Private sector must ‘step up’ for Saudi Vision 2030 goals, says Crescent’s Badr Jafar

Badr Jafar has been involved in panels on philanthropy and family businesses at Davos, among others. (Courtesy WEF)
Updated 30 January 2019

Private sector must ‘step up’ for Saudi Vision 2030 goals, says Crescent’s Badr Jafar

  • Badr Jafar: The private sector in Saudi Arabia has to step up and take authentic ownership of the Saudi Vision 2030
  • Badr Jafar: From our perspective, what is going on in Saudi Arabia is a tremendous opportunity, and we want to work toward delivering on the Vision 2030 strategy

DAVOS: One of the Arabian Gulf’s leading businessmen believes the private sector in Saudi Arabia must play a greater role in the Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the nation’s economy and reduce its dependency on oil revenue.
“The private sector in Saudi Arabia has to step up and take authentic ownership of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Badr Jafar, president of Crescent Petroleum and CEO of Crescent Enterprises, the Sharjah-based international conglomerate with interests in shipping, ports, energy and several other industrial sectors.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, he added: “When people think of a country in the Middle East region, they tend to think of just its government but I like to think of the whole ecosystem, both public and private sector. I believe the private sector has to play a bigger part in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Jafar acknowledged that there are some critics who doubt the ability of the Saudi government to successfully implement the Vision 2030 transformation, but added: “If there were no skeptics, I think that would tell you the Vision isn’t big enough. There will always be skeptics, and in some ways that is a healthy thing because it adds an element of accountability.”
Jafar said that Gulftainer’s port terminal operations in Saudi Arabia, at Jeddah and Jubail, are being expanded. Gulftainer is a subsidiary of Crescent Enterprises.
“We see ourselves as an Emirati company but also as a part of the Gulf community,” he explained. “From our perspective, what is going on in Saudi Arabia is a tremendous opportunity, and we want to work toward delivering on the Vision 2030 strategy. It is too important to fail and we all have a vested interest in making it succeed.”
He said there will be challenges along the way but that Saudi policymakers should ensure that there is enough flexibility in the economic and political systems to overcome them.
“It is all about building into the system sufficient resilience to cancel out the shocks,” Jafar added. “This is the Middle East; there will always be shocks. But one way to do it is to empower the private sector to take charge of its own destiny.”
Gulftainer, of which Jafar is also chairman, recently pulled off a business coup with its $600 million plan to redevelop and operate the port in Wilmington, Delaware, as a major port facility on the US east coast. The US ports sector has presented challenges to Gulf businesses in the past but Jafar said that Crescent’s pedigree in the UAE, combined with its existing ports business at Canaveral, Florida, and its efficiency record in the industry, had helped ease the deal through.
“We had the acceptance and trust of the local community,” he said.
Jafar has been involved in various sessions at Davos, including panels on philanthropy and family businesses. He echoed the views of WEF founder Klaus Schwab that there should be a new approach to philanthropy based on a coordinated, rather than a collaborative, approach.
“What inspires philanthropists in Saudi Arabia or the UAE is not the same as what inspires them in New York and Beijing,” he said.
He sees a strong affinity between philanthropy and family businesses, especially in the Islamic world where the payment of charitable taxes — zakat — is a religious duty. The top 500 family businesses in the world generate sales in excess of $6.5 trillion, making them the third-largest global economy, and they employ 50 million people, he said.

The above text has been changed to make it clear that Badr Jafar is also CEO of Crescent Enterprises, and that Gulftainer, a subsidiary of Crescent Enterprises, runs port terminal operations in Saudi Arabia, at Jeddah and Jubail. The top 500 family businesses generate sales in excess of $6.5 trillion, rather than being valued at that amount. 


Oman said to mull new regional airline

Updated 22 October 2019

Oman said to mull new regional airline

DUBAI: Oman is considering setting up a new regional airline that could take over domestic operations from state carrier Oman Air, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

A request for proposal was issued this month by state entity Oman Aviation Group for a feasibility study into operating the new airline, “Oman Link,” the sources said.

Setting up a new airline for domestic flights would allow Oman Air to focus on its international network where it competes with large Gulf carriers Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways.

The new airline could partner with Oman Air with both carriers connecting passengers to each other but would have its own independent management, the sources said on the condition of anonymity because the details are private.

Proposals are to be submitted by Nov. 11, one of the sources said.

The new airline would use regional jets for domestic flights and potentially later to other cities in the region where there is not enough demand to fill the larger single aisle jets used by other airlines in Oman.

FASTFACT

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International.

Oman Aviation Group and its unit Oman Air did not respond to separate emailed requests for comment.

Oman Air operates flights to four airports in the country, including the main Muscat International, according to its website.

The airline uses 166-seat Boeing 737 jets and 71-seat Embraer E175 aircraft on domestic and regional flights.

Both aircraft types are too costly to consistently operate domestic routes at a profit, according to industry sources.

Oman has been restructuring its aviation sector in recent years. Oman Aviation Group was formed in 2018 and includes Oman Air, Oman Airports and Oman Aviation Services.

A budget, second airline, Salam Air, was launched in 2017. It is owned by Omani government pension funds and the Muscat municipality.

Last week, Eithad and Air Arabia said they were jointly setting up a low cost carrier in Abu Dhabi.