DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry
Nour Suliman is the CEO of DHL Express Middle East and North Africa. He oversees the management and strengthening of partner relationships in the region leading a team of 5000 employees across 19 markets. Having joined DHL Express more than 35 years ago, Nour was previously the Country Manager for DHL Express Saudi Arabia since 2007. Under his leadership, DHL Express Saudi Arabia has consistently achieved stellar performance in the last few years. In this role, he also managed the business in Bahrain and worked in four countries in the region where he spearheaded a team of over 1000 employees.
Prior to this, he was the Country Manager for DHL International Bahrain for eight years. He was also involved in other various managerial roles including Customer Service Manager, DHL Bahrain; Country Sales and Marketing Manager, DHL International Cairo and Commercial Manager, DHL International United Arab Emirates. Nour, who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Cairo University, is a member of the British Institute of Management and American Business Association in Egypt.
DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. With about 325,000 employees in over 220 countries and territories worldwide, it connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including ecommerce, technology, life sciences and healthcare, energy, automotive and retail, a proven commitment to corporate responsibility and an unrivalled presence in developing markets, DHL is decisively positioned as “The logistics company for the world”. DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group. The Group generated revenues of more than 56 billion euros in 2014.
From its humble beginning in 1969, DHL has emerged as the most important international express and logistics provider in the world. Mr. Suliman, with over 30 years in the business, what would you say have been the major highlights and milestones that the DHL has witnessed thus far?
DHL has pioneered logistics in the Middle East for nearly 40 years; we were the first in the industry to set up shop in 1976 and have built market leadership through sustainable investment strategies, product innovation and ongoing commitment to service excellence. Our strength as a company lies in our ability to find solutions that make our customers’ businesses thrive; to do that we’ve had to both anticipate and drive change.
Our business formula has been and continues to be farsighted and tailored to meet future demands and socio-economic trends, especially in a region like the Middle East with prevailing volatility and a complex political and social climate; we’ve had to be creative, think outside of the box and be ready with alternatives.
DHL Express currently holds almost 50% of the region’s international share, and handles a portfolio of more than 70,000 customers, processing over 26 million shipments a year. We are always looking to grow this number and are confident that with the region’s trade links maturing we will continue to celebrate new milestones for many more years to come.
In a fast growing region such as the Middle East, where do you see the future of logistics? How is the logistics market evolving?
The Middle East, and more specifically the GCC, has become extremely important for redistribution and logistics, fueling the growth of economic powerhouses and significant cargo hubs in the likes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. If we look at DHL’s most recent Connectivity Report, countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have taken prime spots in the top 40 rankings from over 140 countries worldwide.
Despite fiscal concerns and volatility, the region will continue to enjoy a privileged financial position and the considerable investments in connectivity, improved infrastructure, world class logistics facilities, free trade zones, and large-scale sea port expansions will see its position strengthen as a major trading and transshipment center in the global arena.
Our geographical location is also a key advantage; the Middle East presents itself as a vital entry and distribution point for freight movement between East and West, especially now with trade patterns shifting from traditional developed economies to emerging Asian and Middle East economies. New trade corridors between Asia, Africa and Europe are redefining global supply chains and will boost the region’s importance as a strategic gateway for intra-regional trade, opening up access to high-yield markets such as Africa, China and India – these are considered vital economies and are bound to re-shape the GCC’s trade and commerce profile in the next five to ten years.
E-commerce will also play a vital role in driving the future of regional logistics with the GCC countries driving this trend. Recent industry forecasts predict that in the next 5 years the Gulf will be one of the highest growth regions in e-commerce worldwide, with activity anticipated to surge by 40% boosted by the fast moving retail industry, surging consumer base and changing purchasing habits. There are over 4 million online buyers in this region, and this figure is set to rapidly increase as the region’s population growth is surpassing world average rates. There is also a predominant young population who are more tech-savvy and prone to explore the world of on-line purchases. Other factors such as improved internet penetration, rising ownership of mobile devices and accessibility of payment cards are helping improve the e-commerce ecosystem, driving this sector’s progress as a result.
The GCC-wide rail network will also be a game changer and will impact the current players in the logistics market, especially with regards to land transportation.
The future of logistics is further steered by continued government spending to enhance the transportation infrastructure, multi-modal capabilities and connectivity so that this region continues to benefit from increased trade and advances as a global logistics hub.
DHL continues to dominate the express delivery service in the Middle East with its presence planted in 19 countries and with over 200 facilities. What is your strategy for growth in the region for 2016?
There is no doubt this region is poised for growth and we plan to be at the center of that growth, helping our customers gain faster and easier access to the global economies. In the past two years we have rolled out a sustainable growth strategy to expand and modernize our capabilities and boost the Middle East’s connectivity to key trade centers around the world such as China, Hong Kong, Japan and the US.
We have so far invested over US120 Million on infrastructure in this region, bringing our total to 261 service locations across 19 countries. Between 2014 and 2015 alone we upgraded 14 facilities and increased our dedicated workforce in the region from four thousand to five thousand employees. In June 2014 we opened our largest logistics facility in the Middle East and North Africa based out of Dubai; this was shortly followed by a 10,000sqm multi-million dollar gateway at the King Fahad International Airport in Dammam last November and a US$55 million consolidated country Office and Gateway in Cairo in December, making it the biggest logistics hub in North Africa. In 2015 we opened a US$ 20 million, 12,384sq.m access point at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh which functions both as a gateway and service center and offers import and export services through airside and landside access. We are working on another access point in Jeddah, which should be up in the second quarter of 2016; this will complete our plan to expand our business in Saudi Arabia and provide an unmatched service that will directly affect many regions and countries around the world.
This is in addition to the cash injections being made to upgrade our fleets, improve our technologies, increase flights, and enhance our customs clearance competencies.
All our investments are essential to support the growing logistical demands of the region and will help us improve our capacities, capabilities, and speed and network reliability
Mr. Suliman, with over decades worth of experience as a business leader, how would you describe your leadership style? What is the personal touch that you would like to bring to this organization?
I like to think that I am a peoples’ person. My priority is my people, they are the ones that run the business and DHL’s success is entirely attributed to them. I trust in the experience and knowledge of my DHL team and give them the empowerment and means to perform their roles to the best of their ability. I am a phone call away from everyone that works with me, I encourage staff participation and the exchange of ideas. My personal touch is my love for this company and the industry as a whole; I am a veteran in logistics and I always aim to inspire my fellow colleagues so that they take pride in being not only part of such a great organization but in the fact that they are part of such a fast-evolving industry.