The American company's regional chief says the company's strategy is to deliver solutions that enhance standards of living, build long-term partnerships and support local initiatives
Nabil Habayebis the chief executive in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey for General Electric (GE), the giant United States conglomerate. He discusses the importance of the region for the company, which is an important player in its infrastructure and utilities industries.
Can you explain the overall strategy of GE in the region?
Over the past 80 years of operations in the region, GE has established strong and long-lasting partnerships in the energy, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare and infrastructure development sectors.
Our advanced technologies are aligned with the needs of the people in the region, and today, we support nearly two-thirds of the power generated, two-thirds of the airline engines and 90 per cent of the hospitals in addition to supporting the provision of over 800 million litres of water daily.
The Middle East, North Africa and Turkey [Menat] market is one of our key global operations, having contributed US$8.6 billion [Dh31.58bn] in revenues last year. The region is on a growth path with massive infrastructure development, fuelled by demand from its largest demographic - the 60 per cent youth population. The region's governments are focused on creating jobs, providing homes, ensuring uninterrupted power and clean water supply, better healthcare standards, efficient transportation, and overall improvement in the standard of living. Our technologies and partnerships are a perfect fit. This, indeed, defines our strategy for the region: to deliver tangible solutions that enhance the standard of living, build long-term partnerships and support localisation initiatives.
Do you see any vulnerabilities in this strategy from global economic worries or oil-price volatility?
Our successful track record in the region is a testament to how our strategic approach to partner with the business communities on localisation initiatives has enabled us to weather the volatilities. Menat has all the ingredients for long-term success that meets the aspirations of its people - energy resources, abundant renewable sources, capital, technology and manpower.
Which regional markets do you regard as most attractive?
The Menat region has several strong growth clusters, and the governments are taking concerted initiatives to drive overall development. We see exceptionally strong growth potential in the GCC, North Africa, Iraq and Turkey.
How does the UAE fit into the plan?
The UAE is integral to our operations in the region. In fact, our regional headquarters is based in the country. With a presence spanning over 70 years, GE has played an instrumental role in driving the growth efficiencies of varied business sectors of the UAE.
A highlight of our partnership in the UAE is that with Mubadala Development Company [a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government] in commercial finance, clean-energy research and development, aviation, industry and corporate learning. Focused on co-investing and co-creating, this is a great partnership model.
We are demonstrating our commitment to the country by continually expanding our investment with a number of manufacturing and service technology centres. Our partnership is further underlined by landmark industry initiatives such as the Gulf Turbine Services, a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, which is now a world-class gas turbine repair facility.
Today, GE is delivering long-term services and advanced F-technology turbines to Emal [Emirates Aluminium], the world's largest aluminium-processing complex at a single site, and also supporting Emal to reduce its carbon footprint with GE DLN Technology.
We have strong partnerships with Etihad Airways, Emirates [Airline], flydubai and Air Arabia, and we are partnering with Emirates to develop the technologically advanced engine overhaul shop, one of the largest in Asia.
In addition to partnerships with Adnoc [Abu Dhabi National Oil Company], Adgas and Abu Dhabi Gas Industries, among others, our Water Centre of Excellence in Jebel Ali is the largest purpose-built water plant in the Middle East.
We also complement the Government's human capital development goals through advanced training programmes. Our oil and gas business has introduced its acclaimed oil and gas university programme in Abu Dhabi
You recently attended the World Economic Forum in Turkey. What's your view on the country's economy?
Turkey stands strong as an oasis of stability offering exciting growth opportunities for the international business community. The country's global outlook and focus on inter-regional collaboration makes it a strong partner in driving the Menat region's economic transformation.
Turkey is defined by its strategic geographic location, an abundance of skilled human capital, a strong environment of corporate governance and transparency, and the incentive programmes offered by the government for investors.
For us, Turkey is a key market; we were the first foreign industrial investor in the country, operating since 1948. Our growth outlook for Turkey is aligned with the country's Vision 2023 to become one of the world's top 10 economies … In this, we will focus on innovation, leveraging the local talent pool, promoting knowledge transfer and establishing partnerships across key sectors including energy, health care, aviation and transport.