From idea to end product: In this episode of Qatar 365, we’ll meet businesses, big and small making waves at home and abroad.
Qatari industry is thriving. One such firm is Suhail Industries. Back in 2012 Suhail Industries was a battery recycling factory. Since then, it’s grown into an industrial powerhouse that includes recycling and manufacturing bronze, copper, aluminium and steel castings, plastics and even paper.
When it comes to the nuts and bolts of running a business, Suhail Industries is a well-oiled machine, powering up Qatar into the industrial juggernaut it is today.
The company make industrial pipes that are shipped halfway across the globe to the United States. The pipes don’t leave the factory until they’re thoroughly checked and painted with an important label: ‘Made in Qatar’.
“Right now we have 15 factories, all of them in the engineering industries, they are at the foundry, which converts the steel scrap to cast iron and ductile, ductile iron castings,” explains Shadi Afif, the Chief Development Officer at Suhail Industrial Holding Group.
The company recently added a fifteenth high-tech factory to its collection. Suhail Engineering Industries boasts a land area of more than 13,000 square meters, with nearly 60 industrial machines.
And this isn’t your typical factory either. Hi-tech machinery, air conditioning and even a little greenery. Suhail Industries is challenging the idea that an industrial factory can’t also be sustainable and eco-friendly, just like its products.
“Our main target was to have a state-of-the-art factory and to have it friendly to the environment, to have zero impact,” says Omar Ziad Atiyeh, factory manager at Suhail Engineering Industries. “Basically, any wastes that could affect the environment to be handled properly, and to have a good atmosphere for the employees. So, we used Japanese methodologies, having like trees in the factories, which brings a good vibe to everybody working in the factory.”
Business is going so well for Suhail Industries, that its international market makes up more than half its clientele. Only 20% of the group’s output is for the Qatari market, another 20% to neighbouring countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and 60% is exported to the US, Chinese and Korean markets – among others.
From factory to farm
Despite its desert landscape, investment in Qatari agriculture has been a huge turning point for the country. Now households all around the Gulf nation get fresh daily vegetables.
Safwa Farm, one of Qatar’s oldest family-owned businesses and is run by Fardan Fahad Alfardan
Alfardan explains that by investing in technology for agricultural production, fresh produce wouldn’t be possible.
“It started in 1975. It was more of an area for my family to go for a picnic every weekend. It was around, let's say a hundred square meters back then and now it grew to almost reaching 1 million square meters. I had small aquaponic machines at home.
“I used to grow my cherry tomatoes and basil for my pizza because I love pizza. I told my grandfather about this system and that, you know, people don't grow this in the market. And if I can grow it, I'm sure anyone can grow it. He told me in the middle of summer if you can put your own money and grow it in front of me, I will invest in it for you and make it part of their family group. That was three years ago and today we're doing much more than what we did in the beginning.”
From humble beginnings to a company using high-tech horticultural techniques. How does the company stick to its roots while also using technology, Safwa produces premium products that can’t be grown in Qatar otherwise. Produce includes, Italian basil, kale, lettuce and peppers.
“To be honest, I'm amazed myself that we did it. So, I think outside right now is from 48 to 50 degrees. But inside we're reaching temperatures of 28 to 30 degrees, which is for some crops, very good.”
Big business, small business: One family
Ayman Natsheh is the CEO of a Azure Trading & Contracting. His company has been making customised furniture for over almost two decades.The Palestinian businessman takes great pride in setting up shop in his adopted country.
“I’m very happy, this is my dream actually, to have it as a permanent workshop because we have been in the rent workshop before and now we have our own. For me as a person who lived in Qatar and studied in Qatar, I would like all my life to have some products in Qatar and carry the name ‘Made in Qatar.’ We can do a lot of works here in Qatar and we don’t need to import it from outside” Natsheh says.
Before hiring a social media manager, Natsheh relied on his daughter’s digital savvy to keep up with the changing times.
That support went both ways. In 2021, Hana Natsheh followed in her father’s footsteps and opened her own business. Now the owner of Blankk, she does all of her sales and marketing exclusively online. The university student designs eco-friendly handmade cards and stickers for special celebrations.
“I've always been very passionate about gift-giving and just making gifts very personal, and I wanted to bring that into the market as well,” she says.
“I watched my dad grow his own business and I watched him do it from the very start to where he is now and how much he's developed and improved and how big he's gotten in the market. And I think that was very motivating for me.”
Established businesses in Qatar have solidified their status as the country’s main pillars of sustainable growth, while a supportive ecosystem is also spurring the emergence of small but ambitious entrepreneurs.