Interview with Mr. Turki al Jaafari,


CEO of SITAF Saudia

If you are looking for foreign investment success stories in KSA, look no further. SITAF arrived in the early seventies, pulling off the unlikely feat of selling waterproofing in the Arabian Desert - the clue being that the systems they introduced also provide heat insulation. Since then, SITAF has branched out into long haul telecommunications cables – they have laid 21,000 kilometres of them across the GCC by now, including the pan-GCC Hotline Communication Network. The company also builds networks and installs microwave towers and cooling chambers. In short: they take charge of hardware construction and maintenance in a hostile climate. Mr. Turki al Jaafari, currently CEO of SITAF Saudiya joined the company in the early nineties and brought in prince Saad bin Abdullah as a partner.

Since then, SITAF has laid real roots in the kingdom and the GCC. “Back then, SITAF operated as an international company which could leave at the drop of a hat, acquiring virtually no assets or real estate locally. When the prince and me came in, we worked hard on increasing local assets, equipment and other resources. We set up branches in other GCC countries, Jordan and Sudan. We are now looking at setting up shop in Kurdistan. The project is still on hold due to the political situation, but in the long run we believe that Kurdistan will become independent and receive huge backing and financing from the US, who will want to control it to maintain the balance of power in the region.”

On the evolution and growth of the company, Al Jaafari says: “Waterproofing was the core business of the company. But from 1986 onwards, when the country started including the then newly developed fibre cable in its urban planning, we got into telecommunications.” Back then, not everybody was convinced of the durability of that field of business: “People tended to see it as a fad or a trend, something temporary that would come and go. But telecom is now the backbone of the construction industry for all sectors - entertainment, trading, business, banking, e-government - and this infrastructure needs to be maintained, expanded and upgraded.”

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