What It Takes to Drive Growth: Five Key Strategies for Bahri’s Future By Abdullah Aldubaikhi, CEO, Bahri

Today, faced by a multitude of challenges, including dwindling global commerce due to policy-induced barriers, energy price fluctuations and shrinking profitability, the maritime shipping industry globally have been enduring weaker growth.

At Bahri, the face of Saudi Arabia’s fast-evolving indigenous maritime sector, we have been able to weather these storms and have continued to see solid expansion in yields, market footprint, and our customer base.

I think the key to our success has been to be able to anticipate and adapt to changing marketing conditions in a timely fashion by placing emphasis on long-term planning. Inspired by our Business Operating Model, which is designed to provide flexibility and agility to cope with the demands of the market, we devised, tested and implemented five strategies over the past few years to deliver desired business outcomes. The following strategies help to define what Bahri stands for:

A major driver of Bahri’s growth is our dedicated, highly skilled workforce. I regard my colleagues as a strategic asset for the company and their continual improvement and upskilling is a top priority for us. Bahri has made significant investments over the last two years to meet various training needs of employees to help them build their competencies and increase their value to the business.

in particular, we have focused on creating a local talent pool to fuel the future growth of the regional logistics and transportation industry by providing a choice of training and mentorship opportunities to university students and graduates in the Kingdom. These long-term programs include the Summer Training Program (SAIFI), Bahri Cooperative Training Program (COOP), Graduate Development Program (GDP) and an at-sea training program for students of the Faculty of Marine Sciences at King Abdulaziz University.

More generally, Bahri also has contributed to the ‘MiSK Values’ program launched by MiSK Foundation to offer wide-ranging training opportunities to university students to provide them with a deep understanding of the corporate working environment and the company’s core values and ethos.

2. Inspiring Technology Adoption 

In order to compete as a global business, I believe Bahri has to be at the forefront of new technology adoption. My senior executives and colleagues, who have extensive experience and deep expertise in technology are all committed to integrating innovation into its business model.

The launch of our ‘iSupplier’ portal is an excellent example of Bahri’s focus on embracing technology innovations. The portal, which was launched in 2019, will enable us to access a large segment of suppliers and contractors in Saudi Arabia’s private sector. Many of our technology innovations over the past few years are related to logistics solutions. For example, Bahri Logistics has recently introduced a new IT system that integrates ports, agents, and offices to provide enhanced customer service, as well as a round-the-clock ‘Track & Trace’ service to enable seamless access to Bahri’s cargo tracking system.

3. Boosting Capabilities

We consistently seek growth across all of our business units. Bahri Oil, Bahri Logistics, Bahri Chemicals, Bahri Dry Bulk, and Bahri Ship Management constantly pursue new opportunities and enhance their customer offerings.

As an example of our long-term planning approach, in 2018, we strengthened our fleet with the addition of five Very Large Crude-oil Carriers (VLCCs), reinforcing our position as the world’s largest owner and operator of VLCCs. We also currently have four bulk carriers on order for delivery later this year, following our successful securing of shariah-compliant funding of SAR 360 million from Bank Albilad. Additionally, we have signed an agreement with International Maritime Industries (IMI) and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group, to build a further VLCC, which is due to be delivered by October 2021.

Similarly, we have sharpened our focus on driving sustainable growth through the deepening and expansion of our market presence. Last year we announced the opening of a representative office in Singapore and added India’s Kamarajar Port at Ennore and Chennai International Terminal at Chennai Port to our liner shipping network. These new facilities further strengthen our foothold in the Asia-Pacific region and allow us to serve an expanded customer base.

4. Building a Total Solutions Company

I see the future of Bahri as a ‘total solutions’ company, one which is able to cater to the continually evolving needs of our customers. So, we are now beginning to look at real and practical solutions. Already we are starting to charter airplanes and using trucks to offer customers broader logistical solutions and adding additional value to our customer offering.

We are also exploring other business opportunities, where we feel we have skills that will assist customers with long-term needs. For example, our experience in bulk commodity shipping operations is leading us to examine the potential requirement for the transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

5. Big Picture: Our Commitment to Saudi Vision 2030 Objectives 

As the flag-bearer of Saudi Arabia’s fast-growing maritime commerce sector, we have enthusiastically aligned our business strategy with the overarching objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 program. We are committed to playing a pivotal role in positioning Saudi Arabia as a unique regional logistics hub and a thriving international transportation gateway to Asia, Europe, and Africa.

As part of our efforts, we have has continued to extend support to our joint venture maritime yard project, underway at King Salman International Complex for Maritime Industries and Services in Ras Al-Khair. The entity is planned to be the largest full-service maritime facility in the Middle East and North Africa and is aimed at facilitating the transfer of technology to build a self-sufficient logistics and transportation sector, as well as creating high quality and sustainable job opportunities for Saudi youth.

Setting the local shipping industry’s transformation in motion, we have created the International Maritime Industries Company (IMI), in partnership with Saudi Aramco, Lamprell, and Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. Based in Ras Al-Khair, IMI will be the largest maritime facility in the region with indigenous new build and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.

In conclusion, I am proud that Bahri is powered by a strong team of over 3,000 dedicated and highly skilled professionals, equipped with unsurpassed capabilities, and with a firm vision for the future. I believe we are well-positioned to seize all the opportunities that come our way and turn challenges into promising possibilities and successful realities.