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One-on-one with Al Khatib

Fayad Al Khatib who joined Qatar Cool in 2007 spoke about the company’s goals and the challenges of the industry.

| | Mar 10, 2013 | 4:14 pm
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Fayad Al Khatib who joined Qatar Cool in 2007 spoke about the company’s goals and the challenges of the industry.

march2013-feature02Al Khatib credited the company’s four core values – care of the environment, excellence of service, commitment to staff and going the extra mile – as important components behind its success.

He enumerated three challenges the company faced in the early years and continues to deal with: energy/environment/economy – the triple bottom line triangle – where all three continuously clash and challenge themselves.

He echoed Alfarden in acknowledging stakeholders and employees as the key factors in Qatar Cool’s success. “We operate as one team; the major element of our success is absolutely the people,” he said.

He believed that an important ingredient for any company’s success was the ability to innovate and look within for improvement and efficiency in matching supply and demand. He highlighted the importance of having a balanced business model to sustain itself for the future, while ensuring that end-users and developers were satisfied. Speaking about why the company decided to adopt a flexible model, which took into account both the technical and business aspects, which has allowed it to be customer-focused and deal on a one-on-one-basis with end-users, Al Khatib explained: “We used to build/own/operate the model, at first; we did not own or operate them. As we matured as a company with a more experienced staff, we gained more confidence in our business models, so we began building, operating and fitting. That business model has proven efficient and successful.”

Al Khatib pointed out that Qatar Cool’s long-term growth goals ran parallel to Qatar’s successful 2022 World Cup bid. “We are looking at a very nice opportunity for development in Qatar in the next 10 years,” he emphasised. There are a lot of support areas for the World Cup – constructing hospitals, cooled stadiums, a massive rail system, and all of these are opportunities where we’d like to expand our business.” However, he highlighted the point that though Qatar Cool’s first priority was to support Qatar’s growth, one of its long-term goals was to look for opportunities to strategically expand worldwide. “We believe we have the experience and many of the qualities constituting expertise, and that we can provide added value as a major contributor to providers and not just sell district energy,” he said.

Speaking about district cooling’s environmental impact, Al Khatib noted: “I think district energy really provides a very good solution to this part of the world. Whatever we put on paper, we must validate. We cannot just accept what the industry says, whether it is technical, commercial or financial. One of the critical factors is being able to validate savings and energy.”

Al Khatib cited raising awareness about energy conservation as an ongoing challenge. He revealed that Qatar Cool had recently proposed the creation of an energy board that would include members of regulatory and governmental authorities, as well as large energy users. “It could be us, our competitors, the steel mills, universities, the petrochemical plants and other large energy users, who come together on a regular basis and share experiences,” he explained. “I think it’s important that we help each other, support the government, and support Qatar’s inevitable growth…. I think it’d be wonderful if we all sat down and shared experiences. I’m sure we can all benefit.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Ibrahim Al Sada, Manager of the newly-formed District Cooling Services Department of Kahramaa (Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation), explained that his main objectives were to work with cooling companies in order to learn from their experiences, promote district cooling and regulate the industry while protecting the end-users and allaying the fears of DC companies that government intervention might have a detrimental effect.

Against this backdrop, Al Khatib lauded the initiative and shared his thoughts on the subject. “We [the district energy industry] have a great need for it, and we support Ibrahim and Kahramaa in their work,” he said. Reiterating that raising awareness was an ongoing challenge, he added: “Anyone who uses air conditioning, electricity or water can make a difference. It’s very important to educate children early on, and to reach people on all levels … about conserving energy and using it wisely…. We must be a more efficient society.” – Mary Coons

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