that by 2019 we should see things moving ahead.”

Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN, but you can find the full interview with Shan Mathews below.

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Which characteristics of the ease of providing logistics services are distinctive to Qatar?
Qatar’s accessibility makes providing logistics services easy. It doesn’t have the difficult terrains that one would find elsewhere in the world. It also has developed infrastructure, which makes it easy to reach all strategic locations in the country. The ministries and the government provide great support and assistance, and this is key to maintaining ease of providing logistics services.
Regarding the market, I think it is capable of handling complex project requirements with tight timelines of completion. Doha Metro project is a great example. Initially it was considered to be a complex project with a tight timeline, but now the project almost nearing its completion proves the point by itself. More important than the complexities is the willingness of the country to come out of the complexities and show the world that we can actually do it.
Of course, there are challenges, but with the able leadership of this country, we have seen Qatar overcoming those challenges much more easily compared to other countries in this world.
Another great example is the new Hamad Port, which is operational now. As we know, the Doha port couldn’t cater to the huge requirements that the country had, considering the volume increase. The country took the right step by deciding to have a new port with international standards. The new Hamad Port is a great facility. It has opened up vast opportunities for Qatar.
If you ask whether we have achieved everything to perfection, probably not. But infrastructure has really grown and we have in addition to the new Hamad Port, the new Hamad International Airport, which is capable not only of meeting Qatar’s requirements but also acting as a regional hub. This is the result of the vision of the country, of its great rulers, as well as the support from various ministries who work hand in hand with various industries functioning in the country.

What measures should the government pursue to ease doing business in the country?
There are many areas which could further improve. The new Manateq concept, or freezone, is interesting for our industry. We have seen what freezones can do in other countries. I think Qatar can improve doing business via freezones and other facilities. For instance, a freezone could support Hamad Port in becoming a regional hub considering the fact that most of the major shipping lines now have their own ships coming into Qatar. It is all about the trade and the flexibility of the trade that can be offered.
Another segment is in customer service – documentation, for example. [One possibility is] shifting to an e-platform and Qatar is already moving in that direction with air freight. Globally, there are many places where trade is becoming paperless. This makes things less cumbersome.

 

How can Deugro help Qatari-based companies find efficiencies and reduce costs?
We are looking at the possibilities of creating global hubs for the supply chain requirements. Mainly in the Europe, US and Asia, we are looking at different areas where we can provide one-stop and supply-chain solutions that could help Qatar. We are in the process of identifying what we can do with different scenarios so that the overall supply chain process will be improved.
We are also looking into lessening the complications of documentation. When documents get stuck, shipments get stuck. Especially for big shipments, delay is money. If we can streamline this activity while keeping in mind the regulations of the country, that is where efficiency and productivity will be enhanced. That is what I trust the country is also focusing on.
Looking back at a span of 15 years, the situation is much better and improving. There is still huge potential for improvement. Our supply chain solutions provide e2e [end-to-end] online visibility and tracking of all shipments we handle for our esteemed customers with critical milestone visibilities. This greatly helps in improving efficiencies.

Qatar is going to disburse USD 90 billion over the coming years. What effect will this have on logistics providers?
With the new project announcements –the new LNG trains, expansion plans in the oil and gas industry in general, new infrastructure projects – there will be a huge volume of goods coming into Qatar once these projects transition into the next stage of development. My early assumption is that by 2019 we should see things moving ahead. With FIFA 2022 around the corner, surely there will be significant volume surge in the coming years.
There is talk about new factories and plants. The market is showing positive signs at this stage related to the industries, which is very promising. There is a very eager market in Qatar waiting for this to materialise. I think the country has increased its capability in terms of infrastructure, and all the ports of entry are working effectively now. We are looking forward to these projects moving ahead.

Do the Hamad Port and new airport projects demonstrate that Qatar could become a major trans-shipment hub?
Both are important factors. Equally important is the trade model, which involves the freezones, trading activities, ease of doing business and all these factors in turn will help Qatar’s port and infrastructure facilities turn into a regional trans-shipment hub.
There are many other points involved for outside business to come and possibly view Qatar as a trans-shipment hub. The more business benefits and privileges Qatar puts into place and offers, the more Qatar becomes attractive. It all depends on how the model is created, how effective it is and how well it is presented to the global market. I believe that Qatar has immense scope in this area.

Many companies are integrating operations to cut costs and find efficiencies. Deugro, however, recently moved to separate its core businesses into different entities. How will this give you a competitive advantage?
deugro is an independent company of the deugro group, which is comprised of several companies focusing on project freight forwarding, ocean transportation of heavy lift and project cargo, transport and marine engineering as well as heavy haulage equipment.
deugro remains a project freight forwarding company that offers the complete range of logistics and transportation services as a one-stop solution to its clients. The deugro group and its entities successfully complement each other; however, each individual company works independently and has its own focus and business interest. The group’s diversification over the past years has allowed us to engage and enhance [relations] with stakeholders of different industries along the transport chain. This has proved successful and meets our clients’ requirements.

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