SABIC interview: Mohammed Al-Mady

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''New centres of economic powers are surfacing.''

''New centres of economic powers are surfacing.''

The head of the world’s largest petrochemical company, Mohamed Al Mady, the vice-chairman and CEO of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) said the dynamics of petrochemical industry is set to change, once again. He termed the shale-gas find as ‘a revolution’ and said producers need to focus on ‘new and advanced technology’ to maximise returns. Al-Mady was in Dubai to open the seventh annual GPCA forum, which brings together the industry heavy weights from all over the world.

As the head of Sabic that has revolutionised the gulf petrochemical industry, he is known to be the sharpest brain in business and when he talks, the industry listens.

He has been at the helm of affairs at the petrochemical company, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, since 1998.

He had the message loud and clear this time - “The global petrochemicals industry needs to deal more and more, not only with the economical uncertainty, but also with a rapidly changing world. Flexibility and responsiveness to both change and uncertainty have become key requirements in our industry,” he said.

Al-Mady said the petrochemical industry is often the bellwether of the global economy.

2008 and 2009 were years best forgotten, according to most industry experts for the world economies, and more specifically the petrochemical industry. But the GCC petrochemical industry has weathered the storm that hit the global economies and is building itself back, slowly and surely.

Al-Mady said in a relatively short span of less than four decades, the regional petrochemicals industry has grown to be a leading global player.

“The industry has remained strong despite the prevailing economic climate – production capacity grew 13.5% last year, to nearly 116 million tonnes, up from 102 million tonnes in 2010; and sales generated by the GCC petrochemicals sector reached $100 billion in 2011.”

Sabic has itself grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs more than 40,000 employees, across 40 countries with a market capitalisation in excess of $88 billion. It was Al-Mady who completed the acquisition of GE Plastics in 2007 and integrated the largest US engineering plastics firm with SABIC’s European and Asian operations.

The integration symbolised organizational achievement virtually unprecedented for a Saudi Arabian business.” If there is one thing I would like to be remembered for, it’s creating the best human resources development plan in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Mady  said at that time.

At the Forum, the CEO remarked that the progress made by the GCC petrochemical industry given the unstable economic conditions reflected remarkable resilience. But to sustain this level of growth, we need to bring in change, he added.

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