Interview with Eng. Yasser Zaghloul, NMDC Group CEO: New brand identity and sustainable future

NMDC Group has launched its new brand identity, highlighting the company’s growth plans and vision as one of the world’s fastest-growing EPC and marine dredging firms. The new brand, fusing achievements with a sustainable future, will be applied to all of the Group’s subsidiaries – NMDC Dredging Marine, NMDC Energy (formerly NPCC), NMDC Construction (formerly Emarat Europe) and NMDC Engineering.

Also, NMDC achieved record growth rates in net profits during the third quarter of 2023, reaching AED 1.513 billion ($412 million) for the first nine months.

These important milestones reflect the organization’s position in the local, regional and global markets, as well as its strategic role in implementing major vital projects, by enhancing its competitiveness and expanding its business both locally and globally.

Enough reasons for Dredging Today to caught up with Mr. Yasser Zaghloul, Group CEO for NMDC Group, to find out more about the latest developments in these processes.

DT: What can you tell us about what’s currently in the pipeline for NMDC, particularly about the groundbreaking Hudayriyat Island project?

Mr. Zaghloul: At NMDC, we are truly pushing the envelope with our projects. The Hudayriyat Island project is not just about creating a new landscape but forging the world’s first man-made plateau islands, some even called them the first man made mountains. This project exemplifies our commitment to blending environmental considerations with architectural ingenuity.

Also, the project has been educational both for us and for the industry, and while I can’t disclose all the details, rest assured, it’s proceeding with the precision and innovation NMDC is known for.

DT: Moving towards the industry’s impact on the environment, how do you see the role of dredging in environmental improvement?

Mr. Zaghloul: Dredging plays a critical role in shaping environments, not just physically, but also ecologically. Take our Hail & Ghasha Development for example – our initiatives there, such as mangrove plantations, our work with creating water circulation for mangrove and marine life and greenhouse gas studies, underscore our commitment to environmental stewardship.

The dredging industry has the potential to be a beacon of positive environmental change, and at NMDC, we’re fully committed to that cause.

NMDC photo

DT: With sustainability being a central theme across industries, how is NMDC integrating sustainable practices into your dredging solutions?

Mr. Zaghloul: For NMDC, sustainability is a culture not a buzzword, embedded at the core of our operations. We’ve signified our dedication to this through the transformation of our energy arm from NPCC to NMDC Energy.

Also, we’re at the forefront of projects that champion green hydrogen production and renewable energy, embodying our belief in the power and necessity of sustainable dredging practices.

DT: The NMDC brand has undergone significant evolution. How does this new branding support the company’s strategy?

Mr. Zaghloul: Our brand evolution reflects our history, our ambition, and our vision for the future. The logo itself, inspired by the navigational instrument “Kamal,” represents precision and our rich Emirati maritime heritage.

Each color in our logo signifies our diversified expertise and our commitment to excellence and sustainability across all our ventures.

NMDC photo

DT: Looking ahead, can you outline NMDC’s key goals and business strategies for 2024?

Mr. Zaghloul: As we approach 2024, our goal as a group is to not only maintain but enhance our stature as a leading dredging and energy group.

Currently, our backlog is 15 billion USD  in committed projects, Strategic expansions and potential mergers are on the horizon. Our core values will continue to steer us.

Our vision is to exceed our own growth metrics, a testament to our unrivaled performance.

DT: And what about collaboration within the industry and NMDC’s role in fostering a collective approach to projects?

Mr. Zaghloul: Collaboration is vital in our industry. We believe that post-tender, we must all work collectively.

Our approach is to prefer collaboration over competition.

This mindset extends to our work on projects like the Suez Canal, where we led an international consortium, proving that cooperative efforts often yield the best results.

DT: With the continuous evolution of project complexity, especially in areas like offshore wind farms, how is NMDC adapting?

Mr. Zaghloul: The industry is indeed shifting towards more complex projects. However, dredging harbors its unique challenges and opportunities.

We see a significant potential in the offshore sector and are adapting our strategies to meet these new complexities head-on.

NMDC photo

DT: Sustainability has become a critical issue worldwide. How is NMDC managing its environmental responsibilities?

Mr. Zaghloul: At NMDC, sustainability encompasses more than environmental protection—it’s about responsible impact management. We’ve undertaken initiatives like creating the Habitat island to mitigate environmental impacts and consistently advocate for the use of natural materials.

We advise our clients on sustainable solutions, prioritizing the environment in every decision.

DT: As we look to 2024, what developments can we expect from NMDC?

Mr. Zaghloul: The year 2024 will be a year of continued delivery on projects, with an expansion plan that may include new verticals, mergers, and acquisitions. We’re particularly excited about our tender with Masdar for the Crystal project, a highlight at the upcoming COP 28.

DT: How does NMDC facilitate innovation, particularly digital transformation?

Mr. Zaghloul: Innovation is the cornerstone of our approach. We’ve embraced AI and digital transformation to optimize our solutions.

Digital research remains a priority and will continue to be a critical component of our service delivery model.

DT: Lastly, how do you manage change?

Mr. Zaghloul: Managing change at NMDC involves a strategic and inclusive approach:

  • Focused Portfolio Management: While a diverse portfolio has its merits, our emphasis is on the meticulous execution and delivery of our projects. Success is measured by our ability to bring these projects to fruition effectively and efficiently.
  • Rigorous Corporate Governance: As a publicly traded company, we rigorously uphold corporate governance standards. The impending completion of our Oracle Fusion integration exemplifies this commitment, as it will provide a consolidated dashboard for comprehensive oversight.
  • Proactive Change Management: Navigating change is an intricate part of our operational ethos. Despite the initial challenges, the tenacity and flexibility displayed by our team affirm the value of our change management strategies.
  • Transparent Decision-Making: I always say that the secret to successful change management is to have no secrets. We operate on the principle of transparency, ensuring that all team members are engaged and informed in the decision-making process. This openness not only demystifies change but also garners collective ownership of our direction and achievements.
  • Historical Insights for Future Strategies: Regularly, I invite our teams to look to the past as a lesson on the importance of adaptability. By recognizing the pitfalls of stagnation, we stay vigilant and responsive to the ever-changing business landscape.