x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

UAE firm has goal to keep football fans cool at Fifa World Cup in Qatar

Tabreed is looking to provide an answer to the most vexing challenge of the 2022 Fifa World Cup: how to keep more than 1 million football fans cool.

Jasim Thabet, the chief executive of Tabreed, which is expanding operations in Qatar. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Jasim Thabet, the chief executive of Tabreed, which is expanding operations in Qatar. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Tabreed is hoping to provide an answer to the most vexing challenge of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar - how to keep more than 1 million football fans cool.

The UAE's largest district cooling company, which reported a 29 per cent leap in full-year profits yesterday, is expanding operations in Qatar and has the world's biggest sporting event in its sights.

It already operates three plants in the country through its Qatar Cool joint venture and is one of the companies negotiating with Qatar Cool to supply cooling for the football tournament.

Tabreed, which supplies chilled water to housing and office blocks for use in air-conditioning systems, said yesterday that net profit surged to Dh236.3 million (US$64.3m) last year as the company, which was hard hit by the global financial downturn, concentrated on efficiency savings.

"The GCC is growing and when it grows, Tabreed and district cooling will grow with it," said Jasim Thabet, the chief executive. "We expect to grow, particularly in Qatar and Saudi Arabia in terms of new plants and connections."

Two years ago the company completed a Dh3.1 billion refinancing deal with Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. Sales were almost flat, rising from Dh1.11bn to Dh1.12bn. Net finance costs decreased by 18 per cent to Dh176.7m.

Profits from Tabreed's core chilled-water business increased 27 per cent to Dh347.1m as sales gained 7 per cent to Dh1.01bn.

During the year, the company wound down or sold off some of its unprofitable units. It hopes to boost profits further by using treated waste water, rather than desalinated water, in its pipes. The company also wants to sell district cooling services to older buildings that are centrally cooled.

After a Dh1.1bn loss in 2009 and the completion of its refinancing deal with Mubadala, Tabreed said it was in good shape to acquire existing district cooling plants owned by rivals.

"Cooling is a really vital part of the infrastructure in the region. It's not like we're selling something that is an option," said Mr Thabet.

lbarnard@thenational.ae