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Tue 27 Mar 2018 03:33 PM

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From dairy to duty: Dr Ahmed El Tigani on building Al Rawabi

Brand View: For Al Rawabi Dairy Company CEO Dr Ahmed El Tigani, helping turn the company into a regional dairy industry giant is more than just an achievement

From dairy to duty: Dr Ahmed El Tigani on building Al Rawabi
Al Rawabi Dairy Company CEO Dr Ahmed El Tigani

What makes a great dairy company?

At the time of starting the company in 1989, there was very little fresh milk supply in the UAE, almost no local production. All the milk was coming in cartons, or powder form and there were many places of the country where milk was not at all available.

Having in mind the need that the country had for a supply of fresh and quality milk, as basic requirement of every household, Al Rawabi was born. We started with 500 cows in a Dubai desert, and now grown to a herd over 13,000 cows and a capacity reaching a quarter of a million liters.

For me, Al Rawabi supplies food to this beloved country, and is a lifelong passion that I am proud and glad to push these boundaries, to make it a jewel in the country’s history.

Throughout our journey, we faced many challenges which we never gave up to, instead we stood up and innovated solutions, we moved stronger on in our journey to success, and we stood proud on our achievements.

The challenges pushed us to innovate so we introduced the plastic bottles as the first UAE company to do this, which in turn gained us 7 percent of the dairy market share, and after that the introduction of the juices section helped score profits that balanced the losses made in the dairy. We were also the first company to introduce the family size of 2 liters, 3 liters and a gallon, as we saw those packing sizes answering the needs of the average family size in the UAE.

As the local competition was increasing, we expanded to Oman, Qatar. The production costs increased over the years while the prices remained stable, this has pushed us again to innovate in our product lines where we came up with functional products such as Super Milk, Nutree Boost, Vitamin D milk – products which don’t face pricing pressures.

Hence, the innovation and finding new ways to answer consumer needs are the biggest success factor in the industry, as you have to keep track with the ever rapid changes. The tempo of life is changing, people have less time, but want to look younger, live longer, be more productive. We are investing a lot of money in the research, and we call in the best experts to support us developing the best products and answers the needs of the market.

How important is finding the right team in the dairy industry?
I believe in empowering the management team, allowing them to take part in decision-making and assume greater responsibility and ownership for their respective functions.

The commitment and dedication of Al Rawabi’s employees are integral ingredients in the success of the business. Hence we believe in investing in our people to ensure they are happy and feel a part of what we are trying to achieve here. Every week, we sit together and discuss all things at hand, trying to find ways to constructively re-engineer our process and improve market performance.

After starting Al Rawabi did you always believe you would be so successful?
I wanted to bring the dairy industry in the UAE and help this country strive to its best potentials. Today, close to 30 years of our presence, we envision to go bigger and become a MENA brand by 2020.

Our tagline is ‘Nation’s Health’, and we believe by offering high quality products that help with the rising deficiencies in the region we can contribute to people having a healthy and a happy lifestyle, which in return makes them productive members of the society.

What tips would you give to anyone wanting to start a company as an entrepreneur?
Leaders in business should listen to their employees and should unleash their talents by giving them opportunities. Try to understand before being understood, as Stephen Covey says in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  Always stay engaged and try to be fit, mindful and healthy. This is the only way to catch up with everything.

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