DHL Aims To Promote Egyptian Trade, Tourism



Mon, 04 Jan 2016 - 08:21 GMT


Mon, 04 Jan 2016 - 08:21 GMT

On the heels of a new state-of-the-art hub in Cairo, DHL launches a year-long campaign to promote investment, trade and tourism in Egypt.

By Ahmed Goher

DHL’s Middle East and North Africa CEO, Nour Suliman first joined DHL during the 1970s, when DHL had just begun expanding its services globally. Suliman held different positions in different countries and has served in all the countries of the MENA region. Although he has been with the company for more than 30 years, it was only in 2011 that he became MENA CEO.

In MENA alone, DHL Express moves around 10 million shipments yearly. Indeed, Suliman is tasked with managing a small empire, with approximately 200 facilities in the region, employing 5,000 people while running an impressive average of 160 domestic and international flights daily.

Egypt is at the heart of DHL’s operations in the region, and while the 1,500 active customers it enjoys in the country may seem modest, they actually comprise 40% of the market share and include organizations operating in different industries, banks and multinationals. Moreover, Egypt enjoys special importance for DHL due to its unique geographic location, allowing it to serve as a gateway to Africa. Provided the country invests in its logistics capacity, Egypt could also become a central hub in the Middle East from which DHL could gain access to Europe.

Egypt Today interviewed Suliman to get his take on his company’s position in the Egyptian market and his outlook on the current investment climate in Egypt. Edited excerpts:

You joined DHL when it was still a relatively young organization, and became CEO at a very turbulent time in Egypt. What has been your focus since acquiring this position?

Our main focus for the last five years has been to invest, expand, and grow. That is our formula for success if you may. We invest in infrastructure, technologies, and people, which help us expand our reach and our network, and then our business grows naturally. In the past year we have managed to open some of our largest investments in the region that we started a few years back, namely our new facilities and offices in Cairo, Dubai, and Riyadh.

We restructure based on market requirements. Opportunities require us to be flexible, knowledgeable and always prepared to meet market demands, and changes in global drives and trends.

A recent DHL technology conference in April highlighted that the Middle East is the place to be for technology investors, with Egypt being eyed for its strategic location. How significant is Egypt to DHL’s Middle East portfolio?

The Middle East is well connected to the rest of the world. We have a strong established network with the global market; in addition, people in the Middle East are quite tech savvy and internet friendly. Egypt is one of our markets that have huge potential for growth. It provides a strategic geographical advantage as well as being rich in resources and workforce capacity. The Middle East and North Africa trading lanes are growing in connectivity, and becoming more important, and our plan is to be right at the center of that growth.


The Egyptian market is far from huge. What is DHL’s share of it?

DHL Express has almost 45% of the international express market in Egypt, and we don’t intend to stop at that number. We have a very committed plan to grow, and intend to fully deliver on that plan. Just last year we opened our new state-of-the-art facility at Cairo International Airport that is a result of an LE 400 million investment. We now intend to continue further down this investment plan.

The only way for us is forward and in order to continue to move ahead we need to be ahead. Ahead of market trends, customer demands, and rising competition. Our plan takes all this into consideration, and Egypt provides us with a great foundation to support our growth strategy. In 2014 you told our sister publication Business Today Egypt that, “Egypt is now number one and it is not a helpless country, Egypt has a very strong economic foundation and a very good military together with stability.” Do you feel that this still holds true, and is Egypt looking more appealing to investors in the short term?

The country’s recent major investments in projects have definitely presented a significant boost in optimism. However, short-term optimism remains highly affected by the geopolitical situation in the region. Egypt’s location contributes to its significance to our global network as it could play a vital role in connecting the Middle East to Africa. It is a vital market where presence is absolutely necessary.

What’s the potential upside that DHL sees in Egypt and the region at large?

The government plan for investment and growth in Egypt is a boost of confidence to the economy overall. Moreover, all traders, both importers and exporters, see an increase in intra trade between Egypt and the Middle East, especially the trade lanes to and from the Gulf states; and equally so, Europe and the US will continue to be robust as Egypt further strengthens its economic ties, and free trade agreements, which will add more confidence and increase opportunities.

We feel it is a good idea to invest in Egypt; not necessarily only for the short term gains, but more for the long-term ones. It has always been our view that the economy has an immense opportunity to grow, especially when coupled with a stable political atmosphere. Security issues aside, there would be no reasons whatsoever not to invest in Egypt. For MNCs seeking a long-term return, Egypt is a good candidate for longterm trade prosperity.

But we don’t just say it’s a good idea to invest in Egypt, we put it to action. We recently launched a campaign to help support Egypt’s way forward by promoting investment, trade and tourism. For one whole year, all our outbound packages from Egypt will have a clear message to Invest, Trade and Visit Egypt. We made it our mission to deliver Egypt to the world.

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How have regional political conflicts and pressures affected DHL operations and logistics? DHL clients must also have been affected – what has this meant for DHL?

We always make an effort to be “first in, last out” for the benefit of our customers, and to be able to continue to serve countries and customers as best we can at all times.

However, we still do get affected by political conflicts. We sometimes face delays as a result of the instability or change in security measures, but the good news for us is how fast we are able to turn things around. This is one of the perks of being such a large international company with a big experienced network. That, along with our commitment to be first in, last out, makes us well capable of developing and delivering on contingency plans that are constantly updated, and put into immediate effect when needed.

Can you speak about DHL’s latest big investments in Egypt and upcoming ones?

Our most recent investment was our new state of the art facility and country office at the Cargo Village in Cairo International Airport. In addition, we added Cairo to our air network with a weekly flight linked to Beirut.

We now intend to further expand our footprint at the airport, and are currently negotiating the subject matter with Airport management. Moreover, we also intend to open a new facility in Alexandria next year, and expand even further in Port Said with another new facility.

How do you evaluate the government’s current economic trajectory?

The government was quite active in revitalizing the economy and so introduced and effectively executed a number of new projects among which was the Suez Canal project, and then focused even more on free trade and economic agreements. Although the recent security issues may be a slight setback, I still believe there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic and the long-term trajectory seems very positive.

What more can the Egyptian government do to help attract investors?

Transparency is a key factor for investors. They want to know that both the government and organizations have transparent processes, and practices, and that they exercise transparent decision-making. Another key factor is the infrastructure: the more we invest in solid infrastructure, the stronger and more stable the future is.

What would you tell investors eyeing Egypt?

Evaluate and analyze what is best for you and your customers, and think beyond the short-term. In a thriving economy with a market of 85 million people, and a stable and secure geopolitical environment, I think you would want to be in Egypt.

What’s planned for DHL Egypt in the near future? What breakthroughs can customers expect in 2016?

We are planning for a logistics facility expansion at the airport, positioning Egypt as the main gateway to Africa. In addition to the new facilities in Alexandria and Port Said mentioned above, we are also planning some new service points.

Tell us a little about your green solutions and your CSR initiatives. What’s in the pipeline for those two areas in 2016?

We are all part of this community; we understand that and take our social responsibilities very seriously. Our commitment to be green for instance got us to recently upgrade our plane fleet to new ones that saved carbon emissions by 8%; and we intend to upgrade them all again soon to save even more.

We also had a campaign to support the refugee camps in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jordan; where we delivered donations including stationary and school supplies collected by our partnering NGOs. The campaign’s main aim was to support camp schools and provide them with some of the tools necessary for them to be able to carry out their mission.

We intend to continue our work with the refugee camps this winter as we start a new campaign of delivering blankets, socks and other winter essentials that have been donated by people around the region.

This past Ramadan we partnered with the Food Bank to deliver food boxes to families in need across the whole region and in total managed to deliver 10,000 boxes in Egypt alone.

DHL started operating in 1969, delivering packages from San Francisco to Honolulu. By the mid-1970s, it started eyeing global expansion. Today, DHL has become the global market leader in the logistics industry.



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