MARZOUK AL KHARAFI
Mr. Al-Kharafi is chairman of the Kuwait Food Company (Americana) publicly traded on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (FOOD.KW).Americana Group is managed to world-class corporate standards and activities spanning fourteen countries and in one hundred cities, with a payroll of over sixty-three thousand employees encompassing twenty-one nationalities. Americana Group’s main lines of business are operating food and beverage outlets, and food manufacturing and processing. With a network of over 1,462 outlets, it is not only the largest operator of restaurant chains in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but also one of the most successful franchise operators in the whole world. The group’s network includes many of the world’s most recognized brands in the quick service, casual dining, and fine dining categories, such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, TGI Friday’s, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Signor Sassi, Costa Coffee, and Krispy Kreme. In the food manufacturing and processing sector, Americana Group is recognized as the Middle East’s leading purveyor of quality food products. Its portfolio includes a wide range of food products manufactured in seventeen factories, across five different countries, and marketed across the region with well-known names like Americana, Farm Frites, California Garden, Koki, and Greenland. Americana Group also exports to an impressive 50+ countries worldwide.
A. KHARAFI & SONS
Mr. Al-Kharafi is director in the group executive committee, with over twenty years of experience in managing and developing the group activities: contracting, trading, and manufacturing within the Kharafi Group. He also manages and develops strategic business opportunities locally and internationally for the group.
Mr. Al-Kharafi is vice chairman of Kharafi National KSCC, which is an integral part of the privately held Mohammed Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi & Sons group of companies and was recognized throughout the Middle East as a fully integrated, leading infrastructure and utility developer and as an EPC, as well as a traditional contracting company having vast experience in oil and gas facilities, petrochemical plants, industrial and building services, and the management, operation, and maintenance of power generation plants, water facilities, and sewage treatment plants. Mr. Al-Kharafi’s other representations within Kharafi National are the following:
– General Manager, Kharafi National, Abu Dhabi/Dubai
Chairman, Kharafi National Infrastructure Projects Development, Construction and Services, Egypt
– Partner, Kharafi National, Lebanon
– Executive Manager, Kharafi National, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
– Chairman,Kharafi National, Bahrain
– Board Member, ABJ Engineering and Contracting, Kuwait—Was perceived to be a structural steel and pipe spool fabrication company and that would mainly support the construction projects of the parent, Kharafi National, the Kuwait based conglomerate. The company fields of activity are metal products coating, heat exchangers industry, manufacturing of steel structures, onshore and offshore gas and oil fields services, manufacturing of insulated pipes, manufacturing of pressure vessels, manufacturing of HVAC system accessories (ducts), steel pipes industry, and scaffoldings.
– Vice Chairman, ABJ Industries, Abu Dhabi
– Chairman, Utilities Development Company (UDC), Kuwait, a special-purpose company formed in 2001 to build, operate, and transfer (BOT) the Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was commissioned in 2004. It is the largest wastewater treatment reclamation plant in the world using reverse osmosis technology.
– General Manager, Lebanese Utilities Company, Lebanon
– General Manager, Emirates Utilities Company Holding, UAE
– Chairman, Egyptian Company for Utilities Development. Egypt
– General Manager, Quality Technical Supplies Co., Kuwait
– General Manager, Quality Technical Supplies Co., Abu Dhabi
– General Manager, Instant Access Professional & Technical Trng. Center, Abu Dhabi
– General Manager, Instant Access Co. for Sales & Rental of Construction Equipment, Qatar
MAKHAZEN (ABU DHABI-UAE)
Mr. Al-Kharafi is a board member of Makhazen, a private joint stock company established in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with a capital amounting to 590 million UAE dirhams for the purpose on investing in industrial real estate projects, industrial land acquisition and disposals, and related joint-venture and infrastructure development principally in the UAE but selectively throughout the MENA region.
ALUMINIUM INDUSTRIES COMPANY (KUWAIT)
Mr. Al-Kharafi is managing director of Aluminium Industries Company, a subsidiary of Mohamed Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi and Sons group of companies established in 1964 and one of the leading aluminum fabrication companies of architectural works in Kuwait approved by all authorities for aluminum fabrication works of different categories (i.e., aluminum doors, windows, shutters, shop fronts, curtain walls, handrails, kitchens, and rolling shutters). Other activities are: designing, detailing, manufacture/fabrication, delivery, installation (including all support systems and maintenance of the aluminum and glazing works, such as aluminum and glass doors, glazed curtain walls, glass roof, louvers, glass flooring and metal cladding, grills, curtain wall system, skylight, fire-rated instillation sheet, partitions, storefronts and rolling shutters). The company has its own system of profiles designed specifically according to the latest international system, which complies with the English and American standards. It has executed many big projects in Kuwait.
GULF ALUMINIUM EXTRUSION COMPANY (KUWAIT)
Mr. Al-Kharafi is managing director of the Gulf Aluminium Extrusion Company, one of the leading companies in Kuwait and the Middle East region for producing aluminum profiles. The company was established in 2006 with estimated production capacity of extruded profiles at its first stage of ten thousand tons per year, and it is expected to reach up to fifteen thousand tons per year. The use of the latest available technologies and distinguished technical staff granted the company a large share of the market. The company uses the highest quality color powder coating for all products, which are supplied by internationally reputable manufacturers to guarantee best quality end product according to standards of international code. It has exported extruded aluminum profiles of all kinds to Egypt, Iraq, and Sudan.
EDUCATION AND OTHER HONORS
BSc Finance and Business Administration, Kuwait University, 1991
– Member of Arab Business Council (World Economic Forum)
– Completed the Leadership and Innovation in the Public and Private Sector Course at Harvard University
– Recipient of Rafic Hariri Leadership Award presented by Arab Economic Forum in 2006
– Vice President, Aluminium Producers and Traders Association
40 years of world-class development
Given falling oil prices, in your opinion, what needs to be done to boost the Kuwaiti economy?
Oil income comprises about 94 percent of Kuwait’s public revenues. In the face of falling oil prices, Kuwait should achieve a diversified and sustainable economy. Strategically, in coordination with the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], Kuwait should invest in oil and gas industries to maximize value by increasing exports and reducing imports. It should also focus on increasing efficiency and sustainability to reduce resource waste, and on human resource development through education and training by establishing effective centers of excellence. If required, Kuwait must resort to introducing corporate taxes for Kuwaiti and foreign companies operating in Kuwait.
How should Kuwait diversify its economy?
Economic diversification is one of the main strategic goals set by the Gulf Cooperation Council. Since the Iraqi invasion in 1990, the contribution of most non-oil economic sectors declined in Kuwait especially after hundreds of companies, foreign institutions, and banking and investment institutions moved elsewhere in the region. Now, like other GCC countries, Kuwait should also achieve significant progress in diversification of sources of income, reducing its reliance on oil. Kuwait should focus on developing tourism, modern industries (non-traditional), consumer products, energy-based industries, and gas-related industries and services. Kuwait has already recognized the problem and begun to remedy it. Kuwait should also continue to support SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] to meet local and regional demands. This will increase local employment and development of world-class entrepreneurs.
If we exclude the contribution of the oil sector, what is your perspective on the country’s economic outlook?
Kuwait’s economic outlook is expected to improve in coming financial years, despite a recent slide in oil prices. The IMF [International Monetary Fund] expects non-oil GDP growth rates to reach 4 percent to 5 percent in the medium term, driven by consumption and government-led infrastructure development.
How important is the Kuwaiti private sector to economic growth?
The dominance of the public sector over the private sector creates an imbalanced structure in economic activities and has harmed economic growth. The private sector plays an important role in promoting economic development and growth by directly contributing to the quality and standards of living. Kuwait should liberalize rules and regulations, which would create hurdles and obstacles to the private sector in order not to affect and lower its efficiency and profitability.
How important is foreign investment for Kuwait at this time and what type of investment is the country currently in need of attracting?
Diversifying sources of income and minimizing dependency on oil can be achieved by effective attraction of foreign investment and an increase in investment opportunities. Kuwait needs investment in advanced technology. Kuwait also established the Kuwait Direct Investment Authority, which allows 100 percent foreign ownership of companies.
Which sectors do you believe would benefit the most from foreign partnerships?
Kuwait should promote a number of sectors that can most benefit from foreign investment and expertise, such as infrastructure investments, water, waste-water treatment, power, and communications. Kuwait also should focus on investment in the banking and financial sectors, insurance, IT and software development, and hospitals and pharmaceuticals.
How does this affect the employment situation in Kuwait?
The government is responsible for providing jobs for all Kuwaitis, and each Kuwaiti has the right to work in a suitable job. However, the heavy employment of Kuwaitis exerts pressure on the public budget and employing more Kuwaitis to the public sector will not increase the society’s level of wealth.
What role will future generations play in the development of Kuwait and its business community?
Kuwait has the advantage of a young, educated, and experienced population in the region. Kuwaiti youth should be provided leadership training and development to prepare them for their future role in enriching the Kuwaiti economy.
What is your current strategy regarding the growth and expansion of Kharafi National in the region, or internationally?
Kharafi National’s growth and expansion can be attributed to its successful approach to build-operate-transfer (BOT), build-operate-own (BOO), and public-private partnership (PPP), which has changed it from the traditional contractor’s role to a service provider to a business partner in the operation of an enterprise. Kharafi National foresees a growth in the facility management and facility maintenance business. The company will also always continue to develop its valuable human resources.
What top projects are you currently working on?
The Clean Fuel Project at the KNPC [Kuwait National Petroleum Company] Ahmadi Refinery is the major project Kharafi National is currently working on. Also, work is under way on the Sulaibiya plant expansion and Central Bank of Kuwait in addition to the fast-track nature projects like power plants, Al Shaheed Park, and the Amiri Diwan Administration building.
How has Kharafi National been able to distinguish itself in the Gulf Region?
Our culture of excellence has distinguished Kharafi National as the region’s most successful infrastructure project developer and integrated contractor with an undeniable reputation for quality, safety, and timely delivery.
What is Kharafi National’s toughest challenge to date?
Safety of employees after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the power-project works at Al Shabab and Demietta during the revolution in Egypt were challenges faced by Kharafi National.
The work on power projects at Al Shabab and Demietta in Egypt were in progress when the Egyptian revolution broke out. The safety of all staff was the prime concern. Kharafi National devised and implemented a plan to carry the company through several weeks of unrest and violence on the streets. Managers remained on their sites monitoring the evolving events and assuring the safety of their staff. Communication was vital during the crisis. To maintain communications, Kharafi National’s IT department setup an Internet link via satellite with a UK-based service provider, when the internet and mobile phone services were cut off to prevent protesters from communicating.
What has been your proudest achievement at Kharafi National?
Throughout its forty years, Kharafi National has been proud to be part of the progress in the GCC and ME [Middle East]. Kharafi National achieved successful completion of power stations at Al Shabab, Damietta, and West Damietta in Egypt, GASCO’s Integrated Gas Development Project–Habshan 5 and ISTP1 in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] and Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Plant in Kuwait. Kharafi National developed a robust quality management system with thousands of procedures and ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems, which together serve as a stable platform that enables employees to deliver the results expected from them.
Kharafi National will turn forty next year; how would you like to see the business at age fifty, and what do you want it to symbolize internationally?
Kharafi National will be commemorating its fortieth year of operations next year. With a workforce of over 28,900 employees, Kharafi National has become the region’s most successful project developer of infrastructure. Now, Kharafi National has international business operations in Egypt, the UAE, and Lebanon. Kharafi National will be recognized as a respected world-class project developer of infrastructure by its fiftieth anniversary by expanding its operations across various sectors to the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.