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Mon 26 Mar 2018 11:58 AM

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What it takes to build a thriving dairy company in the UAE

Brand View: Dr Ahmed El Tigani, CEO of Al Rawabi Dairy Company ont the company's success to date

What it takes to build a thriving dairy company in the UAE
Dr AhmedEl Tigani, CEO of Al Rawabi Dairy Company

What inspired you to build the company?
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 were the biggest challenges you faced?
The heavy competition of the imported products and cost of producing local foods in a desert were the biggest challenges.

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,

What has been your proudest achievement?
Our biggest achievement was the launch of Vitamin D milk, a milk enriched with 2000iu of Vitamin D3 per a cup of 250 ml, that is intended for support and preventing the Vitamin D3 deficiency that is affecting more than 90% of the UAE population.

We are the first dairy company to have introduce the functional product in the region, and we will continue to walk this path, as we believe that health comes through food and we can support the consumers in same.

Can you tell us more about your charitable work?
The company is also highly committed to all members and institutions of the society, and on year basis, supports more than 1000 differerent events, and never forgets to give back to the community it basis its operation and constantly support different institutions like donations to mosques, schools, churches, Iftar samplings, prisons.

The Year of 2017 was especially important to Al Rawabi as a Year of Giving.  The company strongly supported the country’s vision to consolidate humanitarian work and contribute in establishing UAE as the most philanthropic country in the world.

One of the key pillars of this initiative is ‘to serve the nation’ along with charity and volunteering, and Al Rawabi has assimilated this virtue to continue to serve the nation’s health putting it in the forefront. Towards this endeavour, the company undertook a host of CSR initiatives in 2017 in line with the country’s vision of ‘Year of Giving’.

The company has supported the Dubai Autism Centre, across all their awareness campaigns, outreach programs, institutional visits, and intervention programs supporting local families with autistic children throughout 2017.

The support to the Rashid Pediatric Therapy Centre through the donation of the required resources to support the cause of children with special needs. Al Rawabi further extended their commitment to integrate people with special needs by employing them in the company.  

To encourage fresh local produce, Al Rawabi participated in this year’s ‘Grow Your Food’ campaign in association with Dubai Municipality. The ‘Grow Your Food’ initiative aimed to promote sustainable community farming by encouraging Dubai residents to cultivate vegetables and fruits in their homes. As part of this effort, Al Rawabi conducted Farm Workshops to teach citizens about organic gardening.

Al Rawabi also participated in the sampling initiative at the Deira Fish Market organised by Al Bayan Newspaper. Representatives of the company distributed bottles of Al Rawabi products to the market workers, highlighting the importance of giving to those who need us the most.

Al Rawabi was ‘Nutrition Supporter’ for the 3rd Edition of the Dubai Nutrition Conference hosted by the Dubai Health Authority. The conference covered a broad range of programs and workshops that were highly relevant to the MENA region, one of the most important of them being the more than 90% of the Vitamin D deficient population in the UAE. Al Rawabi invited Dr. Michael Hollick, the world best expert in field of Vitamin D3 to highlight the importance of this issue during the Conference.

Al Rawabi partnered with UAE Food Bank, a noble initiative by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and fully pledged to contribute the surplus food to those in need all over the UAE.

Al Rawabi organised free Umrah visit in association with the Dar Al Ber Society for differently abled people and will continue to support the same group of people.

In addition, Al Rawabi has also provided support to multiple institutions and initiatives throughout the year such as support to Al Noor Charity for Children with special needs, spreading awareness on Radiology, and supporting clinics & hospitals on the burning issue of Vitamin D deficiency through educational programs.

Al Rawabi is also environmenally highly responsible company and recycles all the water it uses at the farm. Wherever possible, treated water is used in place of fresh water to reduce environmental impact. The company has given an Environmental Award for being a dairy with a low ecological footprint. Cow’s comfort is also a top priority.

Al Rawabi’s cows benefit from an automated TMR that creates a customised feeding sheet from each cow to maximise health and output. All cows are hormone free – they are given absolutely no hormonal supplements. They are also given no antibiotics, except in the strict cases that they are being treated for an illness, in which case they are removed from the milking cycle until they are completely well and antibiotic free. 15 health professionals, all of whom are qualified vets, are available to us to ensure our animals are always in the best of health.

Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Our ambition is to rise to a strong MENA brand by 2020 with presence across all countries in the region. We are confident to reach this milestone as we are innovators. In fact we have grown beyond just a dairy farm to a food company with multiple product portfolios. We will continue to add more products and markets every year.

We directly distribute to Oman and export our products to Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Yemen. Over the years, we have kept up our investment in the facility's infrastructure and cattle stock in line with the market demand.

On the home turf, the company is setting up a new dairy farm in Abu Dhabi, and looking to grow alfa-alfa hay in an African country to close the production cycle and minimise feeding cost. As the need for the local and home grown will become even more evident, the company plans to invest into becoming the nation’s first choice when it comes to a basket of categories. Premiumisation will remain the key driver of growth in the UAE's food industry, with the rise of health consciousness a key trend, and Al Rawabi plans to follow the needs of the market and further innovate in this space.

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