In October 2018, Dr Fadi Jomaa stood before a crowd of business leaders at the Qatar Green Business Council in Doha and declared his commitment to the three pillars of corporate sustainability: the idea that the pursuit of profit must be accompanied by the protection of the environment and the society in which a business operates.
“We are striving to adopt the three pillars of sustainability as described by the UN to achieve the 17 sustainable development goals,” he told the audience. “These goals are inseparable from our strategic growth.”
Since taking over nine months ago as Group CEO of Al Qamra Holding (AQH) – a conglomeration of companies in eight different sectors – his commitment to sustainability has only grown stronger.
This commitment is nowhere more obvious than in what Fadi calls the “jewel” of AQH’s businesses: aquaculture. AQH was recently awarded a major contract from the Qatari government to operate the country’s first fish farm, located 50 kilometres offshore, as part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project with the aim of contributing to transforming Qatar into an advanced society working towards achieving sustainable development”.
“This is a very big project we established and are now operating,” Fadi says. “We have considered every single element of life underwater, as prescribed by the United Nations, starting with our mooring systems underwater, ensuring that we are using sustainable and environmentally friendly materials, products and equipment.
“I’m very proud that we’ve reached a level where we have one of the best farms in the region in terms of quality of production, quality of operation and sustainability,” Fadi says, adding that the farm will contribute to a “better life, better future and better food safety” for the country.
Fadi’s enthusiasm for sustainable development is part of an overall commitment to improving the society in which AQH operates. Aside from life below water, his other favourite contribution to society is in the realm of gender equality.
“We are very much focused on empowering women. This was a great step we took because we had a lot of qualified women join us and enrich our knowledge and development,” he says.
An essential destination
Fadi’s ability to positively influence Qatari society in a variety of ways is a function of the diversity of AQH’s business activities. The group is active in the agriculture, aquaculture, contracting, real estate, healthcare, educational and services sectors. This wide portfolio, he says, is one of AQH’s greatest strengths.
“Diversification is healthy for any organisation that has the capacity,” he says. “It allows us to expand our relations with the government, to serve the community and to commit ourselves to environmental regulations. In general, you cannot cover all of these aspirations in just one industry.”
Diversification has allowed AQH to capitalise on the Qatar National Vision 2030, which includes vast investments into the country’s education, healthcare and sports sectors. “Qatar is a very fast-growing market, and we are blessed to be in this part of the world and to be part of this growth,” Fadi says. “It’s never boring.”
According to Fadi, AQH’s success represents the blossoming opportunity that exists in parts of the Middle East that are working to transform their economies from being dependent on oil and gas to enjoying sustainable, long-lasting revenue streams.
“The Middle East is a fast development area with many opportunities. The weather here is a great factor that helps and encourages people to move in. We don’t face many challenges from climate change in this area. This part of the world is a multinational hub, populated by more than 100 nationalities and located between East Asia and Europe,” Fadi says. “This period in the Middle East, from my point of view, makes it an essential destination.”
- AQH has been operating in Qatar for more than 10 years.
- Dr Fadi Jomaa established QAFAM, an integrated FM company, Doha Security Services and QExpress, an industrial laundry business. He serves as a Managing Director of these three companies.
- Fadi has been CEO of AQH since February 2019.
Life is a great school
All that said, despite Fadi’s long list of reasons to be optimistic, he still contends with a number of challenges while running a sprawling business in a fast-changing part of the world. The main challenge is competition.
“Everybody is keen to join this part of the world, and this creates a very competitive market that presents some obstacles. It’s good that it keeps you on your toes, but it is challenging,” Fadi says.
Other challenges include the political environment and a scarcity of natural resources and raw materials. The solution to all of these hurdles, Fadi believes, is a diverse and experienced business culture.
“The best decision I made in my career was building a professional team and fostering a new spirit in them. That is the best decision I believe I could ever make or will make in the future,” he says.
“The best decision I made in my career was building a professional team and fostering a new spirit in them.”
“By enriching your team with diversity in nationalities, ages and genders, and with experts in each industry you’re involved in, and by making decisions as a team, you can bypass any challenge.” Even with his dream team, Fadi recognises that mistakes are inevitable. “A person makes many mistakes; for a leader, mistakes are even harder to avoid,” he says.
But the key to survival is to incorporate a lesson from each mistake into a strategy for the future. “If we make a mistake once, we don’t repeat it; we learn from it,” he says.
“I’ve made a few mistakes during my career, like everyone else, but I was lucky that I was advised by colleagues or professors or partners to think and reconsider. The most important thing is you always need to believe that no-one is perfect. Life is a great school and every day is a new day with new lessons.”
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